The Room Was Humming Harder*

February 3, 2018

How not to start your Saturday morning, the first day of the weekend: interacting with the DMV website. Just don’t do it. Don’t try to be efficient and get the new ID now, because you know your driver’s license is up for renewal and that way you won’t have to do it again before 2020. Because you’ll have to take a day off work to do it, if you’re a teacher. So renew online now (after fighting their stupid registration system) and then renew again in the summer! Because that’s not a waste of time and plastic and aargh resources. I hate this shit.

But the girlchild is messaging me from Madagascar, so that’s cool. And I’m going to the zoo today, so that’s nice. And I will have to work today and tomorrow, BUT! I finished tracing Wonder Under last night on the new quilt, so that’s awesome. Actually, tracing is pretty calming and meditative, so I only really mind it if my feet are tired.

I came home yesterday and walked the little dog. I think we both needed it. He was so excited. It’s been a while. School is just not conducive to stuff afterwards sometimes. I did stay a little late at school, because Monday is Day 2 of labs, and after having to deal with lame lab results all day, we tested our calcium chloride and realized the old unsealed stuff really wasn’t working. So I cleaned mine all out and then set up for Monday, so I wouldn’t have to stress as much…also because I have morning and afternoon duty every day starting Monday (oh what fun). All I have to do is pour out the new CaCl and everything will be ready. All good.

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I am no longer anywhere near caught up with grading. I think we thought we’d get some time this last week to grade while kids did stuff, but after the first day of interest in the topic, those who are lazy as fuck and would really rather pick their noses than complete things were behavior issues and I spent a lot of time managing them. On these larger projects, even though we break them up into really user-friendly to-do lists and rubrics, there’s very little understanding of “I didn’t finish that yesterday, so I have to finish it today.”

It can be very frustrating. But more labs Monday. Hopefully reading instructions will go better as well. Also a difficult thing.

So I really needed this walk. I needed a longer one, but puppy isn’t good at those without Calli (who was at her dad’s house)…plus it was close to sunset. I’m still wary of the coyotes…as well I should be…they’re everywhere.

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So I was in this exhibit for Martha Sielman’s art quilt book series, in the People and Portraits book, and the exhibit started at IQF in Houston back in 2013 and then traveled all over the place, but when it got to Grand Rapids, Michigan, all hell broke loose, some woman imagined a penis in my quilt (there wasn’t one), and both quilts got pulled from the rest of the exhibit run. As part of the exhibit, they asked us to make a small sample quilt (I think this is like 11″ square) for a book where people could touch the pieces and see construction. I made this uterus in the hand (of course) and it then disappeared…I wondered about it briefly and then wasn’t sure who to ask about it, until I got an email earlier this week asking if I wanted to pay to ship it back to me, or (what they really wanted us to do) if I could donate it to the Texas Quilt Museum. Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure the TQM wants nothing to do with my uterus quilt, so I offered to pay to ship it back, but Martha is awesome and has been very supportive during this invisible penis crap, so she shipped it back to me. (The show and this little uterus were actually at the TQM in early 2014.)

I was expecting it to be dirty and maybe even looking a bit ragged after 4 years of travel and touching, but either people are scared to touch uteri (a possibility), or it travels well. It’s in great shape. I’m going to take the interfacing sleeve off that they used to put it in the book and pop it on Etsy, I think…just to see if someone wants it. It’s got a little fetus in there as well…gotta take a better-lit picture of it first.

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It’s nice to see my stuff wears well. I don’t make a lot of little pieces any more. I made some for a while, birds and cats, and sold a bunch to people I know, but the market was saturated. I like the speed at which I can make smaller pieces, but I also like the immersion of a big piece. It’s like reading a long book…I love being hooked for days on the story and the characters, completely sunk in the experience.

After dinner and some space-out time with a puppy in the crook of my knee (he was very happy there)…

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I went back to this and traced the last 100 pieces. It’s just short of 5 yards of Wonder Under there…

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It was close to midnight by then, so I didn’t start cutting yet. Maybe tonight. It was just over 9 hours of tracing…I suspect it’ll be about 5 hours of cutting, so that means I should be ironing to fabric hopefully sometime this week. It also means I have to clean up the studio and put away all the old fabrics from the last quilt…maybe I should do that today just to get a head start. I know this week coming up has way too much going on…meetings and gaming and tutoring and 2-hour staff meetings…fun stuff. The fabric part is fun though…

Meanwhile I’m waiting on a connection for this show where we pair up with a male artist to see what we have in common artistically, as part of opening a conversation about women in art. Some part of me gets irritated that we still have to do that, but then I think back to my professors at UCI…all the art professors but two were male. I got along with one of the females, but the other was either completely absent from our class and let the TA handle it (male TA) or she was a dismissive wench. I purposely did this painting of a giant penis to try and get her to respond (I’ve always had authority issues, what can I say?).

Art classes in college…I look back at those that were the most helpful…the professors who forced us to be creative even when we didn’t feel that way, who made us talk about our work, who talked about their own work in a real way, like how do I go home and do this every day, how do I find the space and time and balance? There wasn’t a lot of that. I remember getting into an argument with one professor who wanted me to show up during the day, but I was a double major, so I had overlapping classes across campus. I had picked Independent Study for that reason. She didn’t know I was showing up every night at 10 PM and staying until 2 AM, until she realized all the work I had sitting on the racks drying (ceramics class). She wanted me to interact with the other students though, so I had to try to do that. But I was very much in my own head even then. That’s been a useful skill, because honestly, I don’t have a lot of interaction with other artists living out here in East County and working in fabric. I get more of that interaction online. Like minds populating the world, but not my neighborhood.

And I’m OK with that. But I have a troubled response to the male/female artist inequality. I guess that makes this show useful. We’ll see. One on one, the relationship of a male and female artist, our art speaking to each other…that’s pretty easy. I don’t know if it solves the larger problem, though, because I don’t know that it’s the artists who are willing to show with us who are the issue…or society in general, the larger structure of the art world, the male artists who think we’re better at babymaking? Anyway. Something to think about…to ponder.

But for now, I’m going to ponder breakfast…a shower…and zoo animals.

*Annie Lennox, A Whiter Shade of Pale


Banging On the Off Beat*

February 2, 2018

When I write these, it helps me (a) keep on task every night, because I know I’ll have to admit my lame-i-tude the next morning, and (b) it’s a brain dump in the morning that lets me get on with my day. Unfortunately this morning, I’m so tired that I can’t even find the right door in my head to let the brain vomit out. Ahh…sleep…as the week goes on, I need more and more of you. But I also notice that certain art-quilt-making tasks seem to engage readers more, probably because they have color and look like stuff, so people are like OOOHH and AAAAHH instead of staring at yet another picture of Wonder Under that looks remarkably like the other 17 pictures of Wonder Under, to the point where you might wonder (under…ha!) why the hell I keep taking pictures of it, because I could just reuse them and only two of you would notice.

And yet I do this.

I really wanted to be done tracing last night. Unfortunately, after going to the chiropractor and being gently adjusted (the new guy is very subtle and sorta New Age-y, not sure how I feel about that, but my neck is much better this morning), then redoing all my seating charts for today’s labs (interesting which kids abdicated that decision to me rather than try to pick friends with which to work), then going to the gym (where I ran into one of my students…wth…I go there specifically NOT to run into them)…well, then I ate dinner and it was like 10:30 PM all of a sudden and I had done very little of note. Except for all the things I just noted. Most people would just give up and go to bed. Not me! OK, maybe I should have…I honestly only traced for 30 minutes…so I still have another 100 pieces to go. But that’s how I get done…at least 30 minutes a night.

I think it’s one hand, one head, and the sun…and then I’m done. That’s totally tonight…and then I can sit on the couch and watch bad television while cutting them out.

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A quick look at my phone, which keeps track of my entire life, shows I have 53 more days to finish. I’m fine. No issues. All Good. Of course, I came up with a totally arbitrary length of time based on previous quilts. But I’m 8 hours in…as always, tracing takes about an hour per 100 pieces, rounding up, usually with an extra hour or so in there, depending on size, complexity, and general something or other. How many times I have to take the dog out to pee…pretty much.

I think I’m at 5 yards, but the last one is mostly blank. That’s a plus…

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It means the cutting-out part will take less time.

This weekend looks like tracing and cutting and grading and cleaning floors and bathrooms and watering this strange furry plant…

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Bizarre cat. And the aforementioned sleep. Always looking forward to some of that. And maybe sitting on the deck in the sun and drawing! I always say that and it never happens. Hours just fritter away on useless stuff like paying bills and grocery shopping. I should be more mindful of that. Of course, having more daylight helps with some of those things.

OK, it’s a lab day, I’m tired, and we’ve been dealing with full-moon behaviors…plus some of my really barely motivated students are gonna realize today that I paired them with similarly motivated students just to see what would happen…so someone is gonna have to read the instructions and do the work, or they’ll just be sitting there picking their noses all period. Which I’m sure they’re capable of doing.

*The Fratellis, Henrietta

And We’ll All Float on OK*

February 1, 2018

Yesterday was long. It began with a parent meeting and a breakfast of a handful of peanuts (not the best choice) and the teaching part went all day, like it does, into a meeting about who teaches what and why and how and when and maybe which…who knows. At some point, I got a second wind and started doing art things, quite a few of them. I didn’t do school things because I did lots of them at school and I should be allowed to stop at some point. Really. Today I have to remember to go to the chiropractor after school too. Somewhat hard to remember that shit.

So that was January, a whirlwind of not being able to do art for some reason. Seriously, I looked back, and most weeks I manage 13-20 hours of art…on top of a 60+-hour week of school (ugh). But until this week, I was doing about 4-5 hours a week. Maybe not helping with the feelings of stress. But I’m back on track! Woo hoo!

Seriously, it feels better.

Left for work yesterday morning with two furry beasts staring out the dirty window. It’s on a 2nd floor…hard to clean it, really. Need to replace it with something easier to clean. Normally the puppy is not out, but my housemate was running slow, so Simba got a few more moments of house freedom.

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After dinner, I put the bindings on the quilt I’ve been working on for months. That’s a fun binding…

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Usually my bindings are more mellow.

Wait. Well there’s this one…I finished the handstitching last night on this binding, but I purposely picked something crazy. Now I need to do the embroidery on it…that will take a while.

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I had wanted a January finish, so I should have done the handstitching on the other small quilt first and finished IT yesterday, but no…I did not think that far in advance. I liked last year when I was finishing one thing each month. Well. Until the summer, when all that fell to shit…so why am I worried? It’s OK…I didn’t have a finish last January either…I think I was a day or so off.

Dumped this on the couch so I could pin the binding back…

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So fast! So easy! This one will actually be done when the binding is done. I’m only doing bindings in that little bit after I’ve eaten my dinner until the show we’re watching stops. So if they’re 50-minute shows (figuring for commercials), that’s not a lot of time. It’s OK. They’ll get done.

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No rush.

My couch partner. He was quite happy when I sat still.

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Unfortunately for him, I suck at that. I eventually made it up off the couch again, after 10 PM, and started tracing freakishly small pieces of spine and ribcage and metal structure.

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I’m about 7 1/2 hours in and honestly? Almost done with the tracing. I think I have about 100 pieces left…or 120. That’s an hour or two. The little ones go faster. So hopefully I’ll finish tracing tonight and start cutting pieces out.

Meanwhile, from Tuesday’s drawing, there’s this little rodenty thing. I didn’t draw him with a purpose…was thinking mole and then he got a tail, so maybe mouse, or I don’t know what. Little mammal thing in a hole.

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Julie didn’t like that he didn’t have ears, apparently, or that he wasn’t biologically valid, which is amusing, because absolutely none NONE of my birds are real. Seriously, I just make that shit up. It must be obvious. But now I have this…

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because she sent it to me for future reference. I’m amused because this is a drawing about us getting nuked to oblivion due to our idiot president’s penis size (sigh), and she’s worried about that thing having no ears. I researched nuclear bombs and umbrellas and the rest was just random drawing. Filling space. And I’m months away from being able to make this quilt.

It’s fine. I’m amused. Now you know how much I research…sometimes a LOT, sometimes nothing at all.

Girlchild has finally found the wifi and time to post on her blog…check it out. And now I’m off to another parent meeting and day of teaching, luckily without the meeting at the end. And then art…really, after the gym and reading my book, but art.

*Modest Mouse, Float On

You Show the Lights That Stop Me Turn to Stone*

January 31, 2018

Somehow I came home last night after a long day at work, and instead of pulling out the last pages of the assignment I’ve been grading at school on and off for the last couple of days and finishing it, I sat down with a cup of tea and my sketchbook and vomited out one thing that’s been in my head for weeks.

I had two or three false starts, where the body or the head weren’t quite right…and this guy trying to get on my lap didn’t help…

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Maybe he was just after my color pens. They are pretty awesome.

So yeah, nuclear bombs much? This totally reminds me of getting under my useless school desk in middle school…those Cold War bomb drills they did with us. Even then we were smart and savvy enough to know we would totally die if the Russian nukes hit our school while we cowered under those tiny little desks.

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I think if this becomes an actual quilt, I will make it bigger to the sides, maybe change the figures under the umbrella, add more earth. Or not. Who knows…

Then I started tracing Wonder Under. I’m sure I ate dinner in there somewhere and sewed some more binding bits on, but I’m not sure when that was. Post drawing? Probably.

I took a break from tracing at one point and had both dogs back there…

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Then back to the tracing. I have about 6 hours in and I think I’m just under the halfway mark…somewhere in the mid-300s.

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It went slowly last night, because it was mostly the big sky pieces, and they take longer to trace. I think I have two completed yards traced, and another two in process…filling up all the little spaces…with fingernails and finger creases. I have the whole background traced and I started on the first of the two figures.

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Next up is that back with all the tiny pieces…needs to be earlier in the evening to do that. So tonight…should be good. Hopefully I’ll get that assignment graded at school, so I won’t even need to worry about grading.

I’m hearing just a little from girlchild at the moment. I know she hasn’t figured out how to get the blog to post yet (wifi is the issue)…but here is her program center, where all her classes are.

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Hopefully she’ll get the blog sorted soon…that and learning French. Meanwhile, I’m going to go to school and try to persuade kids to do some work. They like doing labs, but writing stuff down is apparently some high level of torture. Fun stuff.

*Ellie Goulding, Lights

Wonder Under Meditation

January 30, 2018

It’s pretty boring watching me trace stuff. But for me? The tracer? Oh my, it’s meditative. Pure brain alpha wave stress-releasing joy. Weird, really. I’m just sitting there drawing around lines I’ve already drawn. Except they’re upside down and I have to read the numbers backwards and I have to figure out where everything overlaps. But my brain is just so much happier doing it. It’s a repetitive task. It’s not even a particularly skilled repetitive task. I guess the overlapping part is, kind of…but probably you could teach a 10-year-old to do what I’m doing. If the pieces were bigger, probably a 5-year-old could.

After teaching all day (I basically demonstrated chemical reactions all day), I graded one assignment, cooked dinner, got about 3/4 of the way around one small quilt, handsewing the binding down…and then I traced for 2 hours.

I took a short break for the animals…and some ice cream.

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Then back to tracing all the pieces…I hate wasting space on this, but at some point, it’s harder to fit the pieces in than it’s worth it to save Wonder Under. So I go to a new sheet.

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I made the executive decision to make those eyeballs into French knots. They’re way too small for fabric.

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I’m somewhere in the 200s…around 262 I think. Much more productive than the night before. I have one full sheet, one almost full sheet, and one barely started…all about a yard long. So maybe I’m a third of the way through.

There were 9 missing pieces at one point…I misnumbered, I think.

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And so far, only one piece that wasn’t numbered. Not bad. I’ve made some pretty massive numbering mistakes in the past…100 pieces double numbered (2 of everything! What a mess…). That was the worst. I missed the entire uterus section on one quilt, so it got numbered from the end. That was annoying when I was ironing…to skip from the 700s to the 1300s and then back. Doable though.

Don’t number your quilts when you’re tired. Or drunk. I’m rarely the latter, so it was probably the former.

Hoping to continue the roll tonight…although at some point, I need to go to the gym. Probably not after tutoring…but maybe? Which reminds me…I have a parent meeting this morning. Ugh. OK…need to get going then. But meditation will happen tonight…Wonder Under meditation…best kind.

Sun’s Going Down Like a Big Bald Head*

January 29, 2018

The work week starts. I did not finish anything. Some things I didn’t even start. Some days, that’s the way it goes. I did drop off a quilt that will be in a show in LA opening February 25 (I should be at the opening) and then traveling to Sweden. I think I did most of the stuff I said I would. I believe I have one more awkward email to write, requesting something from someone who doesn’t even know me. It’s good. The worst that happens is that they ignore my email.

I didn’t handsew any bindings. I did cut out the bindings and sleeves for the newest quilt…but then dad was messing with my electricity and then I had to leave, so they’re not sewn on. I can easily do that sometime in the next few days.

I did start tracing Wonder Under for what we’re gonna call the scoliosis quilt for now. I’m sure it will have a better name in the future. The commission is on! So now I need to stay on task, which should be easy, because I like the process. I like having a goal.

So now that I have the final drawing and it’s numbered, I put it on my gigantic light table, inherited from a stained-glass person who was downsizing, and turn it upside down, and start tracing all the pieces. I trace with overlaps, so I have to decide as I’m drawing what is on top and what goes underneath. I don’t always do it right, but it usually works out.

Last night, I got a good chunk of the Earth that’s the base of this done. Not a huge chunk. Just a good one.

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With only 740 or so pieces, I should have all the Wonder Under traced by the weekend…hopefully. That’s my goal anyway.

I also have grading goals, one thing a day/night. I did grade at my meeting yesterday…a little crazy, but hey, I got stuff to do. I can’t just sit and listen. I won’t get anything done in class today, because I’m demonstrating chemistry all day. But there should be time later this week, as the kids start to get into their projects. I hope. I say that and management of behaviors is often what happens instead. Project time seems to wanna be goof-off time. Annoying, but true. Some classes can handle being independent and some need constant reminders. So I try to balance that. There’s something to be said for letting them figure out that doing no independent work leads to an F, but some of these kids aren’t mature enough to see the connection.

Anyway…I’m hoping for some grading time in class; otherwise, I’ll come home every night and do some.

But mostly, I’m thinking, I’ll be doing art stuff. Girlchild is still trying to post her blog from the land of no consistent internet. I hear from her briefly, which is good…makes me feel better about her being so far away. I do wanna see what she’s seeing though. So hopefully she’ll figure that out…along with figuring out French. Not sure which is the harder task.

*Laurie Anderson, Sharkey’s Night

Happiness Hit Her Like a Bullet in Her Back*

November 11, 2017

I never get as much done on a day off as I think I can. Somewhere in there I lose about 4 hours and then it’s dark and dinner time. I can’t really explain it. Time travel or something.

Anyway, most importantly, I walked the dogs yesterday. It had been a while, just because of the weather and the time change and life in general, so I tried to walk them into the ground.

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The puppy was tired about halfway in, but he always gets a second wind when we start back.

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It was a nice cool day with pretty clouds interspersed with sun…

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And very few people on the trail…

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Mostly they were all at the beginning of the trail having their holiday card photos taken. Apparently a popular spot.

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I wanted to tell the one girl she was probably standing in poison oak, but whatever.

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Certainly if she stood on one of those gourd things with her spiked heels, she would never get the smell out.

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I have no idea why these are flagged…

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Maybe there’s seeds in there? I just don’t know…

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Anyway, the dogs were tired out for a bit. They were very excited to be walking, so that’s a good thing.

I did something on the left. I used to be so good about telling you what stitch and where and what color. Not so much by day 314 apparently.

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Then back to the tracing. This photo is for Sion…because yeah, they are smaller than my fingernail. I could stitch them or paint them or whatever, but I don’t. I cut them out of fabric.

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I am aware of my insanity, yes.

So I finished…8 yards total…here’s 5 of them…

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And the other 3…

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I got one cut out last night, the easiest one, the one with a big empty space on it. Calli was supremely helpful.

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It took 15 1/2 hours to trace everything. Usually it takes less time to cut out the Wonder Under.

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I want it all done and sorted by next Saturday. It seems doable, although I do have a bunch of stuff to deal with this week.

Supposedly I am hiking today as well, but it might mean bouncing someone out of bed. Which seems mean, because I got to sleep in yesterday, but…with the day ending so early, it’s gotta happen sometime.

I’m really excited about this quilt. I think it will be very cool looking. I can’t wait to see it.

*Florence and the Machine, Dog Days Are Over