Appreciate the Sunsets.

Mid week already? That was fast. I’m even somewhat caught up. Wait. No. I still have 5 assignments to grade from last week, and even though I finished grading all the late work yesterday at 8:20 AM, there is now more in the pile that needs grading, because that is how the never-ending pile of grading works. It’s why the last week of school is such an inordinate relief. There cannot possibly be any more grading for at least two months! A reprieve! Sundays back. No constant planning, trying to answer emails, contacting parents. Such a relief.

Unfortunately, we are quite a few days away from that. In fact, with the trimester ending in 2 1/2 weeks, we are well into panic mode (we being the kids) because we forgot that what we do every day counts for a grade. You know. Like school does. That said, I had expected yesterday to be really stressful and yucky, and it was very manageable. The kids mostly listened and/or did the nothing they do on a regular basis. This is when standing over them (or like I do, rolling my chair around the room and staring into their panicked eyes) helps to get them motivated. Yesterday I called parents during class instead. Muted myself on the Zoom and called and left messages because they aren’t going to answer a number they don’t recognize, and even if I were calling from the school number, they probably wouldn’t answer. Ah well. That’s nothing new. The checked out kids are always there. This year is harder for that, sure. I was reading instructions for a program we’re supposed to be monitoring, and they say to “walk around and make sure they are on task.” Um. OK. Imma gonna do that. Rolling my eyes. It’s like the distance learners and teachers don’t exist sometimes. Please give me some more useful supports, y’all. I’m at my wit’s end with monitoring this program.

So we’ll see how today goes…Day 2 of a project…could be chill; could be not. Never know. Even in person.

Here’s the final finished picture of the Sue Spargo Block-of-the-Month quilt Earth and Twig I finished.

I do have another one pinbasted, ready to go, and a third one that is a finished top, and a much smaller one that’s finished. I should keep this going. First I want to finish the little bird quilt I have, though. Although it’s been hard to find the energy in the last few days to sit down at the sewing machine. Maybe tonight? We’ll see.

So I did finish ironing all the bits of Wonder Under to fabric in the most recent art quilt…

It only has 56 colors in it (small quilt) and it took a little over 4 hours to pick all those fabrics.

I started cutting them out Monday night…

And finished last night…

in 4 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe start ironing it together. So fast! I think I’ll do a few fast and easy ones like this and then start thinking about the next big one. I have ideas and I have one that’s drawn and numbered and ready to go. I’m just not ready for a big one yet. I need some quick successes, achievements, goals.

Here’s one of mine getting ready for a show in Los Angeles at Studio 203, opening the 20th. This is California Fibers: Historical References.

Not sure I’ll get up to see the show, but there should be video and maybe even some online stuff. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Spring is coming (Southern California does Spring early…sorry to all the snowed-in states)…the coyotes don’t care about humans on their paths…

And I’m no longer walking in the dark, which is nice.

Although I do appreciate a good sunset. Today is going to be pretty easy, I hope, and maybe I will get some grading done as well, knock some of those projects off my to-do list. My goal is always NOT to be working at 9 PM on school stuff, but on art stuff instead. So more of that. And I forgot to wish my mom a happy 80th birthday on the internet…although I made her a chocolate cake, so I think we’re good. Although it could have been more lava-like. My fault…should have taken it out of the fridge earlier. Anyway. Both parents have their 2nd vaccines scheduled, they’re relatively healthy, and those are good things right now. OK. Off to work. In the other room.

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.

Buy Art…

Someone asked me to post the pieces that got into Quilt National and Visions over the years.

2013 Quilt National: Spread Out on the Pavement

2017 Quilt National: Beyond the Concrete

2021 Quilt National (yes, it appears to be every four years…creepy, huh?): Fire and Water

And Visions 2012: Sediment

I enter both shows every time, if that helps you at all. Lots of rejections over the years. One year, the Visions reject made it into Quilt National; another year, vice versa. It’s all OK.

So today’s topic is Top 5 Gift Ideas. Y’all…go buy art. Small business art. They don’t have to be quilters…they can be printers or ceramicists or painters. Buy small if you have to. Commit to one piece of art a year, if you can. I buy one SAQA auction piece a year. It’s my donation, plus I’ve gotten small art by artists I really enjoy, some I knew of before the auction and some I didn’t. Buy prints if you can’t afford the art, or even cards. Send them to everyone you know. So many small businesses, especially in the arts, are struggling right now. I wish I could do more, but I try to buy some every year. This year, two of my family members are getting original art from people I know. It can be a knitted sweater or an embroidered landscape, or a drawing, a bowl, a mug, jewelry, whatever. Just buy art. This pandemic has been devastating to so many people. I know as an artist that so many depend on classes and conferences and show venues, and so much of that has dried up. Sign up for a class, if you don’t want to buy art. Find ways to put your money, even if it’s a small amount, in the hands of an artist.

I worked with my co-teacher today for four hours, masked, in a room, away from each other, with the door open.

We got January planned, although then I came home and spent like 3 hours making digital versions of stuff so my kids could do the same stuff as the kids in a physical classroom. I’m still ahead, though…further ahead than I’ve been all year. I’ve always been starting to plan on Thursday for the following week, usually finishing Sunday night. I need that to chill out a bit. I need to be a little ahead of the game. Tomorrow, we’re doing it again, trying to get February planned. At least the pieces will be in place. Details to follow. I need to make a bunch of videos.

Last night, I stayed up too late, but I finished trimming all the pieces.

That’s almost 16 hours of cutting in the last week. Tonight, I sorted them…

Took me about an hour and a half.

I can start ironing tonight. I won’t get much done; it’s already late, but I can start.

Last night, I drew…

Tonight, I did not. There’s a lot of stressful stuff going on. I’m not forcing myself to draw if I don’t have the mental space. I know there’s a place for that kind of thing; making myself draw when I’m not in the mood makes my brain be more creative, solve problems, but there’s a need for self-care at the moment. So I’m just going with it. I can draw tomorrow night if I want. There is absolutely no point in beating myself up about what I can and can’t handle at the moment.

Be like a cat.

Sleep well.

OK, well it’s already past 10 and I need to be up sort of early for lesson planning. Hopefully the rest of the day will let me get some grading done and get a walk in. Tonight, I’ll iron a bit and get my ass in bed earlier than last night. And hopefully I’ll sleep.

It Needed a Chandelier…

Day 20: Proudest Achievement…still making art after so many years? Nah, I do that to keep me sane. Oh yeah, they probably mean with quilting…I used to think that once I got into Quilt National and Visions (two big art quilt shows), that would be it. And I’ve done both…I’ve been in Quilt National three times now (the latest to be 2021) and Visions once, and they are prestigious shows and fun to meet all the artists and be part of the group (well, you know me and groups…I do my best, but sometimes I need to introvert for a while). So then what? Because yes, it’s cool and awesome to hit a goal, but are you just gonna stop making? So then it was wanting a solo show, and I’ve managed that twice plus another 2-person show with a sculptor, which I thought was pretty cool. Give up? You’ve done it? Nah. Still making. What should my next goal be? I think I’ve admitted to myself that I’m just going to keep making and entering shows and getting offers for interviews and videos and putting my work in shows, more invitational stuff, which has been happening more, and I fully appreciate those things, because they aren’t things I tried for or asked for…they just happen because people think of my work for those things. So that’s awesome too.

I’m not that good at proud, really. I’m proud of my kids and my students. Proud of myself is more complicated. It’s not in my nature. I do know to say ‘thank you’ when people say nice things about my work, instead of downplaying it or making excuses. I know how hard I have worked over the years and how much of me has gone into my pieces. So thanks to those who acknowledge that and tell me they like my work. Appreciated.

I’m having a rough weekend. I’m tired and family stuff is all around. Stressful. Work is hard too, even with days off…I have too much grading to do and I just want it done. I’ll feel better when more of it is done, let’s put it that way.

Last night’s drawing with fire in fireplace and really difficult movie on the telly (Tenet…the man watched it twice, the second time with closed-captioning on, and even then, I’m not sure he got it all)…

I didn’t have the patience for a second try…straight up. Started with the hair and somehow ended up with a chandelier. It needed a chandelier. I can’t explain why.

I thought I’d have everything cut out in the current quilt last night, but no…I still have some to go…

I’m watching total escapist television (The Wilds on Amazon Prime), so tonight, I’ll draw, watch some episodes, cut some more pieces out, hopefully all of them, and then ideally tomorrow will be better. I have work tomorrow, lesson planning, actually AT school, if I see you, I will spray you down, because I’m in super-paranoid mode at this point. By the way, if you know someone has anxious tendencies, telling them to stop worrying is really useless. It makes us feel worse, actually, like we don’t have a right to be anxious or worried…and we usually do, but maybe not about what we’re voicing our concerns…those are maybe easier to say than what we’re really worried about. You can say “don’t worry about it until it happens,” but you know, I’ve been this way for a long time, and one part of my brain is constantly saying that while another part of my brain is worrying, and sometimes one part wins out over the other, and I have to try to sway it back. I do that when I feel supported and loved, and not when I feel chastised for natural feelings. More helpful? “I’m sorry you feel that way. Is there anything I can do to help?” There probably isn’t, but I feel better when you say it. So there.

Yeah. Rough weekend. Gonna go draw it out.

Trusted the Brain…

There’s a definite weight off the shoulders. There’s still plenty of work to do, but knowing I don’t have to have 17 posts ready for Google Classroom by tomorrow night is a relief. Knowing I don’t have to be on Zoom and watched by parents and brothers and sisters is a relief. I can just sit quietly with myself if I want. Well, when I’m not around all the other people and animals in the house, right? It’s hard to get away from absolutely everybody, and I’m not sure I’d want that. I am alone here right now and it’s dark and I just heard something go over the gate. Or under it. Probably a bunny. But who knows; I’m in here freaking myself out about it. You’d think after living mostly alone for a goodly number of years while the kids were in college I’d be OK with it.

Today’s topic is “on the design wall.” Ah, so many assumptions in that topic…that everyone has or wants a design wall. It’s not how I work at all. I don’t ever pin something up and step back and look at it. Maybe I should, but I don’t have the space or the time, so I mostly always did without…trusted the brain to do the previewing and critiquing before things were all put together. Crazy, really. So yeah, I draw in a sketchbook and sometimes on a big sheet of paper, and then, when I’m ready to iron Wonder Under to fabric, when I’m at the color-choosing stage, that’s the closest I get to a design wall. I hang the drawing up and stare at where each piece is and stare at the fabrics I’ve already picked and stare at the background fabric, and that’s it. My brain does the work.

So there’s the drawing clipped up from when I did that. It will come down when I start ironing together next week, because I use it as the pattern: put the teflon sheet on top of it, so I can get the pieces in the right place.

No design wall. Sorry? Not sorry. It’s just now how I work. I did in the very beginning; I even had this big cubicle wall for a while that I was going to use for that, a leftover from somewhere, but there was never room for it in the house, so it went at some point…probably when we cleaned out the garage a few years back.

Speaking of the most current quilt, I’m almost done trimming all those bits and pieces…I had Calli for a while…

Simba too, but not photographed…and then Kitten…

I cut for almost 3 hours last night, quite happily.

There isn’t much left in the box on the left. Maybe I’ll be done tonight? Sort tomorrow night? We’ll see.

I also started my Winter Break tradition of a drawing a day…while gaming…

I was pretty tired, and I didn’t think very hard about any of it.

Certainly my glass ended up in the drawing…in fact, that’s where I started, with a hand around the glass.

Today’s been pretty quiet…some grading, some Pilates on Zoom with dog assist, plus a 4-mile hike…

Outside is always a good thing.

San Diego is currently full of idiots refusing to stay safe…so we go out here, where most people are sane. We think. It’s certainly not a restaurant full of people.

OK, so finish cutting, do a drawing, watch a movie. It’s supposed to be chilly tonight; maybe a fire in the fireplace, dinner from somewhere, not inside, not around people. Then sleep again, because I haven’t gotten enough of that in a good long time.

Stop Thinking for a While…

Hello vacation! Or break! Or NO ZOOM ZONE. Whatever you wanna call it, this teacher is on it for three weeks. Don’t get too excited. You should see my to-grade list for that time period…it’s massive. I’m hoping to bang through it quickly though. Although it includes 5 large art assignments. WTF was I thinking? Nothing. No, I was thinking that if they didn’t finish before break, they would throw them away, and no one would have them. So there we are. Anyway, wish me luck on that. I’d like to have everything planned for January (except art, because I need to wait for the other teacher to do some stuff) and graded by Christmas Eve. Could be impossible. We’ll see.

I’m stressed, I need sleep, I need to not be on Zoom a million hours a day. I need exercise and books and sewing and drawing and relaxing. We’re halfway through the longest school year I’ve ever experienced, and it will take everything I have in me to get through the next half. Sure, there’s a few 3-day weekends in there and 2 weeks of Spring Break, but mostly it’s a hellaciously long stretch of ugh. Meanwhile, my neighbors aren’t social distancing for shit, because they are young and apparently can’t get sick or die or get their relatives sick or anything. I don’t even know what to think about that. I think about every interaction I have, every time I leave the house, everything I do that is outside of here. And I’m paranoid as shit about it. Maybe it’s being high risk? Or just naturally paranoid? Anyway. They’re fucking nuts.

So the topic for today is “If I could sew with…”. Hmmm. Is this a person? If so, I want to sew with Queen Elizabeth. I know she learned how. And I’d like to talk to her and meet her dogs. And then I want to sew with Sue Spargo, just to see how her mind works; she’s incredibly creative. And then maybe the BadAssCrossStitch woman, Shannon, just because she sounds interesting and is trying to create community with stitching. Honestly, anyone who’s ever stitched the word “fuck” on fabric…I wanna have a big stitchalong with them. And then I’d like to stitch with about a million of the stitchers I follow on Instagram, because some of them have such interesting and different styles from what I do…I wanna watch them and try to do it that way and maybe just talk to them about birds and cats and pine needles. Or whatever.

Now the other way to look at this is “If I could sew with…” metal. Are we talking materials here? I have done a tiny bit of metal stitching, not the metallic thread, because that is always a pain in the ass, but the twisty stuff, damn, what’s it called, purl? AKA French bullion wire (because it looks like a bullion knot, but wire, not thread). I also have some metal mesh I always wanted to use. There isn’t much stopping me from using metal, but time and ideas…I got close when I stitched on window screen to make my COVID mask.

Not quite metal. Maybe just stitching with different things. Experiment more. In my spare time. Some day, I will have spare time that is not eaten up by grading 17 assignments in a week, and I will have more time to spend on experimentation. Or not.

It’s highly possible I should have looked at the list of blog topics before I signed up to do this. Speaking of, it’s the first day of Winter Break! I like to do a drawing a day over Winter Break. Shall I? Can I? Do I have the fortitude? I have the last two years. Hmmm. Gaming tonight…it’s possible to draw and game.

Meanwhile, I’ve been cutting tiny pieces out…I made it through all of the flesh last night…

I did a lot of it in a stitching meeting, totally exhausted.

Made it into the sky. I’m hoping to be done by Sunday so I can start ironing it together. We’ll see how it goes.

You gotta love your job a lot to answer an email like this…although the suggested answers are pretty valid.

I didn’t use one of them. I wanted to.

Remember back in November when we went up to 29 Palms to help construct that labyrinth? Well here’s a drone view of it…

Linda did an awesome job setting this up and building most of it. So cool.

Got some more artsy shit coming up over break too…mostly looking at other people’s art, but as artists, we need that connection to other people’s work.

But for now, find a sketchbook and a pen for drawing while gaming, plus probably need to see if I can grade a few things, and I need to find some supplies for these classes I’m taking in January, ironically need plastic bags, just the words off them, but I don’t have a lot of plastic because I don’t use it unless I really have to, plus some stabilizer I don’t use either. Maybe mom has some? Who knows. It feels a little lighter having no required work for three weeks…hopefully by the end of next week, it will be a lot lighter. Unlike the summer, I know mostly what the next 6 months of school look like…painful but doable. Summer was so stressful because we knew nothing at all. This is just stress that I know about.

OK. Find sketchbook. Stop thinking for a while.

Some Things Never Change

Welp. I finally missed a day. I meant to write last night, but I was so dang exhausted. I know I came in here to do it, but then IDK what happened. Plus I thought I was supposed to write about today’s topic, which I didn’t want to write about. So now I’m doing two in a day. I HAVE FAILED. Nah, it’s OK. Shit happens. Have you seen 2020? Case in point.

So yesterday was actually a good topic, Why do I sew? Well, I started because presumably my mom thought I should learn or she was doing it and I saw it and I wanted to learn. I don’t remember. I was young. So I learned how…so did a lot of my generation, and then the vast majority of them finished Home Ec and never looked at a sewing machine or a needle again.

I never stopped. I sewed stuff for art in college, I sewed stuff for the house in my 20s and 30s and less so in my 40s, and I started quilting at 23. And never stopped. Something about fabric calls to me. I started making art as a printmaker…I probably would have stuck with ceramics too if I’d had more access to equipment and people…but once I started seeing quilting as an art form, better yet, a portable, easy-to-drop-and-then-pick-back-up art form, then that was it. The tactile qualities of fabric, the design and pattern, the hand-dying, the stitching, having it in your hands, the 3D nature of a quilt on the wall. I was hooked.

Now today’s topic is the one I was avoiding, my favorite ‘sewlebrity.’ UGH. So a stitcher who’s famous? I’ve taken many classes from people who are famous in their own right…some were fascinating to learn from, some not so much. Is there someone I always watch or listen to or look for their Insta? Not really. There are LOTS of them: people who talk about their process, who keep making, who find a way to challenge what they’ve been doing. I know the purpose is to give you a name so you can check them out…eh…there’s a bunch in the blog roll on here (which I need to go check and cull this year…it’s been a while). I follow another million or so on Instagram…pictures seems to be the thing now. There are people I admire, not for their sewing prowess, but for their ability to get things done and PIVOT…hate that word: Pokey Bolton, making Craft Napa grow in a pandemic; Luana Rubin for advocating against climate change, for using her company to support art quilters and awesome causes; Carolyn Mazloomi for backing beautiful exhibits that showcase issues for BIPOC and BIPOC quilters. There are more, but it’s early and the tea hasn’t kicked in.

Keep your eyes and ears open. There are people out there using fabric and the quilt world to make some positive things happen.

Meanwhile, I’m slogging through my day job. Yesterday was exhausting, for me, but probably for the kids as well. They want to give up because it’s almost Winter Break, and so do I, but we can’t. I’m grading as fast as I can, so I don’t have a ton to do over break, but there’s no way to avoid some of it. Plus trying to get the kids through the last part of a project…some get the concepts and some are just so far away from them that I don’t know how to help them. Some just want the answers, and I want them to work for them. As always.

I started cutting stuff out for the newest quilt on Tuesday night…

Lots of tiny rocks in that box…it’s been cold, so we have had lots of animals on the couch with us…

Kitten tried to push that box off the couch at some point. And here’s last night’s cut…considerably less time. I had Zoom Pilates and Zoom book club and hit major exhaustion right after.

I did a very slow hour. That’s all flesh I’m cutting now. Kitten looks cranky…

Like she’s about to whack me. Because she is.

I did this…

One quilt is in there four times. She took a long time to make. Anyway. Thursday. Ugh. Long. Too much of you. We will get through. I tried to go to bed early last night and then ended up making plans to travel without seeing or talking to anyone except for the man, just for two nights outta here, because I’m going bonkers. Hiking and walking and just sitting around talking to a rooster. It’ll be fine. For now, I have a staff meeting, I’ve got to teach science and two levels of art today, and hopefully wake up a bit more. Then plan some science, meet with other sewists (better than sewers, y’all), and cut some more stuff out. Collapse in bed. Do it again tomorrow, minus some of it, with added Zooms. It will be nice NOT to Zoom for a few weeks. NOT to get up and walk to a computer and stare at three screens and try to type and get my internet to behave and answer a million questions in the chat and chase kids down for not doing any work and deal with 17 million emails. Really. It will. This year is different, but some things never change. Teachers need breaks. So do kids.

Three Pies…

Hope y’all have a good food day, whatever it looks like. Ours has three pies. I’m sure there are other things, certainly because I have some things I need to cook later today that AREN’T pie, but right now, all the kitchen is pie. Which is why I’m in here, because the other choice is at the work computer, grading those essays. I got through 29 of them yesterday before my brain completely shut down. There are 30 to go. I’ll get there. I promise. I have a schedule. I’m trying to stay on top of it.

The family is dealing with some major health stuff right now; it’s stressful for all and making it hard to concentrate on anything except pie construction and maybe reading a book (I say that, but I didn’t read much yesterday except kids trying to explain plate motion…remind me never to use this CER topic again…it sucked the first time around, and it still sucks the second time around.). But we will attempt to perform a Thanksgiving Day ritual because that is what we do on Thanksgiving. Peace to all of you and pie. There’s plenty of pie.

Standing and grading, so I can walk away in between every 4 or 5 essays.

In between trying to organize fabric, water plants, and grade shit, I have been steadily working on the current quilt. It’s the place I go at the end of the day. It’s mostly predictable, at least at this stage, and that’s a good place to be at the moment.

Apparently it’s a good place for Kitten to be as well.

She enjoys mommy time on the couch. She will also enjoy mommy time in the studio when I start ironing.

I finished watching the second season of The Bridge, and am now on the second season of Top of the Lake. Apparently murder mysteries and troubled cops are my thing right now.

Geez, my cat. She looks happy though. Yeah, no Hallmark happy Thanksgiving family romances for me. It’s all about dead bodies and kidnapping and sex trafficking. I can’t explain it. I stayed up too late (but it’s not a school night, so there) finishing the trimming…

That’s almost 8 hours of trimming there. It’ll take an hour or so to sort them, and another hour or so to clean my studio, because it’s a disaster. I went to Target yesterday and bought organizers for some of the fabric that’s accumulated, but am debating packing up the crazy quilt stuff more than it is? I don’t know. I still use it; I don’t want to get rid of it. I really just need a remodel of this space so it’s more useful. Not happening any time soon. It’s absolute chaos at the moment though. I should do something about that.

I sat on the couch for about 45 minutes last night and let this kitty knead my belly and the air and purr and it was OK to just do that.

Take the comfort and the kitty love wherever you can.

OK. I will check on the cooking/kitchen status and then go grade some shit. And eventually we’ll do the food thing. And hopefully things will get better on the other fronts. I want to draw but don’t know when or how that will happen. It is a beautiful day out: the chill of a Southern California autumn day with the smell of pie. Did I mention pie? Crows zooming around and squawking. A good book on the Kindle app. A reason to wear sweats and soft socks. Maybe it’s time for cider (but if I open it, I can’t fit the bottle in the fridge. Nix that for now). Peace to all.

Put That on the Calendar…

Whoa Nellie. Or is it Nelly? I hate how vacation weeks go so fast. Tuesday is almost over. I’m close to the halfway point, where I officially start to panic that I have nothing done. I may already be panicking. I may have never stopped panicking. Hard to say. I know I did no schoolwork until Sunday night. I know! Almost 48 hours without schoolwork! It was amazing. Not really. There’s been other stressful things going on that sucked up my brain and spat it out. But Sunday night, I realized I needed to get my act in gear in order to reach my goal of having everything that is possible to be done…DONE…by the time we start school again on the 30th. So I started grading. I did two assignments Sunday night, then three yesterday. I’m a third of the way through number 6 today so far, and when I’m done writing this, I’ll go finish that one. It’s one of the hard, thinky ones. I have one more of those to do for three classes, and then two hard, thinky, ARTY ones (this does not make it easier, let me tell you, I hate grading art assignments, IDK whether I’m being mean or too easy or WTF is going on) after that. Then some minor stuff and 17 thousand late assignments handed in by kids because I emailed their parents and told them they’d done NOTHING for weeks (my own fault. I should have kept my mouth shut and let them live with it, but no, I was a responsible teacher and tattled on them). Those will hurt. But OK. I’ll do it. Then planning is almost done for science for next week and (shhh, don’t tell anyone) not even started for art. Fuck me. I need an assist on that one. IT’S OK. I’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

So there we are. I’m working. My day job. That I currently am on vacation from. (From which that I am currently on vacation. Or something.) I have no choice. This is how we roll, 2020 school year, with a Fuck You here and a Fuck That there.

I have been dealing with Wonder Under. Sunday night, I finished tracing Wonder Under…

So technically, I think that’s 5 1/2 yards of Wonder Under. From what I can see. It took almost 17 hours to trace all that.

I was kinda slow. Oh well. Then I started cutting it out on Sunday night as well…

Kitten does not help. She just gets irritated that the boxes are in her way. Calli also does not help.

She wanted to be on the couch. Sometimes I let her, but Kitten was already there, so it just wasn’t going to go well. Monday night, she was on the other side.

I’ve only cut out a yard and a half, I think.

It doesn’t look like much.

More tonight. And the next night. And probably a few more nights. I need to clean the office/studio too, so when I’m ready to iron, I can. Because if I wait and try to do that once school is back in session, it won’t happen as quickly as I need it to.

The man and I are doing the Coast to Crest Challenge for 2020…we were going to do one of the longer hikes today, but we both needed to be in cell-phone range, so we chose the Lake Hodges section instead.

Neither of us had ever been here.

In general, this piece of the trail is pretty easy.

It would be really hot in summer though. There’s the dam…

And there were a lot of mountain bikers, which is annoying.

We only hiked about 4.5 miles…not bad for a Tuesday morning. Here’s the official photo so we can get the patch at the end of all this.

The man tested out his new hiking shirt. We both need better hiking hats. There was a cool telescope thing at the end. (Note, point it at the big yellow letters in the surrounding landscape.)

Not the most exciting hike in the world, but it was nice to be by water and see all the birds.

Three more to go. We will probably try to do another one on Friday? Maybe? Not sure.

Lots of work to do. School. Art: gonna finish trimming Wonder Under. Got some Thanksgiving cooking to do. Some yardwork. Housework. Cleaning. Fun stuff. I would like to do some drawing? I’ve got a few in my head. Put that on the calendar.