Really Hard Dirt

I meant to write this in the morning, before school, but I worked instead. I thought about writing it in the afternoon, but I had to deliver art supplies to students who can’t leave their homes. I got home after that and had a little time before gaming tonight, but instead of writing this, I talked to my mom about my dad coming home in the next few weeks, which is good news, but a little frightening as well. I’m going to go see him this weekend; I get to talk to him through a window. I could go now, but it’s close to midnight and if I know my dad, he’s asleep. Hopefully. I might go to bed before I ever finish writing this. I was up late last night and didn’t sleep well; I had a really low blood sugar drop, no reason that we could see, and it really messed up my nighttime routine. You know, sleep and all. It took a while to come back up, and then I woke up a few times at night to check it. It’s happened once before, about a year ago, and the phone nurse just keeps asking me if I’m sick and did I eat. Well yeah, I did eat and no, I’m not sick. So I just took my insulin tonight and I’m kinda watching the clock and giving it some time to make sure everything is OK tonight. Hopefully. Because I need the sleep. And I need some time this weekend to get some work done, because I didn’t get any done tonight, art or otherwise. Good thing it’s a 3-day weekend.

Wednesday night, I finished the stitchdown on the current quilt…

It took just under 5 hours to do that…not bad…

I wasn’t sure I’d get her sandwiched and pinbasted last night…it was a long day, and it meant mopping the floor first, but I pulled it off…

Sometimes I have energy and I do shit.

It’s not actually a huge quilt…just has a lot of pieces in it for its size. I should be able to start quilting this weekend; we’ll see how that goes, because Craft Napa started on Wednesday. I was able to hang out in the Welcome group for about 50 minutes, until I had to go to a union meeting. I spent most of Wednesday’s prep period, 5th period while kids were working, the Craft Napa meeting, and the union meeting sorting art supplies for my 72 online art students.

I actually had a fairly impressive stash of colored paper. Anyway, I delivered those envelopes Wednesday night around 8 PM, and then today, hand delivered a few of them. In general, I make them go get them from school. As always, some kid three weeks from now will tell me they didn’t even know about this and it’s not their fault they couldn’t do the project. Sigh. I put a lot of time into my classes. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I really don’t know how to half-ass it. Although I lost my mind on Wednesday when they pushed one of my classes to 40 kids. Apparently that is my line: 40 kids in a class. They fixed it (the kid really was supposed to go to another teacher), but I’m still annoyed with myself that my mindset for the 2nd half of the year went out the window in just three days. That said, they flipped about 5 kids from hybrid to distance and back, and then gave me three additional students, so I suspect my crazy was somewhat justified.

Anyway, I have one Craft Napa class on Sunday and another next Saturday, plus the wine tasting tomorrow night, although after the blood sugar thing last night, I’m cautious about that. No, I wasn’t drinking either last night…you sound like the nurse. No no no no no. I wasn’t doing any of those things. Sigh. Stupid body. I hate when you feel like you can’t trust your body. It sucks. Anyway, knock on wood that it was a one-off. Again. The second time.

I’m still chugging away on this…

I might find the pattern designer at some point and post it with this. I might. I’m using stash. One of the designers I follow was asking if people preferred kits or PDF patterns, and it’s not that I don’t like kits, they’re easy, but I have all the floss in the world (I say that, but I had to buy 3 skeins for this one because they were using all the new colors) and besides, I have a dog who eats patterns, and if it was a kit, I would have to buy another one to get the pattern, unless the designer was really nice (dude, I would totally send pictures), but with a PDF file, you can just print another one.

Kitten agrees.

No art tonight. No energy either. I do however have excited sourdough starter.

Can’t argue with that. I’m making sourdough focaccia tomorrow. Or Sunday. Hard to say. I never get the timing right.

I’m teaching radial zendoodles for warmup this week.

These are the practice ones, which all look like hydras. Really, I’m teaching kids how to fold carefully, because that seems to be the bigger issue.

We got this freebie cat tent when the kittens came over a year ago. Nova would sleep on it. Luna would kamikaze all over it, but this is the first time anyone (Kitten) has slept in it.

We planted the Christmas tree…Calli for size.

Of course, that makes me sad, because in a year, when I check the size again, odds are Calli won’t be around. But she’s cute. I don’t know why I say “we” planted the tree. I whacked the bottom with the shovel to break up the roots and helped shove dirt into the hole, but the boychild did the rest, including digging a hole in rock. Or really hard dirt. Maybe really hard dirt is just rock.

OK, I’m feeling OK. It’s 45 minutes since the insulin. I’m going to test my blood and crawl into bed, hopefully for better sleep than last night. Wish me luck. Then do some exercise this weekend, hang out with some quilt artists, do some schoolwork, quilt a little, see my dad through a window, and hope the body and brain feel better at the end of it.

It Probably Will Involve Celery…

This week has been interesting. I’m all over the map on what to worry about. Maybe better to not worry. Make something in fabric. Except I don’t have anything ready for my art classes, minor issue, keep waiting for info, but I don’t have any, so I guess we’re making sculpture out of celery and cilantro. It’ll be fine. FINE. I can’t concentrate on much either, so that’s helpful, brain, thanks so much.

I will panic more about school tomorrow. Really. It probably will involve celery.

The quilt is ironed together and I’m ready to stitch it down.

That will hopefully be an easy task. Who knows, though.

I’ve also been trying to finish the painted backgrounds, because I need to clear off the light table for teaching this week. I added the figure for this one.

Again, gonna be drawing on top of them later. Then for the biggest one, I did the figure first…

Shiny wet in the middle. And then started to paint the background.

I have to wait for parts of it to dry before I can paint the next bit.

I’m almost done with it. I’ll be drawing all over this one.

Still cross-stitching this…

I have other things I’ve been working on while watching bits and pieces of non-news TV. Really nice to not watch the news. I also finished a book…because that seemed important at the time…

I wanted to know what happened. Calli did too.

Cat play time…I knocked all the boxes over…

The cats enjoy words like “under” and “in”…

I’m thinking a box fort for the next 76 days (Spring Break). For me. Not the cats. I mean, they can stop by, but I really need the space.

Also this. As art. Because I don’t have enough going on.

It’s OK. It probably won’t happen. My life is about to go into overdrive again. Probably also I need help with the art planning for school. I’m not gonna get it, but I need it.

Today, I’m hoping to finish that one big background, and to start the stitchdown on this quilt. I’m in a quilt guild meeting online right now, so as soon as I finish this, I’ll probably cut some fabric out on the applique stories piece I’m working on right now. I’m tired, but we should walk today and maybe play a game tonight. I think. And tomorrow, I’ll panic about school. For realz.

It’s a Wash

I’m a little slow on documenting stuff these days. I honestly keep losing days. How is it dark already? I remember getting up. What freaking day is it anyway?

I have one week of Winter Break left. I know I am lucky, because many teachers go back tomorrow, and I’d be really not ready to do that. I’m two weeks in to this ‘vacation’ and I’m still grinding my teeth. I think I stopped for two days, but that’s it. My to-do list is heinous. Then I get distracted, like today, obviously, and trim a bunch of plants that have been bugging me for two months, instead of crossing things OFF the to-do list. I mean, the plants didn’t even make it ON the list. Sigh. I think I focus better when I’m totally overwhelmed with teaching, simply because I have no choice. I have to do that…for survival’s sake.

So back to the 48 hours where we ditched the world. We got up the next morning, opened the front door of our Airbnb, and saw the chicken. The man says I have to call him a rooster, because it’s a definite sound difference, but I will argue that he is still a chicken. He kept trying to come in…

Finally shooed him out and figured out he wanted breakfast. I hope he liked it.

The place we stayed was definitely not the Ritz, but it was fun…this was in the bathroom…

And this was embedded in the floor…

What it lacked in niceties (a fireplace, working oven, consistent Wifi), it had in character in spades. After breakfast, we headed out to the Mecca Hills Recreation Area for some hiking. We’d hoped to go to one section, but my car wasn’t keen on the 9 miles of dirt (sand? ruts?) road out to it, so we headed for the Slot Canyon hikes on All Trails. The parking lot was definitely sand, but just off the road and pretty solid.

Again, hiking in washes…although we started in a really big one…

Signs of 4WD vehicles and shotgun shells for a while, but no people…

Eventually we turned into some smaller canyons where only people could go.

It was cold and windy most of the time, and kind of a trudge. Lots of sand and rocks and a slight uphill…

Very little wildlife to be seen, not even birds, and not a lot of living plants.

I like a good hike though. We got to a point where the canyon we were in would require climbing, and that was enough…I spent most of my brain power trying to figure out how to escape the water if it started raining (it wasn’t going to start raining, but I am the paranoid type)…

Weird cactus. So it was about 5.7 miles. Not bad. You have to like sparse desert landscapes and rocks for a hike like this.

We came back and wandered around Bombay Beach for a while to see the sights we’d missed the night before…the balls light up at night…it’s quite pretty…

It’s also an Airbnb. Same owner as ours, across the street. I like ours better because the yard was fenced. Lots of people wandering through the zigzag yard.

Not fancy. Quirky.

The trailers and sheds had art in them too. Interesting place.

Wall of TVS…turn right at the TVs to get to our place.

Down the road from there, is this wondrous beast…

Pretty sure it’s related to the one we saw in Joshua Tree back in February. Oh yeah, it is…Randy Polumbo did both. This is Lodestar; the other was Angel Queen. Fun stuff.

From there, we headed back to the beach, further down from where we were yesterday…

I enjoy random metal and concrete sculpture personally…

And a good sense of humor…

And some good colorful grafitti…

The museum was not open, unfortunately…

And pigeons lived here…

I’d seen photos of this online and was glad to find it…

The hardest part of all these installations is finding artist info to go with them…

All I can tell you is that it is in the Bombay Estates.

Back home for dinner, reading, and drawing, because no TV…fine by me.

Very 70s. That night’s drawing…

And morning chicken…

We stopped by the drive-in on the way out…

And then kamikazed back home after talking to almost no one.

Meanwhile, back here…after New Year’s, I proceeded to make 17 more mistakes on this…had to rip out an entire tree, because it was half a stitch off and that won’t work.

Nope. Wasn’t drinking. Promise.

I’ve been ironing…it feels like this quilt is taking forever. Because it is. I got this leg done so I could insert it into the landscape…

And then worked on building the stuff up on the other side…a cat and a quilt of a cat…

Ironed her separately and put her in the landscape as well.

Here’s some bits and pieces I had left to do…mostly snake and bird, I think.

Progress as of Friday…

Leg in place. It’s just a really detailed piece is all.

Then Saturday, I kept going…

Pain. In. The. Ass. Yeah well. I’ve done the 600s and the 800s and barely started the 700s, plus I think a few of the 900s are done as well. So I have about 300 pieces to go? Or 400? I don’t know.

Great Horned Owl…

Which brings me to one of my Xmas presents, now installed and ready for inhabitants…

My very own owl box. I’m happy. And it’s on a system that can be lowered for cleaning, hopefully not when owls are in it. Awkward maybe. We’ll see.

Other things that happened. This cake made a spaceship on top.

It was the boychild’s 25th birthday yesterday…

His cake request was intriguing. No, I was not smart enough to take a picture of the final product. Apparently it’s better warmed up. IDK. I’m allergic to chocolate.

Coyote print from the front yard. They are here, y’all…right here.

Couple photo from the Salton Sea, stolen from the man.

My eyes might be closed.

So back in March, I asked for paint pens for my birthday…or maybe Xmas last year? I can’t remember. And then when everything shut down, I ordered gessoed canvas. I had see some posts Judy Coates-Perez put on Instagram (it’s a guide on there; can’t remember how to find it, wait, no, go here to her Instagram and then click on highlights and you can get to it there.) for how she paints and then uses the pens to decorate her paintings, and I wanted to try it. It took forever to get the canvas, and then school sucked and summer came and stressed me out with all its We Don’t Know What School Will Look Like shit and then Real School happened and kicked my ass, although at some point, I cut up some of the canvas into smaller pieces with some ideas to make some different stuff. Well, y’all, it’s been on my to-do list since fucking April, and I’m finally doing things with all the paint and pens. OK…just the paint so far, but I’m hoping to get the complicated stuff that requires plastic and water done so I can draw in peace over the next month or so.

Luna inspecting the biggest one. I drew a faint outline of a human figure in pencil on this one…

And on the others. I prepped four of them.

I wanted to just block in some color shapes to start…

I’m not really a painter, but it’s OK, because I’m going to draw all over this, Nida style. I think. We’ll see. Because I usually only draw in black and white and these are colors.

Obviously, right? I’ve got some more painting to do first. But I think this will be a nice change for me. We’ll see how it goes.

Also still baking sourdough, y’all, although the girlchild gifted me a lame, so I can stop using the box cutter to score the bread, and this nice glass starter container, so I can stop using the crappy plastic container.

My starter is still super happy to be alive. So that’s a plus.

From the book I’m reading, Gods of Jade and Shadow

A good thing to remember for the new year. Well, like I said, I have a week before I go back, and now I need to actually do schoolwork (again) this week. I have one ungraded assignment, a few late assignments that kids have turned in, and a bunch of prep to do for all three classes. Science is mostly planned, but there’s details to get done. Art is a clusterfuck. Don’t even ask me, because I don’t know. Plus I’m dealing with the car, my teeth, and who knows what else this week. Making 23 videos about the elements (periodic table elements, not the other kind). And hopefully finishing the ironing of this quilt and the painting of those backgrounds, and somehow steeling myself for the next 6 months of teaching. UGH. I’m so not ready. Luckily I don’t have to be. Yet.

Stop Thinking for a While…

Hello vacation! Or break! Or NO ZOOM ZONE. Whatever you wanna call it, this teacher is on it for three weeks. Don’t get too excited. You should see my to-grade list for that time period…it’s massive. I’m hoping to bang through it quickly though. Although it includes 5 large art assignments. WTF was I thinking? Nothing. No, I was thinking that if they didn’t finish before break, they would throw them away, and no one would have them. So there we are. Anyway, wish me luck on that. I’d like to have everything planned for January (except art, because I need to wait for the other teacher to do some stuff) and graded by Christmas Eve. Could be impossible. We’ll see.

I’m stressed, I need sleep, I need to not be on Zoom a million hours a day. I need exercise and books and sewing and drawing and relaxing. We’re halfway through the longest school year I’ve ever experienced, and it will take everything I have in me to get through the next half. Sure, there’s a few 3-day weekends in there and 2 weeks of Spring Break, but mostly it’s a hellaciously long stretch of ugh. Meanwhile, my neighbors aren’t social distancing for shit, because they are young and apparently can’t get sick or die or get their relatives sick or anything. I don’t even know what to think about that. I think about every interaction I have, every time I leave the house, everything I do that is outside of here. And I’m paranoid as shit about it. Maybe it’s being high risk? Or just naturally paranoid? Anyway. They’re fucking nuts.

So the topic for today is “If I could sew with…”. Hmmm. Is this a person? If so, I want to sew with Queen Elizabeth. I know she learned how. And I’d like to talk to her and meet her dogs. And then I want to sew with Sue Spargo, just to see how her mind works; she’s incredibly creative. And then maybe the BadAssCrossStitch woman, Shannon, just because she sounds interesting and is trying to create community with stitching. Honestly, anyone who’s ever stitched the word “fuck” on fabric…I wanna have a big stitchalong with them. And then I’d like to stitch with about a million of the stitchers I follow on Instagram, because some of them have such interesting and different styles from what I do…I wanna watch them and try to do it that way and maybe just talk to them about birds and cats and pine needles. Or whatever.

Now the other way to look at this is “If I could sew with…” metal. Are we talking materials here? I have done a tiny bit of metal stitching, not the metallic thread, because that is always a pain in the ass, but the twisty stuff, damn, what’s it called, purl? AKA French bullion wire (because it looks like a bullion knot, but wire, not thread). I also have some metal mesh I always wanted to use. There isn’t much stopping me from using metal, but time and ideas…I got close when I stitched on window screen to make my COVID mask.

Not quite metal. Maybe just stitching with different things. Experiment more. In my spare time. Some day, I will have spare time that is not eaten up by grading 17 assignments in a week, and I will have more time to spend on experimentation. Or not.

It’s highly possible I should have looked at the list of blog topics before I signed up to do this. Speaking of, it’s the first day of Winter Break! I like to do a drawing a day over Winter Break. Shall I? Can I? Do I have the fortitude? I have the last two years. Hmmm. Gaming tonight…it’s possible to draw and game.

Meanwhile, I’ve been cutting tiny pieces out…I made it through all of the flesh last night…

I did a lot of it in a stitching meeting, totally exhausted.

Made it into the sky. I’m hoping to be done by Sunday so I can start ironing it together. We’ll see how it goes.

You gotta love your job a lot to answer an email like this…although the suggested answers are pretty valid.

I didn’t use one of them. I wanted to.

Remember back in November when we went up to 29 Palms to help construct that labyrinth? Well here’s a drone view of it…

Linda did an awesome job setting this up and building most of it. So cool.

Got some more artsy shit coming up over break too…mostly looking at other people’s art, but as artists, we need that connection to other people’s work.

But for now, find a sketchbook and a pen for drawing while gaming, plus probably need to see if I can grade a few things, and I need to find some supplies for these classes I’m taking in January, ironically need plastic bags, just the words off them, but I don’t have a lot of plastic because I don’t use it unless I really have to, plus some stabilizer I don’t use either. Maybe mom has some? Who knows. It feels a little lighter having no required work for three weeks…hopefully by the end of next week, it will be a lot lighter. Unlike the summer, I know mostly what the next 6 months of school look like…painful but doable. Summer was so stressful because we knew nothing at all. This is just stress that I know about.

OK. Find sketchbook. Stop thinking for a while.

I Don’t Mind It…

Friday. Finally. I was surprised by my team today. They showed up here at my house (masked and social distanced) with wine and a poinsettia and a calendar of Fuckery (seriously…I’m going to love this desk calendar all year because distance learning will be forever, right?). I appreciate them coming over and sitting on my freezing cold deck in the dark on a Friday. The lack of connection to school is difficult. Really difficult. Even for an introvert.

Today’s blog challenge is ‘most impactful class’. Well, there’s the classes you like and the ones where you walk away and think, I’ll never do THAT again, or That teacher may be an amazing artist (she was), but she’s not a teacher (she wasn’t). I do think of three teachers who guided (pushed and shoved?) me in the direction I eventually ended up wandering off into.

The first was Susan, my original quilt teacher. She can be bossy about doing things “right”, but incredibly creative and supportive when you ignore her advice and do your own shit. I learned most of the basic quiltmaking stuff from her and then took classes from a ton of art quilters to get where I’m at today. Without her groundwork, though, I wouldn’t be able to make what I want.

Early on, I took a class from Joan Colvin. I don’t even remember if she provided pictures to start from. If she did, I didn’t use one. I didn’t even have a drawing. I just made shit up out of my head. But she would walk by my table and make minor suggestions and answer questions, giving me ideas of how to do things in ways I’d never thought of. Probably there’s a bunch of teachers who could have helped me in that way, but she was the first one. At the end of class, she was talking about class samples in quilt shows, and how you had to admit you’d started something in a class, but then she walked up to me and said, “You don’t have to admit you started that in my class. You did that without me.” It wasn’t entirely true, because I hadn’t considered how to make quilts without piecing or hand applique at that point, and how she did it was a significant change in my creation process. I do sometimes work that way now, but mostly not…it’s more the idea of having the fabric do the work of making the image without worrying as much about the process of attachment.

Here’s the Joan Colvin class quilt, A Study in Flesh (1999)…

The other early class was Laura Wasilowski…and again, I’m pretty sure she had patterns available, and in Nida fashion, I just started cutting out a naked woman and made the quilt. This is Fallen (2004).

She was actually started much earlier than the finish date…it took me a while to decide to turn her into a quilt. There are so many things wrong with the piece, but a lot of things are pretty good.

Eventually I took what I learned from all three teachers and turned it into what I do today. I honestly don’t take a lot of classes any more (although I’m doing a few at Craft Napa this year, just for fun). Summer 2019 I took a class in embroidery on paper. I think that was the last one. I don’t have much time outside of work right now, and I’d rather spend it making a new piece.

I think the most impactful class is the one that teaches you techniques or general ideas that push you off a cliff into making your own stuff. I do realize not everyone wants to do that though. I don’t mind it.

Last night, I got some bits in the sky ironed down…

I’m in the tail end of the 700s. Getting there. About to start ironing flesh.

This quilt seems to have a lot of colors in it. I don’t think I’ll get done this weekend. I have a long hike planned for tomorrow and grades are due Tuesday, plus I haven’t even gotten halfway through planning for next week. I worked until almost 11 PM, I think. Shit, it’s almost midnight. Sigh.

What I was doing with 6th grade art…

Should be interesting. They’re engaged in it anyway.

Advanced art is almost done with their self portraits. So much weird stuff I’ve done this year.

We’re almost at the halfway point.

Kitten curled up next to me as I tried to figure out how this stupid curriculum works.

I’m so tired these days. Anyway. I might iron one thing down, just to say I did, and then collapse into bed.

The Tool Belt Box Thing

Tools. First thinking of the saws and screwdrivers and that big thing that takes the shower head off. Plus those cool leather belts or the one pocket-thing that goes on the 5-gallon bucket. I have no need for a tool belt, but they just look fun and cool and then I could walk around the house with all the screwdrivers and wouldn’t that be…um…well clanky and probably heavy and unnecessary for the shit I do here. Then how when you are a teacher, they are always talking about putting things in your Tool Box (of tricks and skillz and all that shit you have that makes you a better juggler of teacher things).

But NO! As a quilter/sewist/art quilter/fiber artist/geez, what am I anyway, these monthly posts are always asking what my favorite tools are, and hell, they haven’t changed much over the years. For a while, my mom would always be buying me the newest thing, to see if it would help me sew this way or that way or faster or more efficiently or just better serve me…and some stuck. I still use Machingers gloves…I buy a pair a year. I even wash them, because I use them enough that they get dirty. When the sticky stuff wears off, I buy a new pair, because they’re comfortable, they do the job, and they’re not hot. Sure, there’s 17 new types of fancy machine-quilting hand covers since Machingers came out, but they work, so WHY on Earth would I need to get something different? I don’t.

I’m not the one the quilt shops and designers market to. I’m the one who will find what works and buy it over and over and over. Until I can’t. And then I’ll find a replacement.

So my favorite tools? Number 1 (and 2)? A nice big sketchbook (prefer 14×17″) and a black pen, Sharpie, or my new favorite for full-size pattern drawing, the Lumocolor by Staedler. Probably there are nicer pens, but they might be harder to get or more expensive, and until these don’t work for me, I’m good. I did once buy a bunch of different types of fine black pens, and tried all of them, and kept using the Sharpie. Ultra Fine. The pen, y’all, not me.

Scissors…again, I have some generics, some Fiskars, and some other fancy ones my mom got me. I use them all. I think there are probably 50 pairs of scissors in this house, maybe more. I use these spring-action ones for cutting fabrics. I’m lazy and never get them sharpened, because it’s always days and times I don’t even know about when you can drop them off. I wish I could just bag them up and leave them on the porch, and the traveling scissor sharpener fairy would come by and sharpen them all and leave me their Venmo handle, and that would be the end of it. I’d pay them and put that little scissor emoji in there and be so happy. So yeah, they all are dull. Because no fairy.

Wonder Under…is what I use to fuse my quilts together. I’ve been through many iterations of the Wonder Under formula, and it’s pretty stable at the moment. Easy to get, relatively cheap, has the paper I need for my process, works for what I need. Totes happy about that.

I think that cutting matt is the first one I ever bought, which would make it probably 25 or 30 years old. Does that seem possible? I bought a new one, but I still pull out the old one, because I don’t want to ruin the new one. That’s my grandmother, the one who reused her tinfoil and saved all the rubber bands (um. I still do the rubber band thing.). Sure, there’s other tools I use: an iron and ironing board (so fancy), plastic shoe bins for sorting stuff, a giant light table, a mechanical pencil, tape, some plastic rulers for trimming stuff and cutting binding, some really big Teflon sheets for ironing. That’s really it. I came out of the quilting world a bog standard quilter, except for what I put on the front of them, eh?

OK. More of this 31 days of blogging…I see a few topics that will challenge me because um, yeah, no. But it is making me write. So there.

School? My art students finished their stuffed animals today. Mine will never get finished. The advanced class is still doing self portraits, working on the creative part. I decided I didn’t want to draw hair. So I’m not. And both classes are doing monster zendoodles…which is more my roll. Science is deep into tsunamis for now.

I’m so exhausted. School. Wildfire. Family stuff. Exhausted.

Gaming tonight. It wasn’t really with cats. Long story. It’s Star Trek gaming. That still doesn’t explain it.

It’s late. I want to iron fabric to Wonder Under a little bit tonight though, because it’s been nothing for two nights (thank you, job) and it starts to drive me more than a little bonkers to not make art. Too right.

Just So Braindead…

Ah brain. You have had a day or so off. How do you feel? What do you mean you feel overwhelmed still (probably because I haven’t done anything school-related in two days)? What do you mean the eye twitch is still there (probably because the things that cause the eye twitch have not gone away or been managed)? And other personal stuff just popped up, so I’m sitting here and worrying instead of doing something. Although I did finally (after 6 months or so?) finish hemming all the fabric napkins I cut out in April or May to replace paper napkins in the house. I figured 8 sets of 2 would be OK for most of the time, with just 2 of us using them, but then the dog chewed up 1 pair (they smelled like tacos), so I was down 1, and so I had 3 sets left to sew and I did that in the last 24 hours. I might need another set, but I doubt it, because we’ve been surviving on 4 sets for a long time. But it’s not like there’s a shortage of fabric with which to make more if I need to.

Talk about brainless activity…hemming napkins is high on that list.

Friday, after work, I managed to drag the man out for a walk/hike before gaming.

It’s not a new hike. It’s one we do all the time…close to home but mostly people free.

It gets dark early these days, so we have to get out earlier.

Clouds were coming in and it got a little chilly.

And we definitely had dusk, plus a coyote crying out for a while. Three miles. Not bad.

We’re planning a longer one for Tuesday and maybe another on Friday. That may help with the eye twitch. And the grinding teeth. Did I mention those? Also grading and planning a bunch of shit will help, that’s for sure.

I traced some on Friday night and a bunch Saturday night. I’ve got about 200 pieces to go…

I’m hoping to get those done tonight, if I can get my head into it.

Almost done.

Had an art opening last night…on Zoom. With Luna assist. I was on the panel talking about my work…

Always interesting. The two pieces are at Sparks Gallery in downtown San Diego for a while (February) as part of a show with Allied Craftsmen. You can also see the whole show online at that link. I embroidered stuff I’m not allowed to show you during the opening. It’s Sue Spargo stuff that’s not released yet. By the time it’s released, I might be done with it.

You can see Calli and her ball here…

And Kitten is hogging the phone charger cord (I think it’s warm)…

I’m trying to get my head around things that are more complicated than hemming napkins. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully everything else will chill out a bit this week (not so far, but a woman can dream)…

Here’s the three projects I have in progress for my two levels of art.

I think we’re almost done with stuffed animals. We’ve barely started the faces (the kids are allowed to do up to 2/3ds creatively, but 1/3 has to be realistic using the grid). The top one is the warmup…starting in pencil, then moving to pen and colored pencils. I might have to find my colored pencils at some point. By next Monday, I need a plan for the early finishers of stuffed animals and portraits, plus a digital project for the 6th graders for the last two weeks of December. I also need to finish posting all the stuff for science the week we come back. I got a chunk of it done Friday night, but not all of it. And then the grading begins.

OK, well tracing Wonder Under tonight. I’d like to finish those 200 or so pieces. Then I can maybe sit on the couch and binge watch something while cutting them all out. We’ll see. I’ll grade shit tomorrow. Plus yardwork. I haven’t even started that either. Just so braindead. Ugh. I want to draw too. There’s a few in my head. OK. There are threads of things to do…I just need to follow some of them. Pick the easiest one and just do it.

The Properties of Glass…

Hey America. How are you this morning? I am (sort of…not really…let’s not lie, unlike our governmental officials) patiently waiting for everyone’s vote to count. I wish they counted without the electoral college, but that hasn’t happened yet. So we wait. And as we wait, we wonder how so many people are OK with racism…are OK with destroying the environment…are OK with the number of people dying of COVID (we’re winning on that one, thank you, Mr. President and those of your ilk)…are OK with the rich getting more and the poor getting less…are OK with kids in cages and doctors performing illegal hysterectomies…are OK with the LIES. If you can’t tell the truth, what does that say about what you are doing?

Deep breaths. I teach today. I function today. I went to pilates yesterday to force my body to release some of its tension…but also to the class where someone tested positive three weeks ago. It was a small class and the guy who can’t keep his mask on and was hugging everyone out front three weeks ago was not in class. A relief for me. I’ve only once said something to someone about their mask issues. But yesterday was going to be the second time if he came in with it covering only his chin. The shield wearers? Yeah. Well. While exercising mostly lying on your back, that shield is useless. But OK. I do wonder which of the 5 other people in class was the one who tested positive.

It’s so exhausting being on all the time. I miss teacher days when I didn’t have to directly instruct everyone at once, when I could assign something and then walk around and sit with kids for a while and try to suss out where they were. It’s hard on Zoom, hard to get a sense of why this kid copied the whole assignment from the internet, or why that kid isn’t listening at all. I’m mostly managing chat and kids who are on the wrong document or asking questions I’ve already answered. Well that part is normal. Yesterday I spent about 4 hours grading some larger assignments, some art and some science, and I got to this point of standing to grade, dancing around a little bit because it was all driving me nuts, staring at things, trying to decide yes or no? Did they do it? Did they get close? Are they totally off? I have another chunk today, plus I need to make a few more videos. I made one last night, but the glare from the overhead lights were an issue, so I’ll redo it today. Ugh. I think about what I enjoyed about my job before and it was the interactions with kids, the moment when they sort of got it, and it’s so hard to see those right now. Occasionally when something is turned in and I grade it, I’ll see it. Otherwise, it’s just not there. The in-person teachers are getting that spark and I’m not…they’re getting daily connections and I’m not. Not enough of them.

My country, my job. Sigh. I really do need to decide on the next art project and start it for real, because my brain is in a bad place right now. I did number the two pieces I copied…

This one has about 130 pieces, I think? Not much. The bigger one has 919.

One of the issues is that to use my light table right now, I have to take all of the school stuff off of it, and then put half of it back the next morning, so that’s a pain in the ass. It’s worth it, yes…

When I was numbering, I just shoved it over…you can see some of it on the right…but to trace, I need to take the top board off. That’s harder. Usually I just leave it off until I’m done tracing. I’m not sure I can do that now.

We’ll see. I’ll adapt again. I keep doing that. My district has a woman who sends a motivational email once a week to all of us. Last week’s was some assholular drivel about how I can manage my time better (fuck you, district…stop adding to my load and maybe I could make some time for myself) and this week is about change being a good thing because it leads to progress. Well, sometimes by revolution and fire, yes…but too many changes overwhelm and burn out your staff. I’ve never been this burnt out in November.

There’s some bitchy tiny pieces in this one. It’s OK. They are easier to trace, right? Use less fabric. Take less time to cut out. Positive fucking attitude y’all.

Last night, I tried to make a video of drawing this grid…it’s sitting on top of the graphite zendoodle warmup that I did as a sample for the kids…

I will have to do it again today. And make a video showing them how to insert numbers in their PDF selfie files. And then teach them how to draw faces, which sounds exhausting and really hard to do on Zoom. The art teacher is being wonderful and making videos for her kids that I can use too, which is good, because I’ve never taught face drawing, self portraits like this. So on top of a new science curriculum that SUCKS…reading the essays yesterday, I’m like, I want a CER that makes fucking sense. This is awful. Remind me of that when I get to the end of this unit. Fuck the curriculum and write something better. If I have the energy. Do I have the energy? Do I have the brain power?

I don’t know.

OK, so today is grading the rest of the CERs (claim, evidence, reasoning, for those who care), fending off 30 emails about kids wanting to redo work over and over again or pissed because they didn’t do well, reining in my brain from thinking it’s all my fault they can’t do it (because two kids got perfect scores…so something I’m saying and giving them is connecting), trying to plan for next week, wondering if I’m driving to 29 Palms by myself this weekend, telling myself to just keep drawing every night, even if you’re tired, get the fuck up off the damn couch and draw something. Find patience in your head. Push the other shit into the corner and just do your job the best you can and find a way to be at peace for now. I don’t have to accept it…if that asshole continues to be President, I will not accept it. I can’t imagine where we will be in 4 years if that happens. My poor country. My poor environment. People’s rights, for fuck’s sake. The harassment that I see here in East County. Sigh.

In other news, there was a gecko. It was a very exciting experience that involved my three pitiful plants having a cat land in them.

Y’all, the gecko got away. I tried to explain the properties of glass to the cats, but they were as oblivious as a 7th grader listening to their science teacher give instructions.

The changes I need to make are here in my head. I can make them. And wait. Wait for a better time.

Allow Grace for All

I’ve never been quite so obsessed with whether I colored in the circle carefully enough and dark enough.

Yup. She’s done. Just need to deliver her. And wait. And maybe the phone calls and crap shoved in my mailbox will stop soon. I’m wearing my I Voted sticker today on Zoom. We got this email about political shirts at school (or online)…and sometimes I wonder where they draw the line. With the school shootings, I remember my whole team wearing shirts with orange ribbons on them, which apparently is political. I certainly didn’t think of it as being political at the time. I still don’t think it’s OK to have guns as available as they are. I still have my shirt. I wonder if my Recycle shirts are political? Or Climate Change? I have all these science shirts I used to wear to school on Mondays. I don’t know where the line is. I know that there are some parents complaining about BLM shirts…but really, where is the line? What is political and what is just LIFE? Sigh. It’s not political to vote. It’s not political to care about an issue. Does my I Voted sticker send a political message? We’ll see. I’m still wearing it.

I finished the quilt yesterday. I have a hole in my finger to prove it. I was going to go find the sticky pad things I put on my fingers last night when I was finishing, but I was in a group Zoom in my office and someone was out there yelling at the debate, so I stayed here and poked a bigger hole in my finger. It’ll heal. I haven’t calculated hours yet. I haven’t ironed it. I need to take it to the photographer Monday, so I’ll iron and dehair and maybe put a label on it and then contact the new owner. Which is cool. And then I’ll start drawing the next one, hopefully this weekend. I say that, but we leave for camping after school…so we’ll see how that goes. I packed my clothes (mostly) last night…it’s supposed to get cold and possibly wet. Should be interesting. Also, I originally thought one hike? Apparently now it’s possibly three. We’ll see. I am going into it completely exhausted, but also, I’m not getting enough exercise…so I don’t feel like I’m in shape for anything.

The quilt…

Had about 338″ of binding and sleeve to sew down. I made it 3/4 of the way around the outside edge on Thursday night, and the rest of the way around plus the two sleeves last night (one meeting was book club, one was my stitching group).

Pretty damn efficient. I did some in front of the TV too. Then last night, I packed clothes and backpack and hiking stuff and made rice krispie treats (my post-hike blood sugar assist) and voted. And then went to bed. I still have prep to do for class today and Monday…but I’m mostly OK, as long as I don’t think too much about having to grade stuff next week and the fact that I’m doing some Textile Slam on Tuesday and a studio interview on the following Saturday and I’m not ready for either of them? It’s fine. I’m going to get it done. If that cat gets out of my way.

I try to plan/grade standing up to make up for all the sitting. Sometimes the internet does not comply, though, so I end up back in that chair. I gained a sweater and slippers this week…it’s cooled down a bit, certainly in the morning. I’m actually wearing pants instead of shorts today. Finally. In the last week of October. Don’t get excited; they’re not long pants. Just pants. I didn’t need a fan yesterday, first day in a long time. I still had my hair up by 4th period, though…it just starts to drive me nuts at some point.

I have to figure out a way to put a grid on the kids’ selfies for the next art project. The art teacher is trying to help…but I think she has Photoshop and I don’t. Paint.net might do it. I need to find the time to try that too. It’s all very overwhelming. I’m hoping two days away from it will help, although I know next week will be hard because of my taking two days. Sigh. There’s no winning in any of this. There’s no way to make it better for teachers and students until this damn pandemic is more under control.

What cats do when people go outside…they wanna check out what you’re doing…

Mostly when I’m teaching, they leave. I think it’s loud and they don’t like it.

OK, I need to wake up and get my brain going (you’d think writing this would do that, but I am that tired right now), teach all day, and then go camping. Wish me luck. Relaxation? Or at least escape? Good (better?) moods? No talk of work? Not a rule, but a goal. Venting is necessary at times. Patience as well, mine as well as others. Allow grace for all.

Rabbits Everywhere

Today begins the fourth week of this new version of school, the third new version this year. Hopefully the last, although I get two new students today. They told me it would always be a one-for-one switch, but this is two for one. I’ve been told one of them never shows up. But he’s on my roster now, so I have to record things for him and mark him absent and all that, so it’s not like there’s no work when you go from 174 to 175 kids. Kind of pitiful too, when that’s the case. Where is this kid? What’s he doing? How is his family doing? I don’t know. More importantly (or tragically), I don’t have TIME to know. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. In the physical classroom, back in the day when school was ‘normal’, the school people, including me, would have time to track down that one kid who never shows up. Here and now? I know there’s someone who is supposed to be paying attention to that, but they’re also paying attention to daily spray downs and kids who won’t wear masks and kids who won’t social distance and teachers who might have COVID and students who have symptoms. The daily stuff overwhelms.

My whole team was texting their hours put in to school this weekend, and it was bad across the board. It’s not like we usually could walk away from it on the weekend completely…sometimes, if you planned really well during the week for the following week and there were no big assignments needing to be graded, well you could leave your computer at work and walk away from it. Now? Fuck no. In fact, this upcoming weekend, where I am venturing into no-internet land, I’m having to get at least Monday planned for next week. Getting this week planned and set up took 8 hours on Saturday and another 7 on Sunday. Some of that was art prep…I needed to put together packages for them to pick up for the next project…which included cutting out 70+ viewfinders…

Sorting through paper and pencils and getting a big order of blending stumps, stuffing everything in envelopes, and delivering it to school so kids can pick it up. No small feat. No small amount of time either…probably 3 of those 15 hours was just dealing with that.

I had two videos I needed to record for school, but the neighbors were either sawing, drilling, or screaming. I’m pretty sure one of the videos has kids yelling in the background and the other one has his blower/vacuum thing going.

The sky was beautiful while they threw their 3000th pandemic party.

I get some questions about teaching art…isn’t it fun? You like art. Isn’t it pretty easy? Well no, it’s not fun and it’s not easy. It’s managing 70 kids who range from I Hate Art to I LOVE Art with abilities that go along with that, on a computer, hardly being able to see their work or give them daily guidance, and coming up with ideas that support/bounce off of your co-teacher, who is just as buried and overwhelmed as you are. And I can’t just draw, because they copy what you do, and that’s not what this is about.

Friday’s lesson on how to shade things in many different media, because if I say you need a pencil, fourteen kids ask if pen is OK. So I did colored pencil, crayon, ink pen, ballpoint pen, and regular pencil. I thought later that I could have done pointillism, but I didn’t go there. I got some very good results, some OK results, some eh results, some “how is that 15 minutes of work” results, and some who don’t know how to turn anything in and I don’t know why. I spent about 3 more hours last night trying to figure out how to run this week, in between two projects but they don’t have the materials yet for the next project. So that was fun. It’s a whole ‘nother Google search regime. And time-consuming as hell. Did I mention that it’s two different levels of art? I’m not teaching them the exact same thing. So my brain is all over the place, can’t remember assignment numbers for each class. I need to type up a list (in my spare fucking time, y’all) so I can refer to it. And the last 2 hours last night was giving feedback on book cover prototypes, which is brain sucking stuff. What are the criteria? Are they hitting them? Did they just copy this off the internet? Certainly possible. What can I say to them that will help? And not hurt? I made it through 17 in 2 hours. I have 38 kids in that class. Luckily, so far, only 25 have turned them in. I have 8 to do today before class starts. And then I try to do them DURING class, which is a challenge.

So no, teaching art isn’t fun. I don’t like it. Certainly not this version of it. It at least doubles my planning time and grading time, maybe triples it. There are some things I can double up on, but not many. And sarcasm. I have to remember that the one class is all 6th graders and some of them don’t understand sarcasm yet. Neither do their parents. Sigh.

So school. Is hard. Is time-consuming, more than it ever has been. I think we will all be completely burnt out by the time the end of the trimester comes. And there are still two more after that.

I managed to get the outline quilting done on Friday night…

I don’t know where I find the energy sometimes. To get up off the couch, walk away from the TV and the brainless I don’t need to do any more. Saturday, I went and bought binding…and then started quilting the background.

I was tired. It wasn’t fast. There isn’t much of it, but it’s not a small quilt. I had to use a different thread and it was coming off the spool weird. The thread kept catching and breaking.

Fucking annoying. Time-consuming. I fixed it last night though…

Or it fixed itself because I used enough of it that it stopped catching. Hard to know. It did stop breaking though. I made it about 3/4 of the way around. At 11:35 pm, I stopped. I need to sleep. Another hour of quilting, maybe, and I’ll be done. Trim it, bind it. I can see it being done. That’s good.

Still fighting for time to exercise…Saturday night’s walk…

It cooled off. Rabbits everywhere.

Next weekend will be longer hikes.

And further away. Away from my computer and my work setup. The thing that’s always there, in my space, telling me I haven’t done enough.

Kitten likes it when we hike. She especially likes the smell of hiking boots.

She’s a little strange.

These two are sweethearts. When they’re not scratching shit and attacking my pens.

In general, good cats.

OK. I still have 8 prototypes that need feedback. I graded almost nothing this weekend in that 15 hours…which didn’t even count the three hours or more I did after school on Friday. I still need to make one more video thing, grade a million things, grade all the late work that panicked children have turned in, teach all day, and answer 6 thousand emails. Otherwise, teachers are fine y’all. Don’t worry about us. Keep having your non-socially-distanced parties and being a maskhole. Hey! Go vote! Everyone in my household has done that but me. I will. I promise. Not this week, probably, but maybe. I could. I will. It will be a relief to color that circle in.