There Is a Light and It Never Goes Out*

May 30, 2017

I am home, but I think I left my brain somewhere en route between Ohio and here. Or perhaps it never got to Ohio in the first place. My brain was a little fuzzy there too. If I hear one more explanation of jetlag and why I still feel like I was hit by a train, I might…well…I might just go back to bed.

I told people at Quilt National that I do art every day. This is usually true. On Thursday, I did not. On Friday, I did not. Well, I did the one stitch on stitch a day. On Saturday, I did two drawings. On Sunday, I did one drawing. Yesterday, I finished the block for the big quilt we’re doing for the Don’t Shut Up show coming in July. So I guess I technically do art every day even when I’m traveling…I think even when I went to Northern California in April, I managed a stitch a day and quite a few drawings.

This was due Saturday, but I had already negotiated to deliver Monday. I got up early Monday (because still on Ohio time…and yes, I slept over 10 hours, my body desperately trying to catch up)…it just needed some outlining.

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Here she is at delivery. She’ll show up again in the quilt…plus I’ll probably make her into her own piece at some time.

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She’s small, 18 x 24″ I think.

Puppy is glad I’m back. He sat next to me, chin on my leg as I graded.

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Lots of chaos this week. An early meeting today, lots of school stuff, need to finish a slide show for Friday, plus grading grading grading. And a culture fair.

I’m a little in the air as to what art thing I’ll be doing next. I was expecting to have to sew the larger quilt together this week, but we’re going to wait until after the meeting next week, because people aren’t done yet. So I should take a deeper look at what I might want to enter in the next 6 months. First I have to figure out the final version of my Visions exhibit (tonight! Decisions will be made! If it kills me!) and get some of them professionally photographed. Then I’m hoping to do some drawing tonight. Even if it’s off topic. Whatever that means. Quilt National was such a great experience…I’m glad I went. I do have photos…just like I have photos of the opening for California Fibers last weekend…need to do a lot of processing and typing I guess. Plus you can see that my brain is still wandering all over the place…I mean, worse than normal.

At least it’s a short week.

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

I See the Bright and Hollow Sky*

May 23, 2017

I woke up this morning and a terrorist group had taken responsibility for bombing concertgoers. I still live in this world, where hate makes this acceptable, where this is not the first or last time this will happen. I woke up this morning and DeVos had released Trump’s education budget (because you know she didn’t write that thing…she didn’t have a pencil)…and not only are my students hit hard, because I teach in a Title I school, a school where poverty is everywhere…but my own children, needing to pay back federal loans for college, are now going to get hit harder…and me too, in helping them. I’ve seen a few (ignorant) friends say that if the teacher unions are against DeVos, that must mean she’s a good thing. I can guarantee you that all their children go to those rich white schools where immigrants and refugees are few and far between. They certainly aren’t showing any sort of empathy to humanity.

I think that’s the problem…no empathy. And being so sure your way is right, without any exposure to other. I’m not sure why we think that’s OK. It’s not. It can’t be.

This world. It pains me. I make art in response, sure, but it doesn’t stop the shit we keep seeing, the bad behavior, the crazy talk.

Last night, before I saw all that, I tried out a couple of backgrounds before I ironed her down…

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I always lean toward the dark…

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Then I started the stitch down…

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I finished watching 13 Reasons Why…it was hard to watch.

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In the first few episodes, listening to Hannah speak, I didn’t have much empathy for her…because as a middle-school teacher, all I could think about were the kids who would think a revenge suicide where you blame everyone else for your decisions would be a bad plan, that they wouldn’t have the fully developed frontal lobes for seeing the bigger deeper picture. As the show progressed, though, I could see how her brain processed (and again, I’m not sure my students would) and remembered lots of the shit from high school, which is now just exacerbated by the existence of the internet. Negotiating that is huge. There is no safe space…not at home, not anywhere. And they can’t see the future…they don’t have enough life experience to know you can get up and get past. Because most of us do. And we sit there and want to yell and hit at Bryce for her, want her to get out of the bathtub after the first cut and go find a phone, but none of that happens.

So I kept on making art. Because sometimes that’s all I can do. It’s gotten me through some intensely bad times in my life. And I’m still alive, so it works.

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After stitch down, I layered it with the interfacing we’re using on this quilt…

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This is for a larger quilt that will be in a show in July. So I started outlining…

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I didn’t quite finish, because I needed to sleep…

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But I got mostly done. And I have no idea what I’m working on next.

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I drew during my staff meeting…

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I met this snake on the way home…pretty sure it’s a gopher snake.

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Conversation with the boychild…

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At least he has a sense of humor about it. He’s coming home today. I spent time yesterday cleaning his room, putting his bed back together, and trying to persuade my vacuum not to die. Now I’m going to go to school and talk my way through menstruation and sperm production. Fun stuff.

*Iggy Pop, The Passenger

I Open My Mouth and It’s Something I Read*

May 2, 2017

Oh sweet hallelujah, lo I were awake much later than I should have been on a school night, ere the quilting is complete! I couldn’t stop. Art brain would not allow me to stop. She was on a roll. The machine behaved too…no thread breakage, no needle shenanigans, no weird stoppages. What the hell. (Don’t question it…just do a quiet hallelujah in your head…or all over the internet…whichever works best for you.)

First I graded stuff, and then I worked on this stupid worksheet for school, and then made dinner, and then finished the outlining of the creepy hand.

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I wasted no time after that…it was already 9:30 PM. So I started quilting. I had barely started the background quilting the night before. And I had never outlined the cheesecake, so I did that too.

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I had originally planned to switch threads from the uber-dark to a lighter one where the fabrics changed, but I forgot and started quilting down into the lighter blue. Instead of pulling it out, I just did a little transition there from the dark to light. I think I might be the only one who will notice it.

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This was halfway through, at about 11:30 PM. At this point, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish. Kitten did not care at all…except that I wouldn’t let her lie on it.

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Past 12:30. Done. 9 1/2 hours.

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Tonight I will trim it and put the binding on…and email the photographer? Well, I have to put a binding on the other one as well. So yeah. I still think I can get it done though. And then panic about what needs to be done next…I’m fairly sure something has to be done by 5/29. But it’s not big and doesn’t need to be quilted. But I also have no idea what I’m doing for it. Minor issue, right? I also want to do that drawing that’s been lurking in my head since Sunday morning. It’s niggling at me. Poke poke. Hey. Over here. Draw my ass.

*Kongos, Come with Me

Dream of Better Lives, the Kind Which Never Hate*

May 1, 2017

Quilting is taking longer than I thought it would. Well. It is so far. It might be that when I get to the end, I’ll think otherwise. I finished the outline quilting last night at around midnight…about 7 hours’ worth. Only the background is left, and from what I remember with the other two bathtubs, because the image takes up so much of the quilt space, the background doesn’t take long, so I’m hoping to finish tonight. (Let’s not think about progress report grades…they are close to done…sort of. Program glitch of sorts…waiting on a logical answer…instead of the annoying time-consuming one that I suspect will be the actual answer.)

See that black fabric under Kitten? It was there for maybe 5 minutes before she appeared out of one room and sat on it. Then looked offended when I pulled it out from under her. Cats. Sheesh.

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So this is my teabag squeezer thing (insert official name here). I cleaned it all up to take it camping with us and then couldn’t find it. Since April 7. Found it! In the bag where I put it, which traveled all the way to the redwoods and back and a few other places after.

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Aren’t brains amazing?

So I went shopping for binding fabric yesterday, and got sidetracked by flesh colors. There is a binding in there, I swear.

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Lots of random spots seem to be in fashion right now.

Then quilting when I got back from dinner at the parentals, where they helped me sort all my Monopoly pieces for that stupid grocery store game. Still haven’t won enough to pay next year’s college tuition unfortunately.

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Lots of water and body parts to outline…

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The needle behaved last night. Not sure what’s causing the issue, but explaining it to mom, she looked horrified. Like NO, it’s NOT supposed to do that. Well, I KNOW that…but can I sew anyway for now? Because I have two to finish, hopefully by the weekend.

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There we are. All the outlining done, and even started the background quilting in the bush to the right.

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She already has a name. I think. I might change my mind. You never know.

More hand stitching…see, I anchored those flippy bits too. I don’t know where I’m going next…

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Unfortunately, I have a 2-hour staff meeting this afternoon…suspect that might kill my brain. It’s because state testing starts next week. Ugh. Need to start lining up some copyediting jobs for the summer, locked in around possible jury duty. Need to figure out the next project. Need to get the house straightened up. Ha. Well that’s obviously not very high on the priority list, right? Fabric manipulation comes much higher.

As it should.

*Modern English, I Melt with You

Kick My Brains around the Floor*

April 30, 2017

I’m finishing up progress reports, dealing with the last-minute panicking kids who are desperately turning in assignments to bring grades up (um. That 5-point assignment that is 125 days late will not help you.). I’m hoping to find quilting time this afternoon…surely I am going to buy binding fabric no matter what, because I won’t have time any other day this week…the shop closes too early. What’s more important as I go into the school week? Binding fabric or groceries? Um. Well. Are you asking me that? Because I’m getting the binding fabric first. Yup.

I woke up this morning, barely, couldn’t open my eyes (noise before actual wanting-to-wake-up time), but as I’m struggling to go back to sleep or something, persuade my bladder it doesn’t need to be up, an entire drawing pops, fully formed, into my head. Just like that. I know some of the places it came from…a focus on climate change and the effects, plus walking around ArtWalk yesterday. But yeah. A full drawing. That I now have to DRAW. Because I can’t download directly from my brain. Yet.

I have a bunch of cards of artists I liked from ArtWalk, but no time today to post…and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of most of them. So I have the pitstops and distractions…one stop at (damn, can’t remember the name, but it was cool) for a cooling peach sangria and a seat…yes, those are fluffy sheep on the ceiling.

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Then more walking in the heat…

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A good set of phrases to keep in mind…

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Then a ride to a gallery opening, which wasn’t open yet. Awesome…Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan…

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Plenty of art there as well.

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I have photos from the all-women show at La Bodega Gallery, which is open again (seemingly without the crazy crowds), but no time to post today. We came back and watched two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is just as intense as you’d expect it would be, but definitely worth it (probably it inserted itself into my dreams as well; hence the drawing in the morning fuzzy brain)…and I did the hand on the right, except two stitches, I forgot the anchoring stitch, and I obviously didn’t finish the hand. I’m deciding how I’m gonna handle that. Not sure. Like the tree, it will take many days to finish perhaps.

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Today. Finish grades, do one day on this piece, quilt a lot, hopefully all of it (doubtful), find a binding, do the damn grocery shopping, get the mind and body ready for another full week of school…only 33 days left, and I’m skipping two of them and three of what’s left are minimum days for kids because of testing (this is not actually better, because we use up a shit-ton of energy managing kids during testing, and I’ve got a couple of uber-challenging sweethearts in there). And I gotta get that drawing out of my head and onto paper. Somewhere. Somewhen. Somehow.

*Queen/David Bowie, Under Pressure

It’s Never Quite as It Seems*

April 29, 2017

Leaping out of bed at 6 AM, grabbing the phone and finding the camera app. Not to go to work…simply to try to record what freaking animal travels past my bedroom window every morning, usually at 5:30, but apparently it sleeps in on Saturdays. Simba is barking wildly, like he needs to kill it. Then again, he barks at the wind, at phones ringing on television shows, and random shit that’s at least 5 miles away. So I’m not really paying attention to him. Did I catch it? No. It’s either raccoon or skunk…not sure why I care, except it’s constantly waking me up…not because of its stealthy movements through the leaves. I can sleep through that (usually)…but I can’t sleep through Mr. Barkypants. Some part of me thinks if I get a picture of it and show it to the pup that his tiny little brain will go, “Oh. That’s it. I don’t need to bark at that.” Um. OK. So when I write that out, I realize how crazy it sounds. That dog would just bark more.

Yesterday was Calli’s 8th birthday. She acts a lot older this year though…maybe that’s the growing arthritis. I don’t usually have her on Fridays, but I automatically went and picked her up, so whoops. I wanted to go on a walk, so I figured she probably did too (I was right). Even with the arthritis pain, she loves walks.

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It doesn’t matter how I try to organize and untangle leashes…the little one is a leash idiot.

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The plant growth this year is crazy…

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The last time we were here, it was almost underwater…

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This was exciting for both of them…that is a bunny. There were lots of bunnies, actually…

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And lots of wildflowers…

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And these weird giant spiky pod things…

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These flowers are here every year…there were actually fewer of them because they were inundated with the taller grasslike weeds.

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Unfortunately, Simba was badly designed. I constantly consider shaving his butt fur. It’s really impossible for him to poop without it getting stuck in his fur sometimes, which is lovely. Really lovely. He needed a flea bath anyway. The fleas this year have been awful…I feel like nothing is working…

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He doesn’t like water. At all.

Before we went on the walk, Calli went and rolled in the skunk-infused dirt again, so she reeked. So I bathed her with better-smelling stuff and her skin stuff, so she has to sit with it on for 10 minutes. Always fun.

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Yeah, I should remodel this bathroom. Remind me to put in a dog-washing station. Seriously. That pink bathtub has to go.

I finally caught up on three nights on this…almost a third of the way through? And I’m lagging. I filled in the eye on the left with three different colors. That’s it. Now I want to do a hand.

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I tired the dogs out at least. Tired myself out as well…was already physically and mentally exhausted from school.

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I finally managed enough energy to eat dinner and then started quilting. The machine was amazingly well-behaved last night…which is good.

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Kitten was not so helpful. There’s some competition apparently between the two cats for time on my bed, and Kitten is being nonconfrontational with the other cat but very needy in the studio. Pet pet pet. Nice kitty.

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It took a wine assist last night…too stressed to think straight. It’s been a long week. But I got a decent amount of quilting done.

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There’s a lot of things on the to-do list today. But I’m up and trying to be efficient. Gonna get through the first two quickly so I can get on with some quilting and artful enjoyment of the rest of the day. Artwalk is downtown and there’s another opening I want to see…plus The Handmaid’s Tale is on someone else’s Hulu. So that sounds like a good afternoon and evening. I’m hoping. I need some down time before I barrel through grades. Tomorrow I’m hoping to be done with quilting and to buy a binding. And deal with the other quilt. Yeah…that much closer to having a clue what will be in the solo show…probably that’s a good thing.

*The Cranberries, Dreams

No Machine Drama

April 28, 2017

Sewing machines are such temperamental beasts. Now my needle thing…you know, the thing the needle goes into? It keeps randomly moving left…so far left sometimes that it almost hits the foot. (All my non-sewing readers just visualized something totally different than the rest of us.) And the only way to get it to go back is to turn the machine off. Then it resets the location and I start over. I was hoping this was a problem with only the zigzag stitch, because I was done with that mostly, but last night, it wouldn’t reset after doing some zigzag and turning it off.

This is not good. But I have the ability to move the needle over so it’s in the zero position (center) even though the little numbers say it’s not. I’m OK with that right now, as I try to finish this damn quilt and the other one. I can pull out the old machine too, if necessary. I don’t have time to go to the guy and have him look at it. So between the giant-ass nest of monofilament thread I had on the back at some point, and the weird stitches caused by the thread trying to get over the top of the spool (finally thought to push the spool up), I was just fighting the machine for the 54 minutes that I tried quilting.

I’d also missed an entire piece of leg being stitched down. I realized that while pinbasting the previous night. A really truly anal person would have stopped pinbasting and would have gone and stitched it down (it was after midnight. You’ve gotta be kidding me). I did not do that. So I had threaded the entire machine last night to start quilting and THEN realized it would be smarter to zigzag that down before quilting. So I unthreaded everything and rethreaded, and then the feed dogs were up so I changed that and that’s when I had a nest of monofilament. There’s something very frustrating about it being really late at night and being tired and just trying to get SOMETHING done and having it fight back.

Being tired and trying to fuss through that shit really just means it’s time to go to bed. Long week anyway, first week back. I stayed late at work to try to finish grading an assignment. I hate it when people think we don’t work a lot of hours. Dumbasses. Only a 10-hour day yesterday. No biggie. Then I came home and input as much as I could. Progress reports go out next week, so I’m trying to get caught up. Always trying to get caught up.

Tomorrow I want to sleep in…to be allowed to sleep in. I want to get my grades done and some quilting done. And then go to Artwalk for a while. Not think about school or deadlines or all the other crap. Have a nice meal. Try to watch some of The Handmaid’s Tale. Both kids are hopefully coming home for a couple of weeks this summer…maybe longer, but I don’t know. The thought of doing a whole summer by myself is not…ugh. Well. Empty nest syndrome when you live by yourself is a whole ‘nother thing to contemplate…although I guess for some people, now they are alone with someone that perhaps they do not like as much any more. But I hate it when people tell me “Oh yeah, I’ve got that empty nest syndrome thing” when they still have someone to eat dinner with every night. And someone who will help lift crap. I guess that’s all I care about (funny…and not entirely true). I’ll still have a ton of stuff to do…art and hopefully some copyediting to help pay for college.

So after all that crazy with the thread, I basically sewed around part of the bathtub and then I did the Golden Retriever…

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And then it was bedtime.

And I entered another show. And I went through my existing quilts in house and tried to decide what smaller ones would be in the show at Visions in July…the ones that would go on the back wall, where the ceilings are low. Certainly it might be an interesting conglomerate of stuff, because mine are usually bigger than that and not horizontal, but vertical. I keep debating the big ones too. The only ones I know for sure that are in the show are the three bathtubs and the Superwoman piece. Then my brain goes to mush. I think it’s because I’m having a hard time visualizing. In the two-person show last year, I just brought a shitload stuff and we figured it out as we hung it what should be in there. Not particularly efficient, but whatever…it worked for me and the curator.

And I still don’t know what I’m doing next artistically. I cleaned up the entry form I use…finally put it on Google docs instead of on my computer, so I can see it on my phone etc. I really need to migrate everything over. There’s a lot of things I need to do. I watched a TED talk about that, about the things I don’t do, and admitting that’s because they aren’t very high priority. So true. Although the 90 quilts on the girlchild’s bed may soon be an extreme priority (yikes).

Anyway. Friday. That’s a plus. Assembly at school. Then trying to get through the day even though I’m really tired. What’s new, right? Hopefully quilting tonight with no machine drama.