Today I Read

The first week back to school after a break is always hard. This one seems to be chock full of meetings and other afterschool stuff, which just makes it harder. I’ve needed to go to the chiropractor for days, but had to reschedule to pick up my car, and now it’s gotten worse. Today is the day! Hooray! Tonight is also an art opening. Yesterday was book club…there was a lot of discussion about the characters and the world the book was written in…The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison.


I used to do book reviews on here all the time. I don’t know why I got out of the habit. I still read all the time. Anyway, this book was good, good enough for me to read the whole thing in about 3 days flat over break (while driving around New Mexico and Arizona), mostly because I panicked and realized book club was this week. There’s a lot of interesting geological science in the book, obviously from a fantasy/sci fi viewpoint, plus some version of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future. All the good things! And the 2nd book is already available…I think the 3rd book is out as well.

I also started (and finished) Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, which is a pretty trite title for a kind of dark little book. It’s short and not sweet, but definitely an interesting read.


I know I’ve read something from McGuire before, but I don’t even remember why this was on my list (probably someone at book club mentioned it and I requested it from the library). Honestly, at the beginning of break, every book I’d requested from the library showed up at once, so I had to re-request two of them, and this was one of them. It’s about, well, wayward children, but those who go into different worlds and then fall out of them for a variety of reasons and can’t figure out how to get back. It’s a fast read.

I now have two books (only!) on the library app. And about 2 weeks to read both.

Last night, when I got back from book club, I was too tired to engage the drawing brain, so I finished the McGuire book and started a new one, a Louise Erdrich book (been reading her for years). It’s not like I have tons of time to read…I have to usually choose between reading or art, which might be why I’m reading less than I used to. I miss it. I miss sitting around on the couch for a couple of hours, immersed in a novel. So often these days when I try to do that, I fall asleep. Or I feel guilty because I know I should be grading. I didn’t grade yesterday because I had a union meeting and I was making a slide presentation for today so I wouldn’t have to write the same stuff 5 times. Grading is kicking my butt right now. I can’t find the time.

Did I tell you my sleep apnea study was fine? I sleep normal…for me. Which is badly. Unless I’m on the couch trying to read a book. Then I sleep fine. Although I woke up to the sneezy cat on my chest.

Anyway, after tonight’s opening, I’m hoping I have the energy to come home and work on the drawing. I miss making art when I don’t do it. It makes the next work day harder. I feel emptier. So I guess reading fills the space with a story right then and there, but art makes me feel like I accomplished something, that I’m making something, and that’s somehow more important to me. Good to know.

I Really Want Waffles

Summer quiet. Birds singing. Mornings need caffeine, sure, and nights are getting warmer, but there’s still a breeze. The days aren’t unbearably hot yet (give it time…this isn’t really our summer).

What did I get done yesterday? Not much. Honestly. I’m not sure why. Well, that’s not entirely true. I shipped a quilt, which meant going to get a box and then coming back and making a label and packing it up and then driving back to the place where I got the box and shipping it. So that was about 2 hours. I always forget how long simple tasks like that take. And I finished a book. And I gamed in the evening, and that went longer than usual. But I was not my usual efficient self. I find summer does that to me. My brain remembers what it’s like to be a normal human, instead of a teacher on work overload, and it tries to make me act that way…like a normal human. No, you should flail a bit and lie around on a couch or maybe read some stupid articles about whatever. Stop doing all the works!

I finished Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and all I could think was that question was not answered by the book. And it’s different than the movie Bladerunner. Which is fine…I don’t mind that part, but damn. I still want to know if they dream. And I’m glad I didn’t remember the Bladerunner connection while I was reading it, because I made my own pictures in my head instead.


I was looking for cool covers and found these. And I’m still disturbed by the androids’ behavior with the spider. I guess I was raised on Star Trek androids. Data had a significant influence on how I view them. And Battlestar Galactica as well. But the later series.

Anyway. I’m reading a lot. This is not a bad thing.

I didn’t iron until late. You hear that a lot. Because it’s true. Today I plan to iron all day.

I did the daisies in the top left, and now that side is done all the way up to the arm that bisects the body.

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And then I started on the right side…

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Today I’ll be ironing a million spots on a giraffe. And a uterus…see that blank spot in the middle? Easy to figure out what that will be.

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We have renamed Puppy by the way (not really). Nugget of Idiocy. It’s a great name for a puppy. Seriously though…the first owner called him Fluffy Teddy (godawful name), then the second called him Simba. We call him a variety of things, including Asshole and You Little Fucker and Vladimir and Fanny, none of which he answers to…Nugget it is. Last night’s conversation revolved around how sweet he is when he’s tired and what a jerk he can be when he’s hyper. Plus all the moods in the middle. He’s not a bad dog…he is learning to behave. He’s just a puppy. Puppies are jerks sometimes.

OK. Ironing. I really want waffles though.

Preparing for Hell in a Handbasket

I’m trying to stay on schedule with the new quilt. I know for a fact that at some point, the schedule will go to hell in a handbasket. Some major thing will happen that will completely suck up all my time and I will fall behind, so the better I am NOW about trying to make up time, the better off I will be later. So I traced Wonder Under for about two hours last night while helping the girlchild fill out the Common App for college…aargh…I feel like I should be able to copy all the pertinent info over from the boychild’s app, like the exact date of my divorce. I looked it up last year, and since it’s significantly different from the separation date, which is seared in my memory, I can never remember the year. It didn’t matter by then. They asked for stuff I don’t remember having to look up last year, like the address of the school in Wales I attended for a year. So the ex was on speaker phone while watching the Chargers lose (as always), girlchild was on the computer, swearing at the app, and I was tracing Wonder Under.

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It kinda looked like this, except she was sitting over there. The light table is not a small thing. But I absolutely love it. It’s so incredibly convenient for what I do, so much easier than what I was doing before.

I got over 200 pieces done, so I’m now in the mid-300s. That’s good progress. If I can do that every night (questionable?), I’ll be done Friday night. Then cutting out the pieces? Maybe another three nights? Hard to say. I do actually have teacher duties and art events this week, so I might have to adjust.

I try to fill in as much of the space in between pieces as possible.

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The girlchild has a much different college-choosing process than her brother. I don’t actually know what his thought process was…I just know he eventually had a list. She had a list from all the mail she got, locations she wanted, a bunch of internet searches, and other random info. Then she talked to a college counselor, and got some more names (but also got kinda pissed off, because the counselor gave her a chunk of schools she really didn’t want, like religiously affiliated schools), and then last night, she finally did this…

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Yes, there are like 21 schools on those post-its, but she knows she needs to get down to about half those. Some she just needs to research a bit more, like the UC schools…I suggested she pick two, but she’s having a hard time deciding which two. She has a couple uber-reacher schools…she probably doesn’t have a chance of getting in, but she really would like to try. So we’ll see. The plus is that she’s not leaving it until the last minute, like some relative of hers who is now at college (cough cough, her brother, cough). Needless to say, the stress levels around here are somewhat charged.

To counteract those stressful thoughts, I present this…


My GISHWHES diploma…I do love their sense of humor. If you can’t read it, “In recognition of the personal sacrifices and dedication demonstrated by shocking the world with public art, kind deeds and generally being an unapologetic weirdo.” I think that’s my life philosophy. I probably need to work a bit more on the kind deeds. I think I will print this out and hang it next to my credential at school. I did not choose to hang my credential at school. It was done for me, by the way. I get kinda tired of explaining why I teach science when I have so much painting/literature experience (and really, I was never much of a painter).

We had an incredibly long staff meeting yesterday. The new school year has brought us Monday Minimum Days, presumably for collaboration with co-workers, although that hasn’t happened yet. But once a month, instead of collaborating, we start a staff meeting at 2:45 PM, the worst possible time in the world for my brain, which turns into mush between about 2 and 5 PM, and then it potentially can go on until 4:45. Shoot me now. I know how my brain works, though, so I draw. My last principal, I avoided drawing, because if your eyes were not wide open and trained upon him, you would be chastised the next day for your lack of attention, so if you consider the eyeball-straining scene from The Clockwork Orange


That’s kinda how it felt. Anyway, this new guy seems better…so I drew. One of my co-workers requested a cat. I glared at her. She glared back and said, “I know you know how to draw them. I’ve seen you do it.” True that. But I wasn’t in the mood for just a cat…

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Just so you know, because some people feel confused by this, drawing just occupies the part of my brain that otherwise causes trouble by falling asleep or spacing out. It actually allows me to concentrate BETTER on what you’re saying. I’ve always had a hard time convincing other people that I know how my brain works, but I do.

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It started with a hand on fire. Anyway. I may need to draw during collaboration days as well, based on what’s been happening in my department, which has two new teachers, both female, who may shake things up a bit (not a problem, personally).

Because of the heat here, when I’m working on stuff in my office or at the light table, I am followed by the living creatures who inhabit my house. They like to lie underfoot.

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This is better than where she was before, which was about where I was standing. I persuaded her to move over so I could actually use the light table.

Or under ironing boards so they can’t be moved.

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Eh. I do not rule my house. Pets do.

I’ve been under some reading stress lately too, which conflicts with my ability to get art done. Apparently every single book I had on hold at the library will be coming in within the same two-week time period, even though some have been on hold for over 6 months, as I was number 723 on a list of 5,000.

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I actually already finished two that came, one that was almost 800 pages. And I’m sending back the audio book, because I don’t concentrate well on those. I did not mean to get the audio version (whoops), so I re-requested it as a real book, with pages and all. I’m perfectly OK with waiting longer for that book at the moment, because I’m going to have a hard time getting through all these. Only two are book club books. And you can’t renew these, because 700 people after you have holds on them as well, so if I go over the due date, this explains my increasing fines with the library system. Pay for college? Pay my library fines? Hard decision to make.

Anyway, last but not least, here is a link to a blogpost I wrote for FIG, the women’s art group I’m in, about the installation at Art Produce opening this weekend: The Fence/La Barda exhibit


And a picture of the flying junk-mail birds I helped install.

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And now I need to go to school and try to figure out a way to deal with Google docs without using Google Classroom, because they still haven’t figured out how to fix that. Sigh. Nothing is ever easy. Yes, I could have them all SHARE their files with me, but apparently Classroom has a really easy, efficient way to do that, and I’m not allowed to have easy or efficient at the moment. So I’m winging it. Ha ha. Birds. Winging it. OK. Need more caffeine.

Half a King Review

I recently read Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King, a story of a prince with a crippled hand who becomes king due to circumstances he had not expected…

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I enjoyed the story, even though it was highly predictable. I guess once you’ve read one kingly fantasy about the guy that you didn’t expect becoming king, well, they all kind of sound similar. That said, Abercrombie’s writing was solid and the story had enough new details to the standard coming-of-age fare that it kept me reading until the end (which, of course, isn’t REALLY the end). Oh yes, this is a series. It’s all “He Left a Boy; He Returned a Man.” There are shades of George R. R. Martin all over the place, but then Martin is stealing from years of fantasy worlds with kings in charge. The women in the book are few and far between, and somewhat troubled, but then it seems ALL the characters are troubled. The female minister seems a replacement mother, but isn’t. The king’s real mother is Cersei Lannister all over again, minus the incest. There are two romantic figures who show up and are dealt with. The boat’s captain is female, but a drunkard and more than a bit crazy. It’s certain some of those will show up again.

It’s listed as Young Adult AND Adult Fantasy, which is interesting in itself (where is the line anyway? I don’t seem to be able to find it.). There are two more books planned for the series, which seems to focus on Yarvi, the second son of a king who dies in the first few pages. Yarvi is an interesting character, definitely morally good in general, although near the end, he does become a bit more heartless about sacrificing the lives of a few to get his vengeance. A few parts of the story are a bit unbelievable, but it is fantasy, and I enjoyed it anyway.

Would I read the next two? Oh yeah…if they are written in the same way, I will. Abercrombie is not a Faulkner…his turn of phrase is short, to the point, sometimes even brutal. He has written other books that are of a different style and focused more on the Adult Fantasy crowd, and I would definitely try one of those. His writing is interesting enough that it distracted me from the standard plot, so definitely worth a second read. That’s probably any author’s hope…that the first book of theirs that you read brings you back to try another (and then you hope the second one keeps you in).

I Want to Be Henry Rollins…

I’m thinking I need to meditate twice a day at the moment…once in the morning in that hour before school starts, when my brain is in overdrive on what needs to get done, but it also mired in sadness at how it feels. The feels, they are much worse during the school day, during the quiet moments, in the prep hours, when there is no chaos around. Loud music chases them away for a bit, but it’s really hard to MAKE yourself grade stuff that you know needs to get done this week during the day so you don’t have to waste time on the weekend coming in when you feel like you want to crawl into a dark deep hole and never come out. But I seem to do best with this guided meditation, where he talks me through it…and I don’t know how to work that with the app I use. And it’s more TIME…time I don’t really have.

I don’t know. I keep thinking the mood should improve, that I should be getting better, but everything is so hard right now. Even simple things like sleeping and eating are hard.

So. Yeah. I did finally commit to being done with both quilts by Sunday at about 1 PM. That might be fucking crazy. I have most of the other one done…I’m just finishing up the binding on it. I have one more side and both sleeves to finish…yes, I’m sewing two sleeves on my quilts these days…they hang better with a bottom sleeve. So if I get really gutsy, I’ll take it to Thursday’s soccer game and work on it there. Yes, it has nudity, but I’m really good at folding them up so no one can see anything on a binding, since I’m sewing on the back anyway. YES. I handsew my bindings. I like how it looks. Plus I sew fast.

The other one, I finished the outline quilting tonight.

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I only had a little of that left. I then started quilting the background…

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Honestly, there isn’t much background on this quilt…it’s mostly covered with stuff. I did all of the little fussy bits in between the bodies and hair and animals, and then started out into the borders. I don’t expect it to take much longer, but probably won’t be able to get it done until Thursday. I thought about doing something fancy in the background, but the damn thing needs to get done, so that ain’t happening. Maybe on the next one.

I can get binding fabric tomorrow after the boychild’s Academic League (if I don’t go to the gym), or I can wait until Saturday. Tough call. Thursday MIGHT be an option…hard to say. I’m juggling pointy rocks like crazy. When they fall, they will stab me in the eyeball (hence need for meditation).

By the way, when you’re depressed, you probably shouldn’t read books about kids with terminal cancer…even when they’re really good. I just finished (in about 48 hours, maybe less), The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.


It’s a compelling book. Yes, it made me cry. Not shocking. I purposely finished it tonight at home, so I wouldn’t be finishing it at the gym and weeping inconsolably there. That’s not good gym etiquette.

So this was in my comments to be approved this morning…

certainly like your web site but you need to test the spelling
on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with
spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the
truth however I will definitely come again again.

I am highly amused. My spam filter didn’t catch it. Personally, I think my spam folder should kill any comment with a spelling issue in it, but that’s because I was in a mood this morning. I love that they used the word ‘rife,’ but then had a serious grammar issue in the last half of that sentence. Spammers are interesting creatures.

OK. I’m really trying to do this thing where I go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Tomorrow is no less busy than today was. Tomorrow is rife with busy. And my daughter informed me (and her dad on the phone) that not getting enough sleep at night will kill you. Nice. We’re dying anyway, sweetie…and not getting enough sleep is the least of my worries at the moment.

Brain depressed. Will read about some person’s sketchbook before I go to sleep…Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life

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If I read about other people’s artful existences, it might make me feel better about my own. Which reminds me, this…

Henry Rollins is so serious. I wonder if he ever smiles. I love this story of his…I wish I could have been in my favorite band when I was younger. I’m a visual artist, and that’s definitely where my talent lies, but I’d really like to be either a book author or a rock star. Or Henry. Yup. That’s it. I want to be Henry Rollins…


Wow. Great art. I recently read Monsters by Gustavo Duarte…


I guess “read” is the wrong word, because these three stories have no words. The first story has some amusing surprises, the second story is the weakest of the bunch although still worth the read, and the third is absolutely wonderful.


(Apparently eating semi-trucks causes indigestion)…But what makes this graphic novel truly enjoyable and well worth owning an actual physical copy (something I don’t often recommend) is the art. Duarte’s graphic style, so minimalist, very little color involved, communicates a wide variety of emotions and movement. He has an incredible grasp of negative space and composition that is truly enjoyable to view.

Many thanks to Dark Horse Comics for publishing this and allowing me to review it…and to NetGalley as well. It was a true joy to turn each page.


I’m feeling more and more braindead this season. Intellectual conversation? With whom? Occasionally a kid or two, but on nights when they are with their dad, the conversation is missing. I talk to the cats. I read. I talk to nothing human. Seriously…I have talked to no one since 5:25. Before that, it was the guy at Petco who wanted to know why I looked so tired (gee thanks mister). That’s it. I joined some groups where I might be able to get some of that conversation, but it’s hard to fit it in to days when I don’t get to the gym until almost 6 PM. Am I really thinking I’ll be going out after I work out, shower, and eat? That’s after 9 PM? Yeah. Not happening. The non-gym nights are taken up by kid stuff and soccer games.

Then I realized it’s already December 10 and I haven’t dealt with Christmas much…I usually send a letter (um. yeah.) and I need to do the online shopping like very soon. Plus there’s all the holiday parties with potluck stuff, because I have time to cook as well. Sigh. I’m not a fan of this time of year. I say no to lots, but there’s some things I just can’t get out of.

So once I had finished the gym and feeding the body (don’t really care much about food any more), I had an internal debate between the brain that wanted to draw and the brain that was worried about getting everything cut out before Winter Break. Drawing won.

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It’s been a while. I have about 17 drawings in my head. I’ve taken notes on some of them; they’re on my phone. This one obviously isn’t done. More crone/menopausal stuff. I do have a couple more in the sketchbook that I still haven’t finished, though. I need some concentrated time to draw without other things weighing on me (cough school cough). I’m already thinking ahead to what’s next, trying to make plans.

I’m hoping to finish the quilting of the Love quilt sometime in the next week (it’s probably only an hour or two), plus finish cutting out all the Celebrating Silver pieces. There’s a soccer tournament right before Christmas that will eat up a ton of time…I’d like to have the quilt all ironed down before Christmas, but I’m not sure I can pull that off. I need to have the Silver piece done by the end of break. I think I want to do a couple smaller pieces to start the new year, but there are also two larger drawings I’d like to make into quilts. BUT, I have another piece I have to finish by November as well. I haven’t drawn it yet…maybe my goal over break is to just get it drawn. I think I’m OK on time even if I toss another big quilt in there somewhere.

Of course, reality usually kicks my ass, so we’ll see. I like to make plans, though. People always tell me how impressed they are by how much I get done. I write it down. I have time spreadsheets in my head. I hold myself accountable here. I probably chastise myself for not getting stuff done too much…obsessive? Yeah. I guess. It’s a drive, though. It’s so strong, I feel sick when I don’t make/create. It’s worse now…miss one DAY, and I start to get antsy, like I’m coming out of my skin. It really is my sanity at the moment.

I finished Kevin Hearne’s Hexed tonight…


It’s the second book in the Iron Druid Chronicles…easy but interesting read…vampires, werewolves, druids, witches, and a variety of gods and goddesses…always fun. Quick to read and enjoyable. Not sure what book is next on the list…there are quite a few. There’s another book club book, plus the third book in a series I’m reading, plus I don’t know what else. Hard to choose sometimes. I have about 6 real live paper books on hold at the library, some are on their way for pick up and some are hold 43 of 280. I don’t know when I’ll see that one. Then I have another 4 books on hold through the online library, which is the same library but a separate lending system, which is often confusing. Then the girlchild has a couple real live books for me to read and wants to loan me a series of three or four books that are on her Kindle, which means I have to be able to read them within 14 days, because that’s how long she can loan them to me. Confused yet? I am. I see so few people reading these days…except for Facebook and email. It’s sad. I love reading.

I also seem to be getting back into reading graphic novels, partially because of NetGalley, but also because I just like them. I don’t have the money to go to the movies as much as I used to, so this is the next best thing, when I can find them free…which is hard sometimes, because I like the more alternative stuff and it tends NOT to be available that way.

Anyway. I blame my braindead status on reading and drawing tonight. Oh and the gym. I don’t know if braindead is good or bad. I did meditate too…it talked about change. Do I want it? Yes I do. I just don’t know how or when. That’s always the problem, though, isn’t it? I don’t want to change so much that I am no longer making art or spending time with the kids. I don’t need something big. I need a change IN me more than outside…a change in how I feel about life, because this isn’t fun. But that’s the harder thing, isn’t it? Being able to change this cloud over me, the hole I’m in…that’s just slow and plodding. There’s no magic wand or pixie dust for that. Meanwhile, my brain is blank. Maybe it’s just tired. Try again tomorrow.