Oh My Kiss Breath Turpentine*

I just read someone else’s blogpost this morning and now my brain is like sludge. Probably it has something to do with being up too early for my brain, but school is like, Hey, you should do lots of early meetings. Other people like early meetings and they need you to be at them too, even though you are a cranky-ass bitch in the morning and you don’t even like talking to people until maybe 10 AM but you have to be at work at 8 today and you have a headache and aren’t particularly recovered from your hellish cold, and sometimes you just get tired of being responsible and caring about shit regarding your job and you consider what it must be like to have a job where you come home and you don’t worry and plan and continue to work, even though you’re not getting paid. Really, all those words are in my head way too often, but as it gets later in the school week and the sleep deficit gets larger, your brain starts punctuating those thoughts with groans and sighs and requests for long lie-ins in bed.

Oh brain. You’d think you’d have figured me out by now. I’ve got plans. Some things I have to do (today’s morning meeting, tomorrow’s morning meeting)…some things are optional, but don’t necessarily feel that way because you do have obligations to people…you don’t really hate people…it’s just that being with people sometimes means having to do things you don’t really feel like doing, right? And I know people feel the same with me, so I try to minimize that shit and remember my duty to the human race and be a contributing part of the things in which I’m involved. That’s a lot of words explaining why I have to go to the grocery store again tonight. Somehow. In between a cat to the vet and potentially (hopefully?) finally getting my car back. My mechanic offered to come on our trip to Utah in two weeks if he couldn’t fix the car. Nice one. Awkward though.

Speaking of our trip, we start out in Zion National Park. I follow Zion on Instagram, which is where I found out that they’re closing part of the road through the park for three weeks, starting next week, to do a major repair after all their rain this winter…the same rain we got. Fuck. We have a reservation on the east side of the park. So that means a 3-hour, one-way trip to get to the west side of the park from there. And they have a shitty cancellation policy, although I’m calling this morning to try the manager, even though I’m sure they will say the same damn thing, and then I will come back on here and tell you their name so you can never stay there. I did already reserve some weird place on the west side, just to cover our butts. It was a frantic search for about 30 minutes or so, and that was after 20 minutes for me to realize holy fuck, this isn’t going to work. Don’t even ask me about Bryce right now. I think we’re going to freeze. We’ll be fine. FINE DAMMIT. Laughs hysterically. Next year, we go somewhere that has no bugs, caterpillars, or snow. Really. Maybe. I don’t know. There’s the excitement of a trip and then the holy crap what was I thinking this sounds awful and then the real life this is awesome part of it. I’m in the holy crap stage. I’ll get over it. No worries.

So I got home yesterday after school…and I dragged my mostly well ass out with the dogs…

OK. I’m not mostly well. I’m sort of well. We had a little rain yesterday night, but not a lot. It’s crazy how much the grasses are growing; it seems like a foot or two in just a week and a half.

The coyotes must be loving the hiding possibilities.

The flowers are still going crazy.

I spend most of my day trapped in a building with 140 12-year-olds. I need this. I need outside and air and plants and moving fast and dogs and water and green stuff or brown stuff, but moving and my knee complaining and all this crap.

I do want to know if there’s ever a time that this little puffball of a flower thing is covered with those little purple flowers, or if it just does a few at a time.

It’s important shit. Must know. I also meant to look up the caterpillars that are everywhere. Oops.

We went and looked below the bridge…lots of trash unfortunately. And the requisite graffiti…you dickheads.

But still pretty. And calmer than it has been. Calli likes water…

Simba does not. We traded dogs today. Simba was perturbed the entire time. Whatever, dog. So that felt good. I cooked veggies for dinner, because the main man is not a veggie person. I got him to cut some up once. I don’t count potatoes. He will cut them up because he eats them. But other veggies? Nah. We ate dinner, I graded something (!). I know you’re shocked. I was actually trying to grade videos all day…I got another 19 or so graded throughout the day while trying to manage kids making posters…some classes were totally on task and some were needy as hell. As always. I was going to come home and get through another 20 videos (because I still have a ton to do), but then Zion happened and I lost all that time.

I finally got in there and finished the stitch down. Two and a half hours total…

It was late, though, so my original plan of getting it pinbasted last night did not happen, unfortunately. Tonight…and start quilting. But also grade and car and cat to vet. Ha! Not sure how all that works. Not worrying about it now. But I am so happy with this quilt. It’s beautiful and I’m happy with it and I’m glad it exists. That’s the best part about the making is the finishing part when I see it all and I’m just staring at it and thinking, that’s so beautiful or powerful or just what was in my head and that right there might be my purpose on the planet outside of all this other stuff.

Ah, so philosophical. Then I sat down on the couch and tried to meditate (oh so many interruptions, including this sweet one)…

And then sleep. Actually slept last night, so that’s good. It was exercise or later-in-the-week exhaustion or meditation or a combination of all three. I don’t really care, because it felt good for the 5 1/2 hours that it happened. More of that tonight, please. May today repeat the good and helpful things from yesterday and minimize the assholes (ha!) and the adding to my stress levels. I can move the cat appointment if my car is fixed (please let my car be fixed). And let’s get quilting dammit. I’ve got a deadline to meet.

*R.E.M., Crush with Eyeliner

Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite*

It’s April 3rd and I finally remembered to change over the two calendars I stare at every morning. Really I stare at them for the pictures. OK, so I also need to know what day it is. Sometimes my brain is not on board for those details. Ironically, the calendar I have with actual dates I can read on it starts with Monday, which really confuzzles my brain. I guess that level of brain stretch is good for me, though…it will keep me from getting dementia.

Last night, I made it through 19 of the 66 videos I need to watch and grade before Friday. It was after tutoring, though, so it’s not like I had a full stretch of time after work to watch them. I even cooked while watching them, which is a multitasking challenge. I’m getting closer to done with grading these projects (way too many hours). I’m a little worried about how much work I’ll have to do over break, when I’ll be gone for most of it, plus I have to finish this quilt and then start the next one. Plus embroider 6 samples. And now I think I committed to trying to print photos of my quilts as posters. Whoa. No wonder I put meditation back in the mix. Although last night, I’m meditating, I’m trying to imagine sunlight pooling in my toes and filling me up, and my teacher brain is yelling about how I haven’t printed the rubric and I need to do that. I did it after meditating, but it was a real push to get it to just shut up for a bit.

If you’re interested in my embroidery designs, by the way, they are available online now…just the designs though. The kits will be available later this month. Meanwhile, I need to start stitching out the prototypes. Trying to decide how best to transfer onto the darker fabrics. Maybe I will start with the light one. Tonight…

Last night, I couldn’t grade after eating dinner, because I needed to listen to videos and we were trying to watch the end of a show…so I grabbed one of those projects I said I’d finish this year (ha! so little progress…I can’t even tell you)…

And I appliqued two and a half leaves. Bonus! That’s it. Moving on.

I wanted to start the stitch down on the quilt last night. I did a bunch of things first, but made it into the studio by 10 or so…then meditated…loudly (in my head). Then stitched.

And then stitched some more…I was listening to an education broadcast about something my co-teachers keep harping on that the principal wants us to do, and I’m thinking, is this different than what I think it is, because if it’s not, why the fuck aren’t people doing this already? It’s not like it’s new. You know what? It was what I thought it was. I feel better already. I do that shit all the time. I just don’t label it and say, HEY, did you know I was using this? Sigh. School drives me crazy sometimes.

I was totally on a roll with stitching and didn’t want to stop, but had to be up early today for a parent meeting.

So then I went to bed and barely slept all night. Seems pointless sometimes. I’d feel better if I’d stayed up and finished. I’m done with the entire ground and body, plus half the hair and the whole face. So all that’s left is half the hair and what’s in the sky, and then I’m done. Another hour? Maybe. This was about an hour and a half. Then I’ll pinbaste and start quilting…ahead of the game for once. Of course, I’m hoping to be healthy enough to walk the dogs after school today, plus get through at least 20 of the videos. Maybe more…I need to hand stuff back on Friday, ideally. Too many things in my head. (Hence meditation)

Also I need a way to print some of my quilt photos as posters. I have high resolution files…I’m just not sure what’s the best way to do this. I’d rather have people order them and then have some service print and ship them, but that may not be the best choice cost-wise. Then again, I don’t have the cash to print a bunch and then I will have to ship, which is a pain. Sigh. I need a business manager.

Anyway, first I need to go to school and get through all the stuff and things. And keep my cool, despite the lack of sleep. Hoping to get my car back. Hoping our trip is still cool…the main road through Zion National Park is closing next week for three weeks, right when we’ll be there. There’s still access…it’s just not through the park. I think it will be fine…and hopefully the temperatures in Bryce will warm up too (laughing hysterically!). Gotta find my long underwear. And start a packing list. Vacation! I need me some o’ that. Drawing and stitching and hiking and beautiful views and not thinking about grades and school and how to pay for shit.

*Tal Bachman, She’s So High (that’s not what I thought this song was about…never really listened to the lyrics)

There Is a House in New Orleans*

Another rainy morning. I might need to buy some real rain gear if this keeps up. I’m not quite ready mentally for this week. I did prep the science lab for today before I left Friday. All I have to do is pour the grape juice. I did the water and baking soda ahead of time, but thought the ants might have too much fun with the juice. I haven’t seen ants this year, except for the first day after they had all those teachers in our rooms, and they left their lunch remains in my trash cans…I know better than to do that. My school was built on an anthill.

As always, I got a bunch done this weekend, but not enough. C’est la vie. I do what I can.

I spent most of Saturday grading stuff…sitting in here with 2 out of the 3 dogs…

It wasn’t very exciting…but it rained a lot. Not as much as on Friday, despite the warnings, but enough.

A lovely view.

And eventually I went back to the stitchdown…

But I didn’t finish. I wanted to, but I was really tired. Sleep seemed like the best option. It was a good decision, because I got hardly any sleep last night. Brain won’t Shut Up.

Sunday was the same mix of errands and household/work tasks that always fill up my first official day of the week. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the dogs out today, so we went yesterday…it was gorgeous out (good choice).

Everything is green…except for the trees that haven’t come into leaf yet. The rain had moved this bridge…most of the dogs jumped across.

Calli just waded over. She likes water…

The boychild tried to move the bridge back, but it’s heavy and I couldn’t help because I was holding three dogs. We don’t usually see water here…

It’s nice to see it occasionally.

Water on the path, draining down into the creek.

Someday I will remember to put a towel in the car…

There was no escaping the mud…although this was one option…

There will be lots of fire danger this summer.

It was a beautiful day for a walk though…lots to smell and explore…

We were going to go up the hill instead of across the bridge, but the stream went across that path and there were no rocks big enough to cross…so this is the view down from the bridge.

There’s usually water there anyway, but not quite this much.

Katie enjoyed this random pool of water.

Apparently she is sort of a water dog. When she chooses…

Then there was this, coming back…listen carefully…

The babies talk…we could see them up on the slope. And then mom and dad answer from the stream bed directly across, right where we’d been before. I’m sure you can imagine that conversation. “I told you not to leave the den.” “Mom, you said to call if someone came near.” “They’re nowhere near you. Get back in the den.” “Moooommm.”

Fun stuff. The only dog that reacted to the coyotes though was the little one. The other two just stood there.

They were all tired last night…a good thing. I stitched during the post-dinner TV moments…and he slept.

Sunday’s project is moons…a place for some handwork to happen.

The beginning of that is making some scenes or places for the moons to occur. Embroidery to follow. Lots of it. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see what actually happens. That’s what I wanted with this daily project…some projects getting done finally, and some things I’ve wanted to try getting tried. I get tied up in deadlines on the art quilts and I never get to do other stuff. So there are two projects in the rotation that will allow that.

I finally went in to do this…

The last hour and a half of stitchdown. Finally!

Kitten agrees.

Actually mostly she said Pet Me. Loudly and insistently. I did a lot of that.

Then I checked the back, looking for things I missed, like this.

Three snakes. All of them have two eyeballs on the front…only one had two eyeballs on the back. So I fixed that.

The back is pretty fascinating.

And soon to be covered up for good…

I started piecing the backing out of leftover bits from other quilt fronts. I need to use up stuff before buying more. I hate piecing big pieces, but I’ll survive. I didn’t finish though. Stayed up too late, because my brain was racing. Tried to slow it down. Hopefully tonight I’ll finish piecing it and be able to pinbaste. We’ll see if I have time. So far there are 5 different fabrics on the backing, and I’ll need at least one more. Which is fine. I’ve had this pile of leftover pieces just lying around for ages. This is good.

It took 9 1/2 hours to stitch it down…I think I guessed 10. Not bad. I suspect quilting will be over 20 hours, easily. Looking forward to it. This quilt is taking much longer than I expected.

OK, but before that, I’ve got an early meeting, I’m running labs, I have a shitload of grading still, and it’s still raining, I think. Fun stuff.

*The Animals, House of the Rising Sun

Feeling Fresh Like a Ziploc*

A friend of mine just read a book and posted a review on Goodreads that sounded good, so I went to add it to my list, even considered requesting it from the library (despite the two books that are currently queued up there). I already added it in December of 2017. Hmmm. Still sounds good. There are too many books. I can’t possibly read them all. I love to read and it’s so hard to find time. I make time, it’s true, but it’s hard. Yesterday I went to the gym and got over an hour and a half into the current book. I think I like it. Well, I mostly like it…let’s put it that way. And it’s a series of 7 books, I think. So I’ll never finish. Sigh. There are pros and cons to being in book club. Pro is all the books I wouldn’t even know existed. The con is that I will never finish reading them all. I go down these rabbit holes where I read one and then there’s another 3000 pages of that series, plus she wrote 72 other books. I’m going to die not having read everything, and that just sucks.

I also end up reading a lot of sci fi and fantasy, because that’s what my book club reads…which I think is probably OK. Plus the kids keep shoving books at me, or saying they really like a book, and then when they’re done, I either put it on my list or flat out steal it from their stash. I think there’s one that sat on the kitchen table for at least 6 months, because I read the first two in the trilogy and I NEED to read the third, just to find out how it ends, but it wasn’t as awesome or needy as some of what I’ve been reading, so I can’t get to it. I have to read too much school stuff. (I moved that book to the bedroom pile, because I needed the table clear for Christmas.) This weekend is gonna be a shitload of grading. Fun. We were going to hike (and we might still do that on Sunday), but there’s a pile of rain coming.

Anyway. I like the gym. I like the exercise and the reading. I don’t like how late I get home and eat dinner, because I was at work until 5:30 or so again. And then I’m tired. Plus I set this plan to finish all these projects and I’m getting nothing done basically. So I ate dinner last night at 9 PM or so and then spent about 30 minutes while the show ended working on the project for Thursdays…

Yup. Old-school. I started this ages ago, and I have more than half of the quilt appliqued and pieced together. It’s Simply Delicious by Piece ‘O Cake Designs…and it turns out I have this block and two more to finish. I didn’t do the block of the month, so I have all these blue fabrics in a box until I finish. Silly not to do that. I even have all the squares cut out for the bottom half of the pieced part. So last night, I sewed down about 4 pieces and then placed another 6 for next Thursday. I had lost one piece, maybe two? The pieces were in this silverware tray and it got moved around (and dumped over the back of the desk at one point) a lot, so it’s not surprising that a few pieces are missing.

Then I dealt with a pile of papers that Calli (the dog) pulled out and tried to eat. So really, she’s persuading me to go through old papers. Kid drawings…girlchild’s version of a tree…

Seems like she spent some time on the flowers and then wanted the freedom of scribbling. I get that.

And boychild drew these people holding people…

Very intriguing…

The faces…

Anyway. So those are photographed and now recycled. Because dog bite marks and pieces missing.

Finally to the stitch down.

I finally think I feel like I’ve made progress. The head of Figure 3 is done…I need to do her arms and the arm of Figure 4, then the head of Figures 2 and 1. Then I’m done. Sounds so simple when I say that. It’s at least 2-3 hours of work. But doable this weekend, I think. I hope. I want to get her sandwiched early next week. This is like the never-ending quilt right now. I know it’s big, but it feels like it’s taking forever to get done.

OK, so here’s a science teacher note for you: Don’t wear all black the day you are mixing Oobleck. That was yesterday. Today we make a horrendous mess. Yup. I might need to drink heavily by the end of the day.

*Max Frost, Good Morning

Your Brain Just Caught on Fire*

What pithy thoughts do I have for a Thursday? Why do the powers-that-be at certain social-media sites have to make life so difficult? I’ve spent more time in the last 5 days trying to make them all Get Along than I have sleeping I think. Ironic, since that’s what I do with kids all day long. Get Along Dammit. I made a kid cry yesterday. Well, that’s not true. The situation made him cry, and it was because of something he didn’t do, but I essentially called him on it, so he cried. It’s not the first time…one of the things I love about middle schoolers is that they straddle little kid and teenager in such an intriguing and (let’s be honest here) fully annoying way. But this one made me feel bad for a variety of reasons…and I asked the class to help me try to make him feel better, and they freakin’ rocked it. I love that. Their empathy is sometimes lacking…but sometimes it overflows and reminds you that they will all grow up to be adults and hopefully kind and loving. Ideally, they will also be able to step back a bit and not sob over scores on assignments…although sometimes I sob over their answers. So there’s that.

I got out of there fast, because sunset still comes early and I wanted to walk those dogs. I couldn’t do it on our normal day, Monday, due to the hellishly long staff meeting.

They like it. I like it. The boychild might even like it. Hard to say.

We had a few friends…

Still pushing the sunset window.

Those coyotes mostly ignored us, luckily.

Came home and gained a dog. The parentals are heading north to my bro and fam.

Making this household a little crazy for a while. We hid all the dog toys, and Katie promptly found two more. Then Calli had stashed one and brought it out too. Katie destroys toys. Plus the dogs fight over them. Three is a pack. Two is manageable. Still jealous, but manageable.

I brought home stuff to grade. I just refused to do it once I got home. Two brains at war. Here’s who won…

I finished Figure 5 and the head for Figure 4…

I’m always fascinated by the back, which gets sewn into the quilt, never to be seen again.

Six hours in. Am I halfway? I close my eyes and visualize the whole thing. Yeah, I think I am. Maybe more. Hugely behind on my grading though. What’s new? I just need progress. And that I have.

*SWMRS, April in Houston

Working on Everything…

I think my brain just slipped into over-overdrive. It’s always sort of in overdrive anyway. Sometimes I wish I were sitting on a remote island beach somewhere or the deck of a cabin deep in the mountains, away from everyone, so that all I could do is just stare out, read my book, draw a little, maybe talk to one or two people (MAYBE) for a short time. But away from all the emails and computers and the house (which demands attention) and work and deadlines. Hmmm. I bet this is what some people do on vacation. I guess we do too…I just don’t get enough vacations. And not by myself! I really would like to do an artist’s residency somewhere remote some day. My own space where I can work and then in the evenings, maybe come together with other artists to eat dinner, but mostly just be in my space, go for walks, sit outside and stare at nature. Talk to myself more than I already do. Someday I will figure out how to do that and the rest of it too. Something has to give. Maybe this summer? Thinking about it.

I was alone in the house last night for a while, but it was after a long LOUD day (sometimes it’s just too loud at a middle school, you know? Mostly I can ignore it), so I just read. And then cooked. And then read some more. And tried to solve all these problems for my art groups, and wondered why some people are so argumentative (I’m probably one of those people). Or uncommunicative. Sigh. I have too much to do these days.

Yesterday’s sunset from the pet food store…

This was after I went to the warehouse store and the guy in line ahead of me asked why I was buying so much cornstarch. This is often a question I ask myself.

Anyway, eventually, after connecting with the one human who finally showed up here, I finally went and sewed. I should have gone earlier, in terms of completing art, but that’s OK.

I worked on stitching down the whole torso and all the arms (OK, there are only two) on Figure 5…

And I got about halfway through her head. That was after midnight…so only an hour in. Geez. Well. I should start earlier. I did grade things too…earlier. Forgot about that. So it’s not that I didn’t get a lot done…it’s that I didn’t get to do art a lot. Working on it. Working on everything. Honestly, that might be my mantra. After tonight, I want to feel like I have completed a significant amount of the stitchdown on this piece. There. It’s a goal.

High Life Filtered Through the Lo-Fi*

So I was entering a show last night, deciding what to submit, resizing photos, and picking details, and I realized how political or in-your-face some of my more recent quilts have been. Usually when I enter a show, I’ll put one or two of those pieces in, but then have a “safe” piece for the juror(s) to pick, just in case. They don’t always pick that one, which is nice…it’s how Rooted in America got into at least one show, for sure. I appreciate jurors willing to ignore possible controversies in honor of the message or the art. I didn’t do that for this show, though, and that’s OK. I really am OK with not getting in…even though I get cranky about it in the moment. I want my work to go where it’s appreciated. I don’t enjoy making the news cycle and/or twenty thousand people messaging me about why my work should or shouldn’t have been pulled from an exhibit. It irritates me that people are that narrow-minded, of course.

So this quilt is not political. It’s mental. OK, it’s about what goes on in our brains when we’re dealing with the world. In my world, I deal with about 140 OTHER people’s kids and all their stuff before I can deal with my own. Or sometimes at the same time as I deal with my own. Certainly some days it is easier than others…apparently my whole team was losing their shit on Friday, and I had a totally chill, mellow day. Might have been what I gave them to do that day, which was its own version of self care. Today though we are still doing a lab, which is usually pretty good, because they are engaged, although this one uses fire (controlled by me), and one of my guys might lose his mind today over that. We’ll see.

Anyway, it was a long day yesterday. Two-hour staff meetings suck. My brain turns off about halfway through, and sometimes earlier. It was also a difficult topic, although we skated over the worst of it and focused on what they did afterwards. Honestly, the most difficulty I had was when I realized I was that much older than everyone at the table…I actually was a working adult when Waco happened…no one else was. Sigh. But I find it’s easier if I draw through the long meetings, no matter what the topic is…so I did this.

Interesting. Keeps me from falling asleep anyway.

So I just had to get up and take a paper pattern away from the dog. She gets anxious in the morning for no apparent reason and wants to eat paper. It could be a book, a pattern, a napkin, piano music, or whatever (her favorite is pads of post-it notes). She’s annoying. She has a bone right in front of her. I fed her and petted her and discussed her life choices. Sigh.

So after the meeting, I came home and cooked…gonna have to rethink that meal in terms of blood sugar. So complicated some times. But I tried this, romesco. It was like a mellow broccoli.

Runs a bit toward cauliflower. Honestly, it looks cooler than it tastes. But it looks fascinating.

Then I entered the show, did some other stuff I needed to get done, and started stitch down…

I can’t really tell you how much I’ve gotten done in fractions or percentages. I have everything under the arm with the fishes done, on the right side…so the bottom half of Figure 1, Figure 2 mid-chest, and then one arm and wing of Figure 5. That doesn’t sound like much, does it? Well it’s not. That’s why. I didn’t have any issues with the machine last night…I just started late.

Tonight I’m going to need to work a little bit on school stuff, plus more errands. Last night, I had to go to the bank with a bag full of pennies, plus some cash for a down payment on a quilt, and final payment on another quilt. So I’m depositing this weird concoction of stuff, and one of my former students is training to work at my bank. So weird. I didn’t recognize her face (well, it once had hijab around it and now it doesn’t), but I did recognize the name. She remembered a detention for gum, but also remembered that I always give kids a chance to spit it out…they only get detention if they blow off my request. She laughed. So that’s OK. Anyway, that’s what I get for teaching where I live…these little moments of connection with kids now that they’re grownups and trying to figure out the adult world.

So there’s hope for them! OK, off to school and a long day, with stitching at the end of it though, so that’s cool.

*Foster the People, Worst Nights