To Be a Rock and Not to Roll*

March 17, 2017

Did I mention the mockingbird is back? Oh yeah. I read somewhere that lots of people get used to its song and it helps them fall asleep. Really? OK. So my brain doesn’t work like that. I keep hearing all the different songs it sings and it wakes me up over and over again. So it is sleep-with-your-pillow-on-your-head season. I was hoping he’d stay further away…I could hear him (or probably his cousin) a few houses away, but it wasn’t loud enough to keep me awake. Now he’s back either on my property or nearby. I’m rolling my eyes at him. How long do mockingbirds live?

So yesterday was exhausting, more than usual. I don’t know that we stood or walked more than we usually do, but I do know that being out in the hot sun for most of the day didn’t help. The plus is that most of the kids were interested in what was going on…

I didn’t have a lot of patience for the whiners…the ones who couldn’t handle the heat. I did warn them, and some brought water. But sitting out there in a sweatshirt didn’t make a lot of sense. Next year, we’ll try to borrow popups for this part. In general, it went well though. Just modify for next year. As always.

I came home and took a shower. Actually no. First I went to Home Depot for slats so I can actually ship the other two quilts. Then I sat down on the couch and tried to read for a bit…

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aka had my leg licked (clean or not, he likes to clean his humans)…and then fell asleep into a proper old lady nap. That lasted an hour. Ugh. Woke up to the black cat asleep on me and the world getting dark (the sun went down) and no dinner plans that I could stomach. I eventually figured that out. The post-nap grogginess was not helpful. I even made enough for lunch today. I find as I get older that breakfast for dinner (and apparently also lunch) is more and more a thing.

This. Yes. I swear. Please just believe us the first time around.


Interesting. Because I suspect a lot of women don’t even whine about it. They just assume it’s something they’re doing wrong. But whatever. Nice-guy misogyny.

Then somehow, with incredible will power, I managed to get up and go stitch down…

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Then I remembered the 17 things on my to-do list. Ugh. Paying bills, ordering shit I need, entering a show, editing a newsletter, emailing people. I did all that last night around 11 PM.

And then I thought I wouldn’t finish the stitch down, because I was still exhausted and it was late…

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And the machine is still having a tension problem…so now on my calendar for today is to call the shop…it’s going in as soon as I finish this one.

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I bullied through and finished though…after midnight.

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I have a show to go to tonight…so I probably won’t be sandwiching it tonight. Tomorrow…I’m waiting to see if I have two meetings or only one…I’m hoping one so I can sandwich. And grade. Because I sucked at that this week. Today is a catchup day for the kids, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up mentally. And on grading. Although I just had a mental moment…I don’t think we have the stuff copied for next week. Huh. Dammit. Always behind, I swear. Except somehow it all gets done. I don’t even know how some days.

But sandwiching and starting the quilting this weekend. The next one is going to be tight. Let me tell you…really tight. But I think it can be done. I need to look at the drawing again. And finish this one quickly. No more tired nights (ha!). So shut up mockingbird…I need my sleep so I can make art.

*Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

Watch It All Fall Down*

January 30, 2017

Some days, I get to the end of them, and it feels really good, really satisfying, mostly because I blasted through a bunch of stuff on the to-do list. I think my whole life is the to-do list sometimes. I’m driven. Sometimes to tears or insanity, but definitely driven.

It was a productive weekend (not for school, but that place eats up too much of my time anyway). I spent most of Saturday afternoon, evening, and night finishing the stitch down on the newest quilt. I spent a lot of time fighting tension issues with the machine, but for the last 2 1/2 hours, it stopped. Proof that it’s crazy. So at some point, even though I was tired (over 5 hours of stitching), I just kept going because (a) I wanted it to be done and (b) I was afraid if I left it for Sunday, it would start fucking up again and I just couldn’t deal with that.


Sometime around dinner time, I took a break from stitching down though…and did two days of a year of stitches…the yellow french knot flowers above Long and the purple flowers around the P.


That’s a month of work, basically. This piece of fabric might not be big enough. Huh.

I was waiting for the pizza guy. No, I didn’t plan for Saturday dinner. Don’t ask. I thought I might have other plans. So I kept working on this one until he showed up. It’s almost done.


It’s the first block of Sue Spargo’s Folk Tails, started a long time ago. Sigh. I like the hand-stitching part of these…not so much the finishing though. I have one that is ready to be quilted and one that is ready to be pieced and borders put on…and this one is from two years ago? I think. I love her stuff, but without soccer games to waste time at, I don’t do as much of it as I used to. I’m more inclined to grade papers if I have time in a waiting place.

Then I got back to stitching. This is when it started being much smoother…about an hour in.


I finished around 11:30 PM.


What a relief. The machine was being a pain.

This is Sunday’s year of stitches…the green little plants in the middle. They’ll get flowery bits too.


This is how it ends up on the couch when it’s cold. Kathy sandwich.


I only just persuaded the cat to get off my lap so I could sew.

Then came the hard work of the day. I pieced, ironed, and taped the backing to the floor. I had realized around 4 that I had no piece of batting big enough, so I kamikazed to JoAnns and bought that and thread for quilting. I thought ahead! Then after dinner with the parentals, I finished drying the batting, which I had washed quickly…and then ironed the front. It was too big. I knew I’d be trimming like 6 inches off each dimension, so I did it beforehand, so I wouldn’t waste time and fabric quilting all that extra crap that I was gonna cut off eventually anyway.


And then I pinbasted it. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would.


I started around 10:15 and was done around 11. It’s currently measuring 56″ x 92″. I think that’s the longest quilt I’ve ever made. I warned my photographer. His eyes went a little wide.

Anyway, it’s such a relief to now be ready for the quilting stage. And as for the tension, it was freakishly perfect during the straight stitching…so I’m wondering if this machine just doesn’t like the new invisible thread. Except it started doing this on the last quilt a little, which was the old invisible thread (different brand). I honestly think it just needs some adjustment. My machine guy said I had to bring it in once a year to stay in his warranty, and I will do that, but I suspect with the amount of quilting I’ve been doing, that it needs more adjustment than that. We’ll see how the quilting goes, starting tonight. I’m expecting the quilting to take more than 20 hours, so no way am I finishing this week. And with a 4-hour class on Saturday, the weekend is kind of a mess too. Oh well. It will be enough to get started and try to get 2-3 hours done a night. And hopefully start drawing the next one.

I’m revising goals left and right. All the solo show stuff needs to be done and photographed by April 28. Oh shit. OK. I got this. There’s an immigrant quilt in my head too, as of the crazy of the last two days. I have to say it’s at times like this when I really love my country, coming out in support of those being detained in airports, of governors and senators showing up in airports and demanding release, of judges doing the right thing, of people yelling loud, of McCain and Graham, Lindsey Graham for gosh sakes, standing up for our people. I never thought I’d have a positive thing to say about that man, but there it is. So yeah, this quilt is huge in my head, YUGE, but I don’t have time to draw that right now! So I’m writing notes about what’s in there, sketching out some stuff. For later this year.

When the boychild was a baby, he loved the Natalie Merchant album with the song below on it (Tigerlily)…he had colic and would scream and cry for 2 or 3 hours every night. I would stand and rock him to this album. I wonder if he remembers the songs.

*Natalie Merchant, San Andreas Fault

Alright Already We’ll All Float On*

January 27, 2017

OK, I’m getting there. Somewhere. Crap though. I just realized I was supposed to email a photo somewhere and I didn’t do it. Damn. So keeping on top of all the little shit is driving me a bit bonkers. Overuse of the calendar…

So I have a bunch of stuff to do this weekend, as always, but mostly it’s art. Well. And politics. But hopefully that’s a good thing. You don’t stop doing that because of the crazy facing you, because you think it’s not doing anything. You keep doing it because the little stuff will eventually add up and make a difference.

I finished the drawing. I did use pencil to sketch in where the guy would go, just to make sure I didn’t fuck it up at that stage.


My quilts have a lot of detail in them, but not this much. Although looking at this, I think it would make a great quilt. But all those leaves and tree bits! Maybe I could simplify (but then it won’t be as cool). Aack. Anyway, the drawing probably took 5 hours or so over the two days, and that doesn’t count the drawing I did back in December that was sort of a pre-draw to this…which I didn’t like. But it got me here. There were 4 or 5 other false starts. It happens. I’m going to hopefully have some drawing time next week, just because I’ll be somewhere my sewing machine is not.

More of this year of stitches…the variegated green above Long. I’ll probably toss a bunch of french knots in there.


It’s pretty cold at night here. Simba’s nose was apparently cold. So the whole time I sewed and drew, he had it shoved under some part of my body.


I finished the drawing, scanned it, and sent it off to its person. And then started trying to sew. I almost gave up completely on the machine. I had cleaned everything out and rethreaded everything, and the tension was still way off. I don’t know how to open the top part…I’m suspecting I’m not supposed to, but there was a possibility there was thread in there. I haven’t figured that part out, although sewing made a short piece of monofilament pop out. Interesting. Then I switched needle size and it seemed to behave. And then it didn’t. I’m hoping that’s a brief fart of stupidity that won’t continue. I’m frustrated as hell over not getting it to behave.


I didn’t get very far last night. It’ll get done this weekend and hopefully sandwiched as well…even if I have to pull out the old machine to make it work. It worked so well for the last two quilts. Two? Or has it been three? It’s been three. There were some tension issues in the last one. I thought it was just me. Sigh. I don’t have time for this.

*Modest Mouse, Float On

Karma Police, Arrest This Man*

January 25, 2017

Plagued by frustration this week. Really. So what is one to do? Well actually DOING does help, although sometimes, like last night, it causes additional frustration. At some point, sleep is the only option.

I did start stitching down at a fairly early hour, and was mostly successful…


Although the tension was having issues, which is more than a little frustrating. I’m thinking it needs adjusting of some sort. It seems really random. So I kept trying to get it to its happy place (and me to mine).


And then I broke a needle (still not sure how) and then I couldn’t get it to anywhere happy at all. I rethreaded everything. Tried everything.


Finally turned it off and walked away. Fucker. It better work tonight. I did finally bring the other one home, and it does work as long as it doesn’t get too hot (not a problem this week), so I can throw it in for a while if this keeps happening. But so frustrating…because there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for the lame-i-tude. I hate not being able to fix it myself. How long have I been sewing? 42 years? I should be able to make it work.

That was after a frustrating day at school. So. Hopefully today will be better, because this week is kicking my butt and I’m not even halfway through.

Sometimes puppies help with that and sometimes they’re just bitey assholes. You pick.


I added the orange stars and crosses on the left. Gonna fill in all that space around the words.


I pulled the beanbag out of my son’s room into my office, so the puppy could sleep in there while I’m stitching. But this is what happened. And she’s scary, so he just stares at her. Now I feel bad, because Simba really did think that was his beanbag. Sigh.


My daily ball-throwing exercise…once they had decided they were too tired to run any more.


Calli gave up way before Simba did. He would just leap over her.

OK. Well. I have a plan if the machine continues to create stitch nests. I’m not sure I have a plan for how to deal with students being frustrating today, but I’ll work on it. I know they don’t think things through and I have to remind them of 17 million things, which frustrates me as well. Today will be different than yesterday. I just have to keep telling myself that. Also true of the big picture…the political stuff is weighing on me. I just keep taking tiny actions, because that’s what I can do. And not engaging with those who still think I don’t have a right to object. There’s really no relief at the moment.

*Radiohead, Karma Police

Pressure Pushing Down on Me*

January 24, 2017

I’m feeling. Yup. There we are. I write postcards to my senators yesterday, amusingly, because I’m in California and they’re both women, Democrat women. But I expect more from them because of that. My local guys, well, that’s another thing. They’re gonna get me in person. A voter and teacher in their district…maybe they don’t have a clue that not everyone is is a white Made in America. That seems unlikely, but whatever.

So I came home from a staff meeting where I felt frustrated. I’m an adult, not a young one, and I know how I learn, how I retain information. And I’m back to an authority figure who won’t respect that. Sigh. The first one I remember was maybe 2nd or 3rd grade? My mom handled that. But now I’m not allowed to use technology to take notes. So to keep art brain entertained, because otherwise she causes issues, I drew.


The principal was talking (incorrectly) about nuclear fission and fusion…hence the nuclear power cooling towers. I can’t explain the rest. It would make a nice coloring book image maybe. It’s not even done. I brought it home.

I did all my school and political stuff after that…and then made dinner. Honestly, my brain wasn’t into anything last night. Just tired. And frustrated. Three animals in this picture, two of them on or very close to me.


Then I stitched the last word. Now to fill in with all the stitches.


I stitched down for a little while. The dogs needed a lot of entertainment yesterday, so I didn’t get much done. Here it is piled up on the sewing machine to keep the cats off it.


I’m hoping I have a better attitude toward it tonight. Hard to say. It’s a long process. And sometimes frustrating. The machine is having some random issues that make me swear at it. I finally threw out the end of the spool of Sulky transparent thread, because it was behaving so badly. I don’t like wasting supplies, but it was causing me to waste time, which is more important than the throwing-out part. But it’s still having some issues. Oh well.

Sigh. OK. Gotta go to school, much as I don’t want to. Days and days of labs…kinda driving me nuts. A couple classes are fine, but one is remarkably incapable of reading instructions. And the clean up. Sigh. Geez, I’ve got a great feeling going into today. Meditate on the way to work?

*Queen and David Bowie, Under Pressure

This One Goes Out to the One I Love*

January 23, 2017

‘Twas a busy weekend…a march, two meetings, two openings, some level of exhaustion. School prep and grading in the middle of it. I’m still short a printer cartridge, so I can’t print anything. I think I have enough groceries for the week. I think the house and yard are still intact, although more and more damp and muddy each day.

The Women’s March was an amazing thing. A wondrous and beautiful (although slightly damp, thanks go to the other Kathy for buying me a poncho at the last minute) thing. I saw a friend I hadn’t seen for years…


And in Boston, my daughter marched as well.


And in Seattle, my SIL and niece; in Ithaca, my son…and about 5000 of my closest friends throughout the world (and another 3 million I’ve never met?). I feel for those women who feel like it wasn’t about them. I read one FB friend’s account of a pro-lifer told not to attend. I would have no issue with a pro-lifer marching right next to me. My real problem is when they take away my choice. I don’t want to take away theirs…I want to make sure they have all the choices available to them so they can personally make the best choice for them. They often do not want the same for me. So I guess my politics are clear. It’s funny…because some of those same people think my quilts are beautiful and amazing, but they often have these messages running through them. I guess that explains why the one quilt I did two years ago that was politics-free and only a beautiful creature covered in plants and animals (it had its own politics there) was one of the most popular quilts I posted.

The politics aren’t going away. They’re gonna get louder. There’s no other way to go through the next 4 years…loud. Nasty. Adamant. Insert your favorite descriptive word here.


So that was all good. And now I’m continuing not just to protest with art, but also with action where I can find it…I’m starting here: with 10 actions in 100 days. I can’t go stand in my representative’s offices (although I keep getting invited to town hall coffees and the like…I’m going to make an effort to show up to some of those), and it’s really hard for me to make phone calls, just because of my job, but I can write and do other things. And draw. I can do that.

So sometime last night, late, I was going to start stitching down. I had one piece that was missing, a forehead wrinkle. I had found it flopping around and put it in the box to iron down when I ironed everything to the background, and then it disappeared. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Oh well, I thought. I guess she wasn’t meant to have that forehead wrinkle.

And then yesterday morning, there it was, in the middle of the hallway floor. Uh huh. So cat, right? Yup. Cat.


I did iron it on before I started stitching down. There’s Simba!


I took a break about an hour in…to do my stitching for the day. Saturday night, I managed the stitching for both Friday and Saturday, which was the curly bullions to the left of Long and the thick green grass and the & for the rest of the phrase. Then last night, I did the pink stitching to the top right…they have a name, but they always look like bulls heads to me, and then some french knots to finish off the thread.


Then I found renewed energy for the stitch down (often happens when it’s late) and went back to it…


I was trying to finish the bottom part of the stove…just to have a place to aim for…


And then I realized how late it was and went to bed…


But as you can see, there’s some feminist commentary going on in this piece. That’s always been there. It’s not going away. I don’t foresee any just-pretty quilts coming in the near future. Sorry. Not sorry.

*R.E.M., The One I Love

Something in Hand

January 6, 2017

So the ends of vacations often fall into this panicked attempt to complete everything on the list, which is always impossible. Yet I try. Check it off, cross it off, get it all under control. It’s not on the list? It might not happen then. I might forget about it completely until 1 AM 2 AM even 3 AM, when I am lying in bed…and I slide my phone out from under the pillow, where it records my lack of sleep, tossing and turning, and add that crucial task to the calendar or the list of things to do.

It’s at a point right now of What Do I Really Have to Do to Get By. What Is Absolutely Necessary. Is It Bad Form to Draw at a Wedding? OK, I already know the answer to that one, it’s OK. I multitask for survival’s sake. I know I have a staff meeting Monday. What else can I do during the meeting? Still paying attention, but not just sitting there. I’m really bad at just sitting there. I need something in hand. Stitching, a book, a sketchbook, scissors, whatever.

Yesterday was a rainy mess here. I went to school and started organizing for Monday. I’m still debating whether I need to go back Saturday to finish, or whether I can get through Monday without doing that. I’d prefer NOT to go in. I need the mental space to evaluate that. I don’t have that at the moment. Then I had professional development. There were a couple of things I noted as useful, but mostly it was like, yeah, I know that, I just haven’t found the time (while designing curriculum from scratch) to fit a higher level of that into my curriculum. There is a low level of it. I manage to get 2nd place in a roomful of teachers on a quiz…well, there’s an achievement…then back to school, in the rain, to drop my computer and head out to see Persephone.

We met in a German hostel or something like that, aged 16 or so, summer abroad program with AFS. She sang, I pounded on a piano. We were both unlike the more normal American girls and bonded. We see each other maybe every 3-7 years and it’s always easy. Yesterday was a trip to Goodwill…


The color runs always fascinate me…


I used to live in thrift shop clothing…I don’t ever have time to go there now. I rarely buy clothes for myself at all. It was fun…


And we did the normal lunch and coffee/tea thing too…then I traipsed all over Mira Mesa to get to my stitching meeting. I didn’t do my day of stitch on Wednesday (already an issue? Yeah. I know.)…so I did that first…the yellow.


Then added Thursday’s eyeball.


And worked on the warthog’s bush. All couching. Crazy.


I did cut a few pieces out last night, but didn’t photograph them. Left and picked up girls from the airport at midnight, in bed by 2 AM, then up early (well, for me) and out to take Persephone to the train station…a beautiful California day.


And realized as the train was pulling away and we were waving at each other that we never took a picture together. Whoops. Oh well. I don’t think we did last time either. I never remember that kind of documentation.

Art interrupted by life. And a big ball of have-to hanging over my head. I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of it. I can feel it in my shoulders. My neck. My head. The reality is that I will get done what I can, and I may have to say no to some things. Today is still busy…girlchild leaves again tonight…but maybe later I will get fabric time. Or drawing time. We’ll see. Certainly I’m taking fabric with me to the girlchild’s hair appointment (mine is in the middle of hers and then we go directly to the airport). Oh yeah, see? Documentation…


And taking deep breaths. Meditating. Trying to get what I can under control.