She Must Be Exactly the Right Size…

Hmmm. Lunar eclipse happened. Russia is still attacking the Ukraine. Rich white guys are still attacking women of all colors, soon to move on to white boys (and others) who don’t share their cis hetero tendencies. And those who don’t fit neatly into their idea of gender. So many books I read have a mystical, mythological element to them, and a blood moon with a lunar eclipse should have been read as some sort of major message…I’m reading it as STOP, go back, y’all are doing it wrong! Russia needs to go back to their own country. Those rich white guys need to go fishing or play golf or something…maybe work on racist extremist supremacy here (oh wait, they are, just not how I want them to) so we don’t have people killed in grocery stores while stocking up on food for the next week. Maybe we could just work on feeding those who live here and dealing with the gun issue? Instead of trying to make sure there are more kids who are starving? I don’t know. Just a thought. A big thought, sure, but a good one.

In the midst of all this, I just keep making. This drawing was originally pretty chill. I did one over Spring Break in some campground and there’s a lovely world hiding in her vagina that I was seeing as a portal to this other world. In reality, the vagina is kind of a portal, but mostly things are coming out. But I kinda think of these as earth goddesses, I draw them a lot, and certainly some people have seen the sheela na gig in this drawing. This is not the first time I’ve drawn this type of figure…it’s been in my vernacular for a good long while. So I did one Thursday night and rejected it because of the ankles. Or the angle of the arms. Or something.

And so Friday, I went back and looked at the smaller drawing from Spring Break and started a third version…

It filled the page. Without a head. I have been drawing things too big for the page since I was in 5th grade. Maybe earlier. So I decided to enlarge it before I drew any more…

Got her taped together on Saturday night, and then Sunday night, taped more around the edges so she could have elbows and eventually a head. She got a lot bigger.

But there’s the start. I’ve got some drawing to do now. Thinking of my deadlines, she might be too big, but then I am focused more on deadlines than on what I want to make. Which shouldn’t be how I make. So there we are. She must be exactly the right size.

Saturday morning, I took a Zoom class from Carolina Oneto, who was in Peru, on curves and color transparencies.

The curves are pretty easy from years of clothesmaking…although making them flat instead of curving around a shoulder is different. I didn’t realize I had enough solids to make all the color overlaps, but I did.

It went together pretty well.

So not like what I usually make, yeah? Agreed. But interesting enough in its own right.

Saturday afternoon, I walked the dog.

No one else wanted to come with me. It was hot.

But there were lots of wildflowers and it was outside…

And I needed the exercise.

A friend came to visit on Sunday and we hung out in a park for a while. That was nice. And then the weekend was mostly over. Which is how it works. I never get enough done. I graded 1 1/2 assignments, posted some stuff for school, laid awake last night at 11 PM worrying through some stuff for this week, and today I’ll try to get everything done that I didn’t do last week or over the weekend. Ha! Never happens. Never efficient enough.

Yeah this…

Which is why I can’t do jury duty for the entire month of July. I’ve already worked a full year. I need a break. Plus I have to plan for next year, which is two grades of science instead of one. Some stuff I’ve never ever taught before. Again. For the third year running. Ugh. Maybe more years than that. Also 300 hours for grading off the clock is really low.

Found a cat in a box.

This is why we can’t recycle things in a timely manner.

Ah yes, blurry night photo of blood moon eclipse.

It was cool to see in person…cooler than this photo.

OK. It’s still Monday. There’s still a multitude of wars on humanity that shouldn’t be happening. This week at school is frog dissections and the beginning of human reproduction for the first time since May 2019. With a block schedule, which might kill me. 79 minutes of direct instruction is not my idea of fun. Luckily we voted that out for next year. But this year, I have to figure out how to survive it. Microphone for the voice. Lots of drawing or coloring for the breaks? We’ll see. Human reproduction coloring books? Could be.

It’ll Be Fine…

A new month. It’s a long month. State testing for the first time since 2019. That’ll be interesting. Probably not very enlightening. Then again, I never found state testing to be particularly useful. Ironic since I’m a teacher.

I spent a lot of the weekend grading and quilting. Probably more grading though. Because the day job sucks up lots of time. I did watch a lot of the SAQA conference videos and participated in some this weekend WHILE grading…

Conference on iPad, pile of papers, another paper for notes about conference stuff, laptop for recording grades. Fun stuff. I appreciated most of the talks. I had some moments of thinking many of us white female quilters are awfully entitled, but OK. That feeling hasn’t passed. Of course we are. We can afford to spend money on materials and equipment and traveling and conferences…and the few who can’t, probably aren’t at this conference. They probably aren’t members either. Anyway. Also thought it was ironic that I’m teaching art but I’m not teaching fabric art. Next year, I won’t be teaching art, 99% sure of that. Won’t be 100% sure until the day we start the new year in August.

So lots of quilting…actually, really, only about 4 1/2 hours of it, compared to 9+ hours of grading. I used to be able to quilt all day on a Saturday, but that’s not a thing right now. Grade file for progress reports opens Thursday. Trying to get caught up.

Everything is so detailed, it just takes forever to do this. Friday night, I did a bunch of tiny animals…

Saturday night, I did more of them and a few plants…

Made it up into the sky as well…

Although not very far. Sunday night was the best, because I gave up on school stuff after about 4 hours (plus 5+ on Saturday) and quilted for 2 hours instead. So I got a whole arm section done…

Mostly.

I did the cactus anyway…

Got into the ribs and the tarantula as well, but didn’t quite finish the upper sky or arm. Good progress though…finally. Tonight, I’ll be back to a piddly hour a night if I’m lucky. But it will get done eventually. I need to leave soon to take my car in though. I have four different warning lights on that have been on and then off and then on all the time since Ojai…hopefully it’s just a sensor malfunction, because it’s 4 different systems and I don’t have the money for that. I’m not sure I have money to get through the summer as it is…although there’s always the renovation fund if I need it. Aargh. Really? Frustrating. I guess the septic redo counts as renovation…not what I meant it for though. I think I will never retire.

I wish the SAQA conference had more on the weekends…like what’s wrong with Sunday? Some of us work. Sigh. At least most of it’s recorded…it’s just finding the time to watch those.

Saturday was Independent Book Store Day and San Diego had a book crawl. I headed out to a bookstore I follow because I didn’t remember it existing when I used to hang out in that neighborhood. I don’t remember what WAS there, but it wasn’t this.

There were a lot of people. I bought a blank book, ironically (a sketchbook with nice thick paper). Because I couldn’t deal with picking a book with actual words. I read all the time, but picking just ONE out of all of them? Yeah. No.

Also, money is tight and this was cheaper than one from an art supply store. I can play with watercolors on it. If I had any. I might have some. In my stash.

I also hiked, because exercise is necessary…

For mind and body…

Oooh…I didn’t notice the bugs in the flower when I took the picture…thought they were flower parts.

Four miles. Good stuff.

The boychild is on a new work schedule for the next month. It’s confusing to the dog and me. He will be more available to cook, though, so I’m all for it. The man is still working random hours up at Kennedy Meadows and living in a tent. My co-teacher is still stuck in Germany. It’s fun here. I should read more books. Pillow forts. Hike more.

Kitten has totally figured it out.

Funny old lady. Totally rejected the food my vet called “crack for kitties”. Too bad. She needs to eat one of the special foods.

OK. I have already achieved this, y’all. In fact, there’s some stuff I need to burn or hide before I die.

It’ll be fine. OK, car in, teach all day, 2-hour staff meeting, then home and cook dinner, grade stuff, and quilt. Repeat.

Couldn’t Find the Fingernails…

After a million years of teaching (and being me), I’ve tracked down the tells that I am stressed, besides yelling out “I am stressed” in the car or the house, which I do often, unfortunately. My body clues me in by refusing to fall asleep even when exhausted, but making my eyelids twitch (haven’t hit that one yet, knock on wood), the inevitable teeth grinding (started in college; froze my jaw in Freshman year), and the random canker sores. I only get them when I’m stressed out. And they last a week and are quite uncomfortable, despite medications. I guess other people get stomach issues; is this better? I don’t know. I tend toward frustrated mutterings to myself that YES, I KNOW I’m stressed. I up the exercise and the artmaking and reading, trying to make it better, but really, I just need a break from school usually. The symptoms of stress do tend to show up before breaks, so that’s a thing. In this case, though (lack-of-sleep exhausted and canker-sored), I need to get through two whole weeks before I get a break.

The plus is that I finally finished my taxes. I had to add the art sales in as a separate thing, so that complicated shit this year. Normally I don’t, but I’m no longer head of household for the boychild (he’s too old! and employed), so I need to find tax breaks for the extra income. It’s not a lot, but I can’t afford to pay any taxes this year with the septic and all. I managed to mostly balance the state and federal taxes…hopefully the state will pay me in time to pay the feds. Perhaps the feds could take less of my money too…so many deductions they are no longer allowing. I guess the middle class and those with super tiny businesses on the side are not the blessed ones…haven’t been for a while. I hope the financially challenged are getting the breaks instead of me. But now that I know I need to keep track of that side business (as well as the copyediting one), I’ll be better about keeping track of deductions. It’s not a bad thing to have extra money coming in…I’d just like to not have to spend it all on emergency repairs and taxes.

I still have a couple semi-urgent things to get through this week, and next weekend is a cluster…how to be in ALL the places at once. And then I fly to Boston to see the girlchild. And then camping and hiking with the man. Need the break. Need time to think and sleep and read and draw. Need a day where I’m not focused on how much work I can get done before the next batch shows up. The power went out Saturday morning for a couple of hours, but the outage map was claiming all day, and I freaked out…so much to do and almost all of it required electricity and access to my desktop computer. It turned out OK, and I got some ironing and hiking in, so that was good.

Friday night’s ironing of an arm and some plants…

I couldn’t find the fingernails until I went through the trash pile (reasons why I don’t throw it out until the quilt is done…I often drop things in it that need to be cut out because I am not paying attention)…

Whoops. I also found the bush parts missing from the first 100 pieces (too late; already recut them) and another part I needed. Who knows what else is hiding in there?

Saturday afternoon, after grading a bunch and panicking a lot, I did a few more plants…

And then went on a 4-mile hike…a hike I needed.

Lots of tiny wildflowers about…

No poppies yet…usually they cover the hillsides…not enough water yet or still too cold.

Yes, some of the stones are under water…

I managed it without getting my socks wet…all good.

And then came back, made dinner, and ironed some more plants…

Oh yeah, and a bat. That got me into the 800s, or almost done with them. I still have half the 400s to do once I get back to the sky.

Last night, I only had a little time, just under 45 minutes, so I did some pupfish…

Barely into the 900s now. I keep revising my completion date. Definitely gonna be tight. If at all…ah well, deadlines are just a place at which to aim. If I miss it, I’ll enter it elsewhere.

But my plan this week is to finish ironing (that was last week’s plan) and stitchdown. Ha! That should be interesting. Saturday is already gone. Sunday is half gone. It’s fine. Everything is fine.

This week is three days of labs in a row plus starting a new art project while harassing kids to finish the two they already have. Plus grading all the things and trying not to stress more about school and money. Property taxes are also coming up. Pretty sure I can pay those once I get paid. Need to write a script for a lightning talk (plus record that…dunno when that’s happening). Need to find quilts to deliver for a show. Need to enter two things. Need to do some cleaning. Some grading. Yeah. All the things. Need to do some meditation in between all that. Wish me luck.

New Growth…

It’s Monday. It’s Monday but it’s a holiday for me, which is like a gift of love all by itself. Yea through the piles of work and giant-ass to-do list I do wander with an extra day off to prep food, grade things, panic about taking one freakin’ day off this Friday, and try to pull a weed or two. Oh yeah, and it’s V-Day, which I don’t really do. My mom made me a card, which was nice. The man and I will avoid today’s crazy entirely and go out to dinner tomorrow night, because he’s been backpacking and tonight is not a hoop we want to jump through. But love to all of you, unless you’re an insensitive jerk who doesn’t have an alternatively neuro brain, in which case, I’m probably going to cut you a break.

The pro is that I started ironing the quilt to fabric, which might be my favorite part of the quiltmaking process. It’s long sometimes…this one definitely will be, because there are a lot of realistic living things in it that I want to be their real-life colors, so I’m using a lot of photos to help me do that.

I hang the full-size drawing up so I can refer to it…that’s where all the pieces are numbered. Then I lay out the first 100 pieces in groups of 10 on my table to make it even easier to find the pieces I need.

I do sections…all the creosote at one time…

This is all of the bighorn sheep parts.

Slowly I get through the tiny animals this way…they are all at the bottom of the quilt, mostly.

I didn’t get much ironed on Friday…had to finish cleaning up, plus bordering on exhaustion.

Saturday was a little better…

And then Sunday night…

Mostly earth tones, which will be true of a lot of the quilt. Blue skies, brown everything else with hints of green and some floral colors. This will not be fast. But that’s OK.

I hiked Saturday…lots of new growth popping up…

Amazing that after so many years, I can still see new things on the same old hike…

It was hot Saturday, 87 degrees at 4 PM when I left…

But as soon as the sun popped down under the ridge, it cooled off a good 10-15 degrees.

I’m debating exercise today…go to the gym now (cooler) and finish my book (need and want to do that) or wait until later and hike (pup needs exercise). Not sure I have time for both.

Sunday’s hawk yelling at me. I think it’s out there again now.

I warned the dove in the nest that she needed to build further into the tree for safety. Last year, the hawks definitely found the nest.

Simba wanted to lie in the sun, but Luna isn’t that fond of dogs, so there was a minor issue.

So what else do I need to do today? I managed to make lunches and breakfasts for the next two weeks while grading and setting up posts for this week and part of the next. I leave Friday morning early for QuiltCon, so I need to do some prep for that, both in terms of packing and writing sub plans. My sub got canceled, so I have to assume whomever is in my classroom won’t know diddly shit about art or science. Science is an easy plan…do these three things, be quiet, don’t bug the teacher. Art is never an easy plan. I told my co-teachers that if they got stuck in that class to bring backup. I need to set up a septic pumpout (fun stuff) and cross another host of shit off the to-do list. Plus finish my taxes and decide if I will ever have enough money to get the trees trimmed. Let alone anything else. Probably not.

Well bless the neighbors for being quiet today. Or gone. Whichever. I appreciate it for whatever reason. No screaming children, no lawnmowing, no sawing or drilling or other noises of industry. Just a quiet Monday listening to the birds, including the one I just ID’d with a new (to me) app recommended by a reader: Merlin. I have a loud and boisterously singing Song Sparrow (what a name, eh?). Good to know. OK. Book calls. So does the laundry unfortunately.

As I Was Falling Asleep…

Proof I wasn’t ready to go back to school? What am I talking about? We’re always braindead on the weekends. I spent Friday night doing almost nothing but reading; Saturday, we hiked and I drew; Sunday, I panicked a little about school and did some grading and recorded a video, but I still have to post everything and check the calendar and finish up contracts for this week. I tested negative on Friday, but we’re pretty sure we had a positive case in the classroom on Thursday. They don’t even tell us anymore. Just assume? I’m hoping the omicron thing peaks soon so we can go back to whatever version of normal we were on in this iteration. Here’s one crazy thing in my head…don’t get tested in the morning on a lab day, because if they pull you out for testing positive, who the hell is gonna cover your labs? Some poor resource teacher who doesn’t have a clue? The superintendent? Yeah. Well, they are sending people out from the district office to cover our classes. Doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

Anyway, stay healthy, stay sane. And for MLK, let’s work on voting rights and white people.

The drawing is progressing, although I had to take a break last night, because I couldn’t figure out what to do with the next section, and I know I had an idea right as I was falling asleep, but I don’t remember what it was. It’s OK. It will come back. It’s in my brain somewhere.

On Saturday night, I managed all this…

Inked the rest of the arms and added a few creatures, then penciled in some animals below…and then moved half of them again and redrew most of the others because it was just kind of random placement and size and didn’t work at all, which is how I end up with freakishly tiny pieces.

Ah well. So yeah, moved and shrunk the tortoise, moved the bunny to the other side, redrew the bobcat because it was too fluffy and too diagonal.

The bunny was too big too. It’s still too big really, but I’m not sure I could go smaller. It will work.

The center part is the section I’m flailing on…

It’s OK. Whatever my brain had going will come back by tonight. So there’s just this bit and the sky to do, and that’s it. Then numbering all those pieces and into the tracing. Sounds lovely.

Nova is not sure about all that.

So I’m also doing the Molli Sparkles Cut It Up challenge, which is just some piecing stuff, cutting into fabrics that need love and that might be hard to cut into. I don’t usually have a problem cutting into fabrics, but I do have some that never get used because their details make them hard to use in an art quilt like the ones I make. So I’m trying to use those. So far, most of the fabrics I’ve cut into have never been used. Success! I did this block a few weeks ago…

And then the directions of the curves were bugging me. I thought if I pulled two of them off and switched them, then it wouldn’t look like each side was going the same way? I don’t know if you can even see that. My brain can’t UNSEE it. Anyway, I took one triangle off and tried holding it up to the other sides and there is no way to make this work with the triangles I have. I even did some fancy drawing to check…

Yup. That’s technological wizardry there. Anyway, I could recut triangles, or I could just accept this, because it will be in a quilt full of wildness and it won’t even matter. It’s a good thing I came to this conclusion, because the next step was making a bunch of flying geese, which I don’t think I’ve ever made before, but I didn’t work very hard at directional fabrics and I’m OK with what I have so far.

Oh honey, those aren’t very directional…

THERE we go. I have three more of these to make and I’m totally OK with how it’s going. Why do I do silly piecing and strange challenges when I have so much else going on? The very left brain activity of piecing helps my right brain relax a little and then I can focus on the other stuff, like what to draw in the belly space. Plus it’s something I can control. Well, obviously, not completely, because I can’t figure the directional stuff out, but let it the fuck go. I’m good. We’ll see how far I go with it.

I took my sewing stuff to school to fix a kid’s stuffed animal.

He didn’t seem as appreciative as I would have thought? Ah well. Whatever. Weird skills for a weird job.

Saturday’s hike included an exploratory bit where we tried to find another loop in this park…

But the little section to get down to the other road is apparently private. In the middle of nowhere. So we turned back.

More noticing of the things. It’s not spring yet.

Hey guys. What’s up?

Always being watched.

Saturday dinner drawing…

Not sure what was happening with the hands.

OK, so there’s a to-do list, like always. Some of it’s art-related, a lot is work-related, and there’s a bit of Go-for-a-Walk-related. So I’ll start with packing a quilt to be shipped and work out from there. Hopefully the missing idea from falling asleep will come back and maybe I’ll finish the drawing tonight. We’ll see. It’s nice to have the day off, either way. It’s also nice that the neighbors are quiet (for now).

Miss Snyder Says Happy New Year…

Well. It’s a Monday. I love those. My current calendar still has Christmas on it (should fix that…I’m a visual person…need to see the days blocked out). I thought I’d be done copyediting last Saturday, but I got more material and then it didn’t get done. TODAY. TODAY IT IS DONE. Seriously, I made the mistake of emailing my author last night and giving him a list of the missing references so I could edit them for consistency…so now I need to do that as well as finish the bit I haven’t finished reading for the 4th or 5th time. It’s fine. I knew taking on work over break would suck, and for a job, it wasn’t a bad one…but it’s been a bit of a slog mentally, and it makes this week fun because now I have to grade all the things I didn’t grade in the last two weeks. It’s not hard, most of it…I just don’t have the right state of mind for it. I just want to watch cat videos and read my book, dammit. New Year’s resolutions for the best moments, yeah?

No, I really want to make art and conquer the job stuff and hike a lot and none of this is new…I say this every year. I do make art, I never conquer the job stuff because they keep making it harder, and I do hike…so there’s that.

Happy New Year! I still haven’t made my little thing of all the pieces I made last year…just the lame Insta one. I’ll put it on my list. You should see my list. It’s long.

So I did finally start quilting…I just didn’t have time until this weekend. And it started with a lot of thread breakage…

At first, I thought it was just because this thread is probably old…I’ve used this color before, but probably not for a while.

But when I started doing the outlining inside the image, it was breaking like crazy, so I started investigating all the things that make it break. It was tension. Thread is as tense as I am? Yeah. Anyway, this is the first time I’ve actually quilted on the new machine, and I was using a different thread, so it took a little fussing to get it right. I’m glad I got there though…because now I can just do a few hours at a time and get this thing done, yeah?

I’m gonna be here for a while, I think. Especially with all the other crap I still need to do this week. Yes, I am one of those lucky teachers who didn’t start back to school today. We have three weeks at Winter Break, which I’ve always appreciated…it means you can deal with all the family and holiday stuff and then still have a week to get back into school brain, which usually means massive denial until Friday before school starts, and then intense panic. It’s good. It works.

I also completed my quilt guild challenge to make a notebook cover…

It wasn’t hard. I enjoyed the stitching.

Did I NEED to spend a few hours on this? Of course not. But we often do things we don’t need to do.

It’s a lot more chill than what I usually do. Most of the fabrics were gifts this Christmas.

I’ve drawn 2 out of the last 3 nights…

We were supposed to go to a small gathering (us and 3 other vaxxed people) on NYE, but turns out the Man had an exposure before Christmas and we were being uber-cautious. We have no symptoms here, but there is a massive shortage of tests, so we can’t even check. I could go to school today and check…but we couldn’t schedule him a test at all. Sigh. I think everyone’s going to end up getting sick this time around. Get vaxxed! And boosted! The friend who got it was vaccinated but not boosted yet (hadn’t been 6 months yet)…so his case was mild…but we do know unvaxxed folks…and hope they will figure it out soon.

So we sat at home and I stitched and drew. New Year’s Day, we went and sat outside (cold night)…and I drew there.

I’ve done 14 drawings so far over Winter Break…I think I’ve missed 2 nights: Christmas Day and last night.

We hiked on New Years Day, but away from all the people. We left it late so we just went to one of our regular haunts…

Made a friend. We’re hoping to do something more interesting this week. The trails have dried out a little, hopefully, from last week’s rain.

In other news, based on 2020, I figured I wouldn’t have much time to read in 2021 (school takes that time away), but then the man was gone for 2 months on the PCT and I had no one to talk to, so I read a lot instead…totally beat my estimate.

Now I need to make an estimate for this year. School still sucks, but the Man is going to finish the PCT and the boychild will probably be on fire camp duty from July through October sometime, so I will be super alone and maybe should aim for 100 books? Or will the July jury duty suck reading time up? Sigh. IDK. It doesn’t really matter, but I like to be realistic. Last year, I made a goal of 45 and kicked it out of the park. I made the same goal in 2020 and only read 39 books (that year sucked). In 2019, I read 40 and my goal was 36. Hmm. In general, over the last 7 years, I tended to read between 35 and 45 books, except for this year and 2014 (which was a clusterfuck of a year), when I read 104. So probably 45 is still a good goal…maybe I’ll pick 50, just for fun. The girlchild set 125. Now I feel like a slacker. Ah well. Yes, I think too hard about these things.

The boychild turned 26 yesterday, making me feel old. I found this in a box somewhere and photographed it for posterity (plus the boychild doesn’t like his photo taken, so this is a stand-in for his 26-year-old self)…

I let him request a cake…my mistake…so many steps. This is Bon Appetit’s Blackout Cake, which apparently tastes really good…

It has all the chocolates in it. All of them. I’m allergic, so I have no idea how it tastes. I just know I touched all the chocolates over the 24 hours it took to make this thing. It actually wasn’t incredibly difficult…just time-consuming. Hopefully it was worth it.

We had the parentals and his dad over…

Simba was the youngest and cutest thing around, so he got all the attention.

I also am still working on Sue Spargo’s BOM from 2020, the mini/lite one, Chirp

I’m on the third type of six different flowers. There are four of each type. Not halfway yet, but getting there. The birds were fun to do. It’s just time-consuming. I find the stitching relaxing, believe it or not. It should be done in 2022. Not gonna commit further than that, honestly.

And this is what happens when you say my name in a Speech to Text program…

Gotta love my students. Whoever that Miss Snyder person is, well whatever. Maybe she’ll grade all the crap that’s here so I don’t have to.

OK. Well. So many things to do today. First, get the damn copyediting done. Get it out of here. Seriously. Then I can settle down to the other two jobs…finding a calendar for the current year is also important…I have the zoo calendar somewhere. That would be a good one. Happy 2022 all…I don’t have high expectations of the year…just hopes that the things I like are more important than the things I don’t.

Fully Aware

OK. Well. It’s possible that I need to move away from all the people. One neighbor is Day 5 into a 2-day (yes you read that right) project to install a chain-link fence between us. It’s noisy, it’s ugly, I hate it. Ugh. The neighbor on the other side started a jackhammering project Saturday morning that gave me a monster headache, no warning. At least I had warning on the fence job, even if it’s gone on forever. Jackhammer neighbor doesn’t ever realize the noise pollution he creates, I think, until after he hears me ranting through the house at the top of my lungs (yes, I do that. Yes, the men who live with me wish I wouldn’t. It makes me feel better though.). He emailed 12 hours after it happened to tell me about it and how it wouldn’t continue on Sunday (it did). As a teacher, I kind of think of the last weekend before school starts as this sacrosanct time. No noise, just sleeping in and relaxing. The last weekend before I don’t have to put in 4 hours of work on Sunday every week (or last year, 8 hours). Then the neighbor behind us bought two jacaranda trees. I love jacarandas. They’re purple…what’s not to love? Except they seem to be planting it right next to our fence. So that jacaranda will be about 20 feet over my fenceline and dropping shit everywhere in a period of time. Sure, I might be dead by the time that happens. I just think they’re idiots not to consider a tree’s canopy when planting it.

So yeah. Twenty or thirty acres should do it for me. Not sure where or how I would afford it, but no more smells of spray paint, no more generator sounds, no more screaming at the kids or even just screaming kids. Just quiet and nature and yeah.

Yes, I know I start school in 4 days and quiet and nature will not be happening there either. Fully aware. I miss my old quiet neighbors…they had their quirks, but they were less stupid.

I’m in a great mood to start school by the way. The district has decided that gamifying our professional development is something we all need. I’m not sure how many screenshots I’ll need to do to prove I already did the things, or if I really have to prove I know how to use all the Googles (I do…it’s been years now). They say it provides CHOICE, but I don’t see a whole lot of that going on. Choice from their very elementary, and limited, scope of things. Being a middle-school science teacher in the middle of an elementary district is annoying when it comes to that…so much of what they do and say is irrelevant to what I need or do or see.

That said, we’re planning today and I’m getting a bunch of stuff out of the house and into my classroom. I am looking forward to being in a classroom again, although yes, the thought of filling it with the great unvaxxed makes me more than a little anxious. But hands-on is better than Zoom for me AND this crew, so that will be a good thing. And having my team around me, even if I barely see them and can’t plan with most of them…also good.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the ironing done on this current quilt.

Deer.

Seriously a ton of browns in this thing…

The to-be-cut pile grows…

So sometimes weird shit happens. I do have another piece of Wonder Under that matches the drawing with 316 on it.

I’m just going to hold onto this until it makes sense, and if it never does, I will throw it out.

I think this is the tree…

Yeah, with fungus and bear claw marks.

I said I was going to bed before I cut out the green trees on Friday night, I think? And then I did it anyway.

The bottom row is the stuff in the figure; the top is all the ‘real’ stuff. So confusing.

More greens. Check out the dog’s feet and mine.

Now there’s a cat in that photo. I did more ironing…hard to say what here.

Then last night, I laid out all the green parts of the mountains. All marked out in my head. Could be a mistake.

But I got all that ironed too. So much for early to bed, early to rise.

I need to do all the rocks in the mountains now. This is chaos. I think I’m in the 700s but there’s a lot left to do, and the electrician comes tomorrow, so I need to move a bunch of stuff this afternoon/evening so he has access to the attic. Ugh. So I’m not finishing the ironing before I have to do that, unfortunately. I have at least 250 pieces left. We’ll see, but it doesn’t feel promising. I’ll get the ironing done, though, probably before I have to go back to school. That’s the plan anyway.

I’m also working on embroidery for a Social Justice Sewing Academy piece…

Just blanket stitching letters down first before embellishment. Need to make sure they will stay down.

Saturday included two meetings, one on Zoom and one in person. The one in person was to see a future exhibition space before entering…this is a piece by Anne Mudge. Fun.

Reminds me of pepper trees. Or atoms.

After that, we hiked again, only a little over 4 miles, but an extension of a trail we do often into an area we never have gone.

So that was cool.

The man is still training. Progress.

Yeah, this guy. That’s a female pole dancer.

The driver was older. I don’t know how you are in a relationship with anyone with that on your car, but maybe that’s the point.

Oh yeah! Happy birthday to the girlchild, who is 24 (holy crap) and was a smart woman and took the day off work.

I’m proud of her. Also love her. Miss her. All the things.

Anyway. I have ironing to do and school stuff and aack I need to eat lunch before counseling starts and then it’s go go go for probably 10 months straight. Art often. Art always.

Take a Break

I just got an email about a call for artists: the gallery is charging $40/entry for an online exhibit. Online. No catalog. Just online. This after two rejections last night. It’s OK. Rejection is part of the game. If you enter, you will be rejected more often than you are accepted. It’s normal. And more people entered than they were expecting. So there’s that. But I’m not willing to turn around and shell out more money (yes, every entry costs money, and not a small amount of it…remember shows with $10 and $15 entry fees? Proof that I am old.) for a show that only exists online. The gallery is nonprofit…usually entry fees pay jurors and provide food and drink for openings, plus keeping the gallery open and staffed. What is this entry fee for except the jurors? It’s not even on the gallery’s website? I don’t understand.

I get to this stage every once in a while, where I’m tired of paying out fees for themes that are just difficult for me to get my head around or for show after show where I can’t get in. It’s OK…then I just make a bunch of work and then eventually something gets in or some new opportunity pops up that doesn’t cost me any money (those are always nice, aren’t they?). I say that as I’m working on a piece for a show with a theme and probably a fee. Ah well. I’ll finish it and then see where my head is at. Right now, it’s hard to know where my head is at. The man is planning to start hiking again tomorrow. He’s been icing his knee (and his beer) at Kennedy Meadows since Friday, trying to decide whether or not to keep going. The knee has not stopped hurting, mind you, despite the rest. Meanwhile, I’m in a bit of limbo over some projects that need to start and scheduling some things, because I don’t know if I will need to (a) still meet him at Kearsarge Pass or (b) come pull him off the trail again. So I do cross things off the list and let a few things just sit there, waiting. I’m still tired…still occasionally grinding my teeth…still in recovery mode. Not sure when all that improves.

Actually, it kind of helps to write the blog and realize how many things I’m working on…so on Friday, I continued outline quilting on the 20-year-old quilt…

Which will eventually need a better name…but I did finish the outlining…

And started the background quilting, which is going to take a while. But it’s started.

I also did some ironing to fabric on the current quilt made for a themed show that will cost money to enter. This is my view while ironing, watching a recorded Zoom of something textile-related.

Can’t remember what. Picking out the sky fabrics here…this was Friday night, I think?

I lose track. Actually, I think it was a Zoom meeting. I had two on Friday and then I watched the recorded talk.

And then on Saturday night, I finished the rest of the ironing for this quilt and organized all the fabrics by color…

I used 99 fabrics and it took 9 hours and 45 minutes to pick them all and iron them to fabric. In general, this is a very muted quilt. The bright colors are in a few small locations. It’ll be interesting to see it all ironed together.

Then last night, I started trimming the pieces…

I haven’t gotten very far…the top left box is all trimmed. The bottom box is to-be-trimmed. It’s gonna be a while.

On Saturday night, when I was done ironing (which was pretty early), I finished up the hand-stitching on this piece, which I’ve been working on for a very long time. How long?

Hmmm. Looks to be around January 11 of this year that I started this. Not bad…I thought it was last year. Only 6 months. Honestly, it’s been almost done for a while. And it’s really not even almost done…everything is just stitched down and I got rid of all the pins. I actually want all of these (there are four now) to have a lot more hand sewing.

I did the first one, bottom left, in February or so of 2020…and the other two after that. They are from Anna Maria Horner shipments, using only the fabrics she sent that month. Hence the crazy combinations. I like them though. It’s a different kind of challenge. There are 6 shipments a year, so I didn’t finish last year’s quite, and now I have two…no three more this year. One just arrived and I cut the background fabric out already and it’s waiting…although I think there is a cat lying on it. Maybe someday I will finish these. Who knows. Maybe they are like sketchbook drawings…just little workings of the brain when other stuff is too hard.

On Saturday, I also went to an actual in-person meeting (outside, in a park, where I got sunburned again in a weird pattern on my back because I thought it was all covered up, but I was stitching and so I was bent over and…duh). It was one of my quilt guilds…and I worked on Sue Spargo’s Homegrown, finishing the third of four blocks for March.

Look! People! In a group! I know. It makes me nervous unless it’s outside. We’ll see how that goes in the future.

Ah yes, and I finished stitching hangers and a label on this one, so it’s off to it’s new owner later this month.

Took forever to finish this one…mostly my fault…combined with school and sewing machine issues. See, I did do a lot…plus bought shelves for the deck for plants to block the neighbor noise and view…working on the plants and pots part. Need more of both.

On Saturday, I hiked a little over 5 miles…it was hot. This is a kite…a bird kite, not a manmade one.

It’s a bird I only see at Sweetwater. Looks like a hawk but mostly white and a little gray. Stared at me.

I didn’t see anyone else out there. Granted, I was hiking during the dinner hour, I think, and it was warm even then.

There’s a lot of flowers still blooming.

I like hiking by myself mostly…

I do listen to music…

I wanted to go further, but the parking lot closes…

Sweetwater River Trail? Or Reservoir? Not sure.

Finally got to the water.

And then headed back…I like this succulent, although I’ve never been able to get it to grow from a cutting.

I don’t take it out of wild parks…just from side of the road bits where I can pick a leaf or a stem.

Maybe I should just figure out what it is and find it somewhere legit that costs money.

Lots of cat pictures…Nova cleaning Luna while I was trying to nap.

I did not nap. Luna then got cranky and started a fight.

Not nap friendly.

When I got back from the hike, Kitten decided my hat was a sleeping space.

Hmmm.

Nova checking out the living room last night…

So today…I’m in a Zoom, watching some art stuff, plus trying to write this. Then I should quilt some more, cut some more, walk some more, and IDK what else. I have a list. Fill the hummingbird feeders. Do some yard work. I need a list for that. I should do that. I should just take a break from expectations, right? Yeah, I’m not very good at that. I’ll keep trying. Without the fees and the rejections, yeah? Don’t enter; you won’t get rejected. But if your work needs to get out there, then you will have to take that chance, spend the money, get it out there.

Mornings Are Loud…

Oh man, apparently a 5-day week is at least 3 days too long at the moment. I will be dissecting frogs today. I did a demo yesterday for a video and completely fucked it up, forgot what the heart looks like, missed a bunch of stuff, said some random stuff. So I deleted it. I’ll try again today for realz with the kids, hope I don’t mess this one up too badly. I’m going to go watch a video of some people who are way more awake and with it than I am. Not that it’s hard to be that. I’m going to bed at a reasonable hour…just can’t fall asleep or apparently stay asleep. Mornings are loud, y’all…really loud. The birds, the sun, just damn loud.

The plus in all this is that the next quilt drawing is coming along, mostly because I’m using the drawing I did in Tehachapi, all stream of consciousness while hanging with the man and watching weird stuff on the telly. Apocalyptic Love, Death, and Rockets, yeah? No, not Rockets…ROBOTS. Oh my. Hello brain. You want a scalpel today? Seems like a mistake, but sure…we’ll give you a scalpel. WTF. ANYWAY. I cut some paper to the right size and added the elements I needed for this theme, and then traced a goodly portion of the existing drawing…

I got the existing drawing transferred onto the new page, which is longer and skinnier, and now just need to do some filler and the sky tonight hopefully. Yes. Too many small pieces. It’s OK. I’ll be OK. I’ll complain about it later, but I’ll be OK.

This is why size of quilt isn’t as relevant to me for price as number of pieces is. I have one smaller piece with over 800 pieces in it that is really expensive…but if you think that each small piece needs to be drawn, traced, ironed, trimmed, and ironed down to the backing, you can see how number of pieces adds up. It’s OK for this one. Just when I get to commissions, it becomes an issue. Keep it simple! The quilt I just finished had 800 or so pieces in it…and it’s much bigger, but the cost will probably be similar to the small one I did a few years back. We’ll see. I haven’t calculated time yet on the new one. I’ve had no time to calculate time!

Anyway, it’s progress. It’s good.

I’ve hiked the last two days, Monday with the boychild and the dog…

The man will hike with me on Saturday.

He’s in recovery mode, which means going to hang out with a bunch of people and eating a lot of sugar. Funny stuff.

He’ll be back on trail next week, and then I’ll see him on the other side of Kearsarge Pass. Somehow. I’m debating hiking part of that, but acclimation could be an issue (starts at 9200 feet above sea level. I live at 400 feet above sea level). We’ll see. It’s supposed to be gorgeous though. I’d like a gorgeous hike or two this summer.

Here he is giving Luna some love.

He was afraid the cats wouldn’t remember him. They did. Right away. Even with all the smelly hiker clothes.

Because I’ve been hanging out with him at night, I’ve been embroidering on the Sue Spargo Homegrown blocks…finished another one of the March blocks…

Crazy little houses. One row of the roof shingles is the wrong thread. Not changing it. Nope.

OK, frogs today. Yup. Gonna go watch that video and make another cup of tea and keep creating random instruction for next week’s weirdness. Then do some exercise and draw some more. Try not to panic at any given time. Good plan.

Getting It Done…

The first week after I drop the man back on trail seems to always be hard. Maybe it will be less so when school is not part of the mix, hopefully…right now, I’m trying to catch up on planning and grading, which is time-consuming as hell…yesterday I started at 7:15 AM, continued through until after school, went for a lab test real fast, came back, worked some more, took about 90 minutes for Pilates and dinner, and then worked until about 9:45 PM. I’m calling it 12+ hours. And nowhere near done. I’ll get there. I mean, the last day of school is the 17th. Grades are due some time before that. It will all get done, for some definition of ALL. But no art happened yesterday. Some happened on Monday, luckily, so I’m not feeling totally inept. Just mostly.

Plus honestly, I just really miss him and it’s a damn long time before I’ll get to see him again. It’s trail-dependent…there are many days when he’s in the middle of nowhere and there aren’t even dirt roads to get there. The next section is particularly complicated for that. There’s some chance of one connection at Kearsarge Pass, but if that’s before school gets out, then it won’t be until Tuolomne Meadows. And that’s a long time from now. He’s been having water issues, plus a heat wave, but today was gifted deer footprints and a Gatorade and amazing views. So that’s how his days roll. They seem simpler (not easier…just simpler) than mine. I see the appeal. Especially with 12 days of school left and meetings every day this week. And just plain too much work.

I did manage a hike with the boychild and one dog on Monday…

I’m trying to type this with Kitten rubbing her head on my face and the computer monitor. Apparently I need to pet cats more. Seems unlikely. But I am not a cat, so what do I know?

The old lady is still hanging on. She sleeps a lot. Simba needs long walks, so we do that at least once a week.

I also need long walks, so it works out. Although he brings these home in his fur…

Those are some fun seed pods.

I got a lot of the background quilting done on Monday…

I started behind the clouds and got more than halfway done…

I think another hour tonight would do it…if I can find an hour tonight. Union meeting after school. Who knows how long that will go. I’m already exhausted though and I haven’t even officially started working today. I need to get the quilting done and the binding on. Sooner rather than later. I’d really like to deliver this to the photographer this weekend. I can’t email him though until I have the binding at least machine-stitched on…then I have some chance of making sure it can be done. It’s OK…I have no social life, so beyond school and exercise and watering the plants and occasionally talking to the boychild and petting ALL the animals, I should be able to get more art done. Ha! This is been such a shitshow for making art. Between the stress and anxiety of the last 16 months of school and COVID and other stuff, and the sheer number of HOURS my day job has sucked up in that time, I have made very little art. I have ideas, I have the need, I have the want…I just don’t have the TIME. This summer? We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully from June 17 on, this gets better. I can’t conceive of putting this amount of time and effort in endlessly. I will lose my mind.

I’d like to thank this evening sky, AND my neighbors for having all their screamers inside and not ruining it, for keeping some of my sanity last night. Yes. I just stared at it for a while.

Also I was trying to keep this innocent-looking beast from eating my succulents.

I was grading things. Luna was not helping. That plant in the middle looks like that because of cats.

And Monday night, while trying to meditate. Sometimes they are just not helpful.

It does appear that they missed me.

Ah. Missing people. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed and in a bad place right now. It’s OK. It will pass. I will start working and realize all the shit that needs doing and that will take over the emotional stuff until later today, when I will quilt that thing until it’s done. Hopefully. And maybe this weekend, I can start drawing the next one or two or however many it will take before I feel like I’m artistically back on track and my day job is under control or on hiatus for 8 weeks (along with my paychecks, ah well). Yeah. It’s a day. Happy June! Happy Pride actually…that is a positive thing for so many people. May society get their collective act together and stop making the world a shitty place for those who often make the world a more wonderful thing.