The Long Turtle in Earth’s Core

December 15, 2017

I am extremely confuzzled at the moment. Brain is full of fuzz and I’m trying to get my focus on for school. Boychild is home with no plane drama. Well, he’ll argue that it was delayed, but I’m like, you got OUT. You got here ON TIME. That never happens.

I got about an hour and a half into the stitch down at quilt class last night…at my quilt teacher’s house (you can barely see her on the left). It’s an absolute crap picture, much like my brain function.

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That’s after reading a lot of warmups that went something like this.

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Oh my, a long turtle. I have no clue what he’s talking about. Language learners can be amusing, even when they don’t mean to be. Add in the age (12), and there’s no end to the giggle factor. Or maybe I’m just bordering on hysteria. It’s highly possible. But the more I get graded today, the less I have to do over break. So I’m sticking with it.

May the end of the day come early…may the jerks stay home and be jerks to their parents instead of me. May there be plenty of cookies and wassail (the non-alcoholic kind, at least until I get home) to get the teachers through the day. May the stars align and everyone turn their shit in with the least amount of drama. May my room get clean so I don’t have to come back over the weekend. May I remember to get all the perishables out of the fridge so we don’t come back to a mold collection after break. May I remember to water the plants so they don’t die over break.

I think that’ll do.

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You Know It’s Gonna Be Alright*

December 14, 2017

You know, I make quilts about some controversial topics sometimes…or at least topics that challenge some. Sometimes they’re easy to make, and sometimes they’re just really hard…they’re too personal, hit too close to home. This is my 15th year teaching, and I’ve had two students die (that I know of), one of lupus and associated damage, and one from a stupid accident that proves you should wear your helmet AND actually strap it onto your head. I’m sure there have been other deaths…a casual estimate based on how many kids probably go through my classroom each year puts me at about 3000 students over the years. I don’t remember all their names or faces or even how well they did in my class (probably better that way for some of them)…but I still care about most of them. I’ve had a couple who were probably borderline psychoses of some sort that made them more than a bit unlikable, and because of the populations I teach, there’s a couple I would slot into future (well, current) offenders of the #MeToo variety…or worse. You know when I have to report a 13- or 14-year-old former student to their current principal for sexual harassment…that kid probably isn’t going to get the help they need to figure out why girls don’t like his shit. Unfortunately I can’t fix them all. Honestly, I can’t fix any of them. I just give them a tiny piece of my empathy (when I can) and some bits of knowledge about how things work and hopefully insight into how to think a bit more critically than they did before. And then they move on.

Why so philosophical? Not Winter Break…not the upcoming new year…a gang-related stabbing in the park next to our school Tuesday night. Former students. One dead, one apparently in critical condition. It doesn’t matter if they were good kids or annoying as hell in 7th grade. It doesn’t matter if they got good grades or blew off everything, or somewhere in between, like most of them. None of it matters except that some mom or dad or other family member is sitting in the hospital with one, and some mom or dad or other family member is sitting at home without ever being able to see the other kid again. Because of territories and maybe (probably) drugs and a whole bunch of other stupid shit that doesn’t save the world or care for a child or cure cancer or just clean up a piece of the world that needs it. There are so many better things to do in our world than this competitive stupid shit. I hurt for their families. I hurt for their own potential…to be good people who care about other people, to maybe be an awesome dad or a cool baseball coach or an amazing musician or whatever they had in them to be. Hopefully the one who is in the hospital will get it and get out. Meanwhile, because of possible retaliation, we have to shut down our after-school programs so that our kids are safe going home. Mourn the dead, but feel anger toward them as well…although the teenaged brain is not fully developed yet. Know that when I look around my classroom, these are those kids. Some of mine will grow up and do the same thing, and there isn’t much I can do about that except provide empathy and teach them some tiny bits about how things work and how to think and tell them I hope they make better choices so I’m not sitting here 5 years from now, staring at their 7th-grade classroom picture, all full of uncertainty and attitude at the same time, wondering what they could have been if gangs weren’t a part of what was known, expected, family, excitement, danger, a way out of whatever crazy they were in, but finally just plain stupidity.

So that’s where I was at last night. And this morning, still there. Going to go to school and process all of that with my kids. The ones who will make these choices…or already have.

My life continues.

I got the boychild’s room ready. He comes home tonight (hopefully…snow and ice may cause issues, as always)…Simba was prepping his favorite sleeping spot in his room…

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The girlchild luckily doesn’t come home until the 23rd, so I have time to deal with this.

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And then ironing. I cut out the pieces from last night. Kitten actually ventured out again to help. I’m glad to see her in her regular spaces, despite Satchemo’s attempts to scare her away. I miss her.

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Ah. Yes. I’m relieved by this. It makes sense now. I did have to fix those spaces.

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They bugged me.

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Yes, I’m the only person who will really notice. What’s new? There’s something else in here somewhere where two pieces next to each other are the same fabric. They shouldn’t be. Oh well! Not sure I could find that one again if I tried.

So I added the cats on either side…not ironed down yet until I get the head(s) on there.

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Got the head in the right place, ironed neck, chin, cats in place.

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The first iron doesn’t hold everything down. I have to go back and iron with steam, 30 seconds on each section. Right now, I’m just basting it with a bit of heat. Arms and heads…

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Here’s all the loosey goosey bits that need to go around the heads…

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Still got a Kitten. Man, she’s fat at the moment.

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She used to be tiny. Not so much any more. Old age.

Ahh…Midnight. Miss you kitty.

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The top.

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And the whole thing ironed together, too big to even get in there. But she’s good. I like her. She turned out well.

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Of course, now I need to do stitch down and pinbaste and quilt and bind. In about 13 days. OK. Yeah. I can do that. I can. (This is what vacation looks like.)

Kitten. Still here.

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So there are good things mixed in amongst the bad. Like always. We need more good. Although there may be a gang-related quilt in my future.

*The Beatles, Revolution


And You Just Don’t Get It*

December 13, 2017

Ah that was frustrating. An entire evening into night of frustrating. I was doing OK until I got home. That’s funny…because I normally have some significant frustration on tutoring days, but that went OK. So I had to make cookies for a school thing, and Satchemo, the gray cat, has some bizarre human food issues…so I spent a good two hours chasing him out of the kitchen, even using the water spray bottle. He just doesn’t care. When the cookies were cooling, I covered them, but he pulled that off to go at them. What cat eats cookies? He also eats bread out of the plastic bag…rips the bag open to get at it. It’s just strange.

So when I needed to frost the cookies, he got a time out in the bathroom. Luckily his daddy backed me up on that once he got home. I felt mean, but he was being a dick (the cat). Meanwhile, I was trying to lay out the quilt to iron it down. I had to piece the background, so I did that in between cookie batches and chasing the cat…then laid the background out on the entryway floor, and that’s when I remembered something I said before…the spaces between the arms and the body should have the background in them.

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Fuuuuckkkk.

I stared at it for a long time, swearing a bit, plus yelling at the barky dog (that’s not efficient by the way…barking dogs don’t stop because you yell at them to stop)…realizing that most people won’t notice, but it will bug me. Forever. All the time.

So I iron-basted in the centers of the spaces and left the armpit areas loose…it’s this space…

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And this slightly larger one…

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All I have to do is draw the background behind her.

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Sigh. So I did that…hills and sand and rocks and mountains…

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Only 17 pieces…

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And I traced them…

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Turned them upside down and traced to Wonder Under (it’s a good thing I remembered that part…I don’t need more frustration right now)…

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Cut out the Wonder Under, ironed it to the right fabrics. This is one of the reasons I don’t put the fabrics I used for that quilt away until the quilt is done.

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Usually it’s not this large of a fuck-up, but it’s been bigger, trust me. The quilt I finished LAST December had the entire top portion flipped. That was a fuck-up. Maybe I shouldn’t do this shit in December? Yeah, well, that’s not an option.

Easy enough to fix…but I wanted to be done ironing last night. Oh well. Maybe tonight. I’m hoping the tickle in the back of my throat is not the inkling of illness. I don’t have the time (or energy) for that.

So tonight? Ideally, I iron those little bits in the armpits, add the head, and iron all that other tiny stuff down. That’s the plan. But as you can see, the best-laid plans of mice and men…or whatever that quote is…

I don’t remember when I thought about those background pieces…wish I’d followed through then. It was probably in the middle of the night, though…or driving to school. So much of what’s in my brain is lost some days.

Damn. I just sneezed. Aargh. Those little bug factories that I teach…

*Local H, Bound for the Floor


It Is So Strange the Way Things Turn*

December 11, 2017

There’s always a point in the task I’m performing while making my quilts when the scale tips, when I can see light at the end of the tunnel, when I know I’m close to the end. That was last night, when I got into the 1100s and realized I only had about 250 pieces (or fewer) to go. Then I can visualize the next step, maybe even the end, and start thinking about the next one. Not yet. Not with this one. Have to get clear of school to get my head around the next one, but it’s percolating. Fermenting. Bubbling away in my brain.

Puppy was very tired yesterday. This is how I felt when I got up in the morning and started grading for 6 hours or whatever it was. I still have to input the final stuff into the system tonight or this afternoon or whenever I can fit it in.

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I ironed a little in the afternoon…had to stop mid-face for dinner.

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I was three nights behind on this, so I put a chainstitched wave on the left side and started filling it in.

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And then, because we were watching Westworld, I started cutting out circles for the Bird Crazy border (it’s not really called that)…I finished stitching the stem down finally. Satchemo is very helpful with cutting out circles…

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More circles, covered in cat and dog hair, of course.

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There’s only 90 of them. It’s only taken me a year to get to this point. They all have to be stitched down and embellished. Sounds like a Christmas Day project. Maybe.

Then back to ironing…finished her head…

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Added the last of the arms…

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I really like this head. It’s awesome.

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Ah Midnight. Weird story. I was sitting here grading yesterday afternoon and felt something brush against my leg, automatically thought it was Midnight, because that’s what she always did. But she’s dead. And there weren’t any other animals in here.

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Yeah. Well. Creeped out now. This is the room where cats always stare intently at the ceiling, like there’s something there, and then I whip around to see what it is, and they pretend it was nothing…until I’m not looking at them, and they start that intense stare again. Sigh.

Asteroid? Meteor?

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The sun…

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This quilt has a lot of floaty bits and pieces…here’s the sewing section…

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Following by a spaceship and a condom. You know, like in real life.

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Lots of birth control options here, although I would recommend against the screwdriver for that, and I think marriage is NOT supposed to be a birth control option. Although the current regime certainly thinks women shouldn’t be allowed to have any of it without marriage. Unlike men.

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Sometimes I really hate people. I try not to. I try to mentally explain and respect their stances, until they negatively affect me and everyone I care about, and then they just irritate the fuck out of me. This quilt is about that. Things that matter: Women. Their rights. Options. Not having someone tell us what we’re allowed to do and when and how. Having a voice.

I have a draft of an email to another teacher on my system at the moment. I’m obviously more mature than I used to be, because I haven’t sent it yet. There’s a trigger I’m waiting for, and then it goes. I’m looking forward to break so I can hermit away from the populace. And make art. And hopefully not grade a million things. Ha! I already know I have an entire unit due Friday. Oh well. It’s still gonna be vacation.

*Peter Gabriel (and Kate Bush), Don’t Give Up


And You Got to Take a Little Dirt*

December 10, 2017

OK, even though I finished a thousand things yesterday, I just made a real live post-it note for today, and it’s full. That’s not fair. Really not. Grades are due, the basic school stuff still has to happen, other things have popped up. I need a clear space for my brain.

Not happening this week. Obviously.

That said, you know when I said I had 30 minutes yesterday? This is what I did…that head.

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And then we went to the opening of Lenore Simon’s solo exhibit at Sparks Gallery downtown. You can click on the show catalog to see more of her work, but here’s what fascinated me…impossible to get good photos due to the glass. This nude is made of screen material with what looks like wood behind it. Amazing piece…

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This is Torso I…and a detail…that might be cardboard under that part…

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This was a detail of a print she did called That’s Why They Call Them Fellowships…with a rejection letter from the 1960s…because women couldn’t be printmakers. My ass, right?

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And this Torso II, which had amazing designs caused by the interactions of the layers of screen material.

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Really cool…

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She did printmaking for a while as well, many examples of those. This is Eve and Moses.

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I miss printmaking.

Sparks upstairs always has other artists’ work…this is James Hubbell’s work…

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A view of Lenore’s work from the upper level…

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Another of her screen works…On the Go

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Lenore is turning 90 on March 8, 2018…she has been making art for a million years. We all want to be 90 and still making art. She’s even moved on to digital art recently. The creative mind is always changing…

Then we came back and I kept ironing…

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Another head, another arm…

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And the third head…only two to go.

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But I have to finish all the stuff on the post-it note first. Damn. Well. Get on with it then.

*Tonic, If You Could Only See


The Devil Take Your Stereo*

December 8, 2017

Whoa Friday morning. You snuck up on me, but I’m very glad to see you, although now I’m wondering (a) if my grandma got evacuated in the fires last night, (b) what’s for breakfast, and (c) why the hot water heater isn’t producing enough hot water to get me through a scant 10-minute shower in the morning. I really wish my brain could slow down sometimes, but no. I’ve already handled two Fed-Ex-related phone calls from the girlchild, wait, and a text, wait, a series of texts, plus two emails to the principal, and I still haven’t finished my tea, but it and my feet are cold, but it’ll be in the 80s today. Grades are due Tuesday, but it’ll be fine, it’s just progress reports and we didn’t lose or kill anyone on the field trip yesterday, so we’re all good. Seriously. That was the bar I had to reach and I did that.

Insert artsy field trip photo here…

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Seriously, it was fine. Timing was good. All the food got eaten (we give away the extra lunches at the end of the day), no one got hurt, the wind was crazy, but the movie and the games were cool.

My agave spike continues its strangeness…

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My quilt in a photo at the Schweinfurth Art Center (it’s the one on the left, in case you couldn’t figure that out).

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I did something on the left. Filling in spaces.

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Then we were still watching a show that hadn’t ended and I have all this nervous energy, despite feeling exhausted (I zoned out on the couch for about 45 minutes before starting dinner last night…I’m OK with that), so that nervous energy was trying to finish sewing this on.

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With puppy.

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He looks downright pitiful there. He thinks he’s a cat. Tries to sit on my lap like a cat too.

Then I made sure, when the show was done, to get in here and start ironing…STAND UP and get off the damn couch, because you’re falling into it…here’s the face…

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Well, one of six faces anyway…it wasn’t particularly hard…

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The arteries were a bit more challenging…so that got me through all the 500s.

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So next I laid out the 600s, which gets me to almost halfway, and I got through one arm before my body and brain were like, hey baby, that’s it, it’s been two hours and we’re tired so please let us stop.

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So I did. In reality, I had the time to iron for another hour to hour and a half, but realistically, when I’m tired, I’m tired. So 5 more heads, either tonight (might be a stretch) or tomorrow or Sunday, hopefully I’ll get a good chunk done. Probably not tomorrow. Sigh. OK. Not as far as I wanted to be…but we’ll see where I’m at by Sunday night. Iron the whole thing down by Monday night? It’s a goal. Then stitch down (ha! it’s the week from hell next week), sandwich by the next weekend? Quilt like a racehorse and bind it before Christmas? Holy crap. That’s basically what I have to do. I should email the photographer now. Crikey.

The crazy winds continue, the psycho fires continue…best of luck to all my friends and family dealing with both…nah, send that to everyone, because this is scary as shit and horrible to experience. May everyone stay safe, from human to domesticated animal to poor wild beast trying to escape the fires.

*Adam Ant, Stand and Deliver


Everybody’s Looking for Something*

December 7, 2017

Well. All plans went to hell. It’s OK. Shit happens. Sometimes my brain is absent. Certainly I got a lot done yesterday at school, and hopefully (knock on wood) we’ll make it to the field trip today without any more major issues. Usually by the time we get on the bus and it’s barreling down Interstate 8, I’m like, well, we’re OK now, right? Usually. Think good thoughts. If we can just get to 3:30 today, we’ll be good. We can handle all the crazy that happens next week if we can survive today. If I bring my headphones on the bus, I can listen to my meditation app on the way to the museum. Unfortunately, because I’m one of the people apparently in charge, I will not be allowed to do such a thing. Sigh.

Both eyes are twitching this morning.

So it’s not surprising that I didn’t get much done last night. I didn’t get much sleep either. Anyone besides me and the small barky dog feeling all those earthquakes coming out of the Julian area? Freakin’ me out. I guess it’s better for the fault to release a bunch of 3.0-4.0 earthquakes than to do one big fat one. I’m good with that. Scarily, we are teaching earthquakes next week.

More vine stitches on the left…

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I did grade stuff. And then I spaced out for a good long time. Then at 11:30, I went in and did this…easy peasy.

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Had to lay out all the 500s to get there. That’s the big head and the beginnings of the small heads.

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I ironed the neck.

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And that was all. Then I went to bed because it was midnight and I knew I had a bitch of a day today. Didn’t help, because I didn’t sleep much. Oh well.

Dunno why this field trip has been such a beast to organize…except some policies changed. And yes, they told us, in the flurry of emails that came out 3 days before school started. With no timeline of what had to be done when. I just hope the kids who go have a good time. And that no one is lost. That is all.

I’m not even going to predict tonight. I’m hoping to iron, but also know I might be a dead body on the couch. So low expectations.

*The Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)