Walking Dogs

January 1, 2018

Hello 2018! I’m already 17 pages into a (it was blank) notebook for the new year…trying to be organized and mindful and all that stuff that we always start with and lose track of about 30 days in. Seriously. I’m not doing the dishes today because I cooked the last two meals. I’ll be walking the dogs later because dogs. Yeah. The boychild left this morning to camp in the middle of nowhere by himself, because he’d rather do that than go out to dinner for his birthday. Well. OK. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but he must have needed it. Hopefully he is safe and relatively warm. I will worry about him the whole time, because I gave birth to him and so I have a permanent umbilical cord attached to him (oh crap, a drawing idea just popped into my head). Both of them really. Plus he has my car. He goes back to college in a few weeks and then graduates and moves back home to do who-knows-what and the girlchild is off to Madagascar in three weeks, where I will alternately worry my ass off about her and be completely and totally jealous. Yeah. Well.

In totally awesome news, I’m starting a commissioned piece today and am really looking forward to trying to make something cool for her. I have two weeks to come up with a drawing…there’s stuff floating around inside my head that needs to coalesce and flow down through the pen onto paper. I’ve pushed off a lot of the other deadlines I might look at right now because last year was SO MUCH deadlining that I can’t handle that any more. This is good though…there’s a few things that need to go in the drawing, but they’re easy. I’m excited to finally start this!

And then I have three smaller quilts I want to make sometime this year, drawings I did last year that really speak to me. Plus there are two shows coming up in the fall that I want to make work for, but that’s a long way out and I don’t need to worry about it right now. So I guess that’s my plan for the year…simple, right? Ha! You know as well as I do that a whole bunch of new stuff will try to insert itself into that plan. It’s OK…I’m used to that.

I do like to do a little picture of all the quilts from the just-finished year, so here’s that…

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Eight quilts this year…from top left to right: I Can’t Be Your Superwoman, Some Like It Hot, MomSleep (revised from 2016), We Won’t Go Back, You Pollute Me, Rooted in America, The Government Made Me Do It, and last, but not least, Not Less Than. May there be an equivalent number in 2018.

If you’re waiting on my holiday cards, they’re going out tomorrow. I had to print more and the ink is being cranky about drying.

So here’s the boychild testing out Grandpa’s tent in my living room. He doesn’t usually use a tent, but he also usually doesn’t have a car…so he took firewood and a cookstove and an ice chest even. Very exciting for him, I think. It’s almost glamping compared to what he normally does.

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I’ll go buy cake supplies and make him a birthday cake, even though he won’t be here for the day. The kid likes cake. If he’d given me any warning that he was gonna do this, I would’ve made cupcakes and sent some with him. I had no warning…literally the afternoon before he left, he posited that he would do this and he would need my car and would I let him steal it. And sure, I could have said no, but I don’t actually need it until Wednesday (we have a spare car here that I can arm wrestle the girlchild for), and he is obviously trying to separate from the family unit…which must be hard when you know you have few documented job skills and very little money. I was lucky not to have to move back home (much) after college. It’ll take him a while to get out, I think.

Meanwhile, the girlchild is still recovering from the last semester and detoxing from caffeine overload.

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This requires a lot of sleeping and quinoa. And videos of dogs.

I finished the 365th day on this. Done. It was an interesting experiment. I think I’m going to go ahead and piece it into a small crazy quilt and then work on that this year, but I have a couple other things that need to happen first…

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All black fabrics, I’m thinking…and then a bunch of embroidery. But less than in the center. Maybe really small blocks? Maybe small crazy-pieced blocks with narrow bits and a larger center bit for a motif. I’m freaking out because I’m totally seeing a face on the right side…with that wave curve as the nose. There are three eyeballs in this thing. And a hand. It’s not the most normal thing in the world. Shockingly.

Then I finished cutting out the little quilt that’s been in process since June. I’m probably going to try to iron it together over the next couple of days. It’s easy enough to do.

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When I look at what uses up the most brainpower when I’m making art, it’s the drawing and the choosing of fabrics that’s the hardest…this is just putting together what already came together in my head. So I’ll draw, sure, but I’ll do this in the moments in between. Because I go back to school in a week. And I should have some artmaking time in there. It’s harder to do once I go back. Vacation should have the stuff you really like to do. It’s true that Winter and Spring breaks rarely have much of that, but that’s just because being a teacher takes up too much life time in the beginning. I can say all I like that I’m going to balance it all better, but if I put off something for school, it all starts to pile up, and then I find myself buried again.

Let’s not think about that today, the first day of the new year. Let’s go walk some dogs and draw some stuff and iron something together and maybe watch some bad television while grading the last of that hellish project. Yup. Gonna do that.

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Things Will Happen Today

December 30, 2017

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.


Wheels under $100

December 29, 2017

Well I’m currently sitting in a tire store, waiting on that slow leak finally getting fixed, listening to two evangelists explaining bitcoin to each other. Not by choice. I’m looking at just one more week off of school and a ton of stuff that needs to get done. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment…had a brief panicked moment on the way over here. There are a lot of people living in my house at the moment and it’s causing some tension…I could do with less of that I guess. I love having my kids home, but there is an adjustment period.

Yesterday was the doc for malaria and typhoid (girl child, not me), then to pick up my quilt and photos. This is Not Less Than…probably the last quilt of 2017.

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She’s 64″w x 74″h…made for a group of fiber artists who have chosen things that matter to them, with the hope of exhibiting all the pieces together at some point. I chose women’s rights as being my thing that mattered. It’s obviously not the only thing I think matters, but my head keeps going back there, especially this year.

Those are the women we all carry in our heads, ancestors, descendants, all throwing out their wants, desires, concerns, what they fought for, what they expect: the right to vote, equal rights, the right to choose, respect for our abilities, our brains, fewer expectations based on our biological parts. So many things.

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This year has been so frustrating politically. I can’t just sit here and ignore warning bells and red flags. I guess this is how I yell at the bullshit.

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So that’s where I’m at with that one.

I did cut some more pieces out on this one. Maybe I’ll finish that today. After I finish all the other crap on the list.

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Sleepy kitty. The dogs are gone more with the kids home. I miss them.

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I finished quilting the one on the right…they’re both ready for trimming. I could do that today as well.

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And grade stuff and put stuff away and finish the holiday cards and and and sheesh. Walk the dogs. That last one is probably a good thing for where my irritable brain is sitting. That one.


Break the Silence*

December 28, 2017

Who am I kidding? There’s no silence. My head is full of noise. I’m really not focusing at all. It’s OK. I went through the pile of stuff I have in my office/studio (really, it’s both) and found some stuff to work on. I’m not sure why some things just get put aside…I have drawings that are enlarged AND numbered, totally ready to become quilts. Put aside. I have drawings that are enlarged and taped, but need more drawing to bring them to completion. Put aside. Sometimes that’s a lack of further vision. I think it’s more commonly a lack of time. Some other deadline is more “important” for whatever reason. I have quilt tops that are pinbasted, waiting to be quilted for YEARS sometimes. Again, no urgency. I even have a few that are ready for binding…there was one that needed the quilting done, so I had started that a couple years ago after putting it aside for YEARS, because there was a place for it in a show, and then they pulled it. So I never finished…again. It’s kind of a weird quilt anyway…weird for me even. It’s probably OK if I don’t finish it.

So I went through that pile yesterday. Found this. I found this last January too, I think. I even started quilting it, and then I stopped for some reason. Not last January. Might have been when my machine died, whenever that was. Summer 2016? Honestly, it’s all a blur. This thing is old, let’s put it that way. Like early 2000s old. It really was just meant to be a vehicle for hand embroidery, so I’m gonna continue with that thought.

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It was freehand cut with Wonder-Undered fabric. So I haven’t done that in ages. Anyway, there wasn’t much quilting left to do…

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So I did it. Now I should trim it and bind it and then start the hand stitching. I guess technically it could get done in 2017, although that seems unlikely.

Girlchild has been working on our holiday “letter”, which is now a webpage. It was something else, but this makes more sense. It’s not done.

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I need to do my part, and I think she has to finish her part.

Then I found this one, which I’ve dated to about 2007 (wait, I just found a post from December 23, 2007, where I had ironed this one down…obviously this purpose of this blog is to take the place of my brain, since it works haphazardly), based on the other bird-related quilts I did that go with it. It was the last one and obviously never got finished. There’s BirdHead, BirdSick, BirdWatch, and this is BirdLeg. I guess. Something like that.

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Outline quilting first…

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And then background quilting. I didn’t quite finish that before I had to feed every living creature in the house. But one.

Kitten moved around the office based on sunlight. And how annoying she could be by sitting on or in front of things.

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I finally found a campsite I had been researching for about 2 days. That was good. Then we had game night…there’s nothing that brings people together like Cards Against Humanity.

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Puppy sucked at it.

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Then I found Yet Another quilt in progress. This one is from June. Of THIS YEAR. I had some time in between things, so I drew and numbered and Wonder-Undered back in June. And then sometime in the fall, I ironed to fabric. It’s a small quilt (for me), so it didn’t take long. I think it only has about 370 pieces in it. I started cutting them out yesterday, a chilly Satchemo curled up by my hip.

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He’s actually quite warm. I didn’t finish. That’s OK too. So if I were focused, today I would finish the quilting on the foot. That’s what it’s called! BirdFoot…not leg. Damn. My memory is such a faulty hard drive. Then trim the two I finished quilting and find some binding in the stash for them. Bind them. Finish cutting this other one out. Start ironing it together. Grade that pile of stuff I moved onto the couch. Finish the holiday card and address labels. Check my to-do list. I hate that thing. Seriously. Although it keeps me on task. Aargh. If only I could focus. College payments done. Picking up quilt today from photographer, so I can enter the show it was made for…still waiting to hear on another one. Hopefully they will give enough time to ship. Plus I need to email about another one going into two shows. Ah, so busy. I want to draw, but can’t get the brain on task. I’ve spent 50+ years trying to get control of my brain. Ha! Still a work in progress.

*Depeche Mode, Enjoy the Silence


Going Just to Be Sane*

December 3, 2017

Every new month, I read back through previous years of the blog for that month, looking for the clue to how to survive it better, to how it makes me feel, because so many things are cyclical. I guess it’s good to review that, because three years ago, I still was going to multiple night soccer games, freezing my ass off, and then dealing with feeding kids and all that fun stuff. Although they are coming back in a week or so. It helps me to have a space in my head to prepare for the next few weeks…knowing that the holidays are coming, but that makes school that much more crazy for the weeks leading up to it. Knowing that I have some free time coming up to finish this quilt, even if I have to really push to get through any of it right now.

Even yesterday, a wide-open day…I copyedited (I’m almost done!), I worked, I managed a bunch of stupid tiny tasks, but I did finish some stuff and start the ironing, and that was my goal. I’m totally braindead today (which is funny, because I really do have to work today and be incredibly efficient and I just don’t have it in me). One of the reasons I write this almost every day is because it clears my brain and lets me prioritize what I gotta do. It helps.

So after copyediting, I took about 18 minutes to finish cutting everything out, for a total of 17 hours and 38 minutes of cutting…no small feat.

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Down to a small box full of 1360 pieces or so.

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Then I sorted them. Here’s the before picture. I forgot to take an after picture, but imagine them all sorted by hundreds.

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And then headed in to start ironing. I cleaned up the space a little first…

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You can see the cat under the ironing board. It’s a popular spot.

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That’s all I got done…because I had a show to be at, and the call was earlier than I originally thought. It’s OK. I was ready for a break…

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Although I didn’t realize there would be an actual elk there. Am I the only one who thinks they sort of desecrated the elk by putting party decorations on it? Seriously. I feel sorry for all the elks I saw there.

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It was someone’s birthday party. Not someone I know, of course…

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I’m there for the band. I’m the groupie. Well, there are other groupies, but I’m the weird one who sits in the corner and draws.

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As proven here. I spilled my first glass of wine…I wasn’t in the mood to dance (sometimes I do). I was tired. But it was an amusing people-watching event.

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Yeah, the elk stuff got in there. And the American flag…because I am most definitely American. Born on an Air Force base in Alaska. You can’t deny my citizenship. But sometimes this country makes some of us feel alienated…well, an awful lot of us, honestly…for a variety of stupid reasons: sexuality, race, religion, even just for existing.

Here she is without the weird lighting…

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And the wine spilling drawing.

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Came home and waited for the musician to come home…with his cat batting at my face…”pet me bitch” is his stance. So I did.

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Then did two nights on this, still on the right…just keep putting those big flowers in all the way down. They’re fun to stitch.

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And that’s where I was last night. I did about 4 1/2 hours of job stuff: copyediting job and art job, mostly. Today will be teacher job and the other two. Yikes. Well I should get on with that, even though I feel fuzzy and brainless. I’ll get there. The ironing is already calling to me. I can be pretty damn efficient when I hear that art call.

*The Black Keys, Tighten Up


In the Key That Our Souls Were Singing*

December 2, 2017

OK. Well that was an exhausting week. I got to sleep last night, despite 46 texts from my kids while I was asleep, plus a text and phone call from the pool guy, and a very insistent, apparently starving cat. I have lots of plans for the weekend, but as always, everything small and tiny takes up all the time. I’m still in pajamas (hey, I was in pajamas all day yesterday) and the first cup of tea hasn’t quite kicked in. Probably need to make cup number 2.

In good news, we made concrete and learned about superplasticizer and nobody died or got concrete up their noses, so we’re good.

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What’s funny is that they all had the same recipe…but look at the results.

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That’s a sign of what we deal with every freakin’ day. I’m laughing, actually, because otherwise I would be crying. Two more weeks. Two more weeks with a field trip and an official observation. I didn’t leave work yesterday until after 5:15, because we had to clean up all the concrete stuff, help the company who came out pack up all the stuffs, and then try to revise our field trip and notify everyone in the world that we were doing that.

I made it to gaming…but brought shit to cut out, because I’m trying to be DONE DAMMIT. I’m a little over 17 hours in…

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Home to puppy. Fell asleep soundly for a good long time…

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So I’m almost done. The bottom has maybe 10-15 pieces left. And then I’m done.

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Did I mention that I was almost done?

So. I can’t work on that until I get through the second readthrough on the copyediting. Doing that now. Then finish cutting and sort the pieces. Then IRONING! Woo hoo! Finally get to see it go together.

I got into a cool show this week that will be at the Oceanside Museum of Art February through July, opening March 17 from 6-8 PM (I can put 4 people on the free list to get in). It’s called Artifacts, and will be opening with two other exhibits at the museum, all based on the book Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, about a future civilization where we have lost electricity and many other things that make our society go. I did read the book before entering. I’ve seen the work that will be in our exhibit, which is with Allied Craftsmen, and it is pretty amazing…wood, ceramics, fiber, basketry…a wide variety of good stuff. So that was good news.

And I’m looking forward to some music and drawing tonight…need some down time after all this.

*Earth Wind and Fire, September


Wouldn’t Turn Around and Break It*

December 1, 2017

Friday, I’m so glad to see you. Even though today will be another exhausting challenge of moving 12-year-olds from here to there, managing their stuff while trying to deal with guests on campus, at least (a) I get to take two days off as of 3:30…well, no, maybe 4:30…have to deal with field trip, and (b) it’s pajama day, so I get to wear pajamas to school. Really, that makes it about 100 times better right there. I think the only thing that got me through yesterday was the donuts that someone brought for our 8 AM meeting. It’s the little things, people. Actually, that’s something I’ve been trying to remember as I have a couple of students who I would like to have disappear from my world…but I know one has significant challenges at home, so I’m trying to figure out how to break through the teenage girl drama she throws at me. The other kid? Honestly, at the moment, I’m not dealing with him…but I will eventually. Yelling profanity at a teacher never appears from nowhere…you know there’s other shit going on, and it’s probably not because of me. It doesn’t make it any easier to deal with at the end of the day, but the logical teacher brain sees it not as an attack on me, but as some pushback against his world. Which unfortunately, I am part of…

I’m good with that. As long as I don’t have to see him today.

So yesterday, we did a sieve analysis of construction aggregate. Yeah, sounds crazy exciting, except it WAS. So there. I didn’t even have any crazy stupid behavior really, although the tendency of 7th graders to do stuff you didn’t ask them to do drives me bonkers during labs sometimes. The chemistry unit is gonna be whack this year. We might have to duct tape some kids to the walls to keep them from blowing the place up with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar (could happen…).

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Today is concrete and admixtures. More concrete next week. It’s all good. Then we get to do volcanoes and earthquakes…way more fun.

Then I had quilt class, spent two hours cutting shit out.

Then I came home and Satchemo wanted lap time. Lots of purring and pets and cat hair left on me.

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Seems everyone wanted attention. My tea got cold because of all the pets. They wouldn’t let me sit up to drink it.

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Both on my lap…

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Eventually I shifted them slightly and did more flowers on the right side. I’m officially in the last month of this. Then decisions about what next…

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The plus is that I’m really close to the end of cutting stuff out. There’s maybe 100 pieces in that top box, maybe fewer, because the flesh ones are mostly pretty big.

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That’s 15 hours of cutting in that bottom box.

This view might be a little easier to see…trash in the bag, top box has everything that’s cut out, bottom box is all that’s left.

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PROGRESS. Almost done. I wanted to be done by now, but I’m doing pretty well.

And I was right…I didn’t do any copyediting last night. I won’t do any tonight either. I’ll get up tomorrow after a decent night’s sleep and finish the copyediting with a clear brain and then finish the cutting and sort the pieces and start ironing. That’s the plan anyway.

Yes, I probably need to grade stuff too, but I’ll look at that on Sunday…not Saturday. I have all day Saturday mapped out for (mostly) art. I’m not budging on that. Saturday night is booked, but that’s fine…I get a little too much in my head when I’m at this stage of a quilt, especially when I know it’s gotta be done and photographed by the first of January. It’s gonna be tight, but I’m pretty sure I can do it. But I do need to go out and be a non-hermit on Saturday night.

But first, I’m taking my pajama-clad butt to school.

*Cowboy Junkies, Sweet Jane