Karma Police, Arrest This Man*

February 16, 2018

I didn’t write about the school shooting in Florida yesterday because I couldn’t deal with it. When I first saw the news, it was calling the 17 people injured, which changed later to dead. I had to read the headline 5 times until it sunk in, because before they were injured…now they were dead. Nothing has changed up top though. No one is listening. If you have a gun and you’re not using it to keep bears off your property or some other similar problem (no, that doesn’t count for immigrants or people of color, assholes…you don’t get to use them on people unless you’re a cop AND you have a really good reason that will hold up in court and it doesn’t have anything to do with shit you imagined was there or happening), then please give it up so we can send YOU our thoughts and prayers about how you will possibly be able to exist without your weapon, rather than how those 17 families will possibly be able to exist without their child or father or mother or whatever.

New work from Kathy Nida

I didn’t read any articles or watch any videos about it until last night (when I wrote this), when I had finished grading, because honestly, it’s the one thing that might make me leave teaching, the thought that some idiot might come on campus and kill a bunch of kids, even that the one idiot might be one of my ex-students, still irritated that they earned an F for doing no work. It’s not fear for me (although that is there), but fear that their anger would reach out to other people on campus, that other kids or adults would die because the kid was angry at me. It’s not just the dead bodies…it’s those you left behind filled with fear as well, fear to come to school, fear about the people around you.

At my first teaching job, 9 days in, that’s what happened. A kid brought a gun to school to kill the teacher who “gave” him an F. We don’t give Fs. You earn them. Just like some kids earn As, Bs, etc. And no, I don’t think the grades themselves are the problem. I think the problem is that often kids don’t see themselves as producers of anything. At some point, they will need to work. They need all the skills and practice they can get, but they need to put time into that. Right now, as I’m grading a major project that they had 9 days to complete, I’m seeing a lot of that inability to complete. The lack of connection from work product to grade. It’s frustrating. We need to teach them to think, but they also need to believe that thinking is important. And yes, it’s incredibly difficult sometimes to get a 12-year-old to care about that product if their own life has a significant amount of suckage or drama or if support is lacking.

So yeah, I guess if I’m going down in a blaze of gunfire, it will be either protecting my students from some dick with a gun or because I “gave” someone an F. That’s a motivator to inflate grades, I guess. Anyone ever think that one through? And then you have more kids applying to college who can’t read, write, or do math of any sort. Doesn’t look good on the job front. Honestly, they need to be able to problem solve more than any of that, and that’s where the kids seem to lose their brains sometimes. Sigh.

I hate my government and the politicians who are refusing to solve this problem. I don’t hate a lot of things. Well, I hate chocolate because it makes me throw up. I hate asshole drivers, although maybe if they’re not in their bigass vehicles trying to shove their shiny metal grill up your ass, maybe just maybe they are kind and gentle people who don’t throw their cigarettes out the window. It’s possible. But I really really hate every single politician out there who is refusing to listen to that kid from Florida who was on campus during the shooting: You’re the adults. We’re just kids. Why can’t you solve this?

Short Answer: We can. If we don’t want all these mass shootings, we have to look at the gun control laws in place in ALMOST EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Yeah. That.

Sigh. Such a big sigh. I guess I can’t ignore the bad and ugly for long.

Anyway, so I graded stuff last night…this project requires me to watch a 3- to 5-minute-long video for every kid (that might have been a mistake)…but it’s OK, because 50 kids didn’t even do the video and of the other 80, about half did less than 3 minutes. I can’t say it’s the most exciting thing in the world to grade, but I multitask and grade other things while I’m watching. I finished one period yesterday and had grades ranging from a perfect score to an 11/65. It is what it is. I have on my calendar to do one period a day (well, I put 4th and 6th together, because 6th is tiny). I’ll be done Sunday hopefully. Grades are due in a few weeks, so I have to get control of this. Because my core job is teaching kids…not protecting them from political insanity.

Unfortunately, just making a quilt doesn’t stop that shit.

I did iron a bit yesterday…wait, before I did that, I did some binding sewing on the piece that’s been lying around…I ate dinner (alone). Yesterday I ate lunch alone, had my prep period alone and came home and hung out alone and there was a lot of alone, except for all the shooting crap in my head. It was not a good thing.

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I still have a lot of binding to do. This weekend? Maybe.

As you can see, I am not allowed in my own chair. Oh. And I’m still managing to keep a weekly journal of the shit I need to do, the shit I got done, and the shit I keep moving to the next day on the off chance that it might get done. I do get to use color pens to do it though, so it’s totally worth it.

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I actually had to write a proposal statement for one art show, and then I got into another art show, so I had to organize my calendar for that. I honestly keep losing a week of February (isn’t it over yet???). I guess that’s a good thing. Because I have a week I think I didn’t have? I guess.

So I did finally get to ironing. It was late. And then I was tired. I did some hair and some other thing and then got stymied by eye color. So I’m waiting on an email from the mom about eye color, but honestly, I could have kept going on the ironing. I was just too tired to do it. It’ll get done. Hopefully tonight.

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The pile that needs to be cut out…

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Seriously, there’s so little left to iron…although there’s more under the box to the left. I was too tired even to unearth those for the photo. It’s not a lot. It was just too many decisions on color. Hard to do that when you’re really tired.

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Here’s the other piece that will be in a show in March through May: We Won’t Go Back

It’s a local show down in San Ysidro, Dia de la Mujer. Cool stuff. I have about a million openings coming up in March and April. This is not a bad problem to have, surely.

So I’m going to go to school now and wonder about the sanity of some of my failing students, whether they would be the one to come to school and shoot up the classroom. I’m going to look at some of the kids who I just referred for counseling (actually, I’m not…because they don’t worry me…it’s the angry ones who worry me…). I’m going to keep on teaching them to think, best I can. I’m going to hold them accountable for their work, best I can. I’m going to continue to care about their minds, their hearts, their corporeal presence on this earth, best I can. Even the assholes. And some of them are assholes…but they’re kids, so I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they will grow up to be less than assholes. And I’m going to keep voting. And telling others to vote. Seriously, you need to vote the assholes out. All of them. Every single one.

*Radiohead, Karma Police


I Was Feeling Part of the Scenery*

October 14, 2017

I totally forgot that I have two quilts at PIQF this weekend…so go check them out. They are part of the Threads of Resistance exhibit…

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Thanks to Ellen November for the photo…she confirmed that they are not hidden away as well. The Mancusos are kind of used to me I guess. I wanted to go up for this show, but this month is a crazy asshole and that’s not happening.

Speaking of crazy assholes…

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So last night, I was ready to sew the binding on, and I realized I had an issue on the back. I should have cut the backing bigger than I did…oh well. So I thought about how to deal with this…because honestly, it’s on the back, so who’s gonna care.

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The quilt police and I are not on speaking terms.

I put the miles of binding on…

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And then the sleeves…and added a little piece of the background fabric under the sleeve, into the binding seam, so it would cover the small piece that would show.

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No one is gonna know…I’ll hand stitch it down while I’m sewing the binding and sleeves down. Problem solved!

Then I went to watch that band I always watch. Crashed their event, bought a glass of wine, then mooched the second one (the table I was sitting at was totally empty). And started drawing. Damn, I miss drawing. Need to shove that into my schedule. I keep saying it and it doesn’t happen.

The wildfires in Northern California are on my mind…

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I try to stay out of the newsfeeds, but stories about animals being rescued or still being there after everything burned, or old couples holding onto each other in swimming pools all night. Aargh. The fires aren’t fully contained, evacuations are still happening, the death toll will surely rise. So freakin’ sad.

And I have 17 errands to run, 3 hours (at least) of hand sewing, and at least 5 hours of grading to do. There we are.

*Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill


She’s a Bad Mama Jama*

October 13, 2017

Well. Some days one’s plans do not follow one’s plan. It is what it is. I’m grateful that I’m not in the middle of hurricane wreckage or fire danger. Although I keep looking at the sky for some evidence of fire…must be training after the last two big fires down here. There are so many disasters at the moment that it’s hard to know what to support, where to send whatever it is one can send. I did just add wildfires to the next quilt list of ideas. Certainly the amount of plant growth we had in the last year because of all the rain might have been a factor in how out of control these fires were. Although if these were human-set fires, that’s a whole ‘nother level of crazy with which I can’t deal. Humans are pretty fucked-up creatures.

So with all the fuckedupedness swirling around in my brain (that IS a word), I left school yesterday to buy binding fabric for this quilt. It didn’t take long to find one that worked…and a few others, because I like fabric. You might have noticed.

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The bottom one is the binding. The top one is sloths. I have no need for sloth fabric. Except sloths. Yes. So that explains a small portion of my stash. And now that I have the orange fabrics home, I think I already have the top one. Sigh.

So I was supposed to come home, eat, and go to the gym, and that all fell to hell at some point. So I graded shit for about 3 hours…well, and dealt with union stuff. I’m pretty sure there was something else I was supposed to do, but whatever. Sometimes that’s just the way shit works out. I think I figured I’d rather grade all that stuff LAST night than tonight. Although I will probably still grade tonight. The never-ending spew of assignments that need attention. The plus is that when I personally counsel kids, they turn shit in. The minus is the spew of emails and stuff that needs 7 clicks to access instead of 1 because it was late.

Anyway, this happened around 10 PM…I hate trimming quilts. It’s a pain in the ass. Some part of me just wants to hack haphazardly at the edges and come what may. And then the ordered part of my brain that wants the focus on the image, not the edges, comes in with the rotary cutter, kneels down on the floor at 10 PM, and carefully cuts, straightens, and measures until it’s square. Not square in shape, but sides perpendicular and square edges.

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She’s about 62 x 67″ I think now, finished. The plan tonight is to get the binding on. And email the photographer? I know I want to ink this one too. We’ll see how far I get tonight…I might have another plan that keeps me from getting far on this.

So this year at school…we did a lot of planning last year. This year, we’re tweaking stuff. That means supplementing some of last year’s stuff so we can make sure kids understand the concepts. We were lucky to get a big chunk of money last year for materials and equipment…and we’re making sure we use it. So today, we’ll be doing a demo with some elements, showing the kids some of the physical and chemical changes that can happen to certain types of elements.

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And we made a video (well, my coteacher is putting all the clips together into a video) so the kids who were absent can watch what happened…so the workload is still pretty hefty at the moment. In fact, the next unit barely exists, because we didn’t need to teach it to last year’s kids…they got it in 6th grade. So we need to make that happen somehow. I can’t say it’s easier than last year…well, maybe it is, but it’s still pretty time-consuming. I can tell you that dropping acid on metal is fun and so is hitting charcoal with a hammer. I do have a strange job some days. From personal counseling of about 50 kids to hammering elements.

OK. Thinking good (although mostly useless) thoughts about Northern California…and Puerto Rico (because the president won’t)…and everyone who is losing health insurance and Las Vegas, damn the gun people, and anyone else who is staring at their news feed like I am and wondering why. At least it’s Friday. Peace out my loves. But first, this might help…

*Carl Carlton, She’s a Bad Mama Jama


I Never Felt So Much Alike*

October 12, 2017

Hello morning. You are way too dark and you came too early. Ha. Ha ha. Oh dear, my head is not pleased with the lack of sleep. It will have to deal…because…I finished quilting! It was (apparently) loud and fast, but a little over 2 hours later, I was done with the background and all the weird little spaces and the one bit of outlining I missed and the green of the chalkboard. It took a little over 13 hours to quilt the whole thing…less than I thought, but I think that’s because I really did try to reduce the detail in this one to get it done in time.

I was successful. Good to know.

Working on the eyeball still. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I finish the sclera. Maybe just sew flowers all around it.

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We’ll see. Ha. Ha ha. Eyeball. Get it? See? Yeah. Brain. Thanks. My early morning brain is a punny teenager.

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Even Midnight doesn’t think it’s funny. Sometimes she gives me these looks while I’m quilting and I think I’ve greatly offended her. This is one of those looks.

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Really it was just a lot of beige on beige.

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I think that’s the first beige quilt I’ve ever done.

I had a few of these little filler spaces to go back and quilt. The last fiddly bits are always the biggest pain in the ass.

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The back. The light color is the chalkboard, which I didn’t quilt tightly at all. It needed some quilting, but not a lot. The crazy stuff on the right is quilting around the atom model.

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I laid it out for binding measurements and to do a rough check that I hadn’t missed some totally obvious thing I was supposed to quilt.

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The sucker is big…currently about 70×65″…but it will trim down a bit.

I’m not uber-fussy about the quilting. Some people are into very tight quilting, but it’s usually part of their finished image, how they want it to look. I want the fabric to be the image…the quilting works as a drawing line with the outlining, and then to make the background recede…and to hold the damn thing together…but I’m not a fancy quilter. I don’t think my quilts need it.

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There’s the atom from the front. I was lucky and had a green thread that worked well with both greens of the chalkboard.

Today I buy binding fabric and get the binding sewn on so I can do the handwork. That’s going to take about a million years and I have so much grading to do still. Ugh. Oh well. I will be getting it done this weekend. I should email the photographer, right? And then start trying to mentally process the next big one…the due date is a while out, but it’s a big one, so I need to be realistic. Whatever that means. Because I’m a little crazy when it comes to making these sometimes. I do love making them though…even when it hurts to look at them. That’s probably a good thing.

*The Clash, London Calling


I’d ‘a Danced Like the Queen of the Eyesores*

October 8, 2017

I didn’t write yesterday because I fell asleep Friday night while grading and then got up Saturday and kept grading. No art. Just trying to catch up. Not doing a great job of it. I did finally get to quilting at some point last night…and into the morning. I’m planning on doing today slightly differently. For one thing, I can’t go to sleep at 1:30 AM on a school night.

I lie. I CAN. But I shouldn’t. In fact, for about a year, I did just that. It was bad.

Grading meant cats lying on my stuff. It was hot yesterday, close to 100 degrees. Southern California sucks at Fall weather.

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Then he moved to the notebook. Because I was obviously using it, so lying on it made sense. I picked up his head to put papers under it a few times…

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This one was polite and just laid upon the graded paper pile. Although then I had to extend the pile past her because she was already lying on it.

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I realized I hadn’t touched this in days, so I did 4 nights’ worth…basically finishing the iris of the eye and starting on the white part…

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I keep trying to use a more sketch-like way of stitching, but I’m inherently ordered in how I stitch I guess.

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Then I made it into the quilting space around 10:30 PM…on a day when I had nothing but errands to do. Well. And grading. I was trying to get to a certain point. I did not. I gave up. Interestingly, here’s when I do all my work…after 9 PM.

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Still debating this app. It might work. If I can remember what each icon is for. Plus at some point I’ll probably have to pay to have enough tasks…we’ll see. I don’t think this is one of the ones that charges monthly. I don’t need that level of tracking. And the last one I paid for disappeared with the new iOS…I’m still salty about that.

I’m still outlining stuff…I’ll be doing that for a while.

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That’s a fun heart. I want to do one like that again…much more decorative than in the old days. My hearts really have changed over the years.

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The eyes haven’t changed much…there’s only so many ways to make an eye. That’s not true. That might be a challenge. Huh. I need drawing time. Seriously need it.

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I did her torso and the head, except for half of the hair. I still need to do the other arm, but I’ll do the chalkboard first. I meant to buy thread for the chalkboard when I got the background thread, but I forgot. I’m hoping there’s something in my pitiful stash so I don’t have to go back to JoAnns this close to Halloween. Damn.

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I could have gone to bed at midnight…that’s about when I started quilting the head. But I didn’t. I kept going. I wasn’t tired.

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It’s kind of boggling how much time some of this takes.

My plan for today is to finish up the school stuff that I have to do and then start quilting. I’d like to get the outlining done today. I don’t know if I can, but that’s my goal. Then I can do background quilting all week and hopefully make time somewhere to go buy binding fabric and get it bound early next week. It’s taking too long. It’s not really…I was drawing in mid-August…and basically I’ve worked on it solidly, almost every day, since then. While working full time. But it’s taking up a lot of space in my head. Certainly last night while quilting the path that bullets would take through the head…you can only think about that shit so much before your brain gets tied up in knots.

In other news, the girlchild has been accepted to a school program in Madagascar…you know, where the outbreak of plague is. Yeah. Exciting stuff, but a bit scary for all of us. She’ll have an awesome experience…just getting there will take her two full days. But very cool opportunity…

OK. Work briefly and then quilt until I have to stop…

*The Shins, New Slang


I Wanna Shut the Door and Open Up My Mind*

October 6, 2017

So the only way I know the kids are alive is when they text me. That’s fine…but I can tell the girlchild is buried in schoolwork because all I see of her are her Likes on Instagram. And the boychild will respond to pictures of potential coyote poop and junk mail. I guess the girlchild liked the cute ferret video. I think. I guess all that is good…they responded when I asked about flying them home. It’s just been a real quiet week…

My students are doing a superhero project…some are worried about the drawing part. I don’t know why. Here’s what I drew for them.

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They’re obsessed with the perfect body superheroes. I’m like…why? Dorky kid superheroes!

I made apple crisp this week…because I knew I’d need it. Comfort food. Apple crisp for breakfast is perfectly acceptable. No it’s not. But it’s what’s for breakfast today.

I started quilting last night…late…I had my stitching meeting first. I didn’t get much done…head and tail tufts on the elephant, and then the start of turkey work (guided by Julie, I started making them much tighter) on these, which are apparently cattails. Or is it catails. No. That looks wrong.

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I didn’t even photograph the head and tail tufts. It’s gonna be a rough day. Brain appears to be offline.

Midnight was incredibly interested in the quilting.

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So interested that she left 5 minutes later. I didn’t quilt a lot…just the dirt. I was tired. It was late. Manhandling a quilt at 11 PM after a long day is not easy. Plus I had a tweaked spot in my right hand. Not sure from what…turkey work? Pulling the needle? The gym? It still hurts this morning, although not as much. Inside the hand…probably more stupid arthritis. I have arthritis in one of my feet. Sigh. Old age.

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My weekend is kind of laid out for me: about 5 errands, not desperate mostly. Lots of quilting. Lots of grading.

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Yup. Très exciting. This thing will not quilt fast, that’s for sure. I did already buy the thread for the background quilting. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like a bad weekend, except for all the grading. I expected to get more done in class this week with the kids working on an independent project, but they haven’t been very independent. That’s unfortunate. I will need to bust my butt a little bit this weekend instead.

But first I need to get through Friday at school. Ugh. I’m really not in the mood. More loud music needed.

*Linkin Park, Runaway

 


You Understand They’ve Got a Plan for Us*

October 5, 2017

I’m realizing this week that I’m not coming home and doing schoolwork. I’m not grading assignments. I’m not being a responsible teacher person. I’m behind and need to get caught up, but I’m not doing it. I will. But this project is driving me. I need it done and out of my head and at the photographer’s so I don’t have to think about it, see it, feel it any more. Plus I’m going a little bonkers because my co-conspirator in furry beast maintenance is not here this week and said furry beasts are being more than a bit demanding.

So yesterday I went to the gym. That was good. I read. I exercised. I zoned out in exercise brain. It’s a good thing.

And then I came home, peed the dogs (which currently requires a couple of leashes and a flashlight due to coyote incursions and massive spider webs), then started part of dinner, showered, came out and checked the timer on the food (16 minutes) and cleaned the entryway floor for later artistic shenanigans. It might be the only way that floor gets cleaned regularly, honestly, because it’s never high on my list. Finally food was ready and I ate and read some more. I do love to read.

Then I had no choice but to get in here and get this thing sandwiched. Huge as it is, this was gonna be a pain.

Iron backing. Trim selvages. Cut in half. Sew halves together. Iron some more. Trim excess off.

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Lay it upside down on the now-clean entryway floor (barely fits). Tape it down as flat as possible (replacement floor in here should be tile…but bigger tiles and less obvious grout).

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Try to figure out how much batting to cut by laying the top out on the chunk of batting I found over the weekend. Cut batting a bit larger than the top.

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See seriously sleeping dog.

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Lay batting out. Iron quilt top and lay it out on top. Try to get it straight. Wish I cut the backing a bit larger to make that easier. Duh.

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Stare at it for a bit. Realize it’s after 11 PM and you will need to finish pinning before you can go to bed. Accidentally spill all the pins onto the quilt. Not what you meant to do.

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Start pinbasting. Look at this view. Disturbing.

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That dog. Seriously.

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Then this one…he’s never seen me do this before. All the cats have an interesting relationship with my quilts. This one wouldn’t listen when I told him to get off.

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The cats never do listen.

This one has learned to stand at the edge and woof at me. Wait. That’s not a cat. And you saw the other dog. Totally ignores me.

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Pinbasted by midnight. Ready for quilting. Getting close to the end. Closer anyway. I don’t kid myself…quilting and binding this sucker is going to take a while. No shortcuts on that part.

I head for bed. Kitten. You need to move.

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I’m tired this morning. And none of the grading got done. Oh well. I worked for 3 hours last night on that quilt. Sometimes that amazes me. I worked all day in the classroom, went to a meeting after school, the gym for almost 2 hours, and then 3 hours of artmaking. I really wanted to sit and watch some light TV and draw with a glass of wine last night after all that kneeling and crawling around on the floor, but then I looked at the clock and it was almost midnight…so I went to bed anyway. Probably the smarter thing to do, but I still want that other time. Maybe tonight? Or not. That really is the part of the balance I haven’t been able to slot in. Teachers. Silly teachers. Always talking about balance and never achieving it. Sigh.

*Big Data, Dangerous