Teaching Kittens to Fingerpaint

‘Tis Wednesday and I am trying to type this while a senior cat headbutts my chin and licks my hand. Also my right wrist hurts…and trying to figure out if it’s (a) all the computer grading I did yesterday, (b) lifting weights at the gym, or (c) tracing a few really big pieces of sky on Wonder Under is really pointless, because I think it’s all of them. Note to self: take computer off stand to grade. Also go find the wrist brace because last time you wore it for a day and things were better. My chiropractor is already going to have fun with my neck and upper back on Friday. Let’s not add other injuries from your silly job. Tiny little laptop keyboard plus bad angle of body and wrist. Silly.

So I’m not feeling like there’s much progress on the tracing, because I’m up in the big swoopy bits of the sky and the pieces are huge and a pain to fit onto the Wonder Under, so they take much longer to trace than all the small pieces I was doing over the weekend.

I think the first night, I only traced like 25 pieces. But they were big and fussy. Last night? Last night, I started on piece 411 and finished on 441. I’m still in the sky, but I’ve moved from the back right to the back left, and there’s not a lot of it left. So that’s a plus, because I’m used to doing about 100 pieces an hour and this does not feel like movement. I’m 8 hours in and still in the 400s. I’m only getting about an hour and 15 minutes of tracing each night during the week. I went to the gym last night, prepped breakfasts AND cooked dinner on Monday night. Tonight I have an art meeting on Zoom, tomorrow a stitching meeting on Zoom plus science planning. It’s hard to get time to make things right now. But exercise is important and so is the socializing. Most of them are back on Zoom for now, until omicron fucks off. I’m still getting a few quarantine contracts each day…wait. I don’t think I got any yesterday. Is that possible? Knock on wood, knock hard.

I will go back and fill in all those little spaces with the smaller pieces I’ll be tracing tonight or tomorrow night. I hate wasting Wonder Under. I save pieces that are bigger than 3″ square for when I need just a small piece to retrace something (happens all the time) or when I need to make a label for the back of a quilt.

Speaking of quilts, there are three in Escondido at the California Center for the Arts right now in the California Fibers’ exhibit Surface, Substance, StructureSo Cal Mama

I Can’t Be Your Superwoman

And Portrait of the Artist As a Young Woman

I haven’t made it up to the show yet. It’s up until March 6, so check it out.

And I also have a piece in the A Better World exhibit at Visions Art Museum, Bill! Bill! Bill!, a tribute to Bill Nye.

They’ve been closed for the last week or so; I haven’t seen this exhibit either, but I did see it in person when it was at Road to California? I think? Can’t remember where…it was pre-COVID, though, so fuzzy brain. It will be there until April 3. Lots of opportunities to see Nida originals! OK two opportunities.

I’m trying to finish up Sue Spargo’s Chirp before this year’s block of the month starts, ironically because I haven’t finished last year’s either. Silly, but a goal anyway. There are 24 flowers around the edge.

There are four of each type of flower. I have finished three of the types, so 12, so halfway! Woo! Wait, this also might have something to do with my wrist hurting today…those yellow cast-on bullions are a pain to do.

Every flower has them. I’m getting better at them. I guess that’s the plus. I did start the fourth flower type last night, but this is not a fast border to stitch. I suspect they got complaints, because last year’s easy BOM had a super basic border. I like a complicated border, but when you think you’re almost done and then there’s still 6 months of work (I do these slowly), it’s a hard mind thing.

OK. Time for me to get my ass out of here to school, where it’s a Wednesday, so I teach ALL the things, four different things, it’s like my hair is on fire…

Yeah. Welcome to my job in pandemic times. It’s never really a cake walk anyway, but this stuff just makes it harder. My morning science block will be like pulling teeth…I know because I did it with three classes yesterday. The afternoon block should be slightly better? Maybe? But then 6th graders in art. We are starting something new, though, so maybe that will help. It will feel less like teaching kittens to fingerpaint? Hard to say. Tracing the damn sky tonight though. That’s a thing.

Sexy Metal…

The alarm went off. In my dream, I was measuring out spaces for desks, but someone had moved my classroom outside, on cobblestones outside some very old (read, not found in California) building. There were sea lions nearby and a million places for kids to disappear into and a billion things for them to be distracted by, plus they were all coming from different places and we had to find room for all their luggage. Teacher dreams, man. Oh yeah, the desks had to be 6 feet apart, but ALL the school was outside, so I could only have this square of cobblestones and all the desks had to fit in that space. Ironically, I never had to do this last year, because I was in the hell they call Zoom classes, where all the desks are far apart or nonexistent and all the children are distracted.

So many levels of weirdass trauma with this pandemic.

Anyway, my weekend was busy, but I did finish all my progress report grades, although sometimes I wonder what I’m teaching and whether I’m effective or not…

Sixth metal? I’m hoping. Although I still don’t know what he’s talking about. Welcome to my world. The assignment I thought was so easy last week was apparently more confusing than I thought. Ah well. So be it. One of the wonders of teaching a school that is 90% or more English language learners.

So what else went on? Well, I traced a lot…over three hours on Saturday night…

We went to a friend’s birthday party early in the evening, and then the man watched his show and I listened to mine. When I’m tracing, I really need something that is mostly listening, not much watching.

No closed captioning, no foreign language, no action without words. Last night, I only got a little over an hour in…more like normal.

I am a quarter of the way through, but as I was tracing last night, I found a whole section I hadn’t numbered, so now, instead of 1329 pieces, I think there are 1372. Stay tuned for more brain farts.

This weekend was also the start of the Surface Design Association online conference, which I signed up for, and happily listened (and watched) to many artists talk about their work, one while driving to pilates, another while finishing grades, and one while prepping lunches. I miss most of it this week, because it’s all during school hours, but they will be recorded. And Saturday morning will be another batch of webinars I can listen to in real time. Not ideal, but doable. When I wasn’t grading or cooking, I was doing the brainless stuff I can handle at the moment…tracing stuff for blocks of the month, which keep me occupied when I don’t have the strength or energy to stand and trace.

That’s all freezer paper for a block of the month on mushrooms. I’m fully a year behind and totally OK with that. It’s a time filler. I don’t make art every hour of the day. My brain needs a break from ALL the things. Hence working on this in the evenings…

Still not done with the 3rd version of the flowers. Time-fucking-consuming. But relaxing as well. Do this stitch over and over again on 4 flowers. Then do the next stitch.

I also worked on this a little bit…a different part of my brain.

Look at the pile of fabrics provided. What do you see? How do they all go together? She needs an eye and IDK what else. More flowers. Perhaps that is a hat and not hair, and she still needs hair. A bird on her head maybe. I think they’re all facing one direction though. We’ll see. This one is different than the other ones…an entire scene instead of just a woman. Interesting.

I didn’t go to Road to California, but one of my quilts did…the left one in that block of five.

I also had a meeting of one of my art groups (on Zoom). I miss that group in person, but it was a really long meeting too. We juried new members in, so I had spent time earlier in the weekend reviewing their work and their statements and taking notes. Usually we jury just from work, but it was nice to hear them talk about their practice. Definitely a plus.

I have another art meeting (on Zoom) on Wednesday. Busy week. Long week. We’re back to 5 days of school finally. I’m just so tired all the time. I go to bed earlier than I used to, per doctor’s orders, but I don’t seem to sleep well…probably because I’m rearranging desks on cobblestones. YES, I know it sounds like rearranging chairs on the Titanic. Fully Fucking Aware of that. It’s fine. This week in science is demos and labs and rock stars. It all makes sense. Art is oil pastels. Hearing that I might have to continue to teach an elective next year…I wish I had one that was less labor- and brain-intensive. Art is hard. Teaching art is harder. I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. It’s not like teaching anything is particularly easy, but there’s this sense of talent/skill that plays in art and I just don’t have the energy for dealing with fixed mindset and art for only one period. If I didn’t have to do science as well? Maybe. We have an art teacher though and I don’t want to be her. Anyway. I get no choices on these things.

Yeah. That. You can’t tell that’s what I’m thinking because my mask is on. OK. Gotta go to school with pennies and magnets (lab!) and hopefully grade a bunch of things about balloons that don’t talk about sexy metals, and then meet with my team about field trips (what??? Finally!), and then come home and do more of that tracing thing. Plus bingewatch that show I’m listening to, because it disappears on January 31 and that isn’t that far away. Plus get enough sleep and exercise. Got it.

New Bird…

There’s a new bird in my yard. I haven’t seen it; just heard it. Sounds like a violin being played by a half-competent child. I’ve never heard it before…every morning, I sit in here or at the table and it screeches happily for a while. Is it Spring? Is that why we have a new bird? I don’t know. I wish I knew more about the birds who live here. We focus on the big beautiful owls and hawks, and I truly despise the mockingbird, but all the little gray brown birds…I don’t know what they all are. My neighbor above has added a bird feeder I can see from this window, and there are tons of birds hanging out around there. It makes me wonder why we never did that. Oh wait. We did. It was hard to remember to refill it and eventually it got gross and the metal corroded and we may have thrown it out. Yeah. I have too many things to do already. When the man leaves on his hike again, I have to remember the hummingbird feeders…at least they tell you. They buzz around your head angrily to remind you to fill them.

So that’s in my head this morning. The birds.

Monday night, I decided to leave the belly area and work on the sky. I did a few versions of “where do I put the sun” or “is there a sun?” or whatever, and then filled in the rest.

So the belly area is still undone…I still can’t remember what I was supposed to do in there. Last night, I went to the gym (to finish a book that really pissed me off about halfway through, but also to exercise), so I was late back, late for dinner, and then we watched a bizarre movie and I was stitching through it, nothing complicated, just the Sue Spargo Chirp quilt from a couple years ago, and I couldn’t get inspired to draw the belly.

Every flower is so freakin’ complicated. And there are four of each type. And I may never finish. Very positive thoughts about this quilt right now. So I got to here, looked at the clock, and it was bedtime. Aargh. OK. Well. Tonight is book club, so maybe I’ll finish the drawing? I don’t know. I still don’t know what’s going in that space.

I finished the flying geese…

Although I say that, and I just randomly laid these out, and obviously, I need one more? Except who knows what else will be added to this and I don’t need to decide anything right now.

I also went through the next drawer of black fabrics and made donation piles and then cut pieces for the boro-type scarf I’m making.

Sorted them a little. I’ll go through the white fabrics for the other half of the spectrum too.

Meditating last night with the little beast.

Have to focus on my breathing and not her butt cleaning. Difficult task.

OK, I have two meetings this morning. Sent notes to one. Can’t do both. Plus I teach 4 things today…advisory, science block 1, art, science block 2. I graded all the art projects yesterday. There are a lot of Fs because this group just doesn’t turn work in. Unfortunate. But I’m not waiting for them any more. We’re starting the next project. Onward! Hopefully my brain will figure out the drawing by the time I get to 9 PM, yeah? It would be nice. The new bird has gone quiet…must be naptime.

Miss Snyder Says Happy New Year…

Well. It’s a Monday. I love those. My current calendar still has Christmas on it (should fix that…I’m a visual person…need to see the days blocked out). I thought I’d be done copyediting last Saturday, but I got more material and then it didn’t get done. TODAY. TODAY IT IS DONE. Seriously, I made the mistake of emailing my author last night and giving him a list of the missing references so I could edit them for consistency…so now I need to do that as well as finish the bit I haven’t finished reading for the 4th or 5th time. It’s fine. I knew taking on work over break would suck, and for a job, it wasn’t a bad one…but it’s been a bit of a slog mentally, and it makes this week fun because now I have to grade all the things I didn’t grade in the last two weeks. It’s not hard, most of it…I just don’t have the right state of mind for it. I just want to watch cat videos and read my book, dammit. New Year’s resolutions for the best moments, yeah?

No, I really want to make art and conquer the job stuff and hike a lot and none of this is new…I say this every year. I do make art, I never conquer the job stuff because they keep making it harder, and I do hike…so there’s that.

Happy New Year! I still haven’t made my little thing of all the pieces I made last year…just the lame Insta one. I’ll put it on my list. You should see my list. It’s long.

So I did finally start quilting…I just didn’t have time until this weekend. And it started with a lot of thread breakage…

At first, I thought it was just because this thread is probably old…I’ve used this color before, but probably not for a while.

But when I started doing the outlining inside the image, it was breaking like crazy, so I started investigating all the things that make it break. It was tension. Thread is as tense as I am? Yeah. Anyway, this is the first time I’ve actually quilted on the new machine, and I was using a different thread, so it took a little fussing to get it right. I’m glad I got there though…because now I can just do a few hours at a time and get this thing done, yeah?

I’m gonna be here for a while, I think. Especially with all the other crap I still need to do this week. Yes, I am one of those lucky teachers who didn’t start back to school today. We have three weeks at Winter Break, which I’ve always appreciated…it means you can deal with all the family and holiday stuff and then still have a week to get back into school brain, which usually means massive denial until Friday before school starts, and then intense panic. It’s good. It works.

I also completed my quilt guild challenge to make a notebook cover…

It wasn’t hard. I enjoyed the stitching.

Did I NEED to spend a few hours on this? Of course not. But we often do things we don’t need to do.

It’s a lot more chill than what I usually do. Most of the fabrics were gifts this Christmas.

I’ve drawn 2 out of the last 3 nights…

We were supposed to go to a small gathering (us and 3 other vaxxed people) on NYE, but turns out the Man had an exposure before Christmas and we were being uber-cautious. We have no symptoms here, but there is a massive shortage of tests, so we can’t even check. I could go to school today and check…but we couldn’t schedule him a test at all. Sigh. I think everyone’s going to end up getting sick this time around. Get vaxxed! And boosted! The friend who got it was vaccinated but not boosted yet (hadn’t been 6 months yet)…so his case was mild…but we do know unvaxxed folks…and hope they will figure it out soon.

So we sat at home and I stitched and drew. New Year’s Day, we went and sat outside (cold night)…and I drew there.

I’ve done 14 drawings so far over Winter Break…I think I’ve missed 2 nights: Christmas Day and last night.

We hiked on New Years Day, but away from all the people. We left it late so we just went to one of our regular haunts…

Made a friend. We’re hoping to do something more interesting this week. The trails have dried out a little, hopefully, from last week’s rain.

In other news, based on 2020, I figured I wouldn’t have much time to read in 2021 (school takes that time away), but then the man was gone for 2 months on the PCT and I had no one to talk to, so I read a lot instead…totally beat my estimate.

Now I need to make an estimate for this year. School still sucks, but the Man is going to finish the PCT and the boychild will probably be on fire camp duty from July through October sometime, so I will be super alone and maybe should aim for 100 books? Or will the July jury duty suck reading time up? Sigh. IDK. It doesn’t really matter, but I like to be realistic. Last year, I made a goal of 45 and kicked it out of the park. I made the same goal in 2020 and only read 39 books (that year sucked). In 2019, I read 40 and my goal was 36. Hmm. In general, over the last 7 years, I tended to read between 35 and 45 books, except for this year and 2014 (which was a clusterfuck of a year), when I read 104. So probably 45 is still a good goal…maybe I’ll pick 50, just for fun. The girlchild set 125. Now I feel like a slacker. Ah well. Yes, I think too hard about these things.

The boychild turned 26 yesterday, making me feel old. I found this in a box somewhere and photographed it for posterity (plus the boychild doesn’t like his photo taken, so this is a stand-in for his 26-year-old self)…

I let him request a cake…my mistake…so many steps. This is Bon Appetit’s Blackout Cake, which apparently tastes really good…

It has all the chocolates in it. All of them. I’m allergic, so I have no idea how it tastes. I just know I touched all the chocolates over the 24 hours it took to make this thing. It actually wasn’t incredibly difficult…just time-consuming. Hopefully it was worth it.

We had the parentals and his dad over…

Simba was the youngest and cutest thing around, so he got all the attention.

I also am still working on Sue Spargo’s BOM from 2020, the mini/lite one, Chirp

I’m on the third type of six different flowers. There are four of each type. Not halfway yet, but getting there. The birds were fun to do. It’s just time-consuming. I find the stitching relaxing, believe it or not. It should be done in 2022. Not gonna commit further than that, honestly.

And this is what happens when you say my name in a Speech to Text program…

Gotta love my students. Whoever that Miss Snyder person is, well whatever. Maybe she’ll grade all the crap that’s here so I don’t have to.

OK. Well. So many things to do today. First, get the damn copyediting done. Get it out of here. Seriously. Then I can settle down to the other two jobs…finding a calendar for the current year is also important…I have the zoo calendar somewhere. That would be a good one. Happy 2022 all…I don’t have high expectations of the year…just hopes that the things I like are more important than the things I don’t.

Naps and Books…

Hello Christmas Eve! Full of rain and groceries that haven’t been bought yet. I am frightened of the task before me. First, we need a meat. Any meat I think will do at this point. I admit to having lost all momentum last night on the food front…I’m not really in charge of food. I just pretend I am sometimes. Definitely not when the girlchild is here. I’m leaving in 24 minutes to deal with all the foodstuffs though. WITH her. No way am I doing that alone. Uh uh. Nope. I do have a list…it was a series of post-it notes, but I can’t deal with that in the store. I’d be wandering around for days. So I spent time last night transporting info on post-its to info on my regular printed list, which is organized to match the aisles in the store. Because I haz the left brains AND the right brains y’all. I do both. And I’m not really happy unless I’m doing both. So there’s that. Organize it and then chaos it. AT THE SAME TIME.

I did finish all the stitchdown the other night…

Kitten was useless.

Total stitchdown was 6 1/2 hours…

I find the back fascinating…

I do actually stare at it for a while to find where I didn’t stitch…I had about three things I’d missed. And then, fascinating as it is, it gets tucked away inside the quilt, never to be seen again.

Then last night, after friend Zoom, I cleaned the floors (they were bad), washed the batting, pieced a backing (it was complicated, but I used most of a fabric I had left over…I think there’s like 3″ left of it), and pinbasted the thing.

While listening to the rain. It’s ready for quilting now. Not sure when I’ll get to that. The next few days are kind of busy. Apparently people want to do shit. I’d be OK in a pillow fort with my book, but whatever. I actually took a 2-hour break in the middle of that paragraph to do the shopping. It wasn’t bad, but the girlchild needs to make puff pastry from scratch (no worries there) and I have to make eggnog from scratch (doesn’t look hard, at least). And there’s no basil. Apparently basil is an important holiday spice. I did not know. Oh yeah, closeup of safety pins…

Just to prove I was down on my knees, poking myself in my fingers at 10 PM last night.

What else? Still drawing each night…here’s Wednesday…

And Thursday…

I Zoomed with my stitching group last night…we were supposed to meet in person two weeks ago and it got rained out, but this was a nice thing. Very chill.

Missing Ann in the picture…she’s 2 or 3 hours ahead of us and had to get up early. I’ve been working on the Chirp quilt from Sue Spargo, which she recently published, so I can show it.

There are 24 flowers in the border, 4 of each type. I’ve done 2 types, 8 flowers. This is taking a long time. I wonder if that’s why this year’s “easy” block-of-the-month didn’t have a fancy border? I like it, but it’s time-consuming. Then again, for me it’s more about the process than the product.

Girlchild is enjoying Simba…

I think they like each other.

OK, I have two cards to do, technically my Xmas cards too (but whatever), plus make the eggnog to make the breakfast casserole, then make the breakfast casserole, plus more copyediting, and I really need caffeine, because I’m still not awake. (Just want to read my book…have I said that?). And a family event tonight, two tomorrow, another Sunday probably, and one Monday. Am I grading things? Not at the moment. That will catch up with me though. Got to sew some things up for the girlchild as well. Need a nap. Christmas Eve should involve naps and books and little else. That’s what I think. For my future self maybe.

Fading Into the Landscape

Well I missed blogging yesterday. Not sure why. It was a Monday. Mondays mess with my mind even when I’m not even sure that it IS Monday. Blogging schedule is sort of half-assed right now. I slept like crap last night too…heat? sore? brain on fire? Not sure. I’m currently sitting through another 2-hour diabetes webinar. The last one was mostly unhelpful…all stuff I knew. This one might help more, but honestly, it’s more a pathway to the nurses so I don’t have to make appointments to talk to them that take three or more weeks to get. Frustrating process. All this because my numbers don’t make sense. Ah well. At least I am doing something about it.

So I’m tired…this is when the to-do list helps. I can just look at it and pick the things my brain can handle. Later, I’m going to the gym…it’s air-conditioned and I can read for part of it. I’m still on Summer break for a few more weeks. I need a routine I guess.

So Saturday, we went to a local art show. It was OK. Nothing really reached out and slapped me hard, so there’s that, but we also did some walking in the area.

Not a ton…

then stopped to hang out for a while…

We wanted to sit in the sculpture garden, but there was a private event, so no go. Damn those private events.

And then we tried a new restaurant for dinner.

Trying to find a routine for Saturdays again. The man can’t hike, but I can. This makes stuff complicated.

I have to admit to having two days of feeling tired and braindead, maybe a reaction to being out of town?

I did finish all the stitchdown on the May Homegrown Sue Spargo blocks…

I just keep doing these. They are brainless. Because I finished all those other quilts, I need to start something new, and while I’m getting to the brain state that allows that, it’s easier to just stitch stuff down like this. I also traced all the pieces for the June blocks, so today I’ll iron them to fabrics and keep doing the simple stuff.

Although eventually, Sunday night, I managed to cut a big piece of paper and process something that’s been in my head for a few months. Usually I draw in the sketchbook and then enlarge it, but for some, it’s just easier to start at full size on a big piece of paper.

I did start with a pencil sketch this time, just to put things in the right place. For the hiking man, I used a couple of photos I took while he was hiking away from me.

Inking is the next step. Last night, I couldn’t get my head into the next part of the drawing. It might not have helped that Nova was sitting on it.

But eventually she left and everyone left the room and I started to draw out what I had sketched.

I spend a lot of time staring at the drawing, at the blank spaces, during this stage. What’s weird about the drawing stage is that everything has the same weight…it’s just black lines and no color, so in just looking at the drawing, you can’t see what’s in my head. That’s where the female figure is fading into the landscape…in my head. That won’t show up for y’all until I start ironing it to fabrics. So yeah, the figure will fade into the background. Hopefully. If I manage the color well. It’s all colored in my head. Sort of.

Luna has been having some paranoia issues…

Not even sure what she’s staring at.

Kitten just wants to be close to us.

Lots of pets. Lots of squawking. We left for 2 1/2 days. How dare we.

I finally went back to the bird quilt…I got the borders on months ago with all the flowers, but I hadn’t done the embellishment. I finally started last night.

It was just overwhelming at the time. I needed something simpler. There are I think four of every flower, for a total of 24 of the damn things. It’s gonna be a while before I finish this thing, but my stitching group is starting to meet in person again, so this is a good one to take with me to that. Am I nervous about meeting in person? Yeah, a little. My friends are vaccinated, but we meet in a Barnes & Noble and I haven’t spent much time sitting inside anywhere. I figure I can stay masked if I feel weird about it. And maybe I’ll finish this thing.

This reminded me of the few years we had of flat-earthers in class…

Amusing. There’s always some wacky science misconceptions we deal with in class. Well, wacky makes it sound like something that doesn’t really matter, but since a lot of what kids come into class with comes from (1) family or (2) the internet, and we’re trying to teach them to think critically, it’s probably more important that we teach thinking skills than anything else. Maybe if we start every unit with all the misconception memes for that content that we can find…like a pretest? It’s an idea.

OK. Well if I’ve gotten anything from this webinar, it’s that I need to start tracking everything again and maybe even more than I was. I had to drop some balls during COVID teaching, and the diet app lost out to the meditation app. It’s time to go back. Teachers do their reflection over the summer and so we often set annual goals then instead of that New Year’s resolution in January. Back to monitoring…that’s mine. For now. Might be more resolutions later. I’m debating not tutoring this year. It drives me nuts. I’ll probably cave on this one though. Best for kids and all.

Otherwise, today is about doing some yardwork, cleaning the girlchild’s room (because she’s showing up tonight and probably wants clean bedding and maybe my shit off her bed), working on that drawing, and I don’t remember what else. Finish reading my book. School is coming for me. I can feel it. OK, the constant emails and texts from the district and the union are not helping my vacation mind frame, but some exercise will hopefully help with that. When it’s hot, that’s hard. I just need to get off my ass and do it. That’s true for everything, yeah? Get off the ass and do it.