I Like to Color…

Another early morning. The parent didn’t show yesterday. I got an angry parent email this morning. Yesterday I called a parent and now I will be meeting with them after school with their kid so I can explain all the stuff that’s in the email we send out and that she gets, but she needs to see it (I’m actually totally OK with that one…it’s just the timing that’s rough). The meeting today is with the principal, so as long as he shows up mostly on time (he’s got littles), I’m good. At some point, we need to finalize the field trip stuff today…yesterday at 9:00 PM or so the texts started, trying to get groups fixed and wondering how we aren’t gonna end up burning the whole zoo down and letting all the animals go. I think I know which chaperoned group will do that too. They’ll have my phone number. Minor issue. I can almost guarantee one of the teachers will be making their group race across the zoo to grab that one kid who can’t deal. It’s possible all of us will.

But it’s the zoo! And outside. And not in school. So tomorrow should be cool. Once the buses leave school, a sense of relief hits and you know you can get through the rest.

Until then, things are tense. I have a good team. They help. I need another brain, but that’s not a team thing.

Here’s the current unit cover page in process…

I need to color it today. Plus the other thing we did yesterday. Lots of coloring at the moment. I like to color.

Yesterday after school, I went to a neighborhood gathering…the house above me finally sold (again). They’re retiring to Mexico and a young family with a baby is moving in. So we’re surrounded by screaming. The boychild and I will respond with music and whatever else keeps us sane. We’ve said all along that house is not kid friendly…and I wonder how a young family affords it, but I guess I was a young family here 21 years ago when we moved in. That makes three families with kids…as they get older, maybe they’ll be able to dog-sit. You never know. My neighbors call me an enigma because they never see me. I imagine they are all talking amongst themselves at tea parties and cocktail parties while I work into the late hours. Plus I don’t garden much.

Anyway, it’s change. No more cigars! I hope. That smell. Ugh.

OK, so after all that, I graded the rest of an assignment (grades are due again in less than two weeks) and then cut out the last of this…

FINALLY. I’m so frustrated with the lack of progress on this. But it’s OK. It’ll be fine. It probably won’t be done until Christmas. It’s not the end of the world. It took almost 12 hours to cut out all the pieces. I started on November 26 and finished last night. I really wanted to be done the week of Thanksgiving, plus have the whole thing ironed together that week. HA! Oh so funny. I will sort pieces tonight and hopefully start ironing it together. Friday night is questionable for that…got an artist talk plus it’s our anniversary of meeting each other, me and the man, so we’re going to celebrate that. Then his holiday work party is Saturday. I’m hoping to get some ironing in on Saturday anyway, but there is still a major assignment looming over me. Sunday has us moving a tree (don’t ask). Next weekend, we’re in Portland. Strange timing…but it’ll be fine.

There was lots of kitten activity last night…Nova is totally about to attack Luna’s tail…

They play really well together…

And then we had Luna sleeping on Simba…lots of belly rubs for Simba so he didn’t freak out.

We had a cat, Midnight, who he just loved, so we’re hoping he can love these cats too.

Calli is bigger and clumsier…but she also sleeps a lot, so she’s been walked on a bit…and sniffed.

She’s still pretty scary though…which is funny, because she doesn’t really care about cats. She is a little bit frightened of their sharp bits, I think.

You have to watch where you sit, walk, stand, step, and lie down right now. There are kittens everywhere.

Anyway. They’re nice. Although we all have stab wounds at the moment, mostly from Luna. Kitten still hasn’t really warmed up to them…although they mostly stay in one half of the house and she mostly stays in the other half.

OK. Meeting. Need to make lunch. Need to figure out all the pieces for tomorrow. I know I’ve forgotten something. Need to take deep breaths. Need to make art at the end of it.

Wet Morning…

The rain is back. It woke me up at 3:42 AM. I don’t do noise well. Eventually I incorporated it into my dreams, though, and I slept again. I’m up early for a totally pointless meeting. Ah, the frustration. I did draw a bunch yesterday. Do I have any of it here to show you? Um. No. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll post it. It’s all school-related anyway. You can kind of track my moods based on the Unit drawings I do. Simple? Complicated? The latter is when I need the brain dump. I was explaining it to one class as Brain Vomit, and there’s this one girl in the back, nodding her head vehemently in the back, OH YEAH MS NIDA. TOTALLY. Those are my people.

My school is doing this Elf on a Shelf contest. I am not really a holiday festivities person. I wanted to set fire to him, but my co-teacher stopped me.

We had chemicals on fire next to him. OK, she couldn’t really stop my setting him on fire. I just had had enough of the toxic chemical smell by then. That face. Sigh. Seriously though…please don’t make me sit through another holiday ‘party’ where I’m assigned a group. Sigh.

More things dropped on my plate last night. It’s that time of year…last-minute emails about this event, last-minute texts about can you stop by? You offer to bring food because it’s the right thing to do, and then you’re going into a store 10 minutes before it closes and trying to find something that fits what they asked for (dude, don’t volunteer.). Sigh. There’s a lot of sighing going on right now.

After I finished drawing the worksheet for tomorrow (yes, there is seriously something wrong with me…), I cut some more stuff out. I am so close to done, but I knew I had an early meeting today and it was almost midnight…

It was after midnight once I found the second kitten to put them to bed. They are excited about the tree coming inside…

This is my live tree. It graduated to the hearth from living on the desk for the month of December…two years on the desk and it was too tall. Next year, it’ll have to be on the floor…then the entryway? Maybe? Higher ceiling. Then we’ll plant it. Then start over.

My Kitten also likes the tree, although she’s not sure about its vicinity to small kittens. Luna viciously attacked this Kleenex (and everybody’s hands). You can see Nova in the background…

She’s not quite as attacky.

Finish cutting out tonight. Sort. Start ironing? Maybe Thursday. We’ll see. It’s a busy weekend too. Maybe I won’t get two done by the end of January. Hmmm.

Oh yeah, I got into the Southern California Contemporary Quilts exhibit that will be at the Oceanside Museum of Art, opening May 9…

This is So Cal Mama. She’ll be there through the summer.

OK, off to school in the rain. To the pointless meeting. Then to make children think about what the Earth is made of. All good. More drawing.

Nida As Is…Plus Kittens!

Today is a crazy day. But once it’s done, I think things will just slide into a week off (a week off that includes lots of driving and grading and all that stuff, but still a week off, dammit).

My classroom will be full of people today…I had to pick kids to teach during my prep, just to show politicians what science looks like these days. I love that two of the science classes they’ll be going to are focusing on environmental science…because that’s a thing. I’m hoping it goes well…I’m just going to teach like I always do. They keep saying dog-and-pony show, but I don’t dog OR pony well, so they’ll just get Nida as is, maybe minus my commentary on “It sucks to be you.” Or not. I did cherry-pick my class…so it’s way smaller than any real class I have and no one is an asshole. It’ll be interesting. I’m not a fan of this crap, but these are the people trying to figure out how ESSA and NCLB will work, and they need to see real kids in action. So maybe I should have cherry-picked some of the more challenging kids, true, but…my sanity is part of this picture.

Meanwhile, back home, we are fostering two kittens with the plan of adopting them…

They are dilute calicos, which means they have more recessive genes than they know what to do with…both girls, sisters in fact. For now, they are residing in this kitty condo so we don’t lose their tiny bodies in this house, plus dogs and other cat have a chance to get acquainted.

One tiny kitten already voiced her objection to Simba, thus crushing his dreams of being their bestie. That might change.

Kitten has visited them multiple times without incident…

She was the real worry…we want her to have good years as the oldest cat in the house, but we also hope she will love them and play with them. She used to play with our oldest cat back in the day…so we know she has it in her. And with Satchemo dying, she’s been out and roaming the house and playing and running around, and we want that to continue…that’s kinda why we picked kittens, plus we want them to have someone to play with no matter what, so sisters is also good.

They have lame names. We haven’t figured that out yet. This is Diva…

She’s more shy and retiring and cautious.

This is her more aggressive sis, Sue-Bob. No really.

She’s into the love. Likes pets and playing like a maniac, plus pushing her sister out of the way. So I guess there will be a lot more kitten pictures. We haven’t let them out into the house yet. These are the man’s cats really, so he is taking the day off work to bond. Really just to play with kittens.

I did grade last night…just one more night of the big project is left, and then I have about 9 hours of reading CER essays (claim, evidence, reasoning). Then I ironed for an hour. An hour a night is better than nothing, and this was an easy hour…continuing around the background, I did the hills and the mountains.

The hardest part was finding all the pieces, because they were in three different boxes.

Next I start with the first female figure…each one will be a different flesh run, so that’s complicated. But not yet. I think I have to do the clouds and sun first. Can’t remember.

Anyway. Gotta go to work. Yesterday, I got to school and as part of the prep for these important folks coming to our school, they “cleaned” our rooms over the weekend without telling us. All the tables, chairs, technology, anything that was on my teacher desk, and all the lab materials we’d left out on Friday were all shoved in random places. It took me 40 minutes to put everything back. My co-teacher had a morning meeting, so she didn’t have that time. Let’s just say things got managed, but it was a clusterfuck. I didn’t get the stuff done in the morning that I needed to get done, unfortunately, so I’m still behind and I have field trip stuff that has to happen today. And I don’t have a prep today. It’ll be fine, but it’ll be better when the day is done. After tutoring. Plus I have an evening meeting. So a little nutso today.

Ironing tonight though…I hope.

Four more days.

Tired Is a Thing

Another foggy morning. I like fog, especially when hiking. I like the house encased in fog. It’s somehow quieter and more peaceful (except for the fridge, which is humming away like a happy…machine). I can see the tree branches moving slightly. I can hear the tiny dog barking like a maniac. Hmm. That wasn’t part of my peaceful foggy morning.

I’ve been going to bed earlier, a little bit, most nights, but it’s not really helping. Tired is a thing. It’s possible I am just always tired. It’s hard to get enough good sleep these days. There’s noise from people and cars and dogs and my brain. That last one is all on me. I listen to my brain. Yesterday I talked to my students about listening skills. About job skills. About how when your boss talks, you have to actually remember what they said. In one ear, out the other? Possibly. And the host of emails I got last night…”I don’t get it.” Um. What don’t you get? What are you asking me? It took me until this morning to realize the girl who said she’d “written the climate but didn’t know how to do the rest,” and I’m like, “climate?”, WTF, we barely talk about climate in here at all, and we haven’t yet, WTF is she asking me, and then my brain this morning said “claim. She means claim.” Head on desk. FUUUCCKK. OK. Claim. You wrote a claim. Still. WTF are you supposed to do next? I gave you a paragraph with all the sentence starters. Write the next sentence starter and fill in the blanks. Listening skills. This is the 3rd time we’ve done this. This is the first time she’s tried? The first time she’s listened? Maybe.

One more painful thing for me to grade. If they would read my comments, it would help. Them and me.

OK, well. It is what it is. The kids who have been trying are improving. We move on. Last night, I photographed what I think is a student forgery of a parent signature, and I emailed it to the parent. Waiting on that one. I wish I cared less, but we just met with that parent about this kid. Another meeting this morning, different kid. Should be interesting.

Speaking of interesting kids, I should hire this one to do doodle notes for us…

So school goes on. I try to balance. Same as always. I was at a meeting until 5:30 last night. I started at 8 AM yesterday. Today I’m going in a little early. Today is the last easy day on this assignment…then we go into labs and it’s work. We were smart and broke it up over the weekend (it was a coincidence…it just happened that way). I don’t have any long meetings after school today; that’s nice. I have pilates. That’s also nice. And art is happening in little bits and pieces.

So I got home late last night and did more work…I sent the union email I send every month, and then I tried to start putting groups together for tomorrow’s labs. Kids who won’t pick a group. Kids who pick groups who don’t want them. Kids who pick groups that won’t work. Kids who pick groups with too many people in them. Three is the max. It includes you. There will be no groups of 8 kids y’all. This afternoon, I will finish all the group picking. I’m sensitive to the loners and lonelies. I will do my best to place them in a safe group. Sometimes we give them choices; sometimes we don’t. They need practice with both.

After dinner and all that work stuff, I finally did art stuff. That pile of pieces in the box doesn’t look very big.

Every animal stopped by for a bit…

Simba doesn’t like the big pieces of Wonder Under. The sound makes him nervous. He eventually left. I did finish cutting everything out though. In 5 1/2 hours. I could have sorted them last night…it would have taken another hour. I’m glad I didn’t though. When I’m tired, I don’t deal with kids as well as when I have more sleep in me. So I’ll sort tonight.

And then come in here and clean up, so I can start ironing to fabric tomorrow. I should pick a background fabric too. That sounds nice. Don’t think about the pile of assignments that needs grading. They will be there no matter what. You can bring some home. Maybe finish a chunk today and tomorrow. I got some done yesterday. It was kind of magical. Today I could get more done. Knock on wood.

I make plans every day. That’s how the art gets made. It’s good.

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