I Need Coherence…Not Gravel

October 7, 2018

I don’t usually write on Sunday, but I feel like I actually achieved things yesterday, so writing about that makes me feel better. Hey! I achieved things yesterday! OK, that’s it…I’m done. Not really.

I did grade a lot yesterday, lots of school-related stuff got done…for instance, we’re doing this landform project and we have these cards we are going to use, and for some reason, we decided coloring them seemed like a good idea, so we started the teacher’s aide on that, but she was taking forever, so then we tried to speed-color them on Friday and failed miserably, plus apparently I don’t know how to color, ironically, so I brought the rest of them home and speed-speed-colored them yesterday, so I can deliver them to print shop Monday morning to be laminated. For Wednesday.

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Don’t ask why we do this shit to ourselves. It just happens.

Then I had an art meeting, and art meetings always include food and wine, and this was the wine I had. I love the label. It kind of reminds me of the coloring I was doing.

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Maybe next we should graduate to wine labels.

This vehicle parked at the art meeting.

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These are my people.

Came home and graded more stuff…Simba doesn’t lie like this naturally. I’m pretty sure the boychild was pulling things out of his fur and then just left him there.

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That tail is a disaster. He won’t let us comb it, so I just cut knots out when I remember.

So I graded until 9 PM or so and then I was done with that assignment, so I went in and finished quilting…it was about another hour and a half…lots of thread breaking, or it would have been less. Quilting in between the tree branches was kind of a pain.

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It took a little over 6 hours to quilt her. Then I swept the floor and laid her out to be trimmed.

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It took a couple of tries to get it right, but there she is, all ready for binding.

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That should happen tonight, I suspect, or maybe this afternoon if I am really organized (I don’t feel organized at the moment). Oh yeah, and we walked the dogs in there somewhere too. After art meeting with wine and food and before dinner.

This was Friday night, when the boychild kicked all the animals out of his personal space, so they invaded mine.

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Well, except for Kitten. She doesn’t like the others. Sometimes I don’t blame her. And I bathed the Golden as well. Busy day, really. Today will be another…more grading, groceries, school stuff, and hopefully some quilt stuff at the end. I need to start getting my act in gear on the next drawing. It’s rolling around in my head like a destructive boulder that keeps losing small bits. I need coherence…not gravel.

The Slowest Heaving Night*

October 4, 2018

No, I don’t have stomach flu. It’s just Peter Gabriel in my head.

  1. I believe the internet issue in here is solved (knock on wood, lots). If it’s the computer, we told it to shut up and gave it ethernet. It seems pleased.
  2. I want my rain dammit. You promised rain last night from this crazy little ex-hurricane we have streaming past us to the east, but no. No rain. I’m sad. I miss rain. I don’t miss it enough to move back to where it rained 300 days out of the 310 I was there, but I do miss it a bit. My plants miss it more.
  3. Didn’t we say October would be less tired than September? We lied. At least so far.
  4. When you think you have enough of the right thread to quilt all the background, you will be wrong…not because you read the numbers wrong, but for some completely stupid reason, you have 40 weight AND 60 weight, and you can tell the difference when you quilt with them. Hopefully I can find the same thread after school (and 2-hour curriculum meeting), so I can actually finish the quilting tonight.

I think that’s all the list I have in me. I should go find some pictures. Words are better with pictures. Well, is that true? I have to say that I almost always prefer the pictures in my head over what people do in movies or TV shows. Then again, when talking about my quilts, people say the pictures don’t do them justice…they like them in person. Me too, actually.

Anyway, long day again. I gave a test and screwed something up in 2nd period (it was online), but fixed it by 4th period, so 4 classes are fine and manageable and one is gonna give me hives. OK. At least I know ahead of time.

Then I had a failing filling…so they fixed that. Ugh. At the end of the day. It was pretty trouble-free, but tiring. And then I did the fussy little bits of test grading, the stuff the computer won’t do for us…but I only got about a third of the way through before I gave up. I think that was 9:30 or so.

I really wanted to finish quilting last night. I probably wouldn’t have finished, even if I’d had the right thread. I got about 3/4 of the way around…maybe a little less than that…on the partial spool I had, and then I picked up the other one I had pulled and figured out why it hadn’t been in the same section of the box. I almost always quilt with 40-weight rayon, and I had obviously accidentally bought one spool of 60-weight…which would have been fine if I’d started with it and used it for the whole quilt. You might ask if one can really tell the difference. Yeah. I quilted a little bit and went, NOPE. Not gonna work.

I guess the plus is that I finished all the outlining…that was the darker blue thread.

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Even with Calli lying right on the chair legs so I couldn’t move much. The animals rule this house. We let the old lady do mostly what she wants, except not eat papers if possible.

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So I started quilting under that arm, did the whole right side from her face down, then the whole bottom (where I was in this picture),

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And then partway up the left side, past the cat. And then ran out. I’ll try JoAnns after the curriculum meeting. I will have no brain power left, so I will have to be very careful about NOT picking another spool of 60-weight in my evening post-school exhaustion.

There’s Simba. Because he’s cute. I combed him. Cut a bunch of knots out (easier than having your hand bitten off…he understands the scissors are for helping, but the comb hurts sometimes)…

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And Katie guarding Satchemo. Mostly Katie has been chill this time visiting…not as much cat chasing and harassing as normal. Probably she’s wondering if her parents will ever come back…and maybe she doesn’t care, because she gets lots of pets here.

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Satchemo is just trying to decide with remote to use.

So remember when I wove my strip for the Women’s Voices project? There it is, sewn into the project…third strip from the left. All blues and purples with a thread explosion in the middle.


Nice. OK, so I’m buying thread, coming home, and (realistically) collapsing for a while on the couch, preferably with a book. This is reality, folks. I know how tiring my job is. I also know it’s not just me. We’re all tired. Then at some point, I will find the energy to make dinner. Hopefully (sometimes I don’t…I just do cheese and crackers and a glass of milk. Done!). Then also extremely hopefully, I will finish quilting, so I can buy binding on Friday after school. That’s my plan anyway. I think it will take me about 30-45 minutes to finish quilting, if that. I can do that. Can’t I? Morning self (which is really tired) is predicting what evening self (which will be even more tired) will be able to do. This is how I get myself to do anything honestly. Including grading.

But first, yet another morning meeting. Whoo! Oh my, the internet is so blessedly fast in here. I am very happy about that. I can even play music while I write again. Yay!

*Peter Gabriel, Come Talk to Me

The Perfect Cup of Tea

October 3, 2018

This morning’s tea is perfect. It’s brewed exactly the right amount of time (not that I ever pay attention to that at all), it’s the perfect temperature, not so hot that it burns my tongue, but not lukewarm and blah. It has just the right amount of milk in it. I’m so happy with my tea this morning. It makes up for whatever crazy thing I did to my overnight oats (from two overnights ago, which might be the issue right there). It’s like eating shoes. With berry seeds.

Long day yesterday…lots of trying to get through demos (and failing…part of the mental problem right there…could not finish). One of the demos failed. Actually failed…not because of something I did (although my co-teacher was considering that in the beginning until I showed her my failing can of soda that wouldn’t sink)…I guess that’s a learning moment right there. We’ve had to scramble so many times when labs didn’t work the way they should.

I had tutoring, where I explained density about 700 times. And then helped kids with barely any English put their thoughts about density on paper. That’s the harder part. Then the blessed chiropractor. I didn’t know my neck was bad until he fixed it. Home to dinner, which I cooked to perfection…no really…it was good. Which is nice, because I’m having it for lunch as well…I think I’m going to run out of lunches this week. I didn’t remember that stuff goes bad, so I didn’t eat things in the right order, so I’m short a meal, I think. I’ll figure it out.

While dinner was cooking (and afterwards), I was trying to set up the tests for today. There are three versions of the test and they’re assigned online. The easy way to do that is just assign the same test to the first 10 kids, the 2nd version to the next 10 kids (alphabetically), etc. But no, I decided to do it by seating chart, so no kid would have the same test next to them. Kinda crazy. Probably fucked it up. After dinner, then I tried to grade some of the essays they wrote a few weeks ago. I got through half of one period. I know we taught this. It hurts sometimes to read the results of my teaching and try to figure out what I did wrong. (It’s not always me.)

Finally in here, the studio…spent a little time on stuff for next week in class, but mostly I quilted. I didn’t feel well at first. Stomach can be iffy some days. Waited it out, felt better, had some more tea (I was tired. That tea wasn’t perfect, but it did its job)…and quilted.

Well, first I stared at this and tried to decide if I was going to do anything on it. I didn’t.

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And then I stared at this, because the other chair had Kitten on it and this is my quilting chair, and it’s pretty uncomfortable to perch on the edge of this one while trying to sew.

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Apparently Satchemo doesn’t like it when I do that either, so he left.

Quilting! I only broke the thread once last night…it was very easy to quilt last night, unlike the previous night.

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So I did lots of outlining…

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Fussy little bits, but satisfying to see them pop with the line.

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It’s like drawing all over again. I really like it.

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So she’s mostly done. I need to do her head and hair and the tree. I even checked my stash and I have thread that will work for the background. So after today (giving a test that has 9 stations of measurement that need managing, then getting a filling replaced), hopefully I will have the energy to finish the outlining and continue on to the background. Get it quilted by the weekend, trim it, find some binding (probably going to have to buy that), then have a do-over on the drawing for the next one…I’m looking forward to that one. Lots of things I care about going into that one. It’s not that I don’t care about this one…it’s just not an issue quilt, and I seem to like those better.

OK, work calls. Loudly. And my perfect cup of tea is now only lukewarm. Sigh.

Make Good Choices

October 2, 2018

I’ve spent at least an hour in my head trying to figure out when to set up my classroom for tomorrow’s test. I need some of the materials on the desks for today, I have tutoring after school, and then chiropractor right after that. I guess it’s tomorrow morning. But that was the 4 AM brain. Like shut up, 4 AM brain. I could’ve figured that out today some time. I didn’t need to waste sleep time on that. Make good choices, man. Make good choices.

Speaking of good choices, I raced home from work and grabbed the dogs and the boychild and headed out. We have the outside edge of a tropical storm, was a hurricane, hanging around, making it muggy as shit and only 3 drops of rain are allowed to fall, which is crazy stupid. But the clouds look nice.

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We took yet another weird trail. Boychild doesn’t like to do the same path every time. He blames Simba. Maybe the dogs don’t either. They want different smells. Interestingly, if we’d done our normal path, we would have passed the coyote we saw later as well.

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Instead, we kamikazed up this hill…and picked up part of a different trail…

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But there he was, at the junction of the trail we’re normally on. I say he, like I did with the lizard, but maybe they’re both female. We just don’t know.

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It’s closer than I like being to them (I’m sure they’re closer than that on a regular basis, but somehow it’s better when you can’t see them watching you)…especially with the snack we call Simba. It’s easier when I’m not alone though. He stopped and stared at us a lot. I waved and yelled hi.

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Like you do. Hey Julie…does this belong out in the wild? There was more than one of them…the stem at back probably was the tall version before the flowers died. Lily-like.

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Probably doesn’t belong, but who knows. I’ve seen stranger things out there.

I came home and was tired…we did more than we usually do, and I think I was already done in before I started. Lab days with water! Take your life into your own hands. Boychild cooked dinner…’twas good. Then I should have graded some, but I was too tired. Eventually I found the energy to come in here and start quilting…

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But it took a long time to get the tension right, for some reason. I broke the thread like 4 times, re-threaded every time, changed out the needle, swore a bit, and finally got it functional…

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After fighting with it for so long, I didn’t have much patience or energy for continuing to fight the quilt around the machine. I know I got in a little more than an hour though, so that’s progress.

My trusty quilting companions…

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There was a cat in there too. And when I went into the other room, I had 4 out of the 5 with me…2 on the couch next to me. You cannot be alone in this house, not even in the bathroom.

Today is going to be a long day, but I’m hoping to get back in here and quilt some more. It’s honestly not very big, so it shouldn’t take very long. I’m not sure if I have thread for the background though. I should check that. Not right now, though. Right now, I need to get ready for work. Demo day…no down time. Fun stuff.

Over on the Corner There’s a Happy Noise*

August 24, 2018

Well this is what Friday of the first week of school feels like. That moment when you realize the kid who mouthed off to you yesterday is related to that other kid whose name is legend on campus, and not for good things. When you remember that you haven’t even started to deal with grades yet. That’s next week. Or the parent email. Also next week. Or morning and afternoon duty. NEXT WEEK. And you’re still tired. BUT! There was success last night.

I quilted for four hours last night. Granted, I didn’t walk around as much yesterday as I did the rest of this week, so my recovery time post-school was not as bad. Don’t get me wrong…I lolled around on the couch and read my book while drinking a cup of tea and contemplating how much my feet hurt. Sure. But I managed to get up and make dinner at a reasonable hour and then to go straight in to quilt. At one point, I told myself that when I ran out of thread next, I would go to bed (just before midnight), but at that point, I only had a section that was about 6″ high by 10″ wide to finish. So I did it. Which means yes, I went to bed too late. What’s new?

The quilting took a total of 16 hours…I finished the outlining on the last woman…

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And then quilted the background…

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I need to do some interior quilting in a couple places, but that won’t take more than 10 minutes, and most of that will be finding the thread. Then I’m done and on to trimming this beast and putting bindings on. I’m shopping after school today for binding, so I can toss the fabric in the wash when I get home. I’ll trim tonight and maybe start sewing the bindings on. Ahead of schedule! Which is a good thing.

All under Kitten’s watchful eye.

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So I’ve been watching the bougainvillea we cut down to almost nothing…the last bush wasn’t showing any new growth until NOW…Oh yeah. It’s coming back. Woo!

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That’s in comparison to this overachiever.

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Good plants. Doing their jobs. Probably I should go in and trim off some more of the dead stuff before this one gets too boisterous.

I’m sensing a lot of sleep coming on this weekend (I hope) and getting some stuff done and maybe finishing another book (it’s about all my brain can handle sometimes). And I’m looking forward to sitting on the couch and doing some handsewing while mindlessly bingewatching television, hallelujah for Netflix etc. And I’m hiking. In the dark. Like you do. But now? I have to go to work. More tea please.

*Creedence Clearwater Revival, Down on the Corner

Something Pithy

August 23, 2018

On my tombstone (there won’t be a tombstone because I want to be tree mulch when I die, not in a box), it will say, “She was tired.” Seriously. So much of my life is about tired. And sleep. And the lack thereof. Too much to do.

We survived the first day of school. I think. If I look back at last year, I should be totally exhausted every day this week. So that’s nice. Nothing new. I did manage more quilting, although only 2 1/2 hours last night. I was hoping to get all the outlining done, but I have a head, a tree arm, a giant cloud, a sun, and a lightning bolt to finish. Then I can do the background, which is bigger than I thought it was. I forgot about all the stuff around the tree branches. Definitely not solid in there. I’m 12 hours in…

I finished this woman first…well, after the cat…

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Then walked out of my office and saw this…

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Boychild added the little dog…who was perturbed. Calli didn’t even move. She didn’t even open her eyes. Old lady…

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This is the woman I didn’t quite finish. That’s where I stopped. One arm done, one not.

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It was just about midnight. I’m trying to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m going to have to quilt all that background tonight.

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It’s not huge, but it’s not small. Either way, I think I’ll be buying binding tomorrow. Then I can get it washed and ready to put on Saturday. Before I hike. In my sleep. Because that’s what it feels like right now. Sleepwalking and hot flashes.

More yarn bombing from Sweden…

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I wish I had something pithy to say right here, but I need to finish this cup of tea and another before that’s happening. Good morning, world.

Instead I Pour the Milk*

August 22, 2018

You know how to solve the problem of being able to fall asleep at night? Work your butt off moving everything around your classroom into five different places and running around like a chicken with your head cut off, run about a million errands after school, where you realize they must have closed the other office supply place so you end up in a Walmart of all places, which means going in the wrong door and walking past ALL the things to find post-its for today but NOT the printer cartridge, but that’s OK because after your chiropractor puts everything, including your ears, back where it belongs, you kamikaze through your other favorite place, Costco, where you find the printer cartridge, and then come home and attempt to get off the couch for a while before making dinner and then quilting for 3 hours. Oh yeah! Damn! Gotta go to bed because the alarm goes off too early. And yet, I was awake when it went off, going over today’s lesson in my head, step by step, even though I’ve done it before.

Fell asleep just fine. Exhaustion has its pros.

Today is the first official day with kids in the room…the new sweethearts who will be in my dreams (and nightmares) for the next 10 months, the names I need to learn, personalities to negotiate, grades I hate the grading stuff. All the paperwork and the meetings and the crazy schedule stuff that started yesterday with my co-teacher, trying to balance our classes. We did it. Someone will fuck it up for us soon, but we started balanced for once.

Anyway. It’s the first day of my 16th year of teaching. Must be old.

Did I quilt yesterday? Damn straight I did. I’m gonna knock this thing outta the park. Here’s face number one…I think I did them all upside down.

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Kitten communing with my chair. She just wants to be wherever I am.

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Face (and body) number 2…still upside down. It’s because the majority of the quilt is quilted and in my way, won’t fit under the machine, so I’m trying to get enough space to actually quilt. Yes, I quilt with a regular home sewing machine…so everything has to fit in there, under the arm.

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Kitten side eye. She chirped at me, so I photographed her. Not sure that’s what she wanted.

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Face number 3. Still upside down. Body too.

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I guess I did these two upright. But they’re small.

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So everything on the hill and in the water is done…all I have left is the two large tree women at the top and then filling in the empty space. I quilted for almost three hours yesterday…I’m up over 9 hours so far, so I don’t think it will be 20 hours after all. I think binding purchase on Friday is totally in the cards. Get the binding sewn on by machine on Saturday, start the hand work. Ready to hand off to the photographer by next Friday. No problem. Ugh. So tired right now. But motivated!

The man is in Sweden in some tiny village, and he sent me the local yarn bomb, although they apparently call it guerilla knitting. I’ve heard that before too. Theirs is pretty fancy though…

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Possibly his absence is why I’m getting a lot done? Or not. It would be nice to have someone else cook…wait…I think that’s happening tonight. So that’s cool.

OK, so progress made, it continues, off to the day job, wish me luck, I’m about to mutilate 145 or so names. Because even if you look at the list and think, oh that’s easy, it’s Jonathan, I’ll be OK with that one, then there are either two of them with unpronounceable last names or he doesn’t go by Jonathan any more, now he’s something you’re never going to remember. Some kids just don’t look like their names. It’s weird. A product of way too many years of teaching, I think.

More caffeine.

*Suzanne Vega, Tom’s Diner