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.


No Time to Think About What She’s Done*

July 22, 2017

I promised to talk about some of the quilts in my Nida Powers exhibit…so I’m picking this one…the first of the earth mothers…aptly named Earth Mother

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This is also the first of the truly long skinny quilts…I started with a drawing on one page of my sketchpad, and then copied it and taped it to the next page…and maybe a third page. She wears a cape. People want me to explain everything in my quilts and the reality is that I can’t. Even this one, which dates back to 2006, I was journaling then, but often I don’t write down what I’m thinking when I make them. Ah, but I just went and looked and found this:

I meant to write about the 1/22/06 drawing to say what I was thinking when I drew it. I drew two eyes and they were too far apart, so I drew a third eye between them. She’s very calm looking. I think of her as native, earth mother type. I had a lot of problems with the arm behind. Used a bunch of liquid paper trying to decide what to do with the hands. Multiple nipples…didn’t like the placement of the first one, so I added some more. Seemed to go with the Earth Mother theme. Maybe that’s the name for now…Earth Mother. I know I want the feet to grow roots and the ground to be layers with tunnels and things down below. The 1989 tattoo is my marriage. I was thinking some people put significant names and dates on their body as tattoos, and that was a significant date, the date of my marriage. The eye relates back to that Indian (from India) thing of the all-seeing eye or even the evil eye. Her heart shows. The child is almost a Jesus figure, but eyes closed and wearing a diaper. Weird. Lots of decorative drawing. I drew the cape and the vine sort of as an afterthought. The halo is off center on purpose. Lots of religious overtones. I’ve always liked the stories of Mary that are sacrilegious and the stories of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so maybe that’s where I’m going with this.

Anyway, that’s where my brain was 11+ years ago. She is the most calm and peaceful of the Earth Mothers I think. She hangs in my entryway usually and I miss seeing her there. But she belongs in the show. Someone was asking about all the animals in the quilts; they’re all mine. I couldn’t figure out one of the cats in this one though. It’s back when Russia (the dog) was still alive. So I think it’s Willow and Juniper and Limbo, but I’m not sure who the other one is. Maybe Kiwi or one of the other dead ones. Even Russia was dead when I drew this…

So my art goals have been shot to hell otherwise. Yesterday was a lot of driving around and freaking out about black mold…it’s OK. We solved that. We had an expert over here, who scavenged some of our wood stain that was going to haz waste in exchange for his opinions and 9 wood screws.

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The big hole now has a medicine cabinet in it and the smaller hole is still there. I’m going to house animals in it.

Not really. I’m gonna fix it. But don’t ask my dad about it. He’s convinced there’s a 2×4 on the right (there isn’t). I know how to fix this kind of shit. I’m good.

Kitten. Seriously. I have video of her whiskers twitching while she sleeps in this position.

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So I didn’t get much done all day but errands and computer shit and I don’t even know what. The garage isn’t handled totally. The Craigslist ads are ready to be written. I’m posting those later this weekend. Don’t wanna deal with it right now.

Then I persuaded all living things that aren’t cats to go for a walk/hike down in Sweetwater…

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Strangely, cats don’t like walks. Well mine don’t.

Finally! Man. I need those walks. This weird plant…there’s still all new growth down there, minus rainfall.

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Fire hazard is gonna be high from here on out.

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Gorgeous evening though…

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Came back and made risotto (you know, like you do)…and then finally got to the ironing around 9:30. Yeah. Late again. So much for ironing all day, right? Fucked up mess. This is just like being at work.

So that’s what a tornado looks like before I iron it together. The brown fabric has been in my stash since I started making art quilts, like 1990 or so. It actually has some pieces drawn in pencil on the back of it. Fucking nuts. Really. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that any more (because drawing all 1320 pieces on Wonder Under is better? Sigh.).

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I was doing tiny buildings with tiny windows. No, they can’t all be the same color. That’s crazy.

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So I’ve ironed about 450 pieces down, maybe a bit more. And there’s still not a ton of color…lots of gray. Which makes sense maybe. I’ve done both legs all the way up to the pubic area, plus the land area below the knees.

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I’m hoping to do some today as well, but I don’t know how much time I have. Here’s the pile of pieces to be cut out. Silly windows.

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The whole fam went to bed after 1 AM (ugh)…no, the girlchild didn’t stay there all night, and Simba sleeps in a crate because he’s a fussbudget.

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Those faces. Calli sleeps through everything.

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Gonna miss the girlchild. Am not gonna miss her sticky labels from apples that I find attached to the kitchen counter every day.

Haz waste is gone. Did I mention that? Some shit got crossed off the list. Medicine cabinets. Another load of trash is ready to go. At this rate, my driveway is gonna look like Hoarder Central for another three months. That should keep the rabble away. Boychild is painting the fixed door. That’s good. And he’s the one that installed the medicine cabinets. (so he’s also the one that unearthed the black mold…)

OK. Checking my schedule. Going to iron until I’m told to do otherwise.

*Talking Heads, And She Was


You Know It Ain’t Nothing in Rambling*

July 21, 2017

So I went to bed a little earlier last night and finally got a full night’s sleep with no interruptions (there was that brief moment when I thought the house was haunted, but it was just the ceiling fan moving the blinds around…yes those are the things that keep me from sleeping. I yell out at the cats to attack all intruders, human or haint, and they don’t do shit except stare up into the corners of the ceilings very intently as if there really were something there.). Unfortunately, the alarm went off this morning and immediately thereafter, chaos ensued. First girlchild came and used all my water and demanded things but I was barely awake and I don’t function well in the morning, whenever the morning starts, as those around me should know, and then the water guys showed up, fully convinced they could turn the water off at my house (they can’t, and they didn’t believe me because my driveway currently looks like a hoarder house as we finish the garage cleanout and also because I have boobs and probably I wasn’t wearing any underwear because girlchild dragged me out of bed to unlock the door and use all my water and shit. What the fuck people. I think a close parenthesis needs to go right around HERE.).

So yeah. The water is off. And most of the water containers in the fridge were empty (BOYCHILD) and girlchild used up all the stuff in the house (GIRLCHILD) and I did have enough in the tea kettle to make tea, thank goddess, because otherwise I’d be taking my unshowered ununderweared person somewhere where there was tea. Or water. I do have a pool full of water, but I’m pretty sure things pee in it. I try not to make tea out of pee water.

I have a list of things to do today, but I can’t do them without a shower. I just checked the list and nothing got crossed off yesterday. In fact, I just added something. It’s not that I didn’t do stuff on it. I was working on the garage and the bedroom after the artist talk last night, around 8:30 at night (it was cooler then).

Yes. I have part of a skeleton in my house. It was in my classroom one year when I got pink-slipped and had to clean out the whole classroom and the asshole of a principal (hopefully he does not read my blog…I think he’s um let me think…THREE principals ago? Don’t even ask how many principals I’ve had in 14 years of teaching) MADE ME clean out the whole room, so I had to clean up what previous teachers had left and either take it with me to shove in my then very cluttered garage OR throw it away, so of course I kept the arm. From the elbow down. Trust me, I would have kept the whole thing, but only the lower arm was there.

And to be clear, Kitten had just whacked the fuck out of me for attempting to clean her face (somedays. Calico cats. Are evil.), so I employed the skelly hand to get her back on my good side.

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She does like to be petted with the skelly hand, although yesterday, she attacked it for a bit as well. Hey, it’s either that or a gauntlet with her. Of course, right now, she’s sweetly and quietly asleep in that same place. Because she loves her mommy. When she’s not whacking the fuck outta me.

OK, I was two nights behind. I did some French knots between the buttonholes around that wave shape in the bottom right, and then I did fly stitches around the lazy daisies.

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One thing I’ve realized in doing this project is that there are fewer stitches out there than you might think.

I finally made it into the studio for ironing time around 10 PM or so…Midnight seemed in need of a caffeine fix…

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Seriously, some pieces are too small for words.

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Adding colors…

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Although not a lot of them yet. Here’s the pile of the 200s last night…

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But I also pulled pieces from the 300s, 400s, and even the 600s when I was ironing…because it made more sense to try to iron all the bone and flesh pieces at the same time. So I’ve done all the legs up to the crotch area, but I need to go back and do the land area that’s below the knees. I also did some water in the rocky crotch (seriously…I made a crotch out of rocks. Must be in a mood. Pubic rocks. Ha. Ha.).

On the right is what I ironed last night, which doesn’t look like much. On the left is what I cut out yesterday at my quilt meeting.

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So I had a plan for today and it’s already been kicked to the curb, run over, and salted. Or something else horrible. I’m trying. I’m really trying. Lots to get done. Gonna do my best. Maybe should just make a cocktail and grab my book and sit out on the deck until it looks up.

*Lucinda Williams, Nothing in Rambling


It Doesn’t Get Done if I Don’t Get Doing

July 20, 2017

I have pushed off the school-related panic until August 1. I try to do that every year, but it’s coming so much earlier this summer…it’s hard to ignore it even though the calendar tells me I can. And should. And the to-do list is totally out of control. I crossed one thing off yesterday. I need to do better today, but don’t think I can! Oh well. Deep breaths. I can only do what I can do. I think the problem is that the things on the to-do list are large things that can’t be done in one day, so it will be a while until everything gets done.

I did start ironing pieces to fabric yesterday…honestly, this is one of my two favorite parts of making quilts…this and ironing the whole thing together. It’s the most meditative part too…I have to get my brain into the zone to pick colors, and that’s why I end up staying up way too late. Again. Ugh.

But before I even started, I cleaned off my computer desk. It ends up being a disaster most of the school year, with teaching stuff, art stuff, other crap I have to deal with, bills, etc. all piling up and the cat sitting on all of it. So I made a concerted effort to get it under control…a clean start to the new school year.

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Don’t worry…it won’t stay that way. I already have a pile of papers that needs to be dealt with.

Then I hung the drawing I’m ironing for…she’s long and skinny…hence her nickname.

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I refer to the numbered drawing while I’m picking fabrics…helps me to visualize the whole thing.

Then I laid out the first 100 pieces…

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While Midnight watched. Well. She slept mostly. She was upset that I piled all those boxes full of pieces near her sleeping spot.

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I realized I would be picking flesh fabrics very early on, so I got down on the floor (that’s where all the flesh bins are) and picked a reasonable run with some extras.

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But I needed to start with water…so I went mellow on that. Not bright.

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Here’s the whole setup. It looks bigger in this picture than it feels. Basically I can stand between the ironing board and the table with not a lot of extra room, and I don’t fit at the computer if the ironing board is there. But it works.

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I told the dogs to go to bed, but they’re waiting for me and the girlchild (she was out late too).

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I only got into the 100s, although I did iron some bones from the 200s through 400s. It was easier to do them all at once.

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This is all I’ve used so far. Don’t worry. There’ll be more color once I get going.

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Kitten sleeps through the whole thing. As long as she’s in the same room with me, she’s happy. Well. Mostly.

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The dogs…finally happy…the girlchild came home. She sleeps with both of them. I do not.

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So they will be very sad when she leaves next week. Oh well.

So I did 4 hours of ironing last night. I wasn’t very efficient. It took a long time to get going on the color choosing, and then I had to force myself to stop because it was after 1 AM. I can’t get much done today…quilt meeting plus artist talk at Don’t Shut Up. And I have other stuff I need to do…damn that to-do list. I need full-time staff here.

Well it doesn’t get done if I don’t get doing…


We Really Got to Ramble*

May 22, 2017

At some point, I give up on the school stuff and move on to the art. It is not a full and satisfying life without the art. I did spend some time yesterday at an art opening, but I’ll have to post about that later…no time this morning. Making the art really is the most important part for me…I know for some people the exhibition is a huge part…and I guess I DO it, so it must be important. But I’d really probably rather be in here cutting stuff out or ironing it together than listening to people talk about the work around me. Which reminds me, I have to explain my Quilt National piece on video this week. I should go read the statement again, so I don’t spend the whole 2 minutes staring at the piece.

Yes, Quilt National opens this week. That’s exciting…although getting there will probably kick my butt…it’s kind of nice to have a couple days off work this time of year.

I love this app, Momentum, even though it’s pretty simple (it gives me stuff to stare at, plus a highly visible to-do list). It always asks me what my focus for the day is though, and I often can’t grab that…as you can see by Saturday’s focal thought. I often am not focused.

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I did spend some time Saturday trying to figure out my solo show. I couldn’t SEE it, so I made a doc and started dropping pieces in so I could see the walls. I’m almost done…

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I might need better photos of a couple of them, so I really should figure that out.

A mural on the way to the art show yesterday…we saw this artist at ArtWalk too, but I tossed all the paperwork…but a quick Google search reveals this is Catnap by Michael Summers.

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Then there was this…I couldn’t even figure out what it meant, being outside a clothing store.

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After home, negotiating laundry elsewhere (the washer died for reals this time), groceries, school stuff, making dinner…then I did two days worth on this…some straight stitches and French knots in yellow on the left and then some green around that weird purple flower under the tree branches.

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Finally in here to iron…

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Tiny little pieces…

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It got late, but I kept going…

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She just needed to be done. And she was, around midnight. A good time to stop.

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And now she’s ready for a background and some stitching down I believe. Which is good, because I think she’s supposed to be done on Monday. But right now, I need to go to work. I don’t feel ready, but I’ll be going in anyway.

*Led Zeppelin, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You


See Inside, Inside of Our Heads*

May 19, 2017

Well some of the to-do list is done. The ritual of crossing things off a list or checking that box, the visual of a long list of shit to be accomplished with lines drawn through…it helps. There’s still too many things on the list, but at least it’s not growing exponentially every day. Yet. Ha!

Just don’t ask about the grading. That’s going really slowly and inefficiently. Too much going on this last week at night. I’m behind. Significantly. This is unfortunate. I can feel all my normal stress responses ramping up, but the eyes aren’t twitching yet. That’s good. I even went to bed a little earlier last night to try and help. We’ll see. I swear, the thing I wish for most at the moment is more sleep…and it’s the thing that’s hardest to find.

I had my quilt meeting last night…it gets smaller and smaller, and I’m the only one who has quilt stuff any more. And last night, I didn’t! Well, I had those last 15 pieces to cut out…so I did that…and then I started sewing wool pieces down on the Sue Spargo Folk Tails blocks, because I think I’ll finish the 5th or 6th one tonight (I can’t remember which one I’m on) and then I’ll only have three for the trip next week. So some part of my brain believes that three is plenty…and some part doesn’t. In the back is one that’s ready…so there are two more in the front that I’m working on…and then I realized that those are all from the month of May and I haven’t even sewn the parts on for April.

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That probably doesn’t matter. I don’t think those need to be done in order. And honestly, I don’t think these are coming with me. My brain tries to organize projects sometimes and then the other more practical part of my brain kicks in and goes, Seriously? Three blocks? You’re not going to get those done in four days…even with all the travel you’ll be doing. You’ll draw and read too…plus grade in any down time.

I hate being bored. I hate sitting in airports and on planes and not having stuff to do. I need a variety of things from which to choose.

We’re all still coneheads. I’m hoping tomorrow’s vet takes care of that. Her really bad foot is better, so that’s good.

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The little guy is also better, but less likely to fall asleep on my studio floor.

So when I got home and dealt with dinner, I sorted the pieces…

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Lots of tiny. Then I came back into the studio and started ironing…

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Things that overlap can be a pain in the butt…

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But I got the first almost 100 pieces done. So that was good. I’m totally creeped out by that hand though.

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I guess that’s a good thing, since this piece is supposed to be creepy. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to finish it…maybe tonight? I really should be grading stuff. I’m trying. I just can’t get much time in class because of how we’re teaching at the moment. My voice is shot…having to talk for three days straight. This is like going back to the old days when we had to talk all the time. We’ve gotten used to less of the direct instruction and more creating understanding…I think that’s cool until I start losing my voice. Today is more talking…but next week should be better. Hallelujah. I think yesterday was the first day all year I was teaching something I had taught before…and it was a relief. It was so easy. That’s a good sign for next year…it will be easier. We still have to tweak stuff, but it will be easier.

*Trapt, Headstrong


You’d Better Change It Back or We Will Both Be Sorry*

May 17, 2017

There’s too much shit in my head right now, swirling around. Massive to-do lists banging into me like two dogs wearing plastic cones on their heads. Wait. That’s real life. I’m tired of their doggy heads banging into the backs of my legs…or both of them trying to get through a door before I’ve opened it all the way. Thunk! One dog gets 7 1/4 pills in the morning; the other gets 1.6 ml? or µl? of some white stuff that he tolerates. Treats for all! Plus soaking of the feets! So time-consuming. And then there’s all the stuff I should be doing for school but keep blowing off…grading, most of it. But also calculating grades and awards. Then the boychild is home in less than a week…I think his room is pretty clean, but the bedding definitely needs washing. And I need to vacuum, but my vacuum is dying a not-so-pretty death, so I need to deal with that. And then I’m gone for two days next week to go to Quilt National…yay! But that’s a planning nightmare for school. You just don’t take off during the sex ed unit. Or. Well. You do. You just plan really well for it.

And this block I’m working on is supposed to be done by the 29th…which it probably will be. It’s not a hard thing to do. It really only needs to be a top, but since the drawn line is really important to my quilts, I’ll have to figure out how to do that without quilting it. I might use batting anyway. Or maybe not, since I think I’m one of the ones in charge of sewing this thing together. I can quilt it later. Maybe. I don’t know.

Anyway. I did manage to finish all the ironing last night…although I did this first, two night’s worth…I did some red straight stitches and then some weird whipped stitch just to the right of the eyeball. Then a barbed chain stitch (I don’t know if that’s a real stitch…it’s just what it looked like as I made it up) and French knots in green near the eyeball and that whipped stitch.

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The color is really dull because I took that photo basically in the dark without a flash. So the next time you see a photo of it, you’ll be amazed by how bright it is.

Then I ironed all those flesh fabrics from last night and cut out the rest of it (a heart…an ovary)…

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So that’s 32 fabrics, a pile of stuff to be cut out tonight, and about three hours of work.

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Like I said, it’s not a hard thing to do…in fact, maybe I should do a few smaller ones. So that reminds me, I need to put an official list together of what is going to be in the Visions show. I should do that this week, because next week is gonna be a cluster. Plus I want it done. I basically know what’s in there…I just have a few wishy washy issues. And being overwhelmed is not helping me deal with them.

I wish I were her sometimes. It looks so easy…

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Goofball dogs.

But really. I think it’s 21 days left of school…and I’m gone for 2 of those. But then I have jury duty. And I need to pick up some copyediting jobs for the summer. Plus I need a big project (or three) for the summer. Right? It’s true, I love that about the summer…a big meaty project or two to focus on with all that “free” time.

OK. Well I still have a headache, so the tea isn’t cutting it. Yesterday we eased into sex ed with Liking vs Loving…much easier than slamming right into anatomy, which is how we’ve always done it. We ramp it up a bit today with relationship abuse, and then tomorrow, we bring out the penises and vaginas. Whoa Nelly. Then slam them upside the head with puberty. It’s on!

*The Human League, Don’t You Want Me