“You’ve Been in the House Too Long” She Said*

You know how exercise is supposed to help you sleep? Hmm. Me too. I know that. I don’t always have that experience, but I know it’s supposed to. Last night. Sheesh. No rest. I don’t know if my brain was the issue or my body (my neck really needs the chiropractor, which is tonight, unless I forget again, which is what got me in trouble in the first place)…the dog needed to pee at around 4:30 AM; that was fun. I just don’t know anything but that I was awake a lot for such a short period of time of sleep. I went to bed too late because I was ironing the flesh colors down and I like doing that in one fell swoop, but then I had to be up early for a meeting (ugh). You might have noticed that I don’t like early. I don’t. And I was really tired yesterday after the dog walk…it took me a long while to rally.

The plus is that the kids were much better at labs yesterday, thus saving me from sacrificing one (or ten) of them to the science teacher goddess. Let’s hope that continues. The staff meeting was short and sweet. Also a blessing. Well, not sweet, but certainly not as onerous as some of them are.

Mondays are for dog walks…when I don’t have 2-hour meetings and no daylight. We haven’t been here for a while, maybe a month…the first part of the trail is still underwater…

No biggie…we go around. Although there were ducks swimming in it…and tadpoles growing in it (OK, they’re really hard to see in here, but they’re gray-ish and pretty large).

Is this a quilt blog? Well, sort of. Quilters should go on walks and get inspired.

Still green and bloomy…although not superbloomy here…the dogs still like it…

I just like to get out and exercise…

The wildflowers make it good too though…

It’s like this annual fascination with Spring…

Every year I’m like OMG, look! There’s flowers!

Some sort of renewal in the brain brought on by the weather. Honestly, these flowers are easier to think about than job stress, weight loss, the shooting in Christchurch, the flooding in Mozambique, the idiocy of my elected officials.

Yup. Flowers. And a good long walk after work.

For some reason, the puppy doesn’t like this hike as much as the others. He fights it until we turn back toward the car, and then he’s fine…

Although we took another side trip up to see the vernal pool…which was huge!

And had those other big fat tadpoles, but also these tiny ones…

Makes me wonder where all the frogs are most of the time…

There’s glass up there…that’s why he’s carrying the pup. So he doesn’t get glass in his toes from the dumbasses who break their beer bottles up there. It’s nature, but the town is right there. And people are stupid.

They kept following me around when we got home…although I think this was following someone else around.

After the walk, I did some photo editing for work, some scanning for embroidery designs, some business paperwork, some email…picked colors for this one…

I have a really hard time seeing what they will look like without stitching them out. That’s soon, I guess.

After some flailing time, some braindead time, I finally persuaded my old tired body into the studio for this…picking flesh.

It’s really much easier to do all the fleshy bits in one go, so I did. It was pieces from the 100s through the 800s, so I have no idea how much I actually did…at least 100 pieces, I suspect. I have one piece of the cheek that I couldn’t find, so I’ll need to retrace that tonight.

Fitting pieces together. I don’t like to waste fabric.

Somewhat obsessive about that. Here’s where I’m at so far…

Not a whole lot of color yet. Wait until I do all the other stuff…bugs and sky and heart and hair…it’ll have lots of color then. I fell asleep to imagining the hair all the colors of nature. Which is good, because that’s what this quilt is about…my need to be outside for a little bit every day, for longer when I can. This week will be a mishmash of finding that space, for sure…too many meetings. So I’m glad I got yesterday’s walk in.

OK…meeting, school (last day of labs hallelujah), tutoring, chiropractor (oh holy moley my back and neck will be so happy), and then whatever else I can handle before I iron again. It’s a good plan.

*The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Never Want to Put My Feet Back Down*

I have this big old lady dog who’s been following me everywhere, which honestly is better than her sneakily trying to find paper she can eat. She brought her toys with her into my office and is laid out on the floor with them.

And if you talk to her, she grabs her toy and tries to shove it at you, but you’re not allowed to touch the toy.

Meanwhile, the little boy dog is waiting oh so patiently outside the boychild’s room…

Please get up. Please get up. Let me in. He will, Simba. He will.

My breakfast this morning and until they’re all eaten. I had apples and cream, so I made apple cheddar scones a few days ago, froze them all, cook one a day.

Tasty. And one of the few breakfasts that doesn’t make me nauseous on a regular basis. I totally couldn’t face a hard-boiled egg this morning. It’s weird how my morning food brain works. Annoying as well. I need food or I won’t get through the morning.

Speaking of not getting through the morning, my voice is a disaster again. Although I was in professional development yesterday for most of the day, I did also talk most of that time, because we were planning. That was actually pretty good until my brain shut down around 1 PM. Then back to my classroom to “assist” (there was nothing but paper collection that needed doing, and the kids can do that) with the lesson that didn’t make sense. They were teaching them about neuroplasticity, but the game had nothing to do with it and neither did the drawing. I’m confused by what we’re teaching them.

I’m up early today for a meeting. It’s not one I’m looking forward to. Early morning conflict. Ah well…such is the life of a union rep in a public school. And I’m going to try to be nice to my voice today, although I will have to talk a little bit. We’ll see how it goes.

We walked yesterday in the misty rain…

Nobody is on the bridge when it’s raining.

There’s a lot of plant blooms that I normally don’t see…

That’s what plenty of rain gets us…

My SIL called in the middle of it from Seattle, complaining about snow…

I think she’s tired of it…but not tired enough of it to move.

Right now, everything is beautifully green with specks of color…

Although I lost my Fitbit out there somewhere. SIGH. OK, so we went back in the dark without the dogs to try to find it, using an app that might have been able to locate it if it were on…but mine only goes on if you bump it.

There were other people on the trail, so maybe someone picked it up. Or it popped off into the crazy greenery on either side of the trail. We know when it last synced, we know where I noticed its absence. It’s actually a small part of the trail.

There’s one other app that might find it. Hoping I can persuade the boychild to go back out today and check it out…because I have a doctor’s appointment (seriously can we figure out the abdominal crap please?) and an opening in San Ysidro that I’m trying to get to…

Anyway. Stupid shit at the end of the day. Lots of that. I was going to grade last night, but I ended up doing an extra mile in the dark, trying to find a device that needs to learn how to ping if I want it to. I came back and prepped and sent a complicated email I needed to get done, and then looked at colors for these. Oh man, only five colors is HAARRRDDD.

Either I do black and white or three thousand colors. Never in between. This one was even harder…

Plus it’s hard to see what it will actually look like without stitching it. Scary.

Finally in to trace. (I did some binding before that.) See the big dog in the background? I’m surprised she’s that far away.

Usually she’s right by my feet. So I’m about 5 hours into the tracing, made it to piece 367. Not super fast or super far. But progress. I’m not sure what tonight will look like. I’m expecting some level of exhaustion. What’s new. Still haven’t found the lost quilt…sigh.

*Depeche Mode, Never Let Me Down

Banging on the Door

Wow that’s a Monday morning headache…caused by emails and texts and probably low blood sugar, damn forgot to hardboil those eggs, plus I think the chiropractor is in my future plus there was the 30 minutes of coughing up a lung at 6 AM. Yeah. Hello body! Nice to hear from you. It doesn’t matter some days how young your brain feels…your body is like, nuh uh, you wrong bitch, let me explain it to you. It’s OK. I got this. Not really. I don’t got this. (cries while laughing into her tea)

I am ready to ship a quilt to an exhibit in Utah. I will be shipping six quilts to a solo show in Pittsburgh, probably sending them next month or early May. These are good things. I got into two local shows and rejected from two others. OK. Got it. I have this awesome quilt that I can’t get into a show and that irritates (is that the best word? saddens? disappoints? not sure) me. I will try again. There are always more shows. That combination of show and juror(s) and competitors did not work this time. It’s OK. Awesome quilt moves on. My first Quilt National piece was a Visions reject. I keep remembering that. My second Quilt National piece was a reject too. Keep making. Keep entering. Don’t let the turkeys get you down (I think that’s a direct quote from dad, a Bob Nidaism).

Today will be fine. It just feels like a panicky clusterfuck at the moment.

So what’s going on otherwise? What can I control at the moment? I liked this drawing, but wanted to simplify it for embroidery…so I did…

I think it turned out really well.

Of course, now I also want to do a large quilt-size version of it with a shit-ton of detail, but that’s just how my brain works. I might do that, once I get past the next two deadlines.

Here’s one in progress…801 pieces, measures 28″ wide by 48″ high. Not small…

But way smaller than the last one. I started tracing it last night. And it was good.

I made it to piece 101, I think. Through the first pillbug I’ve ever put in a quilt. Only 700 pieces to go. That sounds like a goal for this week. Although there’s a lot of crazy this week. I haven’t finished grades yet. (they’re due tomorrow.) Sigh. OK. Deep breaths. The to-do list is banging on the door, screaming at me. I hear it. Over there. Thank you mindfulness training for that.

Bring Your Etch-a-Sketch to Work*

I’m gonna start writing this at 12:02 AM on Tuesday. Why? Because this song…

I listened to Amanda Palmer tonight on Live From Here, the new version of Prairie Home Companion…here’s the link. Love this song. Makes me laugh. And cry. I’m so excited that I will be seeing Amanda sing in LA in May. I finally persuaded a male attachment to come with me.

So that was last night. I stayed up too late, but I finished quilting. That’s a big yahoo on that.

First we walked the dogs though…it’s been a while since we’ve been to this spot..

It was wet and muddy and stream-filled. Well. Not filled, but we went across at least two of them, one of them three times. Apparently the rain finally caught up with the creek and filled it to the edges…

Sometimes over the edges…the flowers are all starting to bloom…

Thinking about a trip to the desert for the bloom this year…

It was a really beautiful evening for a hike. It’s finally daylight a bit later, so we could go further…here’s one stream, which is actually where the trail normally is…

Calli has no problems or qualms about wading through streams. Simba is not as good. Definitely more water than usual…

Which is good.

Especially for the plants…we stopped here…I was kinda done with wandering through mud at that point.

Plus it was heading toward dusk…

So we headed back to see what the bridge looked like…

They’d fixed the smaller bridge…the rain had pushed it off its bank and into a smaller creek.

I don’t think the big bridge is going anywhere, but that’s a lot of water for here.

The dogs are good sports…

Tons of flowers everywhere.

I love ending a work day like this. Wish I could do it more often. Yes, I graded too…got one assignment done. And then my principal emailed about this professional development thing we have to do, and they totally screwed up next week. Sigh. I set test and due dates. Wonderful. I’ll figure that out later today. Last night I couldn’t handle it. I can’t be mad at him…his wife just had their second kid. I can be annoyed though that we have to do the PD at all.

While I was waiting for boychild to make dinner, I drew a bit…still working on possible embroidery designs.

Might be too much.

Post-dinner TV time with the man, Simba curled up behind him.

The two of them had a coyote scare last night, very close to the prime peeing spot. Scary. Dumbass puppy thought he would go kill the coyote. He does not realize he would be a tasty treat.

I finally went in to quilt at about 10:30 PM…with the goal of finishing.

Which after about an hour and 15 minutes, I did.

With 19 hours and 21 minutes total into the quilting. Crazy shit. Hopefully tonight I will clean the floor, trim the quilt, and put a binding on it. At least, that’s the plan. I’m also going to the gym, so we’ll see how that goes. Right now, I’m tired, but I also want this thing done. It’s taking too long. My brain is done with it.

So. Off to school. Difficult teaching day ahead I think…concept-wise at least. I thought yesterday would be low-maintenance and it totally wasn’t. So there’s that. I also need to prep for a messy lab. Good stuff.

*Amanda Palmer, Ukulele Anthem

These Are the People That’ll Break You*

Friday dawns clear and cold, a nice change from yesterday’s crazy weather…hail and rain and yuck. Hopefully the world will let us dry out (and warm up? apparently not) for a few days. Meanwhile, I have a whole host of emails from kids who just realized they haven’t been turning their work in. I have to laugh at the kid who sent me some comment about how he turned everything in before midnight…but the deadline is TODAY at midnight. OK, well at least he did it. And the exaggerator…”I emailed you ALMOST TWO WEEKS ago.” Um. You emailed me on the 13th. You know I can check that shit, right? Plus there’s the part where I told you all the makeup work would get graded this weekend…which might be a promise I can’t keep. There’s 94 emails so far, so you click on the assignment in the email, then it takes you to Google Classroom, then you have to click on the actual assignment, grade it, close it, wait for GC to acknowledge the new score, write it in the notebook, then close GC, and delete the email. For each one. I hate late work. I really do. But I can’t bring myself to disallow it. They’re 12. They need supports. Anyway. Gradebook closes for late/missing work today. Then I can take a week to grade them all if I need to.

It means we’re almost 2/3rds of the way through the school year though…it’s been a weird year with curriculum piloting and tons of meetings for that. There’s a huge long stretch to a very late Spring Break this year…53 days from now, to be exact. So plenty of work left.

Last night, I had my quilt class…I took my tried and true embroidery project, that is currently only being worked on for about 4 hours a month.

I finished the flowers and started working on the ox.

Two hours of work…not much, eh? This is why these take so long. Oh wait, I did the grass by the tree too. Four whole fly stitches. It’s relaxing though.

Then I came home and did some drawings. I’m trying to draw things that can be embroidered by hand. So I have to simplify stuff pretty significantly for that to be possible…the drawing on the right is the original, which will probably be a quilt some day (or some version of it will be)…the left is my simpler version.

It might still be too much…

But I like it. It’s hard to know what it will look like though without stitching it up.

Then I just drew for a while…messing around…simpler but maybe too simple.

Then this, which is OK…I might try this one again…a little smaller and different hair…

Plus make the eyes the same damn size.

I think this one might work too…

The harder part is color. I can only use 5. I either work all in black and white or I use 89 colors. So there’s that. Anyway, still working on this…it’s really hard for me to not go overboard on details.

Speaking of overboard…I don’t have to simplify this one…

It’s done except I need to decide if anything else is going in the sky. I couldn’t deal with that decision last night though, so I stopped.

I did her hair on both sides last night…and added the obligatory cat and teacup.

Plus some interesting (and relieving) news set those flying hearts back in motion.

The bottom was mostly done, but I added a plug and some lung details…

There apparently weren’t enough pieces. Can you imagine trying to embroider that? Yeah right. Someone would do it. (not me) Anyway. It’s close to done. I can’t promise anything for tonight, though…the guy’s band is playing. Plus it’s a Friday night, so I’ll be tired. I’m hoping to finish the drawing though. Maybe do some smaller ones. We’ll see.

*The Alarm, Marching On

It’s Too Late to Say You’re Sorry*

Ugh. Well I’m sick again. This school year is kicking my butt. Too much work, can’t stay well…I usually get sick like once a year. It’s only October and it’s my second viral incursion. Damn immune system needs to get in gear. Makes it hard to stay caught up. Or whatever that means.

The gun quilt is at the photographer’s…will be picked up later this week. I was trying to get fabrics ironed for a small climate change quilt I started in June, just for fun…

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I’m not done. I did a little bit yesterday afternoon after grading shit, running errands, and trying to get other stuff done.

Friday night at gaming, I finished Block 15 (bottom right) on Folk Tales (I always call it Folk Tails because of all the animals).

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Block 15 is part of May, but I haven’t done April yet…so I started on that.

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There are three blocks for April, and I have a lot of embroidery to do on them. Expect to see them rolling around for a while.

Then I realized I hadn’t touched this in days. I did 4 day’s worth around the eyeball…a bunch of filler stitches.

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However interesting and challenging it’s been to work on this, and whatever bullheadedness it takes to keep working on it every day for a year, I probably won’t sustain it beyond December 31. It was an interesting experiment. No idea what I’ll do with it…maybe make it the center of a small crazy quilt in all black backgrounds. Who knows? Because I need more projects.

I emailed the woman in charge of the project I’m supposed to be working on next to see if I could change my focus. Much as climate change worries me and however many ideas about it are clamoring for my artistic attention, women’s rights are weighing much more heavily on me right now…and a new drawing for this project popped into my head last night on the way back from the Visions Art Museum opening for Interpretations. It had absolutely nothing to do with the art I saw there…but it’s in my head now. I wanted to start drawing last night, but after about 9:30, I felt like absolute crap and was in bed before 10:30. See, that’s how you know I’m sick. I can’t do anything.

Today is a fiber-related meeting…long drive and interactions with humans. I’m not always up for that. Right now I’m tired and not feeling at my best, stressed about the grading that needs to get done, worried about getting this quilt started so I can get going on it. Probably need to go take more meds. Drink more tea. Maybe nap. Who knows. No time for napping. Shit needs to get done.

*Malcolm McLaren, About Her

Land of the Some-of-You-Can-Be-Free

Well, America, I’m not very impressed with some of you today. White America especially, some of you are really pissing me off. The thing is, I suspect those who piss me off are probably not reading this blog…because I think that type of person wouldn’t put up with my art either, or my rants. They’re long gone, hiding away in some back-alley private Facebook page, calling me a skanky ho. Well, as long as they spell it right, I’m not bothered by what they call me. I am bothered by their ignorance, their lack of logic (and trust me, I’m not the most logical at times), and their general dumbassery. Their desire to get back whatever they think they’ve lost, to hurt others in the process. As if they have the right to do so. Their hatred. Their need to tear down and break things.

But I’m not sure how to talk to those people. I don’t know how to change the mind of a 20-year-old white male who can’t see his own privilege. I can’t even figure out how to talk to the white folks on my campus who were offended by my students’ anti-bullying and anti-Trump door sign last year. How can you work in my school and espouse the beliefs that you do? I’m like the governor of Virginia…just leave. We don’t want you.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of racism and gender/racial gaps and inequity and what our police would have done if faced with a similar situation except with a less white-washed crowd. It doesn’t solve the problem of how to solve this damn problem! I can’t talk to these people and make any sense of what they say. They feel disenfranchised? Because they’re not better than someone? I’m not sure I care. Except I care that they’re making it worse for the rest of us…no, not just us whitefolks, but everyone else who fills my country. Who make it strong and beautiful and artistic and challenging and entertaining and tasty and sometimes ugly and smelly and warty. I want it to feel safe, not threatened by nuclear war because of stupidity, not mired in fascist Alt-Right idiocy because…shit I don’t even KNOW why. I really don’t.

All I can do is go to school and meet my new mostly refugee and immigrant students, my mostly NOT American-born white students, and teach them how to stand strong and have faith in humanity (some of it anyway) and hopefully some science too. And that not all the white American-born people hate them. Because I don’t. I try not to hate anyone, although a certain orange-faced dickhead certainly gets no kind feelings from me. Or his minions. The ones backpedaling right now as people find them on Twitter or Facebook and out them for their beliefs. Cowards. But even them…I don’t want them hurt. I want them to grow up and change and be more human to ALL humans. I don’t want to kill them or run them over or hang them. OK. Some days I want to put them all on a very hot and dry island somewhere very far away. It’s true. But normally, I don’t want anyone hurt.

It hurts to be an American right now. It shouldn’t. Land of the free, home of the brave. We stole this country, this land, from the First Americans…the least we can do is keep all those who live here safe and give them as much support as we can. Try to make up for previous dumbassery. Try to make it right, best we can. Try to make it better in the future. Starting now.

I finished a quilt yesterday. Post-election, I have focused on women’s rights for a while and now on climate change, although that’s about to change again. There are so many issues that need support. It’s overwhelming sometimes to keep it all in my head. All the quilt needed yesterday was eyeballs…I’d decided not to cut out tiny fucking pieces this time…instead, I would make tiny French knots…this is why I have a thread stash. This is a Finca thread, but a 12…I was looking for a Valdani or Perle 12, but couldn’t find one in the right color, but this is finer than a normal 12.

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This bird originally had two eyeballs, but I decided one was better.

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The sheep and the cows all got to see…

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Tiny little beasts…

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And the fish as well, although I like the whites behind the black on the blue fishies. I also added some ink…

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I took her to the photographer today. Done early!

Then I started sewing the birds together in columns and rows…

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A few beaks got squished in seams…same with some feet. Something to remember as I make more of these. Or not. Here it is all sewn together, after a year of not sewing them together.

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And then the border fabric went on.

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I did cut the fabric for the stems and the 96 colored balls…they are much smaller than I thought they’d be. And I don’t know when I’ll get to them. Sometime, I hope. I have other things to do…processing the American hate of the last few days, moving on to the next art quilt, starting school, sending the boychild back to college. Trying to make sense of the crazy.

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Yeah, Kitten, I know. It doesn’t make sense to me either. I thought we were trying to move past all that into a better existence. I guess you can’t just ignore those people who are so angry at the existence of other. I don’t know how to fix them, though, Kitten. I really don’t.