Especially the Breathing…

It’s such a quiet house without Satch. Kitten is still running around like he’s here, looking around corners, refusing to walk down the hallway with me for her breakfast (I’ve carried her to breakfast since we had Babygirl, so that’s a long time…hard habit to break, I guess.). I encouraged her, but she squawked at me and wouldn’t move, so I went back for her. She and Satchemo didn’t get along very well. There were some moments when he wasn’t chasing her and she wasn’t trying to whack him. It’s hard when you introduce adult cats. We haven’t been particularly successful with it. Unfortunately. I did manage to persuade her to come out last night, because the dogs were gone.

Like this is a safe place…she’s hung out here before…

Glowy eyes and all. Mommy’s light table is safe ground.

Eventually, she came down on the couch…a rare occurrence…

And she’s blurry because she wouldn’t stop moving. Of course, there’s already talk of fostering cats. I’m not sure that’ll work with her. She’s not the most tolerant of cats. We’ll see. We have a friend who rescues cats, so that’s why the conversation is happening. I think she might be OK with kittens…other adult cats, probably not so much.

Anyway. We’re going to be OK. We know we gave him good views of hummingbirds and geckos, and lots of pets and love. It sucks that his last week was so yucky, but it’s hard to know when to say goodbye to them sometimes. Probably true of people too, but we have fewer choices about when to stop trying to fix them.

I got another piece into a show, local this time. This is Finding Peace and it’ll be at The Studio Door in Hillcrest, opening November 2, from 5-7 PM.

It’s the Best of FIG exhibit…I had to laugh, because there were size restrictions, and I think my best work is larger than the size restrictions. And I told him that. I do love the bathtub series, though. So that’s OK.

I got home late last night, after tutoring and chiropractor. I watched Bat TV (the bats off the deck), I cooked dinner, and I graded science units for a while. After yesterday’s mood check thing, where I totally reamed the counselor on campus (this woman needs a middle-school reminder), but managed to get the principal to pay for a bunch of triple beam balances as a pay-off for my irritation (um, OK. I’ll take that). Seriously, how does an ex-teacher not understand how I do not need to be in charge of all the counseling shit? Because she only had 25 students and I have 164? That’s not a good excuse. I know kindergarten teachers work their asses off teaching all those subjects AND potty training etc. I do not know what this woman’s problem is. But it’s done now.

Last night, finally after all the grading (still not done), I started cutting stuff out again.

I’ve been cutting for 11 1/2 hours…not nothing. But I’m almost done…I can see the bottom of the box…that’s a good thing. Could I be done tonight? Maybe. Looks are deceiving. There are a lot of small pieces in there, landscape stuff. It might take a while. But maybe. I can do maybe.

Lab today. My co-teacher did it yesterday. Apparently there will be lots of confusion. Great. I love confusion. I’m gonna deep breathe all day and then sit at a meeting and then hopefully go to the gym. That’s the plan. Especially the breathing.

This Had a Title, but WP Ate It

It’s the last day of September. I’m OK with that. I like the sound of September, with the hint of Fall, but I hate the Southern California teacher-time reality. It’s usually hot and dry and exhausting and overwhelming. October brings a little chill in the air (well, not any time in the next two weeks, can you say 80s across the board) and those beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds scuttling across them. Plus the kids settling down and the admin stopping the crazy to-do list that they put on top of everything else and getting back into a routine. Hopefully on all that. First we will have the panic of the first progress report with standards-based grades, in which everyone fails until they figure out how to prove they are proficient. PROGRESS people. No one should be perfect to start. Then you’re doing it wrong.

Well. OK. I had one kid who rocked the first assignment. Well played, sir, well played. The rest of the panic is palpable, except for those who haven’t yet figured out that they never turned in the assignment…which might be better than those who mucked it up so badly that I had to put my head down and/or walk away from the computer.

I still have one class of 26 essays left to grade. That makes me nervous, because everything is due tomorrow and I’m not done. But I finished the other class at 10:30 last night, mostly because I was texting another teacher at the same time, trying to help her with the grade program, which upgraded and fucked its own self up, but also because we’re shifting from everything being an academic grade into effort being something totally different than proving you know the stuff you’re supposed to know. It’s really more you can prove you understand how things work when it comes to science. It’s not facts…it’s concepts. And those are hard. Hard is good, though. Hard is learning. Hard is thinking. Hard is working. They will get better at this. Someone should tell their parents that (oh wait, we did).

With that, know I spent a good 6 hours grading on Saturday, with a quick trip in between two of the classes before I tore my hair out. I needed to go to the post office, and I stopped (as a reward, yes, you’re right) at a fabric store I don’t usually go to. Not because there’s anything wrong with it…the one I like has 7000 more bolts of fabric or so, which gives me a lot more choices. But I stopped here because it was on the way home and I needed a fabric fix. And they were having some sort of event where I got to spin the wheel (woooo!) and I won something! OK, everyone won something…that’s how the wheel was set up, but I won something pretty good…

Oh yeah. $25 off next time. Wait. That means I have to go back. OK. Well. There we are. Next time I have to grade one of these essay assignments, eh?

We had no real plans for the night except getting the fuck out of the house and hopefully moving bodies to get my brain out of the shithole it was living in…there’s a reason I never became an English teacher even though that’s what one of my degrees is in. So we parked on one side of Balboa Park and walked all the way across it to a restaurant on the other side…

It was good. I needed the exercise. I needed the fresh air. I needed to get away from weird explanations for the states of matter.

We came back and finally watched Capt. Marvel, after sitting on the same DVD from Netflix for the entire summer. Plus SOMEONE watched it without me, despite our agreement. I had plenty of stuff to cut out. Even though I’m not done ironing, I can still start cutting.

The cat snored through the whole thing. He kept trying to get onto my lap, but eventually gave it up. So that’s two hours’ worth of cutting tiny flesh pieces out.

All the stuff that’s done is on the left, stuff to BE done on the right, and the trashy bits on top. Just in case.

I’ll throw them out eventually. When the quilt is done.

Sunday dawned with a giant crazy to-do list in my face, which I dealt with after going to the gym. A necessary thing. I finally got to the grading in late afternoon…yeah. I know. It was a day. I did prep all lunches, grocery shop for the week, go to my parents for dinner…all the things.

I could have kept reading essays at 10:30. Wait. No I couldn’t. I was holding my head together by then. I finished that period, got up, and came in here to iron. At least for a while. I needed to.

Here’s the dogs at my parents. I was trying to draw the September drawing for my Patreon. I did draw something, but I don’t like it.

So I’m going to try again tonight after grades are done. Assuming grades are ever done. It might be tomorrow. Technically that’s late, but I sent a message explaining. Hopefully that’s OK. This is my reality. I didn’t procrastinate…stuff just got moved and this is when the assignment that needed grading got turned in. I’m trying. Ugh. It hurts. Grading, not drawing. I just couldn’t get my head out of grading enough to draw well.

It’s OK. There’s always more paper for this. I guess even if there wasn’t paper, I’d still be making marks on something.

So I ironed for about an hour and a half…adding to the pile of fabrics used and pieces to cut out.

I ironed the heart and the eyeballs and the hair and the veins and arteries. And a thorny pubic area. Nice. Oh yeah, and some redwood trees. Technically not found down here, but oh well. I like them. They fit. I still have quite a few pieces to go, but I have no idea how many, which is kind of a metaphor for my life right now. And that’s fine. Now I have to go to school and try to explain to a bunch of kids why their grades aren’t what they want right now, and then tell them I’m not fixing it before progress reports, but that it’s totally fixable, and then writing myself and my co-teacher a note about having the first standards-based assignment WELL before the progress report due date so we don’t ever have this happen again thank you piloting curriculum and general bad timing. Yeah.

What a Good Place to Be*

It’s a good day. It’s a Friday. We’re done with three days of labs and almost done with this hellacious pilot of a unit. Ah to teach the stuff I know works! AND I sold two quilts yesterday. In fact, my portion of my son’s college loans will hopefully be paid off with the sale of the last three quilts. I wonder sometimes what it will feel like to not have to come up with these crazy sums of money to pay stuff off. Maybe that never stops. But if I didn’t have the college stuff, I’d be most of the way toward remodeling one of the bathrooms in this house, which is next on the list: two new bathrooms, a new kitchen, and a backyard redo with a much smaller, more useful pool. Of course, the tree guy is coming sometime in the next month too, so that money needs to come from somewhere. Yikes. It’ll be fine!

I did go update the current shows and recent work sections of my website, as well as marking those two sold. It’s all good. Oh yeah, and I got a rejection and an acceptance in one morning…I Can’t Be Your Superwoman will be at CraftForms 2019 in December, one of 90 chosen from 1300 entries. Not bad…

I have two more shows to enter this weekend. Keep making! Like I need an excuse. Seriously.

I did stitch a little last night. Like one leaf. I sent my shopping list for the drop-in workshop I’m teaching on November 9…come by City College, see the Allied Craftsmen show Metamorphosis, and then hang out with me and fabric and thread! No really. Please. I’ll be there from 1-3 imparting my wisdom. Whatever that means. I’m used to teaching 12-year-olds, so if I tell you to spit out your gum, I apologize.

I did eventually iron. It really is super slow. I’m hoping to be done by the end of the weekend, but I’m not sure it’s possible. I ironed lightning, some stars, the moon, a mountain, and an ocotillo.

Maybe another 50 pieces?

I’ve been ironing for almost 10 hours and I’m only in the 300s. So weird. Not sure why. Lots of searching for colors. I like things that are real to be real colors…whatever that means.

And then I sat on the floor with all my flesh-colored drawers and picked the flesh run…which honestly is most of the quilt. Although I might make the leg sky color. Or part of it at least. Haven’t decided.

I get into habits with certain fabrics and keep using them over and over. I tried to branch out with this, reach into the far back of the fabric drawers, where stuff gets pushed back and never seen. The stuff in the front gets used all the time. That’s why it’s in the front, eh? It was 11:30 PM, though, and this week has kicked my ass. So I went to bed, because there was no way in hell I was going to be able to iron anything before I needed to sleep…and it’s easier to pick the whole flesh run in one go. Tonight? Although I need to grade. I need to grade while I’m awake. Picking fabrics is a different part of my brain…much easier than reading kid essays. That’s the rest of my weekend.

Yesterday morning’s partners…

See this room needs remodeling too. Nice floor. That’s what happens when you iron on the floor. Sigh. Easier than bathrooms though. Floor, walls, storage. I’d love to bump it out a foot or too. I’ll definitely replace the damn doors. Maybe a new window. One with a perch for the cats. I can dream. Bedroom side of the house needs new carpet too. All new flooring honestly. Sigh. It’s never-ending. I can’t stop working until I get through a good chunk of it…if not all of it. It’s not that I want to stop working right now…it just seems overwhelming right now to do all that work…and pay for it.

Then again, it is Friday. Everything seems overwhelming at the moment. But we get through it anyway. Happy Friday all!

*The Housemartins, Happy Hour

Like Following Them…

Day 2 today of thermal energy/pressure labs. Yesterday was…um…OK? My co-teacher may not agree. It’s not easy. I hit 10,000 steps right after lunch just fetching water and ice. I had about 10 kids who live on the edge…the edge of my having to stinkeye them. One may not survive today. We should have done some more group labs before we got to today; they still have a hard time with instructions. Like following them. Not entirely atypical for this age, but frustrating in the moment. Hopefully today will be smoother. Ha! I’m not sure why it will, but it will need to be. Meanwhile, I’m supposed to be hiking tonight, so that will be interesting. I’m pretty sure my legs will complain about being tired. OK. Well. Nothing new there.

I did tutoring yesterday too, spending some quality time (ha!) with some very interesting kids. As always. We have an assignment due tomorrow that is HARD. It’s really not as hard as some kids make it out to be, because they want the answer key and there isn’t one. So they want me to tell them exactly how to write it (What’s the ANSWER??? whine) and I won’t, because it’s an assessment. I gave them a format and about a million ideas and three labs and a couple other assignments as evidence, and I’m not doing that last step for them. It’s painful, but a learning experience, for sure. All this is exhausting. I’m not sure if it’s more or less exhausting this year than any other. I just know I’m exhausted right now.

Yesterday, this spider hitched a ride to school. I always wonder what they’re thinking as they’re bouncing along in the wind. And then whether they get off when at school. There’s a nice bunch of plants there that they can live in…

It might be better than my driveway…who knows?

I was actually too tired after dinner to work on anything. It was my brain, though…I couldn’t decide between stitching and working on the Unit 2 calendar. I knew I should do the latter, but I didn’t want to. So I did nothing.

Eventually, though, after dishes were done, I went in to iron. I keep forgetting to take in-process pictures. I did finish the second September Patreon video as well, where I try to explain how I pick fabrics.

At the end of another two hours, this is what I had used…

A few more browns, greens, and grays. A mule deer is in there. I didn’t actually get much done, depressingly enough. Just the righthand side of the landscape…some bushes, dirt, a river, the deer, some hills, and a mountain. I’m not sure why it took so long, but it did. I’m in the 250s. Only. ONLY. Sigh. The pile is growing. That’s what matters. I don’t think I’ll get any of it done tonight because of the hike, but who knows.

Here’s the rest of the 200s…all clouds and a sun and IDK what else.

I see a star. There’s probably a mountain in there too. Then the body! I wish I could say I’d be done ironing soon, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe by the end of the weekend? After I grade that assignment. The one that might kill them.

I haven’t posted my SAQA auction piece that I bought yet. I need the light to be better than it has been, but it’s already hanging on my wall. I like to buy pieces by people I know…this one was by Natalya Aikens and features recycled materials.

I buy one piece a year to support the group. I can’t handle making one…they’re too small.

This guy this morning…I’m hoping the boychild comes back and deals with him…he’s on the living room ceiling.

He’s bigger than I like to try and catch over my head. On a bumpy ceiling. On a ladder. By myself. I feel like that’s a recipe for disaster.

OK, back to school and Day 2 of labs. Meditation at times. Getting my act together. Then hiking a mountain. Which by the way, I hiked on the same day (or day before?) 5 years ago. That’s interesting. I need to remember a headlamp and my poles. And food. That would be smart. Water. Water is also good.

Three Days of Labs…

OK. I think I am ready for today. It’s a lab day, the first of three. It’s the first time we’ll be doing stations with this crew. It’s not just stations: it’s ice and hot water and materials. I don’t entirely trust these widgets yet, but the solution is to toss any kid who doesn’t listen to a warning and behave appropriately. There’s some cool learning that can happen in the next three days if you’re paying attention and following instructions. Hopefully they’ll do that. It was a lot of prep and now I have to meet with the principal about printing costs, but since we don’t have a textbook or any print materials, I think we’ll be OK. There’s just no way to do labs with middle-school kids without printing stuff. They need to record their ideas and observations somewhere. Their heads are not good for remembering that stuff. I understand that.

I got home late, but knew I needed to keep working on one thing for school…a resource deck for the thing they have to write on Friday. What I really wanted to do was go for a walk, but it was already late and I had work to do, so I crawled onto the bike and worked there for a bit…

I had headphones in and was listening to science videos about thermal energy and pressure. Exciting stuff. I did more of it here after dinner…

And eventually gave up on it and went in to iron. There’s only so much work I can do in one day before I’m mostly useless.

Not this stuff. I can do this for hours. It’s a different part of my brain.

I do have video for the Patreon crew at this point of how I pick colors, so I’ll edit those tonight…and hopefully get them posted. This quilt is not ironing fast…

It looks like a lot. It is. But it’s only the first 200 pieces or so…not even. I have a few 190s to iron yet. I’ve spent almost 6 hours just on ironing the first 200 pieces. There’s been a lot of thinking and searching for the right color, apparently. Only 700 to go! Sheesh. At this rate, I’ll never be done. Plus grades are due next week. I’m caught up at the moment, but there’s an assignment due Thursday that will need to be graded over the weekend.

OK, so I prepped a lot yesterday after school, but I still need to set up the stations and get my brain organized. And then survive it all.

You Gotta Wear Those Shoes*

It’s Friday. I’m not sure where the week went. My weekend is looking a little crazy. Mostly because I didn’t do all the things during the week that I should have done. Typical. It’s OK. I’ll get caught up on the things that need doing. Delivering things here and there. Cutting stuff out. I think I can get it all done. Maybe. I really want to be ironing things together on this quilt, but I was tired last night (seriously, three meetings in one day, just 11 hours on campus or at the district office. It’s FINE.). I cut stuff out, but gave up early. I could have stayed up later, but I don’t think it would have been good for me today. I only have a little left to cut out though…

About half a yard. Maybe less. I have about 7 hours in so far…it MIGHT take an hour to finish…probably less. So that’s tonight…and then sort them. And then the fun part…cleaning my office so I have room to iron to fabrics. My second Patreon video might run a little late this month. If I start ironing tomorrow, I can probably put a video together early in the week. More importantly, can I hit my deadline? I think so.

Seriously though, I’m overwhelmed and buried by all the things. It’s going to get better. Soon. At the science curriculum pilot meeting last night, we decided to cut the pilot short…before we killed something. I think this is a good decision. It won’t solve all the issues we’re having this year…a lot of that is the kids…but it will help our sanity to teach the things that we know work and that make sense…because if I can’t understand what the question is asking in a 7th-grade curriculum, there’s a problem.

Weird things I do for science teaching. We need two buckets for next week. I have two, but they’re stickered. I did pull off the mostly inappropriate Jane’s Addiction sticker. Part of Greenpeace is still on there.

I figure they can survive Greenpeace. They’ve probably never even heard of it. Does Greenpeace show up on Fortnight? Because that’s the only way they’d know.

My two pieces have been hung in the That’s What She Said show that will open October 4th in Liberty Station (the one on the left)…

And the one on the back wall…

Interesting trio. This is the Martha Pace Swift Gallery in Liberty Station, just behind Solare (a restaurant). The openings will be from 5-8 PM every First Friday through January. So that’s 4 possible openings to come to. One of the things on my to-do list is to make the 4 Facebook events for those. It won’t take long…I just need to do it.

I really want to spend some time drawing this weekend. I’m hoping that happens. But first, off to school (no meetings today!). I think today involves 90 ice cubes and Dixie cups. Don’t even ask. It could be ugly. Or it could be interesting. Hoping for the latter. Really, it’s just water. It can’t be that bad. (Laughs hysterically because has been teaching middle school for 17 years and knows exactly how bad it might get.) I actually think the kids are starting to realize that their teachers aren’t kidding. I see improvement. I may feel differently tonight, but lately, it seems like they’re getting it. We’ll see (knock on wood).

*Patrick Sweany, Them Shoes

From Where, I Do Not Know…

Another long day. I’m hoping for a normal-shaped day today with a trip to the gym at the end of it. Luckily, I have nothing to grade yet…that’ll be this weekend. A bunch of videos to watch…that’s about it. School. It’s always a struggle in September. I’m really feeling overwhelmed. It’ll get better. It always does. But not today. Not right now anyway. I was so prepared when I left school yesterday, until I realized I’d left behind the two things I needed for the meeting I was going to next. Ah well. So be it. It’s fine. It’ll get done.

Deep breaths. Maybe a run around the block.

I got home late. Another 2-hour meeting. I was tired. I laid down. I stared at things. Someone fed me (best part of the day, maybe).

I revived. It happens. I stitched after dinner…I’m not sure why I keep stitching on this. I’m still not sure I like it. It may not matter.

I did email them yesterday and haven’t heard back. We’ll see. I’m not totally invested in this venture. This one is less cluttered.

I have one other I haven’t stitched on. Then maybe I’ll do something else after dinner. Something I actually want to work on. Sigh.

Oh yeah, so school. I can’t get anything done. I drew the cover page like two weeks ago…

No time to color it. Usually I can sit down with the kids in each class, moving around the room, and get it done. Not so in these classes. So it’s not done. At all. Sigh. I should do that. I should mail it to my daughter and have HER do it. Or my niece. Could happen.

Anyway. I started tracing early last night. I managed to find energy to stand, from where, I do not know.

I traced for about 2 1/2 hours or so. I’m a little over 5 hours in with about a 1/3 traced. So I guess I have 10 more hours to go. That’s gonna take a little longer than I thought. The plus is that I lost one event on Saturday, so I can trace for a while…maybe even while listening to the videos I have to grade? Maybe? But gym tonight and plans tomorrow night…so maybe I won’t be done until Monday. Yikes. Time is always tight. I work best with a hellacious deadline apparently.