I Really Do Feel It*

Hooray for short work weeks…I can’t get my brain back into school yet. I haven’t been bringing any grading home…which will eventually bite me in the butt. I answered one parent email last night…so that was responsible of me. I even forwarded it to the other teachers. That said, we stayed after school yesterday for more than an hour making Oobleck for our kids to figure out today…that is so NOT my hand. I let my coteacher do the mixing and I did the cleanup.

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We may totally regret doing this by the end of today, but we’re hoping not. It’s cool stuff…most of our students know about and have even made slime, but this is different. Anyway, wish us luck. (maybe pray for us…) So I feel like I did do extra work yesterday…just not at home.

The Golden Retriever had a broken tooth pulled yesterday. I had no idea how HUGE the roots were.

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About 2/3 of that was in her gum. It’s her fault for breaking her teeth…she eats rocks. Well…chews on them. Anyway, she was significantly drugged last night, but seems OK this morning. She’s a good girl…takes her meds and soggy food without complaint. The pain meds might be helping with that.

The girlchild and I had some errands for after and her dinner plans for us were stymied by the time it takes to soak farro, so we tried out the new location of City Tacos in La Mesa…good stuff! Although not cheap…here’s the veggie versions for the girlchild…

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And the meat ones for me…although the veggie ones looked good too…

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Then a trip to the 99-cent store for school stuff, plus the grocery store so she could make my students some cupcakes. By the time we got home, it was 7:30 and I was too tired to do anything but just sit at the table for a while. Apparently Simba was tired too…

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They’re both soaking up all the last minutes together. I get it. Boychild made it back to New York yesterday, with only minor delays. For once! Despite all the weather stories and cancellations. Impressive. I miss that kid.

I eventually got up and started the stitch down on this. I didn’t finish…

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I probably could have, but I had some serious concentration issues. So I eventually gave up and sat on the couch with my book and a glass of wine and a whiny cat. I read until I thought I could fall asleep and then I did.

I’m in a mood. Missing one kid, worrying about the other one, 64 days and probably 10 staff meetings to Spring Break. I hate staff meetings. I think I really just need to get back into my school routine. Next week.

Tonight? Grade some stuff. Maybe go to the gym (that would help…plus I can read my book there). Do some art stuff, even if it’s just hand sewing on bindings while watching some TV. That’s not a bad way to end the day. Not every day has to be amazingly efficient. Some are just days.

*Pretty Lights, Finally Moving

Well, You Don’t Know Me, But I Know You*

I think the puppy must be about to burst. He’s been refusing to pee since the rain started. On Monday. I carry him out and even put him under a tree, but no. He’s wide-eyed, trying to escape back to dry parts (aka the house). I think he must be voiding himself somewhere unknown, like while I wasn’t watching, he’s learned how to use the toilet and is just badmouthing me in his head as I put on his leash and try to persuade him out into the bushes. Luckily, the rain is supposed to stop today. It’s not like we didn’t need it…we just didn’t need it in such large amounts in a short period of time, as the mudslides north of here attest. Timing is everything.

So really, Simba’s problems are minor in the bigger picture. He’ll poop somewhere, sometime. That part is guaranteed.

Yesterday was the first day back with students. They were pretty zoned out by the end of the day. So were the teachers. We started a new unit, so I got to draw and color with them. It was probably all any of us could handle.

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I had tutorial after school, so I had exactly zero brain by the time I fought the weather home. I read for a bit even…the book club book for February is kinda big, so I started early for once. I don’t always make it to book club, but I always read the book.

Then I made dinner and did the stitching I usually do afterwards…just a little a night. This is a closeup of what I finished the night before…

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And last night. Not sure I have the right variegated thread for the last word. Maybe I’ll go balls out with a teal or pink. Who knows.

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Then I really wanted to finish ironing this smaller piece that’s been rolling around my art spaces for months now.

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It only took another hour or so…ironed everything down…

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Pulled a leftover piece of background I had lying around (that’s the plus with doing smaller pieces)…and ironed the whole thing down. Easy peasy.

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Now she’s ready to be stitched down…sometime later this week? Maybe.

Then back to the drawing board. A little slower last night…brainpower reduced by day job.

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Land…water…there’s going to be space above, but I need to enlarge the whole thing to do that…or maybe just copy the top and tape it to the next page? But with this one, I think I need to see the whole thing. We’ll see. More tonight. The work day will be shorter…so that should help. We have to sit through some professional development (again), so that’s annoying.

Anyway. I see progress, even if it’s small.

All the animals are missing my kids…who are visiting cousins in Seattle. They are so in my face this morning too, because they had company yesterday, but today, will be left again all day. I feel bad for them…wish I could take them to school, but that can’t happen…too many kids with allergies. Plus Calli would pee on them in her excitement. And Simba might bite someone, because he’s an antisocial dick sometimes. And the cats are pretty unpredictable with humans.

OK. This headache and I need to go to school now.

*Laurie Anderson, O Superman

Be My Very Own Constellation*

Well. I tried sleeping with the pillow over my head to shut the rain up (seriously, it’s not white noise to some of us) and then the wind picked up at 3 AM, so I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got around all that natural shit that we need to fall from the sky because drought. Always the drought. We’ve only had an inch of rain total (including last night) since July, so it really is a dry year…or a normal year, with last year as the crazy outlier. Half our students won’t show up today because of the weather, although a few little guys showed up yesterday…this is the first year we’ve started with kids on Tuesday instead of Monday. The district just wants us to have more and more professional development, and this is one of the ways they try to make it happen. It was good, because we got a lot of choice time instead of enforced crap…my coteacher and I did some planning and hopefully will get caught up. By June. Maybe.

And remember how I told you that school makes me more artistically efficient? I wonder if it’s because the non-art part of my brain is exhausted and dead when I get home, so the art part can run rampant. It really is about shutting that part up sometimes (just like I have to shut the art part up at school)…so I do think that is a factor. It’s OK…I’ll never be able to afford to retire, so I won’t have to worry about how I will make art when I’m old without the work distraction.

It was already starting to rain when I got home, but I knew the dogs needed exercise, so I leashed them up and literally dragged them out there. Well, the little one needed some significant persuasion. He kept looking back where he thought the dry car might be, and broke into a run at the end. The old lady does what she’s told. She gives me a look when it starts raining really hard, but otherwise, she’s just happy to be out there…

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It wasn’t too bad most of the way, but they were pretty wet when I got back…

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We did a short version, because it was raining pretty hard on the back end.

Puppy needed comfort from someone besides me when we got back.

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Mean old lady makes me go outside in this weather.

After that, I did a little ironing on this piece…there’s really no excuse for not getting it done. It’s small and easy. Nice filler when my brain isn’t quite ready for drawing.

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We’re watching one episode of Stranger Things a night with dinner…so when I finish eating, I’m working on the SJSA blocks until the episode finishes…this herringbone is going much faster than the buttonhole was…honestly, it’s not the stitch; this glue isn’t as hard to stitch through.

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This is what I finished the night before on whatever this is. Some bovine. I worked on it at my parents’…briefly.

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Then I went back to ironing after dinner.

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That’s where I quit…because I wanted to work on the drawing too…

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A totally different direction…there’s a world under them. I think I’m going to have to expand it a little at the top. But I think this is going to work. It was much easier to draw this…I don’t know why. Anyway.

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I’m hoping this one works out. I’ll finish drawing tonight, or as much as I can without extending it. I have a lot more stuff to put in it…of course! I like to fill space. You may have noticed that.

Anyway, let’s hope parents get their kids to school today, plus I survive it, so I can come home and iron a bit and draw a lot and sleep better than last night. I can do one shitty night, but two might hurt.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication

That’s the Hard Part

In 2003, I started writing an art journal to myself, just documenting where I was with certain pieces and shows. I sucked at it for the first two years. I think there’s two entries in 2003 and maybe three in 2004. Then about halfway through 2005, I calendared it. And then started writing weekly because my computer told me to. Occasionally outside stuff slips in, personal life stuff, stuff that doesn’t even make it on the blog. The journal is where I document all the time on any given quilt, plus all the shows I enter and whether I get in or not. I write almost every week…with a few lost weeks due to computer glitches and a few lost weeks due to brain glitches. I started teaching full time in 2003 as well, so there’s documentation of the effect that work has had on my other work. I can search through the main document for mention of the old quilts I just pulled out of the pile to finish…I can find BirdFoot, but not the other one…mostly because (a) if it has a name, I don’t know what it is, and (b) I think it’s older than 2003. Then on top of all that, I’ve been writing the blog since 2004…although again, I didn’t start a regular schedule until 2006 I think.

I’m reminded of all this because this week is the first week of the new year. I used to just keep one huge document, but every time I opened it, it took forever to load, so now I write one year in a document and then add that to the main journal at the end of the year and start a new one. An 11-page document is easier to handle than a 150-page document. I also download a copy of it onto the computer about once a year, just in case the Google Doc (which is where I write now, because I can access it from multiple devices, even if I’m traveling) has some issue and disappears. There’s something important to me about the documentation. I use it a lot to remind myself of how things went, what I was thinking, where I was going.

So where am I at right now, the day before school starts up again? Well my right hand is still speckled orange and red, which will freak my students out (I’m OK with that). The left hand is barely green. I ironed a bit yesterday. I drew a bit yesterday, but more for fun than for an artistic goal. I had a meeting. I’m not ready (I’m never ready…this shouldn’t surprise anyone who hangs out with teachers. We never feel ready. We don’t sleep the night before school starts…sometimes every Sunday night is troubled.). We’ll get some planning time tomorrow, because we’re starting the week with more professional development, so that means we can figure out what the hell we were thinking before break (probably not very coherent thoughts, honestly). I looked at the calendar and my head hurt, so I stopped reading. I need to run some errands today, write warmups for the week, send the parent email, grocery shop, prep lunches for the week, and get my teacher brain out of storage. I can do all of that.

I ironed for a little bit yesterday. The tree leg is horrendously complicated. It’s not hard to do…just time-consuming.

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I went to an art group meeting…so far, being in this group has gotten me into two shows, so I feel good about it. I stitched during the meeting, because I don’t know how to sit still.

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Strangely, now I’m wondering if the face was supposed to be back stitch or running stitch. I finished the Palestrina knots around the body and then started the running stitches.

The meeting was at the Mingei Museum, which is one of my favorite museums in Balboa Park. They’ll be remodeling in 2018 though…so fewer shows. Too bad. They have a great kantha exhibit in there right now, plus a Navaho rug exhibit.

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I had seen this show already, but Arline Fisch is in our group and talked about her work in the museum, which was cool.

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Her wirework is fascinating.

Then I had to hang around for a while in Balboa Park, so I drew in the Sculpture Garden bar area…

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No sunset…too many clouds.

I started working with that skelly back and a front-facing figure, seriously trying to work stuff out, but it quickly devolved into whatever I felt like drawing. Hence the antenna I guess…

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I didn’t really finish, because I had to go wait for my ride. We were going to an opening downtown, so we didn’t want two cars down there (parking is awful) and there was no point in my coming all the way home.

The exhibit was Seeing Is Believing at Sparks Gallery (you can see most of the show at the link) and had some cool work in it…Larry Caveney’s Wonder Woman

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Polly Jacobs Giacchina’s Spiral Progression

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Cheryl Tall’s Couple from Madrid

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and her Horseman.

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Christopher Polentz’s William.

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David Cuzick’s Stop Yelling at Me #2

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Marissa Quinn’s Connection In-Between…

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And Alexander Arshansky’s Life of Pi

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Perry Vasquez’s Florbeza dominates the front window of the gallery…

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It was an interesting show. I went because of the surrealism aspect, although honestly, I’m not sure how surrealist it really was. Lenore Simon’s show is still there, so that was nice. We had a good dinner at the same place we keep ending up at when we’re in that area and then hightailed it back here for an early night. Sleep has been the mantra this break…which should tell me something. But trying to fill weekends with art seeing and making seems like a good goal for the next few months. The stress of work is always there…being able to mentally escape it for a few weeks is a relief. Now to continue that mindset throughout the rest of the school year. That’s the hard part.

Things Will Happen Today

My feet are cold. It’s going to be in the 80s again today, but my feet get cold and I have to wear shorts and big fluffy socks all at the same time. This weirdo winter weather in Southern California…40s at night and 80s during the day. I know, I could be back East and freezing all my parts and not just my feet. I got that. Some rain would be nice here.

I didn’t get a whole lot of useful stuff done yesterday, except for some minor purging on the kitchen counters, which is a good thing (boychild is useful for that stuff). We threw out a bunch of old pens that were dead and bagged up the rest of the pens and pencils for school. Found the address I’d been looking for and had finally emailed someone to get. Of course. Organized the boxes of sundry kitchen items that pile up because I forget I’ve already bought them. Put all my Christmas gifts away. Today I will put away Christmas stuff, I think. Maybe. In between a raptor thing (cool!) and watching that band play (another episode of Draws in Bars! By the beach! But it will be cold, because it will be dark. So I will wear socks.). I wrote a commission contract and asked my dad to look at it, because I am not a lawyer and he is.

Artwise, I didn’t do much either. I did get my slowly flattening tire fixed, but not the tire sensor. It’s annoying that they are so expensive. Obviously the tire place has not seen the last two Visa bills. They are heart-stoppening. Not a word, I know.

Walked the dogs…a good solid three miles in the full heat of the afternoon. It felt hot but good.

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The dogs were tired.

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I needed to get out and walk off some of the irritation building up. I’m kind of irritated by all these studies going on in the wildlife preserve, but if I hike far enough out, they’re gone.

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So I do that.

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Tired dogs…I said that. But they were.

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We had gaming at night. My character didn’t do much. Moved from one side of the temple to another. Dodged a flaming thing. Or a horror. Not sure which.

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Block 20 is almost done…just need to finish the sheep.

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Exciting stuff. Came home and cut out pieces. When boychild wants to go to bed, he brings me the puppy, who is fast asleep. Snuggles him up against me, where he continues to sleep.

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I cut out a bunch, but there’s a shitload of tiny little pieces in there…overlapping tree parts. This crazy thing I drew. So I’m not done. But there’s not much left to do…

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Next week starts to be full of school stuff. No, I still haven’t finished grading that thing. Ugh. I piled it up on the couch and I look at it and feel guilty. Too many little details of shit to get done in the next week. I guess it’s good I took some brainless days in there.

I finished another book, A Closed and Common Orbit, the second in a series by Becky Chambers. The first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, was good, but I thought this one was even better…all about AI trying to exist in our world when they aren’t allowed to do certain things. Very cool story. You don’t have to read the first one to get the second one…they are the same world. It would help with understanding, but it’s not crucial to the story. There’s a third book coming out in April.

Calli is better at brainless than I am. I was trying to get her off the couch to come to bed.

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It took some persuading. OK. Gotta get ready to go falconing. Or something. I’m gonna need sunscreen…in December. I got sunburned yesterday. Duh. I never remember in the winter. Anyway, things will happen today. Not much will get done, I predict, but things will happen. Typical Saturday.

It’s Too Late to Say You’re Sorry*

Ugh. Well I’m sick again. This school year is kicking my butt. Too much work, can’t stay well…I usually get sick like once a year. It’s only October and it’s my second viral incursion. Damn immune system needs to get in gear. Makes it hard to stay caught up. Or whatever that means.

The gun quilt is at the photographer’s…will be picked up later this week. I was trying to get fabrics ironed for a small climate change quilt I started in June, just for fun…

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I’m not done. I did a little bit yesterday afternoon after grading shit, running errands, and trying to get other stuff done.

Friday night at gaming, I finished Block 15 (bottom right) on Folk Tales (I always call it Folk Tails because of all the animals).

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Block 15 is part of May, but I haven’t done April yet…so I started on that.

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There are three blocks for April, and I have a lot of embroidery to do on them. Expect to see them rolling around for a while.

Then I realized I hadn’t touched this in days. I did 4 day’s worth around the eyeball…a bunch of filler stitches.

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However interesting and challenging it’s been to work on this, and whatever bullheadedness it takes to keep working on it every day for a year, I probably won’t sustain it beyond December 31. It was an interesting experiment. No idea what I’ll do with it…maybe make it the center of a small crazy quilt in all black backgrounds. Who knows? Because I need more projects.

I emailed the woman in charge of the project I’m supposed to be working on next to see if I could change my focus. Much as climate change worries me and however many ideas about it are clamoring for my artistic attention, women’s rights are weighing much more heavily on me right now…and a new drawing for this project popped into my head last night on the way back from the Visions Art Museum opening for Interpretations. It had absolutely nothing to do with the art I saw there…but it’s in my head now. I wanted to start drawing last night, but after about 9:30, I felt like absolute crap and was in bed before 10:30. See, that’s how you know I’m sick. I can’t do anything.

Today is a fiber-related meeting…long drive and interactions with humans. I’m not always up for that. Right now I’m tired and not feeling at my best, stressed about the grading that needs to get done, worried about getting this quilt started so I can get going on it. Probably need to go take more meds. Drink more tea. Maybe nap. Who knows. No time for napping. Shit needs to get done.

*Malcolm McLaren, About Her

Both of Us Searching for Some Perfect World*

Today is the official start of the school year…you know, the part where you realize on the first day that (a) you are woefully unprepared, even after 14+ years of teaching and (b) that kid who is already annoying will never ever ever be absent. I met and freaked out my first student yesterday. He shook my hand. That’s nice. No really, it is. In general, I really like my students, even the truly annoying ones. When they ask if I missed them, I say “Every day.” Well. Not for all of them. I am brutally honest with some of them, but once they’ve been with me all year, they would expect nothing less. But today…today I just mispronounce about 140 names and try to start memorizing faces. Honestly, though, if I remember a kid’s name on the first day, they were highly notable in one of a few ways, none of them probably good. I do forget them over time, though. I always tell the kids there will be someone else like them in the next year, so one of my old students that showed up yesterday wants me to introduce her to The New Her. Because she thinks they can be friends. I love that. Not upset that she’s not supremely unique…just wants to make friends with herself.

Anyway, we try to start every year with the right positive mindset, to make sure the stuff that always drives us bonkers won’t do that this year (ever hopeful)…meditation and mindfulness has been incredibly helpful with this, although I still honestly suck at it, I think.

I did good yesterday. My room is mostly done…

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I’ve got more fussy bits to do, adding pictures and putting labels on folders. Fun stuff.

And then I went to pick up my quilt from the photographer…I’m still debating the name.

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

As always, they’re better in person.

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

What’s also better is finishing it three weeks before the deadline…

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

Mostly because there’s a deadline right after it…

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

It’s the smallest and least complicated quilt I’ve made in many a summer. Evidence that the summer was large and complicated.

Made dinner and did two nights’ worth on this…the green feather stitch and red double lazy daisies on the top.

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With both kids gone, I have a lot of animal interaction…

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She knocks everything else off, but generally leaves my teacup alone.

So I have the next deadline. The drawing has one part done. It’s been enlarged and has been sitting around since the beginning of summer, I think. Not that it’s done any good, because honestly, I just throw a bunch of images and shapes and ideas around in my head until it all makes sense. Sometimes I do a bunch of preliminary drawings, just to figure out where my head is going. But last night, I finally sat down with one of the many images in my head and started drawing.

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I got schooled in bullet shape post-shooting, which is fine. I’m actually OK with not knowing what they look like afterwards, but I did change them for the drawing.

This cat has partied too hard.

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And I got to here. I need to enlarge it and combine it with the other piece to figure out what else is going on.

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But by the time I got to that point, the copy place was about to close. I knew I couldn’t get there in time, so I’ll do that after school. The post-it has ideas for what else needs to be on there. Now that I have this, I can try some other stuff out in my head.

So it wasn’t bedtime yet…and this drawing wasn’t done. I think it is now…

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I like how it turned out. She’s way mellower than I feel. Then again, she’s not starting the first day of school in an hour. So hopefully I’ll be drawing again tonight. That’s not a bad place to be.

*Thompson Twins, Hold Me Now