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

Always Good to Have a Plan

Monday morning. You are cool and foggy and mostly quiet, except for that bird with a death wish that just divebombed my office window. Obviously it couldn’t see the cat that just about launched herself through the window screen at it. I have about an hour to get my brain to wake up and hopefully my stomach to stop wanting to regurgitate nothing into the atmosphere. I love these new diabetes meds…I’m nauseated for at least two days after taking them. I thought I was in the clear yesterday because I didn’t feel sick right away, but no…it’s here. Bleck. It’s funny that they advertise weight loss as a side effect. It’s because you’re too sick to eat. It is better this week, though, so far, knock on wood, so that’s a plus. Awake. An hour. Because then I have to meet with the principal (yup, already in trouble…NOOO. It’s a union thing) and I have to have my brains about me for that. And then I have to find everything I shoved into cupboards at the last minute to hide it from the summer school teacher who was in there and only broke one cupboard. Sigh. It’s all good. There are no kids today. Maybe by Wednesday, I will be used to sleep deprivation again. I was even DREAMING when the alarm clock went off. YES. Restorative REM sleep. What a thing. How dare the real world interrupt such bliss. Actually, it was a bad dream, so that’s OK.

So how am I doing on the quilt? I am doing fucking awesome…thank you for asking. I met my goals for the weekend and I am On Track to Finishing. On Time. I even emailed the photographer and reserved time, making sure he wasn’t going on a trip for Labor Day weekend (he’s not). I am On It.

So Saturday afternoon, I finished all the stitch down.

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It was a total of 7 1/2 hours, less than the 10 I was predicting. Once I got the tension problem solved, it went fast. Here’s the back…

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I always check the back for obvious stuff that I missed stitching down. Honestly, it doesn’t usually help. I find them when I’m quilting…the missed bits. People ask why I stitch down…the fusible doesn’t hold particularly well, even when I steam it, so this is my solution.

I take lots of breaks while I’m sewing…my brain (and body) needs them. I was wandering around the yard, cleaning up, watering, and checking on the bougainvillea plants we took down to almost nothing. There’s new growth! On 3 out of 4 of them, at least.

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That was quick. There’s always the chance the 4th one won’t come back…if not, we’ll pull it out and plant a new one. This time I’m not letting them grow up into the trees. I swear.

Then I came back in, realized I had a backing fabric that hadn’t been washed (it smelled like someone else’s laundry), which made me paranoid about shrinkage but also allergic reactions to any chemicals, so I washed it, cleaned the floor in the entryway (that’s why I was outside…recycling stuff from the entryway and putting stuff in the garage). Then made dinner while the laundry was going. Thought about drawing, but didn’t. Then around 9:30 PM or so, I started piecing the backing, ironing it, trimming the batting, laying it all out, ironing the top. I got it all laid out, covering most of the floor, when the man texted that his band was done with their show and he was packing up.

Crap. So I had limited time to pinbaste before he’d be back and wanting to come through that door. Well. I did it. Got it done about 10 minutes before he came home.

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It was a pretty easy process…

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They didn’t need to be pinned close together…the quilt is pretty flat, unlike some of them.

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That’s because it’s mostly applique and very little background showing…

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I have the biggest problems with the ones that have a big piece of background showing in the middle, with big appliques on either side. It’s hard to keep the center flat in that situation.

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I quit there. It was late. I was tired. I hit my mark. All good.

Sunday mornings I do my weekly journal layout…I like color. Buying color pens. Satchemo likes to help as all cats do, by batting at pens and my hand and sticking his claws into things.

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I’ve been calendaring my week like this since the beginning of the year. I think it helps. I spend about 15-20 minutes on Sunday dealing with the whole week and transferring stuff over from last week, and then it’s maybe 1-2 minutes each day, crossing off stuff that got done, adding new stuff, and transferring to the next day. I think I’m better at organizing that way. I still use a variety of online systems as well, but they support each other.

Yesterday afternoon, I started quilting…which is an awful lot like stitching down except with dark thread…

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I found this outside while peeing a dog…I can’t tell if it hatched appropriately or was eaten.

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Dinner included Johnny Depp. Always a good thing. I won a gift certificate to MishMash in Barrio Logan. Good food.

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Although it is in a different location than where it used to be. Use the map, not Yelp.

Then back to the quilting…

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Lots of quilting…

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I finished the whole mermaid and all the watery bits…

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There she is. At this point, I went back and used the monofilament to catch the bits I’d missed…you see that pin in the photo above? It’s marking a bit I forgot to stitch down. Plus there were some other smaller parts that needed stitching.

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I got the flag quilted as well.

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I am moving slowly. Everyone keeps coming in and asking when I’m leaving. I should be leaving now. If it were a real school day, I’d need to leave right now. But it’s not. I just have to be there before the principal’s meeting. So I have time to make the second cup of tea, finish the first one, and make my lunch. Brush my teeth. Pack the car. Pet the cat. Slow start to the second day back. Ugh. I don’t like mornings. I do like this quilt though.

I quilted 4 1/2 hours yesterday. I’m aiming for 4 hours a day. I realize I won’t make that every day, but I also have the weekend. I’m hoping to get binding fabric Friday or Saturday. We’ll see. But there’s a plan there. Always good to have a plan.

You Got Your Manipulations*

Checking things off the list. The copyediting is done and sent back to the author. I should’ve finished it a week ago. Oh well. He gave me plenty of time…and I still turned it in two weeks early, so that’s a plus. It’s also off my shoulders. A big plus. We managed pine-needle piles this morning…made some more compost-y heaps on the front not-lawn and prepped the trash can I use for the compost bin with more nicely damaged pine needles. I am not ready (at all) for the start of school, although I have most of my supplies…the ones I know I need, anyway. I’ll figure it all out next week. As always. I’m tryna be chill.

I did stitch some bits down yesterday…and emailed the photographer today, trying to reserve him, forcing myself to pick an end date that is all too soon for finishing this thing. I have enough batting and backing here to pinbaste tonight, which is the plan, after finishing the stitch down and getting the girlchild to the airport. Then quilting…quilting will take a while…here’s Kitten not helping with punctuating dialogue. I hate punctuating dialogue, in case you were wondering.

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Yesterday’s stitch down attempt…a mere hour after the all-day school conference and before girlchild’s birthday dinner.

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I couldn’t handle any more after that. Quilting…will take probably about 20 hours or so…and binding another 8 or 9. And I have two weeks. OK. That’s doable. Ignore the day job and the hike I’m going on. Really. OK. I can do this. I need to finish the stitch down this afternoon though.

Hear that, Kitten? This afternoon. Kitten is lying on my Quilts=Art=Quilts acceptance…

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You Pollute Me will be at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center from Oct 27-Jan 8…check it out.

There’s actually no nudity in this quilt. It was originally made for a really nice gallery in a private middle school. It’s still a cool quilt though.

Anyway, I need to do some stitch down. I have 4 hours until my airport pickup…girlchild going back to Massachusetts. I’m going to stop looking at my class rosters and stressing out. I AM. Seriously. There’s no point.

*Tonic, If You Could Only See