Working on It…

July 26, 2018

Ah, my head is filled with things. I have to admit to being a hermit when I’m head down, making a piece. I don’t watch the news, I rarely read it, I barely surface for meals, I don’t leave the house if I can help it. Sometimes bits and pieces of it surface when the people around me say something, and then I fall down a Google rabbit hole. I heard about Nia Wilson a few days ago, but didn’t follow up until this morning. Young woman of color, killed randomly (or not? probably not.). Shit. This world sucks for women in general, but add color to the mix and it explodes in their faces. Imagine as a mom…I worry about my kids all the time, but they’re white. It’s a million times safer to send them out into the world than if they were of color. It’s interesting (or telling, maybe) that so many times, we hear that the white murderer has mental issues…does this make it OK? Sure, the US does not manage psych issues well…there are very few ways to get some people help, but still…WHY did he murder a young black girl and try to kill her sister? Sigh. There is so much violence. None of it is OK, but it’s hard to believe racism wasn’t part of this death. If you raise your children to be blind to racism (and perhaps I didn’t do enough there…I constantly check myself in the classroom, with race, culture, religion, and gender…did I do enough?), then you are part of the problem. It isn’t enough to treat all races, cultures, religions, and genders the same (is equality enough? No, equity is the aim…make up for the privilege)…you have to acknowledge that there are stereotypes and incorrect beliefs in play. Constantly. I know this is something I try to do All the Time in my classroom. Do I do it everywhere else? Nope. I’m sure I don’t. Working on it.

So that’s in my head as I’m starting to pick out fabrics for this new quilt, which is hard to explain in terms of theme, but has more distinct human figures in it than any quilt I’ve ever made (they’re all female…which is another issue I keep going over in my head…the thought of gender and how it determines what we are, or not, and how to portray alternate gender issues from my perspective, which seems woefully incomplete). In my last multiple-women quilt, I had a long moment where I was troubled by my own whitewashing of experience. So much of my work is interior, based on my experience, not quite autobiographical, but mostly…yeah…me. So self-centered, white, but we do what we know? I can’t speak for others. But this quilt is about a wider experience of female, about viewpoints and issues and saving the Earth…really, it’s my brain on the news, a small portion of the news. Not all the women in the quilt are meant to be white. More of a universal womanscape…so my brain is percolating over whether it’s even OK for me to talk about immigration when it doesn’t affect me directly, unless you consider my students who are affected by it. But I won’t be deported. I won’t be torn away from my children (this pains me so greatly, those parents who were sent back without their children…WTF are the people in charge thinking, and if you say to me that those parents DESERVE that because they brought their kids up here, I will let loose in a rant about safety and asylum so verbose that the words might bury you). But there is immigration in the quilt. And pollution. And birth. And loss. And abortion. And breastfeeding in public. And the male gaze. Dick pics. Geez. And how to portray women of color in a way that doesn’t perpetuate racism or stereotypes or assumptions. I’m working on it.

It’s not pretty. It probably won’t get into the show for which I’m making it. That’s OK. I think sometimes I have to make these just to get some of this shit out of my head. Although getting this…Nia?…out of my head? Not happening. Love to her family. May she receive justice, although I don’t think that ever makes up for a death. If John Cowell is really mentally ill, maybe he will get the help he needs, but that will never make up for killing an 18-year-old woman.

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We have to speak up. Us white folks, we have to hold the world accountable, best we can. Better than we can.

With all that in my head, here’s a rattlesnake skin picked up on the last hike…

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Yeah, I just left it on the hat rack. Like you do.

I started ironing yesterday with the oil slicks. I got fabric for that.

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Hell, I’ve got fabric for everything. Who am I kidding?

Then all the water…this took a while, both to pick and to iron.

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I took a break. Satchemo enjoying the breeze with the second tower of Wonder Under pieces. Hopefully he won’t knock that over.

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Boychild made dinner. This incorporation of three people into meal choices can be difficult.

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‘Twas tasty.

Then I saw this message in multiple places explaining the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo’s official reason for removing the Threads of Resistance exhibit from their last two shows…

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Um. Yeah. Right. (cough…bullshit). Hey, I don’t have a problem with your pulling it because your sponsors and vendors objected and threatened to pull out…but be honest about it, please? Sure, your vendors and sponsors don’t want to be called out, but hell, this world would be a better place with some sincere honesty. Then I can look at the sponsors and decide if that’s where I need to focus my efforts next (there are three sponsors listed whose products I use all the time…). I find that often the negative comments are so loud that vendors and organizers can’t hear the positive comments. Maybe they need to hear those. Louder. Like, I made my Threads of Resistance quilts USING YOUR PRODUCTS. I have a Viking sewing machine. I use Sulky threads. I use Wonder Under. I buy fabric from just about ALL the companies. My batting is Warm and Natural. There. Those guys. (By the way, none of them have given me anything for free…)

I’m back to this, although having a wool quilt on your lap in summer is still an issue. I haven’t been working on it at all.

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Time to get the balls done. Seriously.

Then back to ironing. I set a goal for yesterday of 6-8 hours of ironing…I made 6. Every time I took a rest (from standing and the heat in here of ironing under bright lights with little air flow), I would let myself sit for a bit and then I would say, I need to go back to ironing. It worked.

Here’s the mermaid earth mother…all in greens and purples.

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I still need to do her internal organs and her hair. I quit just after midnight. I was tired.

So I’m in the 400s, but there are some of the 300s that aren’t ironed yet. The pile of stuff to be cut out and the pile of fabrics used so far.

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Based on yesterday, it’s going to take more than 25 hours, but not much more. Today’s goal? Another 6-8 hours…hopefully on the longer end of it, because I’m starting earlier. Although I might need to leave the house. I can’t handle anything else when I’m in this space, in this head space. Careful introspection of how to depict women of color in this quilt. Sometimes I just want to make them all rainbows, but that’s a cop out too. Working on it.


Something Shimmering and White*

March 23, 2018

Well. 8.5 hours and counting. To Spring Break, in case you’re wondering. I actually am not like jumping up and down, except damn, I need sleep and time to redevelop some patience for sure, although it’s been a reasonably decent week. Only a little drama. I have a lot to do over break for the first week, and then I am really looking forward to wandering out into the wilderness (well, National Park campgrounds anyway) for a week. Oh yeah, and some hot springs and a cave or two and aliens. Lotso aliens.

But first? Field trip to the zoo, one last period 8 experience (oh my), and a school play, followed by an art opening and gaming. If I survive all of that, ’twill be miraculous. Of course I’ll survive it. I survive lots of things. I’d survive some of them better with a glass of wine or a donut, but that’s a mental thing.

So yesterday, I had to wrangle presentations and science units out of all my kids, then drove across town to drop off art, then back through traffic. And then I graded. Because I really really really want some of it out of the way before I go on break. I got one assignment done last night…one more thing I don’t have to worry about over break. I’m down to 6, maybe 7 assignments. Two are large and painful, so I’ll do them first. I might actually get partway through some of it today during the one class I have to keep, but probably not, because I also have to clean my room for the break…they clean our floors, so everything has to be put away and off the floors. It’s actually pretty clean at the moment (I have no idea why), so it shouldn’t take much time.

And then I have 16 days off, oh bless me. I should have a quilt done by the end of next week. And then, honestly, I’m not sure what I’m working on next. There are two or three smaller quilts in the works already, but I also have some deadlines coming up, so I have to start looking at those. Next week I will have free brain time! Isn’t that nice…not having to worry about lesson plans and meetings and kids and all that.

Plus dogs!

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While I was grading…what’s funny is I actually say this in class sometimes to force them to explain stuff without giving them the answer.

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And then I started cutting pieces out…I actually had done some already, but this was the second installment…with furry bits.

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Top left to be cut out. Top right tiny pile of what I did in almost three hours. Seriously. It never looks like much. Bottom pile trash. There’s a woman who wants my trash. I’m going to get this quilt put together and then mail her a bag of the tiny leftovers.

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Wish us all luck. I actually love field trips when I don’t have to plan them…when I just show up and do the things. I have a group of geek boys and awkward sporty types and a few I don’t even know. It’s cool. We’ll go check out baboons and lemurs and who knows what else…grab some food. Freeze to death apparently. Although it’s not raining at the moment. And then take some time off to find my head for the last 48 days of school.

*The Church, Under the Milky Way


It Froze Me Deep Inside*

March 22, 2018

First of all, you need to go read the girlchild’s last post…it’s from a month ago, but she just posted it (data issues)…just to see how they got their truck across the water to the island. Terrifying to see…but after a month of trying to imagine what she was talking about, nope…it’s crazier than I thought.

Me? I just keep sending her dog pictures to guarantee she’ll eventually come back.

Yesterday was this…

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Every two years, like clockwork, I save some rubber dummies. My brain is still functioning OK, apparently, because I still remember how to do it. I spent the whole time, in between sucking face with that guy, checking up on my students with our online system, because hey…guest teachers allow things I tell them not to allow, and students lie about being done. It’s frustrating, but some part of me laughs and says, well, there will be fewer assignments to grade then, eh? If they don’t turn them in, I don’t have to grade them! OK, that’s how you know a teacher really needs vacation. Yup. One more day of teaching, then a day at the zoo with a bunch of kids I don’t know! Why do the kids who don’t know me pick me as a chaperone? That disturbs me.

Today is crazy hair today. I’m debating if I have the patience for it. Plus I have my last meeting for my observations today, so do I want my hair to be nuts for that? I kinda do. Yeah.

Last night, I went to a slide presentation about hiking in Nepal. Which now I want to do. But elevation has always been an issue for me…well. We’ll have to figure that one out.

I finished ironing last night around 11 PM…about 8 hours for this piece…and 82 fabrics.

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It’s not a huge quilt, so not a big dent in the existing fabric stash, but I think that’s always the case. I buy about 5 new fabrics every time I go in for a background or binding, a 1/2 yard of each, so that’s 2 1/2 new yards coming in (although I didn’t buy a new background this time…I had a few stashed away)…on the bigger quilts, I might use 2 1/2 yards worth of fabric per quilt (just the image…obviously the background and backing are more than that). The only way I could figure out if it’s using that up is to lay all of the stuff out that I ironed and then see what that looks like.

Huh. I might do that tonight. Just for kicks. It’s an interesting thought.

Here’s all the pieces ironed down to fabric…

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Does that look like 2 1/2 yards? Hard to say. But I’ll start cutting out tonight…hopefully I’ll be done cutting by Saturday and I can start ironing? Maybe? It’s gonna be tight. I keep saying that. Based on the last quilt, which is about the same size, although more pieces, I probably have another 38 hours to go on this quilt. Now when I say it THAT way, and consider that it should be at the photographer sometime next Thursday, a week from today, well, that actually sounds more doable than just free-thinking about the time and hoping I’ll make it. This is why I keep track of the times! I think. Well. Anyway. Cutting stuff out tonight…then we’ll see where we’re at. We being me, of course. I still have to grade things and weed the front yard. If there were more than one of me, I could do ALL the things.

*The Cure, In Between Days


Jingling a Wish Coin*

March 21, 2018

Today is weird. Today I have CPR training around the corner from my school while my students decide whether or not to work on the assignment that is due today and will largely color their grades for the next month or so, or whether to fuck around all day and drive some poor guest teacher bonkers. I could probably make you a list right now of the outliers on both sides: the hard workers and the totally-off-taskers…I hope the ones in the middle make the right choice, but with only 3 days left until Spring Break, the odds are low.

Whoa. Three days? Really? Wow. I have to say that this break is needed, but it will also be busy. Hopefully there will be some relaxing in the second week, but you never know. I also have a shitload of work to do for school…by Friday, I will have 2 weeks of warmups, 2 homework assignments, 2 online assignments, a slide presentation, and a full unit. I’m trying to get as much of it done before the break starts as I can, but it’s hard when I get home late from work and need to cook dinner AND I want to make art. Right now the art is winning. As well it should some days. Maybe most days.

Anyway, worst-case, some of it won’t get graded until after break, right? It will not be the end of the world. It’s happened before. We have to take time for our brains to get back to where we can teach without being frustrated again.

Yesterday was twin day, so our team all dressed the same. It wasn’t hard. We all have black and denim.

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When I was done with tutoring and setting my classroom up for the guest teacher, I headed over to get Calli…my ex sent me this picture, because he was leaving and she was still there, but she’s staring down the road at my arriving car…

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She seemed fine…

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Puppy too. Sewing more circles on…I’m getting near the end.

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Then 2 1/2 hours of ironing. I finished up all the little bits of the larger figure: her innards. Then I picked a different run of flesh tones for the two front figures. This was the majority of the rest of the pieces that needed ironing…

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That’s all that’s left to iron…well, and a few bits on the other figure…like her eyeballs. So that’s tonight’s task. I’ve got about 6 1/2 hours in and I’m close to done. I’m expecting to be cutting stuff out starting Thursday night…

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Some of the pieces are pretty small.

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Here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…still reaching into the back reaches of the bins to find stuff that has never been cut into…

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That part is actually fun. There’s a lot of red in here.

Here’s the pile to be cut out. This is not a huge quilt, but there’s still plenty of pieces.

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Balance! Balance the grading, the have-tos of fixing car things and yard stuff like weeding and taking an actual travel vacation with the artmaking…which needs to be done a week from tomorrow. Yeah. That’s a little nuts.

*Beck, Go It Alone


Like a Nervous Magician Waiting in the Wings*

March 20, 2018

That did not feel like sleep. I want a do-over. I’m not even really sure what’s up with that…stress about school? Maybe. I have a lot going on with art shows too…which is not a bad problem to have, in that I’m in a lot of shows right now, but there’s some juggling trying to keep track of what needs to go where and when. Especially if I’m going to be gone for a week.

Four years ago this week, girlchild was having back surgery. Today? I wake up to a message that she’s really sick (11,000 miles away), but it’s not malaria, so don’t worry. Oh. OK. Because there aren’t a million other heinous diseases where you are? Sigh. And then she doesn’t answer. Oh well. The program she’s with does keep on top of this stuff…it’s in their best interest to keep the kids healthy.

Yesterday morning’s sunrise. I’m really OK with not seeing sunrises. I’m looking forward to not seeing any next week. And to peeing whenever I need to pee. And??? Making art for hours. Maybe I will just ignore grading. Catch up after break. I might.

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I still hate that they cut down the other tree on the right that made it look an aardvark.

I walked the dogs yesterday. I’m increasingly paranoid about coyotes, even in daylight, so I walked the road to the local park…where I haven’t seen them yet (just heard them). Oh, that’s a lie. I saw one once in broad daylight bound across the trail, looking somewhat surprised that I was there.

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I was testing out this new trail I saw in the middle of the park. The max dog walk is about 3 miles (according to the dogs), so I can’t go from the house all the way around the park…but this trail seemed to cut through the middle. Nah. It didn’t. And there was this guy with a young German Shepherd smoking a cigar in the park. Like dude? This is a natural space where people walk. WTF? I’m betting the significant other was like “You can’t do that in the house.” and he was like “Fine I’ll inflict my disgusting smelly habit on people I don’t live with.” That’s my neighbor too. Ugh.

But it is Spring…I think officially today? Is it today? Yes! Spring equinox!

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And Spring flowers. That’s nice.

I have walked past this house for years as it becomes more and more derelict. There used to be a chicken farm here, and then they sold it to build houses, but the density was too high for the area and it got voted down, I think. So all this is still here. I wish they’d just add it to the empty space beyond it. But no. Probably houses will block this view too.

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So after dinner and some vegging out because exercise, I started ironing again with the plan to keep picking fabrics that haven’t been used as much. I wasn’t as successful here, because I needed certain colors…but this is her hair! I love it…

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I’m just in the mood to do whatever I want with this one. Well, I am sticking with flesh colors for flesh.

I got through most of the 500s and some of the 100s…and all the 600s. I’m really not going in order, so I have no freakin’ idea how much I have left. All the main figure is done, except for heart, lungs, and eyeballs.

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She’s definitely brightly colored. So I have about 20 pieces in the 500s, about 60 in the 400s, all of the 200 and 300s, and some portion of the 100s…most of them, I think. Crap and there there’s still some 600s. Damn. That’s more than I thought last night. I was trying to fall asleep and art brain kept trying to calculate how many more pieces I have to iron. I have a lecture I’m going to Wednesday night. I think I can cut pieces out there? And gaming. I’ve done that before. I really want to be ironing this weekend. I don’t know if I can finish in time otherwise. Watch me not sleep at all over break because I’m trying to finish this. I didn’t start until late last night though…so maybe I’ll be better tonight.

Kitten is back in the batting nest…with an incredibly old piece of mine pinned to the bulletin board behind her. Seriously, it’s so old, I don’t even know how old it is. It has beads on it!

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She looks happy. I’m glad she has a safe happy spot.

Well, hopefully today will go well…yesterday, I had 3 classes that rocked the assignment and then 2 that were a clusterfuck. That’s always nice. Because today they have to use what they did (or didn’t do) yesterday in a group assignment. All hell is probably going to break loose in 4th period. That period exhausts me. I feel like they need a totally different (and lamer) curriculum. They’d be perfectly happy copying notes from a slide presentation, but ask them to do anything that involves critical thinking? Oh fuck no. So there’s that. I will meditate between 3rd (when there is supposed to be an earthquake/fire drill, just to add to the excitement, seriously?) and 4th. I might meditate in the car on the way to school. I’m meditating now to Puddle of Mudd’s She Hates Me…great song for middle-school teachers.

In other dorky news, all the 7th grade teachers are dressed alike today for Twin Day. Yup. That’s a thing. I need to go find some sneakers. I don’t wear sneakers. I wear hiking boots.

Art tonight. For sure.

*Blues Traveler, Run-Around


It’s Much Too Late to Find*

March 19, 2018

So I ended a very busy weekend with a meditative two hours of ironing bliss. Picking fabrics really is one of my favorite parts of the process…I like ironing the piece together as well, but this is where I get to visualize the whole thing and then make that happen with whatever is in my fabric stash. For this new quilt, I pulled whole drawers out and rummaged around at the back, because when I use fabrics, I usually shove them in the front and then they’re the easiest to reach when I go back to that drawer. So I do often use the same fabrics over and over again. I’m trying to use fabrics that I’ve either never used or that I haven’t used in a long time. We’ll see how that goes.

This piece has three figures in it, so I have to pick at least two different runs of flesh tones. I did the first one last night…the stuff on the left is for a different part (pieces I missed ironing when I went through the first time), although the pink and yellow are both part of the flesh.

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Why not!? I can do what I want…it’s my quilt.

Unfortunately, when I numbered this one, I numbered the bottom part of one figure, then the two middle figures, then the top part of the first figure…but I need to iron all the first figure pieces at once so I don’t get confused. So I ironed all the 0-100s and a few of the 100s themselves…then rummaged through the end of the 400 bin (467 and on) and the 500 bin, but minus all the hair and sky bits (don’t need them yet), and then finished up with half the 600 bin. I just need the flesh…not all the extra bits…what you see below is some of the 100s that I set aside (heart etc) and then the 500s I didn’t need yet (mostly hair)…

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Why don’t I just number that way? Guaranteed I’d miss something. I already found one unnumbered piece in there. Had to trace it and number it with an ‘a’.

So in the flesh run, these are all the number 2 pieces…now you see how I have stash from the 1990s still in my studio…even with a ton of pieces, it’s still not a lot of ironing.

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Dirt and water use the most fabric…and sky/space now too, although this quilt has none of that. Some flesh fabrics that I’ve really loved are just tiny scraps now…still usable though! This one has been used before, but it’s been a while. There’s a piece about 18″ x 16″ left of it…so it’ll last for a while.

Ironed pieces on the left…the whole main figure’s flesh is done (not so her heart, lungs, eyeballs)…and on the right, what I used. So far…

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The other two figures are smaller, so I can use smaller pieces of fabric. But they need to be different than the figure behind…so we’ll see how that works tonight. Usually I know how much I’ve ironed, but I really can’t tell…at least 200 pieces? Hard to say because I jumped all over the place.

It’s not like I don’t have 6 drawers of flesh fabrics. Plus I need some vibrant hot pinks for the vulva…oh yeah, because she’s giving birth. Uh huh. So there’s that.

I went to another opening last night…supporting artists in my groups is something I try to do. I have pictures, but no time to post them. The next opening I’m trying to go to is this Friday…we’ll see how that goes. Anyway…here’s a sleepy puppy to amuse you…

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Yes, I have to go to school today. I’m ready (sort of). I even graded a little yesterday. This week will be weird…one day off for training (need to do sub plans) and one day of field trip and play, no teaching. So a crazy week, because it’s also right before Spring Break. And I have 9 days to finish this quilt!!! It’s cool. I got this. Well, at the moment, I got this. Just wait until the universe figures out my schedule and hits me with pneumonia or something else wacky. You know how that goes.

*The Human League, Don’t You Want Me


Enough to Make My System Blow*

March 16, 2018

I swear this is the third Friday this week. You know how Friday feels for teachers? Not like we’re ready to go out and party, but like hallelujah, I might get to sit down on the couch for a moment and not think about school. Or grades. Or worry about kids. Or what we forgot to do at school. Or go to another damn meeting. But while you’re still at school, it feels exhausting, like you’re done, like the world is ending and you won’t get to rest before it does.

I’m glad to be done with this week. I think it was the labs and the million meetings (damn, I have one this morning again! Fuck! Yes, I just remembered.) and trying to manage materials. Yesterday the little beasts started stealing handwarmers (we use them in one of the labs). So yeah, now those are Schedule A Lab Materials…get them from the teacher and she writes down your name and address when you take them. Seriously.

So there’s that. I’m glad to be done with the labs today. Next week should be easier, despite its proximity to Spring Break.

Tonight my (you know I really hate the word boyfriend…it’s so high school) significant other’s cover band is headlining at the House of Blues, so I’ll be down there hanging out and supporting them and hopefully having a good time. Hopefully I’ll wake up by then too. Then tomorrow, I drive to Los Angeles for the Branch Gallery opening, then to Oceanside for the Artifacts opening, then drop my car full of people, go home, and collapse. That’s my plan anyway. Sunday will be pick up all the pieces, deliver three quilts to the photographer, and groceries. Plus whatever school shit I need to do. Like grade and stuff. Recovery day. It’s a busy three days.

This below from a kid who was pushing all his limits in my class. I took his phone away from him the day before he left (and I didn’t see this warmup until yesterday). He was listening to music in class during a lab. There’s rules for phone use y’all. He knew it, but he cried because he was convinced his mom would take it away for good (he had it back the next day…I swear, if I had to come to school to get my kid’s phone, they wouldn’t see it for at least a month). But even so, he’ll miss me.

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(Um. OK. So I don’t think I’ll miss him? I know that’s semi-horrible, but he was not making good choices. I know he’ll grow out of that. I hope his grandma is OK…).

This was yesterday…

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And this was 4 years ago! I opened the wrong folder and thought WTF? Oh yeah. Valley of the Moon. 2014. Good hike. Second time I’d been there. I’d go back…but I need it to be chilly, not hot.

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So I had my quilt class last night, where really I just hang out at my friend’s house while she tries to sew/knit/fiber things and I try to do whatever I’m doing and we complain about our school district. She’s moving away, far away, when she’s done teaching, and that might be sooner rather than later, which would suck…because this does get me out of the house.

I cut these out…

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For over 3 hours last night, starting at her house and finishing at mine…but I finished. Simba looks upset that I have interrupted his sleep.

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Trash on the left, pieces on the right. Don’t get them confused!

Then I sorted them all…there’s only like 660 pieces, so this is a small one.

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Which is damn good, because I have (wait for it) less than two weeks to finish it.

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I may not succeed. I can tell you that in the last 30 days, I’ve spent over 57 hours working on quilt stuff, mostly the Scoliosis quilt, but also finishing up the Climate Goddess quilt and working on this new one. It averages out to an hour and 30 minutes a day, which is not as much as I’d like, but I do have a day job…which probably takes over 57 hours a week.

OK, but now I’m ready to iron to fabric…well, once I clean the office (hopefully tonight before the show). That will be next week…iron and trim and hopefully start ironing the whole thing together next weekend. Because if I’m going to finish? I’m going to have to go fast. Yup. OK. Got a plan.

*Imagine Dragons, Radioactive