So Motivate, Though It’s Hard to Let It Ride*

March 25, 2017

I’m taking a way-too-brief break from a day full of grading. I can’t say I’m having fun, but I’m trying to get it done. No promises honestly, because some of this is just a slog. I’m trying to sew the binding on the newest quilt while I listen to the videos…because some of them are a bit um long and maybe boring. But some are kids who never talk in class, and they’re really interesting because of just that. Certainly I’m also reflecting on how to redesign this project to get more of what I want for next year. That’s the hardest part…because I might not remember for next year, so I try to write notes on the calendar and/or revise now. Writing curriculum is a pain in the ass. I’ll be glad when I can just refine stuff and make it more awesome, rather than making it from scratch.

So this is my view today so far…

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Taking little breaks regularly (that’s what this is…a break from the grading) so I don’t go crazy. Maybe I’ll get the binding done too while I’m at it.

Last night, I was just grading until I got to 3 videos totaling 20 minutes from one kid. It was a giant NOPE moment. I gave up.

And I slept in this morning, mostly because there was barking in the night and it wasn’t mine. But it kept me up. And I was tired. You should always acknowledge tired and try to do something about it. Sigh. I try. I don’t know why the stretch from February’s 3-day weekends to Spring Break is so long and torturous, but it is. My patience worn thin. My workload has not abated all year. I’m just done. But I can’t be done. So there we are.

Two more weeks until Spring Break. Then the run through until testing…it will be rough, but it will get done.

I did more of the flowers on the left, filling in between, but running out of thread, so one flower is not done. In the middle. Oh well.

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As with everything else, I will figure it out.

My couchmates last night…the cat licking my arm and the puppy throwing himself into my lap.

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Hopefully the binding will get finished while the grading gets done. And then maybe tomorrow, I can continue tracing Wonder Under on Bathtub 4 (turns out that one is #4, even though I’ve done #2 and #5), although there’s some planning and cleanup that needs to happen first, of course. So much work. Ugh. Overwhelmed. Buried. I really want to go for a walk…but I can’t do that…maybe tomorrow.

I do have plans for tonight, although they’re not ideal. I will get out of the house with my sketchbook. So I have 5 more hours. Use them wisely. Stop wasting time. You will just pay for it later.

*The Roots, What You Want

It’s Not Going to Stop*

March 22, 2017

You know how when you go to a website where it already knows your user ID and password, and it has that box to click Remember Me? If it already knew who I was when I got there and I didn’t click that box, would it forget me? Do I need to remind it to Remember Me every time? I just don’t know. It’s shit like this that keeps me up at night. I want answers. (Actually, that last bit IS what keeps me up at night.)

My head’s going in circles still with the to-do list, but I think if I just bust through a bit of it every day, I’m gonna make it. As my co-teacher said, we both have significant others who will be doing music stuff on Saturday, so we can just GRADE ALL DAY. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I know, right? SIGH. Deep heavy sigh. Then again, I’m the one grading in line. The plus is my eyelids aren’t twitching yet. But the fact that I haven’t finished grading the last unit and the next unit is due Monday is causing me some stress. Yup. Next year it won’t work like this, but for now, this is how we roll.

Yesterday’s teaching was frustrating for me…mostly because even after I figured out how little they knew about graphing and Google Draw (I can deal with that), there were the attitudes, mostly the “Please give me the answer because this is hard” attitude. I’m OK with school being hard. Just try…that’s all we ask. It was interesting to see who jumped in and did and who sat there and stared at it, hoping it would go away. I can’t deny feeling that way sometimes, but you know, it doesn’t go away. Funny…reminds me of one relationship as well…where I know it’s work and not magic and the other person never figures that shit out. The worst of the kid attitudes though were the whiners, the “I don’t get it” crew. WHAT don’t you get? Did you try? Nope. Big fat nopes. Just whiny. My job can be frustrating.

So first of all, here’s the asshole mockingbird. That’s the wires across from my house. He was in the neighbor’s tree.

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Interestingly, he was totally silent last night…incoming storm (which still hasn’t appeared). So I need more rain to keep him quiet? Sigh.

Then Calli is still having foot problems…so she used to run to the mailbox with me, and now she just sits by the car…

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Waiting for me to come back…

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Unlike this one, who does not know the word patient in any way, shape, or form.

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Um. What did I do? Oh. So I’m going through this tube of threads in order and it was brown next. I didn’t want brown flowers, because those are dead flowers, and why would I want to stitch dead flowers. So I did twigs on the right instead. I’ll deal with filling them later. Like maybe in May.

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Then I spent over an hour grading while the girlchild FaceTimed me. I did finish all the late stuff and the one assignment I had started grading in line, so that was good. I’m getting there. Seriously. It’s just slow and painful. It helps to talk to someone while you’re doing it.

Kitten was ready for me to start quilting again…although moments later, she fell off this. Mean of me to laugh.

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I caught her. And then went back to outlining.

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The machine was being cranky…I’m not really sure why. I cleaned everything out and rethreaded the whole beast, but the tension was off. Then I noticed the feed dogs were half up and half down. I can’t figure out why that would have an effect, but it started stitching correctly when I fixed that.

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So I kept outlining. But I thought it should go faster. I always think that though.

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I have about three hours in…

This is the pile of dark blue fabrics I’m apparently collecting.

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It’s my favorite background color. So when I go buy enough for the next quilt, I often can’t choose, so I buy two. Sometimes I end up using one on the back, but sometimes I just save it for the next quilt.

Not this one, obviously. There’s a vagina in the peas.

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And a ribcage in the carrots.

My favorite part is when I finish the outlining of the face…it’s where all the character of the piece is…the duct tape section came out perfectly. I still need to deal with the blue spots on the forehead…damn batiks.

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So that was well after midnight, which explains my grogginess this morning. I did start (barely) quilting the background. It won’t take long…tonight for sure. I swear. I need a binding too…hoping there’s something here that will work. Otherwise I may have an issue. Sigh.

Here’s the old lady in one of her favorite sleeping positions…

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She’s a sweet girl. Even the other one is sweet at this hour, until I try to get him to go in his crate. Then he’s a bitey asshole.

So yeah. Day sucked until I got to tutorial and kids actually were thinking, and then coming home and hanging out and then getting shit done that I actually cared about…then it got easier. Deep breaths for today (the assignment from yesterday continues!) and remembering dogs and quilting will be at the end of it.

*Aimee Mann, Wise Up

Like a Ninja

March 21, 2017

I appear to have misplaced my brain this morning. I can’t think. I can’t even direct thinking…like “why don’t you think about art? or school?” Nope. The brain is just like NOPE. Girlchild called last night about all this stuff piling up, and I was like, yeah. There’s too many things. That’s how you get overwhelmed…too much to calendar, or you calendar it and you keep having to move it, because you’re in the middle of doing one thing when the other one (or 5) pops up in your calendar. I just moved 4 things from last night to tonight, because I didn’t have time to get them done…and then I added a new thing. I’ll get caught up (or die) eventually, but at the moment, it does seem like I’m running around with my hair on fire. I’d like that to mellow out a bit please. If you’re taking requests, that is.

So here’s how it looks in real life…I don’t think I’ve ever been to a book signing. I mean, I feel like I have (wait, I know I went to a kid one with my own children)…but Jenny Lawson of Bloggess fame (and hopefully fortune) was coming to San Diego. I’ve been reading her blog for years and own the other two books. She’s funny. And deals with depression. Two of my favorite things, right? Anyway, what the hell, I wanted to hear her talk. So I drove up there, early, hoping to get a seat. Well. That didn’t happen, but it was OK. I did however grade in line, waiting to get in. Seriously. Because I don’t wait anywhere without something to do.

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I’m behind. I told you. But this is me on Google Classroom grading warmups while standing in line. Like you do.

She was awesome, as rambly and sarcastic and savage and funny in person as she is on her blog and in her books. I’m glad I went.

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I did not even try to wait hours in line for a signature. I’m good. I didn’t have that level of hardass fan in me. I was tired and I hadn’t eaten dinner and I still had shit to do last night. Besides, I totally forgot to bring a book. I could have had her sign my sketchbook, because I did have that (of course)…and she probably would have done that, since her current book is all the crazy drawings she did to fight through depression. Gee, I don’t know anything about that shit. But I couldn’t handle the number of people in there any more, so I drove home.

And did the stuff I can handle at the end of the day. I mean, sometimes I go out at night, but it’s usually with people I know really well by now. So that helps. I don’t have much energy left at the end of the day for dealing with things I don’t know. There has to be incentive, like cool art or something. Crazy authors. That shit.

I did the French knots on the left side, which will be the centers of flowers…they rambled down into cross stitches below to use up the last bit of thread.

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And then I quilted! Now that’s what I wanted to be doing. Not that I didn’t love listening to The Bloggess talk…but if she could have just shown up in my studio and talked to me while I sewed? That would have been awesome sauce.

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Even though I was tired, I had energy for the quilting. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there.

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Last night, it was mostly because I wanted to see her with the outlining. This is where stuff starts to pop.

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I stopped there because it was after midnight, but I didn’t want to. I just knew I had four more days of school to get through, so I needed to. Sleep is important, folks. Don’t forget that.

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I’ll definitely finish the outlining tonight…and make a good start on the background stuff, if I don’t just outright finish her. We’ll see. I have quilt class on Thursday, so it would be nice to get a binding on her so I can sew it down. And then start the next one. Like a ninja. An art ninja. I’m kind of a grading ninja too. That explains all the black I wear. In case you were wondering. Now before I have to leave, I’m going to do one of the five things I just moved on the calendar. Like a ninja.

‘Neath the Black, the Sky Looks Dead*

March 18, 2017

I’m thinking that really what I need is to take a day off of work and purchase one of these…


Hopefully it’s soundproof. I really really like the idea of this. I think the cats would be OK with it if there were a cat flap. I mean, I know they’re selling these mostly for kids, but WTF. This is my dream. Now fill it with pillows and move the alarm clock way the fuck out of the room, and then let me sleep in peace for like a week. I joke about the last time I got a good night’s sleep was before I was pregnant with my son…who turned 21 this year. Yeah. I wasn’t joking. That’s for real.

The mornings have been beautiful this week. One of the benefits of Daylight Savings being gone. It’s gone, right? I can never remember. Is this my life ON Daylight Savings? Or OFF of it?

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And these came yesterday…gonna put them on the car so I can get keyed in all my local parking lots.

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Anyway. I came home from work yesterday and moved everything on my calendar from yesterday’s to-do list to today’s to-do list. I’m not sure it will all get done, but I really couldn’t deal with it. I knew I had a show to go to last night, but later, so I tried to do something useful. For instance, I had three days of 1 Year of Stitches to do…because I just lost it this week apparently. I’ve been really good up until now…never more than a day behind. I had found two batches of some perle cotton in a color range, so I decided to just use one a day. Hence the purple and blue from before. These three are the yellow above the blue wheels (under the tree) and then the orange bullions in the grasses to the right of the tree, and then I went in with the red and filled in the yellow bits, then went down and did some French knots in the fly stitches under the tree.

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I was going to do some fill in around the blue and purple, but I think I want to use something variegated in there. For interest. Maybe today’s…

Here was my lap partner.

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Pyscho puppy was in and out. I just throw balls for him in between taking a stitch. Literally. It’s like one stitch per throw.

Then because I wasn’t budging off the couch until I had to eat and get ready to leave, I finished stitching down all the wool and cotton on the block that’s attached to the third block I was supposed to be embroidering on (if that makes any sense at all…because it only barely does to me)…

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And because I still didn’t have to leave, I started the embroidery on that block…couching a thicker thread with a thinner one…two needles going at once.

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There’s a lot of that in this quilt. I really do find this embroidery relaxing. Sure, I could have come in here and sandwiched the quilt last night, but my feet are hurting…that damn inner-foot arthritis. Only hikers with flat feet get that shit. I guess I need new shoes (not hiking boots…school shoes) again.

Then I went to the show, which was out in the boonies…and actually enjoyed myself…

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Even when the drunk guy tried to drag me out onto the dance floor (foot is still hurting…plus drunk guy)…but it was really late when I got home, so I went pretty much straight to bed.

This morning, I’m trying to be focused. The problem is the number of things on which I need to focus. So my brain is trying to distract itself…like wouldn’t you like to make one of these small quilts next?

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Well yes, I would…however, I can’t. I have a show coming up and I’m trying to stay focused on it and the 17,000 other shows that are picking away at my brain at the moment. At some point, I will just say Fuck You to all of it and do something I want to do. Climate change is poking at my brain at the moment.

Although I found the one I really am doing next, since I got the other rejection, confirming that I’m sticking with bathtubs…and I really like this one. So I’m good.

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There’s even a piece of cheesecake in this quilt (can’t see it in this photo). So that’s cool.

And it only has 695 pieces.

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Wait. Seriously? OK. So get your act together Kathryn, because you’re gone for a week in April. Counting this coming week, that gives you 5 weeks. Dammit. OK. I got this. One of those weeks is Spring Break, so I can put in some serious hours. Don’t think about school and grading…you’ll figure that shit out. You always do. Sleep? You suck at it anyway. I don’t even know why you worry about that.

I did just realize I forgot to schedule the machine in for cleaning/adjustment, so I scheduled that. Right now. In the middle of writing this post. I’ll be done with this quilt, but I’ll still be in the pre-quilting stages of the next one. So that’s awesome.

OK. Get a grip. Make a post-it note list. You know you love those. Maybe eat something and take a shower. And at least one more cup of tea.

Damn mockingbird is still keeping me up at night…a reader suggested I look at Failure to Launch…which I have not seen…but maybe I should…

I guess the difference between me and her is that I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird…I don’t really want to kill it…I just want it to shut up.

*Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun


To Be a Rock and Not to Roll*

March 17, 2017

Did I mention the mockingbird is back? Oh yeah. I read somewhere that lots of people get used to its song and it helps them fall asleep. Really? OK. So my brain doesn’t work like that. I keep hearing all the different songs it sings and it wakes me up over and over again. So it is sleep-with-your-pillow-on-your-head season. I was hoping he’d stay further away…I could hear him (or probably his cousin) a few houses away, but it wasn’t loud enough to keep me awake. Now he’s back either on my property or nearby. I’m rolling my eyes at him. How long do mockingbirds live?

So yesterday was exhausting, more than usual. I don’t know that we stood or walked more than we usually do, but I do know that being out in the hot sun for most of the day didn’t help. The plus is that most of the kids were interested in what was going on…

I didn’t have a lot of patience for the whiners…the ones who couldn’t handle the heat. I did warn them, and some brought water. But sitting out there in a sweatshirt didn’t make a lot of sense. Next year, we’ll try to borrow popups for this part. In general, it went well though. Just modify for next year. As always.

I came home and took a shower. Actually no. First I went to Home Depot for slats so I can actually ship the other two quilts. Then I sat down on the couch and tried to read for a bit…

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aka had my leg licked (clean or not, he likes to clean his humans)…and then fell asleep into a proper old lady nap. That lasted an hour. Ugh. Woke up to the black cat asleep on me and the world getting dark (the sun went down) and no dinner plans that I could stomach. I eventually figured that out. The post-nap grogginess was not helpful. I even made enough for lunch today. I find as I get older that breakfast for dinner (and apparently also lunch) is more and more a thing.

This. Yes. I swear. Please just believe us the first time around.


Interesting. Because I suspect a lot of women don’t even whine about it. They just assume it’s something they’re doing wrong. But whatever. Nice-guy misogyny.

Then somehow, with incredible will power, I managed to get up and go stitch down…

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Then I remembered the 17 things on my to-do list. Ugh. Paying bills, ordering shit I need, entering a show, editing a newsletter, emailing people. I did all that last night around 11 PM.

And then I thought I wouldn’t finish the stitch down, because I was still exhausted and it was late…

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And the machine is still having a tension problem…so now on my calendar for today is to call the shop…it’s going in as soon as I finish this one.

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I bullied through and finished though…after midnight.

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I have a show to go to tonight…so I probably won’t be sandwiching it tonight. Tomorrow…I’m waiting to see if I have two meetings or only one…I’m hoping one so I can sandwich. And grade. Because I sucked at that this week. Today is a catchup day for the kids, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up mentally. And on grading. Although I just had a mental moment…I don’t think we have the stuff copied for next week. Huh. Dammit. Always behind, I swear. Except somehow it all gets done. I don’t even know how some days.

But sandwiching and starting the quilting this weekend. The next one is going to be tight. Let me tell you…really tight. But I think it can be done. I need to look at the drawing again. And finish this one quickly. No more tired nights (ha!). So shut up mockingbird…I need my sleep so I can make art.

*Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

Take Only What You Need from It*

March 14, 2017

I really enjoyed coming home from school and sitting on the deck in the waning sunshine, the day still a bit warm, but starting to cool off with spring night temperatures. I probably got bit by some overachieving mosquito or seven, but it was worth it to just sit…only 30 or 40 minutes maybe, but better than most days, when it’s zero.

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Of course, part of why I had time to do that was because Calli is injured, so I didn’t walk the dogs today. Calli was convinced I should throw that stick for her. Many days I do, but she’s still limping. I tried to explain that to her, but it didn’t go down well.

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So I had started this drawing a couple of weeks ago. It’s still not going where I want, but since I’m not sure where I want it to go, it was OK to just draw shit.

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Honestly, sometimes it’s OK just to wiggle the pen across the paper in a drawing motion.

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I find myself drawing less than I used to…not enough time to just sit and do that. Life was supposed to get less busy with the kids gone, but it hasn’t really. I’m sure that’s my fault. I’m hoping next year is better, after we have most of our science curriculum set. We’ll see.

I did come home to a jury summons. I haven’t gotten one of those since the kids were little. And they picked not only Spring Break, but the week I’m planning on taking the first vacation I’ve tried to take for more than two days since oh maybe 2013. So yeah. I postponed it to summer…AND moved it out of downtown, so I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic and hellish parking.

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Pretty sure they’ll kick me right off the premises pretty quickly. Maybe I should bring up the missing penis debacle.

I did the buttonhole stitch wheels in blue. There’s gonna be color in between them too…I left room for that.

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And then while waiting for an episode to end, I stitched more wool down…with a puppy.

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This is pretty relaxing as well.

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I didn’t grade last night. We spent about 2 hours after work trying to spend some money we were given for science, more than we’ve ever seen. We wanted to be sure we did it well. I felt like I had worked enough hours yesterday.

Then I finally went in to iron…only the heads left. I always iron the eyes separately and then place them on the face…more likely to get the expression right.

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Crooked eyes can really screw up the faces.

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Yeah. Those eyeballs just floating around.

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Heads done.

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At this point, it was midnight. Of course, I should have stopped there and gone to bed and finished it tonight. Er. Um. I didn’t. I kept going.

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So now she’s all ironed down and ready to go.

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She’s got some batik running blue issues, but I can fix that. You’d think I’d remember to rewash dark blue batik when I use it as a background…but no. After 25 years, I still just go with it. It’s fine…I’ve dealt with it before.

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Anyway, tonight I need to put labels on two quilts shipping to a show and pack those up and another one to ship out this week…so I might not have time to start the stitch down. I don’t expect it to take long though. I’m hoping it will be easier than it was on the last quilt…the tension was a bitch last time.

Anyway. Progress. Meanwhile, both kids are socked into blizzards and school is closed for the day. Actually, Boston hasn’t checked in…I know her school is closed, but not whether they got the snow they were supposed to…but Ithaca just closed. And Cornell rarely closes. Meanwhile, we’re slated to hit 90 degrees today. Wait. Boston (excuse me, Waltham) has reported “quite snowy”. And it’s gotta be a blizzard for Cornell to close.

OK. Well. School. Yeah. No blizzards here.

*MGMT, Kids

Oh Mother, Tell Your Children*

March 13, 2017

I realize it hasn’t been very long since I last wrote…although I walked a dog (I think I did that before I wrote last night, because he was being very demanding and I figured he needed it…as did I. I often need a walk.).

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I stuck to the streets this time, because I didn’t have much time before sunset and I only had the one dog…and he’s short. Long grass causes issues. It gets stuck in his badly designed fur and turns him green and grassy. Anyway. I walked him past the old chicken farm property, which still hasn’t been turned into the tract homes they said it would be (and I’m OK with that)…

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Lots of wildflowers here…did not venture to Anza Borrego this weekend (although I wish I could over the week)…this is a different one, one I don’t remember seeing before.

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These are just weird. Nature is so full of weird.

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After 3 miles plus (and whatever my ex did to try to tire him out), he finally settled.

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It takes a lot to tire that beast out. I graded for a while…it needed to be done, because there’s a pile waiting for me at work as well. It’s never-ending.

I did the purple butterfly wings…they’re actually chain stitches that chain off of each other.

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And then, because I was trying to finish watching an episode of something, I found block 3 (which is not block 3, by the way, but block 4, and block 4 is actually block 19 or something. Crazy numbering), which is sewn to block 5, and then started sewing down the stuff on block 5, which is way way way down on the embroidery pile.

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I only sewed until the episode was over. Plus I need to find the other three colors of wool. They’re not where they belong. It’s OK. There’s a box. I know they’re in the box.

Then I wandered in here and ironed a cat…

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Hard to see on the Tyvek…but it will show up fine on the dark background.

Then did the other arm and the stuff floating around it…

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And the teacup on her leg. And We Won’t.

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Because (a) everyone can balance a teacup on their thigh in this position, and (b) We Won’t.

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What’s left? Three heads. And one speech bubble. The time change screwed me over. Not only did I have to try to go to bed an hour earlier (a rampant failure on my part to actually fall asleep), but I had to be up early for a parent meeting today. When I signed up for it back in January or whenever it was, I didn’t know it was the Monday after Daylight Savings. Or that there would be multiple disturbances in the night (coyotes AND raccoons…a double dog-barking whammy). Anyway. This will be a rough week…it always is. But hopefully I’ll get those heads done tonight and have this thing fully ironed down before I try to go to bed at an unnatural time yet again.

*The Animals, House of the Rising Sun