Over the Top…

Ugh. Monday, you were over the top. Remind me not to answer work emails at 3 PM…or honestly, ever. Without a 12-hour break maybe. “Dear teacher, how is my kid doing?” “I don’t know. They don’t come to class or turn anything in.” It was a day. We thought we could grade an assignment while monitoring the chat during a quiz, but the monitoring became overwhelming as the day went on, and I couldn’t concentrate enough on what I was grading…which required thought and long feedback, lots of it. Pro: I think this batch of kids is better than the last batch for writing claim-evidence-reasoning (probably because we told 6th grade they had to do some of the prep work). Con: They still need lots of work, work that is harder to do online. I have more to grade today, and an assignment that hopefully will allow that. We’ll see how that goes. Teachers can’t be ON all the time. We burn out. Yesterday was long and required a lot of energy and I don’t even think I got all the way through it. And I didn’t barely even TALK. Just typed in the chat while they took the quiz. Today is a staff meeting explaining our new schedules for the week of the 28th…which should be interesting, because I need to understand it myself so I show up for the right class at the right time. Which could be an issue. No worries! I will draw a picture to get me there. Block schedule, but online, with two subjects. OK. I got this. Three grade levels. OK. I still got this. Ask me in late October how I feel about it for realz.

Meanwhile, not much visible art has been happening. I’ve been doing research and posting on my Patreon and gathering show information, but my brain was too tired the last two nights to do anything more than that. I really really hope that changes tonight.

Our air quality is still off. Makes for beautiful sunsets and sunrises though.

Maybe they’d be just as beautiful without the smoke particles.

My most recent sourdough was also beautiful.

Lunches from this. I have become a character in Little House on the Prairie. Or something. I make my own bread. I never leave the house. Pa! Pa! OK, I left the house yesterday to pick up my sewing machine. Crucial stuff. Laura Ingalls never did that. I’ll leave the house today to walk. I need to walk. It’s been a while for a good long solo hike.

Simba thinks he’s a cat.

He barks too much to be a cat. Our hot weather popped back up for the rest of the week. Sigh. No thanks. I can do without. Just like the construction. I had to shut all the windows yesterday so I could teach over a concrete saw. Like just fucking be DONE with it! It’ll be done soon. It has to be.

Yes. My clothes are always covered with cat hair. But I’m at home, so you can’t tell.

Apparently they are very comfy.

I finished my book last night, Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. Apparently I have been saying her name wrong in my head for years. Very good. I didn’t much like the other book of hers I read, but this was good. What’s funny is that book club meets tomorrow night, and I was going to read the book for book club first, but this was so good, I didn’t. So I think it’ll be the first time I go to book club and I haven’t read the book. I might get some of it read today and tomorrow at lunch. We’ll see. It’s also supposed to be good, but I just haven’t seen anything but the cover yet.

That’s the closest I got to artmaking last night.

I made it in the office and ironed some brainless stuff and looked at this thing (the drawing, not the cat…she’s fine…it’s not her fault I can’t focus) and was too tired, looked at the clock and it was almost midnight, and I gave up. Part of my time issue was deciding to exercise at 10 PM. It needed to be done and there wasn’t time or mental space before that.

OK, wishes for today: efficient grading, some understanding of my future schedule, a successful teaching day, time for a walk, mental space for art, a calm and restorative dinner hour. Might be wishful thinking, but it’s my goal and I’m sticking to it. Better air too. That would be good.

Today I Read

The first week back to school after a break is always hard. This one seems to be chock full of meetings and other afterschool stuff, which just makes it harder. I’ve needed to go to the chiropractor for days, but had to reschedule to pick up my car, and now it’s gotten worse. Today is the day! Hooray! Tonight is also an art opening. Yesterday was book club…there was a lot of discussion about the characters and the world the book was written in…The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison.


I used to do book reviews on here all the time. I don’t know why I got out of the habit. I still read all the time. Anyway, this book was good, good enough for me to read the whole thing in about 3 days flat over break (while driving around New Mexico and Arizona), mostly because I panicked and realized book club was this week. There’s a lot of interesting geological science in the book, obviously from a fantasy/sci fi viewpoint, plus some version of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future. All the good things! And the 2nd book is already available…I think the 3rd book is out as well.

I also started (and finished) Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, which is a pretty trite title for a kind of dark little book. It’s short and not sweet, but definitely an interesting read.


I know I’ve read something from McGuire before, but I don’t even remember why this was on my list (probably someone at book club mentioned it and I requested it from the library). Honestly, at the beginning of break, every book I’d requested from the library showed up at once, so I had to re-request two of them, and this was one of them. It’s about, well, wayward children, but those who go into different worlds and then fall out of them for a variety of reasons and can’t figure out how to get back. It’s a fast read.

I now have two books (only!) on the library app. And about 2 weeks to read both.

Last night, when I got back from book club, I was too tired to engage the drawing brain, so I finished the McGuire book and started a new one, a Louise Erdrich book (been reading her for years). It’s not like I have tons of time to read…I have to usually choose between reading or art, which might be why I’m reading less than I used to. I miss it. I miss sitting around on the couch for a couple of hours, immersed in a novel. So often these days when I try to do that, I fall asleep. Or I feel guilty because I know I should be grading. I didn’t grade yesterday because I had a union meeting and I was making a slide presentation for today so I wouldn’t have to write the same stuff 5 times. Grading is kicking my butt right now. I can’t find the time.

Did I tell you my sleep apnea study was fine? I sleep normal…for me. Which is badly. Unless I’m on the couch trying to read a book. Then I sleep fine. Although I woke up to the sneezy cat on my chest.

Anyway, after tonight’s opening, I’m hoping I have the energy to come home and work on the drawing. I miss making art when I don’t do it. It makes the next work day harder. I feel emptier. So I guess reading fills the space with a story right then and there, but art makes me feel like I accomplished something, that I’m making something, and that’s somehow more important to me. Good to know.

That Never Happens in My Real Life…

Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Aliso Viejo in Orange County (California) to finally see the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University, where I have had two pieces since January.

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It’s a beautiful campus, at least what little I saw of it.

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It was obviously Spring Break, because otherwise, I’m fairly sure these pools must be filled with students, right?

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There’s no way they’d stay out of there.

Julie was my companion (and driver, which was awfully nice of her)…

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It was a gorgeous Spring day in California, although a little on the warm side…

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I’ll be posting about the exhibit (again) on the California Fibers blog, as soon as I find some free time to do that…today is kinda overbooked. Again. I know.

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Julie and I spent quite a bit of time discussing this global map, especially how it wasn’t the way we were used to seeing maps laid out, with Japan at its center (Soka’s founder is Japanese and the sister school is also in Japan).

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Relative sizes of countries and locations of islands and the equator were part of the discussion.

Then we headed outside again to check out the fountain…

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Especially because it appeared to have dead bugs all over it…

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That may be a commentary on university costs right there (a definite discussion point in my household at the moment). I hadn’t been able to come see this exhibit for so long because it’s only open Monday-Friday, which is kind of annoying. I mean, I guess I understand in that it’s on a university campus, and their staff isn’t around on the weekends, but…hell, I would have had to take a day off work to see it otherwise. I’m not sure how many non-retired people who aren’t students at the university have been able to see the exhibit, which is too bad, because the space is really beautiful. It’s up through May 8…if you’re in town, you should check it out.

It was a nice trip, and I got home early enough to get some stuff done…although some of that was following the kids around. Girlchild is cat-sitting (or checking-in-on-cats really), and Maus decided he didn’t so much LIKE being in the garage, but definitely liked being TALL.

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There was some worry and some kitty squawking and a ladder was involved, but we found out later that he does this all the time. No worries.

I sat outside while girlchild did all her feeding and cleaning and trash stuff and kitty-petting, because I had an ebook that was due back today and had holds on it (not sure how the renewal policy works on that) and I wanted to finish the book…it was Parasite by Mira Grant…


It’s a story set in the future, 2027, where we have developed intestinal parasites that help keep humans healthy, but as always, in the future, our meddling with science will cause issues. This is the first of a 3-part series called Parasitology, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I really liked this book…it was scientifically intriguing (although the reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 on GoodReads is because some of the science wasn’t explained well enough, and that bugged me). There’s some obvious stuff going on and some political/corporate intrigue and a bunch of crazy people acting in the name of science or money or both. And dogs. Dogs are good in this story. All good stories should have dogs in them.

Interestingly, Mira Grant is the pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, whose Rosemary and Rue I read last year. I thought this was much better of a story, more solid and grab-at-you than the October Daye series (although I would probably read more of those as well). McGuire as Grant has also written the Newsflesh trilogy, which is now on my to-read list.

Then I finally made it home and managed to get to work on the last few hundred pieces on the newest quilt…I finished tracing around 11 PM (I fixed dinner and did other stuff in there, really)…and here it all is, laid out…

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It’s probably 7 yards…I try to cut about 1-yard pieces, although I don’t actually measure them, because that would be way more anal than I am (I know, I seem that anal, but I’m not). It took a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes to trace all of them, which is interesting because like I’ve said before, usually I can do 100 in an hour, so this one must have been more complicated. There are 1776 pieces officially (although I know there are probably 10-15 more due to mistakes in numbering). The quilt itself, well, the image anyway, is 34″ wide x 73″ high (so add about 10 inches to each of those measurements for a finished size).

In comparison, the quilt I did for Celebrating Silver is about 40×70″ and has 1227 pieces. So. Yeah. And it took only 95 hours to complete. I’m sure I can cut that time! (Are you kidding me? Tracing Celebrating only took a little over 11 hours. I am fucking nuts.)

Anyway. I’m going to start cutting those out today, knock on wood. I have a busy art day planned, with a new life-drawing class I’m trying out as a plan for the summer, lunch with friends I’ve never met in person (ah, the wonders of the internet), and then a stitching meeting afterwards (that’s where I’ll be cutting stuff…it’s not appropriate to cut out Wonder Under at the other two places, you know?).

I wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep when I finished, but I also wasn’t ready to cut the WU out, so I debated cleaning (I debate that a lot…mostly I do it for about 10-20 minutes and then I figure there must be something better to do). Then I remembered that I only had a little cutting left on the Mammogram fabrics, so I pulled that out…

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and managed to finish. It took a total of about 7 hours to cut this one out…interesting, because it only has about 360 pieces in it. But many of them are big and complicated pieces, difficult to cut out. So now it’s ready to iron down as well. I will probably save that for after Spring Break, because it’s not a difficult task…it doesn’t require a huge amount of brain power. I really want to get to the fabric-choosing phase of the big quilt over break, which is looking more and more impossible as the days disappear behind me. Oh well. It will all get done. And I need to draw! I have two I need to draw in the next few weeks. I’m not worried. They’re smaller than this one, but inevitably, I will make sure they have 12 trillion pieces in them.

Yup. I’m a little crazy that way. But you knew that already. But I finished two tasks! In one day! It must be Spring Break. That never happens in my real life.



The Expiration Date on the Milk Is All That Matters…

I only managed 9 1/2 minutes of ironing tonight…all I really have left is the owl…

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I couldn’t get my head around his coloring tonight (I always think of owls as being male…strange, that), so I did the thorny bushes around the Crone’s head instead…

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Red thorns…gray twigs. The box is almost full.

But I’m down to just a few pieces left to iron, maybe 25. Then it’s done and I move out of the studio into the living room to cut them all out. This quilt is progressing quickly. That’s because I have no life. Oh well. Actually, tonight, I pretended to have a life. I went to a book club meeting with total strangers. Yup. I did that. I should clarify that this group is for “geeky women” (their term) and so I wasn’t sure I belonged (I am always the alien, no matter the group). Girlchild said that because I spent over an hour worrying about whether I was a geek and googling definitions of geeks and nerds and dorks that I WAS in fact one and I should just shut up and join. Sigh. Anyway, the plus is that it’s a group of women who read A LOT and FAST, and I got about 400 book recommendations just tonight (plus TV and movies) and sat next to a woman who said something about listening to audiobooks while IRONING FABRIC and what are the odds? She does costumes, but where else do I go where that happens? (nowhere)

The book we read, Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, was pretty good…it had its flaws, definitely light fiction, but I’ll read the next book in the series…


I still have questions and the character wasn’t horrible…she had issues, sure, but hell, so do I. There are some interesting characters and it’s not often you get urban fantasy AND mystery in one book.

Anyway. I ordered the next book for the January book club from the library system. And yeah? We met in a bar. Books and wine. You cannot go wrong. There was food too, but I didn’t have a lot of money. And good music, which was free.

This week is full of social events…tomorrow night is my favorite stitching people and I don’t want to talk about Friday night. Sigh. It can’t all be good. Sometimes it just has to be.

My right eyelid started twitching yesterday. I googled it (see geek reference above). I don’t know WHY I googled it…I already know what’s causing it: fatigue or stress. You know what’s interesting is that even though I am getting even less sleep than last year at this time, I’m often not tired. Weird. Some brain chemistry thing? You Don’t Really Need All That Sleep. I know that’s not true, but I still think it’s strange.

So yeah, eyelid is stress. I spent 2 1/2 hours at Children’s Hospital this morning with the girlchild and we are now taking the next step towards surgery, a CT scan. We think we can schedule surgery between the high-school soccer season and the beginning of the club season. Yes. That’s crazy. We’re also scheduling between the ACT and SAT. Really crazy. The doctor did answer all our questions and we trust him, though, so I’m hoping this is relatively easy.

At school, we are getting closer to the kids being 1:1 on technology…which is more than a little scary. What does it look like? What is the purpose of the technology? It can’t just be a toy we trot out to make admin happy…it has to serve a purpose within the content. So the thought of flipping how we do stuff in the classroom is sort of mind-boggling at the moment. My head is trying to wrap itself around it. So it was not at all amusing today when the server went down and we were on computers doing research all day, and I had to log in 22 kids in one period on a server they shouldn’t be on (don’t ask) and there were a lot of deep breaths and meditative thinking and seriously deep brain stuff about Is This Really What I Want to Do? This is what using technology is to me in the classroom right now: a management nightmare. I can’t even deal with content issues because the technology issues are so vast and varied and fucking frustrating. You always have to have a backup plan, because inevitably, something won’t work. And the kids may be digital natives, but they give up SO easily when stuff doesn’t work right the first time and they suck at LOOKING for stuff…like a tabbed menu on a website is apparently invisible to them. WHERE does it say CAUSES? I wonder. Key words. If I put them on Facebook, they could find it immediately, but the Mayo Clinic website? Completely incomprehensible. I’m thinking of rewriting the medical websites to LOOK like Facebook with status posts on some beautiful woman who has had a heart attack or has atherosclerosis, just so they will READ them, and then turn a bunch of it into Vines so they’ll watch all SIX seconds, and then only then maybe will we be getting somewhere. Training them to be observant. It can be extremely frustrating. I’ve gotten very good at it, and I kept my cool today (even after spending most of the morning at the hospital, where they were running an hour late). I blame the meditation. I can deal. My eyelid can’t deal, but the rest of me can. I have not found eyelid-specific meditation.

I just found all these Thanksgiving food pictures.

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Girlchild cooked almost everything…

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We had another family over, friends of ours that we’ve had Thanksgiving with for a million years…

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The food was good; we played that silly word game we always play.

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Everyone is getting older.

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That was Wednesday (of course) and then Thursday, we went to their cabin for a spaghetti dinner (of course)…

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Where there was more food (girlchild did desserts this time)…those are not just rice krispies treats…they are brown butter rice krispies treats. They make you want to curl up and die, they are so good. They are gourmet rice krispies treats. She has to really like you to make those. I rate.

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And there was more talk and lots of Snapchat (not my generation…the younger).

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That’s my mom and the girlchild. And it was relatively good. I still have issues with gatherings just because of my alien status…but these were people I had known for forever. They accept me. They are kind. So I’m working on it, not being a hermit. Coming out and not moping around. Some. It’s hard.

So I’m still distant, numb, probably not a bad place to be this week. I had a good book-related conversation with ten total strangers tonight and an even more focused book/fabric/life conversation with two of the women. I talked to both kids about future stuff and driving and cars and college and soccer and stupid people and whether or not I should let the girlchild take penne a la vodka to school (it does have alcohol in it, per se, although it is cooked off/down/something). I just thought about it and wondered…is this OK? Should I worry? Naw.

I would have liked more time for art, but such is life. Life and art…a balance. I can’t just have one. I need both. The art alone is very isolating, very lonely, very in my head. Sometimes I have to get out of that dark gloomy place and wander outside in the real world. I did cry, though. Still. That doesn’t seem to have wandered off. Strange. It’s still hard to exist in some moments. Lots of them still. I don’t know when that shifts…or perhaps it’s shifting so slowly that I can’t even see it.

To bed, eyelid twitching and all…tomorrow is another one of those days. From the book we read for book club tonight: “All I have to do is get to the point where I’m so panicked I can’t see straight, and suddenly the expiration date on the milk is all that matters. I guess that’s how my mind protects itself.” Rosemary and Rue, Seanan McGuire.