Where’s the Pillow Fort?

I’ve managed two whole days of school without quitting or making a pillow fort, so I think I might make it through today as well. There are 46 days of school until summer break, and yes, I’m counting them down. Suffice it to say that the last two days mostly sucked and I am trying to modify my brain and responses to make that better, but if I can’t, at least there are only 46 more of them until I get a break.

This year is like no other, yeah, and I know that the next school year will be different. I can do a day at a time. I take a snack break and read my zombie apocalypse book and not think about school for 15 minutes, and then I go back to trying not to go crazy sitting in a chair for so long and pushing kids through stuff that would be so much easier in person. It is what it is, and what it is smells like shit most days.

Anyway. What else? My family is here, visiting my dad, so I’ve been over there for dinner every night. Yes, precautions have been taken. People always ask.

Hey Dad. Good to see you.

The man is smiling quite happily in all his hiking photos…here he has made it to Mile 40 and 6000 feet up.

He seems to be really enjoying it so far, although he admits it is hard. I’ll see him this weekend at one of his resupplies. He’s still close enough (and will be for a while) where I can drive and meet him.

There he is in the wild. I did get to talk to him last night. We’re so used to communicating every day in person, that this is really hard. He doesn’t have cell service all the time, so even texting is not always a thing. Going from in the house all the time to not at all and almost nothing in terms of talking has been difficult. For me, at least. We’ll figure it out.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get back to my ‘normal’ exercise schedule during school routine, which means a walk on Tuesday after school. I had to ship a quilt first. This time of year, hiking is really about Spring flower pictures…

This is the neighborhood hike, so they’re not natives…

I take a picture of that one every year, because it’s such a weird flower.

Just lots of pretty. And I got my 3.67 miles in before dinner. All good.

I started tracing the new quilt…

It’s about an hour per 100 pieces, so after last night, I have about 7 hours to go…

I’m only doing about an hour a night. Last night, I got a late start and then went to bed late, and I’m still not sleeping well, plus I woke up to my blood sugar crashing again. I don’t know why, but it throws me off for the rest of the day. I’m OK at the moment, but I’d really like to just solve the issue so it doesn’t happen. Working on that. Working on more sleep. Working on getting all the late work graded so kids can stop sending me multiple emails about it. No, I didn’t do it over Spring Break. Take a breath, y’all.

Sigh. More tonight probably. More exercise, another family dinner, more work, hopefully more sleep. I really need more sleep.

Also…Luna…

Pre-whack. She’s sweet but in a dangerous way.

OK, making a pillow fort now.

Cute Clean Tape Dispensers…

Hello Friday, the last day I have to teach or be on Zoom because of work until April 12, you delightful day, once I survive you. The last day of March for school. The last day I have to cajole kids to work, remind them of why I can’t give them all the answers, text their parents to get them to at least pull up the document we’re on, try to do chemistry or middle-school art on my light table instead of art that I want to do. I wish I could say that I won’t look at work over break, but that is impossible. I am still grading last week’s work. I want as much as possible of this week’s work graded before we leave for Yosemite. We’re planning the next unit when I come back. Plus I have a copyediting job. I need the money. Sad, isn’t it, that a public-school teacher has to take on extra work to pay the bills, but that is reality. So I’m actually relieved and stressed at the same time. Fun times.

At least I can do all the school things with music playing or with dead silence (well, except the screams of the neighbor kids). Not half turned, crick in my neck and back, trying to grade AND follow the chat AND answer questions as kids are finishing assignments. Wishing I could actually send them out for the asynchronous time, but knowing that they will not complete their work if I do that. This year is exhausting. \

So I have a show I want to enter, and I let it percolate in my brain, even sent the call to the girlchild for her expertise (although she just suggested what I was already thinking). Tried to draw some version of it the other night.

It’s under the cat. I swear there’s a drawing under there. It’s not a very good one though.

You know when your cat suddenly stares intently at something and you turn around and there’s nothing there?

It’s totally ghosts. I guess she left me the big planet there to draw on, but I was working on the person. It’s OK. I needed to go to bed. I needed to let it percolate more.

And then last night, my decision was to clean off most of the light table (I do still have to teach art today) and start it on paper.

Full size. Fuck the sketchbook. That tape dispenser is ancient by the way. Like circa 1989. And obviously never been cleaned. You don’t notice until you Instagram it and everybody else has cute clean tape dispensers. There are so many things in the world that I don’t have time for.

Did I mention my taxes? I need to do those too. I started. I yelled a lot. I asked the boychild a question that I would normally ask my dad. He had the answer; ironic, since he doesn’t pay taxes. Or own a house. Or run a business. Or two. Plus a day job. I need a new life. Or plants. I might just need plants.

This month just makes me feel like crying constantly.

OK, it’s almost done. I can do one day. I can do 6 hours with 45 minutes in between. Except not really 45 minutes because I work on either side of it, but 5 hours and 15 minutes, wait, subtract the 5 minutes in between each class, so 5 hours and 5 minutes with kids. FIVE HOURS AND 5 MINUTES WITH KIDS ON ZOOM. Yeah. That’s my day. Before some education ignoramus jumps in, that doesn’t count the hours before and after school…yesterday was 8 AM to 4:30 PM on Zoom with a few breaks, plus another 90 minutes of grading after that and 45 minutes before. UGH.

It’s fine. It pays the bills. It’s a job I love and hate on a regular basis. I can love my job and still hate parts of it. I can love teaching and still know that some of it is incredibly fucked up. District: “we’re not adding anything new this year; the pandemic pivot is enough for you to deal with.” Also District: “HERE’S a new program and HERE’S a new program and HERE’S a new program, and you’re required to teach them all. THANKS!”

So here was my chemistry setup this time.

I’ll have to bring this back in April for one of the labs. But I cleaned all this up. Art must be made here.

While I was teaching yesterday, this huge hawk kept hanging out on my front fence, looking for rodents or baby bunnies, I’m sure. Its partner was on the electrical line above. Beautiful animals.

The kids were sort of shocked that I could see a hawk. They live about 2 1/2 miles north of me. There are probably hawks there too…they just don’t see them.

Mini modern blocks are still happening.

This was Sunday, when I was irritated by that parent. I didn’t finish these.

OK. I can do today. I can do all the things. I can copyedit everything and grade everything and finish the taxes and get ready to go camping in four days. In the cold. It’s all going to be fine. Eventually. Fine.

Y’all. Fabric Doesn’t Go Bad…

Damn. I was sure I wrote a blog post on Monday. I blame Daylight Savings…I lost an hour and I lost part of my brain with it, apparently. Still looking for it. Tell me if you see it. It doesn’t have any tags, but it’s running fast and zigzagging so you can’t shoot at it.

So yeah. What the fuck have I been doing anyway? Besides lesson planning and grading and screaming into the void? I still haz no sewing machine (I called. I was desperate. It’s not ready.). OK, I pulled out the old machine and 2 hours later, I found the pedal and the cord for it. It works fine for straight lines and basic stitching. I don’t want to attempt stitchdown or quilting on it. But it’s here for the crazy thing my quilt guild is doing, which involves these, and honestly, the crazy part is me because I wanted rainbows and wasn’t willing to just go with two fabrics.

More on that crazy shit later. When I can get any of it done. It’s straight lines (mostly) and brainless (sort of. there is math).

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to applique this thing by hand.

That fish fabric is some Matisse garden fabric from 20+ years ago. All these fabrics are from 20+ years ago.

(Y’all. Fabric doesn’t go bad.) Hey, so headless, missing fish parts, but getting there. Yes! Those are some Kaffe Fassett fabrics from back then. Even then, I loved his stuff. More on that below.

I’m getting down to the last bits, although this thing will need a bunch of embroidery, because I did that shit on my art quilts back then.

The fish are done. No, I can’t explain this quilt.

Seriously, it’s about childbirth and IDK what else. 21 years ago I had a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old and was working full time as a copyeditor and was still married. So another world, y’all. Another world.

I will finish her though. This year. Maybe even this month.

Back to Kaffe Fassett…I saw the new collection for 2021, started looking at what I wanted. Figured out that I wanted too many of them, so I used my birthday money (and some other money I got, thanks mom and dad) and bought a fat quarter package of all of them.

I will use these until I die. Or I run out. Hopefully the latter comes first. Yes, I washed and dried and folded all of them. I did not iron them. That’s crazy. I’ll iron them when I use them. I bought them from a quilt shop online that I haven’t shopped at before…and they were nice enough to send me a note…

Whoa. They know who I am. So that’s weird? Or cool. Anyway, check them out: StitchCraft. I just searched for that link and saw some other things that are catching my eye (MUST STOP). So I’ll think about those things. Support the indies! Yes, I could shop locally, and sometimes I do, but I also can’t leave the house much and this is faster and easier. Sigh. I miss shopping for fabric when I don’t actually need something specific, just wandering around the shop. I may schedule that.

School. Sigh. It has “this intoxicated thing inside of it.”

I have no idea what this kid is talking about. Although he mentioned atoms and balloons, which was on topic.

Also art. I’m going to have to do the start of a sketchbook page every day I teach art this week and next.

It’s OK. I do them during my prep period. I have to do two of them today, I think. And grade three assignments. Plus late work. It’s OK. Really. I’m sort of resigned to my online teaching existence right now. Because there are only 8 more working days until Spring Break. I may feel differently next week. Or even tomorrow. Or later today. My co-teachers who were recently quarantined (again) are feeling the pain of pivoting (hate that word) back to distance after being hybrid. I guess I’m used to it. It’s not like I have a choice. After break, they are going back to 5 days a week. That will probably be my reality in August. But I’ll be vaccinated and mostly feral. It’ll be fine.

I’m still walking, although I had to be non-strenuous (aka flat) until my stress test.

Lake Miramar has a dirt trail below the paved trail for most of the distance around the lake. Most? At least half.

It was muddy at times, but worth it to be off the pavement.

Almost 5 miles.

More than a little chilly. And breweries have opened up, so we stopped for a freezing outdoor cider before going home.

It was nice. Relaxing. Almost normal. Not really. But better. We were outside for dinner too…also cold.

I’ve been drawing before dinner. It’s good. To draw. I missed it.

Monday’s walk with the little dog, who had some pent-up energy.

Me too, little dog.

Dinner Monday night. Good food, but the recipe said 20-minute prep, and that was an hour.

I did make my own roasted peppers, but still y’all. ‘Twas not fast.

Oh yeah. Go to this link and read this article about how Michaels censored a cross-stitch artist’s book (Stephanie Rohr you can buy patterns there too) they ordered. During Women’s History Month. And then go buy her book from an indie book store. And if you have some extra cash, offer to buy one for someone who doesn’t. I just sent one to one of my daughter’s friends.

Ah Nova. You are the sweetest cat in the house.

OK. School today. Exercise. Hopefully some more poking holes in my fingers with needles (sewing. Nothing weird. Just sewing.).

Maybe We All Need Repotting…

Somehow, the month of February whizzed by my head without fully whacking me unconscious, so here we are. In March. Four weeks closer to Spring Break. Another paycheck closer to Summer Break. And no paychecks. Love summer for that. Such a challenge. Every year. That said, it’s getting Spring-like, and that’s nice…new growth on plants, flowers popping up, weeds taking over the yard. All the things!

Well the biggest news, besides my sewing machine being in the shop because it wasn’t dropping the free-motion foot (it dropped feet when straight stitching, but not zigzag; talk about fussy), is that I got my first vaccine. I am a teacher, in case you didn’t know that, and the school I teach for (not AT at the moment, because I can’t go back without these shots) is in a high-infection area (which means that, yes, I live in a high-infection area), so we were first on the list. Got my email on Friday while my science kids were finishing their work; got an appointment for Saturday morning…with a few hundred other people. Seriously, this was the most people I’ve been around since before COVID. And in an enclosed space. Freaked me out.

Plus a shot. Finally getting closer to being safe. Hopefully. I forgot to take a picture when the doc injected me, and he forgot to give me a sticker. Ah well, my co-teacher came to the rescue and met me outside after they monitored me for 30 minutes due to my weirdo reactions to shots.

I’ve been fine, just a sore arm and maybe a headache and fatigue. Hard to say if those aren’t things that I would have felt anyway. Probably! On to the next shot in a few weeks. Exciting stuff.

Our weekly gaming with friends seems to have moved to Sunday night, but that leaves open a night to game in person at home with the two men…we had a new Settlers of Catan expansion, so we read all the instructions 17 times and played a couple rounds.

I almost won one without even noticing. I’m not that good at games. I like to play; I don’t need to win.

Saturday, we did a little hike after taking the sewing machine in.

It’s definitely Springlike.

But the weather is still cool and breezy, so hikes are nice.

We tried a new trail in a place we hike all the time. It had a little up in it.

But it was good. Only 3.5 miles though. No time for a longer hike…left too late.

Then because the sewing machine was being cranky, I did some hand-sewing for a while on Saturday night.

Just sewing things down.

There might be a time when I come back to these and add more stitching.

I enjoy it, but don’t usually make time for it.

I also started this drawing at dinner on Saturday night.

And then finished it last night. It’s small. This is actually a printout of it larger than it is in real life. I joke that now I have the nanites in me, so everything will be fine. Honestly, I’d be OK with the nanites. Fix me, you little machines. Fix me.

Otherwise, I’ve been buried in schoolwork. Posting things, redoing things, making videos of things, grading things, answering too many panicked emails and ignoring others. School is frustrating in the best of times. These are not the best of times. These guys don’t care. They just want pets.

So we pet them. Although Nova, the sweetheart on the right, caught my finger and ripped it open Saturday? Friday? when I was petting her and tried to stop. So it’s a little painful. Otherwise, they’re all good.

This plant finally flowered. I’ve never seen it flower.

I repotted it and it is obviously much happier. Interesting take on the world there. Maybe we all need repotting.

School all day, hopefully some exercise, hopefully some art. A lot of grading. Every day until I’m done.

All That…

It’s a Monday morning. We all have feelings about that. My current feeling is that I’m not ready. I did get almost caught up with grading…well, until this week, when everything at the end of everything is due. Friday will feel overwhelming, for sure, but for now, I’m trying to get to a place of managing that. The trimester ends next Friday, the science unit ends this week, all the art projects end this week. And the month ends! It’s probably not related. Plus in the last week and a half, there are 4 pickups for art. I’m handling 2 of them and the men are handling the other 2, because they’re all during my work day…during a normal person’s work day, honestly. So yeah. Not sure what I’d be doing if I didn’t have people home to do pickups. Negotiating alternate pickup methods, I guess.

Did anyone do QuiltCon? I am realizing I prefer an actual class with a teacher talking to me to a pre-recorded video class. So be it. I’m in it for the human interaction. I watched both my classes, but haven’t started due to materials issues and time issues and just plain issues. I might get there. We’ll see. I missed the lecture I signed up for because I forgot about time zones, which I’m sad about, but it was recorded, so I watched it anyway: Chawne Kimber, who looks like fun to watch quilt. Like she’d be fun to take a class from. Future thoughts. I’m also signed up for the SAQA conference in April; looking forward to that, although some of the events start right when school ends, which could be complicated. We’ll see. My current QuiltCon project, by the way, looks like this.

That’s not much there. It might become more. We’ll see.

I did some other stuff, embroidery finishing, then piecing, and putting borders on, but it’s a recent Sue Spargo piece that hasn’t been published yet, so I can show anything but the cat guarding one of the spools of thread.

Just know I’ve been working on it and it will eventually show up here, probably in the next month or so. Mostly brainless easy stuff that I can do when nothing else is working.

Saturday, we did a longer hike (it was actually 1.4 miles shorter than it was supposed to be, not sure why)…this is another Coast to Crest challenge hike, from 2019-2020 though. It starts in Del Dios Highland Preserve, on the Lake Hodges side.

And basically it goes up 1100′ in less than a mile, no switchbacks. It’s not impossible…just hard.

And then at some point, you cross over into Elfin Forest Recreational Forest. This is not all the way up.

But we didn’t start that high up, for sure.

Spring has started to show up.

The point is to get to the Lake Hodges overlook, but you walk by Olivenhain Reservoir to get there.

It was the longest 6 miles I’ve ever done. It just felt hard.

Although the weather was perfect…cool with a breeze.

So yeah, we started at the level of Lake Hodges…down there.

Yeah. So my legs are still feeling it two days later.

Mostly flat. Literally 1365′ feet up and then back down. Averages out.

Anyway. Not a bad hike…might be easier to go up the Elfin Forest side? Hard to say.

Hey! There’s my piece in the California Fibers: Historical References show that is currently open in Los Angeles.

Yeah, mine is the big one, One of My Kind. There are appointments available to go see it, or you can see it online.

I did do the stitch down on the little owl last night…then sandwiched it.

And then fought the sewing machine and the sewing machine foot for a while and gave up and read my book. Because life is too short for fighting machines. I’ll try again tonight.

For now, I need to get some work done. A pissy parent demanding things, plus getting ready for school and teaching and all that.

A Weird Year…

February is such a weird month. So short. So full of 3-day weekends (which I fully appreciate). You try to use that extra day wisely, make sure you have some free time, time off from school stuff, time to just relax. Sundays just disappear into school and groceries for me, and now gaming has moved to Sundays for now, totally confuzzles my brain. So I need today, the extra day, mostly to catch up with whatever I didn’t get to on Saturday, because my brain just stopped working. Not really. I did grade things. In fact, I’ve graded every day, and before you tell me I should take a break today and not grade anything, I’ve already considered it and rejected it because of the number of things I have piled up. The reality is that we’re getting to the end of a trimester, and the art stuff and science stuff make it harder to grade, because I have to full on change my mindset to pop from one to another; same with going from the 6th-grade art class to the upper-level art class.

Anyway, after grading Saturday morning (while the man watched the impeachment), we hiked the Highland Valley Trail, part of the Coast to Crest challenge from 2019/2020. This is a pretty one, although you never really get away from houses and the road.

It looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere…

But in reality, above those deer is a house…

They don’t seem to mind.

And below us is a road…

It’s a pretty trail though. We could have gone further.

But it was getting late.

Just under 4 miles.

WordPress seems to be having font size issues today. Hmm. We’ll see how it posts. Right now, it looks tiny.

Friday night, I did a little ironing on the Desert Bunny quilt. Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it right now.

I’m sure it will change. I quit when it was flesh time…until last night at midnight. Because that seemed like a good time to pick fabrics for a big chunk of the quilt. I tried to pick fabrics I hadn’t used before or often. Success! At least two of them had never been used.

Coolio.

This is such a tiny quilt. I’m almost done ironing it to fabric. Then I get to trim it. I also finished the sleeves and binding on the Spargo quilt on Friday night, but I need someone to hold it up for me for photography. Maybe later today.

Where Kitten sits while I’m teaching…

So she can see me but not be in class.

I keep trying to relax…pajamas, pets…

Furry love.

I miss treats at school.

I can’t be bothered to get in the car before school starts and go buy a donut. Silly what you miss.

Still doing the bullet journal after IDK how many years. It helps focus my brain. I like to try new fonts. My favorites are the ones that are a pain in the ass to draw…

I mean, my favorites are the ones that are totally different for each letter.

Last week’s, I gave up trying to draw…because it was all plumbing. YES. A PLUMBING FONT. Who knew? A pain in the ass to do.

OK, I need to go pick up art from a show that closed. I entered one show last night and started entering another, which turned out to be another pain in the ass. I don’t have a lot of “family friendly” art…at least, I suspect what most people would call family friendly. Oh well. Everything I have for that show is OOOLLLDDD. So be it. Then more grading, prepping food for my mom’s 80th birthday. I missed my dad’s 80th due to a COVID exposure. So I’m bringing food, especially cake. And hopefully some art. Plus grading. Not hopefully on that. That has to happen. And then no more 3-day weekends for a long while. Spring Break is in 39 days though. That sounds almost doable. We have a short camping and hiking trip planned for break, and then the Man leaves to hike the PCT. For possibly 5-6 months. It’s a weird year, y’all. A weird year.

Miles…

Hmmm. Am I walking too much? 20 miles in 9 days? Not so bad. If I were through-hiking the PCT, I’d have to do that every day. This is just in bits and bobs; 3.6 miles is the short bit, my regular weekly stomp up and down local hills. Added a couple of 4+ milers, one with dog and boychild, one with the man. I’m feeling it this morning. Plus? It helps me sleep. When I am doing more, though, I know that’s a sign that the stuff in my head is being cranky…apparently more so in the last week or so.

I’ve been quilting the Sue Spargo block-of-the-month from a million years ago…wool is not so hard, apparently. Nah, it’s really soft and mostly forgiving.

This is the first wool quilt I’ve ever quilted. I outlined everything so it would stand up, and then started quilting in the background.

Mostly spirals, but some other random stuff. There’s stars and stripes in there.

Some echo quilting around the leaves…

An occasional cloud or swirly bit. And then I ordered more thread, because I will need it.

OK, so I guess that means I can quilt all my wool pieces (there are three of them ready to go). It’s brainless and that’s what I need right now.

I started around the edges, so I’ll still need enough for the middle, and then maybe some parts inside flowers and birds in a different color. We’ll see.

We started hiking the San Diego River Valley’s 2019/2020 Coast to Crest challenge hikes because…well, why not?

Apparently there are still patches left and we can get another one. This is the northern Lake Hodges part of the trail, which starts on the east side of the 15…

And goes under it…so there’s lots of road noise in the first mile…

And then it’s a relatively easy and open trail.

With a view of the lake eventually.

A stream to cross.

I was hoping for a nice relaxing hike with the man, but it turned out to be stressful. No fault of the hike. These unprecedented times mean sometimes everyone is stressed out.

I’m kind of done with unprecedented times personally.

There are many birds that are too far away to see clearly. If you’re into that. I like birds.

We hiked to the selfie spot; didn’t do the whole 7.4 miles. Not my choice. But you know how that goes. Having a hiking partner is nice. Even when it’s not.

There was a coyote, a very skinny one, under the freeway bridge on the way back.

Last night’s hike, I heard them but didn’t see them…

Set out late (and alone) after a science planning meeting that I don’t get paid for and do every week anyway. Thanks to my school board for voting on a reduction in salary plan last night. Work more, pay less. Really appreciate it y’all. It’s been a great year. This makes it so much better.

Gonna appreciate the puppy love…

And sweet kittens…

And get to work. Sigh. Ugh. It was rough yesterday. It will be rough today. Perhaps every day. And maybe after the really long union meeting I am foreseeing in my future tonight, I will make art. If I have the energy. I hope I do.

Let Me Check My Bag of Feet…

One thing that’s sucked about this year (one thing…ha haha ha hysterical laughter ensues) is that school starts a half hour earlier. I mean, it doesn’t really. We had to be at school by 8:30, school started at 9. Now actual school still starts at 9, but we’re supposed to start working at 8, and I do. Usually I start earlier, actually, since my commute is really short. And I never stop. Because it’s always in my face. I did make the smart decision to move school out of my office/studio and into the living room when I started up again in August, so my studio is still my escape from work. I used to do quite a bit of schoolwork in here, and now I don’t. It’s safe here, there’s art materials, occasionally I do a Zoom meeting in here, but mostly, no. Also, the internet in here is wiggy as shit. Another reason to move out to where I can hook up directly to the internet.

Anyway, so having to start 30 minutes earlier doesn’t seem like much, but I refused to get up 30 minutes earlier, settling for 15 minutes earlier alarm time, figuring I don’t have to drive to work, so there’s the other 15 minutes. Many mornings though I still feel drugged by a lack of sleep when I start working…usually before 8. Ugh. Today is no exception. And I didn’t get enough work done this week…I’m behind on one assignment that will not be fun to score, plus all the stuff piling up from this week, oh and that other art assignment I didn’t get to yet, fuuuuuck. Yes, it’s a 3-day weekend, but I’d like to spend it all hiking and arting, and that’s not happening. I need to catch up. If you don’t stay on top of it, you get buried. Since we came back from Winter Break, and we’re teaching how we normally teach (well, best we can), it’s been much MUCH easier to get done with everything and get it graded, at least for science. Art is its own clusterfuck and will be a bigger one today when I delay some stuff because I couldn’t get done what I needed to get done for today and I’m pretty sure the real art teacher didn’t either. Sigh. Anyway, I am always trying to grab time back from my job and let there be a purpose besides a paycheck. It’s a shit year for good vibes from school, so I focus on what gives me some sense of satisfaction.

Like finishing a quilt. I didn’t post these earlier, because I am still searching my mind for a title (no, politely, I don’t want your help, many thanks, it will speak to me when I have time to listen)…

Obviously a quilt about childbirth, but the COVID virion is there as well…

Lurking in the soil with some other things.

I have an online show coming up with USC about childbirth…this Spring.

So I thought I’d do a quilt that just focused on that. I have many that refer to a variety of women’s issues related to the uterus.

Rockets are related.

Anyway, this piece is not huge…like 38″ wide by 65″ high (I’ll measure it for reals when I put it on the Gallery page)…

But it took a healthy 100 hours and 27 minutes to complete. Lots of pieces, lots of details. People ask. I started it in November 2020…and normally I would have finished it faster, but in November, my dad fell and ended up hospitalized, and interestingly, he came home Wednesday finally and I finished this quilt not that much before that. So it’s not surprising I wasn’t working fast.

Hey dad.

I went to see him, of course. I only saw him twice the whole time he was gone, due to COVID restrictions. It’s going to take a long time for him to get his memory and physical strength back, but we’re glad to have him. Even when he’s cranky.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces of artmaking in the evenings. I’m really tired these days. Exhausted I guess. Not enough sleeping is happening. I cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the newest quilt.

This one only has 283 pieces, so it’s going super fast. It’s kind of nice.

I sorted the Wonder Under into bins last night in 9 minutes flat. It’s good I’m not doing a big one right now. I would’ve had to move all the demo stuff for chemistry and art to have the room. Maybe should stay away from a big one until we get through the chemistry units. Spring Break. That sounds good.

I’ve been doing some embroidery I’m not allowed to show you yet, but also started…no, continued quilting this Sue Spargo quilt from a million years ago. This is Earth & Twig, finished embroidering it before the girlchild went to college, but was scared to quilt it.

It’s the embroidery, man…it catches on everything and is annoying to quilt around. Plus I had never quilted wool before (that part is not hard). But mom and I talked extensively last night about FEET and the FOOT CATALOG (did you even know there was such a thing?) because my mom has ALL THE FEET IN THE WORLD and I really do not. I use TWO FEET (don’t most of us?), and when I got this machine, I couldn’t get a foot I liked, and for some reason, just put up with what it came with, but mom’s gonna call Jimmy (the sewing machine guy) and see if I can get a better FOOT. I was obviously semi-hysterical during most of the conversation, because whenever mom said she had a BAG OF FEET, I lost it.

It’s cool. It’ll be fine.

Lots of animals helping me with work these days…Simba barking at the asshole neighbor…

Good dog. There’s my super slow shitty school computer that I borrowed so I can see what the kids see on a Chromebook, but also use while my other computer is doing other things…and there’s the actual teacher-y school computer, which has its own issues, plus the monitor I pulled out of our stash of extras. And Kitten. Not helping by standing in front of the monitor that has the rubric for what I’m trying to grade.

Here’s where you get an idea of how fucking hard it is to grade online art…and it’s not just because of the cat in the way. Apparently the district is going to get us an extra monitor. For distance learning teachers. I think that’s when I first started the semi-hysterical laughter last night. Like keep shoving kids in my classes, because I don’t have to social distance, but almost a year into this fiasco, you’re gonna get me another monitor. Sigh. Fuck you. Whatever. Roll my eyes. I said they should come teach my classes today and see how it goes. People who aren’t in the classroom should NEVER EVER be allowed to make decisions about this shit. Or they should listen to us more.

Calli tolerating Nova, who is bunny-watching.

Kittens sleeping on the bed, until I came in…

They’re not kittens any more. But their faces there are very typical. Luna is pissed because I petted Nova first. Nova is a sweetheart.

My cat, Kitten, is demanding, but loving.

Follows me all over the house, demanding attention. Eating pine needles. Then throwing them up. Like a boss.

Speaking of bosses, I am sort of one…to 177…no wait, I’m down two who dropped…175 students (don’t tell the school; they’ll give me three to replace the two). And work starts in the other room in 6 minutes, enough time to take my meds and walk over there. And teach all day, trying to get everything under control and organized, trying to deal with parents who think I have time for phone calls and explanations that I’ve already said 7 or 8 times, for kids who need help (that I am willing to give) and assignments that aren’t graded or done, and planning that’s not complete, and posts that need to be made, and videos that need to be made. But a 3-day weekend will give me a little leeway, a little extra time for me and not school. And that’s a good thing to get to at the end of the day.

135 Days…

Time has a strange warp to it. I have never put Summer Break on my countdown app (it counts down until an event) until after Spring Break…until this year. Every day, I slide over on the phone so I can see: Spring Break 51 days, Yosemite 55 days, the Man leaving for the PCT 64 days, Summer Break 135 days. 51 seems doable. Until a day like yesterday, and then it’s like, man, how many days left until the weekend (3). I really hate people who will say things like TWO days to the weekend on Wednesday morning…I’m like, fuck you, we still have to survive today. That’s THREE days. I guess they are perkier people than I. Delusional. Sometimes time is so slow in class that I feel like I’m checking the time every minute; yesterday, doing a demonstration on elements, time was faster than a cheetah, skimmed past and was gone. Oh shit. Well. Weird. Because in the physical classroom, I would have done that demo in a 51-minute period with time to spare. Online? Much longer.

But today is Wednesday, hump day, get over it. Dad comes home today. Hopefully being home around familiar things will help with healing, remembering. I’m hoping to see him today; I’ve seen him twice (well except for FaceTime once) since he fell…once when we thought he was dying and once when he was in the COVID ward, from outside a window, standing in the dirt. It’s been a weirdass 2 1/2 months. I’m good with those being over. I’m hoping the next 2 1/2 months have fewer lows and more positive shit going on. School notwithstanding. School is a frustrating exhausting demoralizing annoying all-encompassing whirlwind of stress and anxiety and irritation. More so than usual.

So I hike. And I make art. And I read. And sleep. And pet lots of animals during the day. And plant succulents, because they are harder for me to kill. Small rewards. Mom got her first vaccine shot. Small rewards. COVID sent my whole grade level home for the next two weeks. Well. That sucks. But it’s not surprising. Vaccines aren’t available for the kids yet, and here in San Diego, teachers aren’t even on the list yet. Maybe by the end of the month. Maybe.

Monday, Kitten took over my work chair. This amused my 6th-grade art kids no end.

Eventually I put her on the light table, where she appeared under the doc cam, and then slept on the edge of the couch, near me, for the rest of the class day. She’s a strange needy beast at times. I’ve been doing chemistry demos the last two days, and keeping the cats out of the materials has been hard. I set up and put plastic bins over the test tubes and element samples until I teach, shooing the cat away on the regular.

The next unit will be fun for this crap. All chemistry, all the time. The test tubes have HCl and CuCl2 in them, but they need to sit for 24 hours for some of the chemical changes, so outside they went…

They’re a little damp this morning, but they’ll work. I had a headache all day, though, because of the iodine and sulfur. Windows open, not good enough. Today is corrosion and something. I’ll remember it…tarnish! Yeah. It’s a little easier and shorter, but the vinegar will drive me bonkers. The kids thought it was cool though. So there’s that.

I’ve walked two days in a row (see a need? see above rant)…over 8 miles total. We left the old lady behind on Monday and dragged the little one out for 4 1/2 miles…finally found the gate at the end of the path.

There were a lot of people on the trail, but 16 of them were what looked like a high-school cross country team.

There was definitely evidence of last week’s rain in the creek/river/whatever it is.

But the water’s been higher. We’re just over 4″ of rain since July 1…it’s not enough.

The little boy (dog) was tired afterwards, which is a good thing. The old lady can’t really do more than a mile, mile and a half, right now. Even then, she is very limpy. Which is too bad, because she loves walks.

Yesterday, after a lot of parent and kid issues with school, I walked myself…

I got a late start (dealing with kids and parents after school)…and ended up in the almost dark at the end. This sign confuses me. Should I just knock on the door?

Maybe she will be lurking around outside? I would totally buy cookies from a neighbor kid right now. Except I haven’t had cash in my wallet for 11 months now. Hmmm.

The plus of these late walks are the skies.

Although it’s staying lighter later. Hallelujah. Leaving at 3:30 to get an hour in before dark was rough.

Art: this piece is smaller, much smaller…so it’s going fast. I traced Wonder Under in two nights…

While binge-watching Bridgerton. The man called it soft porn. Eh. That’s possible.

Three and a half hours later, I was ready to trim Wonder Under.

Before that, of course, I graded shit. I do that almost every night. I give myself Saturday night off. Usually. I sometimes have help…Nova was first, then Luna.

I thought I might be able to get it all cut out in one night, but I was exhausted…

So that’s tonight’s work. Then sort it and hopefully iron it to fabric after I iron the baby owl down. I’m also supposed to be quilting my wool piece, the UFO, for progress before Friday night for my guild. Um. Hmmm. Maybe. Anyway. Progress. I like progress. It makes me feel like I’m getting something positive or useful done. My day job did NOT do that for me yesterday…well, except for kids liking the chemistry part. That was cool. Today will hopefully be cool too. We’ll see.

Cat.

OK, meeting in 25 minutes, school time starts in 11, need to set up demo, get some other stuff pounded out, hopefully no more nastygrams demanding or claiming shit that doesn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t happen. Sigh. Kids. They panic, cry, lie about shit. And parents don’t question that; just assume I am wrong, I am horrible. Sigh. Double sigh. It’s demoralizing sometimes. And this year has so little support…because there’s no one else here and my team is not a team this year and I can’t get answers to stuff I need answers to, because…just because. I’m back to looking at the countdown app. 135 days.

Manage This Better…

I am currently completely and totally procrastinating answering all the parent and kid school emails from this weekend. Some don’t need an answer; they were an appropriate acknowledgment to the weekly notifications I send about hey, y’all aren’t turning shit in. Unfortunately, some weren’t. I saw the first one roll in Friday night. I could say I ignored them, but I didn’t. I just didn’t answer them. So they’ve been sitting in my gut all weekend. Maybe that’s why I answer right away…so that doesn’t happen. Sure, I could be like some people and not have my email come to my phone…or my home computer…and I could never open my school computer during the weekend…HA HA HA…oh wait, that’s bullshit, because I can’t even come close to getting all my school work done in the 5 days of the week I’m paid to do it, who the fuck am I kidding? Anyway, it is my constant goal to manage this better, acknowledge my failure to do so, and move on. Those emails will get answered today; no one will like the answers, but oh well. The really annoying one from last weekend, the mom never emailed back and said, oh hey, I’m sorry for bitching you out for something you don’t even do, don’t have any control over, and tried to fix for me. No thanks, no sorry, no acknowledgment at all. Noted. Fully noted.

This job. Is. So. Hard. This. Year.

Luckily, when I went in to school on Friday, my co-teacher was still there and helped me (and my overwhelmed fuzzy brain) gather all the science-y stuff together for this week’s demos. Chemistry for all! It’s hard to make art around the job sometimes…literally, right now, I need the light table, and I have all this school stuff on it, so I’m trying to work around it. Or through it. Hard to say which.

Friday, I dropped my quilt at the photographer (pictures tomorrow!), then went to school, then to enlarge some drawings from December 2019-February 2020. You know, pre-COVID shit hitting the fan.

I only copied three drawings. They’re out of a 9×12″ sketchbook and I enlarged them 200%. I figured that was a good size for right now, when I don’t have much room on the light table or in my brain.

I think this was one of my Patreon drawings…maybe? Can’t remember.

This was one of the December drawings a day from 2019…because I didn’t even come close to doing that in 2020.

And this was from our Joshua Tree trip from February last year…

I sometimes go back and read previous year’s blogs for the same month as now, just to remind myself of the mindset at the time. It helps when I think things are out of control. I saw these drawings and thought they’d make good smaller quilts. I posted all three on Insta/FB, and there were a few votes for this one.

But I’d already picked the Joshua Tree one for the first quilt. I started tracing it last night and forgot to take any photos. I forgot a lot of things yesterday. I also stayed up way too late on Friday night trying to manage some of the stress in my head…stitching things down.

It didn’t really help. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll figure it out.

I wanted to hike Saturday, but with all the rain on Friday (we got over an inch in 24 hours, which is a lot for us), we didn’t want to stomp through a muddy trail and destroy it, so we picked an urban hike, the Seven Bridges Trail. I’ve done it a couple of times, but the Man hadn’t. It starts in Balboa Park, where there were lots of people…

Bridge number 1…

It’s not a difficult hike…fairly flat…bridge number 2…

Interesting views though…bridge number 3…

And some intriguingly bouncy bridges…OK, only one bouncy one…bridge number 4…

Came through Hillcrest, which is constantly evolving, and got off the official trail down a back alley of murals…

Which is probably how we got over the 6-mile mark…

It’s a little weird waiting for signals during a hike…

Bridge number 5…did I miss one??? Maybe.

Yeah, I didn’t photograph one. I don’t know which one. Bridge number 6…no wait, I did it right…

Some people will argue this is not a hike, because it’s not ‘out in nature’. Except there was nature all around. Hence the urban word. Not my preferred type of hike, but we still walked the whole time, didn’t stop and get ice cream (although it would have been OK if we had)…

Bridge number 7…

And I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s the Seven Bridge Walk, if there are eight bridges…

Another side trip adding to our mileage…

Through the cactus garden at Balboa Park…

Bridge number 8…

Like I said, over 6 miles. Tired. But good. Outside. Too peoply. Next weekend, we’ll do a hike on dirt with fewer people around.

Saturday night, I ironed all the fabrics for the tiny owl quilt I’m making…

And then cut them out…

After doing the January Patreon drawing…

And numbering the third of the smaller quilt drawings…

Plenty of art happening. Plenty of work happening. It’s February now. I have 17 emails to answer before school.

I mean, my school district actually has kids in physical school too, but I have kids in school, every freakin’ school day, and yeah. Working my ass off. Stressed out. Overwhelmed. Buried. Don’t tell me I’m not working.

Cats…

They handle everything better than I do.

OK, work, then exercise, then art.