Three Pies…

Hope y’all have a good food day, whatever it looks like. Ours has three pies. I’m sure there are other things, certainly because I have some things I need to cook later today that AREN’T pie, but right now, all the kitchen is pie. Which is why I’m in here, because the other choice is at the work computer, grading those essays. I got through 29 of them yesterday before my brain completely shut down. There are 30 to go. I’ll get there. I promise. I have a schedule. I’m trying to stay on top of it.

The family is dealing with some major health stuff right now; it’s stressful for all and making it hard to concentrate on anything except pie construction and maybe reading a book (I say that, but I didn’t read much yesterday except kids trying to explain plate motion…remind me never to use this CER topic again…it sucked the first time around, and it still sucks the second time around.). But we will attempt to perform a Thanksgiving Day ritual because that is what we do on Thanksgiving. Peace to all of you and pie. There’s plenty of pie.

Standing and grading, so I can walk away in between every 4 or 5 essays.

In between trying to organize fabric, water plants, and grade shit, I have been steadily working on the current quilt. It’s the place I go at the end of the day. It’s mostly predictable, at least at this stage, and that’s a good place to be at the moment.

Apparently it’s a good place for Kitten to be as well.

She enjoys mommy time on the couch. She will also enjoy mommy time in the studio when I start ironing.

I finished watching the second season of The Bridge, and am now on the second season of Top of the Lake. Apparently murder mysteries and troubled cops are my thing right now.

Geez, my cat. She looks happy though. Yeah, no Hallmark happy Thanksgiving family romances for me. It’s all about dead bodies and kidnapping and sex trafficking. I can’t explain it. I stayed up too late (but it’s not a school night, so there) finishing the trimming…

That’s almost 8 hours of trimming there. It’ll take an hour or so to sort them, and another hour or so to clean my studio, because it’s a disaster. I went to Target yesterday and bought organizers for some of the fabric that’s accumulated, but am debating packing up the crazy quilt stuff more than it is? I don’t know. I still use it; I don’t want to get rid of it. I really just need a remodel of this space so it’s more useful. Not happening any time soon. It’s absolute chaos at the moment though. I should do something about that.

I sat on the couch for about 45 minutes last night and let this kitty knead my belly and the air and purr and it was OK to just do that.

Take the comfort and the kitty love wherever you can.

OK. I will check on the cooking/kitchen status and then go grade some shit. And eventually we’ll do the food thing. And hopefully things will get better on the other fronts. I want to draw but don’t know when or how that will happen. It is a beautiful day out: the chill of a Southern California autumn day with the smell of pie. Did I mention pie? Crows zooming around and squawking. A good book on the Kindle app. A reason to wear sweats and soft socks. Maybe it’s time for cider (but if I open it, I can’t fit the bottle in the fridge. Nix that for now). Peace to all.

Put That on the Calendar…

Whoa Nellie. Or is it Nelly? I hate how vacation weeks go so fast. Tuesday is almost over. I’m close to the halfway point, where I officially start to panic that I have nothing done. I may already be panicking. I may have never stopped panicking. Hard to say. I know I did no schoolwork until Sunday night. I know! Almost 48 hours without schoolwork! It was amazing. Not really. There’s been other stressful things going on that sucked up my brain and spat it out. But Sunday night, I realized I needed to get my act in gear in order to reach my goal of having everything that is possible to be done…DONE…by the time we start school again on the 30th. So I started grading. I did two assignments Sunday night, then three yesterday. I’m a third of the way through number 6 today so far, and when I’m done writing this, I’ll go finish that one. It’s one of the hard, thinky ones. I have one more of those to do for three classes, and then two hard, thinky, ARTY ones (this does not make it easier, let me tell you, I hate grading art assignments, IDK whether I’m being mean or too easy or WTF is going on) after that. Then some minor stuff and 17 thousand late assignments handed in by kids because I emailed their parents and told them they’d done NOTHING for weeks (my own fault. I should have kept my mouth shut and let them live with it, but no, I was a responsible teacher and tattled on them). Those will hurt. But OK. I’ll do it. Then planning is almost done for science for next week and (shhh, don’t tell anyone) not even started for art. Fuck me. I need an assist on that one. IT’S OK. I’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

So there we are. I’m working. My day job. That I currently am on vacation from. (From which that I am currently on vacation. Or something.) I have no choice. This is how we roll, 2020 school year, with a Fuck You here and a Fuck That there.

I have been dealing with Wonder Under. Sunday night, I finished tracing Wonder Under…

So technically, I think that’s 5 1/2 yards of Wonder Under. From what I can see. It took almost 17 hours to trace all that.

I was kinda slow. Oh well. Then I started cutting it out on Sunday night as well…

Kitten does not help. She just gets irritated that the boxes are in her way. Calli also does not help.

She wanted to be on the couch. Sometimes I let her, but Kitten was already there, so it just wasn’t going to go well. Monday night, she was on the other side.

I’ve only cut out a yard and a half, I think.

It doesn’t look like much.

More tonight. And the next night. And probably a few more nights. I need to clean the office/studio too, so when I’m ready to iron, I can. Because if I wait and try to do that once school is back in session, it won’t happen as quickly as I need it to.

The man and I are doing the Coast to Crest Challenge for 2020…we were going to do one of the longer hikes today, but we both needed to be in cell-phone range, so we chose the Lake Hodges section instead.

Neither of us had ever been here.

In general, this piece of the trail is pretty easy.

It would be really hot in summer though. There’s the dam…

And there were a lot of mountain bikers, which is annoying.

We only hiked about 4.5 miles…not bad for a Tuesday morning. Here’s the official photo so we can get the patch at the end of all this.

The man tested out his new hiking shirt. We both need better hiking hats. There was a cool telescope thing at the end. (Note, point it at the big yellow letters in the surrounding landscape.)

Not the most exciting hike in the world, but it was nice to be by water and see all the birds.

Three more to go. We will probably try to do another one on Friday? Maybe? Not sure.

Lots of work to do. School. Art: gonna finish trimming Wonder Under. Got some Thanksgiving cooking to do. Some yardwork. Housework. Cleaning. Fun stuff. I would like to do some drawing? I’ve got a few in my head. Put that on the calendar.

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.

Renewed Sense…

The Friday before a week off is a difficult day. I’m looking forward to no Zooming. I have a ton of work to do, but that will happen when I want it to…still rolling my eyes at my boss who told me not to work for 9 days. Oh yeah, because if I do that, I’ll be totally prepared to teach coming back, right? And all the work will be graded, right? It won’t feel totally and completely overwhelming to come back on November 30 to the whole pile of shit I’m looking at right now? Sigh. So completely out of touch with reality. I would love to walk away from it for 9 days. Maybe some will, but I’m not willing to risk my December sanity for that level of crazy. Even in a normal year, I’d have to grade over Thanksgiving Break. So there’s that. My level of exhaustion is a little crazy at the moment too. I’m hoping some more sleep and reading of books and hiking will help with that? We’ll see. One week off, then three weeks on, then three weeks off. Please don’t make me think about 2021 yet. I think grades are due in December too, so blowing off grading makes even less sense.

I had a kid turn in 8 assignments last night (all late) within 5 minutes. So you know they’re blank. I had emailed parents earlier this week (bulk email for all the kids who hadn’t done anything), so I guess they’re paying attention. I emailed the kid this morning and gave her until the end of the day to unsubmit and do them for realz. Or I would email parents and let them know what she did. Unfortunately, most of these kids don’t read their email, so she won’t see it, and I don’t have her in class today…I might have her in Advisory, so I’ll say it then, in general, to everyone. In case someone else thinks that’s a solution. Certainly if I stopped contacting parents about their kids’ lack of work, I’d have more time to grade. I’m not sure at what point it’s OK to be a really shitty teacher because there isn’t time to be a really good one. That shit makes me cry. It’s not how I roll; this year, it just fucking sucks.

With that, I have a parent meeting in 26 minutes and I need to get more tea in me before then. iCloud is not syncing my photos to the computer after I upgraded my space, so I’m going to need to figure that out…so I have a few photos, but who the fuck knows where the rest of them are. I’ve been tracing Wonder Under every night, though, for sanity’s sake…

I’m currently on the fourth yard of Wonder Under, and on piece 711 of 1100-and-something. Not bad. I should finish in the next few days. And then start trimming the Wonder Under. Every night, I have to pull apart all the school stuff that lives on top of the light table (doc cam etc. for art) so I can do this, and then put it back after so I can teach the next day. It’s time consuming but always worth it.

The last two days have been vast expanses of working time, sitting or standing here. Nova surveys my view from behind the monitor…

We’re not allowed to update to Big Sur, so I don’t know if the picture changes. I’m assuming it does. Although I like Catalina.

After work yesterday, I had my monthly quilt group meeting on Zoom. I wanted to stand, because I’d been sitting all day, so I started stitching this thing down…

It’s not fancy, it’s not hard, it’s pretty mindless.

And it’s not done. No worries. It will get done eventually.

OK. Parent meeting, Zoom all day, completely exhausted and very little patience for kids who will do nothing. Hoping both teachers’ aides show up for science, because last Friday was a clusterfuck when they couldn’t. I don’t blame them, but certainly there are no subs, and today’s assignment will go better with some support. Gaming tonight…I might need a nap beforehand. I was going to try to walk before sitting some more, but I don’t know if I’ll have the energy. I certainly don’t right this minute. Looking forward to time off. To sleep. To lying down and walking around instead of sit sit sit. To a renewed brain…hoping for that a lot. A renewed sense of I can do it.

End Up in the Dark…

This week is strange. Normally, I’m feeding off kid energy, kids all hyper for a week off, kids complaining about having to do work. Oh wait, I got that yesterday. Why do I give so much WORK? Sigh. My OTHER teachers aren’t giving me work. I doubt that. We used to have free time on Fridays to get stuff done. That was before we went on this crazy schedule. Sigh. I guess all that is normal. The whining about it. But the ramping up to a week off, I don’t see the behaviors. I keep reminding them to get everything done before next week so they don’t have to do any of it over break. I’m going to have to work MY butt off over break, but hopefully will not be working nonstop like it feels right now.

I walked last night, even though it was late and I knew I’d end up in the dark.

I had my headlamp. I needed headspace. On the walk, I decided to make some new rules on regrading work. I just get buried in all the late work and kids wanting to fix stuff but then mostly doing a crap job of it. I have too many students and too much lesson planning right now. I can’t do it any more. It makes me feel like a shitty teacher for saying no more, but I am. I’ll do redos on the important academic assignments, but that’s it. That was after four emails from one kid to redo all the shit work he’s been doing. Nah. No thanks. I have to find a zen with all this; I can’t end every day in tears. I mean, I can, but I shouldn’t. So hello 2020, the year that makes all teachers feel like they’re doing a shitty job…thanks for the memories. Except we’re still in it, and I’m sure some other crazy shit is coming along besides the stupid training I have to sit through after school today to learn how to use YET ANOTHER program. This one replaces one we’ve been using for a few years that we never got trained to use. Their excuse for forcing us to train outside of contract hours is that they’re PAYING US. Wow. Keep the $35 and let me have the hour. Seriously. I need the time more than I need to know how to run a report. So tired of the disrespect. I’m not even showing the art where mom said the kid did fine (OMG REALLY) when I gave feedback on how to improve (start over, this time, follow instructions, as gently and kindly as I could, because yes, I fucking know they’re kids and this is hard shit).

Three more days. I need a break. But today, I’m on Zoom from 9 AM – 9 PM almost solid, because I dare to exercise and go to book club after work. Sigh.

You can see why I’m meditatively and obsessively tracing each night for at least an hour. I need the mindspace.

This has a lot of tiny pieces. Why? Because I obsessively drew a lot of things. I was in a mood. I’m OK with that mood. It occupies Art Brain and I get less frustrated.

It’s just lines, lots of lines.

Pouring my brain into that at the end of the day helps clear shit out so I can (mostly) sleep. The sleep of the exhausted. This morning, I feel like headachy mush. I’m sure that’s normal. I’ve only had a 1/3 of a cup of tea so far.

I picked up some quilts yesterday from a friend who helped out by picking up my work from a show, and she included these two small pieces (3×5? 4×6?) from a couple of shows where we all made these little pieces in boxes.

I’m going to take them out of the boxes and mount them somehow, probably stick them on Etsy. In my spare time, right? Maybe next week.

Nova watches the shadows of the hummingbirds on the carpet and bats at them.

I’m really tired and mentally exhausted this morning. I’m going to get through the day, grade as much as I can, sit through the training (while continuing to grade and/or plan), do my Zoom pilates and book club, and hopefully go straight into tracing again. Repeat. Reframe brain each morning, try to find the zen, or at least the acceptance to get past feeling overwhelmed and irritated and did I mention overwhelmed? Exhausted. More tea. Look forward to moving the body and talking about books. Not at the same time.

Meditative Rocks

I’m glad I have Wonder Under meditation for this week. What is Wonder Under meditation? It’s when I get to trace 1185 pieces from my drawing onto Wonder Under…numbering each piece…and deciding what bits go under and adding an extra 1/8″ to that side. Last night, it was dirt and rocks. About a hundred rocks. What part goes under? This part. Or that part. Can I worry or even think about school when I’m doing that? I probably COULD, but I don’t. All I think about it “I’m drawing Piece 17. I’m drawing Piece 17. Piece 17 is under Piece 18. Add a sliver to go under. I’m drawing Piece 18. I’m drawing Piece 18.”

Can’t argue with that. I traced Pieces 1-178 last night. It was good.

See all the rocks? Yeah. Me too.

It was way better than when I couldn’t fall asleep. And then after I fell asleep, when I got woken up and then couldn’t fall asleep again. I mean, everything is better than that, right? Well, maybe not. Being sick is worse and so are other things. Not sleeping is pretty low on the pole, but I even tried to go to bed early (aka before midnight) so I could start the week in as well-rested a frame of mind as I could. Party fail. I try.

I am hanging in there. I am surviving. I just don’t like it and I get frustrated and even more overwhelmed and think about quitting and working in a nursery (plants, not children) or becoming a park ranger (it’s not the first time in my life I’ve considered that) or maybe just something totally brainless, but safe, because of my COVID risk. Sigh. And then I get out of this chair and walk into the living room, where my makeshift office is (I need a bookshelf for school shit in there) and I log in and start grading shit or posting shit or writing 5-paragraph essays of feedback to 6th graders about how to improve their stuffed animal drawings. Why do people assume that if you like to make art that you will enjoy teaching it? I don’t. I mean, it could be worse…it could be history or math or english. It’s not science. I might feel the same way about science in a different grade level. Who knows.

Nova hangs out on the drawing…

So after I finish tracing each night, I have to put the light table back together (top on, all the school stuff on it) so I can teach the next day. Actually, for science, I don’t need it as much…for art, I need it every day, but I only teach art three days a week. It’s a pain, but it’s a pain that’s worth it. Having the doc cam helps teach that subject, for sure.

OK. Well, Monday, hopefully the health training I have later today will not suck. It didn’t look particularly helpful from the part I already reviewed, so if that’s the case, I’ll duck out. I don’t have the brain power for that right now. Otherwise, I’m on Zoom all day…and then some. Tonight, though, tonight I get to do Wonder Under meditation again. After I clean the girlchild’s room…she’s coming home for a week to see the family. We’re hosing her down with bleach or shining UV light into her orifices or something like that. Next week is a holiday week. Totally need that.

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.