Forgot a Title…Must Be Friday…

Hey. Friday. You’re here finally. Thank you for coming. Can I get you something? A cup of tea (because we’re all exhausted here)? A donut (because it’s been a rough week)? Maybe just a hug (wait, no, are you vaccinated?)? It has been a trying week in science…hopefully next week will be a little easier (fewer lab materials to fuck with). I still have trays of sand in my room trying to dry out, ironic on a week when it was almost 100 degrees out. It’s OK…today I have to tape a bunch of containers so they don’t fall apart in class and remind myself to buy new ones for next year, and then keep kids from fighting over dice, but also follow the game the way they’re supposed to, plus deal with an aide who keeps taking her break in the middle of a lab (ugh, really?) and then doesn’t talk to me about it (oh honey, please). I wonder though…I don’t get a break during the day? It’s because I make the big bucks, right? I don’t need to pee ever apparently because of how much I get paid. Yah, thanks to my co-teacher for coming down during her prep and watching my art kids so I could pee before I burst. Sigh.

Being back in person is nice because the hands-on stuff is way easier in person…but the behaviors of kids who didn’t have the opportunity to misbehave in person for 18 months is trying. Plus the hours of lesson planning and pandemic contracts for kids who are out and grading because kids are figuring out that grades are a real thing. I’m going to be grading all day tomorrow to catch up. Maybe Sunday too, although that’s when I usually make all the posts for the week. We’ll see how that goes. I did take a break last night for about 2 hours to stitch on Zoom with friends, and managed to finish the binding and sleeves on the newest quilt…

She’s going to the photographer this weekend, hopefully to be seen in a venue near you soon. I haven’t figured the hours taken to make her yet, but I’m sure it’s a lot.

Then I ate dinner and worked until almost 10:30, making a doc and posts for next week. I got tested for COVID again too. Although there have been no known positive cases in my class this week (yet…still have today to get through), the man has symptoms (with two negative tests) and his positive exposure was more exposed than mine usually are. My kids mostly wear their masks and I always wear mine. So he might not be playing in a show tonight…better to be safe than sorry these days.

We are doing Back-to-School Night, but with one parent per family. No kids. Sounds exhausting.

Also this is so so true…

Some things never change.

So for quilting, I have a small Patreon reward quilt that needs a binding on it, then I have to finish two small community blocks for my quilt guild, and then the machine goes back to Mom, hopefully Saturday or Sunday. And I draw the next quilt…after I finish embroidering the SJSA block and send it off. I don’t know what the next deadlines are on my list, but I’m leaning toward another women’s rights quilt. It’s largely drawn in my head…just need to get it out on paper. But first? Work. Be efficient. Get progress report grades done. Try to relax a little this weekend (not sure when or how) and maybe finish my book…reading has not been happening enough and it sucks. Next week should be more chill…hopefully.

So Behind…

Woke up. Good plan. Should learn not to check email until I get to school. Yeah right. I check email right away. Hence school stress as soon as I got in the shower. I am so behind. What should I have done last Saturday? Graded all day. But nah, I quilted. I know it was the right choice, but right now it feels like I can’t balance the day job and the art, let alone things like watering plants and getting the cat’s meds. If I could remember/find time to make the phone call, someone else would go get them. I set an alarm on my calendar yesterday and totally didn’t see it. Ah well. Again today. But waking up and into an impending sense of doom is not helpful. Deep breaths. I will be efficient today. I was efficient yesterday…I just had more to do than I could get done. And 20,000 steps by the end of the day without a hike/walk.

The pro is that I got into another show with two pieces going to Chandler, Arizona in November. I shipped the piece to Quilts=Art=Quilts…tight turnaround on that one, so I stayed up late on Monday getting it boxed up. Should of done it over the weekend. Ah well. It will get there. I’m entering another couple this week, if I can get my act together. Plus this quilt is almost done…got the binding sewn on Monday night…

Calli has been licking her legs, so she got coned.

Last night, I pinned the 308 inches of binding and sleeves down and started the hand-stitching.

Because it’s awesome to have a quilt on your lap when it’s 98 degrees during the day. It will cool down tomorrow, but I’ll be almost done by then, I think. Photographer is set up for the weekend. I made the deadline. I didn’t think I would, but I did. Fucking miracle. Damn day job is kicking my ass. Yes, it has been for over a year now.

This picture of Haitians coming into the US (or going back into Mexico…could be either) just kills me. Yeah, I saw the horseman chasing the guy too, but seriously.

Why are we not the country that just opens our arms and takes care of people? Why do we suck so much? I’m so not OK with my country at the moment. Dumb policies. We are humans. We should take care of other humans.

Sigh.

OK, so I also watered everything last night in the almost dark. I’ve been looking for these guys on the lemon tree, because we had them last year…

Yeah, those are little baby ones. Here’s the ugly big ones that turn into Swallowtail butterflies…

Yes, they look like bird poop. Weird but true. Also, my lemons are growing!

Hopefully my first crop of them on this tree. Exciting.

So today is more labs, more running around, more trying to catch up. Then some actual exercise. And then a lot of hand stitching. And grading, honestly…I gotta do some of that. Sigh. It will get better…it always does. Knock on wood. I just have so many things I’m behind on…and I need to get caught up.

Quilted!

I did pretty well in the last few days…finished quilting the big monster and the little late one. Got a new loaner computer that doesn’t randomly shut down and is significantly faster…interesting that they said about the first pile of shit, “This is the only loaner we have,” and then a much better one surfaced when that one proved to be unreliable. It’s good. I was about to call the superintendent. It sucks that all my downloads are on the other one…I forgot about that. Plus my stickies. Sigh. Those don’t save to a cloud…they save to the device. We are so spoiled these days. I did photograph the old stickies, then remade them on the first loaner, and am too paranoid to remake them on the second loaner because maybe that’s what killed the other two. I know, crazy. Superstitious!

I started quilting Friday night and put three hours in before bed…

With help. Damn, honey, that’s my chair. Yes, she’s talking back.

Saturday, I did some school stuff in the morning and then sat down at the machine around 1:30 PM.

I got up a bunch of times to stretch, pee, make tea, run around a bit, but basically staying there for the next 6 1/2 hours.

The Man had a show, and I had nothing better to do (well, don’t tell the day job that…I have a shit ton of grading and progress reports are due in a week).

So after about 9 hours of quilting in 24 hours, I was done.

I trimmed her last night and found some binding fabric…

That was not an easy process. I shopped in the stash, but I needed more than half a yard, and that’s what I usually buy. I thought a green would work, and it probably would have, if I’d had enough of the right one, so I ended up with a blue.

I also quilted the Patreon reward piece. I’ll get it trimmed and bound tonight, hopefully, plus get the binding and sleeves on the other one, then piece my quilt guild blocks, and then I can get the machine back to my mom and plan the next quilt. It’s big. Dedicated to Texas and rich white men and their penises. Sigh. Stupid people trying to monitor uteri. Can’t wear a mask, but can point a finger at a woman who is only half of the issue…and has a damn good reason. So irritated with this country at the moment.

Anyway. Lots of work needs to happen today. We’ll see how it goes. I wish I had a personal laptop I could use to grade while the loaner plays today’s video…then the next three days are all high-maintenance labs. But then home to get these quilts done. Good thing.

Shutting Down Randomly

I don’t know what you do when you come home from work, especially after a long frustrating day where you had planned specific work tasks after the kids went home and then your loaner computer (because yours is hopefully getting fixed as it keeps shutting down randomly) shuts down randomly (wait, I think I heard that already) about six times in a row, trying so hard to restart like a good computer would, and then giving up the ghost and popping up that message again about how it can’t possibly restart, there’s something very wrong with it (no duh asshole). So after getting it to start and working on grades and contracts for kids out on COVID or pandemic concerns, and finally coming home around 6 PM, and then getting dinner (that was the best part, away from the house, although it was dark, hard to see the food, one of the issues with always eating outside, you know, it gets dark and all), then mopping a floor, sewing a backing together, ironing all the parts, taping them to the floor, and then getting down on hands and knees at 9:45 PM, wondering if this is the year you buy knee pads, like you’re really an old person now, and pinbasting a quilt together.

Sometimes I wonder about the amount of power my art brain has to get my tired old teacher ass off the couch and doing all that shit after 8 PM on a day when I had no prep period. On a day when the 6th graders decided to sharpen the metal end of a pencil in my new $92 sharpener that can handle colored pencils, and yes, I think I know who did it and hopefully I scared the shit out of him. Certainly if there are any other issues, that thing is sitting on my desk and they can pay me to use it. Yeah. It was a day. I’m kind of on the verge of tears constantly again, and I hate that. So part of this weekend will be quilting instead of thinking about work. A large part of it will also be grading, let’s be honest; grades are due soon for progress reports, so I can’t blow it off.

But here we go. Book club got rescheduled on Wednesday. Luckily I checked the app right before I left, so I didn’t actually leave. I worked instead and fed myself with leftovers from Saturday (probably a mistake to go that extra day, says my 2 AM stomach), and then finished the stitchdown…

That’s 5 1/2 hours worth of stitching.

I can see the figures on the back…

On the front, they are hard to see. Hopefully the quilting will help with that. That starts tonight. Here’s all taped down on a clean floor…

The backing is some fabric I found in my stash, quite a lot of it actually.

It seemed right for a quilt about hiking etc. The etc. is kind of a big part of this quilt.

So far, Mom’s machine is rocking it. Much appreciated.

I also did the stitchdown on my Patreon reward, which is really late now…

That only took 13 minutes though. Much easier. I’ll pinbaste her this weekend too. But my goal is to finish quilting and get the binding on this weekend. I don’t know if I can do that. But I will try. We’ll see.

I have an opening a week from today…two pieces in the show…

PHES Gallery is in Carlsbad, California. It’ll be a bit of a drive. No COVID test that day. With 1-2 positive cases in my classes every week, I’m still getting tested every week. Two new ones this week. Woo hoo!

These are drawings I did at dinner while waiting for the food to come. I can’t remember if I’ve posted any of these.

My pen died, so this is ballpoint…

It works. It’s just not fun.

I don’t think when I do these. I just draw.

Sometimes it will turn into something else in a larger piece…mostly not.

I think I will actually get limes and lemons this fall…they seem to be sticking.

Certainly they’re bigger than they have been…

And there’s more to come.

OK, today shouldn’t be too hard (ha!), at least the school part, except I need to get everything posted for school. My co-teacher is out of town, so I’ve been making lab materials for next week. The copier ran out of staples, so I need to staple 290 packets before Tuesday. I’m hoping to find some classroom helpers today who are done with shit to do that. Work after school, bring a ton of work home, get my COVID test for the week, do some grading, possibly do a quilt Zoom, then quilt until I fall asleep, hopefully in a bed and not on the machine. Tomorrow, repeat. Plus some other stuff. I’ll be glad to get the quilting started…I didn’t think I’d be able to finish this one on time, and now there’s a chance of it…I’m going for it.

Up into the Sky…

Good news…got into a show. Womanscape is going to Quilts=Art=Quilts, so you can see it there.

Bad news…one of the shows I was in has canceled due to COVID. OK news…they’re trying to find a new place to travel the exhibit. So what do I do the last two nights? Enter two more shows. Always doing that. But between that, the paperwork part of being an artist, and my day job, I haven’t made it to the sewing machine much. That is frustrating. And today won’t be much better…

I managed a whopping 45 minutes on Monday night and zero minutes last night.

I am up in the sky, which is significantly less complicated than the shit down below (on the quilt and in real life, right?), so it shouldn’t take much time. That said, I have exercise class and book club (in person!) tonight, so the odds of my having any mental or physical energy left when I get home is low. So tomorrow it is. Goals adjust. I want to be done, but I can’t magic that into happening. I have a shit ton of school work to do as well, so that’s not helping. I did come in here, into the studio last night to do some stitching, but then entered a show and did some other paperwork for art, and yes, did a few things for school…

Because I walked/hiked earlier…3.4 miles. I needed it.

Last week I hardly did anything (granted it was hot and that doesn’t help)…walking all day at school doesn’t count. Although it does…just not as much as I’d like.

Hello friend.

It was big. And didn’t stop coming toward me until I said Hi.

Anyway, I didn’t cook either, bless those who live with me, but after I’d finished eating and we were still watching the show of the night (which is from a comic book I actually read…well, the first few anyway…I’d read them again), I needed something to work on, so I pulled out the scarf I started on Sunday in class. I really SHOULD have pulled out the SJSA block and just gotten it done, but I didn’t. I will. I promise. It needs to get done. Lots of things need to get done. Ugh.

Kitten for sizing. So this is going to be covered in stitching, mostly running stitch. I wanted to get the outline in so I could start adding parts, like veins and a heart and fingernails and lungs if I decide to do that. I have no idea what’s going to be going on around her, but it will be cool. Now that there’s an outline, I don’t need to mark things…I think. Makes it easier. OK, maybe need to mark the heart and the eyeball…and the hair? I don’t know…we’ll see. Fun stuff. Great way to use up all the thread I have…except you know it won’t use ALL of it up. This is almost all of one card of perle cotton. I’ve got about a million more.

And at the end, being Californians, we checked the news.

Oh yeah. Good thing. All politicians suck in many ways, but Larry Elder? Fuck me. He would have devastated the schools. All the things that help my kids, my students? Yeah, gone. Dumbassery. For all the talk of Newsom being heavy-handed with the pandemic, I’d rather be here than in Florida. Our numbers are better. Yes, we’d like to solve the homeless problem and make houses more affordable, but that’s not one guy…that shit has been around through Democrats and Republicans and unless we become much more socialist (oooh…bad word) than we are, it’s not changing. Voting one guy out and replacing him with a talk-show host who is an absolute idiot is not how to solve that shit. Let’s remember which party likes to help people more when the next gubernatorial election comes up. Hopefully we’ll have someone on the ticket who has some plans for that. The fewer rich white guys in charge, the better. The fewer totally unqualified, inexperienced, mouthy assholes in charge, also better.

OK, so today is early in, plan like a whirling dervish, work hard all day, be efficient as hell, hope no one co-opts my prep period so I can actually get the 19 contracts completed and off my computer that need to be done apparently by Friday, plus probably fill out at least one more I saw pop up yesterday…plus work out and then hang out (outside) with my book club friends. What book is it? Dunno. I read it…just don’t remember which one it was. Probably it doesn’t matter. Stitch down if I can tonight…I’m so close to done.

Thanks Mom…

OK. There were some successful moments over the weekend. I took my machine in, and he still thinks it’s fixable (if it’s not, there’s a plan…it’s a scary plan, but a plan nonetheless). Meanwhile, I borrowed my mom’s machine, which someone said looks like a spaceship.

It is huge. It has its own suitcase. It weighs a ton. But it works. I had to read 5 bits of the manual about threading and bobbins and free-motion quilting and tension, but it works. Hallelujah. I stitched down Saturday night and Sunday night and can probably finish that tonight (knock on wood).

It’s so lovely not to fight tension for this…there are some fussy bits and adjustments going on, but they are easy to make.

Such a relief. Thanks mom. I’m going to get this thing quilted and done as quick as possible so she can have her machine back.

Although I still have a Patreon reward I’m trying to finish…Friday night, I ironed it together.

I like her. She’s small.

And then on Sunday morning, I got up early and took a Zoom class from Judy Coates Perez for Craft Napa…slow-stitching a scarf…ah, meditation.

I really am appreciating online classes…because I wouldn’t be able to go in person.

Ah yes, I am doing a woman. But all of it will be filled in with stitching. I’m gonna be here a while. But it’s so nice. I’m tempted to bring it to my staff meeting today (it’s two hours), but I suspect that’s not appropriate. Too bad. They say ‘self care’ but I’m not sure how much they mean it. Like ‘self care’ but only if you get all the other things done.

I did work this weekend. I started on Friday afternoon while waiting in line for my COVID test…

Sadly, I can’t remember if I had a positive test in class last week? Or if it was the week before. It’s all a blur. I do know that I have to update many of those 28 contracts for the kids who are out…I did the art contracts last night. I can’t do science until the last assignment is ready…hopefully sometime today? Although I have a kid meeting during my prep and this long staff meeting after school, so IDK when I will make the weekly video, copy the post to 16 contracts, and then email all those families. Because that all needs to happen too.

It’s been hot. I think today it’s going back down, but Friday there was very little to no air conditioning in our classrooms. Fire alarms were going off randomly and they shut the system down, so it was hot and sweaty and loud all day. I’m hoping today is better. I do know the AC wasn’t working yesterday. Ugh. Prepare for sweat!

Sometimes grading is so very hard. She’s a sweet kid…

But I have no clue what she is talking about.

OK, so off to school. Today is an easy teaching day, at least…mostly. The staff meeting sucks. Already. I hate 2-hour meetings. They lose my brain an hour in, if not sooner. Then home, hopefully to exercise, then finish the stitchdown. I should check my batting stash. Pinbaste tomorrow? Then start quilting? I hope. It’s a plan. I like plans. They tend to keep me on track, both mentally and for life in general.

In a Parallel Universe…

It’s currently Thursday night. I don’t usually write now. I was hoping to be doing the stitchdown on the current quilt, but no. My machine is still not working right. I’m frustrated. I’ll call the store again tomorrow, and then I’ll hope it doesn’t take another 5 weeks to fix it, plus I’ll see what I can do on my mom’s machine. I don’t know that I have the patience to try that tonight, but maybe I will. It will be good to have a comparison to what mine is doing at the moment. Tension is off, needle keeps wandering left…two out of the three problems I took it in for in August. Frustration is not a good feeling at the moment. School is challenging and exhausting (hopefully some of that will get better), there is so little time for anything that isn’t work, and then the thing I really love? Can’t do it. At least I can’t do the part I want to be doing right now. Maybe now is when I truly admit this piece won’t be done for the deadline I was aiming for…and start a new one…the FUCK YOU TEXAS POLITICIANS quilt. The UP YOURS SUPREME COURT quilt. The GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY UTERUS quilt. That’s a cheery mood I’ve got going there.

Mayhaps I should just take my book and my tears of frustration to bed, meditate, get up tomorrow, be fucking efficient as hell at work, pretend the last fucking hour didn’t happen, and try again tomorrow night. With a different machine. In a parallel universe where sewing machines are my friends.

More tomorrow morning…

Sigh. It’s morning. I dreamed about my school laptop battery. It’s dying. But I can’t afford to give up my computer for any period of time for them to replace it, unless they can do it in ONE TWO THREE and we’re done. I’m OK with that. Anything else and IDK what I’m going to do. The computer itself has been randomly turning itself off or freezing down to almost stopping, and then the battery goes from 53% to almost zero in a heartbeat. See above about frustration.

I’m going in to school with deep breaths. I do cry when I get frustrated though. I remember growing up, my dad would get so mad if I cried. He said girls do that to get what they want. I don’t. When I cry, I am genuinely upset and/or frustrated. It’s a normal reaction. I have no control over it. I’m frustrated right now and I’m tired and my blood sugar was high this morning for no apparent reason. Seriously going to meditate in the car. With my eyes open of course. I have a mindset in my head for the day…it will be difficult for the kids, thus difficult for me. When we ask them to do hard things, they don’t respond well. We have to grow that behavior. I’m not always there myself. I have to remind myself that it is hard for them and I can’t react to it. Hard for someone who reacts super fast. I’d be good in a zombie apocalypse…not always good in a middle-school classroom. At least I’m aware of it so I can keep talking myself through it.

So here’s the whole quilt ironed down…

It’s large, about 46″ w by 62″ high…maybe more than that at the moment. There’s a lot of hours that need to go into it to get it done. I’m going to try stitchdown on my mom’s machine that I borrowed in July…but quilting will need to be on a bigger machine. I’m going to call the shop today and try to be calm and say they can’t have it for 5 weeks this time. They didn’t fix it last time. I’m pissed, it’s true. I know they’re busy, but this isn’t OK.

This doesn’t show the other side, where the tension is all over the place. That break on the right is about 5 inches in, because that was the first major issue I had. I can’t afford a new machine right now. I need this one to work. I especially need it to work because my day job is really hard and time-consuming and frustrating and I need something at home NOT to be those things. Well, I’m OK with art being time-consuming…the other two, not right now please. Give me something that feels good.

The man hiked a bit and camped last night.

He sent all those clouds with thunder and lightning to us. I stitched with friends last night…still something I can’t show you. It’ll be almost done by the time it’s published and I’m allowed to share, I think.

Deep breaths for the day. Patience for the munchkins and for myself. Hopefully take the machine in after work and then get COVID tested again. Ugh. Then home and try to make mom’s machine do what I need it to. Read my book. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Tomorrow I finally get to exercise (like I said, this week has been rough). I still might make this quilt deadline, and if I don’t, there will be somewhere else it can show. It’s not the end of the world.

Whatever Psychotic Tension Issue…

Well I don’t know what this sewing machine is thinking, but apparently threatening to throw it into the pool worked. Yeah. Because after thread breaking 17 times in an hour, I turned it off, went to bed, tossed and turned about how in hell I was going to fix this issue in time to get the quilt done for a deadline, and then it freakin’ worked. No issues. One thread breakage in two full quilts worth of quilting and binding. No idea why. I didn’t change anything. Same thread, same needle, same settings, no breakage. This is an issue. Inconsistent tension, the feed dogs won’t stay dropped (yes, I free-motion quilted with them up about 2/3s of the time), and when I zigzag, the needle still wanders as far left as it can and I worry about it hitting the foot, but it seemed to know its limits there.

I called yesterday to set up a time for it to be cleaned out and adjusted. It was in last September for that, but then it was in for repair in March because the foot wouldn’t drop down while free-motion zigzagging. That time, it was gone for 5 weeks. So I figured it would be put on a list and I’d bring it in during school some time (usually it’s 6 weeks out for an appointment), but they asked a bunch of questions (it was just in? Did you clean it…that was MY question. What’s wrong with it? I just printed that list out. SIGH.) and now I’m dropping it off today.

Not before I kamikazed and finished both little quilts though…because it was mostly fucking behaving. It will straight stitch just fine, and now that whatever psychotic tension issue is mostly gone (it popped up briefly), I’m not fighting thread breakage constantly. So frustrating. Yes, it is an 11-year-old machine that I got used (barely used…most people don’t use machines like I do) and yes, I probably need to replace it. Damn, though, the last two lasted longer. I think. Maybe not. Sigh. It’s a conversation I will have with the machine guy, but money is not free-flowing and nothing is cheap. I certainly won’t be buying a new machine. And no, Bernina, Pfaff, and Husqvarna don’t want to sponsor my artwork by gifting me a machine. Too many nude parts in my work, I suspect. Plus I swear a lot. LOL. I’m always impressed when people are gifted expensive equipment to make their work. ANYWAY. All that is negative and the positive is that I have two more quilts that are done or almost done.

They’re not very big…I did all the outline quilting on the bottom but not the top…not a single breakage.

Finishing up this one…

I got the binding on it, using a fabric from my stash. No shopping on this quilt. I had everything. I don’t always have enough for binding, but the smaller quilts don’t take a full half yard (or more), so I can usually pull from stash. I finished the hand-stitching last night while watching The Handmaid’s Tale (am I the only one crying through episodes right now?). We only watch one at a time. Can’t binge this thing. I’d lose my mind.

Then once I had called about bringing the machine in and they said yeah! Bring it! I was like, OK, gonna see if I can get the machine to finish the other one that got set aside in March when the machine broke last time.

Quilted like a dream, no breakages at all. Seriously? Fuck you, machine.

Same spool of thread, same needle, didn’t even clean anything out, no tension change, no breakage, no nothing. Well, except the feed dogs kept popping back up. Kind of annoying. Makes it harder to drag everything around, but on a smaller quilt like this, it’s not impossible.

Then got the binding on the other one too, again, from stash.

We’re going to Los Angeles for a few days to celebrate the man’s birthday, so I’ll have to finish the hand-stitching in the car. Or a brewery. Or a hotel room. Whichever works. These two have names, but the hand-appliqued one I finished almost two weeks ago doesn’t. They are all going to the photographer hopefully this weekend though.

And then I have to figure out what’s next. I need to finish a small one for my Patreon, but then I need one for an upcoming “family friendly” show. That phrase drives me nuts. But whatever. It’s in my head and I’ll maybe draw it in the next few days. Need to draw the little one too.

Speaking of drawings, apparently this is Captain Kangaroo…

I wasn’t thinking that when I drew it…although it did make me laugh a lot.

OK, we leave later today. I need to drop off my machine, do a bunch of packing, then drive to LA. Hopefully there will be some walking and eating and drinking and maybe some art and drawing and stitching. Who knows? It won’t be here, though. The boychild will hold down the fort and feed all the animals. I was looking forward to meeting the man on the trails this summer, which unfortunately didn’t happen. He is exercising his knee, though, and hoping to get back on trail in a month or so…but then I have school, so meeting him is much more complicated, especially if he starts from Washington instead of the Sierras. So I guess LA will have to stand in for the Sierras? Not really a fair comparison, but it will have to do.

Fighting the Machine…

It’s the 12th. In a month, I go back to school. In person. To a room that I haven’t worked in since March 16, 2020. Where, most importantly, I don’t know where anything is because I didn’t have time to put it away logically. This actually doesn’t worry me. I’ll find it all eventually. I just found a cord they probably need in order to use my doc cam. It was under something. I can spend all year searching for stuff, and hopefully have the brains to throw out some stuff I don’t need any more. It’s hard not to hoard! Teaching lends itself to having a stash for when you decide to do some weird lab at the last minute.

I go back to school, though, in a time of ‘do we still wear masks?’ (In California, yes. At least for a while. For me, yes.) Critical race theory…to teach or not to teach? OK, so here’s the thing. Those people (and politicians, who may or may not be part of the human race) who are screeching about what we should be able to brainwash kids about in the classroom have never been in a middle-school classroom. I can’t persuade the flat-earthers and the God-made-all-the-animals-and-humans-aren’t-animals kids (most of the time) that what their parents and/or YouTube taught them isn’t true. It takes years and lots of brain growth and exposure to scientific concepts that disagree with your core beliefs (hey, that’s some brainwashing) before kids start to think…oh…wait a minute…that shit doesn’t make sense. And we don’t set out to teach about racism or sexism or gender or penis size (yup. Big worry amongst the 12-year-old male). It comes UP (OK, did not mean that joke about up and penis size). One boy is talking to the kid next to him about how girls can’t do science because they don’t have the brains for it (yeah, this kid did not come up with this idea on his own…please imagine where he got it from) and then I need to redirect. Strongly. With evidence. Racism? Same deal. Gender? Absolutely. And it was a good almost ten years ago when I said to a kid, “why do you care whether they are a he or a she or something else? Are you gonna date them? Then talk to them first.” This is not new. This is what we do. We facilitate conversations. We provide facts and evidence (y’all, I’m not making any shit up. I teach science, not faith.) and then let the kids go places with it. And then they LEARN TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES. That is my ultimate job…guiding them toward their own learning, showing them how research works, modeling appropriate discussions (unlike what our politicians do; Marjorie Taylor Greene, I’m talking to you). If they can’t do it in school, then where the fuck do you think they should be doing that? We encourage kids to take their ideas home and talk to their families (and then their dad calls me to tell me I’m an idiot because he personally saw the pig with a human face, so he knows humans and pigs can reproduce together) and figure things out. Would you rather have me say, “Sorry, the government won’t let me talk about that…” when it comes up in class? I do worry that some teachers don’t do this…don’t encourage thinking. Certainly, I draw the line when kids want to answer every science question with “God did that.” Explain plate tectonics. God did it. Explain photosynthesis. God did it. Well, OK, you have faith. Great. Move on. Let’s do science.

So yeah. I’m going to keep teaching kids to think. I’m going to keep encouraging them to talk about stuff, as long as they aren’t making someone else feel like shit while they do that, although sometimes that can be difficult. I’m pretty sure that kid who said girls can’t do science didn’t feel great that day, unfortunately. I’m hoping he eventually saw the light though. These conversations were harder to have on Zoom last year…they did happen, but not as often as they do in person. Sigh. School. Not ready for it. It’s a good thing I have another 30 days. I do need more masks though.

Meanwhile, the artmaking has been walloped by my sewing machine being a total asshole. I did most of the stitchdown on Saturday…

The tension was fine for the entire bottom section and half of the top section…

And then it randomly went to hell. I cleaned everything out, rethreaded, and then prayed to the Goddess of the Machine. Because it wasn’t going to behave. The needle kept moving further and further to the left. I would turn the machine off, let it rest, cool off, and then it would keep doing that or nesting thread on the back. Completely random shit. Tension that made no sense.

I’m thinking this machine is reaching the end of its useful stage for me. I did finish one big quilt since it went in to the shop in March…but only one.

I managed to bully it through the stitchdown, and then pinbasted the quilt.

I’ve had continuing problems with the machine, but as long as I take it in once a year and have it cleaned out and adjusted, it mostly works for me. Now it’s not even lasting four months with one quilt.

Then last night, I started the quilting…I was hoping since it was in a straight line, the issue with the needle moving would stop (it has). But instead, the thread keeps breaking.

I think the thread broke about 17 times in an hour. I rethreaded, cleaned everything, replaced the needle, adjusted everything, it’s not the damn thread…it’s the same thread that was just fine in the last quilt that I just finished. I don’t have time for it to go in…there’s a waiting list and I need this quilt done for a deadline. My other machine won’t behave either. I’m frustrated. There’s still things wrong…the feed dogs won’t stay down; they keep popping up, which affects the tension. I walked away from it last night, but will try again today. Unfortunately, sometimes the solution is to keep going and then it randomly and magically starts working. I don’t need a machine that is random and magical. Sigh. I need dependable and consistent.

So that was the weekend, with some other stuff interspersed, like my phone issues are still happening, after doing all the Apple things…so back to the Genius Bar. Sure, I’m lucky to have a phone and a sewing machine…well, I do work a time-consuming job to pay for those things, but not everyone has that opportunity, but if I have paid for those things, I would like them to work properly. None of that is going on at the moment.

I did some wool sewing last night. Just messed up the tree trunk, but let’s say it’s meant to be crooked.

Walked that little beastie with my parents’ dog.

So today. I have errands and I’m going to try to sew. I’ll switch out the spool maybe (although again, it worked fine on the quilt I just finished). I don’t know what else to do, so I’m just going to hope it works. I don’t want to learn another machine to quilt this thing…although I may have to. Mom’s house is just down the road. Although the last time I tried hers, it was impossible. Not sure why. I have a definite way I quilt and the machines are not always in agreement with that. They should be. There is a learning curve. Not sure I have the patience (or time) for that. This is not as stress-free and relaxing a summer as I’d like. I might just grab my book and go take a nap. Or something. Argh.

See All the People and Do All the Things…

Good morning on the day after fireworks. For those of you with dogs who don’t like fireworks, you are maybe a little exhausted like me, as I listened to the old lady dog pant and breathe way too fast most of the night. Her breathing is back to normal this morning, but it was a long night. She was doing OK until more fireworks at about 1 AM. I also was doing OK until then. I am way too light of a sleeper for this stuff.

Hope your 4th was enjoyable at least, although I spent a good portion of the day thinking about Native American issues (I’m reading The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich) and those who don’t feel like the flag and the pledge of allegiance are for them (I am one of those people and I’m pretty damn entitled). But I did step outside to see a few sets of fireworks…I think only half were legal, which is scary in these dry firelike conditions. You’ll appreciate my photo from the bedroom window.

Yeah. Toldja you’d appreciate it. Best fireworks photo ever. Not sure why I try to take these every year, but I do. EVERY YEAR. I’m rolling my eyes at myself.

Also, this quote…

For those who doubt my patriotism. Exactly.

So much art progress has been made. Well. Has it? I don’t know. Things are getting done. That’s a good thing.

So first of all, official photos of the Quilt National exhibit are here. I will hopefully be there in person in September for the closing ceremony. In all the videos I saw posted, I couldn’t see my quilt, which made me sad, but that’s OK. Because here it is in all its glory, thanks to the QN photographer.

I don’t have the catalog yet, so I can’t tell you who else’s pieces are in this picture…

Looking forward to seeing her in person…for the last time, probably, because she sold. But this show does travel, so maybe she will pop up near me somewhere. Hard to say. Again, you can hear me talk about her here.

So meanwhile, I have one piece on a deadline here, so it makes sense that I worked on anything BUT that piece. I finished the quilting on this 20-year-old piece last week, and Saturday, I put a binding on her.

It’s the first time in a year and a half that I could go to that quilt store without an appointment. They still have really short hours, so during the school year, Saturday would be the only day I could go, but hopefully that will change by the time it’s an issue. Yes, I often am buying backgrounds and bindings at the totally last minute.

I spent time Saturday night (with Kitten) sewing bindings on…

And finished those and the sleeves on Sunday night.

She’s about 30″ wide by 43″ high, and I started her in 2000 or 2001. It’s all hand applique. She’ll get her official photographs when I have the one with a deadline completed.

Then (because still…procrastinating the deadline project) I stitched down Desert Bunny, which has been sitting around waiting since March.

(I’m still working on a name for the other one…there are some in the running, but no decisions yet).

She’s small, so she didn’t take long.

And then I sandwiched and pinbasted her, so now she’s ready for quilting…

Which ALSO wouldn’t take long, but I’m trying to be good and work on the one with a deadline. I was supposed to be in Los Angeles for 2 1/2 days this week, but my niece is coming down this week instead of next week, so we juggled our flexible plans into LA next week….thus juggling my art plans as well…I can’t do certain parts of my art process on the road. Odds are, I won’t be working on the next quilt on the road no matter what, but I’m using that trip to motivate me to iron. Why is ironing an issue? This quilt has a lot of small pieces and it’s sometimes tedious to iron tiny pieces (you’d think I’d learn), but also ironing is hot and the light in here is hot and it’s not THAT hot here (no heat dome…yet), but my hot flashes plus fairly reasonable summer temperatures just add up to ugh. That said, here’s an hour or so of ironing done…

Tiny pieces, relatively small quilt. Crazy amount of work in this one. Ah well…the brain knows what it wants. So I’ll be working on this all week, and hopefully be done for the weekend. We’ll see.

I’ve gone back to drawing before dinner…here is Saturday night, in between starter (we hardly ever get a starter) and dinner.

Keep it simple! These are small. It’s the sketchbook that fits in my purse. I got a new purse, a smaller one, but the sketchbook doesn’t fit. Dammit.

Also, I can’t remember if I posted this…it’s Margaret Fabrizio’s Hello Kitty Meats the Dragon.

I spelled it like she did…it’s not hung up yet because I wanted to put a sleeve on it, and last night, I finally did that. I met Margaret some years back (when she was still 80-something) and we liked each other’s work. She contacted me earlier this year about trading a piece of art, and I agreed, so I sent one off to her of her choice, and I got these wonderful eyeballs (I did pick it for Hello Kitty too) back…so now she can hang on my wall.

I also was cleaning up my blogroll this weekend (like you do…once every 5 years, whether it needs it or not), and noticed that an artist I really enjoyed, Olga Norris, had passed away in 2019. I obviously have not been doing a great job of reading blogs. Every year, at the SAQA auction, I would note the Olga Norris piece and get outbid at a much higher rate than I could afford, sadly. Well, her husband is still supporting his wife’s work and posted photos of her last pieces, and offers them up for postage and donations to a charity of Olga’s choice, which is just amazing, so I will finally be proudly displaying one of her pieces here as well. It does make you think about what will happen to all your work when you die, though. I’m sure my children would love for me to have a plan.

In other news, Kitten is still missing some teeth and makes some funny faces while squawking at me.

And I finally got milkweed seeds to sprout! I started in April and apparently killed off a hundred or so of them, but now! Now I haz babies.

IDK how I will keep the bunnies out of the plants though…gonna have to think that bit through. They’ve even been eating the succulents.

And this…

Makes me want to go through all the birding books we have here…just for stupid things like that.

OK, I’m up to go to the gym, like a good person. I have an appointment at the Apple Store to try to figure out if my phone refusing to connect consistently to Wifi is a hardware issue. And then I’d like to do some more ironing together of tiny little pieces today. Tomorrow will probably involve some art stuff with the niece, which means I might actually see my work in a show IN PERSON. I know. Crazy. And hopefully I will also be able to reschedule all the stuff I already scheduled over in an attempt to see all the people and do all the things because yeah. That.