I Hit Cancel

My sewing machine is having issues. At least I think it’s the machine. It might be the foot I’m using, because the regular straight-stitch foot is working fine, but the spring-loaded free-motion foot won’t go all the way down to the fabric. It’s hovering about 1/2 an inch above and won’t go down. I’m frustrated. I turned off the machine a few days ago and walked away from it, and then came back and sewed stripes because it can do that, hoping it would forget whatever was making it do that crazy shit. But no. I tried again last night, because I have one little thing to quilt and a slightly larger thing to stitch down, and it won’t do it. I tried the floating free-motion foot and I’m not a fan. While quilting, it would randomly decide it would put pressure down or not, and the inconsistency seemed to cause the thread to knot up on the back horrendously. Sigh. So I will call my machine guy (Jimmy. His name is Jimmy, so I will call him that, but also I will ask him to fix this beast or just tell me what button to push to make it work). But it means I’m kind of stalled on those two projects, and because school is such a whiny-ass bitch right now, I can’t focus enough to decide what else to work on. So I sewed more stripes…mirror stripe this time…

It’s too big, I think…too wide. But I will make another one smaller to make up for it. Maybe. I don’t know what I’m doing here. Nothing new. I have many in-process projects I could be working on. Sewing sort-of straight lines won last night at 11 PM when I was trying to decide what to do with my brain.

I also watched this talk by Ben Venom yesterday…

which eventually had me yelling at the iPad. I actually enjoyed the first part, and thought Ben himself, when he wasn’t answering stupid questions, to be quite knowledgeable. I enjoyed that part. His work is interesting and unique in its own way. Honestly, the Juxtapoz interviewer was more than a little ignorant of the quilt art world. No offense, Ben, but I don’t think your work is rebellious…but I’m not your standard quilter. You make skulls and birds and cool things out of recycled fabrics. Even though there’s a lot of heavy metal imagery, you’re cutting most of it up and using the fabric to make your shapes. And you’re a young white male, so I’m not sure what they think you’re rebelling against? You’re using what you like to make a pretty standard art quilt. They’re cool, don’t get me wrong, but you’re not rebelling…except that young white males generally don’t quilt. So there’s that. Anyway, ignore the silly questions about do you know what the Modern Quilt Guild is (who CARES???). I enjoyed what you had to say before all that. Work on!

I stitched with friends on Zoom, but I can’t show you that, because it’s not published yet. It’s not my pattern. But it’s relaxing.

The night before, I had book club. I also had a bug in my head about drawing, so I did that during book club.

I’m not sure I like it or that it was going the way I wanted it too, but it’s there. I might do more on it. It’s definitely not finished. I miss drawing and should do more of it. But it requires more brain power than I have most nights at the moment. I’ve been grading late work every night until 10:30 or so, and I still can’t catch up. Last night, after yelling at my computer repeatedly about a kid who was emailing me about why her grade was dropping because she turned her work in, I finally emailed her parents (and copied her), because she was turning in things blank and/or barely done. I’m pretty sure the other kid who was turning in stuff at midnight, 5 assignments in 2 minutes flat, she’s doing it so I won’t make her stay in class today to finish up. Except I’m in a mood now, so I’ll probably open all 5 of those assignments and see if they’re blank and then make her do them. Because they probably are blank. Or barely started. This is where distance learning is hard. OK, it’s not the only place…but it’s one of them.

School just sucks right now. And this is so true right now.

That’s part of my frustration. I am working harder than a lot of them. And then they get upset because “I turned everything in; why don’t I have an A?” Sigh. I will wake up Monday and feel differently, maybe. Because today is the deadline for all the late work. But also this…

Oh yeah, I hit cancel. And got a flash drive. And walked it to the other computer. It took much less than 764 hours.

I was teaching yesterday and a hawk landed in the tree in front of the window, ON the nest that is there.

Great photo, eh? Not so much. Luckily, no baby birds in that nest. Pretty sure it’s been empty for a while. But cool to see the hawk so close, even if I couldn’t manage a decent photo.

And yesterday morning’s weird fog in the valleys.

Very cool. I miss driving to school (which is in the valley), going from sunny up here, driving a whopping 2.5 miles to school, and being socked in by fog. Speaking of school, ours is on the list for the first official teacher vaccines in the county, so after being canceled out of the other vaccines we thought we were eligible for, we actually might get them in the next week. Finally. I’m glad for my teachers in the classroom, but also glad they didn’t leave me off the list. The only way I get to go back is with a vaccine. I’m so tired of teaching this way. I want to be able to go back in August.

OK, lots of things to manage today, and hopefully I’ll find a way to get my machine fixed too. Incredibly thankful to the people who are offering to pick up artwork at a variety of shows for me. I just don’t have the time to get to those pickups (and some are during school hours), so I appreciate their help. You know me, I like to be fully independent, but that’s not realistic right now. I’ll do some art tonight…whatever it will be…maybe some gaming with the fam as well. It can’t be All Grading All the Time. It just can’t.

I Should Listen…

Weird days, y’all. I’m in a funk. My sewing machine is being cranky. I want to draw. Really badly…but there are 17,000 emails about late work from kids. I banged through 50 of them last night, some legit, some lame-ass how can I turn it in without actually doing any work. Deep breaths. This is what the next week looks like. Lots of grading. Get through it.

I walked last night in response. And then finished ironing the quilt I’ve been working on. I didn’t want to fight the machine and I needed a win, an art brain success.

There wasn’t much left…one arm and hand, a bunny, the base dirt, and the head. I ironed the face and eyeball separately. It’s easier to see them that way and then just place them on top.

It didn’t take long.

Total ironing time on this was 3 hours and 21 minutes. A chunk of that was trying to find a background fabric for it.

I didn’t want to use yardage when I knew I’d have something big enough in the regular stash. Sure enough, there it was. It was probably the background on another piece somewhere.

So now I will have to suss out the machine issue and see if I can make it work without taking it in. Hopefully.

I also stitched these the other night, part of my QuiltCon learning experience.

I took a class from Maria Shell. I’ve always been fascinated with the improv quilts that are mostly traditional patterns but not so traditional placement and colors. I can make a small one, I think. Maybe. Honestly, I’m having a hard time getting enough info from the videos in the time allotted. I have until tonight at midnight. I’m taking notes and there are handouts, but you know how that goes. If you’re in the class, physically (on Zoom or a classroom), you do the things right then and there. Watch a video? You’ll probably never finish. So we’ll see how it goes. I’m just making units right now. Freehand cut. Apparently I freehand cut pretty evenly. I had to work to get them uneven. Amusing.

OK, work today. It’ll be OK. The pile of late work will get dug through before it buries me. I have my first vaccination appointment on Friday (finally teachers). I’m not in the classroom yet, but I want to be. I can’t be without it. I talk to my doctor next week about whether it will be safe enough in August. We know nothing, right? Well, we know some things. It might never really be safe, but I’m hoping we get closer than we have been. And art! I should do some of that tonight, in and around pilates and book club, both good things, but not art. I could draw during book club. Maybe? I could try anyway. I have two drawings yelling at me to get out. I should listen.

Doing Something

Fast week. Too fast. I haven’t graded anything from last week. Was sort of caught up. Totally am not now. Ah well. Such is the life of a teacher. It’s definitely been life of a teacher this week. We voted (against) a memorandum of understanding that would have put many teachers back in the classroom 5 days a week, which honestly I think was the least of the MOU’s issues. More so? The district’s need to bang on massive professional learning requirements in the middle of a pandemic. I don’t trust them. This year was supposed to be “no new programs” unless they were curriculum (ours sucks by the way and we’ve dumped it), but here I am trying to navigate a reading program that is sort of driving me bonkers. Luckily I have a team of people who try to help, because I’d be lost otherwise.

The other day, I got Zoom bombed by who knows who. I’ve got 6 or 7 email addresses, only one that’s not generic. I let two of them in at the beginning of class when everyone gets in, but when they didn’t answer in the chat (I have a couple kids who come in with the wrong names), I removed them…and then sat there trying to teach while they kept dinging the entry bell (I can turn it off, but I’d have to remember to keep checking the waiting room).

They actually started with all this stupid Rolex stuff, which I guess is how I know they’re kids. I mean, who gives a shit about Rolex? I was intrigued by Vladimir Putin…I think that’s where I thought they must not be MY kids.

It’s spelled correctly. I love my kids, but spelling is hard. This is when I texted the principal, who sent the AP in.

I was hoping for a blocking solution, which we eventually found (after class was over). Most effective technique? Ignore. Leave them in the waiting room, don’t talk about it, eventually they get bored and leave. If you remove, they come back with a different name. If you report to Zoom, you have to fill out a long, complicated form for each one. I don’t have time for that shit. It’s fixed now, so that’s good. If you’re envious of my teacher life, of being home and sitting on my ass all day, apparently doing nothing, you too can enjoy shit like this. Sigh. I made them mad though. That makes me laugh I guess. Fuck you Putin.

Really the week has been about managing some end-of-trimester and end-of-unit projects…and thinking I could get some work done during that. Yeah, not happening. I’m trying. I’m also not feeling well. Had another low blood sugar incident in the middle of the night, plus possibly sick? Not sure. I have so few immune exposures these days…like how could I get sick? I haven’t been hardly anywhere this week. Anyway, I went to bed early last night and feel OK this morning…not great. I have a doctor’s appointment in a few weeks to see if we can figure this stuff out that’s making me feel off…not every day, but often enough that it’s an issue.

In good news, Quilt Con opened Wednesday night. I have two classes (not live), a lecture, and a show to go check out (haven’t had time yet). My quilt guild made a community quilt…find my two blocks! I can’t.

I know I did one simple stripy one on the left that had white and blue in it, and one of the kelp flags on the right…that I think only had one blue? Or a blue and a white? Not sure. Could scroll through and find the pictures if I cared enough. Looks cool put together anyway.

Wednesday night, I had enough energy to sort the ironed pieces…

In the middle of my chaotic work table. One of the reasons I’m working small right now is a matter of organizational space for larger quilts that is just not available. Between art and science, I need the space through the end of March. Well, less so for art after next week. I think. But science will make up for it…chemical reaction unit. A million demos.

I had a stitching meeting last night, so I started ironing the smaller quilt together.

Small is fast. This isn’t super small, just smaller than I normally do.

I got 200 pieces ironed down, so just another 80 or so to do and it’s done. Super fast. Maybe tonight?

Reading a new book…

Ah womanhood. I guess it could go either way.

OK, it’s Friday and I have a ton of schoolwork to do. Gonna go do some of it. Not sure what this weekend holds. Work. Maybe a hike? Maybe art? Maybe trying out some of this QuiltCon stuff? I have an assignment to do before I can come back and watch the rest of the first class video. The second one, I could keep watching (and will eventually), but I’d like to try it too before I get too far in the instructions and forget all of them. So that means doing something. Maybe that’s what this weekend is…doing something. We’ll see.

Appreciate the Sunsets.

Mid week already? That was fast. I’m even somewhat caught up. Wait. No. I still have 5 assignments to grade from last week, and even though I finished grading all the late work yesterday at 8:20 AM, there is now more in the pile that needs grading, because that is how the never-ending pile of grading works. It’s why the last week of school is such an inordinate relief. There cannot possibly be any more grading for at least two months! A reprieve! Sundays back. No constant planning, trying to answer emails, contacting parents. Such a relief.

Unfortunately, we are quite a few days away from that. In fact, with the trimester ending in 2 1/2 weeks, we are well into panic mode (we being the kids) because we forgot that what we do every day counts for a grade. You know. Like school does. That said, I had expected yesterday to be really stressful and yucky, and it was very manageable. The kids mostly listened and/or did the nothing they do on a regular basis. This is when standing over them (or like I do, rolling my chair around the room and staring into their panicked eyes) helps to get them motivated. Yesterday I called parents during class instead. Muted myself on the Zoom and called and left messages because they aren’t going to answer a number they don’t recognize, and even if I were calling from the school number, they probably wouldn’t answer. Ah well. That’s nothing new. The checked out kids are always there. This year is harder for that, sure. I was reading instructions for a program we’re supposed to be monitoring, and they say to “walk around and make sure they are on task.” Um. OK. Imma gonna do that. Rolling my eyes. It’s like the distance learners and teachers don’t exist sometimes. Please give me some more useful supports, y’all. I’m at my wit’s end with monitoring this program.

So we’ll see how today goes…Day 2 of a project…could be chill; could be not. Never know. Even in person.

Here’s the final finished picture of the Sue Spargo Block-of-the-Month quilt Earth and Twig I finished.

I do have another one pinbasted, ready to go, and a third one that is a finished top, and a much smaller one that’s finished. I should keep this going. First I want to finish the little bird quilt I have, though. Although it’s been hard to find the energy in the last few days to sit down at the sewing machine. Maybe tonight? We’ll see.

So I did finish ironing all the bits of Wonder Under to fabric in the most recent art quilt…

It only has 56 colors in it (small quilt) and it took a little over 4 hours to pick all those fabrics.

I started cutting them out Monday night…

And finished last night…

in 4 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe start ironing it together. So fast! I think I’ll do a few fast and easy ones like this and then start thinking about the next big one. I have ideas and I have one that’s drawn and numbered and ready to go. I’m just not ready for a big one yet. I need some quick successes, achievements, goals.

Here’s one of mine getting ready for a show in Los Angeles at Studio 203, opening the 20th. This is California Fibers: Historical References.

Not sure I’ll get up to see the show, but there should be video and maybe even some online stuff. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Spring is coming (Southern California does Spring early…sorry to all the snowed-in states)…the coyotes don’t care about humans on their paths…

And I’m no longer walking in the dark, which is nice.

Although I do appreciate a good sunset. Today is going to be pretty easy, I hope, and maybe I will get some grading done as well, knock some of those projects off my to-do list. My goal is always NOT to be working at 9 PM on school stuff, but on art stuff instead. So more of that. And I forgot to wish my mom a happy 80th birthday on the internet…although I made her a chocolate cake, so I think we’re good. Although it could have been more lava-like. My fault…should have taken it out of the fridge earlier. Anyway. Both parents have their 2nd vaccines scheduled, they’re relatively healthy, and those are good things right now. OK. Off to work. In the other room.

A Weird Year…

February is such a weird month. So short. So full of 3-day weekends (which I fully appreciate). You try to use that extra day wisely, make sure you have some free time, time off from school stuff, time to just relax. Sundays just disappear into school and groceries for me, and now gaming has moved to Sundays for now, totally confuzzles my brain. So I need today, the extra day, mostly to catch up with whatever I didn’t get to on Saturday, because my brain just stopped working. Not really. I did grade things. In fact, I’ve graded every day, and before you tell me I should take a break today and not grade anything, I’ve already considered it and rejected it because of the number of things I have piled up. The reality is that we’re getting to the end of a trimester, and the art stuff and science stuff make it harder to grade, because I have to full on change my mindset to pop from one to another; same with going from the 6th-grade art class to the upper-level art class.

Anyway, after grading Saturday morning (while the man watched the impeachment), we hiked the Highland Valley Trail, part of the Coast to Crest challenge from 2019/2020. This is a pretty one, although you never really get away from houses and the road.

It looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere…

But in reality, above those deer is a house…

They don’t seem to mind.

And below us is a road…

It’s a pretty trail though. We could have gone further.

But it was getting late.

Just under 4 miles.

WordPress seems to be having font size issues today. Hmm. We’ll see how it posts. Right now, it looks tiny.

Friday night, I did a little ironing on the Desert Bunny quilt. Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it right now.

I’m sure it will change. I quit when it was flesh time…until last night at midnight. Because that seemed like a good time to pick fabrics for a big chunk of the quilt. I tried to pick fabrics I hadn’t used before or often. Success! At least two of them had never been used.

Coolio.

This is such a tiny quilt. I’m almost done ironing it to fabric. Then I get to trim it. I also finished the sleeves and binding on the Spargo quilt on Friday night, but I need someone to hold it up for me for photography. Maybe later today.

Where Kitten sits while I’m teaching…

So she can see me but not be in class.

I keep trying to relax…pajamas, pets…

Furry love.

I miss treats at school.

I can’t be bothered to get in the car before school starts and go buy a donut. Silly what you miss.

Still doing the bullet journal after IDK how many years. It helps focus my brain. I like to try new fonts. My favorites are the ones that are a pain in the ass to draw…

I mean, my favorites are the ones that are totally different for each letter.

Last week’s, I gave up trying to draw…because it was all plumbing. YES. A PLUMBING FONT. Who knew? A pain in the ass to do.

OK, I need to go pick up art from a show that closed. I entered one show last night and started entering another, which turned out to be another pain in the ass. I don’t have a lot of “family friendly” art…at least, I suspect what most people would call family friendly. Oh well. Everything I have for that show is OOOLLLDDD. So be it. Then more grading, prepping food for my mom’s 80th birthday. I missed my dad’s 80th due to a COVID exposure. So I’m bringing food, especially cake. And hopefully some art. Plus grading. Not hopefully on that. That has to happen. And then no more 3-day weekends for a long while. Spring Break is in 39 days though. That sounds almost doable. We have a short camping and hiking trip planned for break, and then the Man leaves to hike the PCT. For possibly 5-6 months. It’s a weird year, y’all. A weird year.

This Is My Day Off

Yeah. Some president gifted me this day so I could have extra time to grade stuff without having to try to do it during the work day. I do that too. Kids are completing work, asking me questions, typing in the chat, fucking around on Roblox or YouTube INSTEAD of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and I’m answering questions, typing in the chat, shutting down Roblox and YouTube, but also encouraging everyone to finish ALL THE THINGS, all the while trying to grade the easier, less-brain-encompassing assignments on the other computer. Jumping between tabs on a slow-ass Chromebook the school gave me. The teacher Mac is slightly faster, but not by much. I need a third one that works at the speed of light. What are they giving me instead? Another monitor. So I can have two laptops and two extra monitors to WATCH things. And try to bounce between things, which is already an issue for me. ANYWAY. I have found that there are some things that need my full attention for grading: anything for an academic grade that is more than two sentences OR anything that is artistic and requires some sort of holistic analysis of effort and craftsmanship. Cannot do either of those while doing anything else. Usually I need a rubric up on one screen and the document/photo on another. Big screens. Not tiny Chromebook screens. Also can’t do late work particularly easily while teaching…too much bouncing between screens and printouts of gradesheets. So last night, I graded 62 of the 97 pieces of late work that had come in during the last 8 days. I’m still behind. I’m always behind. And now I have an admin semi-hounding me so she can check in with a parent. Sigh. If only the sweet dingbats would turn work in on time. Life would be so smooth.

We’re hiking today. And I’m cooking some semi-complicated dinner (is it? I don’t know if it is…I just know it has lots of ingredients). We’re getting a late start…I didn’t push for an early morning…no need. So there’s that. I’ll grade some more later today, hopefully get my bread started (I keep mistiming it), and get some more art time in.

Friday night, I ironed some pieces from Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month to fabric and thought I was missing a piece…

I have plenty of fabric, so I found a green that was similar (minus the dragonflies) and used that. The block of the month is from 2018, so I knew I probably couldn’t get a replacement piece. It’s OK, though, because the next day, during my guild meeting, I figured out that the piece of green was folded under and I just hadn’t noticed. There was plenty of dragonfly fabric there.

It’s possible that I shouldn’t do anything on Friday nights that requires brainpower, y’all.

The rest of Friday night I spent putting fabric away from the last quilt and from some monthly shipments I thought I would use in a certain way and decided to just throw in the stash for general use.

I don’t keep a lot of fabric separated…just some Kaffe Fassett fabrics I need for a quilt I don’t seem to be working on at all. Awkward. But I bought them specifically for that quilt and there’s a ton of Fassett fabrics already in my stash, getting used regularly.

This meant I could start picking fabrics for the new quilt. Good plan. Cleaning is pretty brainless. I like the feeling of clearing the slate for the next piece. Remind me to pick fabrics I haven’t used lately in this new one. I’ve already blown that, I think. Whoops.

Saturday morning was my guild meeting. They are very activity-based, challenge-based. I don’t know how many challenges I can handle besides the real-world ones. I have done a tiny bit of wool quilting for the UFO challenge, but not much. I spent most of the meeting trying to get those Spargo pieces cut out and pinned down.

That space under the computer is useful. Then I did some stitch down on the 4th Applique Stories piece.

It’s relaxing to do this…

Just a different way of putting things together. Maybe someday I’ll finish one. Who knows…it could happen. For a while, at the beginning of the pandemic, I stitched through staff meetings and trainings. Now I work through them, planning, posting shit for classes, basic grading. Sad but true.

I love how flowers always make great boobs.

And hearts…certainly not what the designer intended, but I’m OK with that. I’m continuing with this series into 2021. We’ll see where it goes.

After the guild meeting, I needed to be outside. Too many meetings on Thursdays and Fridays.

I find I don’t get outside enough. And it looks like Spring…recent rains make things green. We came home and I did more outside, watering some, cleaning some, finding the speaker that got lost back in May or June last year…it was under a chair pad, and kudos to Anker, it still works.

It didn’t even need to be charged.

The man and I went out for dinner…facing away from everyone.

It’s a bit of a risk, but one that keeps us sane. We stayed home when the governor told us to, which is why the numbers went down. Probably they’ll be back up in 2-3 weeks because of the Super Bowl, unfortunately. Stupid people and parties.

Speaking of challenges, the SIL has issued one.

Definitely needs doing. Then I’m supposed to pass it on, keep passing until someone doesn’t want to any more, and see how many marks get done. I haven’t had time to pull my own stuff, but it’s on the list. Then maybe I’ll mail the card to the girlchild.

Poor Calli…post Super-Bowl dumbasses shooting guns, we think. Super loud. She doesn’t like it.

She’s old and somewhat deaf, but not deaf enough.

Last night, I finally got around to ironing the small owl commission together that I’ve been working on…

It’s the owl from the last quilt, just by itself. She likes owls. I think this is the third one I’ve done for her? Not sure. Maybe second. I’ve done a lot of owls. I recorded the ironing of it for my Patreon…well, at least most of it. It’ll go out to them next weekend, after I process it.

I toned down the background slightly from that in the original quilt. Something this small needs a different focus than in the big quilt. It’s ironed to a background now that will never be seen, so I’ll do stitch down sometime soon (damn, gonna have to pull that wool quilt off the machine to do that! Or finish it) and get it quilted and bound.

Then I started ironing Wonder Under to fabric on the newest piece…

Didn’t get far before it was midnight. Time slips. But it’s a start. Like I said, I wasn’t very good about picking new fabrics so far, but this was the sand and the sky. I guess I can try harder for the rest of it.

OK, ready to hike! Or something. Then do things.

Let Me Check My Bag of Feet…

One thing that’s sucked about this year (one thing…ha haha ha hysterical laughter ensues) is that school starts a half hour earlier. I mean, it doesn’t really. We had to be at school by 8:30, school started at 9. Now actual school still starts at 9, but we’re supposed to start working at 8, and I do. Usually I start earlier, actually, since my commute is really short. And I never stop. Because it’s always in my face. I did make the smart decision to move school out of my office/studio and into the living room when I started up again in August, so my studio is still my escape from work. I used to do quite a bit of schoolwork in here, and now I don’t. It’s safe here, there’s art materials, occasionally I do a Zoom meeting in here, but mostly, no. Also, the internet in here is wiggy as shit. Another reason to move out to where I can hook up directly to the internet.

Anyway, so having to start 30 minutes earlier doesn’t seem like much, but I refused to get up 30 minutes earlier, settling for 15 minutes earlier alarm time, figuring I don’t have to drive to work, so there’s the other 15 minutes. Many mornings though I still feel drugged by a lack of sleep when I start working…usually before 8. Ugh. Today is no exception. And I didn’t get enough work done this week…I’m behind on one assignment that will not be fun to score, plus all the stuff piling up from this week, oh and that other art assignment I didn’t get to yet, fuuuuuck. Yes, it’s a 3-day weekend, but I’d like to spend it all hiking and arting, and that’s not happening. I need to catch up. If you don’t stay on top of it, you get buried. Since we came back from Winter Break, and we’re teaching how we normally teach (well, best we can), it’s been much MUCH easier to get done with everything and get it graded, at least for science. Art is its own clusterfuck and will be a bigger one today when I delay some stuff because I couldn’t get done what I needed to get done for today and I’m pretty sure the real art teacher didn’t either. Sigh. Anyway, I am always trying to grab time back from my job and let there be a purpose besides a paycheck. It’s a shit year for good vibes from school, so I focus on what gives me some sense of satisfaction.

Like finishing a quilt. I didn’t post these earlier, because I am still searching my mind for a title (no, politely, I don’t want your help, many thanks, it will speak to me when I have time to listen)…

Obviously a quilt about childbirth, but the COVID virion is there as well…

Lurking in the soil with some other things.

I have an online show coming up with USC about childbirth…this Spring.

So I thought I’d do a quilt that just focused on that. I have many that refer to a variety of women’s issues related to the uterus.

Rockets are related.

Anyway, this piece is not huge…like 38″ wide by 65″ high (I’ll measure it for reals when I put it on the Gallery page)…

But it took a healthy 100 hours and 27 minutes to complete. Lots of pieces, lots of details. People ask. I started it in November 2020…and normally I would have finished it faster, but in November, my dad fell and ended up hospitalized, and interestingly, he came home Wednesday finally and I finished this quilt not that much before that. So it’s not surprising I wasn’t working fast.

Hey dad.

I went to see him, of course. I only saw him twice the whole time he was gone, due to COVID restrictions. It’s going to take a long time for him to get his memory and physical strength back, but we’re glad to have him. Even when he’s cranky.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces of artmaking in the evenings. I’m really tired these days. Exhausted I guess. Not enough sleeping is happening. I cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the newest quilt.

This one only has 283 pieces, so it’s going super fast. It’s kind of nice.

I sorted the Wonder Under into bins last night in 9 minutes flat. It’s good I’m not doing a big one right now. I would’ve had to move all the demo stuff for chemistry and art to have the room. Maybe should stay away from a big one until we get through the chemistry units. Spring Break. That sounds good.

I’ve been doing some embroidery I’m not allowed to show you yet, but also started…no, continued quilting this Sue Spargo quilt from a million years ago. This is Earth & Twig, finished embroidering it before the girlchild went to college, but was scared to quilt it.

It’s the embroidery, man…it catches on everything and is annoying to quilt around. Plus I had never quilted wool before (that part is not hard). But mom and I talked extensively last night about FEET and the FOOT CATALOG (did you even know there was such a thing?) because my mom has ALL THE FEET IN THE WORLD and I really do not. I use TWO FEET (don’t most of us?), and when I got this machine, I couldn’t get a foot I liked, and for some reason, just put up with what it came with, but mom’s gonna call Jimmy (the sewing machine guy) and see if I can get a better FOOT. I was obviously semi-hysterical during most of the conversation, because whenever mom said she had a BAG OF FEET, I lost it.

It’s cool. It’ll be fine.

Lots of animals helping me with work these days…Simba barking at the asshole neighbor…

Good dog. There’s my super slow shitty school computer that I borrowed so I can see what the kids see on a Chromebook, but also use while my other computer is doing other things…and there’s the actual teacher-y school computer, which has its own issues, plus the monitor I pulled out of our stash of extras. And Kitten. Not helping by standing in front of the monitor that has the rubric for what I’m trying to grade.

Here’s where you get an idea of how fucking hard it is to grade online art…and it’s not just because of the cat in the way. Apparently the district is going to get us an extra monitor. For distance learning teachers. I think that’s when I first started the semi-hysterical laughter last night. Like keep shoving kids in my classes, because I don’t have to social distance, but almost a year into this fiasco, you’re gonna get me another monitor. Sigh. Fuck you. Whatever. Roll my eyes. I said they should come teach my classes today and see how it goes. People who aren’t in the classroom should NEVER EVER be allowed to make decisions about this shit. Or they should listen to us more.

Calli tolerating Nova, who is bunny-watching.

Kittens sleeping on the bed, until I came in…

They’re not kittens any more. But their faces there are very typical. Luna is pissed because I petted Nova first. Nova is a sweetheart.

My cat, Kitten, is demanding, but loving.

Follows me all over the house, demanding attention. Eating pine needles. Then throwing them up. Like a boss.

Speaking of bosses, I am sort of one…to 177…no wait, I’m down two who dropped…175 students (don’t tell the school; they’ll give me three to replace the two). And work starts in the other room in 6 minutes, enough time to take my meds and walk over there. And teach all day, trying to get everything under control and organized, trying to deal with parents who think I have time for phone calls and explanations that I’ve already said 7 or 8 times, for kids who need help (that I am willing to give) and assignments that aren’t graded or done, and planning that’s not complete, and posts that need to be made, and videos that need to be made. But a 3-day weekend will give me a little leeway, a little extra time for me and not school. And that’s a good thing to get to at the end of the day.

135 Days…

Time has a strange warp to it. I have never put Summer Break on my countdown app (it counts down until an event) until after Spring Break…until this year. Every day, I slide over on the phone so I can see: Spring Break 51 days, Yosemite 55 days, the Man leaving for the PCT 64 days, Summer Break 135 days. 51 seems doable. Until a day like yesterday, and then it’s like, man, how many days left until the weekend (3). I really hate people who will say things like TWO days to the weekend on Wednesday morning…I’m like, fuck you, we still have to survive today. That’s THREE days. I guess they are perkier people than I. Delusional. Sometimes time is so slow in class that I feel like I’m checking the time every minute; yesterday, doing a demonstration on elements, time was faster than a cheetah, skimmed past and was gone. Oh shit. Well. Weird. Because in the physical classroom, I would have done that demo in a 51-minute period with time to spare. Online? Much longer.

But today is Wednesday, hump day, get over it. Dad comes home today. Hopefully being home around familiar things will help with healing, remembering. I’m hoping to see him today; I’ve seen him twice (well except for FaceTime once) since he fell…once when we thought he was dying and once when he was in the COVID ward, from outside a window, standing in the dirt. It’s been a weirdass 2 1/2 months. I’m good with those being over. I’m hoping the next 2 1/2 months have fewer lows and more positive shit going on. School notwithstanding. School is a frustrating exhausting demoralizing annoying all-encompassing whirlwind of stress and anxiety and irritation. More so than usual.

So I hike. And I make art. And I read. And sleep. And pet lots of animals during the day. And plant succulents, because they are harder for me to kill. Small rewards. Mom got her first vaccine shot. Small rewards. COVID sent my whole grade level home for the next two weeks. Well. That sucks. But it’s not surprising. Vaccines aren’t available for the kids yet, and here in San Diego, teachers aren’t even on the list yet. Maybe by the end of the month. Maybe.

Monday, Kitten took over my work chair. This amused my 6th-grade art kids no end.

Eventually I put her on the light table, where she appeared under the doc cam, and then slept on the edge of the couch, near me, for the rest of the class day. She’s a strange needy beast at times. I’ve been doing chemistry demos the last two days, and keeping the cats out of the materials has been hard. I set up and put plastic bins over the test tubes and element samples until I teach, shooing the cat away on the regular.

The next unit will be fun for this crap. All chemistry, all the time. The test tubes have HCl and CuCl2 in them, but they need to sit for 24 hours for some of the chemical changes, so outside they went…

They’re a little damp this morning, but they’ll work. I had a headache all day, though, because of the iodine and sulfur. Windows open, not good enough. Today is corrosion and something. I’ll remember it…tarnish! Yeah. It’s a little easier and shorter, but the vinegar will drive me bonkers. The kids thought it was cool though. So there’s that.

I’ve walked two days in a row (see a need? see above rant)…over 8 miles total. We left the old lady behind on Monday and dragged the little one out for 4 1/2 miles…finally found the gate at the end of the path.

There were a lot of people on the trail, but 16 of them were what looked like a high-school cross country team.

There was definitely evidence of last week’s rain in the creek/river/whatever it is.

But the water’s been higher. We’re just over 4″ of rain since July 1…it’s not enough.

The little boy (dog) was tired afterwards, which is a good thing. The old lady can’t really do more than a mile, mile and a half, right now. Even then, she is very limpy. Which is too bad, because she loves walks.

Yesterday, after a lot of parent and kid issues with school, I walked myself…

I got a late start (dealing with kids and parents after school)…and ended up in the almost dark at the end. This sign confuses me. Should I just knock on the door?

Maybe she will be lurking around outside? I would totally buy cookies from a neighbor kid right now. Except I haven’t had cash in my wallet for 11 months now. Hmmm.

The plus of these late walks are the skies.

Although it’s staying lighter later. Hallelujah. Leaving at 3:30 to get an hour in before dark was rough.

Art: this piece is smaller, much smaller…so it’s going fast. I traced Wonder Under in two nights…

While binge-watching Bridgerton. The man called it soft porn. Eh. That’s possible.

Three and a half hours later, I was ready to trim Wonder Under.

Before that, of course, I graded shit. I do that almost every night. I give myself Saturday night off. Usually. I sometimes have help…Nova was first, then Luna.

I thought I might be able to get it all cut out in one night, but I was exhausted…

So that’s tonight’s work. Then sort it and hopefully iron it to fabric after I iron the baby owl down. I’m also supposed to be quilting my wool piece, the UFO, for progress before Friday night for my guild. Um. Hmmm. Maybe. Anyway. Progress. I like progress. It makes me feel like I’m getting something positive or useful done. My day job did NOT do that for me yesterday…well, except for kids liking the chemistry part. That was cool. Today will hopefully be cool too. We’ll see.

Cat.

OK, meeting in 25 minutes, school time starts in 11, need to set up demo, get some other stuff pounded out, hopefully no more nastygrams demanding or claiming shit that doesn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t happen. Sigh. Kids. They panic, cry, lie about shit. And parents don’t question that; just assume I am wrong, I am horrible. Sigh. Double sigh. It’s demoralizing sometimes. And this year has so little support…because there’s no one else here and my team is not a team this year and I can’t get answers to stuff I need answers to, because…just because. I’m back to looking at the countdown app. 135 days.

Manage This Better…

I am currently completely and totally procrastinating answering all the parent and kid school emails from this weekend. Some don’t need an answer; they were an appropriate acknowledgment to the weekly notifications I send about hey, y’all aren’t turning shit in. Unfortunately, some weren’t. I saw the first one roll in Friday night. I could say I ignored them, but I didn’t. I just didn’t answer them. So they’ve been sitting in my gut all weekend. Maybe that’s why I answer right away…so that doesn’t happen. Sure, I could be like some people and not have my email come to my phone…or my home computer…and I could never open my school computer during the weekend…HA HA HA…oh wait, that’s bullshit, because I can’t even come close to getting all my school work done in the 5 days of the week I’m paid to do it, who the fuck am I kidding? Anyway, it is my constant goal to manage this better, acknowledge my failure to do so, and move on. Those emails will get answered today; no one will like the answers, but oh well. The really annoying one from last weekend, the mom never emailed back and said, oh hey, I’m sorry for bitching you out for something you don’t even do, don’t have any control over, and tried to fix for me. No thanks, no sorry, no acknowledgment at all. Noted. Fully noted.

This job. Is. So. Hard. This. Year.

Luckily, when I went in to school on Friday, my co-teacher was still there and helped me (and my overwhelmed fuzzy brain) gather all the science-y stuff together for this week’s demos. Chemistry for all! It’s hard to make art around the job sometimes…literally, right now, I need the light table, and I have all this school stuff on it, so I’m trying to work around it. Or through it. Hard to say which.

Friday, I dropped my quilt at the photographer (pictures tomorrow!), then went to school, then to enlarge some drawings from December 2019-February 2020. You know, pre-COVID shit hitting the fan.

I only copied three drawings. They’re out of a 9×12″ sketchbook and I enlarged them 200%. I figured that was a good size for right now, when I don’t have much room on the light table or in my brain.

I think this was one of my Patreon drawings…maybe? Can’t remember.

This was one of the December drawings a day from 2019…because I didn’t even come close to doing that in 2020.

And this was from our Joshua Tree trip from February last year…

I sometimes go back and read previous year’s blogs for the same month as now, just to remind myself of the mindset at the time. It helps when I think things are out of control. I saw these drawings and thought they’d make good smaller quilts. I posted all three on Insta/FB, and there were a few votes for this one.

But I’d already picked the Joshua Tree one for the first quilt. I started tracing it last night and forgot to take any photos. I forgot a lot of things yesterday. I also stayed up way too late on Friday night trying to manage some of the stress in my head…stitching things down.

It didn’t really help. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll figure it out.

I wanted to hike Saturday, but with all the rain on Friday (we got over an inch in 24 hours, which is a lot for us), we didn’t want to stomp through a muddy trail and destroy it, so we picked an urban hike, the Seven Bridges Trail. I’ve done it a couple of times, but the Man hadn’t. It starts in Balboa Park, where there were lots of people…

Bridge number 1…

It’s not a difficult hike…fairly flat…bridge number 2…

Interesting views though…bridge number 3…

And some intriguingly bouncy bridges…OK, only one bouncy one…bridge number 4…

Came through Hillcrest, which is constantly evolving, and got off the official trail down a back alley of murals…

Which is probably how we got over the 6-mile mark…

It’s a little weird waiting for signals during a hike…

Bridge number 5…did I miss one??? Maybe.

Yeah, I didn’t photograph one. I don’t know which one. Bridge number 6…no wait, I did it right…

Some people will argue this is not a hike, because it’s not ‘out in nature’. Except there was nature all around. Hence the urban word. Not my preferred type of hike, but we still walked the whole time, didn’t stop and get ice cream (although it would have been OK if we had)…

Bridge number 7…

And I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s the Seven Bridge Walk, if there are eight bridges…

Another side trip adding to our mileage…

Through the cactus garden at Balboa Park…

Bridge number 8…

Like I said, over 6 miles. Tired. But good. Outside. Too peoply. Next weekend, we’ll do a hike on dirt with fewer people around.

Saturday night, I ironed all the fabrics for the tiny owl quilt I’m making…

And then cut them out…

After doing the January Patreon drawing…

And numbering the third of the smaller quilt drawings…

Plenty of art happening. Plenty of work happening. It’s February now. I have 17 emails to answer before school.

I mean, my school district actually has kids in physical school too, but I have kids in school, every freakin’ school day, and yeah. Working my ass off. Stressed out. Overwhelmed. Buried. Don’t tell me I’m not working.

Cats…

They handle everything better than I do.

OK, work, then exercise, then art.

Stash to the Rescue!

The sun is out again. I love that about mornings. I mean, I don’t, but I do. I love the bright blue sky and the ash tree that dropped a branch but has new growth peeking out. I love that there’s no wind today (yet?)…I love the wacky weather we get sometimes, but I don’t love what it does. I have a big old eucalyptus on my property. It was there before the houses were, easily. It’s got to be over 100 years old. I can’t put my arms around it. Three people could…maybe? I get it trimmed in the rotation. The trees I’ve trimmed so far this year were the ones who dropped the big-ass branches last winter. Then I ran out of money for that…the big old euc was on the next round, along with the three or four ash tress that are up on the slope. They definitely need it. So of course, in this last round of wind, hail, and rain, the big old euc dropped a large branch (could’ve been much larger!) on the roof, bringing down an ash branch with it.

It did lightly puncture the roof, and did a little damage. Could’ve been much worse. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the money together this spring to trim this batch of trees. The roofer has already been here; we’ve already pulled the tree off, everything is covered in tarp, and the boychild got a good chunk of it into the compost bins to go tomorrow, so we’re good. No one was hurt. It’s the girlchild’s room and she’s not here, plus it didn’t go through to the room. Just stressful and costly (although that could probably be worse too).

The wonders of owning a home. So I’m good with the sunny, nonwindy skies today. Although we need the rain…and more is coming. And it’s cold right now…

OK, it’s cold for San Diego, sunny Southern California. We were down to 37 or so last night. I’m thankful for down blankets, socks, and cats. I don’t do cold well. I just get cold and stay cold. I don’t have the right clothes; I know.

I’m sort of quietly finishing a quilt over here. I’ve been working on it for almost three months. It’s not even big enough to warrant that much time, but it’s pandemic teaching time and stressful other stuff and my mind has a hard time focusing. So it’ll be done this week and then I’ll do another one. And another one. And another one. My future is secure! Funny that. Because I still want to do new things and try new media.

So I finished the quilting on Monday night…although who knows why this happened.

The machine was fighting me at the end.

Like it missed me and didn’t want me to finish…

But I have a UFO I’ve committed to finishing next for my quilt guild, so I’ll keep quilting for a few more days, once the binding is on. I promise, machine, I’ll be back.

I trimmed her last night…

After two union meetings, dinner, and a bunch of grading. Gotta love those last-minute, turned-in-blank assignments. Waste of my time. And then I found binding in my stash and got it on…I was trying to figure out when I would even be able to go to the local quilt store, because the one I like is still doing appointments, I think, so you have to call ahead and get a time, and sure, that works if you don’t work horrible hours, but I work horrible hours. I remember back in the old pre-COVID days when I’d put the quilt in my car and kamikaze out of school at the end of the day to get to the quilt store before it closed…sigh. Now she closes at 2 PM and isn’t open Sundays, so it’s Saturday morning or never. But luckily, I had some big pieces of a couple of the fabrics in the quilt, so I picked one. Stash to the rescue!

Tonight, I’ll pin it and start the hand-sewing, and email the photographer, and then think about the next one. I think I’m doing a smaller one next. This one was 37×64″, which isn’t huge. It’s actually a format I kind of like, long and skinny. I might do that again. We’ll see. I like progress, though. First finish of 2021.

OK, lots of fussy little things to get through today, just like every day. I’m tired, just like every day. Potentially contentious meeting this morning…oh yay. Gotta love those. And someone has to go buy a new handle for the bathroom door, because it broke yesterday and briefly trapped me inside. That would have been interesting. I had my phone. I could have done Zoom class in there. It just would have been weird.

Here’s to good weather, a working door handle, and artmaking time.