Sturdy Up Your Heart*

May 20, 2017

I’m frozen again. It’s 95 degrees out there. But my brain. Frozen. Too many things on the list. Dogs have been to the vet…one is now coneless and fancy free…the other is on more meds, a bloody abscess cleaned out, and still a conehead. Fun stuff. The washing machine died (again…it died last August too) last night while trying to finish up the boychild’s bedding. I really don’t have the time to deal with that right this second. Maybe tomorrow afternoon? I just don’t know. This might be an online thing. Trying to decide if it’s worth trying to fix again (I never actually fixed it last time…gave Sears the money to fix it and then spent 4 months trying to get the money back because they said my husband let them in the house and they fixed it. Interesting. I have no husband. Or male who lives here at the moment.) or whether I should just accept that the last 9 months of forcing it to work, even though it was apparently unfixable, was better than I thought I would get. Write that shit off. Because buying major appliances when I have no paycheck during the summer seems like a good plan? Fuuuuck.

Deep breaths. The list is long. I will get through bits and pieces of it, a little at a time.

There’s the nervous conehead at the vet. She gets all freaked out.

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And on the way home, she wouldn’t shift over to give the puppy some room…

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Don’t squish your baby brother.

I’m typing now with this one lying on the caps lock. I keep shoving her over.

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I did do some stitching last night…two nights’ worth on the stitch-a-day…it’s about all I did. I was so exhausted. I’m better today. Got over 8 hours of mostly OK sleep. I really needed it.

I stitched a (dammit…just forgot the name of it) feather stitch in blue and then straight stitches in the purple vine, and then put in a few French knots and a stem stitch under the eyeball to finish the thread. Then I did a pink lazy daisy in the feather stitch and straight stitches off the purple vine.

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Filling space. Plus trying to relax. Then I graded for a while. I’m so incredibly behind, it’s not even funny. Trying to catch up. Frantically.

I did work on this at gaming…

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I did the frog and started the grass…plus the symbol on the tree. Still debating going back and adding bullions to the outside of the tree. Then this one is done. Not taking it with me to Ohio.

It’s funny, I’ll be frantically stitching while gaming, trying to keep myself calm (not) and awake (that works). Stress levels are a little insane at the moment.

I woke to good (but a little scary) news this morning. Both the pieces I entered into Threads of Resistance got in.

This is Absolutely Nothing, originally in an exhibit called Women at War

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And this is Work in Progress, from the exhibit Expressions of Equality.

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These were made one after the other…hence the tree showing up in both…I wasn’t done with that imagery apparently. Much like the bathtubs I keep doing.

So yeah, I didn’t have time to make new work for this show, but I do often roll in those topics anyway. There was a climate change one I wanted to enter, but it was like 2″ too big. It’s all good.

So why is it a little scary? Well. So. A few of my quilts have upset people’s sensibilities. And these two have about 10 penises between the two of them, plus yes, full-on nudity, and one is NOT very nice about how I feel about the way women are treated in society.

So. I guess we prep for the media storm this time…because some of these venues could be an issue. The plus is I know the group that organized this show has my back. Most of them have supported me in the past with personal messages or posts online. So I’m feeling OK about opening some eyes, or getting those heads nodding up and down in agreement. And I know the Mancusos will just invite the press in…still think I should get a kickback on their ticket sales if I make the news again.

The show opens July 15 in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the New England Quilt Museum. And then it travels through 2018. Or longer. So check it out.

Now I gotta get through this to-do list or I’m gonna go crazy.

*The Beautiful Girls, La Mar

See Inside, Inside of Our Heads*

May 19, 2017

Well some of the to-do list is done. The ritual of crossing things off a list or checking that box, the visual of a long list of shit to be accomplished with lines drawn through…it helps. There’s still too many things on the list, but at least it’s not growing exponentially every day. Yet. Ha!

Just don’t ask about the grading. That’s going really slowly and inefficiently. Too much going on this last week at night. I’m behind. Significantly. This is unfortunate. I can feel all my normal stress responses ramping up, but the eyes aren’t twitching yet. That’s good. I even went to bed a little earlier last night to try and help. We’ll see. I swear, the thing I wish for most at the moment is more sleep…and it’s the thing that’s hardest to find.

I had my quilt meeting last night…it gets smaller and smaller, and I’m the only one who has quilt stuff any more. And last night, I didn’t! Well, I had those last 15 pieces to cut out…so I did that…and then I started sewing wool pieces down on the Sue Spargo Folk Tails blocks, because I think I’ll finish the 5th or 6th one tonight (I can’t remember which one I’m on) and then I’ll only have three for the trip next week. So some part of my brain believes that three is plenty…and some part doesn’t. In the back is one that’s ready…so there are two more in the front that I’m working on…and then I realized that those are all from the month of May and I haven’t even sewn the parts on for April.

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That probably doesn’t matter. I don’t think those need to be done in order. And honestly, I don’t think these are coming with me. My brain tries to organize projects sometimes and then the other more practical part of my brain kicks in and goes, Seriously? Three blocks? You’re not going to get those done in four days…even with all the travel you’ll be doing. You’ll draw and read too…plus grade in any down time.

I hate being bored. I hate sitting in airports and on planes and not having stuff to do. I need a variety of things from which to choose.

We’re all still coneheads. I’m hoping tomorrow’s vet takes care of that. Her really bad foot is better, so that’s good.

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The little guy is also better, but less likely to fall asleep on my studio floor.

So when I got home and dealt with dinner, I sorted the pieces…

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Lots of tiny. Then I came back into the studio and started ironing…

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Things that overlap can be a pain in the butt…

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But I got the first almost 100 pieces done. So that was good. I’m totally creeped out by that hand though.

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I guess that’s a good thing, since this piece is supposed to be creepy. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to finish it…maybe tonight? I really should be grading stuff. I’m trying. I just can’t get much time in class because of how we’re teaching at the moment. My voice is shot…having to talk for three days straight. This is like going back to the old days when we had to talk all the time. We’ve gotten used to less of the direct instruction and more creating understanding…I think that’s cool until I start losing my voice. Today is more talking…but next week should be better. Hallelujah. I think yesterday was the first day all year I was teaching something I had taught before…and it was a relief. It was so easy. That’s a good sign for next year…it will be easier. We still have to tweak stuff, but it will be easier.

*Trapt, Headstrong

Sweetness I Was Only Joking*

May 13, 2017

Well. For some reason, lots of people are coming to read the blog. Waving! Hi! As the girlchild says, “What did you do now?” Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t Google myself because there are other things I’ve done that rank much higher on Google, so I can’t find the little stuff any more. Did I have a show open this week? Nope. Nothing new there. I think. One next weekend and the following weekend, and then a couple weeks later. I have pieces traveling…but I don’t think any of them moved this week. So yeah. If you’re here, just let me know why. I wanna know.

Because really, all I’m doing at the moment is mostly survival mode. A lot of people tell me I make tons of work. I am constantly working, it’s true. I think that’s important. I also know it’s easier to do now that the kids are in college and gone most of the time. Not that I totally enjoy that existence…I do miss them, all the time, and would take them back…in fact, one comes home in 10 days. Woo hoo! He’s cringing now. And the other one, I just booked her flight home for a 2-week vacay with the parentals. OK, I’m sure she’ll see friends too. But when you come home after a difficult, emotion-grabbing, exhausting job and you think about what you want to do in the evening, it’s not like I’m gonna sit on the couch with my other and talk. I’m going to work. Even when I have social stuff…because this week I had book club and someone over for dinner and three hours at the vet and gaming, and I still made art every night.

I understand if that’s not for you. If you go to bed way earlier than I do (I suck at sleep). If you hang with humans and be in the moment (I do that…just less than you do). I don’t ever just WATCH TV. I don’t know how. My brain needs multiple stimuli to focus, even to calm. So I give it that. I don’t think that’s gotten better with age. In fact, I know it hasn’t. I’m ramping up more in overdrive as I age. Maybe it’s to make up for their being gone…or maybe this is just where I should have been the whole time and life got in the way. Who knows. And it’s funny, where other people think I’m working nonstop, I’m fully aware of every wasted moment, of the time I spend just sitting there spacing out or reading stupid political articles or answering email or just fucking DELETING emails. Or grading stuff, which is not a waste, but feels like a painfully disproportionate part of my free time.

Anyway. Yeah. I gamed last night. I wasn’t in the mood, but I did it. And I ended up going and getting the Master Pistol of whatever Dwarvenist cool stuff. Because I’m the ballistics expert in the group. Seriously not reality. I stitch during gaming, though, because my brain will otherwise shut off and take a nap, because it’s Friday and I’m exhausted.

I’m working on the bottom part of this twofer block…

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Turns out I totally misread the directions for around the outside of the tree. I don’t think I’m going to fix it. But I might.

Then I came home and started cutting out pieces of Wonder Under…with a conehead dog almost on my lap…first one and then the other.

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I got most of it cut out before I decided I was tired. It was late. The small pile on the far right were separating from the fusible web. That’s the wonder of using the last crap bits of Wonder Under that you can find in the house. They often do that. I need to go buy more.

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I don’t know if I’ll have time to finish that today…hopefully…but I have about 17 other things to either do or get ready to do first. Really. Should. Wake. Up. Earlier. Ugh.

One morning a week I attempt to sleep in. Sometimes it works. Last night, though, I forgot to change the alarm on my phone, so it woke me up for school…and that meant it took a long time to fall back asleep because this little guy heard it.

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He’s learned to use the cone to help him hold the ball. Yes, they both have cones on still. His paw isn’t too bad…hers is a mess. So meds and soakings and cones for all! Woo hoo!

Yeah. I could do without that. Anyway, possibly will be ironing to fabric tomorrow? I’m thinking? Maybe? If I’m efficient. OK, I’m always pretty damn efficient. I should own that. With that, I should go be efficient.

*The Smiths, Bigmouth Strikes Again

Watching in a Trance*

May 10, 2017

I had been distinctly NOT thinking about the next piece that needed doing. It was too broad a topic, like all the crap going on in my head and in the news anyway, so it’s not like I could consciously process it properly. Once I got confirmation that the block could be horizontal or vertical (I wanted vertical), even then, I didn’t think about what to put on the block. I let myself get through the work day, then dinner, and then finally stood up and looked at the blank paper I’d mapped out yesterday…just a rectangle that was the right size.

I figured it would take me a while, and I was pretty tired, so I wasn’t expecting much.

I was wrong. I think it took a whopping 30 seconds before I saw the hand in front of her mouth…and then another on her breast, well and then there’s the pussy, of course.

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I did start with a rough pencil sketch on this one. I usually don’t, but I wanted the proportions to work out OK…plus it’s easier to know where the stuff is going before you draw the stuff behind.

Once I had the body in generally with the hands, I filled in the rest.

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The whole time, I kept saying “Keep it Simple” because I know my deadline is only 19 days away. Yeah. I know. But it’s small and I kept it simple. Ish. Only 290 pieces. I had to keep telling myself to stop drawing detail. It’s not in my nature.

It took me about two hours to draw it…maybe.

And then I numbered it. The face is a little crazy, but it really is more simplified than what I normally do. Two pieces for the hair? Never happens.

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Tonight will be busy, but I’m hoping to have the energy to start tracing it. I basically have two weekends, because I’m going to Quilt National the following weekend. Just a little crazy shit going on here. Nothing new.

It’s teacher appreciation week…one of my students was a sweetheart and brought me lunch…

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It was good.

I did do this before I did all that drawing…the hand that will never be finished.

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Midnight watched. Then apparently at some point, she went and puked on my bed. Nice cat.

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The calico did whack me, by the way…while I was doing this. My Tivo is old and occasionally has massive brain farts and only records 1 minute of all my shows with now notification. So sometimes I have to find them on the computer instead. So I worked on this for a bit…outlining the tree bits.

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Wool stitching is so relaxing. Really. It is.

So both dogs are coned at the moment due to foot-licking activity. Probably both had foxtails involved, but I am assured that Calli’s is out (I don’t know that I agree, but whatever)…and I couldn’t find anything on Simba. But with cones, they are very sad dogs.

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Very sad. I am a horrible dog mom.

State testing starts today, so it’s a minimum day from hell with the kids and then meetings until like 6 PM. Woo hoo! And then book club…I’ve read the book, so that’s a plus. I don’t always make it to book club because of all the crap that comes before, but I’m going to try…I need the socialization. But hopefully after that, I’ll be able to stand and trace stuff. We’ll see.

*Peter Schilling, Major Tom

Underground Like a Wild Potato*

April 25, 2017

Oh yeah. School kicks your butt. Just plain old physical exhaustion at the end of the day with some measure of mental (what’s another word for exhaustion…I’m too tired to think of one or even access a thesaurus dammit) tiredness. Enervation. Fatigue. Lassitude. That might be the first time I’ve used the word lassitude on this blog. Might be the last too.

I’m still braindead this morning, after two hours of cats cleaning their nether regions right next to me, one on each side, unable to toss them off the bed because of my parents’ dog Katie, who tends to chase them. Even in the dark. In the middle of the night, she’s lurking right next to the bed, waiting for something tasty and sharp (claws don’t seem to deter her) to fall from the mattress.

I wish she’d get over that. It’s a pain carrying the furry beasts around and depositing them appropriate places so they can eat and poop, and then Kitten was demanding that I bring her to bed, despite the fact that she’d be stuck there all night by Psycho Dog. Katie goes home tonight, so the cats will be free to walk around like the bossy furry beasts they prefer to be. And I will be free to toss them off the bed when a 4:30 AM butt cleaning seems like a good idea.

So school was fine really…and then we had to wander over to another school for a talk by George Couros, who was a principal and a teacher and has a TED talk you can listen to at the link. If you want to. I won’t force anyone to listen to a TED talk. I like a few of them, but mostly I’m like, yeah, OK, either that makes sense or where’s your evidence. Or both. So. Just like every day. I didn’t get anything revolutionary…or revelatory (yes, WordPress, that IS a word) out of it, but whatever. I thought it was ironic that they were trying to motivate us to be passionate and amazing when there are were only 38 days of school left. They kept saying there were 32 days of school left, but I counted again, and maybe they’re not counting days that I am counting? But it’s 38. Except now it’s 37. The cool thing is that he said it was OK if we were on our phones or asleep, and I did neither. I happily stitched. Happily stitching meant that I could focus on what he had to say AND stay awake. Seriously. I wish my boss would figure that out, although he hasn’t made me stop drawing in staff meetings.

No, I’m not done with the bird, but I’m close…so technically that would be done with the top block, whatever number that is, and on to the bottom block with the tree etc.

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The frog. That’s what it is.

I also caught up on this, three days’ worth. I’m getting less efficient as the year goes on. I was panicking about getting the quilt done. So I did the eyeball outline on the left, to be filled in later, the weird branch going off the eyeball, all in chain stitches for both, with pistil stitches coming out of the chains. Then I did a chain stitch in an orange color near the tree, to the left, filling in some of the black in there, finishing up with French knots above one of the yellow flower shapes.

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You’d think I’d finish filling in before branching out. Oh well.

I had some space-out time. I read for a while. I couldn’t deal with anything. Then I finally got up and started the stitch-down on the bathtub.

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The machine was a little fussy, but I figured it out and got a good hour and a half into it. Didn’t get a lot DONE, but I stitched. Slow but steady.

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More tonight…hoping I have the energy. Today is a long day. Most of them are long days. The first week back is exhausting. I said that already.

*The B-52’s, Private Idaho

So There

April 22, 2017

I have 12 minutes before I need to get ready to leave to march for science. Funny, it wouldn’t have been my first choice 30 years ago, when I was in college. I was very much an English literature and art major before I was a science person. Some of that was teachers who told me girls don’t do this, so when I asked questions, mostly trying to figure physics out (it’s still not my strong point), they wouldn’t answer. Somehow I should have gotten all the information I needed from their dry, boring lectures or from the textbook I barely cracked.

When I got my tattoo earlier this week, the fact that I was a teacher came up and the desk guy, who looked barely out of high school, was entranced with physics, with the labs, though…not with the post-lab work…like many of my students, he likes to do and explore more than he likes to analyze afterwards in some sort of productive manner. I love science for its creativity, its persistence, its ability to fuck with us…but I also love it for how it solves problems…and not just in one way, but in millions of ways. I didn’t know back in high school that this subject was one of the best for people who are both right and left brain, who like to see order in the chaos, but are admitting the chaos is always there…who like to find answers even while making more questions.

So I march for science. I march for the Lorax. I march with Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I march with all the women who have chosen science as a career despite all the men who stood in the way. I march for my students, who love the labs, but not the work that goes with them. I march for a subject I didn’t particularly like in school, but grew to love over the years, a subject that now distinctly colors the art I make. I march even though it’s going to be hot and there will be no bathrooms. I march even though I didn’t make a sign (I have a lab coat with my name on it and an eyeball hat and a Lorax t-shirt). I march with my co-teacher, even though she’s currently marching in Texas. I march for the people who don’t believe in climate change, because they can’t see the science through the politicians.

So there.

In other news, I’m putting a binding and a sleeve on this one and trying to hang it from a wall instead of putting it on a bed…ironically, since it’s a quilt about being a quilt.

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I didn’t get much done on this one due to yesterday’s errandness…

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Puppies are bitey and old lady dogs aren’t.

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I worked on this while gaming…

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And I did three days’ worth of stuff on this, mostly down in the bottom right…Some blue star stitches with french knots and cross stitches, then some stitches to decorate the herringbone, both straight stitches in peach and fly and lazy daisy stitches in green.

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Just trying to fill in space as I reach the 1/3-way mark. Whatever for? I do not know. But I can’t stop now.

I Tripped and Fell, and Did I Fall*

April 18, 2017

I think I write in the morning most days because it helps me wake up. Drink the tea, spill the beans, get the leftover words out of my head, make plans for the day, make sure art fits in there. Get my head around the day. Of course, it’s also still Spring Break for me…and I’m trying to catch up on almost 4 months of not enough sleep. Ugh. I honestly, right now, on Tuesday, don’t feel like I’m up to surviving the last two months of school. There’s only 38 days. And I’m gone for 2 of them. But it feels overwhelming still. Maybe that’s because we don’t have the first three weeks completely planned. Just maybe. But also because I go back and progress reports are due. I graded two easy assignments yesterday and input a bunch of stuff from the week before break. I have 7 assignments left. That’s an assignment a day (I’m ignoring the one that’s sitting in my classroom…hoping to have time to grade it when I get back).

(Just took a 10-minute break to throw a ball for Simba…he had the rips.)

This year has been stressful. But I’m close to finishing up some of the most stressful parts. So that’s good. I’m looking forward to a summer break, even if I probably have to find work for most of it. I shut down most of the copyediting stuff a month ago when I was getting lots of requests but literally had no free time in which to complete anything. I’ll be opening those up again soon…because I need work for the summer. I still don’t know if either of the kids is coming home; the flights will start being an issue pretty soon. I hope they have somewhere to sleep if I can’t get them home right away…or that they find jobs or internships where they are. I want them to come home, but understand if they don’t. The money that has to be paid out over the summer scares me a bit…even with my tax return, the summer is going to be tight. Need work. Yeah.

So yesterday I finished a bunch of stuff…I also did two days’ worth of stitching on this…the herringbone in the bottom left and then a running stitch from the left side and over the tree…I’m going to thread another color through that tonight.

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So that’s 106 days of stitching…almost a third of a way through the year. Still feels like I will probably fill this up before the end of the year.

I started watching an episode of The Americans while I was stitching and wanted to finish the episode, so I worked on the Folk Tails block…with puppy on my leg (his favorite spot) and Midnight cleaning herself down the couch.

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I forgot to take a picture of what I got done…but it wasn’t much.

I ironed in the afternoon, did the bathtub water. Then cooked dinner and did the stitching above before heading in for the flesh fabrics. I picked a run of 7 flesh colors and some other fillers. This quilt is about aging and menopause mostly…like a lot of the bathtub quilts seem to be…this is the third bathtub quilt I’ve actually made…I think there are 5 or 6 drawings.

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A shot to show you how I use fabrics that change in color sometimes…so yes, I was looking at the drawing and deciding where on the stripes each piece needed to go.

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Not exactly random I guess. I was tired when I finished ironing all the flesh colors, but it was still relatively early, so I kept going…did all the heart/blood stuff and then the fire stuff as well. So all that’s left right now is hair and lungs, mostly.

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Honestly it wouldn’t have taken much time to do it last night, but I was exhausted. I’m not sure why. Just accumulated tiredness still. Like jet lag, but school lag.

Here’s the pile of fabrics I was using by the end of the night. I find these piles happen even when I try to be all organized and keep runs of color together.

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While I’m picking, I can’t be bothered to be organized. I do that when I’m done, pile them all up in the boxes by color, although I was being lazy here…it was almost 1 AM, in my defense.

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And then I moved the ironed pieces into a larger container so they’d have room to breathe. I plan to be cutting these out by tonight…

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I’m going to have to grade something first. I’m more than a little panicked about trying to get this quilt done on time…but all I can do is keep doing until it’s done. Which makes me a bit hermitlike this week. Oh well. I’d probably do that anyway.

*R.E.M., Strange Currencies