In Fragmented Bursts

Up early for a class. Mostly my brain is working, but in too many directions at once. For example, I’m typing this while waiting for breakfast to cook, and I’m remembering something I didn’t put in my bag, plus I don’t know if the boychild ate my goldfish, but I can’t find them (the cracker ones, guys, chillax), but if I’m going to remember to put that thing in my bag, I need to stand up right now and do that, but that’s exactly what they tell you NOT to do, because multitasking like that, in fragmented bursts, is really inefficient and you really don’t get as much done, so I’m going to try REALLY HARD to remember to put that thing in my bag when I get up to get my breakfast, which will happen when the timer dings. In preparation for the ding and the remembering, my shoulders just tightened up and I stopped breathing, which is also not good for relaxing or remembering or anything really except keeping you from sucking in water if you just jumped into a pool.

I packed everything but food yesterday. And that one thing that needs to go in my bag. Honestly, I’ve sort of been packed since last week, except for bits and pieces. I always wish they’d explain why you need stuff in workshops. Like when you say “paper towels”, is that a whole roll? Is it just one that I’ll need to wipe my face at the end of a long day? Is it for glue? Is it because you’re going to give me treats? WTF is it for? There’s nothing in this class list that explains the use of paper towels.

Anyway, I’m driving across town and if I left right now, I’d be more than an hour early, but it would only take 30 minutes to get there. As I get closer to the time it actually starts, it takes longer and longer to get there. Weird time dynamics. I am looking forward to a burst of non-project-related creativity though. I’m not looking forward to working creatively with people I don’t know (I know the teacher)…that gives me anxiety. But I will get over it and may even enjoy some of them. That’s my hope anyway.

So yesterday, we had no access to our road…which is a private road, which just means we have to maintain it (aka pay for it) and it’s not even really two lanes wide, which is fine, because mostly then people stay off of it.

So my car had to be parked down the hill and around the corner, which is a bit of a hike…I did that this morning to go get the dogs for their post-surgery checkups. Simba is fine, feisty as usual. Doesn’t like the vet. Doesn’t like big dogs. Calli is still a little rough in the walking arena, but that’s arthritis and not the surgery, and she got her stitches out! Yay! No more cone…

As long as we can keep her off this area…

Like a Climate-Change-Induced Tornado…

I’m home. Palm Springs was tiring and hot, and my brain is full of ideas (as always), but also frustrated by the limitations caused by being a public school. Like I would be the radical alter of Betsy de Vos if I could and upend the entire standardized testing system, but I know someone like me would never get to that position. And my dad told me to work within the system to change it, so that’s what I keep trying to do. Surprisingly, I think my superintendent and I agree on that, the part about getting rid of standardized tests. So it’ll be interesting to see where things go…especially after these conversations about not teaching all the standards (I’m like, dude, no teacher I know makes it through all the standards…it’s fucking impossible). Anyway. I’m not getting much of a break on teacher brain this summer, that’s for sure. It’s whirling around in my head like a climate-change-induced tornado. One more conference before school starts…it will be local, thank god.

Today is a catchup day, get everything I can checked off the list before I relax (ha!) into two days of art classes that were my gift to myself for the summer. I need to pack up my stuff for that as well, and make sure I have food…because it’s an all-day thing on the other side of town. Ah traffic. You are not my friend.

Days like today feel overwhelming. I have to remember that I need to finish one task before going on to the next one. Multi-tasking is not always your friend. I got up early to sweep the driveway again because they’re resealing the whole private road I live on, including my driveway, and the ficus tree had dropped tiny balls all over the place since the boychild swept it on Monday. As I was sweeping and the balls were flipping sideways and backwards all over the place, and I was thinking, 45 minutes isn’t going to be enough time to sweep the whole damn driveway, the guy in charge comes up and says, “Hey. Don’t worry. We have blowers. They’ll do it in like 5 minutes flat.” I may have told him I loved him. It’s all good. On to the next task.

While I was in Palm Springs, exercising the teacher brain, I drew a little bit…I actually started this some other day, I don’t even remember when. I went back to my room for 30 minutes between sessions to make tea, but I often feel anxious when I’m just waiting for things to happen. Staring at the phone and apps is a common way to deal with that, but it often creates more anxiety than not, so drawing really is a better way to occupy my brain. I sat there for 20 minutes or so, tea steeping, and drew some more…so here’s before…

And after (can you tell hot flashes have been prominent?)…

Nah. She’s not done. But I really should work on waiting with a sketchbook instead of waiting with a phone.

Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of alone down time at the conference…this statue of Zeus (?) on the way back from a happy hour with my co-workers…

The shuttle driver gave us a quick tour of houses owned by people…but mostly this is what Palm Springs is…

Very flat. Big mountains. Hot as hell. Palm trees everywhere.

This was an awkward bad-design moment…the bathrooms…you could see the person next to you through the toilet-paper dispensers.

Very awkward. I don’t know who thought that was a good plan.

We left Tuesday a little early, kinda done with the brain part, and my new driver was just as awesome as the first one…I still stitched. (My original driver stayed an extra night.)

I didn’t get very far…I did more when I got home…although this guy wasn’t helping.

Ah…stitching…

Another thing that relaxes me. This will be the 8th pattern for Global Artisans

It was nice to come back to drawing…I really am trying to keep this relatively simple (I could put a LOT more detail in, trust me)…but I think I’ve finished the one side…the yang.

On to finishing the Yin tonight, I hope. It’s got a pretty good start.

I was on Etsy the other day because they’re changing their shipping policies in kind of a weird way and I had to deal with it…and this popped up.

You know, I never actually search for anything that specific on Etsy…interesting. I was thinking of putting the embroidery pieces on here. I guess that could still happen, but I have to think about how to finish them then. And increase the prices to cover that and shipping…makes them kind of unaffordable, I think.

Anyway. Back to today. I’m going to need more tea.

Stitching and Learning

I’m sitting and listening to a keynote speech about technology in schools while using technology to write this. I made it to the gym this morning…good. I didn’t sleep much…not so good. A comment was made yesterday that a lot of what we hear in speeches and workshops reminds us that we already do some of this. Now how to completely redesign schools so kids learn better. So hard to know where to start.

I stitched on the way up…

We’re in Palm Springs…115 degrees during the day, 104 degrees at 10 pm. Ugh. Not going outside much.

I did get a balcony, which I like.

I even sat on it for a while…in the dark.

Too dark to stitch or draw though, so I came into the cool air and finished this…

She took 14 hours and 45 minutes…not fast. I think this one took me the longest and I almost ran out of the blue thread…and she needs a bath and an iron.

And then I started the next one…

I didn’t get far. Too tired. More later. This one is a desert mother…

Meanwhile I’m trying to figure out how to put a couch in my classroom…and a bouncy rolling chair for me.

You’re So Funny and I Kinda Like Your Band*

Happy Pride y’all! San Diego has two cool things every summer: ComicCon and the Pride parade. And I’m going to neither of them. Ah well. Enjoy if you’re there…

There’s something about the routine of school that keeps me more on task. I guess it’s because my available time is so short…and there are a lot of things that I just let fall by the wayside during the school year. I rescheduled one of today’s events, which is good, because I might just get most of what I NEED to get done before I leave for Palm Springs tomorrow…there’s things that have been on the to-do list all week that still won’t be done, but I can’t help that. It is what it is. I’m not packed for the trip, and the food is an issue, that and the temperatures. Ugh. Hot. I am ready and packed for my class next Thursday and Friday though…priorities! It’s an art class and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t often take classes any more. This is my summer treat.

Anyway, before that, I need to get my teacher ass (and brain) to Palm Springs with appropriately casual and cool (temperature) clothing. More importantly, I need enough stitching for the the drive up and back. Seriously. That’s important.

Yesterday was busy, but productive. I’m trying to figure out my retirement…yes, it’s at least 10 years out, but I have bits and pieces of funds and plans all over the place from being self-employed, privately employed by multiple companies, and publicly employed. Talk about chaos. I just want to know if I will be able to afford to retire…like ever. So I’m working on that. Yesterday was the first step in getting that managed.

We walked the little dog…the big dog is still not physically up for that. It’s possible that she thinks she up for it, but that back leg is still not in compliance. It was pretty hot yesterday, so the boychild picked a location I hadn’t been to before, but that has a significant amount of shade. It’s good that it did, because the heat kicked my ass at one point.

I haven’t drawn the superhot hot flash woman yet. Maybe while I’m sitting in a hotel room at night? Who knows.

So this is Oakoasis County Preserve, which isn’t far from here and isn’t a long hike, around 2 1/2 miles, but that’s a good dog distance, especially when it’s hot.

There are still lots of flowers…

But things are definitely drying out. And there were bees buzzing so loudly it sounded dangerous…

The Cedar Fire came through here, so the brush is about 16 years old…

But the oaks for which it’s named are still standing…ah shade! It’s about 15 degrees cooler under there than out in the sun.

And fungus!

I’m fascinated by these…

The shapes and colors, plus their ability to grow on something that is dead in the full heat of East County.

Nature is so cool. That’s why I keep drawing it.

Some parts of the trail obviously have more access to water than others…

This tree is dead now, but forced itself out of the center of that rock…

Science!

We went in the late afternoon…there’s a peek of San Vicente Reservoir…

Nice to see water when it’s so hot out.

We haven’t been hiking…dogs recovering from surgery, plus hot, plus chaos. Next week is the worst for that (chaos) this summer…but on the 22nd, I think it all mellows out. A bit. So hopefully we’ll find some cooler weather and hike a bit more.

Nice meadows…

And flowers…

And more fascinating fungi…pretty sure the one below is a gall…so pretty though.

The boychild had seen California Horned Toads here a few weeks back, but we didn’t see any. They are funky little beasts.

So yeah, a short hike for the two of us who don’t like heat. We left this old lady behind.

She’s still searching out the best stick for throwing purposes. Even though none of us will throw anything for her at the moment.

Both of them want outside…

The two oldest in the house, I think…although a tie with Kitten, who’s turning 11 next month.

We got a lot of boxes yesterday…just for Satch.

He appreciates them…

I did eventually let the dogs out (I won’t babysit the cat outside…his daddy can do that) so I could try to draw the next embroidery pattern…I need something to stitch in the car.

Although it was warm out, the sun is not on the deck in the afternoon and it’s usually much cooler. There’s a breeze.

No. We won’t throw you a stick.

There’s a fire down on the border and we watched this helicopter transport water down there a few times…

The fire is 40% contained so far…mostly it’s on the Mexican side of the border. Good thing there isn’t a wall that would stop people from fighting the fire. Well, there might be in this part of the country. Walls don’t stop fires. People do. And defensible spaces. Anyway.

We came back and I did some of this during dinner. The never-ending embroidery.

It really is relaxing to stitch…I just know I need to get 6 done this summer, and I’m three weeks in and haven’t even finished one. Sigh.

So then I worked on that drawing again…

I added a snake and some other stuff later. I’m not sure I want everything I added though. So there might be some editing before I scan it for the pattern. Basically I’ll need to decide that today. I’m also going to add an embroidery page to my website so you can see them all. The patterns and kits with the threads I used are available on Global Artisans. Of the finished embroideries, one has sold and one is traveling with Global Artisans…the rest are available. They’re not cheap though…embroidery takes time.

It was late when I started working on the drawing for the next quilt. This is about 49″ square…

I wanted the bodies penciled in before I started in ink. I often just draw in ink with no pencil, but this is big and fussy enough that I wanted to be sure the main figures worked before I inked anything.

I added some ink last night, before realizing how late it was.

Oh yeah. Bedtime. Ugh. Too late. Animals don’t understand sleeping in. I think it’s because they just sleep when they want to…

Too bad really. I don’t know how much of this I’ll get done before I leave tomorrow, but hopefully some. I already have a post-it note with a list for today. I should get going on all that. Food, mop, pack, draw, computer stuff…

*The Fratellis, Stacie Anne

I’m a Ninja on the Side

So first of all, if you’re ever wondering why I always have white fur on my ass, this is why…

That’s my chair. Covered in white fur. Also covered in cat, which can be an issue sometimes. Yes, I could stop wearing all black, but where’s the fun in that? Plus then no one would know I’m a ninja on the side.

I think I have 17 minutes to write this. Go!

Good news…got my annual boob squeeze (go get yours now if you are over the age of 35 or whatever your insurance says and you are female or have female hormones that affect breasts, because those damn things are both lifesavers and horrid toxic things…the hormones, not the breasts) and there is nothing wrong. Woo hoo! I can keep them for another year.

Then I spent three hours…THREE HOURS stitching with Susan in some random coffee shop that I didn’t even know existed. It was freezing in there, which was great with my hot flashes. She was spinning fiber…on the other side of the table.

With three hours of stitching time, you think I’d be done with this thing. You’d be wrong…

I even came home and stitched some more and I’m not done. And I’m worried that I will run out of blue. I might need to rethink the hair. That’s OK. You can buy the kit and do it just like me, or you can buy the pattern and do it however you freakin’ want.

I was going to draw more last night, but I got sidetracked by something…who knows what. I don’t. My brain is like a bug at the moment. A bug being chased by a gecko.

I finally started quilting after 11 PM…and I quickly finished the outlining…

There wasn’t a lot left of it…

She’s pretty simple…and then I started on the background. I’ll finish that today and go buy binding on the way back from the dentist, which I need to leave for in 13 minutes. THIRTEEN MINUTES.

It sounds like a lot of time but I don’t know where my shoes are, so that could take eleven minutes right there.

Anyway, I still have 17 thousand things on my to-do list because I only did two or three of them yesterday and then I added more. MORE. I am crazy. I’m also trying to clean and straighten up and get rid of shit, a little at a time. It’s not working. Well, maybe it is. I don’t know. I have this pile of checks I’ve deposited electronically that need shredding. I’m pretty sure there’s a shredder in the garage. (Hey Phil, is there a shredder in the garage?) But first! Dentist for X-rays only (don’t even ask, so stupid, health insurance drives me bonkers) and then quilt store (danger danger Will Robinson!) plus they’re tearing up the bottom of my road (finally!) so the check I wrote that is the money I wanted to use to trim the trees is finally going to be cashed in the name of new asphaltum. Woo hoo. Exciting being a homeowner, isn’t it? Oh yeah. I think I have book club tonight too…if only I knew what day it was. Dayum.

Stupid Machines

I’m so busy lately that I haven’t been writing regularly. Plus I’m getting on average about 2 more hours of sleep a night. I should stockpile those for the school year. I’m a slow mover in the morning on a good day. During the summer, I hit molasses mode. This is not a good thing for next week, when I have a conference with 7 AM meetings (do they hate me?) and a class that starts at 9 AM but on the other side of town (ah morning traffic woes). It’ll be fine. I’ll survive both. With caffeine.

This week has a bunch of stuff going on too…trying to get all those silly annual or semi-annual appointments out of the way. Check my teeth, cut my hairs, squash my boobs.

Anyway, Saturday’s axe-throwing event was successful…

No one lost a limb or even a finger. And we all enjoyed it.

Calli made it back from the vet. X-rays showed nothing. We’re assuming it’s more arthritic stuff, so she’s on even more meds, including anti-nausea pills because she wasn’t eating.

This morning, she ate most of a bowl of dog food, but mostly out of our hands. Blech to the dog saliva, but if it gets her to eat, OK. She’s on a lot of sedatives and pain meds, but she is walking better in the last two days. She will put some weight on the back leg, so that’s promising. She’s done this before with a front leg, but she seems less stable losing a back leg. The reality is that she’s getting old, and moving is not as easy as it used to be. Hopefully we’ll continue to see improvement this week. Because it sucks. Simba is confused about why Calli gets to eat anywhere in the house. He’ll survive. He’s young.

We have bunnies at my house. Here’s one who was not scared when I opened the window…

I don’t think I’ve ever put a bunny in a quilt. Maybe now is the time.

Speaking of quilts…well, hang on. Yesterday, my school team met at the beach for a BBQ/hang out/team-building session that went pretty well…certainly there was enough food for all.

Egret…

That’s a bird I have put in a quilt. Unless it was a heron. It might have been a heron. See, even after my science co-teacher explained the difference, I still can’t remember.

I stitched for a while. It’s relaxing.

More progress on her…but it’s slow. I need to draw a couple more this week so I can take them to the conference and stitch them. I’ll have to decide whether to make them on dark or light. Maybe I should do a gray. Hmmm. I don’t have gray fabric. Do I need an excuse to buy fabric? Well, I will still need a binding fabric sometime…although so here’s the deal. I came home from the BBQ and exercised and tried to get my to-do list organized, and then I was going to quilt. But then my machine really was being an asshole…seriously, I checked all the settings, but the feed dogs won’t stay down. I can quilt in a straight line, but when I try to free-motion, the thread keeps breaking because the tension is wrong. It did this once before, like a year ago…and it was just in for its annual cleaning, so I’m a bit annoyed. I’ll call the machine guy in a bit, once I’m awake and showered…

So because I’m persistent (really, I am), I pulled the old machine out. It should work, if I can figure out how to thread it (it’s been a while). But then I can’t find the power cord. Seriously? Was that the cord that was lying around the office and I finally (I think) threw it out? Fuck me. Seriously. The boychild had a cord, but we aren’t sure it’s ideal…but I tried it…

My old 1+ quilts quite nicely…until the needle freezes. And then breaks the thread…

It only did that 5 times before I quit. So I don’t know if that’s related to using a cord not made for this machine, or if it’s something wrong with the machine. My plan? Call about getting the other one fixed, sooner rather than later (he’s usually booked like 6 weeks out, but this is an emergency and sometimes he’ll do those), ask about getting a new cord for the old machine, then see if it still has the needle stoppage problem, and maybe fix that too. More things on the to-do list. AND…it meant I couldn’t quilt last night for very long. Which was very frustrating. I need to get this one done.

Anyway, so I didn’t have a choice. I finally sat down with my sketchbook and did something as a start for the next deadline…

It’s not great…but it’s a start. I can do something with this. I’ll probably draw the other side and then redraw it better. I don’t like the hair and head. Or more. I don’t know. It’s too much like the Bill Nye quilt too. I need to do some brainstorming with words before I do this again. I just didn’t have the brain space last night. I was expecting to be meditatively quilting…not wracking my brain for ideas. Stupid machines. Plus when I haven’t drawn for a while, I need to do more to get loose. Let it flow.

Simba agrees. He’s sitting on the couch next to me while I’m on the stationary bike…

It was the closest he could get to me. Poor baby. Not enough attention.

OK, shower, call sewing machine fixit guy, it’s the man’s birthday, so we’re going on a boat and doing stuff. I need dog and cat food too. Busy day. AGAIN. Stop and brainstorm for the the drawing, because it looks like I might be doing that tonight instead of quilting. Sigh. It’s fine. I just was on a roll. I don’t like starting new pieces while I’m still finishing the old one. And I need to post my Patreon video! Oh yeah. Go do that.

Brain on break. Messy thing.

I’m at the Carpark, the Airport, the Baggage Carousel*

Oh yeah. Nonfunctional brain day. Woo! I mean, the phone keeps ringing and I finally answered one of them and it’s people at work. I feel for them. The Friday after a holiday and before a weekend…not a hard work day, I think for some…but hard to go in and think. I just don’t have the brain power right now for anything. Which is too bad, because I’ve got stuff to do. I’ve ALWAYS got stuff to do. This title makes it sound like I’m traveling. Only mentally! Still here in San Diego for another week…

I did label and pack a quilt up yesterday and I need to drop it at UPS today. That will not be hard. Although it’s across the street from a quilt store I never go to, and I went there just a few days ago because I was dropping the rug shampooer and it called to me. It was in the same parking lot, and my brain impulse control was apparently off, so I went in. Ostensibly for Machingers (don’t ask…Google if you need to), but they don’t carry them any more. Oh yeah. I got them online last time. I try to get one new pair a year, because they get really dirty. I should probably just try washing them and see if that does it. Sometimes the rubbery part just rubs off, so that’s a whole ‘nother issue. Definitely need to replace them then.

SEE. My BRAIN is offline. Ramble city.

And I finally figured out why the damn machine wasn’t working right…because I didn’t have all the settings changed correctly. I forgot about the free-motion foot, and that fucks with tension. So I fixed that and now it’s mostly working.

I got most of the bottom half of the quilt done…it won’t take much time to get the rest done. That’s my goal for today…finish that, clean the floor where I pinbaste, and then pinbaste it. Ready for quilting tomorrow.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday staring at this stage…

I watched the whole band before the one I came to see, and then stitched until it was too dark (I actually have a mistake on this bit that I then had to pull out). See that kid sulking to the left? So much kid drama going on at this place.

The band I came to see (well, rode in the truck with all the equipment and 4 of the guys) was great, got lots of people dancing…including me…

But at this stage, it was just the kids…

About halfway through, you could turn around and watch the fireworks at three different locations…and eventually a fourth that started late.

That’s kinda cool, although you can’t hear the booms. Good for dogs, but I like the booms.

I guess I was listening to these guys…

I don’t know what he’s singing there…but that’s my guy on the right…

Here’s the lead singer…

They’re fun to watch and dance to…

I did get a good chunk of this done…almost all the green. Moving up into the mountains.

See the two spots to the right of the arm? I was eating cherries (and here’s where it’s not a good idea for me to stitch on white like EVER) and one of the seeds dropped and popped across the hoop. Spit is the best for removing food stains. Maybe. I guess I’ll wash it when I’m done and if the stains don’t come out, figure out what will get stitched over them. Improvise!

The last of these photos are the marbled fabrics I bought off my friends Dean and Linda Moran at Marbled Fabrics on Etsy.

I don’t know if they’re still selling (they’re still there online anyway)…

Dean is in hospice care now, but he packed my order up and sent them…I’m looking forward to using these in future quilts.

I commissioned some fabrics off them about a million years ago (seriously, when I first started quilting) and still have bits and pieces of them. That’s the one thing about the method I use…I don’t use a lot of big pieces…so it’s hard to run out of fabrics. And yet I keep buying more!

OK, so today is ship a quilt, finish stitching down, pinbaste, and then there’s gaming tonight. I can work on the embroidery, depending on what we’re actually doing at gaming. Board games require a bit more concentration than RPG…at least for me. It’s been ages since we gamed…should be interesting. Happy upcoming weekend for all those who are working. For those of us who are attempting to be on break, happy whatever the fuck day it is!

*Squeeze, Tempted