Prepare for Your Doom…

Is it midweek? Or just time for a nap? Hard to say. Back into school, actually sort of finishing grading all the stuff I was supposed to do over break (except for the late work and redoes). Yesterday should have been a chill start to a new project and a new unit, but chill is not the word I would use. Annoying would be a good one. I reviewed behavior expectations, got them started, had to deal with a huge number of behavior issues in two out of the five classes, and then the adult stuff, the district stuff, that’s what threw me over the edge. I think I give up. I mean, I don’t. I go off instead. Not at the kids yesterday. Education shouldn’t be a business. My classroom shouldn’t be a place where district advertising happens. But it is. I feel like my district is a significant part of my discontent. Hmmm. And yet, because of the way our salaries and benefits work, I can’t afford to go to another one. Yeah. Plus I love my team and most of the kids (yeah, really) and the school. So. I’d love more respect from the district too, but that would mean they were different than all the other districts out there (and there are some that are much worse). They actually sent us an email today about the difference between alcoholics and workaholics. Like they aren’t the cause of it all. It’s physically impossible to get it all done. It’s like what we spent part of Monday on…how do we solve problems that don’t start in school, that we have no control over, that we can’t possibly affect? Sigh. This is the job of my discontent at the moment. Live with that thought for a bit. Then figure out how to move on.

Meanwhile, I’m making art. I’m always making art. It’s my sanity. I finished numbering on Monday night…

I was guessing 1800 pieces, but I was delightfully wrong…

It was only 1574. Sounds good. Looking forward to all of it.

I started tracing last night, but I didn’t have my full hour…

Only 36 minutes…because I stayed at school to grade one class period of an assignment, then came home and went to the gym, then came back and graded the other class period of that assignment, all before I started tracing at 9:54 PM. So I only got some rocks and dirt done. I’m hoping tonight is better, but I won’t even get home until after 7 PM, so IDK how that will go. Maybe I will not be grading anything tonight. And here’s how it goes!

Work smarter, not harder. Or not longer. I’ve got some tweaks to do on the roller coaster stuff for the week after next, and I got a delightful planning period with my 8th-grade co-teacher for the first time this school year. I think this is going to help. I’m hoping this is going to help. Or I might lose my mind.

You know those delivery photos you get to prove your package was delivered? Simba is in this one, barking his little mind out…

What a good boy.

I was grading my advisory assignments on Monday (yes, during professional development…what ELSE do you do during something that doesn’t actually help you teach or prepare or self care or whatever?)…and this kid, whom I love…

I agree. Totally. Hands down the best answer.

The girlchild and I were talking about thriving (another thing my district thinks I am doing)…

Yup. Well. Not gaming, but certainly pillow forting with a book or art and a dog or cat or both.

OK, so I still have to grade a pile of late work and redoes, plus do that fussy shit for the roller coaster project, and maybe look at the stuff for next week, write some warmups, WAKE THE FUCK UP (omg when will I get enough sleep), get through today (notes in one grade level, plus one activity, then simulation in the other grade), then pilates followed by physical therapy (the knee is improving very slowly in terms of mobility, but the pain is still there, still an issue going upstairs, worse on some days than others). Dinner. Art. Sleep. Is that it? I think it’s all I’ve got right now. That and an intriguingly complicated quilt to make.

I Can’t Say That I’m Ready…

Well. Here we are. The first day back to work. No kids today (which is good, because I’m not even ready for a room full of educational staff, let alone a school full of tired and cranky middle-schoolers). Introverts love this sort of all-school meeting. Really. We do (want to just crawl into a corner under a desk with our books).

I can’t say that I’m ready. There’s a bunch of stuff I should have done over the weekend, and honestly, let’s be straight up, I didn’t do any of it. Which means it all has to be done today. Ha! That’s not happening either. I do need to copy one thing (there was no more paper last week) and do my seating charts on paper (they exist in the machine). I didn’t grade two things so far…I’m thinking I can do the easy one while I am supposed to be reviewing my strengths and how they will help me do my job. I didn’t grade all the late work and redoes…just about half of them. 20/48 left to go. Plus 6. Ugh.

Stop thinking about work for a moment and think about art! The California Fibers’ opening at the Cannon Gallery was Saturday afternoon. Here’s my two pieces in the show (for some reason, I was relegated to the corner).

And here’s the Man with the quilt he inspired…

So there was that. There were a lot of people at the opening and it felt overwhelming, but there seemed to be a positive response. Honestly I was surprised they took any of my work because they are one of the ‘family-friendly’ galleries (it’s city-owned), but of the three I entered, they took the two that were less nude than the other one, so I’m happy with that. It’s something.

Meanwhile, my goal was to finish the current drawing…so on Friday night, I had inked this far, but had penciled in the bottom right as well…

I love a really complicated drawing. Although I forgot that the handle needed to go OVER the fingers. Ah well. Liquid paper is my friend.

Saturday night, I inked the bottom right…but in typical Nida fashion, did not take a picture of it. I still had some details to add to the bird and last night, I added the tree to fill that space. Plus a few more bug things and another bone.

That’s 9 hours and 17 minutes of drawing there.

Then last night, I started numbering…

And then (after more than an hour) went OH SHIT because it was late and I had to go to work this morning. Fuck. So I stopped at piece 938, which might be halfway? And might not. Tune in tonight to see the total. I’m guessing 1800 pieces. Which is fine. It is. Really. It is.

I did the second figure on this dinner drawing Saturday night…

I’m still not sure it’s done. And I think the one on the left was supposed to be male, but now has a uterus, which seems fair to me.

One of the reasons I didn’t get any schoolwork done yesterday is that I was prepping some quilt sandwiches for a friend of mine who stitches but does not quilt. She did the cross stitch, and I’m making 9 of these and basting them for her.

She’ll do the handquilting, and then I’ll stitch them all into a quilt. Somewhat time-consuming, but not horrible. I’m a little less than halfway with the basting. I’m hoping to finish it tonight or tomorrow night, so I can deliver them to her, and then she’ll take 6-9 months to quilt them before I have to worry about the next part. Which is harder, but still doable. I’ve never done a quilt-as-you-go quilt. There’s always a first time.

I noticed we had more caterpillars on the dying milkweed…

But not all of them are monarchs…

Or are they? That said, the internet isn’t helping much with this one. Too many variations. Anyway, I’ve got about 4 or 5 of them at the moment, all sizes, and the Man says he saw a monarch lay an egg the other day, so I need to get more milkweed. I planted what few seeds I had left, but it’ll be a while before they’re big enough to feed anything.

Meanwhile, when your owl pellets are all gross and covered in stuff, just leave them out in the weather to clean themselves up. They look great after a few months.

Gopher on the left? The right is something else, I think, but it’s still got too much fluff on it. I’ll have to go check the owlet skelly I left out and see how it’s cleaning up.

I forgot the WTF list from the curriculum we had to reconstruct on Thursday and Friday…these were all (well, most) of the things that made us think (or yell) WTF.

This curriculum comes out of Stanford University, by the way. Really shouldn’t have to deal with this. You can see the frustration increasing as we get down the list.

I went to my quilt guild meeting on Saturday and worked some more on my body scarf.

It’s slow but enjoyable. It may never be done.

Can’t go wrong with this stuff…

I almost bought that book to take to work today. But I do give a fuck. That’s the problem.

Kitten enjoying a hint of Spring before the next Winter storm kicks us in the butt…

She likes to sit there.

And last but not least, if I’m going to have to get up at ugh in the morning, you might as well give me a sunset worth getting up for…

My camera missed all the pinks in there, but it was glorious. Unlike the rest of the day. Sitting in a big room with a ton of people. I don’t hate my job. I’m just finding it incredibly overwhelming the last three years…worse each year? No, the 2020/2021 year was bad, last year was slightly better (block schedule, 2 preps, and still COVID made it hard), and this year is bad for the workload…similar to the 2020 year. I just need a year that is less about creating All New Stuff and more about refining stuff, making it better, focusing on behaviors and academics, not so buried in trying to learn new things AND do the old things AND all the other stuff the district continues to throw at us. Yeah. We’re not even at the halfway point…that’s in two weeks? Three? Something like that.

Anyway. I do have to go. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Back to It…

Well it’s official. It’s almost time to dive into the sucking mud of my day job. Luckily, this new drawing is almost at the point where I can start the brainless tracing and cutting stages. I’m really enjoying drawing this…just letting my brain wander around in all the weird shit I’ve read over the years about bio modifications.

Here’s a video of the drawing as of Wednesday night…

And then some of the drawing I did last night…she has pockets! Also that kid with the webbed feet? I think that’s the kid in Game of Thrones…maybe.

I didn’t take a picture of the stuff at the top, but suffice it to say, that I used this photo to create a glove…

I think most of the stuff is done except for what’s under her legs. And no, I don’t exactly know what all that is yet. I know some of it. It keeps waking me up at 2 in the morning and making me take notes on it. Thank you, Art Brain. I both appreciate you and am annoyed by you.

I spent 5 hours working on school shit yesterday. Back again today. Ugh. Getting paid for it at least. Could do without it though. Still need to finish grading stuff! Almost done, actually. Torture though. It’s this…

There has been very little relaxing about this break. That said, I read a lot. I just finished another book this morning. Made me exclaim aloud with the last sentence. So exciting.

This is the second cat who has used the tent…just one to go…

And this is Simba, who is a millisecond away from exploding toward the hand with the dental treat that signals he is to be left alone for hours. And yet he’s excited for that treat. Weirdo.

OK, I need to get out of here for work. And when I get home, I will need to finish ALL the things that have been sitting on my Winter Break to-do list since the first weekend, right before I got sick. Uh huh. Yeah. Bullshit, right? I know. Whatever. I did manage to book two nights in Spring Break at a campground we always wanted to go back to…glad I did that, because there were only 6 left. I got the one right NEXT to the one we were in before. I really liked the one we were in before. That was another ‘wake-up-at-2-AM’ thing…needing to book that before they were sold out. Of course, we still have two nights before and one night after to do something ELSE in Arizona…no clue what. Minor issue. We’ll figure that out.

OK, Break, it was nice (not really) knowing you. Hopefully you have done your job, allowing me to wallow in reading material and a weird drawing, letting me (sort of) sleep in, and I will return, refreshed (semi) to my job, where the kids are the capital, which is the only reason I don’t just jump and run toward the closest job that I don’t have to lug home with me and doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night. Not sure what that is. But it’s tempting sometimes, that’s for sure. I hate being bored, though, and I love the kids, even when I don’t. So there’s that. Back to it!

Sidetracked…

Quick! Write the blog before you get sidetracked by that email that came in about a show, plus the name of that hedgehog your therapist recommended you look up, and the fact that your tea is already cold…again. Plus try not to think about grading, because even though you bribed yourself all day yesterday, you didn’t FINISH (of course not) and you need to FINISH. Plus yeah. So many things. Is this headache your neck and you need to schedule the chiropractor (probably)? Did you answer that email about the DNA extraction kits (maybe)? Did you finish planning the roller coaster unit (fuck no)? OK. Well. Nope. Got distracted about a folder on Google Drive.

My daughter was diagnosed as ADD years ago. Sometimes I wonder about me. But also on the spectrum? Or just antisocial? (Me, not the daughter) Or is it just that I’m old (not really, if you look at the spectrum, the OTHER spectrum, of age) and people annoy the shit out of me? Maybe that.

OK. I checked the folder on Google Drive. I can move on with my life.

It’s quiet here, except for the dog barking. And the kids next door shooting off their nerf guns. Popopopopopopopop. I’m not on that side of the house, or I’d turn music on to drown that shit out. Boychild and the Man have gone back to work. I just work here. I’ll be at school Thursday and Friday to rewrite a stupid curriculum that I have no choice about, but at least I’m getting paid for those 10 hours. Ugh. Today, I need to finish grading that thing from yesterday and one more thing, finish the roller coaster planning (both unpaid), get my retinas scanned (like you do), go to Pilates, cook dinner (new recipe, might kill me), get the dog to go out and pee even though it’s wet out, finish another book (I finished the one that was due, but this one, I’m at 94% and honestly, the ONLY thing I want to do today is finish that book dammit), work on the quilt that’s on the machine, work on a donation quilt, work on a quilt that I’m helping a friend do, and draw the next piece. Short list, eh? There’s some other stuff I need to do, but I don’t feel like driving to REI or finding the leaf blower (probably not here) or moving gravel. So there.

Sleep and read, man. That’s where I’m at. Unfortunate.

So the current quilt…is still in the drawing stage and probably will be for the rest of this week. Because I’m having a lot of fun letting my brain just wander around with this biopunk/steampunk/cyberpunk, channeling Margaret Atwood and other weird shit that’s in my head because science teacher brain.

I started inking Monday night…

I really got into it. I sat on the couch for about an hour, spacing out, watching cat videos, and then got up and did this.

I had penciled stuff in, but I always change it a little when I use ink. I moved the entire butterfly up a bit.

The post-its have notes about stuff I want to think about or put into the drawing, and then in the middle of the night, I have ideas and I type them into my phone for the next time I’m drawing…

There’s more penciled in above and below…not slacking on the details in this one. So I’m going to keep going. It’s not political (yet. Or is it?).

I’m also still quilting this, although to be honest, not working consistently on it.

Two columns done, three to go, plus borders. It doesn’t take long; I just have a lot of other shit going on right now. You might have noticed.

Grading…

This was my view for 4 hours yesterday…probably another 4 today, if I can pull that off. Ugh.

Boychild made his own birthday cake…raspberry frosting was quite tasty…

It was chocolate on the inside, so I didn’t get a taste of it, but the rest of the fam did when they came by for presents.

We have a very similar picture from last year (watching the boychild open stuff). Mom petting the dog.

Where’s MY cake?

From the book I finished, which was better than I was expecting:

My milkweed is not only still blooming, but has caterpillars!

I would have thought it was too cold for them, but there are three of them…

I need to plant more seeds because these plants are at their leggy ends…

As you can see.

Plus now my deck has fungus…

I really need to replace these top boards. In my spare time. Ugh. Maybe summer.

OK. More tea (or heat this cup up for the fourth time). Read my book. (C’mon, it’s still break). Eat lunch. Grade some stuff. Then let them scan the eye (means I have to put pants and a bra back on. Ugh). Then more grading and some exercise. More tea. Break is coming to an end. Need to enjoy it as much as possible.

Not So Single-Minded…

Hello 2023. And Happy New Year to those who make a mental shift about now for that reason. We made a nice warm dinner, played a wordy game for a while (until someone got tired of losing), and then I mentally flailed while watching Serpent Queen until 11:57 PM, when we searched for a fake ball drop that happened 3 hours earlier, kissed, and went to bed. It rained all night.

The mental flail was more about what to work on…this is why I don’t like a lot of down time between art projects. It makes me uncomfortable to just SIT and not do anything. That said, I have a book I need to finish by Wednesday at 7:09 PM. I think I’m going to make it, but I had to stop reading the one I was almost done with and focus on this one, which I wasn’t expecting much of, but it is proving more interesting than I thought. I joined a new book club with my friends in the old one, this one focused on mysteries. Hoping for some more recommendations. Hoping to read more, actually. It’s been hard to fit that in once school is in. Too much visual stimulation, reading-like, for school. Not very interesting stuff most of the time. But I managed 55 (almost 56) books last year…not bad…could be better.

So I made a goal to do better in 2023. Things I care about right now: reading, art, travel, my family, my friends. My job is pushing it this year. I obviously care about it because I don’t blow it off. I just think it is taking more than it should from me. Yeah.

Anyway, what else has been going on? Well you know that drawing I started the other day? I rolled it up and put it away. I have two deadlines I’m looking at that are pretty far out, but I find both of them interesting, so I had picked one, the one I’ve been thinking about for months, but then when I got to the paper, I felt like I didn’t know enough to draw it yet. I do have a rough sketch on that paper and I’m not giving up on it; it’s just that the other one started talking to me. Mostly during this hike we did on New Year’s Eve (trying to avoid the rain and the people who like to hike on the first day of the year, by hiking on the last day of the year instead).

Hollenbeck Canyon out past Jamul…

It was nice and cool…well, actually cold and rainy at times…

Totally great for letting your brain wander around…

My knee behaved fine…I’ve been doing physical therapy and trying to exercise enough. I find it’s hard to get out of the pajamas right now. Easier when it’s cold and wet to just stay on the couch and not do anything.

But I feel worse after that. So this is better. I think today is officially the last day of break when I have nothing that I have to do on my calendar. Which sucks. Lots of work and medical stuff over the rest of the week, with a little art stuff sprinkled in. I guess I have to think about work. Don’t want to. As usual.

ANYWAY, back to the drawing, I had done some research (I like to research stuff) and came up with some things tickling my brain, mostly Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (my goodness, how DO you spell that…ah, one more capital letter). And some other stuff. Anyway, I cut out a piece of paper, walked away from it, and then started drawing.

So far, I’m all in pencil.

Yeah, I need to put the Xmas stuff away. Didn’t want to pull the boxes out yesterday with all the rain and wet. Maybe today.

So I will probably start some ink tonight, then some more pencil. Today is the boychild’s birthday. He is getting old enough that it makes ME feel old. Until it doesn’t. Because I’m not that old. Anyway, I don’t think any of that will stop me from drawing tonight, but I do want to get to a stage of this piece that is easier to do with less energy before school starts, because I know I will HAVE less energy when school starts, both mentally and physically. I’m having to full-on STEEL myself for going back (you can do it, one day at a time, you will get through it). Maybe that is always the case, but it seems worse right now. Certainly I feel in giant flail mode.

I have been slowly trying to stitch my way around this giant-ass quilt…

And I finished the April Homegrown blocks (Sue Spargo) finally…moving on to May now.

That sun in the lower right block took a goodly chunk of time on New Year’s Eve. And thread!

Oh yeah, more of the piñata show at the Mingei…

Not what you would expect from a piñata show…

Definitely worth going though…

Just think of it more as papier-mache sculpture. Plus the Mingei has other funky craft work all over the place…

Gotta love a giant Earth covered in beads.

Nova would. If she were allowed to.

Instead, she loved me.

Right up there in your face.

OK. I dreamed (nightmared?) about not having a shower last night. I’m not sure why, but it made me really want one this morning. I have a quilt to quilt, a drawing to draw, and a lot of work to work. I’m hoping to do some of all of it. Also need to pack up a fabric donation box or two, plus cut up more blocks for a donation quilt. I’m liking deadlines that are a long ways out so I don’t have to be so single-minded about making, although it freaks me out when I don’t have something to be single-minded about. I also need to read another third of my book so I finish it before it’s due (I figured a third a day would work). And enjoy the last day of break before the have-tos really kick in. Seems doable.