Wish You Were Here*

January 16, 2018

Well I’ve been up (awake) since 5 AM. Hot flashes, worry about the girlchild’s trip and forgetting something, money (of course)…timing’s all wrong on this trip. Usually I can pay college a little bit at a time. This is more like pay a lot right now and later you won’t have to. But you have to get to later. We’re not there yet. Boychild leaves tomorrow. Girlchild doesn’t leave until Monday, but we spent a good chunk of time yesterday shopping for her trip (and some for the boychild…he’s still in need of clothing). So I’ve been wide awake, hoping for sleep, for more than 2 hours. Guess that’s a done deal, eh?

Straight up, this weekend was a clusterfuck for getting stuff done for me. I guess that’s not surprising, considering we’re trying to get a kid outfitted for 4 months in Madagascar. It’s just a lot of details. I can’t even figure out the travel plugs. I think it requires a degree in physics. Or something more than what I have. Same with the phone. Oh well…it will all work out one way or another. It always does. I wish I could tell the part of my brain that was awake and worrying at 5 AM that. But it doesn’t listen.

Anyway, most of it isn’t crucial. I sent the drawing off for approval and have that, tentative for a few days on one piece of it. An easy piece. So that’s cool. It means I can do the fun stuff now. Well, I’ll start numbering and tracing Wonder Under with final approval, and until then, I have other things to work on…as always. Here she is…

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About 34 x 41″ for the image…so it will be about 44 x 51″ final…maybe a little smaller. That’s exactly the size I was aiming for, so that’s good. Keeping track of quilt processes for years is sometimes useful.

Awww…doggies. Girlchild is the only one who lets them sleep all night with her. They will be sad when she leaves.

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Yeah, well, this is the 2nd time in the last month that a tent has been set up in the living room. Just a normal day here. This is one of the weirdest, but easiest tents to set up, luckily…because it’s flying (HOLY FUCK) 11,000 miles away. And then being set up in a tropical rainforest. OK. I’m not sure I wanted to know that number. But now I do. Eleven-hour time difference too.

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Girlchild is ready.

Here’s the disaster that was packing the backpack…and she’s not done. But I think she has enough bandaids. And we figure some stuff, even if she doesn’t use it, she can leave it with host families. Apparently things like tampons and bandaids are great gifts. Seriously, when they tell you to bring enough tampons for your entire trip? Yeah. Well.

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I couldn’t handle much last night, but the last two nights, I’ve been stitching the last of the SJSA blocks down. I finished the first word with a backwards buttonhole stitch.

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It just sort of accidentally happened.

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This is Mr. Biteypants. He’s got an owie or two, and he keeps snarling and biting at anyone who tries to check the sores or scrapes or whatever they are. Even girlchild couldn’t get him to stop.

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Yes, I have school all week. No, I am totally NOT in the right mindset for it. I will be fine, though…today and tomorrow are easy. I mostly know what I’m talking about. I think we have to make a bathtub full of Oobleck tomorrow, but otherwise, things are fine. FINE. No really. They are. It’s amazing how stressful being a parent of adults is. You thought you survived babyhood and then middle school and teenagers and sending them off to college. But no. There’s more. It will be an awesome trip, though. I think she’ll have a great time, in between being totally overwhelmed. It’s a great experience to go off to a foreign country like this. I totally think all kids should have to do it, just for the world perspective alone. Although it’s pretty easy to figure out what other countries think of America right now. We’re sorry! Well, most of us are. Seriously. I don’t know how much more sorry I can be.

*Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

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I Know You Better Than You Fake It to See*

January 12, 2018

It’s Friday. Maybe you’ve noticed. Short weeks aren’t necessarily easier weeks (and the only short part was the part with the kids in it). And I’ve been blowing off schoolwork all week, so I’ll actually have to grade something this weekend. It’s three days. I guess I can do that.

My students are trying to figure out the difference between solids, liquids, and gases. Yesterday, I sat and listened to one class argue about whether liquids were wet or not…I like to just let them go sometimes. And this is where they went.

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I love that stuff. Chemistry is not my favorite subject to teach…I’m a life science person. But the new standards mean I don’t teach much of that. Chemistry is good for labs though and for making them question everything they know. Today we’ll continue with that. Fun stuff.

Still doing herringbone. Closer to done.

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So I enlarged the drawing I’ve been working on…I did it at 200% and 250%, because I wasn’t sure how big to make it. I generally do the larger, but I need to stay within a cost constraint on this one, so bigger becomes a time and cost issue. So I taped the 200% enlargement together, because it looked doable. Sometimes the pieces are way too small. I added space on the top and will need to add a little on the left side to center it…but even with that, I’m still looking at an image size of about 35″ x 43″…which is right where I want to be. So that’s good. Lots of water in the bottom of the piece…

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I still think I’m replacing that head. We’ll see. It’s not quite right.

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I have cut off and replaced heads more than once in the past.

I have to admit that I didn’t get much done last night. I was tired and did some cleaning, put the wrapping paper away, which meant reorganizing the whole damn closet (not a 5-minute project). And I tried to go to bed a little earlier. So I could have done more drawing, but more standing? Probably not. Long day. Another bunch of errands after school. Too much.

So when I went to bed, Kitten was on Calli’s bed. And Calli is too scared to lie down with her.

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Mommy. That thing has sharp points. So Calli lies down on the floor. Now I know Kitten will end up curled in bed next to me, so I tell Calli that. Sad face Calli.

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Kitten looks over at her even. She wouldn’t mind sharing the bed, but Calli won’t do it.

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Big Golden Retriever scared of a chubby little cat. Funny stuff.

So weekend plans: art openings and maybe the Star Wars movie and some gaming tonight and some sewing stuff down and finishing the drawing and maybe getting started on that quilt and hanging out with the kids and probably desperate crazy shopping for the girlchild’s trip. And grading. It’s a good thing I have three days, eh?

*Smashing Pumpkins, 1979


She’s Got a Carburetor Tied to the Moon*

January 11, 2018

Ah patience…I have so little of it at the moment. Probably related to sleep too. Each night it’s easier to fall asleep and stay there…mostly from exhaustion, I think. Better than the insomnia of earlier this week…or the crazy nightmares. Although watching Stranger Things and Fortitude before bed might not be the best choices. They definitely show up in the night.

Yesterday’s professional development could have been done on our own…seriously. Did not need help with that. Annoying. Plus I spent 20 minutes on our spy program (we can watch what the kids are doing on their computers) trying to get one class back on task. The class that had a guest teacher in there. A teacher who was supposed to be keeping them on task, off games and YouTube videos. So we’re gonna have a discussion today of job skills. How is what you did yesterday with the guest teacher in here gonna look on your resume? How will you explain your behavior to your boss? We’ll see how that goes. Sigh. Double sigh. Don’t pull me out of my class for stuff I can do on my own. I’m still irritated by the conversations we were having. I think people who aren’t in the classroom have no idea what some of us talk about all the time to our students.

ANYWAY. It’s not a shocker that certain parts of my job annoy me. I loved Tuesday when kids were first googling things like plasma and chemical reaction. I had interest then. Hopefully that will continue through all the labs etc. Enough for them to question what’s happening and try to figure out answers to problems.

I’m back in a routine of coming home, petting all the furry things, reading for a bit if there’s time (I’m trying to make time. I like to read.) or racing to exercise. Then dinner, whether I’m the cook or recipient…a bit of stitching after eating…and then art of some sort. I realize I will soon have to do some actual schoolwork during that time. I’m avoiding it this week. Seriously avoiding it. For as long as possible.

Routines are good for some things…they’re how I get art made almost every night. My brain is trained for that after-dinner thought…what am I gonna work on tonight? Now because I’m getting a little more tired every night, that gets harder as the week goes on. Last night, I was zoning out way too much…I didn’t start art until pretty late. But I started.

I did work on this after dinner…finished Want and started that giant J.

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More subtle herringbone. This one is so much easier to sew. I wish I’d started with it…I wouldn’t have procrastinated so much.

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I had couch companions…

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That kept changing…that one really wanted to be ON me, but 20 minutes of gentle persuasion put him over there. After he scared off all the dogs. Smallest animal in the house. Mostly benign, unless you’re prepping food in the kitchen. Then he’s like a food-seeking missile. Annoying.

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More slow drawing. I’m at the need-to-enlarge stage. Guess I’ll toss it in the car and see if I can find time for that after school.

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I’m having fun with the background I think. The non-human parts. There will be more…not a lot more…but a bit on either side, I think, and more up top. Enough to fit in a quote and some space stuff. Have you seen the new pictures of Jupiter? Pretty awesome stuff. Maybe this needs a Jupiter. A new discovery of something that’s been there all along. Definitely a sun and some stars. Yes, it’s a quilt about a kid who had scoliosis surgery, about all the metal in her spine now…but it’s also just about being in the world, being a part of it. The mom made a comment to me early on about how 100 years ago, her daughter would probably have been in a wheelchair…and this surgery allows her to do more of what she wants. Plus she got taller! I should figure out how to add that. I would love to get taller all of a sudden. I’d probably bump into things even more than I already do. Anyway…I wanted there to be a lot of joy in existence in this piece. Not heavy…but joy. Trying to get there. I’m actually considering redoing the head on the right. We’ll see. It’s bugging me, so I will probably have to do that.

Anyway, I can’t do that until I go to school for an early meeting today and then get through all the discovery stuff in classes and who knows what else is on my to-do list. I’m back to 4 or 5 reminder lists and calendars to make sure everything gets done daily. I just typed “enlarge dwg” on my calendar and it autocorrected to “enlarge dog”. I don’t need to enlarge the freakin’ dog. Then the kids come back tonight, although I won’t see them until tomorrow. Hopefully they had fun. One leaves next week and one the following week. I do miss them this week, even though the stress levels go up and at least one is cranky on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s me!

OK, early meeting. Prep for lab. School brain in place. Art brain go sit in a corner and ruminate for a while. You can come out later.

*Beck, The New Pollution


Well, You Don’t Know Me, But I Know You*

January 10, 2018

I think the puppy must be about to burst. He’s been refusing to pee since the rain started. On Monday. I carry him out and even put him under a tree, but no. He’s wide-eyed, trying to escape back to dry parts (aka the house). I think he must be voiding himself somewhere unknown, like while I wasn’t watching, he’s learned how to use the toilet and is just badmouthing me in his head as I put on his leash and try to persuade him out into the bushes. Luckily, the rain is supposed to stop today. It’s not like we didn’t need it…we just didn’t need it in such large amounts in a short period of time, as the mudslides north of here attest. Timing is everything.

So really, Simba’s problems are minor in the bigger picture. He’ll poop somewhere, sometime. That part is guaranteed.

Yesterday was the first day back with students. They were pretty zoned out by the end of the day. So were the teachers. We started a new unit, so I got to draw and color with them. It was probably all any of us could handle.

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I had tutorial after school, so I had exactly zero brain by the time I fought the weather home. I read for a bit even…the book club book for February is kinda big, so I started early for once. I don’t always make it to book club, but I always read the book.

Then I made dinner and did the stitching I usually do afterwards…just a little a night. This is a closeup of what I finished the night before…

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And last night. Not sure I have the right variegated thread for the last word. Maybe I’ll go balls out with a teal or pink. Who knows.

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Then I really wanted to finish ironing this smaller piece that’s been rolling around my art spaces for months now.

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It only took another hour or so…ironed everything down…

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Pulled a leftover piece of background I had lying around (that’s the plus with doing smaller pieces)…and ironed the whole thing down. Easy peasy.

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Now she’s ready to be stitched down…sometime later this week? Maybe.

Then back to the drawing board. A little slower last night…brainpower reduced by day job.

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Land…water…there’s going to be space above, but I need to enlarge the whole thing to do that…or maybe just copy the top and tape it to the next page? But with this one, I think I need to see the whole thing. We’ll see. More tonight. The work day will be shorter…so that should help. We have to sit through some professional development (again), so that’s annoying.

Anyway. I see progress, even if it’s small.

All the animals are missing my kids…who are visiting cousins in Seattle. They are so in my face this morning too, because they had company yesterday, but today, will be left again all day. I feel bad for them…wish I could take them to school, but that can’t happen…too many kids with allergies. Plus Calli would pee on them in her excitement. And Simba might bite someone, because he’s an antisocial dick sometimes. And the cats are pretty unpredictable with humans.

OK. This headache and I need to go to school now.

*Laurie Anderson, O Superman


Be My Very Own Constellation*

January 9, 2018

Well. I tried sleeping with the pillow over my head to shut the rain up (seriously, it’s not white noise to some of us) and then the wind picked up at 3 AM, so I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got around all that natural shit that we need to fall from the sky because drought. Always the drought. We’ve only had an inch of rain total (including last night) since July, so it really is a dry year…or a normal year, with last year as the crazy outlier. Half our students won’t show up today because of the weather, although a few little guys showed up yesterday…this is the first year we’ve started with kids on Tuesday instead of Monday. The district just wants us to have more and more professional development, and this is one of the ways they try to make it happen. It was good, because we got a lot of choice time instead of enforced crap…my coteacher and I did some planning and hopefully will get caught up. By June. Maybe.

And remember how I told you that school makes me more artistically efficient? I wonder if it’s because the non-art part of my brain is exhausted and dead when I get home, so the art part can run rampant. It really is about shutting that part up sometimes (just like I have to shut the art part up at school)…so I do think that is a factor. It’s OK…I’ll never be able to afford to retire, so I won’t have to worry about how I will make art when I’m old without the work distraction.

It was already starting to rain when I got home, but I knew the dogs needed exercise, so I leashed them up and literally dragged them out there. Well, the little one needed some significant persuasion. He kept looking back where he thought the dry car might be, and broke into a run at the end. The old lady does what she’s told. She gives me a look when it starts raining really hard, but otherwise, she’s just happy to be out there…

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It wasn’t too bad most of the way, but they were pretty wet when I got back…

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We did a short version, because it was raining pretty hard on the back end.

Puppy needed comfort from someone besides me when we got back.

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Mean old lady makes me go outside in this weather.

After that, I did a little ironing on this piece…there’s really no excuse for not getting it done. It’s small and easy. Nice filler when my brain isn’t quite ready for drawing.

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We’re watching one episode of Stranger Things a night with dinner…so when I finish eating, I’m working on the SJSA blocks until the episode finishes…this herringbone is going much faster than the buttonhole was…honestly, it’s not the stitch; this glue isn’t as hard to stitch through.

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This is what I finished the night before on whatever this is. Some bovine. I worked on it at my parents’…briefly.

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Then I went back to ironing after dinner.

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That’s where I quit…because I wanted to work on the drawing too…

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A totally different direction…there’s a world under them. I think I’m going to have to expand it a little at the top. But I think this is going to work. It was much easier to draw this…I don’t know why. Anyway.

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I’m hoping this one works out. I’ll finish drawing tonight, or as much as I can without extending it. I have a lot more stuff to put in it…of course! I like to fill space. You may have noticed that.

Anyway, let’s hope parents get their kids to school today, plus I survive it, so I can come home and iron a bit and draw a lot and sleep better than last night. I can do one shitty night, but two might hurt.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication


Wear Your Insides Out*

January 8, 2018

So yeah, I’m a teacher. I have to go back to school today, albeit without the students (here’s where I admit that I often like the students more than some of the other people I work with, although I do have an awesome team)…I had weird-ass nightmares all night, just freaky unrealistic stuff where I was running away, always trying to escape and save all the others (oh hey, like my job? Where saving is something we never CAN do, but always wish were in our toolbox…). All the nightmares were in this weird army green color and smelled strange and everything was damp and the car was never where you’d left it. I know there was a middle-of-the-night panic attack in there somewhere, and I finally got up and took something for the headache I developed in the middle of the crazy nightmare phase. It’s no wonder I feel a little beat up and out of it this morning. Plus I haven’t been up this early on purpose for the last three weeks. Ah, night owls…how the normal job world kicks your ass.

Yesterday was like all the Sundays from here until summer, honestly…get up, start doing shit, do shit until the end of the day, maybe collapse on the couch at some point after 9 PM, and then go to bed way too late, feeling like you got nothing done. Maybe it’s good to have this buffer day before we have the kids come back to school? I’m kinda cranky about it, but maybe it’s best.

Meanwhile, we’re supposed to get like an inch and a half of rain in the next two days…I turned the sprinklers off, but it could get bad…that’s more rain than I think we’ve had all season. Since July. Weird weather. (I looked it up. Since July 1, we’ve had 0.37″ of rain. So yeah…we’re supposed to get 4 or 5 times that before Wednesday.)

Anyway, the dyed fabric is still being washed out, so I can’t show you any of that yet, although I’m pretty excited about the two pieces of clothing I just tossed in there…I dyed the bottoms with blues and greens and then put the whole thing in a black bath, hoping the color would strike first and then the black would fill in…and it seems to have worked! Very cool looking. Plus I had some old linens that I dyed for stitching backgrounds. Or something. My hand is still a bit speckled…certainly my fingernails look like I’ve been dipping them in blood…always a nice look.

We made it to the parentals for dinner finally…first time since Christmas. Their dog loves all of us, but especially my kids…

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After I got everything put away when we got home (we bring all the foods), I sat down to draw…took what I did the other night and just let my brain go. This isn’t what I want, but it’s getting closer. At some point, I was just filling space, and I need to be a little more mindful. I have some stuff to go read and review before I try again. But it’s going where I need it to go now, more so than it was all last week. See? That’s what school stress does…allows me to focus.

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Sad but true. I had my trusty drawing companions…Satchemo on the left, where I put him, because he kept trying to sit on Calli’s face, and she’s kind of a grumpy old lady.

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Calli with her nose tucked behind my back…guess it was cold.

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I did some stitching, but no photos…I mostly helped cook at my parents, so a whole lot of standing yesterday. Practice for school, I guess.

My kids are taking a short trip to Seattle this week to see their cousins, so the dogs will go back to their boring existence of waiting for someone to come home to pet them and walk them. I’m hoping the rain holds off enough for that to happen today, because I suspect I’m gonna need it (the walk, not the rain) as much as they will.

Kudos to Oprah for her Golden Globes speech last night. She is such a good speaker…it brings tears to my eyes to think about what women have had to go through, especially those with no voice in a culture that often can’t even see that it’s being racist or sexist. Or both. Compounded isms. There is no excuse for some of the things humans have done to each other in the name of those isms, or religion, or whatever excuse we use to make one group better than another.

Anyway. With all that in my head, I’m going to go to work and attempt to be sociable (as much as I ever am) and get some shit ready for the kids who show up tomorrow. I’m going to walk the dogs, unless it’s pouring and there’s lightning. I’m going to draw again…this time getting it right? I hope. I’m ready to get it right.

*Peter Gabriel, Mercy Street


That’s the Hard Part

January 7, 2018

In 2003, I started writing an art journal to myself, just documenting where I was with certain pieces and shows. I sucked at it for the first two years. I think there’s two entries in 2003 and maybe three in 2004. Then about halfway through 2005, I calendared it. And then started writing weekly because my computer told me to. Occasionally outside stuff slips in, personal life stuff, stuff that doesn’t even make it on the blog. The journal is where I document all the time on any given quilt, plus all the shows I enter and whether I get in or not. I write almost every week…with a few lost weeks due to computer glitches and a few lost weeks due to brain glitches. I started teaching full time in 2003 as well, so there’s documentation of the effect that work has had on my other work. I can search through the main document for mention of the old quilts I just pulled out of the pile to finish…I can find BirdFoot, but not the other one…mostly because (a) if it has a name, I don’t know what it is, and (b) I think it’s older than 2003. Then on top of all that, I’ve been writing the blog since 2004…although again, I didn’t start a regular schedule until 2006 I think.

I’m reminded of all this because this week is the first week of the new year. I used to just keep one huge document, but every time I opened it, it took forever to load, so now I write one year in a document and then add that to the main journal at the end of the year and start a new one. An 11-page document is easier to handle than a 150-page document. I also download a copy of it onto the computer about once a year, just in case the Google Doc (which is where I write now, because I can access it from multiple devices, even if I’m traveling) has some issue and disappears. There’s something important to me about the documentation. I use it a lot to remind myself of how things went, what I was thinking, where I was going.

So where am I at right now, the day before school starts up again? Well my right hand is still speckled orange and red, which will freak my students out (I’m OK with that). The left hand is barely green. I ironed a bit yesterday. I drew a bit yesterday, but more for fun than for an artistic goal. I had a meeting. I’m not ready (I’m never ready…this shouldn’t surprise anyone who hangs out with teachers. We never feel ready. We don’t sleep the night before school starts…sometimes every Sunday night is troubled.). We’ll get some planning time tomorrow, because we’re starting the week with more professional development, so that means we can figure out what the hell we were thinking before break (probably not very coherent thoughts, honestly). I looked at the calendar and my head hurt, so I stopped reading. I need to run some errands today, write warmups for the week, send the parent email, grocery shop, prep lunches for the week, and get my teacher brain out of storage. I can do all of that.

I ironed for a little bit yesterday. The tree leg is horrendously complicated. It’s not hard to do…just time-consuming.

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I went to an art group meeting…so far, being in this group has gotten me into two shows, so I feel good about it. I stitched during the meeting, because I don’t know how to sit still.

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Strangely, now I’m wondering if the face was supposed to be back stitch or running stitch. I finished the Palestrina knots around the body and then started the running stitches.

The meeting was at the Mingei Museum, which is one of my favorite museums in Balboa Park. They’ll be remodeling in 2018 though…so fewer shows. Too bad. They have a great kantha exhibit in there right now, plus a Navaho rug exhibit.

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I had seen this show already, but Arline Fisch is in our group and talked about her work in the museum, which was cool.

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Her wirework is fascinating.

Then I had to hang around for a while in Balboa Park, so I drew in the Sculpture Garden bar area…

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No sunset…too many clouds.

I started working with that skelly back and a front-facing figure, seriously trying to work stuff out, but it quickly devolved into whatever I felt like drawing. Hence the antenna I guess…

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I didn’t really finish, because I had to go wait for my ride. We were going to an opening downtown, so we didn’t want two cars down there (parking is awful) and there was no point in my coming all the way home.

The exhibit was Seeing Is Believing at Sparks Gallery (you can see most of the show at the link) and had some cool work in it…Larry Caveney’s Wonder Woman

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Polly Jacobs Giacchina’s Spiral Progression

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Cheryl Tall’s Couple from Madrid

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and her Horseman.

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Christopher Polentz’s William.

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David Cuzick’s Stop Yelling at Me #2

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Marissa Quinn’s Connection In-Between…

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And Alexander Arshansky’s Life of Pi

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Perry Vasquez’s Florbeza dominates the front window of the gallery…

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It was an interesting show. I went because of the surrealism aspect, although honestly, I’m not sure how surrealist it really was. Lenore Simon’s show is still there, so that was nice. We had a good dinner at the same place we keep ending up at when we’re in that area and then hightailed it back here for an early night. Sleep has been the mantra this break…which should tell me something. But trying to fill weekends with art seeing and making seems like a good goal for the next few months. The stress of work is always there…being able to mentally escape it for a few weeks is a relief. Now to continue that mindset throughout the rest of the school year. That’s the hard part.