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

We’re All Broken Pieces Floating by*

Really, brain? Once again, the night before I have to be up early for school, you decide that being completely wired and overthinky is the way to go, that sleep is just something for the weak. Rough for me, because Friday night wasn’t the best sleep night either. So I went to bed early Saturday to try to help, because I had to be up and out relatively early Sunday…but then the dogs got me up even earlier. UGH. Sleep. I wish it were easier. I really suck at it.

It’s interesting, because one of the things we’re supposed to talk about at our two-hour staff meeting today is teacher self care…but it’s my job that kept me up last night and Friday night. So. There’s that. Meditation. More of it.

That said, I got a lot done this weekend, all this pissy shit that needed doing: I graded two weeks of makeup work, I cleaned the bathroom, except for the floor, I ordered meds for me and the dog, I went to two art meetings (which just means more work I gotta do, but that’s OK), I checked a bunch of stuff off the to-do list. That’s what I do on weekends. Gotta get done. There’s so little time after school some days. Certainly being at school until 6 PM on Friday didn’t help.

And I did a little art stuff. So that’s nice too.

Oh yeah! We walked the dogs…I don’t usually have them Saturday, but the ex was out of town for soccer, so we ventured out into Spring-like weather.

They were happy.

The pup and cat were sharing one of the few Winter sunshine locations in the house Saturday morning too…

Big enough for two small ones.

Then after the first art meeting on Saturday, we headed out to an opening at Art Produce…this is Back Pocket by Max Lofano.

Obviously the weirdest little things he had picked up while walking around. Very purposeful and organized.

And then work by Lynn Susholtz, who runs Art Produce…

These were fascinating. They wanted to be wood, but I’m not sure they were…but there were drawings on and things inserted into them.

I really wanted to touch them. But art. Need permission. Anyway, always an interesting installation there.

Saturday night after that was a lot of this…

And eventually I fell asleep there and then went to bed, because I was really tired from not sleeping Friday night.

Sunday was a little better, although I spent a chunk of it in a car and at another meeting. Funny how they all hit at once and they all want the same thing. OK. Trying to get all that done. But meanwhile, after eating dinner and while still watching Watership Down (man, that book was weird, somewhat creepy…definitely makes me look at the bunnies in my yard differently), I drew.

So many things wrong with perspective on this. Oh well. It’s pen on paper.

And then the catch-up project for Sundays is using the dyed moons I got from Jude Hill…I had freezer paper cut for these shapes, so I found fabrics for them.

Of course, this is only 4 out of the 12. But I want to finish these and then decide what to do with the next batch. It might be more figures…

It might not. We’ll see.

I’m starting with some real basic applique and then plan to add embroidery.

With the moons part of the block…

The moon is going in the hole in the middle…that will be easier once the rest is sort of stitched down.

Even here, I don’t necessarily do what’s easy.

So we’ll see where those go. They’re ready for applique next Sunday.

Then I finally started the stitchdown on the swallowing heads piece.

I gave up when the machine started pitching a fit. I think there’s thread stuck somewhere, because I rethreaded everything. But I got some stitching into it…more on that all week, I suspect. Grading, stitching, hopefully more solid sleeping. That’s my goal for the week. Exercise too. But first, school. I was smart and prepped mostly on Friday. Two days of labs…it’ll be good.

*lovelytheband, Broken

Happiness Hit Her Like a Bullet in the Back*

No, I’m not shopping today. Well, I did a little bit of online shopping for Christmas, because I’m starting to panic about that. But otherwise, I don’t think I’m taking off these pajama pants or leaving the house. Well, I might walk the dogs…or myself. That would be a good plan. 

So yesterday, I got up and finished the stitch down…

I was on a roll. It took about 3 1/2 hours total. I’ve found the fast part of the quilt, I think. 

Or I was motivated to finish. I like this quilt. I want to be able to enter it. I emailed my photographer this morning. Next week is a crazy psycho space of school meetings and crap, but hell…it will be finished.

All stitched down before Thanksgiving stuff started. Well, I made deviled eggs in the morning…

I’m using the new WordPress editor right now. You can no longer add all the pictures at once and then type around them, which is what I used to do. Now I have to click more buttons. Sigh. Not how my brain works.

When we got back from dinner, around 9 PM, I was tired but motivated. I decided to use the unknown batting. I pieced a backing, because the one batik I used for the front was wider than anything else I had for the back. Oh well. Done! Laid out. Looks good. Batting was big enough. 

That might have been all I cared about at that point. Ask me how I feel about it after quilting with it. I swear, I know I did another quilt with this batting. Wish I could remember which one it was. 

Pinbasting took about an hour…and then I vegged out for the rest of the evening. Like an hour. Then bed. Ugh. Tired. 

I didn’t grade anything yesterday. I need to grade today. I need to quilt today. I figured it will take me about 6-7 hours to do the quilting. I need binding fabric, so that’s a trip to Rosie’s…just not today, I don’t think. I don’t even want to be on the road today. Maybe tomorrow? I have something in the afternoon tomorrow and a bunch of things I was supposed to do (but probably won’t) tomorrow night. Quilt today. Finish if possible. Trim. Bind tomorrow? Maybe? Hand sew binding Sunday while getting ready for school starting again (aargh). Deliver to photographer Tuesday. Hopefully.

A gift from the fam last night…

For my Christmas tree…from Ljubljana…where I actually went in 1988 at Christmas time. Long time ago. I couldn’t have afforded anything there at the time. The stock market in the US crashed and my university had sent my aid checks late, so I had about half the money I would’ve had for the winter break if they’d sent them on time. Whoops. It was a starving month. I remember that. 

I’m not quite ready to do Christmas yet. Maybe when it’s actually December. I have a week at least. 

Girlchild is in Canada right now. And still alive. All good. We are having MY turkey tonight, so I can have turkey sandwiches. I did not get pie last night. I could have had pie, but I don’t like pumpkin pie. So maybe I will put clothes on to buy a reduced-price pie at the store today. Or not. I don’t really need a whole pie. 

OK, time to quilt. I have most of a cup of tea in me. I almost feel human. That’s good enough.

*Florence and the Machine, Dog Days Are Over