More Than a Cloud

I totally forgot yesterday was Monday. Well done! Good start. I mean, I appreciate the extra day to get stuff done. I even made myself a special post-it to-do list for the weekend with things to cross off (I did not finish all of them, but I did a lot). These two months, January and February, there’s this delightful smattering of 3-day weekends that make me think I can be caught up, and then the disaster of March happens, with 5 long weeks of no days off. No breaks. Just a slog until Spring Break. Teachers know what I’m talking about. May is very similar, but at least ends with a 3-day weekend. Two-day weekends…I lose a whole day to trying to get ready for the week, so just Saturday is free…and it often isn’t. I have progress reports due next week, so this coming weekend is looking a little stressy. Trying to get ahead of that now, but we’ll see how it goes.

It rained all weekend. Like a downpour. Not as bad as further north of us, but at over 3 1/2 inches of rain here (I bought a rain gauge just for this); that’s sometimes our annual rainfall. Everything is exceedingly damp. No trees went down here, not even a fallen branch (knock on wood), so that’s good. A few water issues, but nothing major. The garage will be damp for days. I need to actually sweep water out of it when I get a chance (not sure when that will be). So we didn’t go a lot of places…but I did work a lot. As always. Don’t seem to be able to escape it.

I finished basting and delivered the cross-stitched blocks back to my friend, so she can spend a few months hand-quilting them before I have to figure out how to put them together. I also picked up one of my quilts from a show that closed.

This show was extended into February…

I’m hoping to be at the closing reception, only because it’s First Friday in Liberty Station, and that’s always cool.

OK, on to the weekend tracing, of which there was a lot, although not as much as I would’ve liked. Like maybe 2 hours a night instead of 1.

This is filling in the little spaces in between bigger pieces…

I had a strange leftover piece of Wonder Under I used at the end of a bolt. Some of it was releasing from the paper, so I cut those bits off. Don’t want to deal with it.

Friday night might have been one of those 2-hour nights…

Saturday night definitely was. We had a neighborhood party to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors, and then I came back and did more as the Man crashed…he had emergency dental surgery Friday and was kind of a mess all weekend. Hopefully it’ll be better this week for him.

Lots of complication here…still filling in the spaces.

I think this was Sunday night…another 2 hours…

But Monday night, I was working later on school stuff, so only an hour and a bit. I’m in the 700s, I think. Close to halfway, but not quite.

I thought I’d be further up the drawing by now, but no. It seems there are more pieces in the top half than the bottom half. Even though the bottom half is solid pieces and the top has a lot of open bits. More smaller pieces up top; bigger pieces down below. I have the upper torso and arms, plus head, plus everything she’s holding. And when I say arms, one is done, three to go. Yup. She’s got four. Like you do.

So based on how many pieces are left and how fast I’m tracing, I suspect I’ve got another 8 days of this. Not so exciting to watch on your end, but pretty meditative on mine. I’m OK with that.

This is from the book I’m really enjoying, The House in the Cerulean Sea

Books are nice, especially on rainy days. And sunny days. And windy days and cloudy days. Yup. All the days.

My possibly permanent existence…at least while I’m still teaching.

Friday afternoon’s sky, before the rains started.

The caterpillars are still here, still eating. I bought them more food. Planting seeds for more after that.

Simba does not like the rain. At all. His raincoat seems to help a little.

Mom’s flowers on Sunday night. Did I take pictures of my parents? Nope. Forgot.

Sigh. OK. It’s only a 4-day week. It’s a busy 4-day week, though, so bracing for that. But I have tracing every night and a good book to read and this week is actually planned out. I didn’t quite get all my planning and grading done, but that’s always the case. It’s not supposed to rain much more (although the clouds have rolled in again and my co-teacher sent me a photo of a double rainbow, so maybe we’re not out of it yet…it’s dark as hell to the west and sunny on my left shoulder).

Fully appreciated yesterday’s social-media roll through MLK quotes I hadn’t seen before, the ones challenging the white capitalist take on him and his views. One was from 1967 and could still be used today, sadly. Things have changed but nowhere near enough. As long as people are using ‘woke’ as a bad thing and ‘patriot’ as a good thing (after Jan 6? Really?), there are still some major problems in this country. And the world. Brazil. Talking to you. So we work in small ways to improve those things, best we can, through our relationships with people and through the web and all the other crap. Making art. Reading more books. Listening to more people, different people. Dark clouds rolling in here, y’all…gotta get to work before it turns into more than a cloud.

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.

Raising a Caterpillar

How to distract yourself from work: try to raise a caterpillar. First of all, I had to bring it home because it was eating so much that I was afraid it would starve over the weekend…

They ate through everything I had, so I offered them my own tomato plants, but they were a different subspecies and the caterpillar didn’t appear to want to eat them…

So I went to school Sunday morning, after watching the caterpillar pace around the edge of the container Saturday night and Sunday morning, and got the right kind of plant…no go! So finally I Googled some more details on the caterpillar and figured out…it wanted dirt! Well, that’s easy. I got dirt…

Oh, it was so happy. So was I. As soon as I put it back in, it started digging…

So in two weeks, hopefully we’ll see a moth. Things I will do to avoid grading and lesson planning, y’all. Totally. Although I did a bunch of that too. It felt like a lot until I got up this morning and realized all the shit I still need to do for this week. Whoops!

I delivered two pieces to a gallery curator/owner on Saturday, and she recorded me talking about them…

Apparently this post is mostly videos. I also packed up three more quilts for delivery tomorrow. I’d like to make art, but I’m spending a lot of time delivering and picking up instead. It’s a good problem to have.

I’ve done a little stitching over the last few days…

All letters really…well some stuff coming up to the letters on Friday, I think.

Last night, I managed to stitch the edge into the stitching, so I got to rip and restitch a bit…

Stitching down the letters is not a fast process. Nothing about those letters is fast.

Lots of video. Like I said.

Saturday night, the Man sang with another band, Sonic Moonshine.

I hung out and drew a bit…

This is Simba’s face after I got home…I was playing elk mating calls (don’t ask why…just know he was perturbed by it)…

This is remarkably true…

And this just made me laugh (as a non-church person)…

Well I’m going to take my container of dirt (and liquefying caterpillar) back to school, hope I survive the day (I’m just tired, still), and get to stitch some more tonight. This coming weekend is the Visions opening, which is nice…I think it’s also Quilt National 2021 with my sold quilt up at the San Jose Museum of Quilts, if you’re up there. I’ve got a busy week and I’ve only planned 8th-grade science completely about halfway through Wednesday. Minor issue. Ah well. I will get there. Somehow. I have three assignments, all in different stages of preparedness. One is typed up but needs slides and a video. One is barely started and only half a thought in my head (gotta navigate the stupid curriculum they provide us with). And the last one exists on paper in 5 different versions, so I have to make something out of that. So the first one needs about an hour, the second probably an hour, maybe more, and the third, at least an hour. Do you wanna know how much prep time I get at school? Not enough to deal with that and everything else, that’s for sure. So it will happen, but probably after hours. Along with the four meetings I have before and after school this week. This year is a challenge…and not in a good way.

Headspace for Drawing…

I went to the eye doctor yesterday and he recommended a book for me, after having a long discussion about Comicon and our shared nerdiness. Gotta appreciate that. Especially as school LOOMS. I write every year about how it looms; usually it waits until August 1st, but not this year. LOOMING. And not in the good way with weaving warp and weft. In the dark and doomy way where it’s leaning over you and breathing hot and heavy onto your shoulder. Maybe even a little moist going on there. Yuck. All this followed by some truly disturbing dreams (not about school, for once, but like an alternative lifetime that was obviously wrong wrong wrong but was weirdly right in the dream, so fucking awful). Totally creeped out by last night’s attempt at sleep. Plus the boychild left for the Oak Fire yesterday, so Simba was in the bed all night, perturbed as fuck and hot and furry and then would randomly lick my leg and wake me up. I’m just not cut out for sleep. I need to be knocked out instantly and then zapped awake at the right time.

So Monday was delightful. I went to lunch and for a walk on the Silver Strand beach (away from all the people) with two friends from school and just really enjoyed walking, cool temperatures, and BIRDS!

Some of these birds have made it into my quilts. Wish I could tell you which ones…

Tiny snowy plovers…

We stalked the birds really…

And then the shells…these still had the snails in them, so we put them all back in the water.

Probably they would have been fine, but in a year when the climate is getting more and more fucked (thank you Republicans and the Supreme Court for continuing that shit), it felt good to do something that might be good for the environment.

Fascinating walk. This gull had a flatfish and was trying to alternately wash it and peck it.

Plus it kept running with the fish to get away from us.

Good times. We had some discussions of bizarre animals that humans made up and how it happened (found weird bit on beach, assumed animal was massive, hence our drawing it in the sand).

Like you do. Anyway. More of that this year. Less of the stressful shit.

I finally got the headspace to start drawing for real. Did a lot of sketching in pencil first as my brain got in the mood for this drawing…

Trying to keep it relatively simple. I keep wanting to add shading to the figure on the right, but my simpler brain is like NO IT DOES NOT NEED IT. Art brain is not convinced. Then last night, I inked everything that was in pencil…

And started adding more…

First time the Statue of Liberty has shown up in a quilt of mine…

Got more to do up here. That big head has some words going on it. Her arms need stuff. Stuff in her hands too. Getting there. Also, my proofreading project showed up last night…and I’m going to mom’s today and tomorrow to work on the bed quilt, plus the girlchild is coming in tonight for a visit, so I had to clean her room (not done) and the bathroom, because the boychild left for the fire yesterday. He works for the California Conservation Corps but is currently on a CalFire hand crew. Apparently you sleep in coffins (not really, just looks like one)…

He’s in Merced…heading in to the fire west of Yosemite.

He sends sunrise photos with fire trucks. Seems fine. Unfortunately, he got called out right before the girlchild comes to visit and probably won’t be back before she leaves. Bad timing, fire. WTF. I’m glad she’s coming though…not only because I haven’t seen her in a while, but also because Simba can sleep with her and she’s on Boston time, so he’ll be happy with wakeup time. I tried to explain to him that I was on summer break and got to sleep in. Did not care. Not a bit.

Last night, he just barked for hours at every sound, convinced it meant the boychild was home. His car was home (we went and got it), so the confusion was large. Massive really. Tiny brain in that dog.

We’re up to three caterpillars on the milkweed.

Exciting stuff…

I hope we get a chrysalis out of it.

This is part of the current drawing…at least the idea behind this.

And this is for my district…

I’d take Reduce Workload too. They’re gonna feed me lunch for three days. I would rather bring my own lunch and go home earlier, but that’s not how they roll. Luckily my district/principal don’t give a shit about jeans whenever…and we don’t get free coffee (wouldn’t care about that anyway). We do get the other shit though and it’s usually right before they tell us the 17 new things we have to do and why we have the wrong attitude if we’re not excited about them. Eh.

OK, so I’m going to aim to get Etsy stuff done tomorrow and Friday. Today is packed full of stuff, including getting the girlchild from the airport. I’m supposed to be at mom’s at 10 and I haven’t eaten or taken a shower. So I gotta go. Like now.