A Stain on My Notebook*

September 3, 2017

It’s muggy here. And still hot…not as hot as yesterday, when the breeze felt like you were standing too close to a fire. It makes it hard to get anything done. And then the wind picked up; you’d think that would be good, but it was hot and I was trying to sort Wonder Under…the wind was strong enough to pick up pieces out of the boxes and whirl them around. This morning, the wind is gone (although there’s still a wind advisory out), and there’s the trickle of occasional light rain. That part is nice. Sitting here with two cats not real keen on each other’s existence, but tolerating it because of catnip treats and I guess my presence. But we’re still sweaty and uncomfortable and trying to stay semi-cool and hydrated. Ugh. This heat sucks my brain out and spits it on the tile.

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I saw 109 degrees later…it’s interesting though, because I don’t doubt the effects of climate change, but it’s been that hot here before…so I can see San Francisco’s temperatures as an indicator of climate issues, but this is semi-normal for us. The humidity isn’t normal though.

That said, heat or no heat, I finished the damn trimming of the Wonder Under…ironically, so now I can iron in the heat. Laughing about that.

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It’s a pretty full box. There are lots of big pieces that take up space.

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I keep putting stuff out for the hummingbirds. They appreciate it in this heat.

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I had both dogs on the couch with me…because it’s hot as hell and it makes sense to lie on a couch OR on mom when it’s hot.

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Calli looks like this when she wants to go out. I suspect this was a request to go in the pool rather than to pee. I understand.

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The next step is to sort all the pieces by 100s so they’ll be easier to deal with at the ironing stage. Satchemo was occupying the light table though.

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It’s interesting though that once you start putting these bins out and gently pushing them toward a cat, they often get offended and just move. I did leave him room, but this is about when the wind picked up.

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It didn’t take long to sort them…about 40 minutes. Because there are only 800 and something pieces instead of 2000. Note to self!

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I did go to the fabric store and stare at a bunch of possibilities with the drawing in my head, trying to make a decision. NOT a dark blue! I ended up with a gray brown…an interesting color that looks brown against most grays and gray against most browns. Lighter than I usually go as well. So my goal is to start ironing down some time today…honestly, probably tonight, because I’ve got a bunch of grading to get through plus some other stuff around here. I do need to clean up in here too…to put all the fabrics away from the last quilt. That will take about an hour. And I might need to move some cats.

I did two nights’ worth last night…the wavy buttonhole stitch in yellow in the bottom left and the leaf shapes in lazy daisies in the bottom right. I’m trying to fill in all the bottom bits, I guess. This is 245 days in…120 days to go. So 2/3s of the way through the year. Interesting.

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I guess I thought it would be more filled in by now.

We were watching Logan, meaning I was stuck in the living room (which is not where the fabric is), so I stitched some wool bits down on the right.

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This is April…the month I should have done before starting May. I have two more blocks to stitch down wooly bits on, and I think I need to cut out more eyeballs. I usually have a bag of them already cut out, but I can’t find it, so I’m guessing I used them all. I found eyeball fabric though, so I’m fine. Stitching the wooly bits down is my least favorite part of these. And I think once I finish stitching these down, I need to cut out the next batch of block pieces. But none of these are crucial.

Ah…a cool breeze smelling of wet dirt. Now that is bliss. I could live with that for a while. And one of my favorite parts of quiltmaking starts today with ironing to fabric. Yah. That’s a good weekend.

*Squeeze, Black Coffee in Bed

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Glitter on the Mattress*

September 2, 2017

Do you ever spend all day checking your email obsessively, waiting to hear about that one thing you really wanna know about? Did you get in? Were you rejected? Well, was your work rejected? After 30 years of entering shows, I don’t really worry about rejections. They happen. A lot. And that’s OK. But sometimes I just wanna know. It’s not even the end of the world if it’s a rejection…you just wanna know one way or another.

I have all these mental deadlines for my art, everything neatly spaced out and organized in the calendar in my head, and then things come in and blow that all out. I thought about one art invite for about 12 hours and then decided no. Not for me. The other one though…sigh. I’m a little irritated, although I have yet to see deadlines…it just wasn’t on my calendar and I’m not sure I want to shove it in there. I have this quilt, then one other, and then hopefully a commission. I won’t plan past that right now because I can’t. But it does mean I need to stay on task, on top of the work. Which I can do. I don’t have a lot of mental down time between quilts because there are always about 50 of them in my head and even in process in sketchbooks or already copied. I remember the days when it might take weeks to get the next one going. That is no longer the case. And I’m OK with that. I like the work being there all the time in some form or another.

I currently have this one I’ve been working on…hopefully getting the Wonder Under all cut out today, deciding what the background fabric will be, and starting the ironing onto fabric this week. Then there’s the smaller climate quilt…it’s all cut out of Wonder Under and ready for ironing as well…it’s been sitting around since June or so, and it will keep sitting around for a while. Then I have at least three or four drawings that have been enlarged and numbered and are ready for tracing. And another two or three drawings that are enlarged and partially drawn. Plus quite a few drawings in the sketchbooks I have lying around.

Ironically, I haven’t drawn the next quilt yet…but if that takes me a while to process, like the last one, I can do some part of one of the ones lying around. This is my meditation, my relaxation, my happy happy joy joy.

I have almost 6 hours into cutting out here…

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Probably have 2-3 hours to go…I’m binge watching The Crown now. Finished Hinterland. This quilt brought to you by Brit tv.

Satchemo is still adjusting…and the other two cats have kind of been pushed out of this room, hopefully temporarily.

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I had gaming last night, but I finished this one on the right…

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And started working on this one, but because I’m doing May before April (for no real good reason), I was missing two threads that came in April and were in my other box. But I worked on the leaves and came home and found the other threads.

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I really should do things in order.

See? Now he’s taken over the light table…also Kitten and Midnight’s domain. We’re working on sharing spaces…

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Here’s the 10 completed blocks…

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This is Sue Spargo’s Folk Tails…it’s a pretty fun stitch, with lots of different embroidery going on. Plus animals. This is what I do when my other stuff is not portable and I have to go places and either keep awake or stitch with friends. None of it is quick to finish, but I’m OK with that.

So a long weekend. I have 4 things to grade (ugh. already) and I need to clean up the studio so I can pick fabrics and I want to sit on the deck and draw but it’s still uber hot today and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain so that might have to wait until Monday and there’s errands and cleaning and who knows wtf else. And I miss my kids. Boychild is hiking again and girlchild is idk, but if I ask her, she’ll tell me. Anyway, must eat and get cutting stuff out…try to focus a bit on art stuff today. Maybe school can wait.

*The B-52’s, Love Shack


See Inside, Inside of Our Heads*

September 1, 2017

The heat is supposed to break soon…maybe Sunday. We’ve had a couple thunderstorms move through this week, which are nice to break the temperature with a little rain, although there’s fire danger…but Calli, the Golden Retriever, has been frantic by the time we get home. Yesterday she had clambered behind my ex’s dryer, destroying the vent and who knows what else back there. I’m not even sure how she got in there, with a sink pipe in the way…or how long she’d been there when I got to her. I spent a goodly portion of the night trying to calm her…

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I worry about her when I hear the thunder and I’m at work, but there’s really nothing we can do. He has places for her to hide, but she goes to the extreme. Considering building some sort of really sturdy soft fort for her to hide in. Not sure if she would though…that’s the problem. Or if we’d come back and she’d have destroyed it, and be cowering in it, unable to escape. Poor puppy.

I did a line of French knots in the bottom left corner. Maybe I’ll do more…

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I didn’t cut stuff out until late.

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So I only got one yard done…a little over an hour. I have 3 yards left, which is about 3 hours and a bit. Less than I wanted done, but maybe I’ll do some tomorrow. Or maybe even tonight (unlikely). I didn’t grade anything either because I went to the gym instead and enjoyed my book and the air conditioning. OK, I worked out too, but those other two things are surely motivators. Think I’ll go back tomorrow. Looking forward to a long weekend, that’s for sure. Though we’ll spend a chunk of it doing cat behavior training. That’s OK…it’s for the best in the long run. The cats will be happier and so will we. Satchemo (the new cat) gets along fine with the dogs, of course…it’s the other dynamic we have to work on.

And of course, the weekend goals always include sitting somewhere with a sketchbook and relaxing, plus walking a dog or two. They will enjoy that too, once the heat wave breaks.

*Trapt, Headstrong


Legs Up with a Book and a Drink*

August 31, 2017

Last night, I graded one class worth of the first real assignment for the year, the first one where I can sort of evaluate what I’m dealing with in terms of writing. They’ve had one quiz as well, which was open-note, so that evaluates something else. My original plan was to grade all the classes last night on that assignment, but oh, hell no. One period was enough. Now walk away. It’s funny how each new group of kids has a personality…this group listened to me when I said to put a space after punctuation (oh hallelujah! Finally!), but the run-on sentences might kill me. I mean, I’ve seen run-ons before, but this is like the run-ons have run-ons.

Yeah, I teach science. What’s your point? I need them to communicate better, clearly even, and so now I’m scrambling…as a science teacher…trying to figure out how to help them with that. Wish me luck. I suspect it’s not a one-day lesson (I don’t even have one day…I need a 5-minute lesson). Put it on my list of things to do. The ever-growing list that threatens to overtake the world.

I’ll find a way to grade the other four periods…absolutely will have to. Might even do the last period next, because I suspect they are the lowest. And I will ignore the four emails that came from one kid whose paper I returned…because if I get four emails from him every time I return something to him, it will drive me bonkers. And he’s a sweet kid and doesn’t deserve that.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how to turn school off when you come home…how to walk out the door and get into your car and then Not do school at home. I think it’s impossible to walk away from the workload, and even harder to walk away from the kids and not keep it in your head…not constantly be trying to problem-solve the job while you’re trying to clean the bathroom. We try. Maybe some are good at it. I’m not.

Bottom left, more chain stitch to define an area…no real plan in my head except to fill that in somehow.

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Selfie with Wonder Under and cat.

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I didn’t start cutting out until late, but I did finish a whole piece, so that’s a plus. I think there are 5 left?

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Or maybe 4? Not sure. When I went to bed, the cat was sitting on them so I couldn’t count. I am still hoping to be done with cutting out earlier this weekend rather than later, so I can start ironing down to fabric…a nice long stretch of that would be good. Because that might balance out the grading, which needs to start in earnest. I always forget how much of my life is spent grading grading grading. I’ve spent 15 years of teaching trying to figure out how to simplify that and still get what I need out of my students. All the magical posts from people who have solved that problem…sometimes I read what they write and then I try to impose my kids on that. Doesn’t work.

Anyway…let the attempt to balance my life begin…and may it end each day with artmaking.

*Squeeze, Is That Love?


I Came Back as a Bag of Groceries*

August 30, 2017

Rough morning. Sleep in the heat is always difficult. And there are additional night stressors, like the cat who wanted to clean her butt right by my face because she’s feeling anxious. And when it’s over 100 degrees, furry animals right next to you are delightful (ugh). But I know they’re all needy babes at the moment, so I pet them all.

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And when it’s really hot out, you should move furniture, by the way. And books…piles of books. And then cook things. Over a stove. AND with an oven.

It’s fine. I do OK with sweat as long as I can cool down occasionally. Eventually it will cool down again.

I did two nights’ on here, down in the bottom left. I decided I wanted to get that section filled in, so I did a chain stitch in a light blue and then a wavy buttonhole in the orangey-red color. I like that bit.

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We were watching Sense8 while eating and this guy’s shirt fascinated me. I especially like the blue/red ferny things about a third of the way down. So we had to rewind a couple of times so I could get the idea of them…

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I don’t know what I’ll be doing with that…

While we finished watching, I was sewing more of this down…because when it’s over 100 degrees , that’s the best time to work on a wool quilt. You know.

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And then I sat back and watched more Hinterland, always interesting just because I lived in Aberystwyth for a year. I often yell out (in my head), hey! I know that bit of road! Although the art department was in the wrong place. Maybe they’ve moved it? Or maybe there really is a printmaking studio up there…who knows?

I cut stuff out while I was watching (and thinking) all that.

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Another needy furry beast who wants to be right next to me in the heat…

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I did a couple of hours…that was my goal, so I met it! Whoo! I can’t promise I will on all the other nights though. Gotta fit a gym visit in somewhere. I think I cut out 2 1/2 yards, minus those pieces under the scissors.

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Pile of Wonder Under is NOT moving. Cat is. Hence blur.

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You can tell I’m still not very awake. Probably gonna be this way for some more days…between the heat and the additional cat stressors. It will all get better soon. Just don’t expect deep thoughts or complicated math out of me any time soon.

*They Might Be Giants, Dead


I Ain’t Wasting No More Time*

August 29, 2017

I finished tracing Wonder Under. This is very exciting. OK. It’s not. Well. Last night was hard, because my feet were tired from standing and walking, and here I was, standing some more. So it was exciting to be done with that.

I thought the piece had just over 800 pieces, but it was closer to 900…

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It’s lots of bigger pieces, so it took up a lot of Wonder Under, about 7 1/2 yards.

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And over 11 hours of tracing. But it’s done…and now on to cutting it out. Let’s assume another 10 hours or so…usually it’s less than the tracing time, but these are bigger pieces, so they’ll take longer to cut out. I wanted to be ironing to fabric this weekend, but that would mean doing a couple of hours of cutting every night. It’s certainly possible…I can’t guarantee it. Although I won’t have to stand to do it, so that’s a plus. The transition from a summer of sitting whenever I like to standing all the time is somewhat traumatic to my feet. Perhaps I need new shoes? My podiatrist would say so. But he doesn’t pay my bills.

The weather here is a little weird…we got a brief spurt of rain (and thunder) yesterday in the middle of a heat wave.

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It’s supposed to be really hot again today and tomorrow. At least it’s cooling down at night…although it takes my house a while to realize cooler weather.

Meanwhile, adjustments abound. On the left is Satchemo…on the right is Kitten. It’s an uneasy truce at the moment…

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I feel sorry for all of them, but hopefully there will be just a few more days of drama and then they’ll all calm down.

Meanwhile, best thoughts to Texas…may the rain end soon. It doesn’t matter what we think about climate change at the moment…real live people and animals are trying to survive. Let’s take care of them and then figure out the science.

*The Strokes, Someday


Turn and Face the Strange*

August 28, 2017

Well that was an interesting weekend. Believe it or not, I don’t tell you everything I’m doing…and this weekend was the beginning of a significant change here, which has caused some stress and sleeplessness, but should be good in the long term. Once we get to the long term, that is. It has meant that I didn’t do any art for two whole days straight, which is like crazy for me, but I got back to Wonder Under meditation last night for a couple of hours. Yes, I wanted to be done tracing this weekend, but that didn’t happen. I probably will be tonight though, so that’s OK.

There’s 3 days done on here…although I’m not sure I can tell you what I did. I know I did a green straight stitch and then lazy daisy and fly stitch up on the top pieces of feather stitching. I think I did some fly stitching around the sheaf stitching and some French knots before that.

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But I can’t be sure. Sometimes I just have to play catch up on this. I actually did two nights’ worth on Saturday evening and then sat out on the deck for the other one last night…the thing I kept saying I would do all summer and didn’t do. I guess now is the time to start watching the sky and the hummingbirds and the breeze in the trees.

Well. Today? Supposed to be 105 degrees, so less breeze and more ugh. It’s better than torrential rains, though (be safe and take good care, Texas).

I really do miss not doing this stuff on those days when I can’t…I had hoped to do some tracing on Saturday, but it turned into trying to fix a bunch of water issues and clean crap up…stuff that needed to happen, but it took up too much time for me to get to this. Last night though, I took my time back…

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The thing is, I’m almost done. I got to somewhere in the 700s last night before I quit from exhaustion. Went to bed early again…which is good, because there was a lot of cat neediness at 1 AM and 4 AM.

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This drawing has a lot of bigger pieces, because I wanted to make sure I could finish it, and they’re harder to fit into the random spaces on the Wonder Under. So I’ve used a lot of yardage, but there’s big empty spaces in there too. I’ll use them for something. I always do.

But today, I go back to work. Back to getting stuff done and organizing the teacher part of my life. I will hopefully get the last 100+ pieces traced tonight and start cutting them out. We’ll see how that goes.

I think I forgot to mention that All Stacked Up in My Head got into Quilts=Art=Quilts

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

The opening is October 28 at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. I won’t be there, but they will. Check it out. Report back.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here, making more. She’s got a lot of things on her mind…

*David Bowie, Changes