If You Can Hold On, Hold On*

May 24, 2017

Holy crap we’re in chaos mode (me, not we). Did I make any art last night? Well if you count collapsing exhausted on the couch and stitching two pieces of thread down art (I don’t), then yes (no). I taught teens about periods and sperm. I coached two lovely ladies during tutorial on what they should have been doing for the last week. I talked to a friend. I drove home and graded stuff. I texted the boychild about his missed flight and the wonders of New Jersey. I FaceTimed the girlchild about her new (not new) car and how to deal with insurance and license plates. Like I know anything about license plates. I graded while I did that. I think I ate dinner at 9:30. Then I started cleaning out where the washing machine is, because a new one is being delivered tonight.

It was exhausting. I was exhausted before 5 PM. It only got worse.

I leave at holy shit in the morning tomorrow. I am not packed. A washing machine is being delivered this afternoon. Today we have state testing for math and a science meeting. I think I have 30 seconds between each task. The grading is still hanging over me. Like a slavering monster. I feel the hot drool. Oh yeah, and the boychild will finally show up today. His flights get screwed up about 75% of the time. We got a voucher this time though.

No panic. I did this.

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What exactly did I do on it? Brown tree things off the hand, then filling with orange French knots.

Oh yeah. I helped Calli soak her paw. She can’t do it by herself. She requires talking and pets. Some scratching of the chest as well.

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My dope daughter and her “new” (no it’s not) car. She’s picking names for it now.

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And the two doofuses who would not leave me alone while I was trying to veg out on the couch.

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Needy little beasts. I combed the pale one. He needed it.

OK, off to school. I’m a little crazy in the head right now. Not enough caffeine. Plus interaction with an insurance company first thing in the morning. Ugh.

*The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done


See Inside, Inside of Our Heads*

May 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things that overlap can be a pain in the butt…

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

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

*Trapt, Headstrong


Come Inside Where It’s Okay*

May 18, 2017

So. Thursday. What certain days feel like. Thursdays are. Thursdays often have a meeting at the end of them. Thursday mornings are tired, but not as tired as Friday mornings. Thursdays don’t really have a wish or a hope attached to them…just the potential for hanging out with people after work for once. Thursdays often have dinner issues because I’m tired of what I’ve been eating all week, but I don’t want to cook. Right now, Thursday also has deadlines, things that have to be done before tomorrow. Some of those things have been stacking up, getting pushed into the corner, but no longer small or quiet enough to stay there. Now I have to step around them, they’re so big and in my face. I should deal with them. I’m pretty sure at least three of them are on my calendar for before school today. With my headache. My stayed-up-too-late-again headache. Yup. I named it. Then I medicated it. Feels like I will have to medicate it again.

Sometimes I can’t handle all the people around me. Ironic, since I’m a teacher and I’m surrounded. It’s less the kids and more the adults. One of my former students found me yesterday after school. She was a tough little thing, lashing out, never quiet, not the best student in the world, a lot of Sorry Ms. Nidas. And then she would turn around and yell at some other kid at the top of her tiny lungs. I recognized her. Couldn’t remember her name until I got home and found my old pictures. She’s graduating this year, not like a lot of others, she says. Too many baby daddies and mommas. Sad. I know about some of those. Then she says something about taking Biology three times. I think about what I remember of her…ask her if she finally passed (they have to take it until they pass). I look at her shirt, some logo about not caring. I tease her about that. Then she says, no. I took three different Biology classes; I’m going to college. I love Biology.

Wow. OK. Cool. I tell her the shirt is a lie. She admits it. I tell her I’m really proud of her, because I am. Because you know when they seek you out 5 years later to tell you that shit that you were part of what mattered. And I needed that yesterday. Her name is fixed in my head now. I hope she rocks the next step.

That reminds me. I want to try some experimentation with at least one quilt this summer, to make it in a way I don’t usually make it. But I have to decide about deadlines. This is after I got two rejection notices yesterday from a show I didn’t enter this year. I was so confused. Freaking out really, because I knew I’d entered one of the pieces in another show, so I thought I was going a bit nuts and had forgotten completely about an exhibit. And that I’d double-entered something, which is a big no no. Well. I didn’t enter…didn’t have new work available. So I wasn’t crazy. It was a weird moment though.

I sewed on this…the purple looped feather stitch (that’s what they called it…I call it a stupid pain-in-the-ass stitch)…on the left.

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I graded some…because I need to get caught up. Aargh. Always the catching up.

Then I cut tiny pieces out for a long time. Too late…

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But I didn’t finish. I needed to go to bed at least a half hour earlier…so staying up another half hour or more to finish these would have been really fucking stupid.

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Tonight I finish those and hopefully start ironing.

That’s the plan anyway. Plans go awry. And I haven’t been good about anything getting done lately. Or being with people apparently either. Not just an introvert, but a mostly antisocial introvert. Woo hoo!

*Elliott Smith, Thirteen (yes, Big Star)


You’d Better Change It Back or We Will Both Be Sorry*

May 17, 2017

There’s too much shit in my head right now, swirling around. Massive to-do lists banging into me like two dogs wearing plastic cones on their heads. Wait. That’s real life. I’m tired of their doggy heads banging into the backs of my legs…or both of them trying to get through a door before I’ve opened it all the way. Thunk! One dog gets 7 1/4 pills in the morning; the other gets 1.6 ml? or µl? of some white stuff that he tolerates. Treats for all! Plus soaking of the feets! So time-consuming. And then there’s all the stuff I should be doing for school but keep blowing off…grading, most of it. But also calculating grades and awards. Then the boychild is home in less than a week…I think his room is pretty clean, but the bedding definitely needs washing. And I need to vacuum, but my vacuum is dying a not-so-pretty death, so I need to deal with that. And then I’m gone for two days next week to go to Quilt National…yay! But that’s a planning nightmare for school. You just don’t take off during the sex ed unit. Or. Well. You do. You just plan really well for it.

And this block I’m working on is supposed to be done by the 29th…which it probably will be. It’s not a hard thing to do. It really only needs to be a top, but since the drawn line is really important to my quilts, I’ll have to figure out how to do that without quilting it. I might use batting anyway. Or maybe not, since I think I’m one of the ones in charge of sewing this thing together. I can quilt it later. Maybe. I don’t know.

Anyway. I did manage to finish all the ironing last night…although I did this first, two night’s worth…I did some red straight stitches and then some weird whipped stitch just to the right of the eyeball. Then a barbed chain stitch (I don’t know if that’s a real stitch…it’s just what it looked like as I made it up) and French knots in green near the eyeball and that whipped stitch.

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The color is really dull because I took that photo basically in the dark without a flash. So the next time you see a photo of it, you’ll be amazed by how bright it is.

Then I ironed all those flesh fabrics from last night and cut out the rest of it (a heart…an ovary)…

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So that’s 32 fabrics, a pile of stuff to be cut out tonight, and about three hours of work.

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Like I said, it’s not a hard thing to do…in fact, maybe I should do a few smaller ones. So that reminds me, I need to put an official list together of what is going to be in the Visions show. I should do that this week, because next week is gonna be a cluster. Plus I want it done. I basically know what’s in there…I just have a few wishy washy issues. And being overwhelmed is not helping me deal with them.

I wish I were her sometimes. It looks so easy…

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Goofball dogs.

But really. I think it’s 21 days left of school…and I’m gone for 2 of those. But then I have jury duty. And I need to pick up some copyediting jobs for the summer. Plus I need a big project (or three) for the summer. Right? It’s true, I love that about the summer…a big meaty project or two to focus on with all that “free” time.

OK. Well I still have a headache, so the tea isn’t cutting it. Yesterday we eased into sex ed with Liking vs Loving…much easier than slamming right into anatomy, which is how we’ve always done it. We ramp it up a bit today with relationship abuse, and then tomorrow, we bring out the penises and vaginas. Whoa Nelly. Then slam them upside the head with puberty. It’s on!

*The Human League, Don’t You Want Me


Lost Myself and I Am Nowhere to Be Found*

May 16, 2017

There are times when my night-owl tendencies can be detrimental (and yeah, I already know I’m going to die early because I can’t sleep enough)…for instance, when I decide to start ironing after 11 PM and it’s a small quilt and I can pick almost all the flesh fabrics in an hour or so, but then they all need to be ironed to the fabric, and it’s almost 1 AM, and I have to get up and go to work the next day…even better, I have to get up and go to work and have duty before and after school in the rain, plus tutorial, AND it’s the first day of teaching sex ed, so I have to impart the seriousness of school rules and how much trouble you will get in if you Skeet Skeet to the girl across the room (if you don’t know what that means, please, it’s OK, don’t feel bad) or yell out about your peepee (seriously happened) in the middle of class. I really need a full night’s sleep for that shit.

Oh well.

It’s all in the name of art.

I went to the gym. I cooked a dinner that said it should take 20 minutes and it took an hour (I think recipes should have to answer for their inaccurate timing shit). I persuaded the girlchild not to fail a class and finish her essay instead of going to a party (OK, I think she actually persuaded herself…I have no highfalutin ideas of my ability to persuade that child to do anything). I dealt with some paperwork here and there. Oh yeah, I had to bathe a dog’s butt (no, you don’t wanna know). And then I ironed.

So this quilt has one human figure and then five hands. So they each needed a stretch of flesh colors. I often try to pick all the flesh in one go…it’s just easier…

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And this is a small quilt, so first of all, it won’t take long to do that, but also, the whole quilt is flesh. Almost. There’s only like 15 pieces that aren’t flesh. OK. Maybe 25. But not a lot.

I started actually ironing at 12:20, because it’s really dangerous to leave all those little bits of Wonder Under lying out on the fabrics with cats in the house. I like never do that.

But I had no choice…there is no way I could have stayed up another hour, and that’s what it would have taken. So I stacked plastic bins on top of all of it and I’ll have to be really careful tonight when I take them off so they don’t fly all over.

The drawing is hanging up so I can see it. With an unfinished unplanned random head top hanging next to it.

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And the last episode of Supernatural on Netflix…with Kitten watching. Not.

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Most complicated thing to consider: what to watch next? Until the next season pops up.

Anyway, I’ll finish ironing tonight. After surviving all the stuff on the list. Yes, I’m tired. I should remember that tonight. Plus don’t plan to cook new stuff for the first time on the night you go to the gym. And start ironing earlier. And and and. Sometimes dealing with art brain is like dealing with a 2-year-old.

*Sia, Breathe Me


Far from This Opera for Evermore*

May 11, 2017

Somewhere about two months ago or so, I must have run out of Wonder Under, the fusible stuff I use when I make quilts. I’m sure somewhere in my head was a reminder to buy more, a reminder that fell into a back corner of my brain, pushed out by more highly prioritized items, like buy cat food, sleep more than 4 hours a night, and don’t forget to do the laundry. That’s unfortunate, because when I finally made it home yesterday after testing (Day 1 of state-induced hell), a team meeting, a union meeting, AND book club, I was looking for Wonder Under to trace the new piece…and not finding it. Ugh. Argh. Crap.

So I found what I could…

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Which was little bits and pieces and one larger piece. And that larger piece is pretty beat up. But it’s better than nothing, right? It’s not like I have time to go to the hell that is JoAnns for more. I have quilts to pick up from the photographer today, plus apparently I’m going to have to try to fit a vet visit in…I’m pretty sure that’s not gonna work, but both dogs are still sucking on toes even with cones on. I had to involve my ex, the dog whisperer last night, to deal with Mr. BiteyFace because of the cone.

So I will make do with what I have. Despite exhaustion again last night (sure, it’s an every night thing at this point), I traced for almost an hour, until my SIL called to discuss…well…never mind what she wanted to discuss, but it was one of the more amusing phone calls I’ve had lately. Lots of discussion of the shitty jobs we had in college and right out of school, as well, though…which is something to keep in mind as my own kids job hunt. Nobody had a great job out of college. I worked as a temp for at least a year. Shockingly, degrees in art and comparative literature don’t have great job prospects. Things they don’t tell you in college.

Anyway, you can see what I did get traced…I think I’m in the 100s. So another night, probably tonight, I should be done.

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I do have to put on at least one quilt label tonight and figure out hanging hardware for a drop off on Saturday.

I did more hand…almost filled in now. Well, if you ignore that huge space at the bottom. Maybe I’ll fill that with Xs or seed stitch.

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Saturday’s drop off is for this show, opening May 27, 6-9 PM.

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Here’s the other side of the card, featured All Stacked Up in My Head, the piece that needs a label and hanging hardware.

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It’s one of two pieces I’ll have in the show. I won’t be at the opening, but my work will. It has a better social life than I do.

One thing I’m looking forward to today? Kids are done with testing at 12:30 and then we can go OUT to lunch. I know that seems like no big deal, but as a teacher, we never go out to lunch because, well, lunch is 30 minutes long and that includes shooing kids out of the classroom, heating up your food, and peeing for the first time in three hours, so it’s a fast thing, not a leave-work-and-travel thing. First, though, we do need to survive Day 2 of testing, a challenge in itself. Lunch will be well-deserved.

*The White Stripes, Seven-Nation Army


She Expected the World*

May 9, 2017

I think I’m about to get whacked by a calico cat. I’m never really sure when either cat is gonna either whack me or bite me. Sometimes I wish they could just use their words. “Pet me.” “Stop petting me.” “Pet me differently.” I guess that’s a huge part of their potential vocabulary…minus the swear words probably. I imagine cats swearing all the time…just based on their looks. As a teacher, I have those looks where kids don’t need to hear the words. Cats do too, if you’re paying attention. This one, though, back to the calico…she’s whacking me with her tail already. Obviously I’m doing everything wrong.

So last night, I was trying to make a simple fix, to sync my contacts on multiple devices, after a year plus of not having that. Boychild walked me through part of it and we found one bit that might be part of it, so then I tried to fix that one bit. Over an hour later, on chat with Microsoft, we get a partial fix. Not fixing the original problem, of course…just the first step toward being able to do that. So yeah, the first fix was entirely Microsoft’s fault…and it took a level 2 fix. OK. So now on to the original fix, which goes back to iOS. Sheesh. But after an hour, I couldn’t deal any more. So I’ve been on a cleaning fit (it’s OK…it’s been brief)…I was going to go deal with the pile of papers that’s been in the little living room (weird side room) since December. Obviously they are very important papers. But instead, I cleaned up my photo files from May 2015 and 2016, so I could stop looking at them while making May 2017’s files.

Giant sigh. Too behind on everything. But at least I have time to do that, I guess. We’ve mostly planned everything for the school year. We have a few things left to do…some ends to gather up. And at some point, we’ll have to start on next year. Revising and all. But not yet. It means I’m refusing to grade at night at the moment. That might change, but right now, I’m fighting the good fight.

So I didn’t start making dinner until 9 PM or so. I know. But I wasn’t in the mood. So after that, I did my one thread of stitching…still beating that hand about…

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And then I had cut a piece of paper the right size for the piece due at the end of the month, read the instructions for the theme etc, and realized I wasn’t sure if the orientation could be vertical or horizontal. So I emailed the organizer. Who didn’t answer immediately. Sigh. I wasn’t really expecting that…it’s OK.

So I decided to draw the Desert Daughter that I tried to do the other night. Because that one sucked. The original Earth Daughter was drawn on a plane returning from Boston after dropping my daughter off at college…I always wonder what people who sit next to me on the plane think…

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Here it is when I finally made it as a quilt, almost a year later…hey, they’re in line sometimes.

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

The plus to that piece is that it’s technically no nudity, which means I can enter it in some shows I otherwise couldn’t enter. It’s also not huge…only 28″ wide (OK, that’s small for me). The original drawing was done in my travel sketchbook, which is about 9×12″. So I went back to that book for this one, pulling from desert imagery.

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The heart even has cactus spikes. I think this one turned out really well. Although the top right is bugging me. She’s not centered, which is OK by me, but…maybe that’s what my issue is with the right side. I’ll figure that out.

But I still don’t have a drawing for the one due May 29. Huh. Well. Waiting for an answer. I did spend a lot of time staring at a face and blank torso before I got to this…and then it just spilled out. Lost the fennec fox…the incredibly simplified ocotillo parts ended up in the lungs, the rattlesnake covered one breast and some very bulbous cactus the other. OK. So I made a list of daughters I could draw…or I could work on the climate woman…or or or. Isn’t it nice to have the mind space to have choices? Yes. Yes it is.

*Coldplay, Paradise