Not This Year…

Two days off from writing…as always with this time of year, it’s busy. I’m really tired too…not sleeping well. Last night was the sound of rain…isn’t that supposed to be soothing? It was a lot of rain. Over an inch. And wind. Not so soothing. I feel like yesterday was the end of all the not-sleep and over-activity. The family stuff is done (well, mostly) and the holiday crazy is over, so now I can just focus on art and sleep (maybe?) and getting work done. Perhaps some down time? That might be a good plan.

Monday, I packed up 4 quilts…some needed slats, some needed labels. It took a good chunk of the day to get my fuzzy holiday brain on task and get it done, but then I shipped them all on Tuesday morning, which was the good thing. Four fewer things to worry about.

Then we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (no longer the Wild Animal Park) with the man’s family, on one of those safari caravan things, where you get to feed the animals. That was way cool…

I suck at names, but this giraffe is female and very food-oriented.

And only a little in your face…

I think we all enjoyed the tour…

We also got to feed a couple of rhinos and ask lots of questions…

Apparently I win on questions. Not suprisingly. I told her I was a science teacher.

Casual. Giraffe over shoulder. Plus the tour guide went through the master’s program with my co-teacher…small world.

Baby rhino!

Rhinos are the weirdest looking things…

I didn’t know about the prehensile lip thing…

I’d never seen one this close…

I kept asking about everyone’s teeth. The animals…not the people. Anyway. It was a very cool thing to do, followed by food and wine and then coming home and being too exhausted to do anything but space out and go to bed. So I didn’t draw on Christmas Eve. I thought about doubling up yesterday, so I would still get my 24-drawing count, but it’s not meant to be a law like that. So I let it slide.

Christmas Eve, we moved the tree off the hearth, because it was supposed to be cold on Christmas Day and we wanted a fire…

I think she can sit in the entryway for a couple more years before we have to plant her out…although she might want to get out of that plastic container before then.

Christmas morning, the kittens and Kitten were all in the same space without violence…

That’s a good sign…we’ve seen a few instances of co-existence. There’s hope for the old lady.

Christmas Day was a lot of presents and a lot of food…my mom and the girlchild giving Simba all the loves…

Which he totally deserves, yeah? He even got a present…

The animals all get presents, although we think someone ate a catnip mouse. Probably someone large…

Hmmm. Maybe.

My dad sits on a chair behind the couch and surveys the room…

It takes a while. We eat the foods. We clean up. Then we all do our own thing for a while…some cook, some sleep, some walk…

Some put cat trees together…

Stronger minds than mine…

I even sat down at the machine again…trying to finish the stitchdown so I can get this quilt done.

Realistically, the other January deadline I had is not gonna happen. Not sure what happened in late November/early December, but I kinda lost the creation mojo. Too tired, too overwhelmed with all the stuff that needed to happen. Not surprising. It’s fine. Someday this week I’ll reevaluate where I’m at and decide whether I’m going to just blow off deadlines or make something for something.

Christmas dinner was nice…girlchild did a good job…

I started a drawing while waiting for dinner…and added a bunch of leaves afterwards, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else to draw. The wonder of a tired brain…

Weird dogs. OK, maybe just the one on the right.

After the drawing, I finished grading one assignment and input five into the online gradebook. It needed to be done, it’s brainless, and this one was asleep in one arm while I did it…

Sweet baby.

Today is one more family thing, and then I’m hoping to finish the stitchdown, pinbaste the quilt (which means cleaning the entryway floor), doing another drawing, SLEEPING. Yeah. Not. Because the solar people are coming back tomorrow morning, so they’ll be here early, stomping on the roof. Sigh. I do sometimes go back and read past years on the blog to remind myself that it always takes a week, easily, to get relaxed in winter. It’s just chaos until after Christmas. But this quilt will get done and another started, and the grading will get as far as it gets, and I will be ignoring that parent who wants me to call them until I actually go back to school, and then I will be happy to call them. Although it’s going to be the same shit I told the kid twice now, so I’m not sure where the conversation will go from there. I’m going to read some of the 17 books I got for Christmas and maybe do some yard stuff and some hikes and some drawing. It’s good. I’ll get there. The family stuff was good…it just doesn’t leave much energy for anything else. This year, anyway. Some years, I’ve been ironing Christmas Eve and quilting Christmas afternoon…but not this year. No judgement. Just reality. Hope everyone had the holiday they needed or wanted, and if not, you now are getting to do something you do want to do. Or feeding a giraffe…because that was pretty cool.

Rocks Are Hard Yo…

Yesterday. Was a slog. Apparently 12-year-olds don’t like rocks as much as I do. Plus I had to act out a wind turbine, which was hard because (a) I forgot the sound effects (whoOSH) and (b) my arms won’t turn like that, so I just look like a crazy woman. What’s new, right? I made the SECA laugh anyway. The kids think I’m nuts though, and rocks are hard yo. Ha Ha. They usually ARE hard. I want that shirt now. Rocks are hard. OK, this is how you know we’re close to break…the stupidest shit makes a teacher laugh until she cries. Rocks are hard.

OK. That said, I had to push and shove and yank them through the understanding of mining and the rock cycle yesterday…today we finish with the copper mine and then they write the CER. QUIETLY. For reals. Sigh. I can’t help anyone when I have children losing their minds because I asked them to write 7 whole sentences. In two days, it’ll be fine. FINE, I SAID.

I went to pilates right after work. That was pretty smart. The class was half empty (it wasn’t supposed to be) and it was good. Relaxing in a shaky-muscle kinda way. When I made it home, someone else was cooking for once (yay!) and I finished grading one assignment and input it and another one, and then made a list of all the things that needed grading over break unless I get some of them done in the next two days and I lost my mind. Eyes rolling back in head. Seriously behind. Always. Never caught up. My eyelid is not twitching though…yet…so that’s a good sign. Although my neck is close to frozen in place. Massage! To the rescue!

The kittens are very energetic…

And in everything, EVERYTHING. They tried to climb one of the quilts on the wall yesterday, so we moved some stuff to stop that. This is my sewing bag. Or a cat carryon. Hard to say.

They completely shredded this toy after pulling it out of a box and dragging it around…

I wish I could get a good photo of them leaping through the air, but they are too fast…

Sometimes they even slow down and let you pet them…

They are sweet. Although the house is currently a lot of animals trying to eat poop or attack things.

Kitten is still avoiding it all…by living in my office…

Calli wants to play too…and eat poop…

Simba is in the eat poop category…but also how much cat food can he steal.

I did stitch down for about an hour. I don’t have much stamina at the moment.

My brain is all over the map, stressed out, trying to get everything done and out of my head onto paper.

I’m more than halfway around, two full figures done and started on the third. It won’t take long to finish it. I just need the mental space (as always) and the energy. At some point, I’m going to need to sit down with my art deadlines and realistically decide about the next one. I’m not there yet. Certainly with two days of school before break, that is NOT the time to reevaluate anything (except my job choice of course).

Which means I need to go to work. It’s Decade Day. I’m 90s grunge, even though I always dress this way and I have to wear my school shirt because it’s also the staff picture day. And during the 90s, I was giving birth to my children, so 90s grunge was all about breastfeeding and diapers. Well, the last half of it anyway. Whatever. Happy holidays y’all! Especially sending good thoughts to teachers everywhere. Don’t kill them! It’s not worth the jail time. Joke. Mostly.

It's My Favorite Day of the School Year…

It is my favorite day of the entire school year. No, not the last day. I hate the last day. It’s stressful and annoying and I have my homeroom kids for 3 hours straight which is just nuts. Not fun. It’s not the day before Winter Break…then they act like they’re on crack and they can do totally stupid shit because three weeks is forever for them and they don’t think they’ll EVER get in trouble for acting out, plus sugar, plus Christmas makes them LOSE THEIR MINDS, and there’s an assembly, which just hurts my head even more, so no, not this Friday. Today is my favorite day because it’s…pajama day. You heard me. I get to wear pajamas to school. It’s like heaven on Earth. Oh yeah. I’m so happy.

Which is good, because I’m teaching about mining and spending my lunch giving quizzes, so none of that is fun at all. Well, mining isn’t bad. It’s just getting them to understand what the rock cycle has to do with it. It might be really obvious to YOU. Not so to a 12-year-old.

Anyway, I can survive three more days of school. I’m up early for yet another random meeting. Yesterday, during tutoring, I sat with an exhausting table. Sometimes I walk around and help random kids, but yesterday there was a group of kids who are mostly mine who needed science help. Literally one I had to say…now write the next sentence about farts. Seriously. Don’t even ask. Please. The rest of the time was like having WWII fighter pilots bombing you from above and trying to avoid the bombs, plus answer all the questions, and keep the pilots on task, because they wanted to go over THERE or over THERE and not do their job. EXHAUSTING. I really appreciate the other teacher who stayed late because all the other teachers ditched yesterday and I was gonna be all alone.

I came home and wrapped some gifts and talked to some people in person and on the phone and made dinner yet again (not sure how I ended up with double duty, and I’m pretty sure someone was supposed to help last night and didn’t, but when I looked over to ask for help, he had two baby kittens snoring on him)…spaced out a little, watched some TV, read 6 pages of Trump’s crazy-ass letter to Pelosi (how did he write that much? That’s a lot of words, albeit crazy words), and came in here and set up to do stitchdown…

This isn’t going to take very long. It’s very meditative…

Ah, spacecat. I only did an hour’s worth. More tonight I think…

I should be grading shit, but I couldn’t deal with it after being in tutoring. I was tired of it. I’ll do some today. I swear. There’s some easy stuff I could (should) get out of the way. I don’t want to be grading all break. Although there’s a few significant assignments this week. Ugh.

It’s really hard to get good pictures of these beasts sometimes. They’re constantly racing around…they wanted out this morning after the man left, but I knew I was leaving too, so I told them no…

They’re not really big enough yet to be let all over the house unsupervised, especially with my sweet girl (um. Well. She’s not so sweet.) in the house.

I had a moment last night…it’s the second time…where I really wanted to go to Craft Napa up in…well…Napa. It’s mostly art quilt stuff and it just sounds fun to take a class and mess around, but it takes forever to get there and I am back at school and I’m taking a class the weekend before in Palm Springs, which is a ways away, but nowhere near as far as Napa, so UGH. I had to persuade myself out of it again. Plus it would be really expensive to get there and stay there and take classes, so no, no, no, you can’t. Plus you have another quilt to finish before the end of January and it doesn’t even exist on paper, so I don’t know how the hell you think that is going to happen if you are traipsing all over California.

OK, I also need to wrap presents and pack quilts for shows tonight, so I should do some of that. I bought the boxes yesterday to get ready for it. And I have pilates right after school…I’ve never done an early class like this, right after school…I’ll need to change at school and go over there. I’m hoping it’s really relaxing and helps me slide into the evening. Because remembering to bring all my shit with me and actually leave school on time is a little stressful.

OK. I’m rocking pajama day. Happy to be in flannel. Already more relaxed than I would normally be.

The Dog Ate My To-Do List

I got to sleep in. It was glorious. Well, the old-lady dog needed to pee at 8, so I did that, and then went back to sleep for an hour. Lovely. More please. But I have work to do as well…so up and at ’em! I had a brainstorm about a thing we need to do for science last night as I was brushing my teeth, so I ran in here and wrote it on a post-it note and then fell asleep thinking about it, so of course, woke up and made it more of a thing than it was on a post-it, while texting another teacher friend about a kid and all the kids and how we get to a (tired, honestly) point of just reacting and we have to step back and reflect, which is what teachers do all the time, but this year, it’s just exhausting and nonstop. So without weekends and breaks and promising yourself to go home and NOT work and trips to the gym or a hike or whatever it is that floats your boat, we’d all go nuts. Although I promised my students I’d finish grading all the makeup work AND the essay thing this weekend. Which might have been a mistake, because I have a quilt to do.

I got up, I made my lists…which is funny, because Calli got left alone for a while yesterday while the boychild went to get approved to hike (broken toe fixed! mostly!), and she decided to take it out on my listmaking strategies…

The dog ate my to-do list. It’s OK. It was the old notebook. Most of the useful stuff had been transferred over into a new one. I do like HAVING them, though. I don’t know why. Just because. Documentation of the crazy. She was anxious.

I’m supposed to be keeping track of my actual work hours this week for school…I’m dividing it up into planning, prep, teaching, grading, duty, and meetings. We’ll see how it goes. The plan is to reduce some of it and get that time back for me and what I want to do. It’s impossible to track the thinking time unfortunately. There’s a lot of that going on.

When I got home, what I really needed was a walk. And the boychild can do that now, so we grabbed the dogs and went…

We’re getting close to Daylight Savings, when doing this will be much harder. I hate that. So I’m trying to use time now…

The dogs are a little out of shape. I might be too…a week of being sick and not working out at all seems to have had an effect. I’m still stuffed up a little and not fully healthy. But I’m mostly better.

I did grade a little last night. I also read a little. But mostly I stitched shit down. When I felt tired, I got up and heated up my tea. Then I came back and stitched some more.

I can’t say this part is particularly exciting…but it’s a little meditative. You’re just moving the fabric under the needle and trying to decide where to go next in a logical manner.

I actually planned to try to finish all the bottom section…and I did do that and more before midnight hit.

Including the butterflies…

So today, I’ve already paid all the bills, scanned the contract I needed to email, transferred some of my retirement funds to different funds, did a little bit of planning for school, dumped the batting into a pile of hot soapy water in the bathtub, and am listening to the weekly podcast for how to get more fucking efficient in my work day, while I type this blog. I’m also eating my breakfast while I type. Because I need to finish stitch down, take a shower, clean the tile floors, sandwich the quilt, and start actually quilting. Because the photographer wants it by next Saturday (oh dear. OK. Yikes.) It’s a good thing I have no need to sleep, right? OK. I’m going to get on that now. Move the batting. Start stitching. Shower. I’m gonna get this done.

The 7,000 Things…

I created a post this morning and filled it with pictures, because I think I thought I would sit there at lunch or in a quiet moment at school, taking a break from the prep crazy, and I would write some short pithy (doesn’t pithy mean short? well, sort of) amazing blurbs to go along with the pictures. Oh yeah. Ha ha. Laugh all you like. It’s 5 PM and I’m writing it now. Welcome to my world.

I was up early, taking the girlchild to the airport, sending her back to Boston, which is her home, as is San Diego. We will miss her…especially this guy…

I had to be at school early anyway. My brain wasn’t working well though.

I forgot about this. One of the professional learning things last Friday was a few sessions on self-care. One of them was adult coloring. Well I didn’t think much of the coloring pages they gave us, so I drew on top of the one I grabbed.

Hey, one thing I KNOW is self care, dammit.

I finally finished the edges on this. Now it can go.

Ah yes. Coming home to sleep. I’m surprised there’s no puppy there.

This is how far I got on this on Friday…

Pretty good for one day. Of course, I was paying attention to all the talking. In fact, I pay BETTER attention when I’m drawing or stitching. So there.

Yesterday’s hawk in the tree outside my office window.

He was eating something. Ripping it to shreds. Hopefully it wasn’t the bunny who hangs out by the pool. That thing is large.

So my goal yesterday was to finish the stitch down on the quilt. I had started on Saturday. Or Friday. I don’t remember. I really only did the border parts.

My Patreon people will get to see me stitching on this week’s video. I’m not sure how exciting that is, because I didn’t sew through my finger. I have before, but not yesterday. So no blood.

This is what Kitten does while I sew.

It’s noisy. I stopped at the halfway mark and did some dinner prep for the parentals. Looks good, eh?

I always forget to take family photos. So there’s three generations of women and a male puppy. Who is turning 4 and is not a puppy at all.

I should remember to take more of those. That’s me, my daughter, and my mom, by the way. In case you don’t know.

Blurriness means movement. Boychild is trying to dehair the parental dog. Katie’s not having it.

She sheds these giant fluff balls. It’s disturbing. For all of us.

There’s dad in the background with an incredibly spoiled dog.

Oh yeah. He’ll miss her.

When we got back, I started on the second half. I was hoping to finish, and in fact, I sped through it…

Stitch down never takes very long, but in this case, it was only 3 1/2 hours. Nice.

The back is always interesting. (Oh yeah…I have some of the embroideries that I didn’t send to the guy who’s selling the patterns, and I think I’m going to try to either hoop them or finish them in some other way, if hooping doesn’t make sense. This is one of them. Although this one would hoop easily. I’ll put them on Etsy when I’m done. Although they were not fast, so they also aren’t cheap.)

See, you can see the other side in simplified format.

Crazy really. And then I cover it up.

This is officially the last big quilt that will have this fabric on the back of it. I had yardage that I found in a box in the girlchild’s room, and I think this is the third quilt that has it on the back.

It’s some batik from ages ago. Yeah, I had time to piece a backing and pinbaste it. Impressive.

AND I went to bed early. Because early wakeup call.

Well then school. I need another three days to be ready for kids. But they arrive on Wednesday. So that’s not happening. Could I have kids in my room tomorrow? No. Wednesday? It’ll be fine. I’m panicking slightly. I have 120 yards of blue tape. My co-teacher might have just bought 78,000 marshmallows. Neither of us should be allowed out into the world. It’ll be FINE. I’ve been saying it all summer. Tonight I’ll start quilting, but first I need to do like 7,000 things and then cook dinner. Plus breakfasts. And lunches. But I’ll start with the 7,000 things. Apparently someone thinks I should PAY for the car I bought. And then people keep emailing me. I don’t know why.

The Fourth…

Is today about friends and family? Or is it about patriotism (that word leaves a bad taste in my mouth…too many people use it as an excuse to call people out for something they think is wrong, or as a reason not to question what’s going on around us, or as an excuse for acting like assholes toward those who are not the same)? Is it about the flag? I hope not, because we do horrible things with our flag. If respect for the flag is so important, why is it on everything we wear? Sorry, wandered off for a minute to see if you could get a flag emblazoned on a condom. I think the answer is yes. It’s also possible that I’m being hacked right now by an indie condom company. It’s probably not the first time.

I certainly think today should be about friends and family, but also about all those families that our government has seen fit to separate, those who asked for asylum and didn’t really get it. I’m pretty sure 99.9999% of those fat white guys in charge come from immigrant families to get here, and we need to remember that today. This country exists because we were escaping for our religious freedom (and even then, we were mostly assholes who took over and kicked someone else’s ass to live here…not a positive note). We need to remember that patriotism includes the part where we question the stupid shit our government is doing…think Hitler, think Handmaid’s Tale, think every damn dystopian novel you’ve ever read or seen in a movie. The American Way is to question that shit and rebel when necessary. Yell more. Fight more. It’s sad that my National Park admission dollars are currently being used to allow a president to jack off inappropriate messages of division and hate to a country that shouldn’t be built on that. It’s true that we’ve made massive mistakes in the past toward people of color, toward women, toward cultures or individuals that were different than the rest of us (and yet NOT) and somehow posed a threat toward our “way of life” (I don’t even know what that means)…so own it, do what we can about it, call people out, yes even today, at those family/friend gatherings. Support those who don’t have the resources to support themselves.

Because she said so…

So much for patriotism today. Enjoy yourselves. I’ve got plans…they aren’t perfect, but they’ll do. I will not be wearing a flag, though. Or even red, white, and blue.

Yesterday I did a lot of work. The plus is the driveway is ready to be sealed (mostly…needs sweeping closer to the real time) and the rugs are clean. I’m happy about that. I didn’t do a bunch of other things. Some of it was time spent on this big dummy…

Who does not like fireworks and requires consoling for hours afterwards. So I hugged her and combed her tangled fluffy butt fur and played her 80s music so she couldn’t hear the fireworks banging as much as when the music was off. Eventually she calmed down enough to lie down and I could do things.

Before all that, I did manage some of this…

Slow progress. Getting closer to done with the blues in the ocean though. I will probably take this to the celebration tonight. There’s a lot of down time for me. The man is playing at Campland tonight…not my favorite place. But I like being outside to watch them play and then being able to see all the fireworks. That’s cool. So I’ll stitch until they start playing…

I finally got in to the office to work on this…

And then the machine and the thread were not playing nicely together…

It was an incredibly frustrating and annoying thing…I’m staring at it this morning and hoping it behaves, because I wanted to be done with stitching last night, and I’ve barely started. I’ve ripped stitches four times now, rethreading and resetting everything and trying every possible setup, and finally walked away from it. So I’ll get some stuff done this morning and then try again.

This was last night, after I gave up…a blurry picture in the dark of two coned dogs and a cat.

May the fourth be a pleasant time, but may it also be a day of freedom for those who really need it. I’m suspecting it’s not those who are celebrating it.

For me, may it be a day to finish stitching and cross some other things off the to-do list. It was ugly this week. I’d like some space in my calendar, please.

They Spun a Web for Me*

Sorry I am so light on pictures right now. I have this finished quilt top, all ironed down and stitched down. Close your eyes and imagine it, although I can’t tell you anything about it. So there’s that. There’s no nudity in it! I can tell you that. I know you’re shocked, but I only use nudity when it makes sense to me. The problem is that other people don’t have the same sense as I do. Tonight I will be pinbasting it and hopefully starting the quilting, although I have some stuff to do after school and I want to go to the gym and finish my book. So there’s that.

Last night, I was on the stationary bike, grading Venn diagrams about the pros and cons of plastics, while looking up temperatures in New Orleans in December, and texting a high-school friend about National Parks I’d been to. There’s no picture of that either.

I took one picture of the stitch down. I tried to make it really artsy so you couldn’t see what I was stitching down, because I can’t show you that yet, and it was not artsy enough and you can totally see it. I’m gonna have a ton of pictures in July. Not now.

The plus is that I’m close to done (well, at least a week out), and then I will have pictures galore of the next quilt, whatever the heck it’s gonna be. I have three or four smaller drawings that are already numbered. I’m going to toss them up on my Patreon and let them vote. I don’t have the brain power to decide for myself. One minute I’m all about one of them. The next minute, my brain is reneging and picking another one. Indecisiveness! Actually, it’s just decision fatigue. Totally. I need a team to decide for me.

I did get to 11:55 PM last night and I only had like 3 inches left to stitch down and this happened.

Well, first the bobbin thread tied itself in a knot around the holder on the machine that probably has some official name like Bobbin Stick Thing, and then I couldn’t get it to unwind appropriately, so I took a seam ripper to it. Then I refilled the damn thing and sewed that three inches, but it all took some time. And profanity.

No I have not had enough sleep. Why do you ask?

But it’s done. So I can go on to the next step. Which is good. This weekend is somewhat of a clusterfuck, so I’m going to need all the head start I can get.

Here’s Kitten hiding behind a quilt.

Not a very artsy photo.

OK, I have a headache and I need to eat and find a new chiropractor. Maybe not right this second. I also have some art exhibits to enter. I might do one now. Time is short.

Oh yeah, another article that includes info about my solo show in Pittsburgh…Fiberart International opens this weekend and they are advertising my show along with it, which is cool. Because I didn’t get into Fiberart International, but entering there was how I got this show. Which is cool.

OK. Food. Entries. Teaching. All that.

*Coldplay, Trouble