I’m the Master of My Sea*

Still adjusting. I think I manage school fairly well, until I get to four days before grades are due and now the cat has to go to the vet even though she’s fine because they won’t give her the meds unless she goes once a year and the doc office is calling three times in 30 minutes while I’m teaching and one assignment has to be ingested and slurped (seriously) by three different apps before I can grade it and I’m so incredibly not ready for next week, but this week isn’t even over yet and somehow I just ordered 5 limes in my produce box and I don’t use limes for anything and I have to remember to pay for the girlchild’s college which changed due dates and Whythehell did I end up being the point person on all the college/kid stuff in the world heaven only knows and I think there’s something else I’m forgetting because there aren’t enough post-it notes in the world.

I can deal with all of that. What I really want is more time to work on this quilt, because there was plenty of time when I started it and there is not now.

That said, I’m closer. I finished cutting everything out last night…

It only took me 22 1/2 hours. It doesn’t usually take that long. I’m not even halfway through, I think. Probably not. I might not get this done in time. Oh well. It will get done. And the next one is a giant blank space in my head, so there’s that. Aack.

Although now that I think about it, last night’s drawing is a step in the right direction. Seriously. I just figured that out.

Yeah, last night, after doing some of this…

(can you see the girlchild?) at a gym I never go to, because mine is being remodeled…

I came home, cooked my own dinner, graded a bit, and then sat down to cut stuff out, but reached for the sketchbook instead. Because. I should. And I like it. And why not (here’s why that quilt is not getting done, eh?). And I drew this…

And I just now realized this is the start of the next piece…I just need it bigger. And more of it. OK. This is good. I love it when I have these incredible insights in the morning, when I don’t even have tea in my brain yet, but it’s wandering off and figuring all the shit out without my conscious help. Yes!

OK, and then I cut stuff out, but it was 11:30 PM when I got to this…

And that’s one to two hours right there. So I didn’t start. Because (a) I had to be up early today for a parent meeting and (b) I knew if I started, I’d come home to a cat butt in one of those boxes with a bunch of tiny pieces all over that furry butt, and I didn’t want that. So tonight. This is on the bill. There might be other things too. But this for sure.

I finally finished my cover page for the new unit…took me long enough.

I think I did a pretty good job on Iron Man.

All the rest of the stuff in my head is some existential crisis of people and interactions and who’s here and who’s leaving and how long the ones are here will be here and whether there will be others to take their place and some of them will be far away for a long time and some need to at least get out of the house and some said they’d be around and then argue about what that means and and and. I’m in a mood. I’m tired. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and that’s my own fault plus a job that just does that to you no matter what, so you have to get control of it and make the world your own. Working on it. It’s like when I’m trying to get 24 7th graders to meditation breathe, and they’re wiggly as hell and you’re like, just CLOSE YOUR EYES for the 17th time and then they all do (except one, because there’s always one) and you’re even sitting right in front of one, knee to knee, because he can’t do this without that, and you breathe in the nose for one two three four and out through the mouth one two three four and you only get three breaths in, but that’s enough, because all of a sudden it’s quiet except for that one girl who wouldn’t close her eyes and now she’s flipping her hair all over the place in that way that only a teenaged girl can and the rush of her hair through the cloistered air in the room makes a sound that disturbs the peace.

That’s my brain for today.

*Imagine Dragons, Believer

Time Is Squished

The electricity is supposed to go off in 46 minutes. Or so. The local electric company warned us, so we could save our delicate electronics, which apparently includes this computer. It’s OK. Really, I’m supposed to be leaving for work around then anyway. Someone asked why I write every day before work anyway. I didn’t used to write every day…I wrote every three days, mostly on a schedule. Before that, I wrote whenever I remembered, which wasn’t often. That’s before I kept a weekly art journal too, so things change. I wrote every night before I went to bed for about a year, getting very little sleep, because it actually helped me fall asleep to get it all out of my head and typed out onto a screen. Now I find it helps me set the scene for the day. Clears the crazy from whatever was in my head overnight (last night? sleep. That was what was in my head). It also lets me make a plan for the day for how to get art done. What to do, when and how to do it, what else I need to get out of the way to do it. There’s purpose then. I don’t always get done what I say I will get done, but the intent helps me to do.

I still need to get my cover page colored for work, by the way. I got through this part of it yesterday…

The rest won’t take long, but today and tomorrow are still high-energy teacher days. I came home last night and graded some more, because grades. Always grades. Looking back, although I finished an assignment, I guess I thought the girlchild would still be up when I was done, but she had gone to bed. Sigh. Really I should hang with her instead of grading.

So I cut things out for a few hours…with the dog…

Everybody else had gone to bed or disappeared into their rooms, doors closed.

I was so close. I don’t have very much left. I really wanted to just stay up and finish it, but it was already almost 12:30 and I teach middle school. And they require mental energy. I need to be awake to handle their crazy and even their not crazy. So I went to bed. I was sort of a responsible adult (a real responsible adult gets 8 hours of sleep a night, and I almost never get that…certainly not on a school night.). And I will finish tonight and hopefully get it all sorted. Then start ironing it together sometime this weekend. In between grading stuff. And hanging out with people. And planning for next week’s lessons. Yeah. Time is squished.

But first, I’m going to go around and unplug all my sensitive electronics, so the power surge when everything goes back on (hopefully before I get back home) does not kill everything I own.

I miss drawing every night by the way. But grading took its place. Sad but true…will try to get it back…at least partway.

Adjusting…

Well. OK. Over break, the amount of room in my head that I allow for school issues, not grading stuff or prepping lessons, but the role we teachers play as counselors, motivators, substitute parents, besties (not really), motivators, disciplinarians, doctors, psychiatrists (without any training, of course), and all the other jobs we do…I reduce that amount in my head over break. It’s nice to walk away from it and not go to bed worrying about what this kid said or how they behaved or what they did or what you know is going on at home or how their behavior means probably this is what break was like for them. It’s nice to not wake up in the morning to emails that are huge red flags for mental illness or a mental break or something significant that you will have to persuade someone else to take action on, because you are just the teacher, one of the many teachers, for this kid who is obviously (to you) on the brink of something possibly really bad, or another kid who you think has reasons for what they’re doing, but sometimes other people don’t agree and you watch the kid continue with who and what they are and hope that by adulthood they have figured it out. Because I can’t fix all of it. And that’s one of the hardest things about being a teacher. Wanting to fix it and not being able to…and sometimes not even having enough extra space in your head to help that one over there, because they mostly seem OK and no one else thinks there’s a problem.

All that. After one day with the kids. Oh yeah. Why I don’t sleep well.

But what did I do yesterday? I drew this…

I still need to color it. I’m behind. I was grading all the late stuff that showed up yesterday. Getting things into the gradebook. Like a responsible teacher. I tutored after school. It uses up all of my mental energy usually, but I needed to deal with some grading stuff at home, so I did. For an hour. But I popped out the backyard to get this.

It’s usually hard to get the sunset on my side of the hill. I did notice the dead branch the tree trimmers behind my house dumped on my hedge. Great.

I made a huge pile of vegetables for dinner. Good stuff. Note: roasted persimmons are tasty. And I cut this stuff out. More of it.

Two or three hours more of it…

What’s left to be cut out? Those fleshy bits in the top box.

Getting there. Maybe tonight? Hard to say. I really need to grade another assignment tonight…but it’s hard to come home after all the energy gets used up and find more energy to stare at assignments. I know I should. I just don’t know if I can.

This week is always an adjustment…with sleep, talking, standing, energy, emotional energy, food, peeing! (teachers understand this). I should remember that and give myself a break for not solving everyone’s problems today. (ha! or anyone’s…really…)

Art Tonight. Long Day First.

Back to work is a whole different world. Luckily, we started yesterday with no kids…professional development (I use that phrase lightly) in the morning and time to “plan” in the afternoon (aka get my room under control). That part was nice, because usually we have to either come in really early on Monday or come in the weekend before to set up and make sure we have everything. For instance, I forgot that I needed more folders because I misordered back in summer and got some with no metal prongs, and that ain’t gonna fly. I think I thought it MIGHT fly back in the summer? But no. So I have one class that will feel all left out because their new folders won’t arrive until Thursday. Well, Friday for them. They will survive.

Our district has this focus on healthy and happy kids, and although I don’t think that’s a bad idea in general, I know that for some people, happy isn’t really a thing. Being told to be healthy and happy can be really frustrating, like if we just tried a little harder, we could be those things, but when you know people who don’t have happy in their vocabulary, but they are content or passionate about something specific, then you balk at that word. And healthy is another issue…I have multiple students with health issues that are out of their control, and to force this concept of healthy without qualifying it…it’s not something I agree with. I’m more into being the best person you can be, wherever that is in the spectrum. Contribute positively to the world, whether it’s person by person or worldwide. Take care of yourself and your people, whether friends or family. Because some people’s families suck too. Anyway. I drew yesterday, but it wasn’t fun or interesting…I kind of think of this as teacher busywork, because I think the district already has decided what our best practices etc are, and they just want us to feel like we’re part of the process.

But I’m pretty cynical about school districts too. Maybe it really is meant to be collaborative. At some point, though, when the groups are made up of 30 people…I don’t think we’re doing anything productive with that. Others disagree with me. That’s OK.

So focus on the afternoon, when I got shit done. That was good. And it means I am more prepared (well, my room is) for today. My brain is still not on fleek. (wrong use. Totally.)

I booked out of school as fast as possible and headed out with the dogs and the boy to try to get an hour in. We failed to do all three miles (light fading and coyote incursion imminent), but we did close. We could have gone further probably. Plus we almost got the car stuck…even better.

Insert interesting pods…

And ferns I’ve never noticed before…

We were standing up slope with the dogs as people went by…I’m sure they’re there all the time.

When I got home, I graded for a while…trying to get caught up. Always trying, never succeeding, until June, when the final grades are due.

Then I cut out stuff for four hours straight. Because I couldn’t deal with anything else.

Definitely progress showing here. The box in the middle is all that’s left. It doesn’t look like much, but there’s a lot of little pieces in there. It will take a while. I’m honestly having a hard time getting my head into this. So that will change when I start ironing, I’m sure. And maybe once I get back into the routine of school. Maybe. Right now I’m not feeling it. But feel it or not, the work day starts in 42 minutes, so I’ve got to get going. Art tonight. Long day first.

Into the Fray!

Aargh. Mornings. Monday mornings. Monday mornings the first day after break. Monday mornings the first day after break when the sweet asshole of a cute dog that you have barked until after 2 AM at the coyotes who were singing all over the neighborhood. That last part. I can handle one late night a week and recover successfully (the wonder of being old? I used to be able to do multiple nights in a row), but the first night of the work week? On the first week back? I might be functionally useless by Friday. (Might be…ha!)

Well, it’s OK. This week is all planned out. Hopefully I even copied everything back in December that I need this week. I know I ordered the lab materials. It’ll be fine. Really. (stares off into space. ugh.)

I do like teaching. I especially like teaching science, despite my degrees being in Literature and Art. I even like teaching middle schoolers…they are an interesting mix between maturity and weepy snot. A challenge! I like challenges. They keep me moving, going, progressing. But the daily grind and the build up of stress and the worry about the kids and the to-do list that comes from teaching and the district and all the other crap we have to do? I could do without that. That is what makes me look at the calendar and think, when do I get a break? Well, there’s a 3-day weekend coming up, so there’s that. But grades are due before that.

Anyway, I’ve got art to make! Well, and some of what I want to be making is just process-driven. I bought these small square dyed moons, 18 of them in two batches, from Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth

just because I liked them. But then what to do with them? I really want some of my stuff this year to just be about stitching, by hand. And I’m not worried about what this will be, but it will be something for me. So I cut blocks out of 4 or 5 fabrics and paired moons (and one star) with them, and then let them percolate. And last night, I cut some paper to the size of the finished block and drew some things…

These are all people, but there will be other things. I was going to fuse, but I think I’m going to hand applique instead. I like the look of hand applique. I just can’t ever make quilts like that because I will never ever finish them. You’ll see one of those hand appliqued art quilts from god knows when showing up this year. It’s in the pile of to-do. So this was Sunday’s project, but maybe I will choose fabrics and cut some freezer paper patterns for them tonight. There are 14 more moons. Some will just be moons I think. We’ll see.

I like not knowing.

I graded yesterday. I put away ALL of my clothes (hasn’t happened since summer, scarily enough. They lived in hampers…). I packed up a sold quilt to ship it off. I made lunches, but not breakfasts, because those are harder for me to stomach. And I drew…the 23rd drawing of Winter Break…

Yeah, it’s weird. So what? I like weird. I like just drawing. Amusingly, even though that’s the last drawing of Winter Break, I have at least 3 hours of a staff meeting today, and what is in my bag? You got it…one of the small sketchbooks. So there. I’ve had about 4 hours of sleep. I’m gonna need something to keep me from screaming. (I hate staff meetings.)

I cut things out for a little while.

Not long enough. The pile of stuff that’s cut out is now bigger than the pile that’s not, but I should have been DONE! OK, there are good reasons why I’m not, but there’s a deadline on this one too, although it’s pretty loose. I could miss it and the world would not end.

Here’s one of my pieces that got into the Surface Design Association Exhibition in Print…titled Family Matters. My piece is And Then There Was One, from when I first sent both kids off to college.

Look guys! You’re naked in print! I know. My children are severely annoyed by me on a regular basis. Interestingly, the boy’s interests moved away from law, but the girlchild still cooks. I didn’t know then that she would be into environmental science or that he would have done all these government/philosophy classes. Things change. My hair still isn’t gray either.

Here’s the magazine cover…

with an intriguing piece, Untitled American Family, by Hale Ekinci, who has some interesting work on her website.

With that, I’m shoving my computer and my sketchbook into a bag with my lunch and some snacks, and about half my brain. Into the fray! We go!

Blow My Mind*

I think I have work in four shows that are closing in the next three days. Something about this week of January. Close it out, change it up. In a similar vein, it’s my last day of Winter Break…there are a few 3-day weekends coming, but then no break until the middle of April (96 days away. Yes. My phone tells me that.). I feel a need to gird my loins, to pull myself up by my bootstraps, to do my laundry (that last thing is probably the most important).

I’ve been doing one drawing a day (a night, really) since the beginning of break, trying to get drawing back in my life, a constant instead of a means to an end, and I’ve been successful with that. I’ve done 22 of them, some more time-consuming and complicated than others, and only a few that will become quilts. Some might be the starting ideas of quilts, like the one I’m working on now came from a drawing I did in a staff meeting that had to be redrawn about 5 times over a 9-month period before it was ready.

So the real question is, what now with the drawing? I don’t think I can realistically continue every night. It takes me on average about an hour to do one, and that’s if I’m concentrating and not trying to do something else. With a job that takes an average of 60 hours a week, I can’t really justify drawing every night, because I would be limiting the time I give to the other art stuff, the actual finishing of quilts and the like. In the past, I tried to schedule drawing one night a week and failed miserably. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Except I know I will draw tonight. Because it’s the last night of break. Anyway. So many things to consider. Like steps toward making a coloring book. I’ll need help, that’s for sure. Wonder what the boychild’s going rate is…

Yesterday was mostly a meeting day. I finished a bunch of things that had to be done in the morning and then we drove a million miles to a meeting (OK, not really, but it seemed like it), which was a good thing, because there’s a show coming up in October and some organizational stuff, plus half the people in this group are in other groups I’m in, and all of us seem to be having aging pains, not growing pains, but what do we do as things change and how do we change to our benefit? When I got home, I did more of those little things that need doing and had dinner and did my daily drawing…

Some simpler than others. Trees and birds in most of them. We had a discussion of why I think it’s important to be part of the change and to take on more work to help these art groups survive. I’m not the one that sits back and waits for other people to do it for me. I’m one of the people who is in the background doing things, taking on stuff for which I have the skills, because others don’t, and they ask for help on things they know I can do (or they guess I can do, because it’s often something I’ve never done before). And sometimes after doing one of those things, I’m like, nope, uh uh, never ever doing that again, and sometimes I’ll be fine with it. So does that take away from time for my own stuff? Of course it does. But if I don’t take on those tasks, those responsibilities, then whatever it is falls apart, the group is no longer, and I’m a member of that group because I need to be. It serves a purpose for me. So I do my stuff.

And for school, when I take on things, it’s because no one else will, or if they do, I don’t trust them to do it right, to be responsible for what the kids need, but mostly it’s because someone else won’t do it. Which annoys the crap out of me. But whatever. It’s always a balance between giving to the group and making sure I have time to get stuff done too. But there’s something in my nature that makes me do the group stuff. It’s important. If you’re in a group now, stop being the one who does nothing (but complain…because trust me, the do-nothings are always complaining). Take on a task for this year. It can be a small one. Realize other people are carrying you and step up. Then maybe one of those doers can take a little break, can take more time for themselves or their work.

Anyway. I also cut things out for about 3 hours…

Getting there. Not there yet. But getting there. Box on the left is cut out. Box on the right is not. Yes the couch is chaos at the moment. See the cat at the bottom of the photo? She’s blurry movement.

Today.

Wish I were these guys. Wish I could replace this carpet too. Not a thing right now.

Today. Get ready for school. No kids tomorrow, thank god, but I need to be ready for them the next day. I’m so behind it’s not even funny. But it’s normal. It’s OK. It will be OK. Go pack up that quilt and mail it off, so I can pay for the phone I just bought (mine was dying). Do laundry! I said that earlier. Clean up. Organize. Get ready. MAKE MORE ART. Really, that’s just one drawing and cutting a bunch of stuff out. Did I mention I didn’t get into the show I was hoping to get into with the last quilt of 2018? I don’t think it’s in the gallery of recent work, so I’ll go put it in there. Oh well. It will go somewhere. They always do. I am very happy with it anyway.

*AWOLNATION, Passion

I Finished…Something.

It’s Saturday. Y’all probably already know this, but I keep having to tell myself what day it is because I conveniently forget when on break. It’s a nice thing to get to that point, except when you have to be somewhere at a particular time and people want you to be there ON time and with all your crap so they can leave with you. So I’m watching the clock and probably need to get my act in gear soon.

In awesomely good news, I finished the Project Paint thing yesterday…in fact, it’s all I finished, although I left the house twice for things I had to do, and in both cases almost got creamed by another vehicle who was driving idiotically in my lane when previously they had NOT been in my lane, so it kinda makes me think I shouldn’t leave the house like ever. Not happening, of course, but it’s what my core brain is saying. Don’t leave! People drive badly! Just stay home! It’s nicer here anyway!

OK, brain, I hear you. Still not happening.

I started with ironing bits together…this is the easy stuff…

These are part of the strips for top and bottom.

I wanted a relationship between the people and the place they live…the bigger place.

And that one monkey made it underground.

Plus a rocket into the sky.

It’s so fast to do these little pieces…

Then I put each one onto a background…

So I could piece things. Here’s where I admit that I suck at measuring and piecing. One reason why I’m not a traditional quilter. The second one being that I hate all that repetition.

I pieced the top, adding a canvas square in there for my collaborator to paint something on.

He says he’s more abstract normally. So he can go sky abstract here if he wants. Or whatever.

And here’s the bottom strip getting stitched down, with another canvas square in the ground…for ground abstract.

We’ll see what he does with these.

This part made me nervous, the stitchdown on the actual canvas, so I tried it out on a scratch piece first.

Seemed to work. So I went for it…

Slow and steady.

I did all of it…with no problems…there’s the back…

OK then. Now piece it all together…strip on top and bottom…

I was thinking about how I didn’t want to bind it, but I needed to finish the edges and figure out how to hang it. I need it to be able to go back to the original guy so he can finish painting, but I won’t get it back before it goes in the show.

So I put wide-enough strips on that I could use it to finish the edges.

Then I made the backing. The rules are that I can’t use a piece of fabric that’s bigger than 6″ square, because they might be able to use it as a disguise.

I’m not arguing with the prison system, but I feel like once you sew them together, they are still a really bad and ugly disguise. Bleck.

Batting, backing, oh I skipped the whole thing where I quilted around each box and then inside the fabric stuff, but I tried the quilting on the paper and decided it would be a clusterfuck.

So I left the center piece unquilted. I pinned the extra around the back and then put two sleeves on, top and bottom, for hanging.

And then sewed the whole thing down…

And stitched the sleeves down. Done. A day early. I still need to do a write up before I leave this morning, but it’s getting delivered today. Whoo! Off my plate! I’ll see it again in May. We’ll see what he does with my crazy. Me? Outside my box. It’s good to do that sometimes.

Speaking of crazy. This dog.

She’s such a weird sleeper.

I finished that other stuff around 9:30 PM after working on it a goodly chunk of the day. Then I drew this…

Cool. I like the idea. Might run further with this someday.

And then I cut stuff out for a little while.

Still way behind where I wanted to be. Oh well. And I’ve graded nothing for two days. Probably need to do some schoolwork. School starts Monday. Ugh. So not ready. Never ready.

And there’s this. The second installment in the weird mailing I got a few weeks ago about an imaginary relative…now bringing in time travel and artifacts and my duty as the descendant of this relative.

I still don’t know who set this up, but it’s cool…we got all the letter snippets into some order and will wait patiently for the next installment. Don’t ruin it! I know it’s a gift thing and I am appreciating the mystery. Plus looking forward to time travel.

OK. Shower, food, pack stuff up to take with me to meeting, long drive to and from meeting, long meeting, need more time before Monday, but maybe it’ll all be OK anyway. Don’t even ask about my blood sugar. It’s a disaster. I am, as always, a work in progress.