Just Get My Head Into It…

July 29, 2016

Morning is never really my strong point. I’m one of those late-night people. I don’t really get much done in the morning. And currently I’m sitting here in my office and I can clearly hear people at my door, plus Simba is going ballistic (Calli is in Arrowhead), but they haven’t figured out that my doorbell doesn’t work (oh hallelujah…I live in the boonies for a reason) and apparently they don’t want to knock. I’m OK with ignoring them because I heard them at the neighbors and it’s selling something, whether product or religion, and I don’t need either.

Yeah, my attack dog is a Pomeranian-chihuahua.

Last night, I had to text pictures of him to the girlchild, who missed cuddling with him. Huh.

So yesterday was kinda wishy washy. I copyedited for a while. Need to finish that up this morning and send it back. It’s the last chapter, so I hope there’s another book coming, but who knows…no guarantees. Then I was supposed to go to my stitching meeting, but I still don’t really have anything portable. The quilt is huge, so transporting it to quilt on it somewhere else is not realistic. So I took the last of the birds…

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I didn’t actually finish stitching it until later last night, but it’s done! A miracle! Well, until you realize that now I have to trim them all down, stitch them together, add the borders, and then do 96…NINETY SIX little balls with fancy stitching in the borders. Well. That’s gonna take a while. There’s no shortcut for that.

The birds are Sue Spargo’s 2013 block of the month project, and I’ve been working on them…well, since 2013. Mostly at soccer games, honestly, and then stitching meetings after that, because they’re nice and portable. I’m thinking the whole quilt is not gonna be so portable, and probably uncomfortable to stitch on in summer, being totally made of wool. But I’ll try to get to the point where I can stitch balls on.

I call it Bird Crazy, but it’s actually called Bird Dance


See all the balls? Yeah. So I’ve finished 30 birds…in about 3 years. I’m rocking it. Seriously, though, people always want to know why I’m working on other people’s patterns, and the reality is that mine are often not portable, or not something I can work on at a soccer game (I’ve spent a huge part of the last 10 years at soccer games…really until the last 12 months). And I like the embroidery on wool. It’s relaxing. And enjoyable. So it’s my hobby. I’ve always enjoyed embroidery…I just don’t usually have time to do any of it on my own quilts, because the deadlines are so tight, or because I’m so mentally done with the piece by the time I get to the end.

I do have one top I started quilting where the plan is to add a lot of embroidery…and I did a memorial quilt for our last dog (who yes, died in 2012? I think?)…by DID I mean that it’s a bunch of wool pieces and a background, but I haven’t gotten any further than that yet. Things I’m making for me don’t get priority on the sewing list.

So after stitching meeting, I came home and played with puppy for a while, but I know I have a bunch of deadlines to deal with, and many of them require drawings, so I thought I would do that thing I always WANT to do, which is sit out on the deck and draw…so I did.

It was after 5 PM, but still not cool…but the sun is on the other side, so that makes it bearable. And I played some music and drank some milk (of course)…and did this.

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Now straight up, I like the body but hate the head and the bird. So they’re gone. But I think I can work with the rest of it. I’m probably gonna enlarge it and cut the head and bird off. There will be a head and a bird. Just not those two. Sometimes when I haven’t been drawing for a while it takes me a bit of fudging to get what I want. So that’s a start.

I love that prosthesis, by the way.

Then I had told Simba, who got left behind from the Arrowhead trip (not enough puppy supervision), that I would take him on a walk, because he got stuck inside while I was gone. I waited until it was cooler, much cooler…in fact, we were racing the dark back (I’m OK with that, except for the coyotes and the snakes).

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We saw a horse…twice…and Simba was sure he could kill it. I think. The horse was more intrigued than scared, luckily. Like…what the hell is that tiny growling thing? Exactly.

I was trying to tire him out, and it worked for a bit. Midnight is very tolerant of him, but she’s also bigger than him…and he truly doesn’t know what to do with her…except sometimes clean and/or nibble her ears. Which she doesn’t seem to mind.

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Hiking made me tired, but eventually I managed to come back into the sewing room. I recently finished the last little bit of embroidery on the 2012 Spargo quilt, Earth and Twig, after letting it languish for a good long time (like probably 2 or 3 years…see, I do that too). Yesterday, I finally found the backing and other pieces, then pieced the backing (hanging in the background)…then ironed the front and cut some batting. It’s ready to be sandwiched, hopefully sometime today.

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I’ve never quilted wool before, and honestly, it will be on the back burner for a while, but it will be ready. So that makes it closer to done.

Today I might have an art opening, if I feel like dragging myself to it. I have a few other things I need to do before I can start quilting, but that’s the goal…to quilt a lot. Don’t think about lesson planning and school supplies and deadlines and crap like that. Just get my head into the art and do it.

Close to Done But Not Really

July 22, 2016

Well. It’s official. I thought about school. I ordered the folders my kids use for science notebooks during the year. I keep thinking I’ll be able to get away from paper, but we notice that kids still need to put pencil on paper in order to learn. Technology is incredibly useful, but it’s not the only thing they need. Just the process of copying something by hand from one place to another is much more of a learning process than cutting and pasting…a practice we fight all year round.

But now I can ignore school for another week…seriously, that’s it. Fuck. OK. It’s all right. No worries. I can do this.

I really wanted to be done with ironing yesterday, and surely, if it hadn’t been near on 100 degrees, maybe I could have pulled that off, but I needed a long session in front of the fan to cool off. Yes, there’s a fan in the studio, but it has to be lower than the ironing board, so it doesn’t blow pieces everywhere (I did briefly consider a ceiling fan in here, until I thought about pieces flying about in a tornado-like motion), and for some reason, that’s not good enough. Plus with the light on (I always say I’m going to replace the light, but it’s money and it still works and the bit of Grandma that’s still in me is saving tin foil and rubberbands, and won’t replace a light fixture until the old one dies), it’s really warm in here. Ugh.

That said, I ironed for almost 6 1/2 hours yesterday. This thing is a time-sucking beast. I’m at almost 29 hours…only one other quilt took longer than this to iron together, and this one is gonna beat it. It’s the tiny, fussy details I think. Or I’m just slow this summer. Who knows.

So I ironed a bunch of flowers and a bat and a snake’s tail.

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An elbow with some leaves (which I had to pull up to insert a vein later…

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Meanwhile, there was no possibility of typing with a cat tail on the keyboard…

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The cat is hot. Because it’s hot here. And I can’t even imagine having fur in this heat.

So I had the whole thing on there as I was ironing the arm, but it was just getting too big and hard to manage, so I pulled all of that off the teflon sheets and rolled it up. But you can get an idea of how big it’s gonna be. (Huge. It’s huge.)

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And this goes on the end of that arm.

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Finally to the head. The face.

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I haven’t lost a lot of pieces this time around, but this big one was missing, so I traced a new one on Wonder Under and pulled the fabric for it, unfolded it…and found the untrimmed piece shoved in there. What the heck? Crazy.

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So I got half the hair (and a giant fireball of a sun) done…it was almost 1 AM at that point and I was tired.

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So even though there were maybe only 50 pieces left, I quit. Because they weren’t 50 easy pieces. And I couldn’t stand up any more. So today, I’ll finish ironing together and then iron it onto the background…and then start stitching down! This is exciting…although probably 4 days later than I wanted to be. Oh well…it is what it is.

I did go to my stitching meeting yesterday, which is probably another reason I didn’t finish ironing…because it’s not portable at this stage…at all. So I worked on the second-to-last bird…and finished it.

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Only one to go. Then I can piece them all together and put the borders on and then spend the next year sewing things on the borders (I’m laughing about that). So yeah. Close to done, but not really. Much like many things here in my house. The thing is, I find that if I set smaller goals as part of a larger project, I’m less likely to flail and panic.

Anyway, I’m hoping to be sandwiching the new quilt on Sunday…which means I probably need to look at the batting stash. This sucker is gonna be huge. Plus I want to sandwich the other wool quilt I finished at the same time, so I only have to be kneeling on the tile for one day. Although at the moment, the tile might be the coolest place in the house. Ugh. Heat. If you come here and find me lying on the tile with the dogs, just spray me with water. I’ll pop back up.

And I really need to draw the next one. And do the nightstand. And do the baby owl! Ack.

This Is Not My Beautiful World…

July 8, 2016

I am so disheartened by the country I live in at the moment. Although having lived elsewhere, I know that it probably doesn’t matter where you live…there will be things that humans do that I will just be entirely incapable of understanding. I hear anger toward other…but as a teacher, I have often had students who are other (insert group name here), and I know from experience and years of teaching biology that we are all the same, just a tiny tweak of DNA. It just makes me want to weep to think of one of my kids, my students (because they ARE our kids for some short period of time, and we always continue to think of them and wonder if they are OK), being hurt or killed because of this crazy stupidity we call Protection, Right to Bear Arms, Vengeance. Whatever. It’s anger. It’s fear. And it’s not necessary. We are no longer in a predator/prey relationship, trying to survive against nature. Now we apparently have to survive against ourselves, because other humans are out to kill us, harm us. Stop trying to find a scapegoat. If you have anger toward another group or people or gender or whatever, then it is you.

And I know that most who read my blog are not. And I don’t know how to get this idea across to the angermongers. I can’t even imagine if one of them is President. How that will roll. Art is supposed to help with this, but I know none of them will all of a sudden look at a piece of art and arrive at a revelation.

This world we live in. I just don’t get it. Why people think it’s OK to act that way. I just don’t get it.

I have to work this morning. I’m trying to find the right mindset. I object to having to push all this…sadness…away into a corner of my brain so I can continue to copyedit. But I have to…to survive. At least to pay the bills. And continue to ponder how to get across to the increasingly crazy killers that they need to stop. That it would be a better world if they did. David Byrne’s song…Once in a Lifetime (OK, it’s Talking Heads…not just David)…this is not my beautiful house…this is not the world I want to live in. Not my beautiful world. I hate not being able to visualize a solution…besides get rid of the damn guns. I wish we could just do that. A start. See where that takes us. Because this is just crazy.

Back to my regular blogpost…but know all that is still in my head…running circles around any attempts I make to live a normal life.

I had my monthly stitching meeting last night, and Julie brought a thread (OK, she brought bags of thread) that she thought might work for the flower stitching…

Because here’s what 13 of them look like on the left (OK, I didn’t really count, damn you)…half of them are that magenta color, and half are purple. Half have the silk velvet center and half have a cotton center that is a similar color. And I think there are two different colors in the body of the flower. But I had no more of the pink thread. As it was, I had to pick a near color for the flower and the center…so in the whole quilt? I don’t think anyone will notice…

And if they do, it was on purpose…to let the evil spirits out…right? Fact is I finished stitching everything and there was an empty space that bugged me. So I filled it.

Now I can back it and quilt it and bind it (well, except I have no working sewing machine, unless I go pull the old one out). And no time to quilt it. Minor issue. It’s still done. Ish.

Then I was working on the other birds, the last three, at the meeting…

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I had already finished all the background stitches in the beige/gray color, so I added feet and stitched around the eyeballs. I just found all the eye buttons when I was cleaning off the couch the other day. Who knows how long they’ve been there. Years. So all the decorative bird embroidery is left.

Meanwhile, I am still…STILL…cutting stuff out. I’m almost done, if by almost, I mean less than 10 hours. Because I did 3 hours last night, and there’s still a chunk left to do (14 hours in so far). Here’s the trash pile…a huge amount of fleshy bits.

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See…this is what’s left. Of course, you can’t see how big any of the pieces are that need cutting when they’re upside down…I do know that top two are all crane feathers, so not huge, but not tiny.

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This is everything that’s cut out…the box fills…slowly.

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Side by side…the to-be-cut on the left, the already-cut-out on the right…you can see progress.

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So yeah. I have to work. And run some errands. Stuff that guarantees my paycheck. And let the part of my brain that is always trying to solve problems wander around up there and attempt to find peace. For all of us. Wish I could see that.

Turning the Music Up…

July 5, 2016

Oh my. The jackhammer is back. Of course. I took 4 days off working (not art…although I did take a bit of a break on that too) because I NEEDED it. I was hitting that braindead stage where I just get irritable and don’t want to do anything but sleep, and I suck at that. So I ignored copyediting for four days. Today was my planned return to the Sitting-in-Front-of-the Computer crazy. But there’s jackhammering. Sigh. So I turn the music up loud. But it doesn’t make me feel particularly friendly toward this neighbor, I must say. He’s also the one who wants to trim my trees so he can “reclaim his view.” The view you never had, dude. (Kathy goes to buy new trees to plant…seriously…so I don’t have to see or hear you.)

Yeah. I’m in a mood. Whatever. I did relax a bit…but you know, one of the things I do to relax is read, and my book took a particularly dark dive last night while I was reading (in the dark, on a blanket, waiting for the fireworks to start). I’m sad about that too. So maybe I just need to work my brain into the hole and then climb out again.

I’m still cutting out tiny pieces of fabric. No change there. I just didn’t do as much as I’d planned over the weekend. Oh well.

I was trying to organize the wool projects I do for “fun” (no really, they are pretty fun to stitch on), because during the school year, things got out of control. So I pulled everything out and tried to figure out what the hell I’d been doing.

First of all, this one has been almost done for ages…

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It’s Sue Spargo’s Earth & Twig. I decided it was missing a flower, so I had started sewing it down and never finished…

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So I stitched it down and found a center, but not the thread that I used on the others (probably because there isn’t any more). I thought about buying another skein of it, but shipping is almost as much as the skein. So I’m still considering a solution to that. I did wash the backing and binding that she had sent as well, so I could get to that stage. Maybe.

It’s a fun little quilt…

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Then I found all the Bird Dance blocks (I’ve been calling this Bird Crazy since I started it).

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I’m working on the last three right now. Well. Not right this second. But anywhere I have to wait. But then I realized the borders are a bitch and a half. So yeah. Not gonna be done with that for a while.

I then tried to organize the rest of it. Went through and labeled boxes and consolidated stuff so there were only two places I could find any block: in a master box for that project or in a travel box for working on stuff. OK. Three places, because the ones I’m doing embroidery on are in these zip bags I got from the Container Store.

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I also cleared off most of the piano and the chair, trying to get stuff organized for when school starts, and then organized the stuff that lives on and near the couch. And continued cleaning off the table (desk?) in the office. I really want to achieve organization. REALLY.

Then we hiked…

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It was a little warm, but not too bad, compared to last week. The dogs can’t do more than 3 miles really, so that was it…beautiful day for it though.

Saw this…mostly everything else is dead and dried out by now. But this wasn’t.

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The dogs even ran for a bit. So did we. Possibly a mistake. But it felt good.

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The family hike is set for Wednesday. That means I need to copyedit today and tomorrow before the hike. Ugh. I will still cut stuff out, but I probably won’t get done. It’s OK. Stuff gets done when I can deal with it. Honestly, trying to concentrate with the jackhammer is challenging enough. Turning the music up even louder.


July 1, 2016

Well so this is morning. Apparently. After being up after 1:30 AM, trying to settle cone-wearing Frankenstein cat (now baby, that’s a scar…), then a 4 AM wakeup for meds (for the cat) plus something puking, and the dog going ballistic before 9…I feel semi-drugged, definitely not rested, just half awake, if that. Ugh. Reminds me of the baby years.

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The poodle trimming of her legs is also nice. Especially since they told me to take off the bandage when I got home, and then there was blood everywhere. I wanna see you hold a pissed-off and drugged cat with a cone and blood oozing and try to one-handedly get a bandage on that. The kids had left, of course. Sigh. I’m really quite amazing in a hard place.

Last night, she was decidedly more pissed off about the cone and surgery in general (the photo above is this morning. She hid in the fabric drawer hole for a good long time.

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Yesterday, the girlchild got her hair done in a pinkish manner. I don’t have a final picture…

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I’ll have to get one.

I’ve been stuck in places where sewing on these is all I could do…so I finished these.

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I only have three left to embroider, and then I can sew them together. It’s very relaxing. Funny though…a year ago, I had nine left to embroider…so I’m really slow. I guess that’s why I’m years behind. Whatever. It’s not a race. I always tag this as Bird Crazy, but I realized its real name is Bird Dance. This is a Sue Spargo BOM from a few years back. I like her stuff…it’s got depth and fun stitching and it’s relatively easy to do. She’s released this one as a book now. In fact, she’s released all the ones I have except this year’s, so I can post about all of them now (there were issues with people copying her stuff before). Seriously though, her instructions are so amazingly good that you’re an idiot (and a jerk for stealing her ideas) if you don’t buy the book/pattern/whatever the heck it is. Plus she’s going through cancer treatments at the moment and deserves all your money. The one she just released, the Folk Tails quilt, is absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get done with this one for real so I can start the embroidery on that one.

I did iron finally last night…I had to finish copyediting in the morning, then check out the girl’s hair, then do counseling, and pick up Kitten, and cook her shit she wouldn’t eat, and cook myself shit I would eat, and THEN…then I could iron.

I’m 26 hours in…LONG time picking stuff. This is the tiger on one breast…

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I also did the cat (aka Kitten) and flower vine on the other breast, the lungs, and the heart. So I did a lot…I’m in the 1500s now, the high 1500s I think. I have all of the torso done…just the head and an arm left to do.

I do have two more chapters to copyedit, but they’re not due for a while, so I’m taking a break. I want to get this fully ironed today…I probably only have about 300 pieces left, so that’s 3-4 hours. Then I can sit and cut pieces out for another 20 hours. While syringing water into the cat’s mouth, because I haven’t seen her drink anything yet. Plus I need a break. It’s been a lot of work lately, and that’s good, because it means I might be able to pay for the cat’s surgery AND college (ha. Well. Maybe.), but I also need to draw and sleep and relax and read books. Like a normal person does on vacation.

Up All Night

March 28, 2016

So yesterday I spent an hour going through two containers of old pens and pencils. I’m fairly sure my SIL would have just tossed all of them, but I don’t have her budget. I did toss about half of them, but a handful are going to school to supplement my stash there…and the others are going into a useful container here. Which I should consolidate with all the other useful containers and then stop buying pens for about 8 years. Seriously, when I die, my children or grandchildren will pull out their hair over the pens. After they’ve screamed over the fabric and thread. But this cleaning house thang, it just takes more than I can handle. I do a little every day. I also did a little yardwork yesterday and will head out for more today because it’s nice and cool. Plus my greenery trashcan just got emptied. I think. I hope. And then I graded. Oh my. Talk about pulling out hair. I got through three periods of the last unit by sheer willpower. Strength. Gimme it. And I input grades right as I finished them, so when those little widgets finally remember to sign on and check their grades, the shock will sit right with them like lead in their guts.

I swear I think I give up on this year. I’m gonna keep on teaching, even teaching good and cool stuff like frog dissections and brains, but I’m going to stop (I swear!) worrying about the grades, because I just can’t. I can’t take this year on and listen to admin saying I get what I give. I just can’t. Where are the parents in that equation? And why is this year so different? Some break happened between kids born in 2002 and those born in 2003. Turning work in must be controlled by a gene that was stymied by a vaccine or something.

Yeah. Stop thinking about school. Grade stuff, but don’t think about school. Laughing heartily over that one.

So after about 4 1/2 hours of grading (which puts me at an estimated 15 remaining? I might have underestimated dammit), I needed to do something else. Even though it was almost midnight. What the fuck? I’m wide awake (no idea why…haven’t slept well for nights) and it’s Spring Break. I gots nowhere to be. Literally. Nowhere.

So I stitched to music. Window closed so hopefully the neighbors weren’t too disturbed…actually, I think this photo is from Saturday, because that’s when I started.

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So the thing about small quilts is that the distances are shorter, so the stitching-down part was way shorter than it would have been in a full-sized quilt with this many pieces…less than two hours and I was done.

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But it wasn’t even 1 AM and I was still wide awake. I had started stitching down this ancient one (seriously I don’t know when I last worked on this…wait! I have an app for that. Well I picked fabrics for it three years ago, March 2013. I ironed it together that July. And it’s been hanging in here ever since.

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Because it’s a little weird. Honestly. But it deserves to be finished. I needed to take some photos of me stitching and this was the only piece lying around I could stitch on, so I started it about a week ago for the photos and then put it aside. Now it’s ready to be sandwiched and quilted. So some pieces really do lie around and wait if they’re not compelling enough. Right now I think it’s calling out for a shitload of embroidered flowers. Or whatever.

I went to Easter dinner at the parentals and worked on these again. I could have taken grading. God knows I have enough of it. But I’m trying to finish these birds…think I’m down to 5 now.

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The wool work is soothing. It’s easy to achieve something interesting quickly. Well not really quickly. But they relax me. I’ve been handling a lot of wool pieces lately. Need the calm. The distraction.

So yeah. Today I need to sandwich the two quilts and start quilting the more complicated one. Mostly finished picture due Friday (one day reprieve!). And final photos by April 15. Easy peasy. Seriously. I don’t think quilting will take as long as a full-size quilt. And then I can start on another one. Because my sanity depends on it.

Because the pile of grading is still there. The finished stuff is in the green bin. The other two periods are on the couch.

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And there’s another pile on the coffee table of another project. Plus the assignment that’s online that I can’t even bear to look at. It’s just a matter of priorities right this second. What first? Yardwork? Then shower. Then groceries and pick up the poor dog. Then grade until my eyeballs bleed. Then make art. No housecleaning in that scenario. Hmmn. I need a secretary to plan out my days. But he/she would have been here at a reasonable hour, banging on my door, and when you go to bed at almost 2, then you need more sleep than I got. I can feel that behind my eyeballs. Well maybe I’ll sleep tonight then dammit. Stupid hormones.

So not up ALL night. Although definitely went to bed in the early morning. So I guess I skipped night. Yeah.

Minor Flail

March 11, 2016

Don’t you hate waking up in the morning and struggling to remember what day it is? Yeah. It’s Friday at least. That’s a plus.

I can’t say I got much done last night. I did a lot before I considered not getting much done. Like counseling and the chiropractor (yes!) and the gym and dinner and then it was really late. So I finished the last of these three birds…

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I have two months left to finish (6 birds). Yeah, it’s taking forever. Here’s why I do this stuff though, because people always ask why I’m not working on my own stuff. My stuff requires brain power a goodly percentage of the time. Sometimes I don’t have brain power, but I want to stitch or handle fabric or whatever it is that lowers my blood pressure (actually, mine’s always low) and makes me less likely to yell at inanimate objects (it could be argued some of my students are inanimate objects, but usually I mean computers or the fridge or a couch). Last night I just wanted to veg out and so I watched one show and stitched on wooly birds.

Yesterday my principal said something about our classrooms being reflective of us, but the words he used were “you get what you put into it”. And wow. Did that bug me. Because I still have a massive number of Fs. And I had to walk away from how that felt, because as a teacher, you do assume that if kids are failing, it is entirely your fault. And then you try to fix it. And the trying to fix it was driving me crazy. So I stopped working so hard at the fixing it part, because then I’d meet with the parent(s) and I’d think, wow. They raised him. I can’t fix that. I can offer a variety of assists, but at some point, I can’t do a thing if the kid doesn’t want to do the work and the parent isn’t going to do anything.

I’m in the middle of a big project in class, and I’ve chunked it into smaller progress checks so the kids who flail when given big things don’t just stop working. I’m monitoring them regularly, which means I’m walking the entire room in circles. I’m physically exhausted from walking the room by the end of the day (hence the not-getting-shit-done last night). The hardest part is the kids who just sit there and try to fake working all period. Are they gonna keep doing that for four more days? Yes. Yes they are. So I get what I put into it? Yeah. Fuck you. Not even.

Another parent meeting this morning. Hopefully this one will actually show up. I’m really tired. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning (hear that cats?) and Spring Break in a week, even though it will be altogether too quiet and lonely. I do have a quilt to finish, and if I keep flailing at night, I’ll need a chunk of that time to get it done. Last night? Minor flail. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some stuff done tomorrow so I’ll feel better about this thing being due in 2 1/2 weeks.


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