From the Ranks of the Freaks*

March 11, 2018

I need to go back and read blogposts from previous months of March, to remind myself that this month is a slog…through grades and assignments and trying not to look ahead to Spring Break, because if you do, you’ll forget about the 7 meetings you have this week. OK, I’m not up to 7 yet, but it’s getting there. And two of them are 2 hours long. I just checked. I’m at 6. 6 meetings. Ugh.

My birthday was Friday and I have to admit it was a rough one. I have a friend who always takes her birthday off from school, but her interactions with kids are not as a teacher, so I think it’s easier for her to walk away from it for a day. Ours requires lesson plans and a hope that shit will actually go the way you planned. The kids singing Happy Birthday was alternately awful and heartfelt. I got lots of hugs. But it was still a lab day…and those are hard. I’m not a big birthday person anyway…I just like a little acknowledgement. Middle school is probably too much acknowledgement.

So I decided that I was not working yesterday. I did do a little work, but mostly I quilted. Which was the right thing to do. My brain is still not happy, but art brain had fun.

Really all I’m doing is outlining. It’s the drawing line brought back in…

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It was a rainy day anyway…

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Sure, I had errands I could have done. I could have graded tests. Ugh.

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It was way more fun to finish the outlining. Besides, I had a plan of getting the binding fabric on Saturday, because we have a thing today that will take up some of the afternoon.

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So I just kept going. It’s meditative. It lets my brain relax.

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I haven’t quilted the outside part yet, but that’s tiny and won’t take long. I finished the shoe about an hour before the quilt store closed, kamikazed over there, and picked out two possible binding fabrics (I’m not good at deciding sometimes)…

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Came home, threw the fabrics in the washing machine, and then headed out to two art openings in the rain. I feel like when it rains, the artists need even more support, because fewer people go out in it. More on those shows later this week. I’m way behind in posting about where I’ve been.

This is Friday night, though. I was waiting for my dinner companion to show up, so I was tracing Wonder Under for the next piece. I didn’t quilt Friday night, because I was tired and that’s when I make mistakes. So I traced. Except Satchemo was pretty convinced it was dinner time (it wasn’t).

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Kitten came out and sat with me for a bit. You can see the reflection of the light table in the window. I love my light table. It’s my favorite piece of furniture in the house.

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And here’s back in time to Thursday night, the opening of #MyVoice/#MiVoz, the 11th Annual Dia de la Mujer exhibit at The Front in San Ysidro.

This piece was fascinating…the three parts kept turning, so it was hard to photograph, but I tried! This is Hidden Treasures by Paola Viola, 3rd place in Emerging Artists.

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Another view as the pieces keep twirling…

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And people are hiding behind, reading the pieces…

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This is Hurts Like Hell by Michelle Montjoy.

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This piece is by Kim Niehans, a fellow FIG member. I was tired, so I was bad about photographing the labels, so I don’t know what it’s called. Luckily, I am computer savvy, so I went to her website and checked…and she is so good at posting her work! I love artists who realize they need to post stuff. This is Self Evident

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This is Gail Schneider’s Sally Yates.

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More fiber! This is Will Work for Free by Cat Chiu Phillips…made of fabric from designer bags.

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And one of my favorite FIG artists, Bhavna Mehta’s work in paper and embroidery, Resist with your voice #3.

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She’s got crazy talent…

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I saw the mural at the San Diego Art Institute for this, but love this print too…this is Arzu Ozkal’s San Diego Women in Resistance.

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Detail shots…

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It’s a beautiful piece…

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This is another FIG member, Judith Christensen, and her piece Women’s Work 2015-2018.

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Each piece is part of a list, lots of groceries and other stuff. We all make lists.

FIG member Anna Stump won 1st prize for Established Artist with her Another Fucking Princess piece that was in our Don’t Shut Up exhibit last year (my piece in this show was also in that exhibit).

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This is a detail of Ingrid Hernandez’ Make America Great Again (MAGA)

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Ah yes, Donald Trump on toilet paper. A classic.

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This piece was resin and leaves, very interesting…Mara Nasland, winning 2nd place in Emerging Artist, with her piece Rising from the Ashes, Stronger Than She Ever Was

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Intriguing structure, glowing with light.

So that was Thursday night. I think I have 4 other shows to post about, but not now. Now I need cat food and breakfast and a plan for groceries and maybe a revised birthday sometime in the future. Like a day where I redo it. Redo’s are good.

*Aimee Mann, Save Me


But If I Measure the Sugar*

March 9, 2018

Hey. So it’s my birthday today. I’m not one who needs all the hoopla, although it was really really nice to hear the girlchild’s voice last night wishing me a happy birthday from Madagascar (it was already the 9th there). She called me while I was on my way to an art opening down in San Ysidro at The Front. The show was #My Voice/Mi Voz, 11th Annual Dia de la Mujer. It’s a nice space down there. I’m glad I learned about it. I was late getting there because I was trying to avoid the border traffic, so I walked into a full gallery with announcements going on. They announced one thing as I walked in and then said 2nd place goes to! And my name. So that was cool. Because they handed me a check, and oh wow, I had good timing for once!

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I was totally exhausted at that point, of course. But still…a good ending to the day.

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There’s some really cool art in the show. It’s there until April something…you should check it out. And it’s rare that artists get financial awards, so that’s really nice of them. I wasn’t expecting it. Best kind, eh?

I came home and ate dinner (super late) and could not manage to function after that…much like Calli.

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I went to bed a little early and zonked out all night. I don’t know why I’m so tired this week, but I am.

When I first got home from work, I couldn’t find Kitten. She hides from Satchemo sometimes when he’s being a dick, so I went around and looked in her normal hiding places and called for her…she does usually come out when I call. But no. Until I’m back in the studio and I hear a tiny muffled chirp and then see this.

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Yes, it’s a large pile of batting. Mostly too skinny to use, unfortunately. But it works for cat beds (or forts) apparently.

I did do some art last night. I had about an hour and a half from when I first got home until I was going to leave for the opening. I didn’t have the presence of mind to quilt, but tracing is super easy. So I traced for the next one, the one that will take a miracle to finish in time.

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I guess I’m aiming for that miracle. I haven’t brought work home all week, because I refuse after last weekend, so I’ve been doing art every night instead. Tonight is gaming, though, and tired is already on my shoulders. Today is our team breakfast for the kids at school, so I’m up early. Then we’re doing labs all day again (AGAIN). I’m not expecting much presence of mind after all that. But you never know. Some Fridays I come home and I’m freaking electrified with artistic energy and verve. No idea what verve is. Just hoping I have some.

*Cowboy Junkies, Cold Tea Blues


Gonna Give My Heart Away*

March 6, 2018

Sometimes I sit here in the morning, staring at the computer, wondering what it is I want to say. What is important. Or more like, what do I need to get out of my head so I can get through the day and get stuff done. It helps me to parse it out, do this, do that, get this, get that. Each day is a discrete space where these 10 things will happen. It’s OK if some of those 10 things move to another day (that happens all the time) or if other things pop in, but I have a better chance of finishing some of those things if I clear my head and populate it with bullet lists.

Today is teaching renewable vs nonrenewable energy (need to publish the post for that and look up what I thought were reasonable claims from last year). Today I can start grading tests from last week, because grades are done. Today I will be at the tutoring center and I need to go to the grocery store (twice in one week? Bad planning) on the way home. I need to clean the entryway floor so I can pinbaste my quilt (I finished stitch down last night!). I need to cook dinner and pinbaste and hopefully start quilting.

That’s not so bad, right? It all sounds very doable. Other stuff will pop up, but let’s start with that.

Yesterday, I came home and prepped a quilt for delivery to a show today. My mom is delivering it, because all the hours for delivery are during my work day. Sigh. She’s also delivering my co-artist’s piece, because he’s out of state. So that’s not a small thing. I appreciate her doing that. It’s a pain being an artist sometimes.

After dinner, I started working on stitch down. I wanted to finish…at this point, it did not seem like I would…

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There’s always a point where it feels like you will never be done. Last night, I did 12 minutes, then took a 45-minute break (not sure what happened there…probably the dinner was in the oven). Then I sewed for 11 minutes and obviously ate dinner, because there’s a 2-hour break. Then I stitched for 14 minutes and there was a 17-minute break. I think I peed a dog or two and then posted something on Facebook for one of my art groups. Then 35 minutes with a 20-minute dog-playing event? Or maybe the 17-minute break was playing with dogs. A final 32 minutes to finish.

They tell you to take lots of breaks. Luckily (?) I have the dogs to remind me of that.

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All stitched down and draped over the ironing board. Tonight I’ll get her to the next stage…and hopefully beyond.

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I’ve been doing a half-assed job on Instagram with the hashtags #igquiltfest, which is skewed way far toward the traditional or modern quilter, and not the art quilter (which is partially why I did it) and #marchmeetthemaker, which is skewed toward the crafter/artist more…hard to say on that one, because Insta is fucking with my feed and I don’t see everything. Yesterday, I never posted, because one was about photography, and I use a professional photographer now (who is not online, so I can’t point you to him). I was trying to find one of my photos of my old setup with lights and tripod in the entryway, but they’re all hiding from me. Then #igquiltfest is about notions, and I’m not really overtly a notions person. I have the shit I use, but it’s not fancy. I use Machingers while quilting until the rubber wears off, and then I buy a new pair, about one a year. I covet scissors that are easy to use and sharp, because I do a lot of cutting. I need multiple seam rippers, apparently, I need lots of needles because I break them, they get dull, and I’m always quilting in the middle of the night, so I can’t run out and get more. I need safety pins, because yes, I still pinbaste. I’ve tried the sprays and hate them. I use Sharpies when I draw and Pigmas when I draw on my quilts. And the ever-present teflon sheet…I have about 4 or 5 of them. The cats like to chew on them, so sometimes I have to replace them when they get too many bite marks in them.

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That’s it really. But it’s too many words for Instagram, so I put it here. I can’t remember what today is…oh! Scrappy quilts! Well, hell…mine are scrappy to the moon and back. Probably not what the organizers were thinking of, but whatever.

This quilt, We Won’t Go Back, is going to be in Dia de la Mujer, opening Thursday, 6-9 PM, at The Front, Casa Familiar, in San Ysidro. I’ll be there eventually (long drive at the end of a long day).

This quilt, Earth Day, is going to be in Mind the Gap, opening next Thursday, March 15, at Southwestern College, 11 AM-1 PM. I will not be at that one, because well…work. Yeah. Feel free to take pictures and send them to me.

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More later about more shows…

*Portishead, Glory Box (I really like this song, but it’s problematic on the feminism scale. Like why do you need him to help you be a woman?)


The Pleasure, the Privilege Is Mine*

February 27, 2018

Some much-needed rain today…we’re at less than 3 inches for the year, so far, and this is the rainy season. The dogs aren’t happy though. Sometimes I think the puppy will hold his pee for days just to avoid wet feet.

I’m at the point in this quilt where I’m dealing with a lot of little tiny pieces, instead of the big sweeping bits of earth and sky, so it looks like I haven’t done much, when I’ve ironed 100 pieces together. Last night, I cut out all the little holes in the second line of the text and laid them out…

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I haven’t ironed them down yet…I want to wait until I get the figures ironed down, so I can get the curve right near the arm.

So then I started on the left figure…

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Again, this is about 80 pieces (lots of finger bits)…the back is another 100 pieces, I think.

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So it’s gonna take me a couple days to get through that I think. I’m hoping to finish this figure tonight. But I’m also trying to get through grades and do things like cook dinner etc. And maybe get enough sleep (ha! Never gonna happen…).

I did sew a few more circles on after dinner last night…on this from a million years ago. It’s just filler stitching…for when I’m not quite ready to get up and iron.

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More ironing tonight. I have a goal…makes it easier.

I have a quilt in this exhibit coming up. I’m looking forward to being at the opening…

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I have a lot of openings coming up…this is one of the ones I can go to, luckily. Tonight I do need to pack up another quilt for shipping for another LA show. I forgot to do that last night…oh well. So many things on my calendar shift days as needed.

OK, off to school. The unit is ending, so today is test day and tomorrow they turn in the last month-plus of work. Always a bit stressful…and then I have like 5 days to grade them all. Crazy really on my part. Oh well. Job of a teacher.

*The Smiths, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out


Karma Police, Arrest This Man*

February 16, 2018

I didn’t write about the school shooting in Florida yesterday because I couldn’t deal with it. When I first saw the news, it was calling the 17 people injured, which changed later to dead. I had to read the headline 5 times until it sunk in, because before they were injured…now they were dead. Nothing has changed up top though. No one is listening. If you have a gun and you’re not using it to keep bears off your property or some other similar problem (no, that doesn’t count for immigrants or people of color, assholes…you don’t get to use them on people unless you’re a cop AND you have a really good reason that will hold up in court and it doesn’t have anything to do with shit you imagined was there or happening), then please give it up so we can send YOU our thoughts and prayers about how you will possibly be able to exist without your weapon, rather than how those 17 families will possibly be able to exist without their child or father or mother or whatever.

New work from Kathy Nida

I didn’t read any articles or watch any videos about it until last night (when I wrote this), when I had finished grading, because honestly, it’s the one thing that might make me leave teaching, the thought that some idiot might come on campus and kill a bunch of kids, even that the one idiot might be one of my ex-students, still irritated that they earned an F for doing no work. It’s not fear for me (although that is there), but fear that their anger would reach out to other people on campus, that other kids or adults would die because the kid was angry at me. It’s not just the dead bodies…it’s those you left behind filled with fear as well, fear to come to school, fear about the people around you.

At my first teaching job, 9 days in, that’s what happened. A kid brought a gun to school to kill the teacher who “gave” him an F. We don’t give Fs. You earn them. Just like some kids earn As, Bs, etc. And no, I don’t think the grades themselves are the problem. I think the problem is that often kids don’t see themselves as producers of anything. At some point, they will need to work. They need all the skills and practice they can get, but they need to put time into that. Right now, as I’m grading a major project that they had 9 days to complete, I’m seeing a lot of that inability to complete. The lack of connection from work product to grade. It’s frustrating. We need to teach them to think, but they also need to believe that thinking is important. And yes, it’s incredibly difficult sometimes to get a 12-year-old to care about that product if their own life has a significant amount of suckage or drama or if support is lacking.

So yeah, I guess if I’m going down in a blaze of gunfire, it will be either protecting my students from some dick with a gun or because I “gave” someone an F. That’s a motivator to inflate grades, I guess. Anyone ever think that one through? And then you have more kids applying to college who can’t read, write, or do math of any sort. Doesn’t look good on the job front. Honestly, they need to be able to problem solve more than any of that, and that’s where the kids seem to lose their brains sometimes. Sigh.

I hate my government and the politicians who are refusing to solve this problem. I don’t hate a lot of things. Well, I hate chocolate because it makes me throw up. I hate asshole drivers, although maybe if they’re not in their bigass vehicles trying to shove their shiny metal grill up your ass, maybe just maybe they are kind and gentle people who don’t throw their cigarettes out the window. It’s possible. But I really really hate every single politician out there who is refusing to listen to that kid from Florida who was on campus during the shooting: You’re the adults. We’re just kids. Why can’t you solve this?

Short Answer: We can. If we don’t want all these mass shootings, we have to look at the gun control laws in place in ALMOST EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Yeah. That.

Sigh. Such a big sigh. I guess I can’t ignore the bad and ugly for long.

Anyway, so I graded stuff last night…this project requires me to watch a 3- to 5-minute-long video for every kid (that might have been a mistake)…but it’s OK, because 50 kids didn’t even do the video and of the other 80, about half did less than 3 minutes. I can’t say it’s the most exciting thing in the world to grade, but I multitask and grade other things while I’m watching. I finished one period yesterday and had grades ranging from a perfect score to an 11/65. It is what it is. I have on my calendar to do one period a day (well, I put 4th and 6th together, because 6th is tiny). I’ll be done Sunday hopefully. Grades are due in a few weeks, so I have to get control of this. Because my core job is teaching kids…not protecting them from political insanity.

Unfortunately, just making a quilt doesn’t stop that shit.

I did iron a bit yesterday…wait, before I did that, I did some binding sewing on the piece that’s been lying around…I ate dinner (alone). Yesterday I ate lunch alone, had my prep period alone and came home and hung out alone and there was a lot of alone, except for all the shooting crap in my head. It was not a good thing.

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I still have a lot of binding to do. This weekend? Maybe.

As you can see, I am not allowed in my own chair. Oh. And I’m still managing to keep a weekly journal of the shit I need to do, the shit I got done, and the shit I keep moving to the next day on the off chance that it might get done. I do get to use color pens to do it though, so it’s totally worth it.

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I actually had to write a proposal statement for one art show, and then I got into another art show, so I had to organize my calendar for that. I honestly keep losing a week of February (isn’t it over yet???). I guess that’s a good thing. Because I have a week I think I didn’t have? I guess.

So I did finally get to ironing. It was late. And then I was tired. I did some hair and some other thing and then got stymied by eye color. So I’m waiting on an email from the mom about eye color, but honestly, I could have kept going on the ironing. I was just too tired to do it. It’ll get done. Hopefully tonight.

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The pile that needs to be cut out…

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Seriously, there’s so little left to iron…although there’s more under the box to the left. I was too tired even to unearth those for the photo. It’s not a lot. It was just too many decisions on color. Hard to do that when you’re really tired.

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Here’s the other piece that will be in a show in March through May: We Won’t Go Back

It’s a local show down in San Ysidro, Dia de la Mujer. Cool stuff. I have about a million openings coming up in March and April. This is not a bad problem to have, surely.

So I’m going to go to school now and wonder about the sanity of some of my failing students, whether they would be the one to come to school and shoot up the classroom. I’m going to look at some of the kids who I just referred for counseling (actually, I’m not…because they don’t worry me…it’s the angry ones who worry me…). I’m going to keep on teaching them to think, best I can. I’m going to hold them accountable for their work, best I can. I’m going to continue to care about their minds, their hearts, their corporeal presence on this earth, best I can. Even the assholes. And some of them are assholes…but they’re kids, so I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they will grow up to be less than assholes. And I’m going to keep voting. And telling others to vote. Seriously, you need to vote the assholes out. All of them. Every single one.

*Radiohead, Karma Police