Oh Mother, Tell Your Children*

March 13, 2017

I realize it hasn’t been very long since I last wrote…although I walked a dog (I think I did that before I wrote last night, because he was being very demanding and I figured he needed it…as did I. I often need a walk.).

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I stuck to the streets this time, because I didn’t have much time before sunset and I only had the one dog…and he’s short. Long grass causes issues. It gets stuck in his badly designed fur and turns him green and grassy. Anyway. I walked him past the old chicken farm property, which still hasn’t been turned into the tract homes they said it would be (and I’m OK with that)…

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Lots of wildflowers here…did not venture to Anza Borrego this weekend (although I wish I could over the week)…this is a different one, one I don’t remember seeing before.

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These are just weird. Nature is so full of weird.

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After 3 miles plus (and whatever my ex did to try to tire him out), he finally settled.

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It takes a lot to tire that beast out. I graded for a while…it needed to be done, because there’s a pile waiting for me at work as well. It’s never-ending.

I did the purple butterfly wings…they’re actually chain stitches that chain off of each other.

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And then, because I was trying to finish watching an episode of something, I found block 3 (which is not block 3, by the way, but block 4, and block 4 is actually block 19 or something. Crazy numbering), which is sewn to block 5, and then started sewing down the stuff on block 5, which is way way way down on the embroidery pile.

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I only sewed until the episode was over. Plus I need to find the other three colors of wool. They’re not where they belong. It’s OK. There’s a box. I know they’re in the box.

Then I wandered in here and ironed a cat…

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Hard to see on the Tyvek…but it will show up fine on the dark background.

Then did the other arm and the stuff floating around it…

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And the teacup on her leg. And We Won’t.

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Because (a) everyone can balance a teacup on their thigh in this position, and (b) We Won’t.

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What’s left? Three heads. And one speech bubble. The time change screwed me over. Not only did I have to try to go to bed an hour earlier (a rampant failure on my part to actually fall asleep), but I had to be up early for a parent meeting today. When I signed up for it back in January or whenever it was, I didn’t know it was the Monday after Daylight Savings. Or that there would be multiple disturbances in the night (coyotes AND raccoons…a double dog-barking whammy). Anyway. This will be a rough week…it always is. But hopefully I’ll get those heads done tonight and have this thing fully ironed down before I try to go to bed at an unnatural time yet again.

*The Animals, House of the Rising Sun


Keep On Keeping On

March 2, 2017

The dogs are so excited when I come home from school and change directly into hiking gear. Of course, I haven’t quite gotten across to them the difference between hiking gear and gym gear, so sometimes they’re unnecessarily excited. And the little one tries to eat my shoes while I’m putting them on, so he really doesn’t get the idea of how he’s NOT helping me get ready. So we went to the same place as last time, which is kind of amusing because it’s a river valley and we had 3 inches of rain about 2 days ago. Yeah. So there was water. And mud. Followed by baths.

Same start as before…at least this was above water…

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Unlike this barely floating bridge…which Calli decided to forgo…let’s just wade through the stream, mom. I carried the puppy across…there’s a gap at the other end. It’s jumpable, but not if you’re a tiny beast.

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At some point, I realized it was going to be a muddy trip, so I went with it…this is runoff from the hillsides…the river is to the right…

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It was overflowing in places…

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And more was coming down off the hillsides, making more rivers…

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All in all, a muddy trip. Frogs though! That was nice.

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But wet. And muddy. I mentioned that, right?

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The wildflowers are starting to appear…

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And certainly, after baths, they were tired.

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I did more leaves…

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And I graded stuff…then made it in to iron…fleshy bits first.

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Crawling around on the floor to pick a range of fabrics…

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Got a bunch ironed down though…tiny little beasts.

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It’s going quickly though…

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That’s a plus. Well gotta get outta here early again for another meeting. Ugh. Yesterday was good until the last period of the day. It’s interesting how you carry that. I’m working on relieving stress. More art, more exercise, less of the bad stuff, less teeth grinding. Mantra for today (which already has an early meeting, a fire drill, and antsy kids). Yup. Keep on keeping on. (I don’t even have time for music this morning.)


Let Me Take You There*

February 26, 2017

Well I’m head down (and ass down on the chair) on grading stuff. I even resized the photos for today’s post (yeah, it’s Sunday, but I had an early up and get going, so I’m trying to take advantage of the day and get my work done), and then I forgot to write. I’m taking a break from grading right now, because it’s hurting my head, realizing that I have to rework how we teach one thing that we do all year, because so few of our kids can do it, and we’re more than halfway through the school year.

Anyway. My goal is to do grading now so I can do art later. I started a drawing last night and I’m going to have to restart…but maybe that’s later today. It’s mostly in my head at the moment.

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The world is still pissing me off. Not surprisingly. I solve that by signing petitions and sending emails to my stupid state senator and postcards to the people who need them, and then supporting kickstarters and artists who are making resistance art and donating part of their proceeds (or all, if they’re into that…I think artists need to make a living too) to good causes. Plus making art myself. And continuing to yell out that this shit is not right. Freedom of the press, dammit. Even if you don’t like what it’s saying. I love my country right now for all the parts who are protesting, devious as some of them are (the CPAC Trump/Russian flags…what genius). This is what my country does when there’s a dictator in charge…what you read about in the dystopian novels. This is what we are. We are unfortunately also the stupid stuff. It’s the yin/yang. Can’t have the good protest without the stupid.

I did Friday and Saturday’s stitching yesterday…The tree trunk/branches are done, I think. I might add some more twiggy stuff tonight.

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And before that…I’m stuck with both dogs this weekend, due to my ex being in Boston with our daughter. They needed some exercise yesterday, so I went to Sweetwater to see how bad the crowds were.

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The bridge was all about photo shoots, as far as I could tell…one down at the far end, and then two more when we came back. Weird.

There had definitely been rain out here in the past…I don’t usually walk here, because there’s too many people and bikes, but also fewer coyotes in sight during the day because of that…

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It’s pretty damn green this year…

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Went to the bridge so we could see the stream below…

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Simba likes to stand in big grass.

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We saw another trail camera…but this one had a card explaining it.

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So I emailed her…because she had a bobcat picture and I wanted to know where the fuck THAT was. But also she asked about trail data from hiking apps. And I have that.

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Although yesterday we only did 2 miles. I’ll go back, maybe even tomorrow, and do a longer walk. Until I can go back to the other one with fewer people. I’m not a people person, I guess. I like to be out in nature without humanity mostly.

Anyway, so many art-related things crowding my head today, and work has to happen. I want to finish tracing the other piece today and start cutting it out, but also do that other drawing. Plus I think I’m getting sick…knock on wood. I’ve been healthy for a good long time, but so many students ill is a hard one for even a strong immune system. Gonna go take some more vitamins. Ugh. I don’t have time for sick.

*Led Zeppelin, Kashmir


The Pressure of Days*

February 21, 2017

Extra days off, teacher or no, are always appreciated. I’m so busy that I spent most of it working, but I even got some yardwork and a dog walk in yesterday…always a plus. And it’s the last extra day for 8 weeks, so I needed to appreciate the nice weather as well. It’s been so dark and rainy lately that a pretty sunny day was a pleasant thing.

I tried another hiking spot, one that is more populated, hoping to avoid the coyotes. It’s shorter though, so that’s an issue. The eucalyptus were all leaning…

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I wouldn’t want to be there in a wind storm. And the little stream had obviously been a significant river at some point in the last month or so…mudflow apparent.

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We saw about 5 dogs and 15 people, but no coyotes. I’m sure they’re there, but they weren’t out and about.

Puppy was tired enough after to let me sew the sleeves on the quilt. Done! Well. No.

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It took a while. Apparently I sort of tired him out.

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Dinner made…but also school lunches, with vodka. Ironic that.

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Comfort food. Plus easy.

Then I inked. For about an hour. I haven’t run the hours on this quilt yet.

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I’m sure it’s a lot. Wait. I did the math. 163 1/2 hours. Yup. That’s a big one. Started the cut/paste on December 11…so it wasn’t quick either. I blame the inauguration. And school. And my brain.

Then I finished this drawing. It didn’t need much.

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And numbered it. 504 pieces.

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Not bad. It’s about 24″ square at the moment I think. I should check that. Yeah, she’s got the world in her vagina. Like you do.

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And she’s stomping on some peeps.

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I stole a bit of that from a previous quilt.

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It’s OK. I’m stealing from myself.

So I finally started the tree I keep talking about on this. I did one length of thread in stitching. Because that’s what I’ve been doing all along. It needs roots though.

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Puppy continued to snore.

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He can be really sweet. Right now, he’s demanding ball throwing…which I am doing from my chair here, bouncing the ball off the closet doors into the hallway. That is kinda how we roll.

So that’s it…time to start the next quilt. It’s small, luckily, although it still has a lot of pieces. It will be (should be) done before Spring Break, and then hopefully I’ll be able to finish another one by my other self-imposed deadline. You know? There’s a couple of ways I can go on that. On the one hand, I didn’t get done what I thought I would get done by now, but then the one I finished is about twice the size of what I thought I was going to do. Plans get revised. Quite often, it seems.

*Elliott Smith, Between the Bars


Hold Me, Wrap Me Up*

February 14, 2017

First of all, Happy V Day. I’m not really a fan of how this day fucks with many people’s heads, but I still think it’s important to spread the love. Lots of hugs today…we need them.

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And if you don’t, then just pass it on to someone who does.

I had three dogs for a few days there…mostly the two smaller ones played with each other while the other one stared at me as if I should stop it.

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I did not. But Katie is back with my parents now.

So this weekend. Damn. I know I did some stuff. I cooked a lot of things and froze bunches of it for later weeks, packed some other stuff up to eat this week. I know I talked to my daughter twice and my SIL once…well twice, if you count multiple conversations in a day. I know I graded stuff too, but honestly, not too much, because mostly it hurt my brain and took way too much time. And there were other things I wanted and needed to get done. At some point, I just accepted that sometimes talking to real humans is more important than grading shit.

So I had figured out this drawing in my head and I started it at some point on Sunday, before going back to grading…but I fucked up the fingers.

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Facing the wrong way…palms of hands up means fingernails behind, not in front. Liquid paper to the rescue.

I penciled in where one of the heads was supposed to go. Yes, I said one.

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Yeah. That was a good start. Then I worked on quilting for a while…

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That was something I wanted to finish this weekend, but I did not. Because. Shit happens, right? I did get the binding fabric, so I have that available for when I do finish, hopefully tonight, but honestly, probably tomorrow. But I still need to go up one side from the shoulder, over the head and the cloud, and around. Not a small amount, but again, not a huge amount. Close to done.

I wanted to hike the dogs yesterday, but our path is still underwater…

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It’s easier to get around it now, though, after two weeks of mostly drying out (we keep getting more rain…two inches predicted for Friday…in California, we don’t ever just the right amount of rain…it’s either not enough or way too much.).

Now that view looks nice, doesn’t it? All green and lush? (well, for California) We got about a 1/2 mile out and I saw three coyotes on both sides of the trail.

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Now if it were just me, I’d be OK with that. But Calli is older and Simba is a tasty treat. So I guess we’re not hiking here for a while…until the water disappears so it’s not an easy source for them, or until I get a bigger group of people (hello, children) to go with me. I don’t think they’d come after me with two dogs, but there’s no one else out here most days, so I’m not willing to take the risk.

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It sucks, though…the other options are full of other people. Ugh. I like to hike without a million bikes and kids and dogs.

The dogs wanted a longer walk…hell, so did I…

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Oh well.

So then I came home and drew this for school.

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We couldn’t find exactly what we wanted, so I drew it. I might need to redraw it, but that’s easier the second time around anyway. We’ll see. I still need to do a word bank for it.

I sat and sewed for a bit, making up for Sunday and Monday. And realized at some point that I had both Midnight and Simba were curled up next to me.

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I did the bright pink flowers and their centers in Long.

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They still need leaves.

Then I went back to the drawing, because it was yelling louder than the quilt…

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It’s borrowing ideas from two other quilts (maybe more) at this point, but it’s going where I want/need it to go. It’s not done though. As I went to bed, another idea popped into my head for filling arms/legs. So I wrote it down…maybe tonight. ALL the things are maybe tonight.

Midnight eventually moved behind me on the couch.

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A closeup of the faces…because that. Yeah.

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You can’t make me. It’s funny…I drew the center face and thought it turned out really well, and then realized I was going to censor her in some way (muzzle, gag, whatever). But I’d already done this perfect face. So duct tape it. And what’s behind still shows, because I want you to see what you’re covering up, what you’re trying to shut up.

So in reality, I didn’t get anywhere near enough done this weekend…which sucks. But it’s not like I did nothing. It’s progress, stuff that needs to get done. I’ll get there. Slowly, apparently, but I will get there.

*Sia, Breathe Me


Want to Get out My Brain*

January 31, 2017

Just paid college for February. Ouch. Let’s hope they save the world. Or at least take care of me when I’m old.

With daylight savings time, it makes it hard for me to get home early enough in winter to walk the dogs, but yesterday I ran home and changed and threw them into the car to beat the sunset. I got to one of my favorite hiking spots and out of the car and there’s the old guy with his two ancient dogs and then I see the path. Yes. That is the path. Those are ducks swimming down the path. Huh. Damn.

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OK. I can do this. Hiked around through the brush and found a spot to go over the stream (because now there’s a stream), but the mud wasn’t as solid as I thought…

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Hmmm. Well that’s what boots are for, right? Impressive.

Saw this on the trail. Assume it’s for photographing wildlife, so they’ll enjoy Simba pooping and my scooping it up into a bag.

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It was gorgeous out…but when we got over to this side, the second valley, Simba started balking like crazy. I picked him up. Calli didn’t show any signs of distress, so I took my headphones out of my ears and heard the yipping, fairly close, of a small pack of coyotes. Huh. Well.

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Over there. Never saw them, although they did get fairly close at some point. We did turn around and head back…at a fairly fast clip. I didn’t think they’d bug me and the Golden Retriever, but the little guy is a delicacy.

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I’ve seen coyotes out there twice at a distance, just watching, but never heard a pack.

The path was crisscrossed with many streams from the massive rains a week ago.

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It was awesome to get back out there. We were glad to get home and relax a bit after. We all have our own way of relaxing, right?

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Me? I stitch. I put flowers on all those stems from yesterday…which was three colors, three strands of thread, so more than I have been doing in one night.

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Then I headed in to quilt. I wasn’t sure it was going to go OK, so I was hesitant after all the machine problems last week. Kitten meditated for me.

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But after a slow start and a broken needle, everything was fine. No tension issues at all, the bastard.

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It’s going to take a long time to quilt this. I worked for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday and I don’t even have the whole oven door done. I did go up the sides a bit on each side though.

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Putting it up on the machine to keep cats off of it.

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It’s a big quilt. Expect to see me quilting for days.

The dogs stopped bugging me at some point. I stayed up way too late because the quilting was going well and I didn’t want to stop. When I finally headed for bed, there were no dogs in the living room…instead they had put themselves to bed…the same bed…

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Awwww. Sweet puppy. Zonked old lady.

*K. Flay, Get It Right


Is This a Matter of Worse or of Better*

January 3, 2017

So on 4 hours of sleep, maybe, I power through today. Seriously. Ugh. Girlchild and friends had an early flight up north (road trip…remember how we used to drive for those?) and I volunteered to be the one up bloody early to drive. Came back and tried to sleep. Yeah. Not so successful. Part of the not sleeping was a panic attack about all the deadlines and school have-tos in the next 3 or 4 months. The other part was a throbbing ankle, which I twisted apparently worse than I thought yesterday. It’s OK…at this point in the day, I’m on the third cup of tea, I have food in me, I’ve showered, the ankle is feeling much better than it was at 4 AM, and I’ve calendared some shit. Written some shit off, because you have to do that. Started meditating regularly again yesterday (well, it’s not regular until I can keep it going)…it’s funny, because I feel like I don’t have the 20 minutes a day to do it, but I think it’s better for me long term if I do it, despite the time crunch. So we’ll see if I can keep that going.

Back to the hike…

So first of all, we were planning on a waterfall hike, Sill Hill, off Middle Peak in Cuyamaca. We got up there and the road was closed to all but residents from mid-December for an unknown time for replanting. OK. Well. So then we looked at our handy-dandy map and picked a trail across the road, one I’d been on part of way back when on a hike of all three peaks (Middle, Cuyamaca, and Stonewall, which you can see in the picture below)…but when we started on the trail, this is what we found. I’m not sure if that’s an over-enthusiastic stream or the trail. But it was wet. And bloody freezing. So we regrouped…

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Maps help for that. We picked something a little further south, not really a trail, but a loop anyway, out Cold Springs or Stream (there are both) Trail and then picking up a few fire roads until we met up with another trail that dropped us back on Cold S-word Trail.

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Cuyamaca will have burn evidence for years to come.

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It was not warm…42 degrees at the start. It threatened rain, but never did. All those layers that we needed at the outset came off and were shoved in packs.

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It was pretty out…

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Even picking up some manzanita and cactus on parts of the trail…

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As well as interesting rock outcroppings…

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There was fungus everywhere, which is wild, because it probably snowed here over Christmas weekend.

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We started analyzing tracks at some point…after we saw the first deer (well, girlchild saw it…most of us just saw deerbutt).

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Crossed one stream…

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Down the fire road next to the stream.

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More deer! Yeah, we didn’t get too close. They moved away.

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And then we started out that fire road across Green Valley towards the road.

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Trees that escaped the burn.

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Trees that didn’t…actually, this one might just be old instead of burned.

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Then somewhere between that last photo and the next one, we heard a noise. A loud noise. And we know now that it was mountain lion. Like close. So the girlchild and I were like, um, let’s get in a group and hike away from it…loudly…and the guys are like, um, no, let’s investigate, so even though it was pretty damn close, they both sort of wandered up to the bushes where the loud roaring growl came from. So now I know they’re insane. We eventually got them to come with us, thus avoiding the 14th California injury due to a mountain lion, or worse, the 7th fatality.

The kids had to wait for us old people quite a few times…I don’t apologize for that…I have old body parts.

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More fungus…

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Beautiful stuff. That’s the first time I’ve heard a mountain lion in the wild. I came home and Googled mountain lion sounds, because they were like, no, that wasn’t a lion, and I was like, um, yeah it was, and I was right. So that was scary.

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Girlchild likes to explore, even when it means walking on a tree branch…over water…

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There was a nice pool in there…

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Burnt-out trees have a similar fascination…

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Way up in the distance is the boychild…I guess he’d decided the mountain lion was no longer tracking us at this point. We were within range of the road by then, so he was probably right.

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It was about 5 1/2 miles, mostly level, about 550 feet of gain. I’m feeling it today, though the ankle is feeling better finally, so that’s good.

I ironed in the afternoon, still trying to get all the flesh ironed down…

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Then we had birthday dinner etc…here’s Simba and his mohawk…

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It’s not very obvious in this photo, but he’s growing additional fluffy bits that make a nice dinohawk.

There was cake, although we decided against 21 candles, for fear of burning the cake down…

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Puppies like cake apparently.

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Here’s my 2nd day of stitching on A Year in Stitches. I just cut a length of some leftover thread from a Sue Spargo bag of bits and pieces (from the last quilt I think?)…and I stitch randomly until it’s done.

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I picked a smaller hoop because the big one was hurting my hands to hold. I have spring hoops somewhere. At some point, I’ll find them…they’re easier to use, I think.

So after last night’s panic attack, I’m trying to get everything done today! No really. I can’t possibly do that. But certainly having a plan helps me. I know Thursday and Friday are pretty trashed this week due to school and some other stuff, so that leaves today and tomorrow! Yeah! OK, so that’s how I start panicking. But getting the ironing done today would be a plus. So that’s the only plan I’ve really made. It helped that I went through some of the deadlines and figured shit out earlier today. There’s only so much I can do…

I should keep that in mind.

*Amanda Palmer, The Bed Song