I Wanna Be Your Left Hand Man*

November 18, 2017

I’m up! It’s morning! It’s a beautiful day! Can you tell that I have the next NINE days off work! I mean, as OFF work as you can be with 5 assignments to grade, a worksheet or two to finish creating, 140 pages of copyediting to do, and 1200 pieces to iron (OK, the last is a joy). So yeah, if you’re thinking, AWWW LUCKY, then you don’t really get that I bring home work almost every night and do these stupid 12-hour days sometimes and work every Sunday and sometimes Saturday as well. Honestly, you give teachers vacations so they don’t all quit their jobs and/or duct tape a particularly annoying child to a chair. Permanently. There’s a reason 50% of teachers quit by their 5-year anniversary.

With that said, I’m not copyediting or grading shit today…maybe tomorrow I’ll start. But I try to keep Saturdays free of that stuff.

This cat and people food…he’s got an issue…”I will stalk the plate crumbs.”

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Two nights’ worth…chain stitch on the left top and then cross stitches. Maybe something else…can’t remember. I’m mostly just filling space.

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Finally made it in to iron around 9 something. I did both sides…the landscape in the background. Although I have a little left to do on the right side. I’ve done about 150 pieces, that’s it. Not fast.

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But I do love doing it…

I also love mornings where I can just sit here and text the kids back and forth while drinking my tea in my pajamas. It was nice.

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This cat…she’s a bit psycho. I’ve been trying to persuade her to come back out into the living room and my office, where she used to hang out, but she’s nervous about the other cat…

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She does love bathmats though.

Anyway, work, the good kind, is on my mind. Gonna do some art stuff today for sure. There’s a balance. I’m working on it.

*Vance Joy, Riptide


If I Kiss You Where It’s Sore*

November 17, 2017

Oh hallelujah dear Friday before Thanksgiving Break. Although today will be like managing wild and hungry chimpanzees while holding a chocolate birthday cake, I can see a big fat light at the end of the tunnel…at about 3:30 PM this afternoon, to be specific. Of course, I have 5 assignments to grade (not bad, actually), my author contacted me this morning and his manuscript is ready for copyediting (it’s OK…I asked for it over break…I need the money), and I just made a to-do list for all the shit around the house that needs doing, but hell…I just don’t care at the moment. I want to SLEEP…and most importantly…MAKE ART. Yes. That. With gay abandon. Throw confetti all over me. I wanna art myself into the ground.

Yes, I’m a little punchy and a lot exhausted.

Exhausted after doing this cool rock cycle lab all day, which started with teaching kids how to grate cheese (well, crayons) with a knife, in case they don’t have a cheese grater. Well, no, we were making sediment from a crayon rock.

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And then I missed photographing all the other steps in between because brain fart. Totally. But here it is after we compacted it and then melted it and then blended it and let it cool off.

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So lab days are always exhausting. But it was cool. I have no voice today, but that’s OK.

Then I went to the opening of California Fibers: Points of View at the Rose Gallery, Francis Parker School…there are my three pieces: Feeding Time, BirdWatch, and You Pollute Me. I look like I have a lot more energy than I really did.

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The show is really nice. I’ll post the whole thing sometime in the next few days. Not right now.

I came home after grabbing dinner and sat for a moment, trying to find the energy to do ANYTHING. I had Simba on one side of me and Satchemo on the other. My arms aren’t long enough to show both. No, I don’t need a selfie stick. It’s OK.

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And then, miracle of miracles, I came in the studio and put all the fabric away, cleaned up, and started ironing the new quilt. This thing is gonna be SO FUN.

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OK. Yeah. It’s huge. I get that. But I’m so excited about working on this. Really.

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I have my Nida Powers sign in here now. Although I really wanted it to be one word. I need to put it up on the wall, but I decided doing that on a rolling chair while tired would be a big fucking mistake.

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So I’ll wait. I will fully enjoy the 9 days off I have, even with all the shit I gotta do. It’s OK. I get to make lots of art in the middle of all that. Yay.

Regina Spektor, Better

We Don’t Notice Any Time Pass*

November 16, 2017

Insert pithy statement about being a middle-school teacher two days away from a week off from school. Make a Venn diagram about your feelings about the next two days versus break and your students’ feelings about the same. In your case, add in holiday stress because food, family, and travel. Then drop in some missing-your-kids feelings, because they are a million miles away. And take two Motrin for that headache that must be caused by something other than drinking heavily at night, because you didn’t.

I had plans for last night! I got about oh say maybe 45% into my plans and my brain and body gave out. So be it.

Somewhat strangely, on this day last year, I had just started ironing Wonder Under to fabric for my last quilt of 2016. Ironic that, because I did NOT start ironing last night, although that was my plan.

Here’s a puppy for you to look at, because he’s cute. He’s not actually a puppy. He’s over 2 years old. But he will probably always be the puppy because he’s small.

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And hyper.

I did French knots on the righthand side to fill in some of the empty space in there.

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Apparently empty space offends me. Actually, that might really be true.

I did manage to go shopping for background fabric yesterday, wash all the other things I bought (it was a weak moment), and then make piles of that and all the fabric from the last quilt that need to be put away.

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So I guess there’s that, because I didn’t put any of it away. Or start ironing. In fact, I went to bed early, because I knew I’d have to be up early today for another stupid meeting. OK, they’re all stupid at the moment.

I couldn’t decide on a background fabric. I just knew I wanted it to be dark, and these are dark. So it will be one of them and then the other will get used for another quilt…or on the back of this one.

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I wish I could say I’d get further along tonight, but I have an opening on the other side of town and it’s a lab day today (gonna melt crayons! in the name of science!), so the odds of my having any energy at all at the end of the day are decreasing rapidly. But I always have hope.

That’s how I get so much shit done. Hope. And crazyassness. Mostly the latter.

*The White Stripes, We’re Going to Be Friends

So Take That Look out of Here*

November 14, 2017

My new oatmeal tastes funny. I couldn’t find the old stuff. Instant, but low carbs. I don’t need a million carbs for breakfast, but on a cold morning, a quick and easy oatmeal is nice. So the new one, ironically, being low carb, is way too sweet. I’m sure they’ve been uber-healthy and used some fruit juice or something, but blech. Yeah I’m a diabetic who doesn’t like sweet things. More irony. So I’m forcing myself to eat it because I need food and I hate wasting food (Hello Grandma…that’s you talking)…but yikes yuck blech.

Yesterday, my students started a new unit, so I got to draw…I know how meditative that is for me, but I was noticing how it worked for them on a Monday as well…just time to sit and color. To interact with the new content merely as pictures first. They were relatively calm for a Monday after a 3-day weekend…a Monday before getting a whole week off…

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It didn’t take me all day to color it…I was done in 4th period…so I could grade stuff.

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But then we had a 2-hour staff meeting afterwards, watching a video. The guy we were listening to was fine, although I don’t focus well at 3 PM on a Monday after teaching all day, so I had to draw to stay awake.

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It was a long video…

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I’m not disagreeing with the guy…I just think I’m already trying to do what he says. Not quite at the level he does, but I’m not sure I needed a video that long to get it. I fully understand the difference between equity and equality…there just aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes to do all the things teachers are supposed to do. Teach content. Take care of their basic needs. Give them the self esteem they’re lacking. Teach them the difference between their, there, and they’re. That one alone is a bastard.

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I have no great insights after all that. But it makes me feel better about how I was trying to deal with the one kid a few weeks ago.

Home to the dogs and grading a couple of assignments (I’d really love to go into the week off with no grading…which is just about impossible)…Simba got his toy to stand up.

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I did two nights’ worth on this…that weird chain-stitch R shape and some pistil stitches below it.

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I don’t know why the dogs were so tired…they did nothing all day…

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This one is really tired apparently.

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I cut out another yard, the second to last one. I should have been more focused and finished, but I wasn’t. Tonight hopefully. Although I still have to grade.

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Then I can sort and start ironing to fabrics…early! That’s a plus, for once. I’m looking forward to that part.

*Big Country, In a Big Country

You Put the Load Right on Me*

November 13, 2017

‘Twas a productive weekend…I finished grading 2 or 3 assignments, didn’t finish a bunch of other stuff, hiked a mountain, cut out a ton of Wonder Under, and replaced the headlight in my car (with help). That was an achievement.

We started late…the goal? Clevenger Canyon South, apparently 4.3 miles (a fact we questioned multiple times), on a day that was supposed to be cooler than it felt. The wonder of San Diego is the temperature can be quite warm in the mountains, even in November.

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We climbed a lot in the first mile…and if you’d told me I was hiking to that rock (and beyond) that you can see on the ridge, I might have given up. But no. We kept going…

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Looking back here on the trail we’d been on before going down into the canyon, where it was obvious one of the fires had gone through here (2007)…

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So this little guy…I just about stepped on him. He never rattled…he never even moved. I noticed him, yelled snake, moved my foot further along than I had been planning, all in a matter of seconds. Yes, I realize we’re lucky he didn’t strike…because that’s a baby rattler and he wouldn’t have known to only dump some of his venom in my calf. It would have been an interesting hike, I guess…

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From further up, the canyon is down where the green is, although there was still no water.

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Evidence of burn even on the rocks…

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Looking to the north…

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And to the south…actually, my car is way way down there…

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This was our goal: two metal chairs bolted to a boulder.

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And a view to die for. Well. Not die. But we were glad to get there…

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It ended up being 4.65 miles, mostly up for the first 1.7 miles.

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And the way down was super fast. Yes…we were to the left of that rock most of the way to the far left peak. We didn’t do the last 0.2 miles to that peak. We had the view already.

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Poles were helpful on the way down. The snake was gone on the way down.

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More evidence of burn…

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And then this was delightful…just remember that what looks like a scary dive bar on the outside houses a lovely bar with cool refreshing drinks and snacks on the inside…

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Then last night, I did some feather stitching on this, above the righthand eye.

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And I cut out a bunch of this…while watching a show in Icelandic. I think I’m semi-fluent now…

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I think this was actually the night before…

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There’s more of that in a bit, but these photos are from the Threads of Resistance exhibit, which made it to the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the weekend. As always, I’m behind the sign…

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And the curtain…

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I kinda wish they wouldn’t hang the signs on the quilts…

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But I’m in good company back there…

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So I’m a woman of a certain age…who knows if and when I will ever have another period (NOT complaining), but the app updated and now it ignores perimenopause completely. I find this highly amusing.

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And kind of a metaphor for women of my age (ignored). Whatever.

I graded more videos yesterday…at 3 minutes per kid, it takes a while, so I poured a hot cup of tea and grabbed my stitching, so I could listen better. It worked.

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I got the hippo done and part of the sun…

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For some reason, this month’s stuff is taking forever to stitch down.

Puppy was tired…but he wanted to be near me and my Wonder Under…

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Sometimes more near than others.

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I did about 5 hours of cutting out yesterday and 2 the night before, so I have a hefty chunk done…ahead of schedule.

Speaking of schedules, I need to get my butt outta here and to work. More progress tonight, I’m sure.

*The Band, The Weight

Try to Steal Your Mind’s Elation*

November 10, 2017

I’m so off task at the moment. I love having an extra day…it gives me the ability to BE off task. I worked last night on school and art. I will do more art today, but so far, I’ve put dinner in the slow cooker, cleaned the kitchen, partially cleaned the floors (more later?), talked to both kids (text) and my SIL (phone), and petted all the animals multiple times. I slept in too, although that was an animal management issue. Dozed might be a better word for it.

I spent 3 1/2 hours tracing last night. I got past halfway. Far past…good times. But first, I graded by watching 56 videos of 7th-graders explaining their ideas. With a blood-orange cider to assist in the process.

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And I did two nights’ worth on the right side..some French knots and another stitch whose name I can’t remember.

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At some point, I’ll put together a photo slide show of all of these over the year. Because that’s a good use of my time.

Then tracing…

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I got all the way through Mindhunter’s first season, and then tried to finish Genius, which makes Einstein out to be an asshole, but a genius. Hence the name.

Yes, I did trace individual teeth. I can’t explain that. I just do it. The finger wrinkles (creases? are they wrinkles or creases? hard to say) are smaller, but I do them. There’s a lot of big pieces in this thing, so I don’t feel bad about it.

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I just draw what needs to be drawn.

Puppy was cold…

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Her sister, not so much. She’s such a sleeping freak.

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I have a lot of these piled up to cut out in the next week.

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I keep track of where I am on the tracing…just the number isn’t good enough…I need WHERE the number was. So you can see I got a ton done last night…

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Only 300 or so pieces left to go. Another three hours probably. I can find that today…I think. I need to take these fluff balls out for a walk at some point…

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And do some schoolwork. And more housework…and maybe eat some ice cream. Although that’s probably not necessary. Enter a couple of art exhibits…that too. But also just relax and enjoy a day home with nothing that is mind-bendingly crucial to do. That’s a joy in itself.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication

Not Lesser Than

October 31, 2017

Happy Candy Day to those who celebrate it. Being a teacher today is not always the easiest thing in the world. Actually, tomorrow is worse for candy and trash. Fridays for Halloween are always best. They have the whole weekend to eat all their candy and get tired of it before coming back to school.

That said, we get to dress up…not much this year, but a little. I had an idea but then lost my roll. Oh well. It’s also the last day of the month, which means it’s almost November…that’s crazy. October is usually one of the longest months of the year, but I feel like I took a breath and it’s gone. I guess the plus is that I have some vacation days coming up, so more artmaking! Yay. Looking forward to that.

So I graded last night…I’ve been super efficient lately, so that’s nice. It feels better than being really behind.

We have a sick kitty, so there was some time last night trying to assess what her issue is and how emergency-like it is. I’m still not sure. I know the vet closes early today, so I’ll have to go tomorrow. Sigh. She’s not a happy kitty, but I can’t really say what’s wrong. And they’ll ask about her eating and peeing, and this is the cat I never see eating or peeing. She’s very secretive. Strangely, I thought she was only 10 years old, but when I was checking my records, she’s actually 12…going on 13. Yikes. So I freaked out about that for a while, because I haven’t had a lot of cats live past 13. It’s like finding out your parents were 90 years old when you were sure they were only 60. Whoops. I’m a space cadet. Anyway, lots of pets for Midnight and hopefully we’ll figure out what’s bugging her and it will be simple…after $500 of blood tests, because you know that’s how it goes.

My ex exercised the puppy yesterday afternoon, so he was asleep on my shoulder while I was worrying some of that out last night.

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I did some more on the left…fly stitches…

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Trying to make a shape that can be enclosed in a crazy quilt in some way. Not sure how I’m going to do that. I don’t have to know until January 1.

When my brain eventually started to behave, I grabbed the enlargements I made after school. I did one set at 250% and then realized how big the main head would be and sized it down to 200%.

Then I cut and pasted them together…they actually fit pretty well for once. I’m not even sure why sometimes it’s better than others. It could literally just be the copier I picked…or it could be some other variable. But here’s 200%…

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The group I’m making this for is called Things That Matter…and I’m focusing on women’s issues again for this one. It needs to be at least 60″ wide, so I added paper on all sides to make the head not quite in the center. There’s more below her than above her.

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I knew I wanted a nursing baby, so I penciled that in. I don’t always draw directly with Sharpie. At this size, there’s a lot of pencil that happens.

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Then I inked in some of the basic shapes.

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I’m just getting started. That was about an hour last night of drawing. I’m still letting the sides and upper area (above the shoulders) percolate. There are a lot of things in my head. As always. I’m tired of all the attacks on women in the last years, especially this year. It’s exhausting. I even had a student tell me that men work harder than women. This is a kid who is majorly failing. A boy. He said women can’t be scientists because they don’t work hard enough. I love it when a 12-year-old is sexist like that. Then I had to explain sexism, because they thought I said sexy. Whoa. No 12-year-old is sexy…sorry. Not to adults. Unless there’s something wrong with them. So that was a fun moment.

Sometimes I wonder if I have any effect on some of those boys whose cultures tell them women are lesser than. LESSER THAN. Hmnnn. That’s a place to go for a title maybe. We’ll see. Meanwhile I continue to try to brainwash them while they’re young. Respect all people, male, female, or other. No judgement on what is better. There is no better or smarter. There are those who work hard and those who work average and those who don’t work hard and those who try but can’t work hard and those who don’t try, but even they often have so many things in their heads from home and family that they honestly can’t be engaged at school. But they all have potential. And a place in our world.

Not lesser than.