Magic Wand

October 31, 2018

Hello Halloween…on the one hand, I love dressing up (I’m Dr. Nefario from Despicable Me this year, while surrounded by minions)…my catch phrase is “Do you want to exPLOOOODE?”. Which seems relevant. Tomorrow, we take 260 kids to the zoo, so they can run off their sugar highs from tonight. Hopefully I survive until Friday, because I still have grading to finish. And a quilt.

Yesterday, I worked for a million hours. Got home around 6 PM and kept working…I still have kids trying to give me field trip money, even though the list is done and emailed. I’m done. No more crazy this week (ha. never say no more.)

It was after 10:30 when I made it in here. The first 100 pieces are taking me FOREVER to cut out. Mostly because there’s these tiny little animals in there. So I need to find these fussy little fabrics for them. Although this is water…

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Water is fun. I’ve spent about 2 1/2 hours and I’m only in the 80s. Seriously crazy. It probably doesn’t help that I’m tired and stressed out. Here’s the fabrics piled up as I was trying to pick a bird brown that would show up against the sand brown.

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Then I mostly organized them and went to bed.

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Sometimes that’s all you can do. Tonight is candy for the three small children who come to our door, plus my parents are finally coming back after 7 weeks. I think Katie doesn’t believe they’re ever coming back, so she’ll be excited to see them. Much as we love her, she is a needy beast and the noisiest of the three dogs…well, maybe Simba is the noisiest, but he’s also the smallest.

OK, I have to be trained on epi-pens today. Again. Need to finish bus and chaperone lists. Need to find a magic wand and erase the noise and chaos from my head. That last one seems the most important.


Exciting Piles of Wonder Under in My Future

October 18, 2018

‘Tis early. My brain is fog. Or oatmeal. Not sure which. Oatmeal is stickier. So that.

Yesterday’s lab was much mellower than the previous two days. Maybe that’s because I’d done it before? Or because it was more like direct instruction instead of their reading instructions. Reading is always an issue for us…so many language learners.

Calli had to go to the vet yesterday, more pee issues, but at some point, the boy decided the little one needed some exercise. There’s playing that happens when Katie’s not here, but Katie has toy issues and Calli has jealousy issues, so we hide all the toys while Katie visits…which sucks for Simba.

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He likes toys.

Calli isn’t allowed to play because she’s a bully. She gets sticks thrown for her outside. Katie doesn’t actually fetch anything…she just tries to herd everyone who is fetching. It’s a pack of dogs…not just two.

After dinner, I didn’t do any grading. I figure I will do a bunch today. I took the day off to sit in a waiting room hopefully for not too long. But it means I’ll have some wait time there and here at home, so I can get a chunk of grading done.

So I started tracing pretty early last night. I was starting to think I was totally OK on time with this, but then realized I’m going to Boston and I don’t know what’s happening with Thanksgiving. So I panicked.

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I traced for about 3 1/2 hours and got two yards mostly filled…and another one started.

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I’m only in the mid 200s though. They were fussy pieces to trace. So I’m a quarter of the way through and it took about 3 1/2 hours. So another 10+ to go? I’ll do some tonight (maybe today? Although right now, a nap sounds lovely) and some tomorrow night, but that won’t get me done. We’ll see.

Anyway, gotta get out of here. Exciting piles of Wonder Under in my future.


I Feel the Chemicals Kickin’ in*

October 17, 2018

I left school yesterday and went to an art opening instead of straight home. It was a good choice, even though I’d walked so much during class, dragging trays of sand and water back and forth from the classroom like some sort of crazy piece of construction equipment (couldn’t the robotics class make me something that would do this?). And tutoring where this one girl I was trying to help with the most confusing math website ever, and I would ask her questions and she would say “No English” but she knew enough to tell me she speaks Pashto. OK. I can’t do that. I tried German and Spanish and she looked sadder and sadder, and I stared at the math website, trying to figure out what it wanted, but it made no freakin’ sense. Teacher fail.

Today is another, different lab, this one with crayons and hot water (could be a mistake…nah, it worked pretty well last year). We’re frantically trying to plan the project that starts next week. I feel buried and overwhelmed. Still. Ugh.

So the art opening was at Grossmont College and is up until Oct 26, and includes two artists I like, Cheryl Tall, whose piece here is Casa de Manos

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I never made it back into the room with her work to take more pictures…you’ll have to go check it out. Very impressive.

And then Gloria Muriel…whose mural art has been on here before. But this is a tiny little watercolor drawing. This is Deer Memory.

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A much larger piece, Woke Up From a Mayan Dream

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And Florentina, which is smallish and beautiful.

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Despite my exhaustion, it was a good stop to make. Home to an empty house (well, there were cats and Katie)…I graded stuff for a while. And then started numbering this thing. I took a break in the middle to check in with the musical guy who lives here (he eventually showed up after practice)…but then finished up before bed. I wanted to be under 1000 pieces, just for my own sanity (there is a deadline on this thing), and I was.

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991 pieces. Unless I fucked up somewhere and double-numbered something or skipped a whole bunch or just didn’t number it…all of which I do on a regular basis, so I don’t know why I set such importance on that number. But 991 pieces it is. It sounds more doable than 1001. Just barely. It’s a place from which I can estimate time.

I’m also hoping that I numbered it more logically than usual. I did all of the background and then the body and then the swirls of water. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

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I did try not to overembellish things…keep it simple. Well, for me. I didn’t need to put all the lines in the turtle. I didn’t need to put more lines in the hillside. A bush can be just one color. I can simplify flowers. Then I do the deer’s eyes and that all goes to hell in a handbasket.

She’s not huge…about 38″ wide by 60″ high? Something like that.

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Anyway, I can start tracing Wonder Under tonight. Then there’s probably 10-12 hours of tracing to do. Maybe by the end of the weekend? Hard to say. Depends on the next few days…

Oh yeah, I got my staff ID yesterday. Mine is better than yours.

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Really the best part is when I have to use it to get a teacher discount and I pull this out (or any of the last three) and the cashier tries not to show their hilarious dismay. Yup. That’s the best part.

OK, let’s do this day.

*Neon Trees, Animal


I Think I Need a Sunrise*

October 16, 2018

Rough lab day yesterday. Apparently reading instructions is not required. I guess I didn’t make that part clear enough. Don’t worry. I will today. Lab skills in the hands of 12-year-olds. Plus mud and water and knowing what NOT to put down the sink. Back to the mantra of “If Nida didn’t tell you to do it, then don’t do it!” It’ll be fine. Sometimes 7th graders are the most frustrating creatures on the planet…and sometimes they are awesome. Today maybe we’ll hit awesome. I can hope.

Staff meeting after that…I draw to occupy my brain.

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Seriously, if I’m really tired, this keeps me awake. If the meeting is stressful, this keeps my brain at an even keel. Works for me. Mindfulness and a Sharpie.

Then science meeting after that. Racing home to find enough daylight for this walk with the furry beasts. They need it. I need it. I don’t know if the boychild needs it.

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But he comes along anyway.

We pass a new vineyard in the neighborhood.

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And he finds this skull.

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Pretty sure it’s a raccoon…no lower jaw, missing some teeth, definitely an omnivore. Yes, I carried it home and washed it out, and now will take it to school. Even though I don’t really teach biology anymore. It’s still cool. Maybe someday I’ll unearth that skunk skelly I have down by the garage.

Dinner was already in the crockpot (that I had to buy yesterday), so that was easy. Oh yeah, I did that. After dinner and all that, I started drawing…and then this happened. Katie is needy. And bitey.

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She misses her real parents. We mostly suck because we don’t give her cheese and we don’t walk her twice a day. Like they do. Maybe they will come back for her some day (don’t worry…she sounds pitiful, but my parents will return eventually and continue to feed her all the cheeses).

OK, so I added a faucet and some overfishing and a Humboldt squid, because apparently the squid are totally happy with warming oceans, plus some oil drums and spillage.

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Leading into ocean acidification and bleached coral and the requisite dead fish.

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Then I finished the waterway and the hill…trying to keep it simple…for some definition of simple.

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But then debated and put sky behind the bird, because I was thinking about how to make things pop and knew dark background would be an issue for that bird and the water below, so now I have an option to work with that.

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It’s done. I actually finished around 11:10 PM, and thought about starting the numbering, but I was tired of standing at that point, so numbering will be tonight. I’m a little scared of how bad it will be, but whatever. It’s done now. If I don’t finish it for the deadline, I’ll still finish it and it will still be awesome.

OK, gotta be at school early to let kids measure stuff on their test makeups. I’m hoping they behave well enough that I can get some other stuff done at the same time, instead of starting the day playing babysitter. We’ll see.

*Augustana, Boston


And We’ll All Float on OK*

February 1, 2018

Yesterday was long. It began with a parent meeting and a breakfast of a handful of peanuts (not the best choice) and the teaching part went all day, like it does, into a meeting about who teaches what and why and how and when and maybe which…who knows. At some point, I got a second wind and started doing art things, quite a few of them. I didn’t do school things because I did lots of them at school and I should be allowed to stop at some point. Really. Today I have to remember to go to the chiropractor after school too. Somewhat hard to remember that shit.

So that was January, a whirlwind of not being able to do art for some reason. Seriously, I looked back, and most weeks I manage 13-20 hours of art…on top of a 60+-hour week of school (ugh). But until this week, I was doing about 4-5 hours a week. Maybe not helping with the feelings of stress. But I’m back on track! Woo hoo!

Seriously, it feels better.

Left for work yesterday morning with two furry beasts staring out the dirty window. It’s on a 2nd floor…hard to clean it, really. Need to replace it with something easier to clean. Normally the puppy is not out, but my housemate was running slow, so Simba got a few more moments of house freedom.

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After dinner, I put the bindings on the quilt I’ve been working on for months. That’s a fun binding…

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Usually my bindings are more mellow.

Wait. Well there’s this one…I finished the handstitching last night on this binding, but I purposely picked something crazy. Now I need to do the embroidery on it…that will take a while.

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I had wanted a January finish, so I should have done the handstitching on the other small quilt first and finished IT yesterday, but no…I did not think that far in advance. I liked last year when I was finishing one thing each month. Well. Until the summer, when all that fell to shit…so why am I worried? It’s OK…I didn’t have a finish last January either…I think I was a day or so off.

Dumped this on the couch so I could pin the binding back…

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So fast! So easy! This one will actually be done when the binding is done. I’m only doing bindings in that little bit after I’ve eaten my dinner until the show we’re watching stops. So if they’re 50-minute shows (figuring for commercials), that’s not a lot of time. It’s OK. They’ll get done.

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No rush.

My couch partner. He was quite happy when I sat still.

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Unfortunately for him, I suck at that. I eventually made it up off the couch again, after 10 PM, and started tracing freakishly small pieces of spine and ribcage and metal structure.

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I’m about 7 1/2 hours in and honestly? Almost done with the tracing. I think I have about 100 pieces left…or 120. That’s an hour or two. The little ones go faster. So hopefully I’ll finish tracing tonight and start cutting pieces out.

Meanwhile, from Tuesday’s drawing, there’s this little rodenty thing. I didn’t draw him with a purpose…was thinking mole and then he got a tail, so maybe mouse, or I don’t know what. Little mammal thing in a hole.

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Julie didn’t like that he didn’t have ears, apparently, or that he wasn’t biologically valid, which is amusing, because absolutely none NONE of my birds are real. Seriously, I just make that shit up. It must be obvious. But now I have this…

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because she sent it to me for future reference. I’m amused because this is a drawing about us getting nuked to oblivion due to our idiot president’s penis size (sigh), and she’s worried about that thing having no ears. I researched nuclear bombs and umbrellas and the rest was just random drawing. Filling space. And I’m months away from being able to make this quilt.

It’s fine. I’m amused. Now you know how much I research…sometimes a LOT, sometimes nothing at all.

Girlchild has finally found the wifi and time to post on her blog…check it out. And now I’m off to another parent meeting and day of teaching, luckily without the meeting at the end. And then art…really, after the gym and reading my book, but art.

*Modest Mouse, Float On


No One Told Me About Her*

January 28, 2018

I have these goals to go on long hikes on the weekend or go hang out at the zoo (new passes for Christmas) or sit down on the deck and do a new drawing (that’s a perennial goal for me), but often it just ends up being the grocery store and the compost bin and maybe laundry if I’m really organized. I have two openings coming up in LA, and the thought of having to drive all the way up there and back in a day is disheartening…although I’m gonna do it. Twice. Which means having to plan ahead for the school stuff I normally do on the weekend.

It’s not that I’m not getting anything done…I just always want it to be more. And I forget how much energy school sucks out of you (I have three THREE parent meetings this week…for parents who just figured out their kids are failing. Sigh. I guess I’m glad they figured it out.). Meetings and grading and explaining and planning and grading and sending the parent email (I did that at 11 PM last night. Normally I do it today, but I’ll be in a car for a significant portion of the day.). It’s supposed to be almost 90 degrees here today, but my feet are freezing. I should go sit on the deck. Really. It’s warm out there.

I am glad to say that I finally finished the quilting on the small quilt.

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The lighting in here seems worse than usual…so quilting during the day is easier (although impossible during the week). I’ve been considering pulling this room apart at the beginning of summer, removing wallpaper, replacing flooring, painting the whole thing, maybe a new window, take the TV I never watch out and put more shelves in, replace a bunch of plastic drawers with something more sturdy and wall to ceiling, maybe even put in French doors instead of the sliding door so I can get more air in here…or something. But I don’t think I can afford it. I can think about it though and price shit out and see if it’s something I can do in the future.

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At some point, I won’t be paying for college any more.

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This was really quick to quilt because it’s small. The tree leg was the most complicated bit. It was only 4 hours and 45 minutes total.

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But it was just big enough that I wouldn’t have enough fabric for binding…I generally buy half yards, and that’s what this was going to take.

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But nothing worked. OK. Don’t lie. You didn’t even try. You wanted to go to the fabric store. It’s true. I haven’t been there in a while. I like the fabric store.

Here she is trimmed…

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About 36 x 42″ or so. So I made a trip to the store and put all that in the wash…

Then settled down to some TV and finishing this finally. Packed up all three blocks to send back to Social Justice Sewing Academy…

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And then graded for a while last night…cleared out all the makeup work (37 emails) and input those, plus pulled grades for another assignment from the website. I don’t have to grade anything but the last question…and then it gives me the score. Easy peasy.

Then heard briefly from the girlchild. With 11 hours difference, her day is my night etc. But this morning, I heard a lot. I’m going to let her tell her own story on her blog, though, although she’ll need wifi to get that posted. There are two posts so far, but she’s got another two written and ready to post. You can read her here if you want…all I can tell you know is that this is her bed in her host family’s house…and she’s feeling a little overwhelmed. (The bed alone would do that to me.)

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I remember doing this…barely knowing the language, staying in a strange house. It’s hard. But worth it. I hope she feels better after a long night’s sleep. She’s trying to learn two languages at once and adjust to a new place and not get sick. Hard stuff. Makes me appreciate my host family even more. They were really easy compared to some.

Here’s the fabric I bought after they came out of the washer. I didn’t allow myself to wander and shop much. I didn’t have much time and I don’t have much money. Although! The first check for the commission piece showed up yesterday, so I’m going to be starting tracing Wonder Under tonight! That’s actually exciting. I’m looking forward to it. In fact, I got some of the purplish fabrics for the spacey bit I think. Or I just liked them. Yeah that’s it.

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There’s the one I picked for the binding. I actually picked two, but couldn’t decide until I got home. The store was full of people, so I didn’t feel super comfortable throwing my naked climate chick out on the floor and trying binding fabrics out around her.

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Sometimes you just have to buy more than one and decide in the peace and quiet of your own home.

So now I have three bindings to sew down, plus one quilt that needs a lot of hand embroidery…it’s going to be my go-to for after dinner but still watching the end of that TV episode. So it’ll probably be around for a while. I’m hoping to finish one of the others in January, just to say I finished something in January, because I’ve been lax as hell this month. Normally I do 50+ hours of art-related stuff each month, and the last month has been only 20 hours…and that’s WITH time off from school. Lame. Yeah, it’s OK, I know the kids being home and being discombobulated about what I was doing next was part of that. But I’m done now. I’m on a roll. I have 60 days to get this quilt done…partially because that’s what I put in the contract, but also because I leave on vacation in 63 days. Don’t laugh. I’ll be fine. I have a goal now, a place to look forward to. That helps so much. Really, it does.

I’m going to be feeling better this week. The cold is going to go away, I’m going to get some exercise in, I’m going to finish some things and start some things. It’s all good.

*The Zombies, She’s Not There


How to Bend Without the World Caving In*

January 26, 2018

One thing I can say is that I’m really glad it’s Friday. Some weeks just seem harder than others. This one maybe because I lost sleep the first night of the week and then got sick immediately after. I want to just lie around and sleep and read a book and maybe eat some ice cream. Really healthy stuff. In reality, I’ll be grading and sewing and dropping off a quilt and going to a meeting and doing the grocery shopping. But I might sleep in. That would be nice. Life goals! Sleeping in!

I’m quite a few hours from getting to that point, unfortunately. I did come home last night after running a few errands and I finished grading another assignment and put some stuff in the gradebook. All good. Very efficient. Good Kathy. Keep going. Stay on task. The fun thing about being a teacher is that as soon as you finish grading one assignment, they turn in two more. Some people (who do not understand my population of students…or maybe any population of middle-schoolers) say hey! Why don’t you assign fewer things that need grading! Well. They won’t do anything then. It’s hard enough some days to get them to read instructions (hence yesterday’s lab, which continues tomorrow)…I adjust my speech each period based on the things the previous period did that I didn’t tell them to do. My basic lab mantra is, “If I didn’t tell you to do it, don’t do it.” It makes it hard for any real experimentation to happen. The one kid who wanted to eat the hydrogen peroxide and yeast, I said, “Hang on, let me get 911 and your mom on the line…then you can eat it.” Sigh. Probably it wouldn’t kill him. Burns going down, eh? Did I tell you to eat it? Then why are you doing it?

These are the things they don’t teach you in teacher school.

So yeah, after grading, I made some dinner and read my book and cleaned up some random stuff. I keep finding piles of things the girlchild left, so I funnel them to her room (which now has some of my stuff back in it…but I went through one container and cleared it out…only four to go! And I have 100 days to do it! Actually more…she’ll be going home to Boston, not here.).

And then I felt pretty good…I went to buy the better cold medicine, the one they use to make crack, and it works. The other stuff just makes me feel woozy and clogged up. So I’m totally willing to give the government my ID so I can breathe!

And then, because I could breathe, I quilted! For over an hour!

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I actually got close to done on the outlining…

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All I have left is the wooden tree leg thing, which is actually really complicated, and the world stuff to the right of that. And then the background, which isn’t very big. Maybe I’ll finish tomorrow and find a binding. I could handsew a binding (or three, because that’s how many are lying around right now) at my meeting on Sunday. I don’t like just sitting around at meetings. Obviously.

At some point, I needed to fill a bobbin and this happened.

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No. I was not watching. Do you watch your bobbins fill? I do not. Unfortunately, because this was unsalvageable and I have no idea how it happened. Also, at some point, after I ran out of black thread for the bobbin, I started using a dark gray. I have no idea when I switched to the lighter gray, but there it is. So the back is kinda funny looking. Not that I recommend you ever look at the back of an art quilt. It’s not going on a bed and the wall doesn’t care.

Then I got hit with a Wall of Tiredness. It happens. I sat on the couch and drew in my journal, but nothing worth looking at, just doodlings, and then this happened. Puppy is on me, everyone else to my left…

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It’s still cold at night, eh? And everyone wants attention. I was OK with that. Petting warm furry beasts is not a bad thing.

Weekend plans? Grade. Finish quilts. Maybe start Wonder Under on the commission piece? Get some rest and get well. Most importantly. So probably more of those sitting-on-the-couch-with-all-the-beasts photos…those are OK.

*Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up