Somewhere to Land

I’m late writing today. I had a thing this morning, and then the boychild and I took the dogs on the last long hike of Winter Break…although next weekend is a 3-day weekend, so we’ll probably do another one. Hopefully by then, the daylight will last long enough that we can hike after school some afternoons, but we’ll see…it needs to be light late enough that we can avoid coyotes…as much as you CAN avoid coyotes while in wild spaces.

This is Crestridge, and it was cool enough to do this midday. We’ll come back on that trail way over there. We usually go UP that and come back this way or another, but this time we did it backwards.

A portrait of two dogs who refuse to look at ME, and look at the boychild instead.

Not very photogenic.

Lots of fungus…

Anyway. That was today. Last night, I hung out with one of my stitching groups…Julie is crocheting next year’s Christmas ornaments, which is very organized of her…

Many of her annual ornaments hang on my tree. When I remember to decorate it, which is often on Christmas Eve.

And Kathy is working on another Sue Spargo, Homegrown…which I own and will enjoy stitching if I ever finish the 2015 block-of-the-month, Folk Tails.

I finished the three September blocks with that flamingo, and she is working on Block 8 of a million. Or so. Yes. 2015. You read that right. I haven’t gotten much done on it this year…too many other embroidery projects on my plate.

Honestly, the process is more fun than the finish on these.

There was lots of kitten playtime last night…here they’re watching Simba, who’s watching things far away that he needs to bark at. The kittens don’t know why.

Honestly, none of us know why he barks so much or what he’s barking at. After the dogs left, we had all three cats playing with one purple ribbon…

Fun for everyone…especially if Nova grabs one end and tries to run with it.

I did finally cut a piece of paper to start drawing the next quilt. I guess I gave up on a drawing a day, because now I’m drawing the quilt instead. Nova came up to see and decided the remote was a dangerous beast that needed attacking.

She seriously pounced on it. Kitten is still the biggest…but there was some racing around the house by all three…

Back to drawing…I started with the drawing from a few nights ago. I’m not sure where else it will lead, but it’s a start.

It’s nice to have somewhere for Art Brain to land.

Tomorrow, I’m driving a million miles to take a class, and then driving back again. All good. Oh yeah, I got into another show…Artist as Quiltmaker XIX. Heart-Shaped Box will be at FAVA in Oberlin, Ohio, from May 16-July 26. Cool news…

People Who Do the Right Thing

Yesterday was awesome and stressful and exhausting, not all at the same time. Awesome hike and time spent in nature. Stressful incident with one of my quilts that ended well because some people are awesome, even if they don’t know you. Exhausting because of the hike and then exercise in the afternoon (not best planned) with emotional stress from the quilt thing. I ended up not getting much done, certainly not what I had planned to get done. It’s OK. There’s time. It was frustrating. I had plans. My brain intervened. So today, I’m feeling overwhelmed with to-do stuff, even though I still have a week of break left. It’s never enough.

I like chronology. The day started with a hike up Volcan Mountain, my first time…it has a great trailhead…

It was a bit chilly going up, but not too bad. More of the trailhead art…

We had read that the trail had ice, snow, and mud, so we brought poles this time…

It was a beautiful day…it’s a mountain, though, so there is a lot of up.

Up can be hard. There was some snow, ice, and mud, but it wasn’t too bad, and we avoided this section on the way down by taking the alternate Five Oaks trail down (I wouldn’t want to take that one UP, but down was nice).

My solution after last week’s UP hike (it wasn’t a mountain, so the up was parceled out throughout the entire hike) was to suggest my hiking partner pick the hike this time. Years of raising children and teaching middle school has taught me that ownership moderates the complaining. I was right. And we were rewarded with beautiful trees…

A million acorns underfoot…

And eventually an awesome view from the top…

More mud, not anywhere near as bad as last week’s.

Actually, there were multiple viewpoints…

And the plus is, it was down for the second half.

There are pros and cons to mountains. Our first hike of 2020 in the books.

See, we’re smiling! Because we know it’s downhill from here? Perhaps. May there be many more hikes as the year unfolds.

Although I could do without the snow.

This isn’t bad at all, actually. There’s Cuyamaca, Middle, and Stonewall peaks out there…

They had more snow, I think.

I’m still in love with manzanita, by the way.

Gonna plant some here. One bush. Far away from the house, since they are a fire danger.

Finished the hike with a drink and a burger. That was a seriously healthy wine pour. Santa still hanging out here in the mountains.

We came back and showered and I was going to start grading when I got a phone call from someone I didn’t know asking me if I meant to throw out my art.

Um. No? Serious stomach flutters on that call. She found it in a trashcan in front of San Diego Gymnastics in Liberty Station here in San Diego. She pulled it out because it was beautiful and then (this is why all your contact info goes on your label, people) she called me to see if I had meant to throw it away. She didn’t leave it in the trash. She didn’t keep it without contacting me. She did the right thing. This piece, Portrait of a Young Woman As an Artist, has been hanging in Liberty Station in a show since early November. Here’s where it was hanging…

The asshole(s?) who pulled it down and trashed it pulled hard enough to unbolt it from the wall on the one side. It was pretty high up on the wall too…so they had to work at it. I’m surprised they didn’t damage the piece. I’m so glad this woman called me. I drove out there and handed her cash and she tried to say I didn’t have to, and I’m like, I’m rewarding good people. I had some cash lying around from a friend who is paying installments on one of my quilts, and this pays that goodness forward.

By the way, the asshole(s) who pulled it down? There are cameras. We had an issue with another piece, they tracked the offender down and threatened them with the police. They returned the piece. This one? Well it would have been in the trash and discarded if this woman hadn’t done such a good deed. I was so stressed and freaked out that I didn’t even get her name. Duh. Oh well. It’s done. It’s saved. All is good. I did not go rehang it though. The show comes down next weekend. I’m good. The rest of the pieces in the show are all still there, undamaged, so that’s just another piece of humanity I have to wonder about. The good versus the bad? I hate to think of people as being bad…their behavior is bad. I’d love an explanation, I guess. I probably won’t get one.

After all that, I went to my already scheduled (couldn’t reschedule it, dammit) Pilates class and exercised my already tired body. I came back and was unable to focus on anything. I ate dinner. I finished my book. And then I drew…

I was watching more Craft in America episodes. Interesting stuff.

I couldn’t manage to sew a binding on or grade anything. My brain was overwhelmed with WHY and HOW and WTF and Australia on fire and war on Iran or WWIII or the draft (I have kids…I worry) and even this wouldn’t shut it up…

Although boychild and I shopped online for houses in the Julian area and mentally purchased a 20-acre horse ranch with stables and arena and hot tub. We’ll be doing something out there…as soon as we win the lottery and have 2.5 million dollars to spare. I guess that was my brain trying NOT to stress out.

I should be like the furries.

Just play and sleep and don’t worry about it. I am unfortunately a worrisome human, so that’s harder for me.

Today is busy and all over the place and I don’t even know if I’ll have time to do anything on the to-do list, and in fact, I just made the to-do list longer with all the crap that needs cleaning and organizing because it’s stressing me out. So there’s that.

Quilt is back, safe and sound. My body is strong and can kick a mountain’s ass. Do mountains have asses? And I still have a week to manage all the shit that’s piled up around me, literally and figuratively. Let’s hope for rain in Australia and a quick solution to the warmongering stupidity and many more good people who do the right thing.

2020…May It Be Full of Art…

It was a good New Year’s Day…I never got out of my pajamas…the only thing better would have been a hike, and we have that planned for tomorrow.

Today is the boychild’s birthday…

Wow. That hair. He’s much taller now, hair is longer. Pretty sure he started those bangs the girlchild has…after some revisions by mom. He makes better decisions now. Or at least asks first. He’ll spend some time with dogs and maybe kittens, relaxing. May 2020 be awesome for him, whatever that means.

We hiked with the dogs on Tuesday (yes, I am losing track of days). Simba needed a carry assist at some point…we thought he might have something in his paw, but it might have just been a pulled muscle.

We took them out 4 miles to try to tire the boy out…the boy dog, that is. He’s been in bark mode. Plus we think he misses the girlchild. It was a gorgeous day for a hike…

I love the outside. Plus there was lots of water to look at and stomp through…

Check out that tongue. We definitely tired her out…almost enough to ignore the fireworks on NYE.

I quilted a little bit every day…like one person’s worth…

It was a goal I could handle. Finish one person. Then you get a break.

It stayed that way, one a day, until yesterday…

Yesterday, I finished the requisite person and then had the background staring at me…

I stopped for dinner and then finished quilting the whole thing…

It only took 3 1/2 hours…

So Kitten/kitten play has been happening…a little…

Mostly around corners and under quilts…

There was no hissing here…just play bopping. And this was after Nova went after Kitten’s tail, which was swishing around quite temptingly.

I did my daily drawings…this one from NYE was a little strange…

Here’s the first drawing of 2020…

I always feel like this is such a good practice, drawing every day, but the reality of my days during school are less conducive to this. Unfortunately. I’ve tried instituting a drawing a week, like Friday night, but time is so limited when I’m teaching that I sacrifice the drawing time to actual artmaking instead.

Nova on my sketchbooks…

Not the best footing.

OK, I have two quilts to deliver, a binding fabric to buy (no, I don’t have enough of anything to use for binding), and pilates class…plus grading. I did one period of the UGH assignments (it’s really two assignments put together) yesterday. It took about 2 1/2 hours, but I wasn’t really paying attention well and I will get faster. Or not. I don’t know. Four more periods of those to go…really need to do one a day. Plus decide what art I’m making next. Oh yeah, recap of 2019…only 6 quilts, but 1 was huge…

All of them have been or are going to be in shows, which is cool. Two are traveling for at least a year. One won an award. All good. I feel like making work from my head is a good place right now. Although 4 of these were made for specific themes. My favorite, Swallow Me Whole, was not though. It was a thing in my head that needed to get out. So start 2020 with one of those, one I choose, no theme, just Nida.

Plus I did these last year…

These were a new thing…not sure how successful it was, but it was an interesting experience. I would stitch more of my drawings, but they take so much time, it’s hard to make it a profitable thing. Not that I make art for that…but maybe I’ll design a few for traveling/camping. They were good for that. You can find patterns and kits for these at Global Artisans

2020…may it be full of art and time for that shit.

Can't Be Bothered…

I hiked yesterday. I didn’t write because I hiked, so I was up early and then I came back and was exhausted. Plus I don’t know what day it is anymore. Neither does anyone else, so it’s all good.

Girlchild spent a lot of time spoiling dogs…

They love when she’s home…

Which is good for her too…

Although she put this one in timeout for barking too much…

Legit.

We had one family gaming night…

With kitten involvement…they were fascinated…

With laps and dice and little pieces everywhere…

I didn’t win. I really never win. It’s a good thing I don’t care about winning.

Girlchild left this morning. I’m trying to figure out when to go visit her in Boston. Maybe Spring?

Lots of kitten cuteness. I have no family pictures…just kitten pictures.

Lame. I know.

This morning, my cat (Kitten) ventured out and maybe attempted play with kittens…

Maybe. Hard to say. Yes, there’s a kitten up her butt.

It’s progress. We hope.

Yesterday’s hike was at Santa Ysabel Preserve West, out off the 78…there was ice in a puddle and a tiny bit of snow by the path…

It was beautiful…there were lots of cows…and the Coast to Crest Trail book is as always completely wrong about every hike I’ve done in there…

The mileage was right…just under 6 miles…

I’m just not sure how they calculate loss/gain of elevation, because they said 300 feet and I should have checked AllTrails instead, because I would have brought my poles for the mud alone and this beast of a hill…

Down was worse than up for me. The man will never hike this trail again. Only 1174 feet of gain. Or loss. Doesn’t really matter to your knees.

Snow on the nearish mountains…

Beautiful panoramas…and more cows…

Mama is staring at us quite intently. We did persuade her to go stand by her babies…the original trail went between mom and the calves. Not a great plan.

We visited our favorite dive bar on the way back for sustenance…and then collapsed for the rest of the day.

I quilted a little bit on Friday. Super slow progress…

I just have too much to do. I finished grading 4/5 of the larger assignments.

I’m hoping to quilt more today. I’m also hoping someone besides me will take the initiative on the grocery list/cooking plan today, but that doesn’t look like it’s happening. Basically, I don’t think we would go to the store if I didn’t plan it.

Sigh.

I have videos to compile for my Patreon today, plus a drawing to scan and clean up. But hopefully more quilting too.

This was Friday’s drawing…tech on my mind? Much?

And then last night’s…I started with kittens asleep over there…at some point, one headed for me.

It’s hard to draw with a kitten in your face.

But there it is. Join my Patreon for $5/month and you’ll get a high-res copy of the drawing for coloring or staring at or whatever. Just don’t sell it. One a month. Such a deal. At some point, I’ll make a coloring book, but not yet. Need funding.

The Patreon video this month is about my motivation to get stuff done at the moment. It’s lacking. So I’ll do some pondering and then figure my shit out. As always. Until then, maybe it’s sandwiches every night. Can’t be bothered. Welcome to the new year!

Not This Year…

Two days off from writing…as always with this time of year, it’s busy. I’m really tired too…not sleeping well. Last night was the sound of rain…isn’t that supposed to be soothing? It was a lot of rain. Over an inch. And wind. Not so soothing. I feel like yesterday was the end of all the not-sleep and over-activity. The family stuff is done (well, mostly) and the holiday crazy is over, so now I can just focus on art and sleep (maybe?) and getting work done. Perhaps some down time? That might be a good plan.

Monday, I packed up 4 quilts…some needed slats, some needed labels. It took a good chunk of the day to get my fuzzy holiday brain on task and get it done, but then I shipped them all on Tuesday morning, which was the good thing. Four fewer things to worry about.

Then we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (no longer the Wild Animal Park) with the man’s family, on one of those safari caravan things, where you get to feed the animals. That was way cool…

I suck at names, but this giraffe is female and very food-oriented.

And only a little in your face…

I think we all enjoyed the tour…

We also got to feed a couple of rhinos and ask lots of questions…

Apparently I win on questions. Not suprisingly. I told her I was a science teacher.

Casual. Giraffe over shoulder. Plus the tour guide went through the master’s program with my co-teacher…small world.

Baby rhino!

Rhinos are the weirdest looking things…

I didn’t know about the prehensile lip thing…

I’d never seen one this close…

I kept asking about everyone’s teeth. The animals…not the people. Anyway. It was a very cool thing to do, followed by food and wine and then coming home and being too exhausted to do anything but space out and go to bed. So I didn’t draw on Christmas Eve. I thought about doubling up yesterday, so I would still get my 24-drawing count, but it’s not meant to be a law like that. So I let it slide.

Christmas Eve, we moved the tree off the hearth, because it was supposed to be cold on Christmas Day and we wanted a fire…

I think she can sit in the entryway for a couple more years before we have to plant her out…although she might want to get out of that plastic container before then.

Christmas morning, the kittens and Kitten were all in the same space without violence…

That’s a good sign…we’ve seen a few instances of co-existence. There’s hope for the old lady.

Christmas Day was a lot of presents and a lot of food…my mom and the girlchild giving Simba all the loves…

Which he totally deserves, yeah? He even got a present…

The animals all get presents, although we think someone ate a catnip mouse. Probably someone large…

Hmmm. Maybe.

My dad sits on a chair behind the couch and surveys the room…

It takes a while. We eat the foods. We clean up. Then we all do our own thing for a while…some cook, some sleep, some walk…

Some put cat trees together…

Stronger minds than mine…

I even sat down at the machine again…trying to finish the stitchdown so I can get this quilt done.

Realistically, the other January deadline I had is not gonna happen. Not sure what happened in late November/early December, but I kinda lost the creation mojo. Too tired, too overwhelmed with all the stuff that needed to happen. Not surprising. It’s fine. Someday this week I’ll reevaluate where I’m at and decide whether I’m going to just blow off deadlines or make something for something.

Christmas dinner was nice…girlchild did a good job…

I started a drawing while waiting for dinner…and added a bunch of leaves afterwards, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else to draw. The wonder of a tired brain…

Weird dogs. OK, maybe just the one on the right.

After the drawing, I finished grading one assignment and input five into the online gradebook. It needed to be done, it’s brainless, and this one was asleep in one arm while I did it…

Sweet baby.

Today is one more family thing, and then I’m hoping to finish the stitchdown, pinbaste the quilt (which means cleaning the entryway floor), doing another drawing, SLEEPING. Yeah. Not. Because the solar people are coming back tomorrow morning, so they’ll be here early, stomping on the roof. Sigh. I do sometimes go back and read past years on the blog to remind myself that it always takes a week, easily, to get relaxed in winter. It’s just chaos until after Christmas. But this quilt will get done and another started, and the grading will get as far as it gets, and I will be ignoring that parent who wants me to call them until I actually go back to school, and then I will be happy to call them. Although it’s going to be the same shit I told the kid twice now, so I’m not sure where the conversation will go from there. I’m going to read some of the 17 books I got for Christmas and maybe do some yard stuff and some hikes and some drawing. It’s good. I’ll get there. The family stuff was good…it just doesn’t leave much energy for anything else. This year, anyway. Some years, I’ve been ironing Christmas Eve and quilting Christmas afternoon…but not this year. No judgement. Just reality. Hope everyone had the holiday they needed or wanted, and if not, you now are getting to do something you do want to do. Or feeding a giraffe…because that was pretty cool.

Portland in Review

We’re back from Portland. I haven’t slept much. I’ve been awake since 4:42 AM. I did go to bed early, so I think it was about the same amount of sleep. It was a fun trip, too short of course, but I think I might be able to handle the rest of this week. We’ll see. Perhaps the sub notes will send me over the edge. Certainly some of the student emails I got over the weekend might. I’m getting a shirt that says “It’s not fair…” and then something pithy. That my students won’t understand. Like most of my shirts.

Anyway, we picked Portland just because. We had to use a flight before the end of the year and we didn’t have much time, so we didn’t want to spend it all flying. Portland was a good distance, had some entertainment stuff we liked, had some friends we liked, and the man had never been there. Plus we might do a camping trip up there sometime. A ways out. So this was just kind of checking it out.

My ex-San Diego friend Susan (she’s not my ex-friend…she moved to Portland recently) picked us up and pretended to be our Lyft driver. We fed her lunch, which we don’t do with our Lyft drivers…

She then dropped us off at our Airbnb…with a stop at a grocery store for some supplies. We did talk about the street art and the homeless population…comparing Portland’s treatment to San Diego’s…

No spiky rocks planted there to keep them from camping out…

It was a longish day of travel…we were up early…so the man crashed out for a couple of hours. He needed it.

I graded stuff and drew and read my book. I’m good at entertaining myself.

Our Airbnb was up a huge hill, right next to Forest Park. Pros: right next to Forest Park and great views. Cons: huge hill.

We did walk down for dinner. The cold is not something we’re really used to, but we layered up. Ate dinner. Decided not to walk back. I would have. The man called a Lyft.

We got up at a reasonable hour the next morning, ate breakfast, and walked the half block to the first trail…

This was cool.

It’s been a while since we’ve hiked together…and it was good. Lots of dogs and misty rain and runners and green, so much green.

We went out Wildwood Trail for a good 4 miles or so, and then hiked down to the road coming back. It was shorter on the way back, but a healthy start to the day. Then we did a bunch of stuff that involved two Lyft drivers, wandering through Powell’s Books mindlessly, some chicken wings and cider or beer, plus seeing an old high-school friend, his wife, and their dog (dog is sweet), plus more walking, some more cider or beer and some food, plus this…

That’s from a dollhouse in the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium…

Which reminded me a lot of an alien museum in Roswell, NM, that we enjoyed…although I wanted to file a complaint about this…because that’s not needlepoint.

So there.

Drawing in bars…my specialty…although this was a bottle shop…

This was a painting outside a food co-op…

And this was the drawing I finished on Friday…

Sort of out of order. Here’s Saturday’s drawing…

finished in the bottle shop. I persuaded the man to walk back to the house! I know. He probably had a bit too much beer in him, but we made it! I think that was 7 miles total.

Sunday, we got up, ate, packed, and our lovely not-Lyft driver took us to the airport…on the plane, we saw the first sun we’d seen since we left San Diego, plus one of the volcanic majesties around Portland. We saw two, so this might be Mt. Hood…it might not.

Someone knowledgeable will tell me. Drawing 3 happened in the Las Vegas airport, surrounded by people with hangovers…

And then we were home…the man left to go get the babies, who got spayed last week…and are quite recovered. They look sleepy there, but that was after 3 hours of rampaging around the house…

They are officially ours now…paid for and our problem.

I consoled the old lady, who missed us. Maybe.

She helped me grade more stuff. It’s always good to go on a trip right before grades are due. I really only graded in airports, except for the 2-hour nap thing. No, I’m not done. I’m close though.

This morning, babies are up and crazy again…

Stitches my ass. They are not feeling it now.

OK. Gotta go to work. Teach kids. Ignore the whiny It’s Not Fair crew. Grade some shit. Give a test! Whatever. Hopefully art this week, beyond just drawing…not that I don’t like to draw. I truly enjoyed giving myself that time this weekend. Keeping that in mind for the future. Oh yeah, Portland…we’ll be back…maybe with a tent and more hiking time to spare…

Move On and Make Something…

Reflection is both the savior and bane of being a teacher. Constantly reviewing what we taught, how they learned, how it went. Oh god, that was horrible. Hey, they really got it! And all the places in between. We don’t always know the WHY of the good or bad…sometimes it seems like our success is dependent on the moon phases (seriously, every teacher knows when it’s a full moon), but it means we reflect on ourselves often too much and too harshly as well. The days after a weeklong break are semi-doomed. We’re tired, they’re tired, they think it’s already Winter Break, we wish it was already Winter Break. There’s a definite feeling that I need to Gird My Loins and hoist my scabbard skyward to survive the next three weeks. The plus is that it is only three weeks. I feel like I can grab onto those 15 days physically and just hold them…unlike the vast expanse of time that is March or May…where days drag on for…well…days. Longer days? I just don’t know how to explain it. They’re longer. They are!

So reflecting on my week off. Well. Yeah. The pros: I played a lot with kittens, I exercised mostly well, and I finished grading the large assignment from hell. The cons: I did nothing else. Really. So little art created. I’m frustrated by that, but that means I’m frustrated by myself, because it really was about mindset more than anything else. I didn’t make time for it. I was a lot of braindead. I suspect I needed to be a lot of braindead, but I also know I needed to make the art, because I can feel it today. It’s an ache of not doing. I should have tried harder.

Ah, those should haves. All I can do is try harder now. When I have so much on my plate. It’ll be fine. It always is somehow.

We walked the dogs on Saturday. You can’t really see it, but there’s snow out there, way out in the distance.

And brand new green stuff on the ground. Saturday was a lot of grading…

Sunday was chaotic. It always is. Started with pilates. Then groceries and schoolwork to prep for today and prepping breakfasts for the next three weeks and organizing my brain for the same three weeks. I think most people have no idea how much prep teaching takes…especially on Sundays. I send the parent email from my whole team, I try to prep warmups for the week (I made it through Tuesday…whoops), set up any online posts that aren’t set up already, answer emails etc. I did do art stuff though. I entered a show yesterday. I was hoping I would hear from another entry before I entered this one (rejected pieces are good for new shows, right?), but ironically, I had just hit SUBMIT and then the other show results came in. Oh well. Frustrating. But I did get in to the first show with one piece, so I can’t really complain.

It was busy. But I did get the last bit of the grading done on that project, so that was good. Oh yeah, I drew Saturday night. I made myself. I was exhausted. But there’s a piece in my head that happens to be next on the list. This is a very rough start to it…

But it is a start. More hopefully later this week.

The kittens are getting more comfortable with hanging out on the couch with us.

Of course, this was after an hour or so of tearing around like maniacs.

Last night during dinner…the blue-eyed beast kept trying to sample off my dinner plate. Her sister was more interested in a nap.

About 10 minutes later, they were racing all over the room again.

This guy wanted to play too…

He’s a little nervous about the kittens still, but he’s a good boy.

OK, so it’s school. Followed by two meetings. Ugh. Then get my hair cut before the holidays start for reals. Honestly this was when she was available. I don’t really care what my hair looks like. I care that I can get a brush through it. Then come home and do some artmaking. Maybe I just make more when I’m too busy not to. Or something. Down time is not my friend? Who knows. I can reflect on it or I can just move on and make something. Going for that.