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.

Cutting Things Out…

I have been asked a few times why I don’t use a cutting machine for my quilts, so I don’t have to cut out all the pieces of Wonder Under or fabric. I recently read Kestral Michaud’s description in SAQA’s magazine of how she uses a Cricut machine to create her quilts. It’s funny, because people always tell me what I do is crazy and I think what she does is crazy (well, it’s all relative, isn’t it?). She claims her process is faster…and maybe it is, but it doesn’t SOUND like it to me. That said, I haven’t compared the two physically and she has. I think my method is easier for choosing a wider array of fabrics, since I’m not having to decide and move pieces around on a computer screen, grouping them together. Otherwise, what she does is fairly similar to what I do…just more tech-infused. Kudos to her for figuring that out…I’m not headed that way soon. I don’t spend a million hours cutting out pieces…the current quilt took about 8 hours to cut out 620 or so pieces of fabric, and other 5 hours to cut out the Wonder Under. Looking at her most current piece, it’s using about 20 different fabrics; my most current quilt used almost 100 different fabrics. My hands are sore after a bout of cutting, but not any more sore than say my abs are after a Pilates workout? I don’t usually cut them all out in one day either…realistically, I have a pretty demanding day job most of the time, so I have limited artmaking time, which means my hands get to rest in between cutting sessions.

Speaking of the most recent quilt, I did finish cutting all the pieces out Wednesday night…

Like I said, about 8 hours to cut them out…they are small and fussy in this quilt.

Then I sorted them last night…

Now I’m ready to start ironing everything together. That part will take a while…lots of little fussy pieces. I do enjoy the process though…this is the first time I will see everything come together, because I don’t color the drawing beforehand…the coloring is all in my head. So expect some pictures after this weekend of that part of the process.

I’m still trying to finish quilting this piece…

I scheduled time yesterday during a stitching Zoom, and then got the call to help move fridges at my parents’ house…so I did that instead. I did a tiny bit before I left, and that’s where I realized that I’d accidentally let the backing fabric fold under on the back…

Whoops. I thought about cutting out all the quilting, but no. It’s not worth it. Some of it will get trimmed off before I bind, and I’ll just put a label on the back that either covers it or explains it…or both.

I also did this…

That left a loop on the front…yes, I could wriggle the safety pin out, but ended up having to rip out the bit that wasn’t working. I’m not a perfectionist quilter, if that isn’t apparent so far. I do spend lots of time making my quilts, but there are lines I am not willing to cross…a level of crazy I don’t need to attain. I respect those who do…I’m just not one of you. And no, I have no idea how I sewed over this without noticing.

So most of it is quilted…I just have a bit, less than a quarter of the top right, that needs doing, and some little filler spaces. Maybe today?

The pup is doing better…he’s eating chicken and rice with broth (fancy stuff) and drank a little water yesterday unprompted, so we think he’s on the mend. Still worrisome, but hopefully will continue to improve. We may never get him to eat regular kibble again, but we’ll see.

In other art news, I have a piece in a show that opens tomorrow in Escondido at the California Center for the Arts…you can see the quilt hanging on the wall in the back.

The piece is Sediment and was in Visions years ago. It was one of the few ‘family friendly’ pieces I have, which was a venue requirement. This is an Allied Craftsman show and the ceramic pieces in the front are all by Linda Litteral. The opening is supposed to be August 26 in the evening; I’ll update you on that when it becomes official. It will be open all summer through August 29.

The man is home, off the trail for now. He’s going to get some medical help and then decide what’s next. He could hop back on and do another portion of the trail once he’s healed.

I drew this last night while hanging out with him, trying to remember bits and pieces of songs that were in his head while he hiked.

I also hiked yesterday, almost 6 miles in Torrey Pines State Reserve…

It was only cloudy and cool for a short part of the hike, unfortunately. The marine layer did not stick around long.

There was a cool breeze for a good chunk of it though.

We did walk along the beach down there as well.

And then came up the steps…

I hiked with actual people! One of the hiking groups I used to hike with all the time did this on Meetup, so it was easy…I didn’t have to plan it myself.

It was a nice small group. So I got my exercise in. I’m currently fighting a nasty bout of heat rash in the armpits though from all the hiking. I get this sort of thing about once or twice a year, usually in summer. I’m usually better about getting it to go away. I get all crazy about dry pits and avoiding my deoderant, which I’m a little allergic to, even though it’s hypoallergenic. At this point, I’m debating whether it’s gone fungal instead of just heat rash. Cortisone doesn’t seem to be working, and it was bad enough last night that I took Benadryl to sleep. It hurts, tingles painfully, no itching. You know how you debate contacting your doctor’s office? I’m at that point. Maybe. Fun stuff. So I’m tired from not enough sleep on top of everything else.

These three (there are three cats…can you see them all?) are adjusting to the bed being more full…

But they’re glad to have the man home.

Ah, plant identification. This is a parasitic plant of some sort. I don’t think I ever saw it when it was alive, but it was all draped around a twisty pine tree…

Not sure what it is…it’s out now. The berries have good staining power too. ID if you can?

OK, so a shower and more caffeine are on the list, and then hopefully I can finish quilting that piece and figure out what binding to use and whether I’ll need to shop for that. Then ironing the other piece together. Maybe a nap. I’m tired. More yardwork? Yeah. Probably that.

Up and Down and All Around

I’ve been up since too early (based on when I actually fell asleep) with a number of people texting me with worrisome (and not-so-worrisome) stuff, so I’m still yawning. Haven’t finished the first cup of tea yet…it’s just taking me forever to knock some things out and get them done, including drinking that first cup. Things are up and down and all around. We have a sick pup who might be turning it around, hopefully. He finally ate something this morning. Not sure if that means we’re done. But I’m hoping. We did walk him on Monday…

It was a tad warm and up, but we watered and shaded and rested him often, and he was off his food before that…he even got a lift over the stream…

He’s not a water dog. Anyway, we’ve been to the vet and have anti-nausea meds and he’s had some subcutaneous fluids…so it’s really about us finding the foods he wants to eat right now, I’m hoping, and not something more serious (aka expensive). I love how the animals always need major stuff during the part of the year when I don’t get paid. Seriously, though, we love this dog and he needs to be OK.

The man’s knee is proving to be a more difficult problem than we had hoped, so he is heading back to Kennedy Meadows and then back home, hopefully for some physical therapy. This is not a quit…it’s a reschedule, although probably until next year at this rate, and I know it will be difficult for him to be done with this attempt. So be kind, if you see him.

This was what I could see on the Garmin the other day…those are trees down from an old burn.

Looks really weird from this view. So he’ll be back sometime soon. I don’t think I’ll have to go get him this time, but we’ll see. He did 712 miles, though, which is kind of amazing (more than I could ever do)…only 1838 to do the next time.

I’ve been doing some quilting on the background of this quilt…

I usually do an all-over pattern, but I wasn’t in the mood for that, so I’ve been adding some additional designs. I’ve done that before on smaller pieces, but not on one this big. I think it’s because it’s a lighter-colored background, so it shows up more. I usually use a dark background and no one would ever see it except really up close. Anyway, it’s not a fast thing to do, so I’ll keep chugging along on it when I get time.

I’m also still cutting out pieces for the newest quilt…

This is about 6 hours in…

Not much left to do on it. Maybe done tonight? Then sort pieces and iron it together. Sounds easy.

I spent some time with teacher friends yesterday…it was a long year of very few interactions, so this was nice…

OK, lots of yardwork to do today, and hopefully some art later. Plus healthy dog and healthy man. All those would be good.

I’m fairly sure I’ve posted this before…

It’s missing a jacuzzi, but maybe that’s outside. Getting to work now. Plants are calling.

Take a Break

I just got an email about a call for artists: the gallery is charging $40/entry for an online exhibit. Online. No catalog. Just online. This after two rejections last night. It’s OK. Rejection is part of the game. If you enter, you will be rejected more often than you are accepted. It’s normal. And more people entered than they were expecting. So there’s that. But I’m not willing to turn around and shell out more money (yes, every entry costs money, and not a small amount of it…remember shows with $10 and $15 entry fees? Proof that I am old.) for a show that only exists online. The gallery is nonprofit…usually entry fees pay jurors and provide food and drink for openings, plus keeping the gallery open and staffed. What is this entry fee for except the jurors? It’s not even on the gallery’s website? I don’t understand.

I get to this stage every once in a while, where I’m tired of paying out fees for themes that are just difficult for me to get my head around or for show after show where I can’t get in. It’s OK…then I just make a bunch of work and then eventually something gets in or some new opportunity pops up that doesn’t cost me any money (those are always nice, aren’t they?). I say that as I’m working on a piece for a show with a theme and probably a fee. Ah well. I’ll finish it and then see where my head is at. Right now, it’s hard to know where my head is at. The man is planning to start hiking again tomorrow. He’s been icing his knee (and his beer) at Kennedy Meadows since Friday, trying to decide whether or not to keep going. The knee has not stopped hurting, mind you, despite the rest. Meanwhile, I’m in a bit of limbo over some projects that need to start and scheduling some things, because I don’t know if I will need to (a) still meet him at Kearsarge Pass or (b) come pull him off the trail again. So I do cross things off the list and let a few things just sit there, waiting. I’m still tired…still occasionally grinding my teeth…still in recovery mode. Not sure when all that improves.

Actually, it kind of helps to write the blog and realize how many things I’m working on…so on Friday, I continued outline quilting on the 20-year-old quilt…

Which will eventually need a better name…but I did finish the outlining…

And started the background quilting, which is going to take a while. But it’s started.

I also did some ironing to fabric on the current quilt made for a themed show that will cost money to enter. This is my view while ironing, watching a recorded Zoom of something textile-related.

Can’t remember what. Picking out the sky fabrics here…this was Friday night, I think?

I lose track. Actually, I think it was a Zoom meeting. I had two on Friday and then I watched the recorded talk.

And then on Saturday night, I finished the rest of the ironing for this quilt and organized all the fabrics by color…

I used 99 fabrics and it took 9 hours and 45 minutes to pick them all and iron them to fabric. In general, this is a very muted quilt. The bright colors are in a few small locations. It’ll be interesting to see it all ironed together.

Then last night, I started trimming the pieces…

I haven’t gotten very far…the top left box is all trimmed. The bottom box is to-be-trimmed. It’s gonna be a while.

On Saturday night, when I was done ironing (which was pretty early), I finished up the hand-stitching on this piece, which I’ve been working on for a very long time. How long?

Hmmm. Looks to be around January 11 of this year that I started this. Not bad…I thought it was last year. Only 6 months. Honestly, it’s been almost done for a while. And it’s really not even almost done…everything is just stitched down and I got rid of all the pins. I actually want all of these (there are four now) to have a lot more hand sewing.

I did the first one, bottom left, in February or so of 2020…and the other two after that. They are from Anna Maria Horner shipments, using only the fabrics she sent that month. Hence the crazy combinations. I like them though. It’s a different kind of challenge. There are 6 shipments a year, so I didn’t finish last year’s quite, and now I have two…no three more this year. One just arrived and I cut the background fabric out already and it’s waiting…although I think there is a cat lying on it. Maybe someday I will finish these. Who knows. Maybe they are like sketchbook drawings…just little workings of the brain when other stuff is too hard.

On Saturday, I also went to an actual in-person meeting (outside, in a park, where I got sunburned again in a weird pattern on my back because I thought it was all covered up, but I was stitching and so I was bent over and…duh). It was one of my quilt guilds…and I worked on Sue Spargo’s Homegrown, finishing the third of four blocks for March.

Look! People! In a group! I know. It makes me nervous unless it’s outside. We’ll see how that goes in the future.

Ah yes, and I finished stitching hangers and a label on this one, so it’s off to it’s new owner later this month.

Took forever to finish this one…mostly my fault…combined with school and sewing machine issues. See, I did do a lot…plus bought shelves for the deck for plants to block the neighbor noise and view…working on the plants and pots part. Need more of both.

On Saturday, I hiked a little over 5 miles…it was hot. This is a kite…a bird kite, not a manmade one.

It’s a bird I only see at Sweetwater. Looks like a hawk but mostly white and a little gray. Stared at me.

I didn’t see anyone else out there. Granted, I was hiking during the dinner hour, I think, and it was warm even then.

There’s a lot of flowers still blooming.

I like hiking by myself mostly…

I do listen to music…

I wanted to go further, but the parking lot closes…

Sweetwater River Trail? Or Reservoir? Not sure.

Finally got to the water.

And then headed back…I like this succulent, although I’ve never been able to get it to grow from a cutting.

I don’t take it out of wild parks…just from side of the road bits where I can pick a leaf or a stem.

Maybe I should just figure out what it is and find it somewhere legit that costs money.

Lots of cat pictures…Nova cleaning Luna while I was trying to nap.

I did not nap. Luna then got cranky and started a fight.

Not nap friendly.

When I got back from the hike, Kitten decided my hat was a sleeping space.

Hmmm.

Nova checking out the living room last night…

So today…I’m in a Zoom, watching some art stuff, plus trying to write this. Then I should quilt some more, cut some more, walk some more, and IDK what else. I have a list. Fill the hummingbird feeders. Do some yard work. I need a list for that. I should do that. I should just take a break from expectations, right? Yeah, I’m not very good at that. I’ll keep trying. Without the fees and the rejections, yeah? Don’t enter; you won’t get rejected. But if your work needs to get out there, then you will have to take that chance, spend the money, get it out there.

Check Check Check…

There is an insistent cat head bumping my left elbow as I try to type. I managed to get her away from the keyboard, where she was before, but it’s possible that I’m not petting any of these cats ENOUGH for their preferences. OK, now she’s in front of the monitor, so any typos will have to be blamed on Kitten. And she just whacked me and I’m bleeding. So yeah. Cats. I’m also trying to listen to/watch this week’s artist talks for Quilt National and she’s not happy with my not paying attention to her, so now I’m trying to type with a paper towel held to my wrist so it will stop bleeding. Such a joy.

So somehow, the first week of Summer Break is gone. It’s always such a weird thing, that first week. I seem to waste a lot of time staring at things: books, space, social media, TV, the insides of my eyeballs. This year, I cooked a lot of things this week: wontons (very good), blueberry crisp (very good), lasagne from scratch (very good and will get frozen in batches for future eatings), and lemon bars (we had lemons…they fell apart last night, but they were still warm. I will in fact eat them with a fork if I have to). I’m still exhausted, which might be because I stayed up too late ironing last night and got up early(ish…for break, anyway) to watch the Quilt National thing. By the way, I will be participating in their weekly talks (signups are here) on July 30. You can also see me talk about my quilt here:

I don’t remember what I said. I’m going to watch all of them, honestly…just pick the playlist for this year’s quilts, and maybe even watch the ones from 2019. Why not?! It’s either that or I watch another badly dubbed movie like the last one I watched.

The damn cat is back, headbutting my elbow, decidedly nonapologetic about the divot in my wrist from biting me. My fault for having a calico cat. Feisty beasts.

So what have I been doing? Some errands, some garden stuff. Some house stuff. Some organizing. I can’t quite bring myself to clean out closets yet. I’ve found two things I want to get rid of…the rest is overwhelming. I’ve read a lot. I love reading. I’ve exercised for five days in a row…and my hips are complaining. I think that was from pilates on Wednesday, but I might take today off from exercise, since I know I will be hiking tomorrow hopefully (checks weather app…yes, I can hike tomorrow, as long as it’s not in the mountains, because they have a heat wave and I don’t? Whatever). I’ve also been doing art stuff in between all that, working on quilting a 20-year-old hand-appliqued quilt during the day…

I’m just doing the outlining right now; the background quilting will take a lot more thought and time. I’m not there yet.

I did a little embroidery on Sue Spargo’s Homegrown during book club…

Super slow moving on this one. But that’s OK.

And then I’ve been ironing at night, with a little bit yesterday during my quilt group Zoom.

Some bright colors were added for some small spaces in the quilt…

I’m about 6 1/2 hours into picking fabrics, and not done. It’s not an easy ironing job. So many muted colors that have to contrast with each other. I’m in the 300s somewhere, maybe almost done with them. Yah. Almost done, and I’ve already ironed some of the 400s, so I can safely say I’m at least halfway through. I’m hoping to be done with the ironing Sunday, but I’ve put a bunch of social stuff in the next few days, so I don’t know if that will really happen.

I’m meditating every night, mostly with the help of this cat.

Not help. She hasn’t whacked me for a while though…wait, that’s a lie. She scratched me two days ago because I dared to carry her past the little dog for her breakfast.

Yesterday’s walk almost didn’t happen. I finished making lasagne and then decided to walk.

Which is why I actually ate dinner at 9:22 PM. Not the smartest. Ah well. Routine is not my friend during summer.

This was me at pilates on Wednesday when the instructor told us we could do whatever we wanted with the balls we’d been using during class. Hmm. I did not throw it. I just thought really hard about why I was an adult and shouldn’t throw it.

Hey! There’s the girlchild.

Great picture. Love that face. Boston looks good too.

OK. I need more caffeine. And a shower. And to pick up a library book. Because I don’t have enough books to read. Plus make art. And check off about 20 things off the to-do list. By the end of the week, they freakin’ accumulate and I can’t handle it any more. Check check check. Plus tune out the neighbor woman behind me yelling at her screaming children. I’m thinking the ones below me must be at camp or something, because it is surprisingly quiet down there, except there’s the new house being built two properties below that, so there is NEVER NOT hammering going on except when it’s dark. Hallelujah for sending kids to camp though. I think I need to win some money and buy a second home somewhere with a massive amount of property, away from people and roads and builders and everything but nature. I would really appreciate the shit out of that space, but it would have to be real close…like up in our mountains, because otherwise I would never have time to go there. I could have a second studio there with a separate stash of fabrics, yeah? So I wouldn’t have to haul shit up there all the time. It could be the OTHER project that I only work on when I’m there. OR…get a little trailer and drive all over the US during breaks and make art in the trailer in campsites all over. Yeah. Both of those.

Good Wontons

My to-do list is still long, but it’s all house- and yard-related…and art. All good things and/or things that need doing. Calling an electrician is on my list for today. Not my favorite thing to deal with, but we’ve accumulated some electrical needs over the last year and I think it’s time. Installations and replacements…need to get done. We’re also rearranging the plant material on the deck and adding some new shelves to try to block more of the neighbors’ pool and kid noise. Probably not really possible to block the noise, but I want to try. But it means I need a lot more plants and smaller or shallower pots for the shelves. I’m starting by looking around my own property…I have lots of empty pots lying around and just need to find, move, add dirt, and locate plants. There’s plenty of work that needs doing…just trimming and weeding would take tons of time…add in planting and moving shit around. I also need to clean out my closet this summer. Really not looking forward to that. Everyone I know did it during COVID, but I didn’t feel motivated. I don’t really feel motivated now, except that I need more room and there’s only one way to get that. Get rid of stuff! Not a bad plan.

Last night was the first one with an empty house again…boychild at his dad’s, man on the trail. Just me and three cats, who were surprisingly quiet. Right now, one of them, Ms. Adventurous, is kamikazing through my fabric in the office as I type, tryna make trouble. The dogs aren’t here yet, so she’s just exploring. For Luna, exploring means knocking stuff over. This room needs organization and cleanup for sure. I have a remodeling plan for this room, and I technically could afford to do it this summer, but I’m not dealing with remodeling this year. Maybe next summer. It needs a new floor and shelves and the wallpaper gone and the popcorn ceiling gone. Lots of work. The work is moving everything OUT of the room (oh god) and then moving it back in. Terrifying thought. Not one I can handle this year.

So artwise, I have a list that I have kept copying over and over, every day, into my bullet journal since my machine had to go into the shop in March. I was on a roll and then I wasn’t. Then I had a deadline and everything else got pushed out of the way. One of the things that got pushed was this little commission…this is the one my machine died on.

All it needed was the quilting and a finish. So I finished the quilting on Monday night…

And I trimmed it and finished the edge as well…I just need a hanging device on the back and a little label, and it’s done.

There are two more here that are in various stages that need finishing…one at the quilting stage and one at the stitchdown stage. So that’s one of my goals for this week. Not necessarily finishing them, but progressing on them at least.

Then obviously I’m working on the next deadline…

It’s another climate change quilt. I’m a little obsessed, I guess. It’s also pollution and general human wastage of the land.

But because of the design, I need to keep all the colors muted. This is very hard for me.

I have to keep reminding myself to put down the bright colors. There are some small sections that will be bright, but mostly this is a muted quilt. The pieces are small…so it doesn’t look like much. I’m actually not sure how far I am, because I keep pulling from later bins. I know I’m in the 100s, but have ironed a chunk of 200s, 300s, and even a few 400s. It’s looking good so far, at least in my mind.

Kitten likes to sleep in the green fabric drawer.

No, that’s not the only green fabric drawer. There are way too many green fabric containers.

Kitten basically follows me wherever I go. This is when I was reading on the couch.

She’s kneading the blanket. She’s very happy.

The other two are adjusting to their dad being gone again.

They’re back to sleeping with me at night and finding me for food reminders. Hey lady! Feed me. Pet me.

We also walked the little dog…

It was hot. You can tell by his tongue shadow. More of that to come, I’m sure. We leave the old lady behind. She likes walks but can’t go very far.

It’s summer, so it’s all about exercise. Here was my second trip to the gym since March 2020.

It’s nice. I missed it. Yes, I’m still wearing a mask. Don’t trust people or variants. So yeah, my exercise plan for the summer is gym, pilates, and hiking. All good.

And on Monday, the boychild and I made one of my favorite meals, time-consuming as all hell.

Can you guess which pan I did and which pan the boychild did? Hint: I’m not neat at anything I do.

They taste good either way. And I get about 4 meals out of my batch. Totally worth it. I just don’t generally have time for it during the school year. Tomorrow, I’m doing lasagne from scratch…same deal. Lots of time in it, but tastes so good. And then I can freeze it and eat it on those nights when I’m the only one here. Maybe not ALL those nights, but some of them.

Good stuff.

OK, it’s late morning now. I did eat and do some stuff this morning…not that I remember what I did, but I did it! I’m still in recovery mode, y’all. It takes at least a week after school gets out before I relocate my brain and start to function well. I have more errands today and even book club tonight. More ironing of fabrics will happen, more reading, more quilting hopefully, and more plant-related stuff. All trying to remember what it looks like to NOT be an incredible stress monkey because of my day job. The last year completely burnt out my brain. I need a break. Planting things and fixing things and ironing things and sewing things…all help. So do good wontons.

Y’all Can See the Rainbows…

No Zoom teaching ever again. Or at least not for a super very monstrous long time, yeah? I spent yesterday afternoon taking the workstation apart…monitor from the district back in a box (they didn’t give us one until March 2021), extra computer unplugged and divested of my identity, all the school paperwork and notebooks and detritus shoved into my car, packed up, with the bag of extra frogs for dissection next year. All of it. Gone. I was at school by 7:30 AM, had my shit all put away in a variety of random places I will promptly forget before August…I’m gonna have to pull everything out anyway…and back home by 8:45 with a bag of candy for kid rewards and water for me. I packed up all the kid rewards for competitions they won and they are ready to go to the post office. I’m waiting on two Patreon emails to follow through on that task. I read my book for about an hour. Just sat my ass down on the couch with a cup of tea and read dammit. Didn’t worry about what I wasn’t grading or prepping. Didn’t freak out over some parent or kid email. Didn’t look behind me and see the document camera or the pile of school-related art supplies or my grading notebook. All FUCKING GONE. Yeah. I need this to be my home, my art workspace, but not my school workspace. For at least 8 weeks. I’ve never needed to say Fuck You to a school year so badly.

Sigh. Yeah. Brings tears to my eyes just to think about it. Too many kids, too much nonexistent curriculum. Onwards to summer!

I’m going to make art and do some yardwork and some house stuff. Mostly make art. Exercise. Read books. Hike. I set my reading goal for this year at 45 books for the whole year, but with the man gone, I have been reading a lot more. So I’m almost at the annual goal, but there’s 6 months left. I’m OK with that. I’m even almost OK with him leaving to hike again on Monday. He’s going to love the next section, I think. I hope. And I have some plans to meet him along the way. So that is the closest I get to a vacation away from here…and that’s OK. For now.

And drawing…I miss drawing. Damn. Need to draw.

And sleep. I need sleep. More of it. No more 6:15 AMs. Well, there will be a few…there always are. But a few is better than ALL the days. Wow! This summer feels so much better than last summer…although I will miss having the man around. Lots. Saturdays will be weird. I did sign up for a hike with my local group though…first one since just before COVID hit. Looking forward to it. Looking forward to lots of things.

Ah. Deep breaths.

So I straight up didn’t get much done last night…just cut out like 5 pieces of Wonder Under.

OK, maybe 10. I was exhausted. Calli was a big help. Ha! Not.

The night before, I was working on finishing up all the Patreon rewards…I hooped them, then backed them with felt. So I sewed 3 of them Wednesday night and 2 of them last night…oh yeah, I had school for the whole morning, playing games and watching videos with my advisory kids and another class. Then the end-of-year school party, where I saw people I hadn’t seen in 8 or 10 or even 16 months. And then I had a stitching meeting and that’s when I finished the other 2 hoops. Braindead, y’all. Totally and completely braindead. It’s normal! It’ll take me a week to find my brain again. It’s OK. It happens every year.

And my niece released another song last night…

It’s on iTunes and Spotify and probably other places…more of a pop influence on this one than the last two? Maybe? I’m glad she’s found this way to express herself…it’s a good thing to have. Check her out!

And here’s the finished Patreon rewards…whatever doesn’t get sent to a patron goes on Etsy…I’ll let you know.

They’re all 6″ hoops. I am reminded (again) that embroidery takes longer than quilting. And quilting isn’t fast, although this method is faster than what I normally do.

I have some other hoops that have been waiting a long time to be finished too…they are bigger, but will make it on Etsy soon enough. Clearing stuff out! Crossing stuff off! Feeling lighter and freer! Or something.

OK. I need to eat some lunch. Not rushing to do it in between Zooms! Not at 11:05 in the morning! Oh yeah. Teacher on break. Y’all can see the rainbows around me, can’t you?

Right Eyelid Is Twitching…

This is the last Friday of the school year. Well, the last Friday I have kids. I have to check out of school (ha ha ha, wow, might have already mentally done that, not really, because I’m still making stuff for next week and grades aren’t done) next Friday. I’m supposed to clean up my room, but I did that last year, so I guess I just have to make sure whoever’s been in there didn’t leave anything behind, plus drop off all my electronics and make people sign my paper about keys and shit. But TODAY is the last Friday I have students on Zoom. Hopefully EVER. Seriously. Zoom. Ugh. I need a long long long break from teaching, from creating curriculum from scratch with zero help from my district, from sitting in that chair that won’t even stay in the right position any more, because I’ve been sitting in it 5 days a week for a solid healthy chunk of the last 16 months. UGH.

I’m exhausted, but I always am. It feels more exhausted than usual, but that probably doesn’t matter. It feels more emotional than usual, but so has the entire year. I have grades almost done for 2/5 classes. The other 3 will be done by Tuesday. I have a lot going on before that, but I’m going to do my best to get them done quickly.

As you can see, I’m writing end-of-year quiz things and only have half my brain working.

I finished the science one on Wednesday; art is taking me longer. Harder to write those questions, because we didn’t so much study content as technique, and that’s harder to ask a question about with one right answer. So I’m getting there. I need them by Monday. It will be fine.

At the end of the day, I reward myself with artmaking…the drawing got done on Wednesday night…

And then I numbered it.

627 pieces for a quilt this small is a little crazy. Oh well.

At least the pieces are small, right?

And yes, that’s blood on the drawing. I have an owie on my elbow that won’t heal because I keep leaning on it. Maybe when I’m done teaching it will have time to heal up.

Last night, I started tracing the Wonder Under.

Yeah, I’m exhausted, but I feel better if I’ve done something non-school-related every day. Besides watering the plants and feeding the animals. So I do this. This stage is pretty brainless, which is good, because I don’t have much of a functional brain right now.

I had my Zoom stitching meeting last night and worked on (and fucked up on) this…

It’s OK…I didn’t read the instructions right so I’m stitching bullion knots over something I already stitched. No biggie. I did consider not stitching over what I’d done, but the bullions are a stronger line and it needs it.

It’s not the first time I’ve misread the instructions because I was tired and/or doing something else at the same time.

I also did the stitchdown and quilting on the Patreon rewards…

There’s 4 quilted ones and at the moment, one embroidered one.

I decided to quilt them with a layer of batting, but then had a brain fart moment about the batting in a hoop.

But my stitching group had a pretty obvious answer…obvious now that they say it…not so obvious before, because I had set my brain in Search Mode and it still hadn’t come up with an answer.

Anyway, I didn’t have the guts to attempt it last night (too tired, had to make dinner still), so tracing Wonder Under was the much easier option. They will get done next week though.

Wednesday night sky…

And Simba being cute…

His job is to let me pet him when I’m stressed. Which is often at the moment.

OK. Exhausted is still here, despite a full cup of tea in me. Not sure when it will be gone. Today is the last frog dissection too. At least I get to DO something in class instead of just waiting for questions. Teaching online has not been fun. Do not recommend. But please don’t tell me I didn’t do anything this year. I spent more time on my school job this year than I ever have in a million years of teaching, and I’m done. Totally done.

Well. Except I have to get through today and four days next week. Right eyelid is twitching. Uh huh. Friday. It’s Friday.