Take a Sad Song and Make It Better*

September 30, 2016

It’s been an interesting week. Hot weather, too hot…while most of you are doing Fall weather. Local news turned national…not pretty. I don’t really want to talk about that much…it’s hard to say what should have happened, but probably someone shouldn’t have died. And all that has affected school. I’ll let all the post-shooting drama play out in the press, but I would like to say that I’m continually dismayed by the inability of many people to empathize with others. I think that might be our core human problem at the moment. I really do feel helpless in the aftermath of all the anger I see out there, the shootings, the deaths, the reactions I see. It would be easy to blame it on the presidential election, but it’s been around longer than that. I hear so many of my own friends and acquaintances who want all this crazy to stop, but it seems just saying that does not make it so. Of course. Why would it? I can go on and on here and either you’ll just ignore me because you don’t agree, or you’ll nod your head because you do. No change. What would it take for change to happen? No racism. No sexism. No hating others just because they have some difference? Because they came from somewhere else? Because they worship differently? By the way, if your worship also proposes hate of another group for their worship, then it is another hate group in my mind.

So all that has been in my head. Plus I have an image growing from the Brock Turner thing…yeah, I know it’s late, but my brain often mulls stuff over and over, and in the end, it won’t be about him…it’ll be about having a college-aged daughter out there in the world, about having been a college-aged woman traveling around, about the fear every woman carries in the back of her head when it’s dark and she’s walking alone down the street to her car. I wanted to draw last night, but the dog barking at night is getting to me. Coyotes. He’s gonna kill them all. But not let me sleep.

So I didn’t quilt. I don’t have the right color of thread. I’ll go get some today, if I can do it and avoid a protest. Serious thought there. I don’t want to be at the protest. I’ve never…ok, not never…but it’s been a long time since I thought gathering in a huge group to yell about things was my thing. I still think it should happen, because I need people to see it happening, but I don’t handle crowds well. I guess my path is through my art…although again, what to say? How to portray what’s in my head? I don’t quite know.

I did some stuff yesterday though. I helped my students finish their anti-bullying door. I had been gone for two days and was reading through what the kids had thought about how to decorate the door (we do this every year…and it’s one of the things I hate dealing with…). And Trump’s name kept popping up. Huh. Well. OK. So I asked them about it and they burst into animated speech about how what he says is bullying, statements about women and immigrants and Mexicans and Muslims and blacks…and I’m looking at a classroom full of girls and immigrants and Mexicans and Muslims (I do have black students…just not in my homeroom). So I let them do it. They had to find quotes that qualify as bullying, so we talked about what that means…and then they wrote it out and crossed it off in red. We didn’t want people to think those things were OK. So then I have to admit, I hadn’t read the instructions (it was a bad week), and it was something to do with random acts of kindness. OK. We can do this. Every kid got a post-it note and wrote INSTEAD at the top, and then they had to research random acts of kindness and write one down. So we taped those to the door to counteract the negativity.


They came up with the catch phrase. And the thing is, they’re so proud of it. They keep showing it to other people. Lots of kids are talking about it and standing around outside my door and reading it aloud to each other. I want to tell them that we won’t win the doughnut party because it’s political, but they’re so sure they’ll win. So I’ll probably go buy them doughnuts. Because really? They did all the critical thinking and were really amazing during the process and they deserve some major kudos for that. Yeah. I drew Trump for them. But that’s all. There wasn’t a single kid who wasn’t involved in this door.

I had a teacher say I should have done Clinton as well as a counterpoint. But honestly, I would have had a hard time finding a bunch of bullying statements that she had said. I guess my own politics are showing there. But whatever. I’ll stand up for my kids’ process and product.

So what else did I do last night? I did indoor skydiving for the first time. It was a teacher freebie (can’t afford that shit!). And it was awesome. They did the event to try to get us to sign up for field trips, but there’s no way our kids could afford them, even at half price. That said, Wow. Just wow. I really loved my 60 seconds. I smiled, a big goofy grin, all the way home. Even with the drool all over my face.


I was the second teacher out there. No fear. And those boys in the front watching me, I was totally yelling at them. Yeah!!!

Then I came home and spent an hour on the phone with the girlchild, helping her with an essay. I don’t write them for her. I just tell her what’s missing. She knows something is missing…that’s why she calls. The boychild used to send me sentences that were 50 words long and ask me if they made sense. He doesn’t do that any more, so that’s probably a good thing…gotten past needing mom to read your stuff.

I graded. I cooked dinner. I mulled over the political crap in my head. I worried. I petted a bitey puppy.


It’s all I could have handled honestly. Oh yeah, and this quilt sold.


I have an Etsy shop for some of my smaller quilts. I closed it down for a while and then opened it back up. This is from the Journal Quilt Project that Karey Bresenhan spearheaded back in 2005. I’m pretty sure this one is in the book and probably traveled to IQF. A million years ago. Anyway, it has a new home, once I put a label on it and pack it up. So there’s that. Etsy shop is in the sidebar.

OK. Off to school. Hopefully no major issues. They’re kicking us out early due to protest action that’s planned for the afternoon. I guess I’ll be grading all afternoon. Maybe I’ll be able to draw too.

*The Beatles, Hey Jude

I Bleed It Out*

September 24, 2016

OK. So I’m in this weird place between pieces. You know when you finish one, take a deep breath (and I can’t do that yet, because there are three things I need to fix on it, plus I have to do the final iron and dehair for the photographer…once I finish this post), and then you’re flailing a bit…like WTF do I do next? Man I wish I had time for that sentiment at the moment. In reality, I have one that technically is supposed to be done next week (ha! It’s OK…really, I don’t have to finish it until the end of October), another collaboration with the same deadline (also not happening), and then the deadlines mellow out. A bit. Not really, because I have that awesome solo show next July and I need to make things for that. Before March. I think. And there’s one for December, but honestly, December sounds like it’s a million miles away at the moment. It’s OK. I know it’s not. But my brain is resting a bit with the lack of urgency. Don’t worry. It’ll get back there. Plus I have school kicking my butt.

But you know that place. You fold up the quilt you just finished and you pat it once or twice, look around the studio and think, oh god, this place is a mess, and start to tidy. And then hopefully by the time you’re done, the next project is nicely settled in place, ready to go. I know for most of you, that’s not how it works. You take days, weeks, sometimes even months between projects. But I was talking to my counselor about this, that the one thing that saved me after the last breakup and the kids leaving for college was my ability to MAKE…and not just to make, but to throw myself so deeply in it that I was lost, that I couldn’t even feel the bad shit weighing on me. It was the one place I found peace. And it’s often hard to leave that place…to go out into the world. Even though I know I need to do that…not just for work and food, but to socialize, so I don’t hermit more than I already do.

So I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my online quilt art friends at Quilt National, because some of the ones I’ve never met will be there…but also hopefully to make it in time for the opening this time (my flight got canceled last time). Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I have three quilts this weekend that need labels and two that need shipping right away. The other can wait a week or so. And the school workload is crazy. So that. Plus finishing the coloring book. And I don’t even know what else is on the list I started writing last night.

So I sat down last night and finished sewing sleeves on.


I got into the habit of sewing on bottom and top sleeves on all my quilts…they hang better that way. In fact, in the photo below, the quilt you can just see the bottom of? It needs a bottom sleeve so it will hang better. Maybe someday I’ll do that, but since it’s pretty much aged out of the exhibition circuit, probably not. There’s a black cat in that photo too. Basically whenever I sit on the couch to sew or cut, I get surrounded.


I knew this quilt would need ink. I just like how it separates sections.


Some just have a little ink. Some none. This one had an hour and a half of ink.


That’s kind of a lot…but hands. Overlapping.


And I debated the rocks…but couldn’t stop.


You can’t just ink one. Anyway. She’s done. She has a name even, but I’ll wait until I have official photos. I think it’s been a while since I updated the Recent Work section on the website. Oh yeah. Like April. OK. So that’s on my list when I get these photos back.

What’s funny is that I always try to make a new quilt for Visions and Quilt National when they come up. I don’t really worry about whether they get in, because it just motivates me to make a big complicated quilt every year. Really, every summer, I do it anyway. But in the old days, when I only made one big one a year, that was my motivation. For the big shows. The big shows I never get into. So I made one for QN. And it didn’t get in. Which is totally OK, because the one that did was made for ANOTHER show, and it didn’t get into that one. So it all works out in the end.

The dogs in the morning…waiting for me to get my act together and put them where they belong for the day.


And because I know you wanted to see the branch that came down in the night…in the daylight…it ain’t small…


Gotta do something about that. Probably soon. Sigh.

Oh and I hadn’t opened the most recent SAQA Journal (been a busy month). Someone had told me about the cover before I received it (Jill Kertulla’s baby being born), which is awesome. But then I looked and the Turmoil exhibit was in there. Over the years, I’ve kind of gotten used to having exhibits in magazines and NOT being in there, although a few have popped up. But usually the nudity throws them out.


But not only did they put in Jill’s Baby Quilt above, but they put in my Goddess of Never-Ending Chaos. Full on vulva shot folks. I wonder if SAQA gets complaints.


I hope not. I guess we’ll see how this exhibit travels. At least mine isn’t alone in it’s female part goodness. Hopefully that will help. I won’t be in Houston to see this exhibit, unfortunately, but maybe it will come out to California some time.

OK. I need to really finish that quilt (just need one line I missed and two places that need to be sewn down better. And then prep for photographer. And then head in the game for the next one.

*Linkin Park, Bleed It Out

We Can Dance if We Want to*

September 21, 2016

It’s still raining. This confuses us here in Southern California. Constant water from the sky? The world is ending? It’s good for the plants, though, so I’ll roll with it. And honestly, I was in a training all day yesterday and will be again today, so I don’t have to deal with students and rain, and that’s a good thing.

The training is for the sex ed program I teach every year. This is my 3rd run through the training, which has now stretched to two days instead of one. And honestly, I don’t need it. There’s a few things they’ve given us that might be useful, but one of those is the notebook with all the updated stuff and some videos online. You could just hand me those. There’s a few new topics and we’ve finally been given the OK to blatantly talk about birth control, instead of sneaking it into the questions at the end of class, so that’s a plus. Besides, really, I’m OK with sitting through two days of training just to guarantee that the teachers who blow this stuff off are actually going to be required to teach about LGBTQ issues. So there we are. But otherwise, yeah, this is going to be my 15th year teaching this unit. Not scared of it. We’ll revise a few things, but otherwise…and the idea to split the unit into 7th and 8th grade, I brought it up with my district…so what do we think we can wait until the end of 8th grade to tell them about reproduction and protection and all this stuff? Because for some of it, even the end of 7th grade is too late.

So that’s what I’m doing all day. And yeah, I graded last night, although I have to tell you, I’m a little frustrated with kids not following instructions. The first unit is kicking butts left and right. OK. So when I hand it back, there’s going to be some discussion.

And then instead of finishing a whole class of grading the unit, I gave up. I really wanted to get the binding on last night, so I cleaned the floor again (muddy dog footprints from the rain) and got started…


Unfortunately, she was a bitch to trim. Part of it was that the hills etc. weren’t exactly straight. When I iron stuff together, shockingly, it isn’t always perfect. But I fussed with it for a while and finally got it where I needed it to be. I love the quilts that trim perfectly the first time. This was not one of those.

I got the binding and sleeves on, top and bottom. These quilts hang better with a slat in the bottom as well.


That blue and yellow star fabric has been in my stash for a million years. Seriously, since the 90s. People always want to know how long I’ve been doing this. I took my first quilt class at the age of 23 in 1990…and I moved into more arty quilts pretty quickly, although I think my first official art quilt wasn’t made until 1999. I was futzing around with techniques before then. Even then, I made quilts completely differently. In 2000, I actually hand-appliqued an entire (small) art quilt. It took forever. In 2001, I got to the system I use now, mostly. I started small with very few pieces…and now, well, I’m a little crazy with piece counts and size.

Anyway, I pinned everything back. Yup. I still sew them by hand. I have a few quilts where I didn’t, and I prefer how these look. I’m a little old school sometimes.


I started hand sewing them. And I emailed my photographer. This one will need ink too.

So the rain thing is really upsetting Simba. Every time I’ve tried to put him out to use the facilities, he’s run back to the door. I guess water is terrifying. Amusing, since I bathed him yesterday…damn fleas this year are heinous.


After his bath, he ran around psychotically, rubbing his whole tiny body over the carpet (well, I guess we’ll be killing the fleas in the carpet too)…and then settled down behind my dinner companion (it was safer there).


Poor puppy.

This is the next mural in the Sea Walls excursion from last weekend; this one is still in the North Park/Hillcrest area. It faces someone’s house…probably nicer to look at than a blank wall…


This one is by Gloria Muriel, whose murals I have photographed before. I haven’t found online yet where the artists explain how their work is related to the ocean project, although this is obviously water…nice water molecule shown on the forehead…I only know some because I saw stuff on Instagram.


Anyway. Nice mural. Yes. I still want to grow up and be a mural painter. So there.

I do need to start getting serious about the next quilt project though. Aack.

*Men Without Hats, Safety Dance

Nobody Knows Me at All*

September 19, 2016

A short and quiet song to start the day…because it’s Monday and whatever the music app plays sets the tone for the day. Sometimes. This morning it’s quiet and a little folksy and guitar and pure voice. That might get me through the day.

As usual, I didn’t get everything done. I never do. It’s the wonder of being a teacher and an artist. There’s never a stopping point. There are marks I aim for, stopping points. Progress checks. I did finish the outline quilting last night, and then started the background, of which there is very little. I wanted to be done with the quilting yesterday, but school took up the entire afternoon. I have two days of training this week, so I had to prep for the sub. Ugh. Two days of sub…I’m going to come back to chaos. Not looking forward to that.

I had everything done up until the last figure’s head…the biggest head in the piece…


And then the clouds above her head, where disasters reside.


Quilting a rift in the ground, a bomb, that mushroom cloud, a burning church…she’s got plenty on her mind…


Done. Upside down. Because I’m starting the background quilting right there…I think. I was debating using the same color thread as what I outlined with, which sometimes works…


But when I tried it against the background fabric, there was a lighter color that worked better. I don’t have a full spool of it, but honestly, I don’t think I need a full spool. And I have two others that have a little bit on them. So I went for it.


I should easily be able to finish the quilting today. Now binding is the issue. I always need supplies in the middle of the night, because that’s when I work…so I’m better off just pulling it off the machine this morning and taking it with me, so I can hit the fabric store after school. That will guarantee my ability to put the binding on whenever I finish quilting. And I have to tell you, I wasn’t expecting to be this far ahead. But I am. Good thing. There’s two for October (not as complicated as this)…and I’m so far behind in grading, I’m starting to panic. But it will be fine! Ha.

I’m a little stressed out.

From the inside of the house, this guy looked like a stick insect. But no…that looks like a praying mantis…not a pretty green one, but I don’t think we get pretty green anything here in dry desert world.


Kitten would have been excited by that. She really likes lizards too.

This quilt is almost done. Mind-boggling. I really didn’t think I could get it done in time.

*The Weepies, Nobody Knows Me at All

And I Told You to Be Patient*

September 16, 2016

Sigh. Hallelujah for Fridays. I have so much schoolwork to do, I feel like I can’t breathe. But I also want to finish quilting. Plus spend time with humans (well, a little). Three meetings yesterday kind of buried me. Today should be better. I need to get my grading focus on and get some shit done. Then come home and quilt.

I thought yesterday would be a no-art day, and I was right. There wasn’t any energy left at the end of the day. I went out for dinner and a drum circle (like you do)…the view from dinner (if you looked up and back)…


Turned out to be an electronic drum circle, and less about drums and more about electronic. There were brief moments of “Yeah, that!” and then some doofus would drop in his shit and it would all fall to hell.


It was nice to get out and do something different though.

I came home, sat down, and immediately had both dogs vying for attention…which I gave them…they were kissing each other at some point (well, boisterously licking faces anyway, which is new)…


And then it devolved into crazy in-my-lap psychosis.


Always fun (that big dog is upside down in my lap and the little one is trying to stomp her).

It seemed logical to just go to bed and hope today was more productive. It should be. I probably should walk the dogs this evening, but hopefully that will just be a short 3-miler. And then food and sewing. Grading. Ugh. I don’t like the last part, but it needs to be done.

And I just saw this…and interview by HollyAnne of String and Story. Go check it out and then wander through the rest of her website…

*Bon Iver, Skinny Love

Some Nights I Call It a Draw*

September 15, 2016

I’m quilting! Yes, even though the union meeting went until after 6 PM and I had to blow off book club for about the 4th month in a row (I  even read the books and then don’t make it to the meeting…even more lame)…I still managed to quilt for almost three hours last night. I’m not even sure how I did that. I think I got into a zone and didn’t come out until I realized I had two meetings this morning and actually remembered to set my alarm early. A miracle, surely.

I’ve been getting a few messages from Chattanooga attendees, at the shop and the show. I appreciate all the little protests going on. There’s a few people here wearing the pins around, even at school (it’s in cursive…the kids can’t read cursive. It will be our new old-people secret language). I really can’t waste any more energy on their crazy. ALL their crazy. But you should go to the show and appreciate the SAQA quilts that are there, and check out the rest of it, and then head out to Spool to see my two and Melly Testa’s piece as well.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the next quilt (without a penis in it) done in time. And mentally work on the next two projects at once.

Not the easiest thing to do. Kitten still resents my taking her chair. Look at her face. Won’t even meet my eyes.


I booked all the way through the rest of the rocks and the water and up both sides through the land sections, and then did the boat…


And I started working on stuff in the boat, but that’s when I looked at the clock.


I only have about 3 1/2 hours in…and most of the detail is in the center section, where the three larger bodies overlap, so that’s the next step. I don’t think I’ll get much done tonight…I’m going to a drum circle thing. You know, like you do on a school night. I hate thinking of it as school nights and not being able to do stuff, but that’s the reality of it. I can’t blow off teaching because I was out late…and for me, it’s usually just staying up late making art. But it is looking more and more like I’ll get it quilted this weekend. I can’t ignore the pile of Unit 1 science packets staring me in the face, though. They need grading, because we just started Unit 2. I made a mistake on the cover, but we’re teaching kids to recover from that shit (because they’ll have to), so I rolled with it. I was drawing and thought H 2 O. So that’s what I drew. An H and 2 Os. Duh.


I think the molecules look like spaced-out frogs.

I really should go in early, because I’m not even prepped for today. I had a meeting after school yesterday and didn’t think to do it during 8th period. Ugh. I hate that. I used to have early prep and that helped, but this midday stuff is mostly useless. Sigh.

*Fun, Some Nights

‘Cause I Like Giants*

September 14, 2016

Sometimes raising a puppy is  a lot like teaching middle school. This morning’s lesson? Don’t eat caterpillars. Yeah. It could be relevant for either group, right? It’s OK. The big black fuzzy caterpillar was moved to a safer environment.

I survived Back-to-School night. A big hot cup of tea helped my voice make it through. The 10 minutes of head on desk helped me get through the rest. And then somehow I managed to come home, make dinner from scratch, and pinbaste the quilt. And I went to bed early (I was really tired…still am this morning)…I hate it when we have B2S night early in the week. It’s better on a Thursday because you only have to survive one school day afterwards. Instead of three. Ugh. Union meeting today. This week is kicking my ass. And all the social stuff I had on the calendar for this week got kicked due to the cold. Double ugh. Whatever. October will hopefully be better.

I’m trying to kick the week’s ass back.

So after dinner, I pieced a back out of a couple bits and pieces (I really don’t care what’s on the back), taped it down to the floor, and started pinning…Simba was not helpful…


Mostly he would grab a toy and try to climb on some part of my body while I was pinning. I think eventually he figured out that I really didn’t like that. Because when he’s biting at his toy, he inevitably bites me too. Which sucks.


So eventually he went and laid down on the floor with Calli…my view from the pinning.


It didn’t take too long to do this, if you forget about the fact that I’d been at school for way too many hours, standing for way too long. It’s really not a huge quilt. A huge quilt would be twice as wide as this (like the last one I did).


Anyway, it was still relatively early, although I was tired, but I wanted to at least start the quilting…


So I did. For a while. I’m a little bit relieved to have gotten that done last night. I didn’t think I would have the energy.

Meanwhile, I’m planning part of the next project that needs to be done via email. Collaboration when you can’t meet. It’s OK. Our brains work. Eventually we’ll get into the same place with a bunch of materials, a glass of wine, and a plan. It’ll work.

Now I just have like 20 hours of quilting (or less? I’m beyond figuring that out for this quilt…)…OK, it should be less. The two giant quilts I’ve done in the last year that were twice the width of this one? They were 21 and 22 hours of quilting and there were significantly large background areas. This one has barely any background and it’s half the width. I originally thought I needed to be quilted by the 23rd, but now I’m thinking I might be able to get it done by the 18th? And then bind it and email the photographer.

Well there’s a plan. Now let’s see how I can fuck it up and still get done in time.

*The Dresden Dolls, Shores of California OK, so I’ve been picking the song that was playing when I got to the end of writing, but honestly, I don’t know what quote I’m gonna pull from this song. I love the song itself, but eek. Let’s see what plays next. Kimya Dawson, Like Giants Still a weird but lovable song.