Not Close Enough for the Champagne to Get Chilled*

July 24, 2017

Weekends. I got some stitching done in the car yesterday. Got some cutting out done at the meeting. People make fun of me for always working…although there are down times (Saturday nights usually)…but I actually find cutting those tiny pieces out mostly relaxing. So if it’s a meeting, I actually pay more attention when I’m cutting. I know that sounds weird, but the action of cutting keeps the part of my brain that gets off task from affecting the part of my brain that’s listening.

So I listen better when I cut or sew or draw. I’ve had huge issues over the years with mostly control-freak teachers and bosses who believe people are best paying attention when they are staring into your eyes, unblinking. Yeah. Well they’re wrong. Interesting insight for me as a teacher. I totally understand the kids who are trying to read a book while we’re teaching…luckily we do much less of the direct instruction than we used to, so now they have stuff to do. I would have been drawing AND trying to read a book at the same time, so I get it.

So I cut these out during the meeting…got almost two hours in. AND paid attention like a good member.

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So it’s harder to know how much more I have to do, whether I’ve hit the halfway mark anywhere (nope. Bet I haven’t.). I have about 3 1/2 hours into the cutting. Nowhere near half. But that makes sense, because I only exceeded the halfway mark on ironing pieces down sometime yesterday…here’s my fabrics for the bunch of wildflowers she’s holding…

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I had more greens, but turns out I didn’t need them.

I did over 3 hours of ironing again yesterday, mostly at night. I’m 14 hours in, so I think I’m going to go over my 15-hour estimate by quite a bit. Unfortunately. I’ve barely started the 900s, so probably tomorrow will be when I finish ironing. Today is kind of busy.

On the left is all the stuff that’s ironed down. On the right is all the stuff that’s trimmed.

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And here’s the disaster I left on the ironing board last night. Actually, I think I made myself clean it up.

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The pile on the right is all flesh fabrics. Usually I cut all the flesh in one go, but because of how this quilt was drawn, there are little bits of flesh and then big whopping bits of land and all the things on it, so I just keep the pile of flesh fabrics separate and pull them out when I hit the next fleshy bit. Sometimes I write numbers on the drawing for the colors…1 is the lightest, then 2 etc. In case there’s an overlap farther up or the arms need to match the color of the shoulders. The drawing is not sacred in any way.

I did just check and on an average quilt, I hit the halfway point in total construction somewhere in the cutting-out-fabrics stage. So close to halfway but not close enough for the champagne to get chilled. That’s for sure.

So I’ve finished all the flesh up to the shoulders, but all the stuff in the chest area (buildings, sun, nuclear power plants) all need to be ironed. And I saved out the decorative stuff on the arms: waves, veins, tattoos, etc. So I can work on that now, although I think there will be an issue with food at some point, and I have to be two somewheres this afternoon. Sigh. Busy summer.

All the crap from the garage is now on Craigslist though, so there’s that. I’m not quite done dealing with the garage, but it’s manageable now. I think I have to start working on the bedroom honestly. And worry about school? Not yet. Girlchild goes back to Boston tomorrow…feel like I’ve barely seen her, but she has friends she wants to see as well. Shockingly. And I’ve been busy too…not entirely on her.

Anyway. The to-do list is massive. Time is limited. Sleep is optional. With that in mind, I’ve got art to do and cleaning as a backup.


Read the Lines in My Hand*

April 20, 2017

AAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK.

OK. Yeah. Better. Nope. Not really. Realizing how many things are on the to-do list while simultaneously realizing how little time there is to do them. My right eye is twitching again. It’s not supposed to do that on break. And it doesn’t seem to matter that I got a ton done yesterday…today it has multiplied into a monstrously larger amount, I don’t even know how. Part of it is trying to manage four different shows (maybe more?)…finishing work, putting labels on, suspect I need to go shopping for slats or dowels, plus shipping them off…gotta get all that done today and tomorrow. Plus the parentals are gone, so I have their dog on top of mine. And I’m supposed to be deciding what quilts will be in my solo show in July, because I need to know by next Friday. Aack. Double Aack. I have some that are definites (including the one I haven’t finished, oh shit), but I’m blanking on some of the others. Not sure. Need it to fit with the title. Maybe. Maybe it all fits. Who knows? I can’t wrap my brain around it right this minute. Realizing that this weekend is busy as hell, all of a sudden. OK, the realization was all of a sudden…it’s been booked for months.

All I can do is start banging through the list, as always. This is how school stuff doesn’t get done, though…because I’m trying to finish the personal stuff…and that doesn’t even include my original Spring Break goals of finishing all the weeding (ah ha ha ha) and figuring out where all the quilts should be stored and getting my bedroom chaos under control. That shit’s just not happening at all.

So. I got up yesterday and graded one of the longer assignments. Then I started cutting, and I did that for about 4 1/2 hours…

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And then I was done. So 9 hours plus total, I think. And my hand isn’t even that stiff. Good deal.

I had two dogs on the couch with me for most of it…not sure why. I know I’ve been the most boring owner ever this week. Sorry guys.

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Then the third dog showed up and the shenanigans began…

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I ignored them and went on to sorting the pieces out…

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And then came in here and started ironing…

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I am doing all the stuff around the bathtub first…it seems easier that way…

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Well, this tree wasn’t really easy…but it was logical…sort of.

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And I got the cat done after midnight…and that’s where I stopped.

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200 pieces ironed down…only 500 to go. That was my goal for today…I think. I’m not sure I can pull it off though. I have 5 quilts to pull from the pile, check all of them for labels, put labels on those that don’t have them, ship 3 to one location, put 2 in a pile for another location, and then there’s another that’s still in a box that needs to be shipped back. Each batch, I need to look up what else needs to be sent…artist statement? Slats? Return shipping? Who knows. Pain in the ass. Except the work is gonna be out there, so that’s a plus.

Two of the pieces are in this show…which will be up until July 10, I think. The piece on the right is mine, and there will be another smaller piece of mine in the show. I won’t make it to the opening though…it’s free, but you need to register. I think that gets you a free wine ticket though, so you should go.

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And then I’m in this one…but I’m not sure whether it’s just the one piece on the announcement or not. I should be at this opening…

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Anyway, wasting less time here and trying to get everything done without panicking. This is the part where my counselor tells me I must like being overwhelmed because I keep getting into that space. WTF. I don’t know how NOT to get there. Sigh.

*Elliott Smith, Miss Misery


I Don’t Want to Fake It*

April 19, 2017

Well finally there is progress on the quilt…for some reason, finishing one task and moving on to the next one feels like movement. I’m still worried about finishing in time…with good reason, really. But I did finish ironing yesterday…122 fabrics used in a little over 12 hours. That’s a long time to pick 700 fabrics, actually. Not sure what’s up with that. Trying to get my mind back into doing it after traveling for a week, I guess.

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Lots of blue…it is in a bathtub though.

Kitten was not helping by sitting on all the ironed pieces. She loves those boxes, and I forgot to block her access…

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Then I started cutting out. Well, first I graded an assignment, which is my current rule. Grade first. Only 6 left. Ugh. SIX. Yeah. Well.

I cut for 4 1/2 hours yesterday. I cut through Walking Dead, the Bronte sisters show on PBS, and an episode of The Americans.

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I did not finish. The bottom box still has the whole bathtub and the water in it to do…plus more. But I got a good chunk done. The plan is to finish cutting today, then sort, then start ironing down.

I threaded through the running stitches last night.

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There was some furry love going on. These two like each other.

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This one just gets jealous.

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Oh yeah. And I got a tattoo. I’ve wanted one since I was approaching my 30th birthday. I might have been pregnant then. My now-ex told me he would divorce me if I got one. Then I aimed for 35, but ended up with a divorce instead…plus no money. It’s hard to spend disposable cash on something like this when you don’t have a lot…so I just put it off…for years. Last year, I had decided I would do it…but just got side-tracked. And then my kids gave me the money for my 50th birthday…so I had to do it. I didn’t have the money excuse. So I finally found the time and went in and talked to the artists…came up with a plan (all this actually happened pretty fast, but I did have a stash of photos I liked on my phone)…and he did it yesterday.

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I’m really happy with it. Big smile on my face for a long time yesterday.

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I know some people will wonder why I didn’t draw something of my own, but first of all, I don’t draw for tats…I draw for what will eventually be quilts. And the detail and size of most of my drawings would be prohibitive…like first, where am I gonna PUT that? And how am I gonna pay for it? I’m OK with this stylized yin-yang eyeball. I don’t need it to be my art.

Anyway, it took me a while to get that off my bucket list (and now I have about 17 other ideas I want…but it’s OK. I gots no money for that.). Now I can do something else I’ve been talking about for years (well I’ve been told I can’t shave my head, but you know how that goes…just give it time)…

*Cake, Love You Madly


Love Was Changing the Minds of Pretenders*

March 8, 2017

Hello International Day of the Woman. Hello American Day without a Woman. I salute you both with a uterus and a few women at work in stereotypical ways…

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

This is from my newest piece, I Can’t Be Your Superwoman, which can be seen in full at the Visions Art Museum in July. I am going to work today. Yes I know some school districts have shut down for today, but I also know my population. It’s not good for my kids. I won’t shop for anything. I might need to buy food at book club tonight, where we will be discussing The Handmaid’s Tale, which I finished (for the 17th time) last night at around midnight. I’d forgotten the ending. I’m wearing red…ironically, it is my union meeting today as well, a day where we also wear red. Not my favorite color to wear, honestly…but there’s a message there…especially after seeing how the GOP’s healthcare plan bashes women for their reproductive systems. Bashes poor women and their families across the board. How is this better for all? Their ignorance is noted. Their misogyny is noted. Abortions will be expensive and difficult to get…ironically, only the rich will be able to get them. Birth control is again on the chopping block, and maternity care…really GOP? You care about the unborn child but not the mother carrying it? It’s like going back to the Dark Ages. The elderly with no additional income? No break? Pay more. I am lucky to have a good job with good insurance. I know people who aren’t so lucky. I’m betting Viagra is still covered, and so are procedures for erectile dysfunction. Don’t mess with a man’s right to be a man; penalize a woman for being born with this inconvenient set of parts that just happens to be the source of new men (and women, hallelujah).

Feminism

Rants aside…hug a woman today. Or a womanchild. Try to walk in their shoes. If you are a woman, hug harder. We need all the support we can get.

More leaves. At some point, I will have the guts to venture out of the leaves. At some point, the tree will tell me to leave. Ha. Leave. Funny.

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I was a pet couch last night for a while, until I shoved them off and to the side so I could work.

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So here’s how it works when I don’t go to bed early enough…first of all, I started cutting out pieces after doing some other stuff. It was going OK, but looking at the pile, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to finish last night. OK, no problem. I don’t think I said I had to be done on Tuesday. Just keep cutting. I’m watching Victoria at the moment, which I have some issues with (ironically feminist issues), but it’s still nice to watch. I’m tired. I look at the clock. Huh. Well it’s only about 11:20 PM…I’ll finish this episode and keep cutting and then go to bed. End of episode comes. I look at the pile of what’s left and it’s SMALL now. How did that happen? I was not paying attention. Well dayum. I’m not quitting now. It’s not going to take long. Start the next episode, keep cutting until I’m done.

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So that’s how I stay up too late, although I did OK last night. After midnight? Yeah, but not too bad. Then I went to bed and read the last 10-15 pages of The Handmaid’s Tale, because I knew I wouldn’t have time today before book club. That probably didn’t help. But that’s how my brain rolls. And now tonight I can sort pieces and maybe start ironing the damn thing together. Certainly tomorrow I will be ironing…ironing a woman down…ironing down a protest quilt. Seems like a good thing.

*Earth, Wind, and Fire, September


Everybody’s Got to Know the Word*

March 7, 2017

Things you’d rather not come home to…

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I got an email about this from my neighbor sometime midday (this is my property, mind you). The water pipe that’s been leaking for weeks…but maybe you could check with me in enough time for me to register a complaint? Or give approval even? But no. Sigh. I wish we had a good enough relationship for that.

It’s OK. When I first got his description of where he was going to dig, I was worried about the tree, but it should be OK.

I got the email at the beginning of a 2-hour staff meeting where I’m not allowed to have technology. How to get through a 2-hour staff meeting? I draw. My brain is in slow-processing mode in the afternoon…always. I’m voted most likely to fall asleep and/or get in trouble. And I can’t remember half the stuff they talk about because I’m not allowed to use technology to document it. I have piles of written notes in random-ass places that I will never find again. I don’t need more of that. So I’ll put it here…

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Of course, I may never see that either. I figure I must have been hungry for this one…

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For a good breakfast. And on fire. Or tired of the discussion…another 30+ pages for the April meeting.

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Yeah. I’m not getting much out of the book study we’re doing. I am drawing though. So I never found the other sketchbook. It’s hiding somewhere, I hope. But I found one I used to carry around. These are oldies…

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I can’t explain why the person who is supposed to be driving is reading a book.

Most of these were done in restaurants, waiting for food. Somewhat disturbing…

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This was my birthday four years ago.

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It never stops, the drawing urge.

I did more leaves. I may do leaves until the end of time. I did a lazy daisy nested in a lazy daisy.

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And then I cut for hours. I refused to do schoolwork. I just couldn’t. And I was hoping to get done with this. But no. You can see what’s left to cut out on the top right.

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I did a lot. I think I even did most of it. But there’s still a hefty chunk in there. At some point, my hands hurt. I’ve been trying a new pair of scissors. They’re nice and sharp, supposed to be ergonomic and for craft cutting, more paper and fabric than just fabric, but the spring action on them is harder to manage. I wonder about whether they think that’s good because I don’t have to pull them open again, but I do use more energy squeezing. I’m always thinking about how I’ll keep making art when I’m ancient…and maybe I’ll stop sewing, which would be sad, and start painting with big wet brushes, a la Matisse in his later years…big paper or canvases on the floor as I wheel myself around, caregivers racing around trying to control the paint splatter. That might be worth it. It’s true I wasn’t always a fabric artist, so I don’t have to be one forever…but the medium seems to have stuck. I’d be sad to leave it behind.

*Cameo, Word Up


The Soul within Will Tell No Lies*

March 6, 2017

I’ve just spent 10 minutes I don’t have trying to find my small sketchbook. I know it’s in here somewhere, because I used it less than a month ago or maybe exactly a month ago, yes, that’s what it was, and I’m the only one who lives here, so it IS wherever I put it last. That’s frustrating. It must be nice to at least mentally blame it on someone else in the house who possibly moved it or at least doesn’t remember NOT moving it, or in the boychild’s case, remembers where I left it and can tell me, thus turning it into a win.

I’m sure it’s somewhere logical, at least logical to me at the moment when I returned and photographed the three drawings I did in it at the last staff meeting, because that’s why I need it. I’m already up early for a parent meeting and then I have to sit through two more hours when I am at my tiredest. Yeah. Need drawing for that. There’s no freakin’ way.

The left eyelid is back to twitching. I know at least part of it is due to not enough sleep the last two nights, stress waking me up or some noise or some barky puppy. Last night, I was trying to finish reading the stuff for today’s staff meeting. It still seems vague and undefined. I’m sure that will all be solved by the meeting (insert rolling eyes here). One teacher called it dense. It’s repetitive, actually, and vague. I need more specifics. Presumably those are in later chapters. At the rate we’re reading, we’ll get to that in 2020.

I did manage to get a few things done yesterday, even though work sucked up some time…sending out the weekly parent email for the whole grade, plus warmups for the week, and trying to make a rubric that’s not stupid for these projects the kids are supposed to be completing this week. Behold the clusterfuck! is what I think I’ll be saying on Friday.

I started by finishing the ironing on the newest quilt…only 64 pieces, because it’s tiny…but finally more color.

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There’s all the pieces…mostly tiny, really. And not a lot of them.

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My parents gifted me this book by local author Christen Brown, as an assist on the year of stitches.

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I forgot to photograph what I did on this guy Saturday night…more bullions and the start of some chain stitching…

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And then this one, 60 days or so in…added more leaves. There’s more! I did use a stitch from the book…a lazy daisy with a tiny bullion knot on the anchor stitch.

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Puppy was curled up next to me but got tired of my moving around and so he pretended to be a cat.

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There’s my regular seating corner. The quilt ready to be cut out (I had been cutting until I remembered I had to read about 20 pages in a book for the meeting today), a puppy asleep, a cat mostly not asleep behind my head.

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A random dog toy.

So I didn’t get much cut out because of that book. I was trying to read and watch TV and focus on whatever and it was largely ineffective. It didn’t help that it was after 11 PM. Oh well. He (the principal) can’t expect much the weekend we were all working on grades. And I can’t expect much to be cut out. Tonight I’ll do better…

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I keep thinking I should solidify my schedule on this one, especially if I need to get another one done after it. It’s March 6…I should be able to get this cut out and start ironing this week, maybe get the ironing done over the weekend (remembering that I have to do taxes and probably grade some shit). Then iron it down to the background by the 13th, and do stitch down that week. Quilting the week of the 19th? Be done by the 25th…that’s late though, if I’m really going to get the next one done. Huh. Well. I should pull the next one out. I have to make a decision about making another political one or making one for the show in July, which is fully dependent on a show I entered that notifies March 15. OK. Well no decision until I have that notification. If it’s a reject, definitely do the next bathtub. If they take one? I’ll have to make an executive decision. If they take both? Do the political one. The one that’s not drawn. That might make the decision right there, if it doesn’t get drawn before the decision has to be made.

At least I can see it all in my head now. I needed the space to talk it through. Reasons why I have a blog…it’s not for you…it’s for me. This month. Sheesh. And I lose a week in April…for a good cause though, my mental health.

*Nightmares on Wax, You Wish (there was no actual singing in the version I was listening to…)


You Scream You Learn*

January 13, 2017

Oh holy heck this is a morning. Rained hard most of the night, disturbing my sleep. I know some people find that noise helps them sleep, that drip drip drip pounding away of water above my head. I wasn’t put on this Earth to sleep apparently. And we need the rain. Even though it seems our annual rainfall is all happening in one week. We haven’t hit our average annual rainfall yet, nowhere close. Not even as much as last year. But day after day of drippy wet feet and spotted glasses and damp clothes starts to wear on a Southern Californian. Or as every teacher recognizes, the squeaky tennis shoes on the linoleum floor…oh, well, only the science teachers at my school, because the other classes have carpet. So yeah. I will write a referral if you are purposely doing that screech with your shoe on my floor…you don’t deserve to stay here if you are that guy (it is always a guy. Seriously.).

Yeah, I’m tired. First week always kicks ass. And my co-teacher is still on her honeymoon, so that makes it harder…although I’ve apparently survived it. Hopefully she’ll come back. And then both kids are leaving in the next week. Which makes me sad, but some things will be good…fewer dishes. Holy crap, the dishes are kicking my butt…and yes, they help, well, mostly…but it’s still more work. And there’s some drama I could do without. Because I don’t get enough of that at school. Really. I had to have a real-life discussion with a relatively high-level student about why it’s not OK to copy other people’s words. Why it’s important to engage your own brain with the material. “Why do they put it on the internet if they don’t want people to copy it?” Not a bad question, but you have to wonder how she got to age 12 and doesn’t have a better idea of copyright. Because yes, I teach science…but I also teach behavior and grammar and spelling and copyright and politics and history and compromise and how to get along with other people without being dickheads all the time. This week has been a lot of the latter.

There’s a 3-day weekend ahead though. It’s not an ideal 3-day weekend for a variety of reasons. Emotional. Sure. And a little too busy. But doable.

And most importantly, I’m finally on to the next stage of the quilt…I finished cutting pretty damn quickly, only another 30 minutes. So that’s what 19 hours of cutting pieces out looks like…

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Not much, honestly.

I hold on to the trash until I know I have all the pieces, because if I’m going to lose a piece, it’s usually a tiny one, and sometimes I can cut it out of the trash pieces.

Then I sorted…it was not an easy thing to do after standing all day. I sort by 100s. It’s easier to deal with 100 pieces at a time rather than 1300.

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An hour and 38 minutes later (ugh)…there they all are…

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Ready to be ironed together into a quilt…probably will take about 20 hours for that. Although it took a lot longer to cut them out than I thought it would. So we’ll see. There’s a lot of little pieces, apparently.

I had both cats with me…

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Kitten is trying to simultaneously sleep and watch me. It didn’t work. She slept. When the dogs are gone, I do get both cats. With the dogs, Kitten is less likely to venture out, unfortunately. I try to give her safe spaces on the couch and the desk, so sometimes that works…

I did my year of stitches thing while on the phone with my SIL…outlining with stem stitch (which is a pain around curves) around that blob of flowery things.

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I haven’t been able to keep up the daily meditation…I often remember just as I’m about to fall asleep. Last night, I did remember, and I turned it on and fell asleep until the very end. That should tell me something, I guess. Hopefully my unconscious brain was doing a good job.

I need to go to school. I’d like some sun tomorrow. Or at least sometime this weekend. I’d like some peace and quiet. I’d like some conversation with my kids before they leave. I’d like to get some clean up dealt with. I’d like to get this quilt ironed together. I think that’s enough for one 3-day weekend.

*Alanis Morissette, You Learn