Fading Into the Landscape

Well I missed blogging yesterday. Not sure why. It was a Monday. Mondays mess with my mind even when I’m not even sure that it IS Monday. Blogging schedule is sort of half-assed right now. I slept like crap last night too…heat? sore? brain on fire? Not sure. I’m currently sitting through another 2-hour diabetes webinar. The last one was mostly unhelpful…all stuff I knew. This one might help more, but honestly, it’s more a pathway to the nurses so I don’t have to make appointments to talk to them that take three or more weeks to get. Frustrating process. All this because my numbers don’t make sense. Ah well. At least I am doing something about it.

So I’m tired…this is when the to-do list helps. I can just look at it and pick the things my brain can handle. Later, I’m going to the gym…it’s air-conditioned and I can read for part of it. I’m still on Summer break for a few more weeks. I need a routine I guess.

So Saturday, we went to a local art show. It was OK. Nothing really reached out and slapped me hard, so there’s that, but we also did some walking in the area.

Not a ton…

then stopped to hang out for a while…

We wanted to sit in the sculpture garden, but there was a private event, so no go. Damn those private events.

And then we tried a new restaurant for dinner.

Trying to find a routine for Saturdays again. The man can’t hike, but I can. This makes stuff complicated.

I have to admit to having two days of feeling tired and braindead, maybe a reaction to being out of town?

I did finish all the stitchdown on the May Homegrown Sue Spargo blocks…

I just keep doing these. They are brainless. Because I finished all those other quilts, I need to start something new, and while I’m getting to the brain state that allows that, it’s easier to just stitch stuff down like this. I also traced all the pieces for the June blocks, so today I’ll iron them to fabrics and keep doing the simple stuff.

Although eventually, Sunday night, I managed to cut a big piece of paper and process something that’s been in my head for a few months. Usually I draw in the sketchbook and then enlarge it, but for some, it’s just easier to start at full size on a big piece of paper.

I did start with a pencil sketch this time, just to put things in the right place. For the hiking man, I used a couple of photos I took while he was hiking away from me.

Inking is the next step. Last night, I couldn’t get my head into the next part of the drawing. It might not have helped that Nova was sitting on it.

But eventually she left and everyone left the room and I started to draw out what I had sketched.

I spend a lot of time staring at the drawing, at the blank spaces, during this stage. What’s weird about the drawing stage is that everything has the same weight…it’s just black lines and no color, so in just looking at the drawing, you can’t see what’s in my head. That’s where the female figure is fading into the landscape…in my head. That won’t show up for y’all until I start ironing it to fabrics. So yeah, the figure will fade into the background. Hopefully. If I manage the color well. It’s all colored in my head. Sort of.

Luna has been having some paranoia issues…

Not even sure what she’s staring at.

Kitten just wants to be close to us.

Lots of pets. Lots of squawking. We left for 2 1/2 days. How dare we.

I finally went back to the bird quilt…I got the borders on months ago with all the flowers, but I hadn’t done the embellishment. I finally started last night.

It was just overwhelming at the time. I needed something simpler. There are I think four of every flower, for a total of 24 of the damn things. It’s gonna be a while before I finish this thing, but my stitching group is starting to meet in person again, so this is a good one to take with me to that. Am I nervous about meeting in person? Yeah, a little. My friends are vaccinated, but we meet in a Barnes & Noble and I haven’t spent much time sitting inside anywhere. I figure I can stay masked if I feel weird about it. And maybe I’ll finish this thing.

This reminded me of the few years we had of flat-earthers in class…

Amusing. There’s always some wacky science misconceptions we deal with in class. Well, wacky makes it sound like something that doesn’t really matter, but since a lot of what kids come into class with comes from (1) family or (2) the internet, and we’re trying to teach them to think critically, it’s probably more important that we teach thinking skills than anything else. Maybe if we start every unit with all the misconception memes for that content that we can find…like a pretest? It’s an idea.

OK. Well if I’ve gotten anything from this webinar, it’s that I need to start tracking everything again and maybe even more than I was. I had to drop some balls during COVID teaching, and the diet app lost out to the meditation app. It’s time to go back. Teachers do their reflection over the summer and so we often set annual goals then instead of that New Year’s resolution in January. Back to monitoring…that’s mine. For now. Might be more resolutions later. I’m debating not tutoring this year. It drives me nuts. I’ll probably cave on this one though. Best for kids and all.

Otherwise, today is about doing some yardwork, cleaning the girlchild’s room (because she’s showing up tonight and probably wants clean bedding and maybe my shit off her bed), working on that drawing, and I don’t remember what else. Finish reading my book. School is coming for me. I can feel it. OK, the constant emails and texts from the district and the union are not helping my vacation mind frame, but some exercise will hopefully help with that. When it’s hot, that’s hard. I just need to get off my ass and do it. That’s true for everything, yeah? Get off the ass and do it.

Mornings Are Loud…

Oh man, apparently a 5-day week is at least 3 days too long at the moment. I will be dissecting frogs today. I did a demo yesterday for a video and completely fucked it up, forgot what the heart looks like, missed a bunch of stuff, said some random stuff. So I deleted it. I’ll try again today for realz with the kids, hope I don’t mess this one up too badly. I’m going to go watch a video of some people who are way more awake and with it than I am. Not that it’s hard to be that. I’m going to bed at a reasonable hour…just can’t fall asleep or apparently stay asleep. Mornings are loud, y’all…really loud. The birds, the sun, just damn loud.

The plus in all this is that the next quilt drawing is coming along, mostly because I’m using the drawing I did in Tehachapi, all stream of consciousness while hanging with the man and watching weird stuff on the telly. Apocalyptic Love, Death, and Rockets, yeah? No, not Rockets…ROBOTS. Oh my. Hello brain. You want a scalpel today? Seems like a mistake, but sure…we’ll give you a scalpel. WTF. ANYWAY. I cut some paper to the right size and added the elements I needed for this theme, and then traced a goodly portion of the existing drawing…

I got the existing drawing transferred onto the new page, which is longer and skinnier, and now just need to do some filler and the sky tonight hopefully. Yes. Too many small pieces. It’s OK. I’ll be OK. I’ll complain about it later, but I’ll be OK.

This is why size of quilt isn’t as relevant to me for price as number of pieces is. I have one smaller piece with over 800 pieces in it that is really expensive…but if you think that each small piece needs to be drawn, traced, ironed, trimmed, and ironed down to the backing, you can see how number of pieces adds up. It’s OK for this one. Just when I get to commissions, it becomes an issue. Keep it simple! The quilt I just finished had 800 or so pieces in it…and it’s much bigger, but the cost will probably be similar to the small one I did a few years back. We’ll see. I haven’t calculated time yet on the new one. I’ve had no time to calculate time!

Anyway, it’s progress. It’s good.

I’ve hiked the last two days, Monday with the boychild and the dog…

The man will hike with me on Saturday.

He’s in recovery mode, which means going to hang out with a bunch of people and eating a lot of sugar. Funny stuff.

He’ll be back on trail next week, and then I’ll see him on the other side of Kearsarge Pass. Somehow. I’m debating hiking part of that, but acclimation could be an issue (starts at 9200 feet above sea level. I live at 400 feet above sea level). We’ll see. It’s supposed to be gorgeous though. I’d like a gorgeous hike or two this summer.

Here he is giving Luna some love.

He was afraid the cats wouldn’t remember him. They did. Right away. Even with all the smelly hiker clothes.

Because I’ve been hanging out with him at night, I’ve been embroidering on the Sue Spargo Homegrown blocks…finished another one of the March blocks…

Crazy little houses. One row of the roof shingles is the wrong thread. Not changing it. Nope.

OK, frogs today. Yup. Gonna go watch that video and make another cup of tea and keep creating random instruction for next week’s weirdness. Then do some exercise and draw some more. Try not to panic at any given time. Good plan.

Less Cottony

Dear all my youngish neighbors with your little children who have now all installed really bright motion-sensor lights: Do you know that things that MOVE make your lights go on ALL NIGHT LONG…on the other side of the house, where you don’t even know about it, and the things that MOVE are animals, birds, and trees, sometimes bats. Seriously, the wind makes your stupid lights go on and you don’t really NEED them because you’re not out there in your side yard checking out what’s setting them off, BUT THEY ALL SHINE IN MY HOUSE. EVERY DAMN ONE OF THEM. Plus the damn fairy light strings everywhere. Yes, they are nice and pretty, but they don’t need to be on all night. I think they’re still on now and it’s broad daylight. Have you never heard of light pollution?

I hear my parents have a BB gun.

Yes, I am the crazy old lady neighbor. But seriously. So much lighting of spaces where there are no peoples.

Hey, well, it’s Thursday. Somehow I got off my every-other-day schedule and am trying to write on the days when I don’t normally write. Today is a staff meeting day AND a lab day, so this will be hopefully quick. What have I been doing? Well, working on a quilt, of course. And I needed to dye some old quilt blocks for the background of this one.

So I don’t know about you, but I have all the dye supplies ready to go in the cupboard, and can start a small dye job at 9:38 PM on a school night. I don’t usually do this, but it worked. I picked some of the old (really old, because I got them on Etsy a million years ago, but they aren’t in that great condition) blocks and tossed them in a mix of dyes that I thought would approximate the background fabric I already had picked. Left them for 24 hours and got this…

What’s funny about this is when I did the first rinse out of the dye bath, they all were that purply blue color…and by the time they got out of the washing machine, you can see that three were less cottony than I thought. OK. And I’m not sure the one on the bottom left will work…I don’t really want anything that has a lot of contrast. The 5 that worked are probably not enough (although they could be?) so I will probably try again. I did get the subtle changes that I wanted in about half of them, so that’s a success. Sort of.

Then I’ve been picking fabrics for an hour or so each night…

I find it really difficult to stop, actually. I just want to keep ironing. But I need to stick to my earlier bedtime, even though I don’t seem to be falling asleep much earlier. I’m sure I’m getting a little more? Maybe.

I’m averaging about 10-11 hours of artmaking a week at the moment…

That’s much better than the month of March, when I did a lot of nothing on art quilts. No sewing machine? I guess it was an issue. Plus overwork and exhaustion. Now I’m using the art to distract myself from isolation. But it’s also the artwork…and I love that normally. It’s not that I don’t love it now…it just isn’t giving me the same hit as usual.

I’ve been ironing for over 4 hours and I only have 200 pieces ironed down. Not super fast, y’all. There are a lot of fussy little decisions in the stuff on the Earth in this piece. Lots of overlapping colors and bits that require thought.

I finished appliqueing all the bits down to the April Homegrown blocks during one book club this week…

On to May. During the second book club (yes, I did that this week. Nights are deadly empty time.), I drew my Patreon drawing for the month…

And posted it. Talk about multitasking. I do it all the time. It works for me. I know it doesn’t work for some people. Certainly things like sewing and drawing occupy a different part of my mind than the meeting part. So it works. It’s not as effective during staff meetings, when I actually work on schoolwork through them. Those are overlapping parts of the brain and it means I sometimes miss stuff, but since 3/4s of what they talk about right now in staff meetings doesn’t apply to distance learning, I don’t really fucking care. I ask my team when I miss stuff.

I created that slide deck during the last staff meeting for the lab we did this week. And that calendar thing is so true at the moment.

I don’t even deal with one day. It’s sections of days. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. Night. Rinse. Repeat.

Here’s the lab we actually did…cellular respiration…

I have to do it one more time, today. It’s a pain in the butt, but it helps them think about the different types of food. Although then they think that sugar and food are the same thing. Not quite. I’m having a hard time getting a good chunk of them to listen at the moment. Normally, this is almost where we start sex ed and I have their full attention. I think this year will be harder at the end. I guess I will just roll with it. I don’t have control over so much of what goes on with their home lives, their attention spans, and their Wifi.

These two are sweet.

When Luna is not rampaging.

OK, hours of Zooming today followed hopefully by a good long walk and an already made dinner. Then more ironing. I think. Maybe I’ll get through more than 100 pieces in one night.

Cute Clean Tape Dispensers…

Hello Friday, the last day I have to teach or be on Zoom because of work until April 12, you delightful day, once I survive you. The last day of March for school. The last day I have to cajole kids to work, remind them of why I can’t give them all the answers, text their parents to get them to at least pull up the document we’re on, try to do chemistry or middle-school art on my light table instead of art that I want to do. I wish I could say that I won’t look at work over break, but that is impossible. I am still grading last week’s work. I want as much as possible of this week’s work graded before we leave for Yosemite. We’re planning the next unit when I come back. Plus I have a copyediting job. I need the money. Sad, isn’t it, that a public-school teacher has to take on extra work to pay the bills, but that is reality. So I’m actually relieved and stressed at the same time. Fun times.

At least I can do all the school things with music playing or with dead silence (well, except the screams of the neighbor kids). Not half turned, crick in my neck and back, trying to grade AND follow the chat AND answer questions as kids are finishing assignments. Wishing I could actually send them out for the asynchronous time, but knowing that they will not complete their work if I do that. This year is exhausting. \

So I have a show I want to enter, and I let it percolate in my brain, even sent the call to the girlchild for her expertise (although she just suggested what I was already thinking). Tried to draw some version of it the other night.

It’s under the cat. I swear there’s a drawing under there. It’s not a very good one though.

You know when your cat suddenly stares intently at something and you turn around and there’s nothing there?

It’s totally ghosts. I guess she left me the big planet there to draw on, but I was working on the person. It’s OK. I needed to go to bed. I needed to let it percolate more.

And then last night, my decision was to clean off most of the light table (I do still have to teach art today) and start it on paper.

Full size. Fuck the sketchbook. That tape dispenser is ancient by the way. Like circa 1989. And obviously never been cleaned. You don’t notice until you Instagram it and everybody else has cute clean tape dispensers. There are so many things in the world that I don’t have time for.

Did I mention my taxes? I need to do those too. I started. I yelled a lot. I asked the boychild a question that I would normally ask my dad. He had the answer; ironic, since he doesn’t pay taxes. Or own a house. Or run a business. Or two. Plus a day job. I need a new life. Or plants. I might just need plants.

This month just makes me feel like crying constantly.

OK, it’s almost done. I can do one day. I can do 6 hours with 45 minutes in between. Except not really 45 minutes because I work on either side of it, but 5 hours and 15 minutes, wait, subtract the 5 minutes in between each class, so 5 hours and 5 minutes with kids. FIVE HOURS AND 5 MINUTES WITH KIDS ON ZOOM. Yeah. That’s my day. Before some education ignoramus jumps in, that doesn’t count the hours before and after school…yesterday was 8 AM to 4:30 PM on Zoom with a few breaks, plus another 90 minutes of grading after that and 45 minutes before. UGH.

It’s fine. It pays the bills. It’s a job I love and hate on a regular basis. I can love my job and still hate parts of it. I can love teaching and still know that some of it is incredibly fucked up. District: “we’re not adding anything new this year; the pandemic pivot is enough for you to deal with.” Also District: “HERE’S a new program and HERE’S a new program and HERE’S a new program, and you’re required to teach them all. THANKS!”

So here was my chemistry setup this time.

I’ll have to bring this back in April for one of the labs. But I cleaned all this up. Art must be made here.

While I was teaching yesterday, this huge hawk kept hanging out on my front fence, looking for rodents or baby bunnies, I’m sure. Its partner was on the electrical line above. Beautiful animals.

The kids were sort of shocked that I could see a hawk. They live about 2 1/2 miles north of me. There are probably hawks there too…they just don’t see them.

Mini modern blocks are still happening.

This was Sunday, when I was irritated by that parent. I didn’t finish these.

OK. I can do today. I can do all the things. I can copyedit everything and grade everything and finish the taxes and get ready to go camping in four days. In the cold. It’s all going to be fine. Eventually. Fine.

As Long As It Was Easier…

Yesterday, teaching was a challenge. At some point in the middle of it, while trying to draw some level of understanding out of a class full of kids who had forgotten everything from the week before and the previous unit, I didn’t want to be teaching any more. I didn’t care what I was doing, as long as it was easier, less exhausting, less traumatizing, less IDK what. I did rally, got a new monitor from school, adjusted when my doc cam refused to work during a lab, and graded a shitload of assignments. So I guess that’s a good thing. I won’t go into Spring Break with nothing to grade…that’s impossible, but I won’t go in with MORE to grade than normal.

My school is going back to 5 days a week in person after Spring Break (not me; I’m distance through the end of the year), so I’m really hoping some parents call the school (I have a list of the ones I’d like to have call please) and tell them they want in-person instead of distance. As I was thinking that yesterday, I got two new kids in my biggest science class. Yeah. That. Hmmmm. Well there’s three more days until break, so I can dream. I’ve had way too many students all year. They could shove 40 of them back into in-person and I’d be OK.

It’s OK. I’m fine. In a normal year, I’d feel overwhelmed and exhausted right now too…maybe not this much, but at some level.

Because I graded last night, I didn’t do much artwise. I have this exhibit I’d like to enter, but I’m not sure I can get my head around what to make or what to draw. I’m aware that the process of making the fabric I use is mostly damaging to the environment. I do use a lot of fabrics that other people are getting rid of, but I don’t go out of my way to search out ecologically friendly fabrics. And I often feel bad about that. I’m making work that talks about climate change, but just making fabric into what I like to use damages the environment. Sigh. So there’s that.

So I worked on the anxiety drawing on Monday night…

It’s similar to my Swallowing Heads quilt of a few years ago…that is what anxiety feels like to me.

I did more on it last night, with Nova’s help…

It’s a slow process. I spent some time last night researching textile pollution as well. Not sure if I’m going to do something with that or not. I’m back at that place of Do I make work for a specific show? Or do I just make work? I have some group shows coming up where I probably have to do some of the former…so how do I make what’s in my head fit those themes? And how do I justify to myself making a quilt about what’s in my brain instead of some life-changing statement about racism? See that’s a hard one right there. I’ve been mulling that one over since last year and George Floyd’s murder. How do you make art about racism when you’re part of the problem? I don’t need to reveal racism to the world…I need to get the racist people to see the world differently than they currently do. I wish I knew how to do that.

And honestly, my overworked brain right now is not the best place for that conversation. It’s having it all the time, but it can’t find a way out of that knot yet.

We walked Monday with the little dog…

Although he pretended to be tired at one point…

He likes to smell the things and fake pee on the things. But not always walk the whole way.

It’s spring and the flowers are out.

Then last night, I did my neighborhood walk and ran into the boychild and my ex walking the dogs.

The dogs were pretty excited to see me. Calli takes a rest whenever she can…

She’s getting so old. Her sarcoma is getting really large. She’s already lasted longer than they said she would. We are grateful for every moment of her smelly old self. Even when there is thunder and she tries to dig through the couch while I’m teaching and can’t stop her.

I see this plant every few days when I walk past this house. The flowers are pretty, so delicate though.

New cactus is so sweet looking.

These are just weeds, but they’re pretty. I love Spring; can you tell?

New growth. A break from school. A look toward summer, a longer needed break.

Although there might be plastic in the way…I didn’t want to walk on this because I didn’t want to damage it.

Still trying to control water flow when we build in the middle of its natural path. Duh. Humans are stupid.

So I am exercising and Zooming book club today after school. I’m teaching and grading all day. Today should be easier. We got the doc cam to work again, plus I’m not doing a demo…mostly kids will be completing things on their own today. Hopefully their brains are more functional than yesterday (what are the odds?). Hopefully I can get through most of the stuff that needs grading from last week and then just have this week’s stuff to tackle over Break. We are going to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks…a short break before the man leaves for however long it takes him to do the PCT. I’ve been watching some current hikers on YouTube…will probably stalk a few who leave at the same time, just to see conditions as he’s hiking. And keep hiking in my neighborhood…same views all the time. Ugh.

OK. Tired start to the day. More caffeine.

Just Nod Your Head…

Rough week. Also, why can’t WordPress pick a font for drafts and stick with it? Also, pivot pivot pivot, even if you’re at home, you will have to pivot. It’s OK. I changed half the art stuff yesterday during lunch because…well, lots of reasons. It’s OK. It’ll be fine. I’m exhausted and headachy and panicked about getting all my work prepped today and tomorrow in case the 2nd shot knocks me out, plus there still is a shitload of stuff to do even if I don’t have a reaction (knocking on wood like a crazy banshee, don’t bring it upon me because I have thought about it, you know?). I need a break. It’s a good thing one is coming, although it’s already full, I think. Some travel, which I hope is good and relaxing, but it might not be. Positive thoughts…at least I won’t be sitting here, staring at Zoom. Thursday, I was on Zoom from 8 AM to 4:45? PM? Something like that. For school. I had a 45-minute (well a 41-minute) break in the middle for lunch, and then I was on Zoom again at 7 for a social thing. Ugh. Tired of that.

Did I mention exhausted? Ugh.

OK, so my quilt guild is doing this #minimodswap of miniature modern quilt blocks, and I wasn’t gonna touch it with a ten-foot pole, but then I saw a rainbow version and I have all these solid fabrics someone gifted me and nowhere to use them really, plus I can’t do one of my normal art quilts right now, and I really really need something brainless at the end of the day, so I did some.

OK, I did 49 of them. I’m gonna do some more, but not a lot more, I don’t think. I mean, it’s interesting enough, but I don’t need to do this. And I’m honestly not very good at piecing things. One of the blue Xs is really off, because the rotary cutter sort of didn’t go straight and I sewed it together anyway. I am not a perfectionist. It’s why my method of quilting works for me.

I am still doing hand applique…I think I have 17 pieces left…

Just the stuff in the face and a bit of hair on top. Then I’ll sandwich and quilt her, once I have my good machine back. The old one keeps freezing in the middle of stitching and the only way to get it back is to turn it off and roll it backwards through the stitch movement and then turn it back on. No way in hell am I doing that while quilting.

Anyway, maybe I will get that stuff done tonight, or maybe I will grade stuff all night in preparation for Second Shot Syndrome. Who knows?

Today is flame tests and combustion and how to draw a title and…

then take all the chemistry stuff back to school and pick up the next batch and grade all the things and measure engagement and prep all the posts for next week and…

Watch all the birds from my current work window as they collect nest materials. Or scope out a nest in the tree in front of me. Or dig for bugs in my plant pots on the deck.

After work, I wander around the property, looking for signs of regrowth, Spring, something new…the lime tree we transplanted in the yard from my friend’s house might actually make limes this year.

We’ve had flowers, but just a few at a time. We’ve had a few baby limes, but they get bumped off or something.

The lemon has flowers, but I think it’s still too young for fruit…

It also has new growth, which is a relief, because that swallowtail caterpillar that looks like poop ate a bunch of the leaves and I pruned it a bit to deal with that and then was worried there was no new growth…

Oh there it is. Although there aren’t many flowers up there. Learning experience maybe.

And this succulent has never flowered…

So pretty. Plus we have a new weed…

We have shitloads of weeds. I pull some of them, the nettles, but leave the rest because it’s too overwhelming, but I’ve never seen this one in the yard before.

There is some weeding in my future. Luckily I find it mostly meditative. I’ve been meditating regularly again, actually. Trying to get anxiety under control, figure out if some of my symptoms are just that and not anything else. I passed the stress test with flying colors, so that’s a good thing…hopefully if it IS all in my head, I can persuade my head to stop being such a dumbass.

Ninety one days until summer. Seven days until Spring Break.

My constant companions…unless they are with someone else.

Friday. That’s a plus. I can sleep maybe tomorrow morning. Maybe. Shot in the morning. Hike in the afternoon. Hoping for no symptoms, knock on wood. Or just the standard sore arm. Making videos and plans just in case for Monday. I want to read my book today. I want to draw. I want to sew. I want to go to bed and sleep a long time and then get up and not do school for at least a few hours. That doesn’t seem like a huge request, does it? Just nod your head.

Not a Prime Number

I turned 54 yesterday. It’s an OK number, divisible by 9 and 3, not a prime number, but it’s good. Yeah, numbers sit in my head in weird ways. What can I say? It was an acceptable birthday. I felt well, got enough sleep the night before for once, had a break from teaching in the middle of the day (prep period…can’t say I was particularly effective, but that happens), exploded some baking soda and vinegar for class, texted about 10 parents about their kids (one was FINALLY a positive, made me so happy; I have so little time for everything, that the positive contacts have been the first to go), went for a non-strenuous walk, and went out to dinner. My Assistant Principal was my waitress…first time I’ve seen her since some time last March, I think.

It’s weird how our brains are training themselves to recognize people with their masks on. So that was cool.

I did not work after 3:30 PM on school stuff. I probably should have, but the world will not end if I didn’t grade an assignment yesterday. It will end because of the patriarchy and/or human stupidity. Straight up.

Really, if there hadn’t been a pandemic, it would have been a great day to take off and hike, if I weren’t on hike restrictions at the moment and we weren’t doing chemistry labs. So there’s that.

In art, we did a little blind contour drawing…

Bowie is looking good.

I also finally pulled one of these out. I bought canvas last May, I think, wanting to try this. Finally painted backgrounds in December? January?

I have about 4 of these done. And the other night, I finally had the guts to draw on one of them.

It’s kind of fun. This isn’t done. And I need a better white. This one isn’t that good. Actually, I need about 700 more colors to make me really happy, but this is good for now.

I also decided to finish this old hand-applique art quilt. It’s been lying around for way too long, and my sewing machine is still at the shop.

It’s a bit of a mess in terms of tiny little pieces, but I haz the skillz. So far, I’m only missing one piece, which isn’t bad. I think I started this in 2000? Something like that. I’m not sure there’s documentation of anything that far back. I used to put dates on the drawings, but this is an enlarged photocopy and the date isn’t on it. I don’t know where the original drawing is. And it pre-dates my writing the blog. So who knows? I can just place it after the last one I know I finished, which was January 2000. After 21 years, it deserves to be finished.

Cat NOT helping with chemistry setup…

One of the reasons starting another quilt in my normal fashion is not really happening right now. Nowhere to do it. Which reminds me, I need to set up for more chemistry demos today. And tonight is a union meeting, and I really do need to grade some things. But hopefully, I’ll get back to either drawing on canvas (and trying to figure out how I will finish those pieces when I am done drawing) or working on the hand applique. May my 55th year on the planet be full of vaccinations, openings of the things that keep me sane (hello art and museums and music and the like), and a shitload of art.

Ah yes, and this guy…

Whose cute little face was poised under my plate the other night, ever hopeful that I will spill all the foods.

One at a Time…

Still no sewing machine. And still buried in grading. I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet. I’m also not feeling well and not getting enough sleep, so all that is building up. I’ve left the hardest project to grade until the last. I just couldn’t get my head around it until now. I’m hoping my rubric is strong and helps me through it.

With very little mental and physical energy after grading, I’ve been sitting down with my sketchbook for a while every night. Honestly, I mostly stare at the empty spaces and consider how to fill them, but it’s a thing. I’m doing it.

The swallowing heads has been a thing for me when I’m feeling lots of anxiety. I’m surprised there haven’t been more of those in drawings this year, but I honestly haven’t been drawing very much. All the increased schoolwork is taking a toll on my art output and time for that. I really like this swallowing head though.

And drawing in itself relieves anxiety. I’ve been having breathing and heart racing issues for a while now, and the doc is doing tests. This drawing is all about those feels. There’s my first COVID vaccine…

The arm licking…it’s weird, yeah? Yeah. It is. I don’t feel right. This drawing is about that.

Anyway. The health stuff will get worked out. Somehow. And I’ll get my sewing machine back. Worst part is that I can’t do any strenuous exercise for now, at least for a couple of weeks, and that’s a big stress releaser for me. I can walk, but I can’t hike. So walk I will. See me rolling my eyes? Ah well. It’s movement.

Here’s why I can’t really start another big quilt right now, at least until Spring Break. This is my light table. This week, we had matter demos…

Next week is full on chemistry, signs of chemical reactions, following week is flame tests and IDK what else. And I don’t even have art stuff on here yet for my art classes. That will be next week. It’s just easier not to have to take this all off, use the light table, and put it all back. At least for a while. I said I might do another smaller quilt. And I might. I don’t like starting new ones while others are still in process. My brain stays with the one piece and focuses on it, and I don’t like mixing those in my brain. Weird? I don’t know. It’s how I work. One at a time.

OK, well, school today, a challenge, but doable. Weekend? Lots of school work. Next week? I turn 54. Divisible by 3 and 9. Good numbers. Not as good as prime numbers, but it will do. Numbers do weird things in my head. They seem to have meaning. I don’t know why. More drawing tonight? Most definitely. I’ve missed it.

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.