A Wonderful Place to Be

It’s pouring rain. It’s OK. For one, Southern California needs it. For another, it’s not like I could go anywhere…well, except for a hike, and that’s not happening. I took my second Craft Napa class today, and it was fun. Valerie Goodwin makes these cool map quilts and I’ve always been fascinated with them, so it was interesting to see how she makes them and hear how she thinks.

So yeah, this was kind of a pattern class. We all started with the same basic materials and pattern, but I enjoyed thinking about transparent layers more than I think I ever have…

The map lines use a fabric-cutting machine. My mom only has 2 or 3 of those. Not that I need to do maps. I was thinking scribbles and letters and cursive writing. But I do like maps.

There’s the Acropolis. So I’m still working on this. I had to stop stitching because the paint needed to dry…

Tons more hand stitching, plus machine stitching, plus IDK what else. A fun way to spend the day, anyway. I appreciate the online opportunities to hang out and do fabric stuff I’ve never done before. I don’t need more projects to finish, but there’s something really important in looking at your art in a different way, and looking at other people’s art. I miss that with no exhibits I can go to right now…or maybe just a few? Visions isn’t open…but I guess the show up at Front Porch Gallery has limited hours. Maybe next weekend.

I did get up early (for a Saturday) for that class. Now I am tired. It’s OK. I enjoyed it.

Thursday night, I quilted with my monthly quilting group on Zoom…got a good 2 hours in…

It’s a very detailed quilt, so nothing about this is quick.

But the thread has stopped its psychotic breaking, so that makes it much nicer.

Friday night, after gaming, I went back to the torso area, which has an insane amount of detail…

Got the ribcage and the heart done…

And moved on to the face. I thought we might use the machine for class today, so I stopped there and pulled her off the machine. I have all the sky section and the tree to do, which is a lot, but it also is more than halfway done. Hopefully I’ll get some more done tonight; we’ll see.

I have a bunch of schoolwork to do, as always. I did some of it while on the stationary bike on Thursday night…

It was just posting assignments in each of the classes. I knew this weekend would be kind of full; I usually do this on Sunday, but I have a meeting then. The plus is that it’s done. I still need to make a couple of videos and post all of the art stuff, but since I don’t know what half of that is yet, it’s hard to get it done ahead of time.

Speaking of art, we’re doing cardboard sculpture next, so I’ve been teaching them joining techniques…

I guess the plus is that I don’t have to build my own version of sculpture…just show them how to do the bits and pieces. Twice. Because I have two levels of art. Ugh.

Friday, we took the dogs on a short walk. Calli can’t do the longer ones any more.

But she loves them so much. Simba is a freak…this is his response to bikes.

He basically wants to kill them. Not recommended.

Calli post hike…

Kitten didn’t even go on a hike…

But she is one of the three old ladies in the house.

This cracks me up.

It’s a new world, y’all. Except it’s not. Too many angry upset people out there still. I talk about some of that (and who the hell knows what else!) in a podcast, the Unbroken Chain podcast. I was interviewed by Maura James last weekend and she asked lots of good questions…

If you know me personally, you know I can ramble for a good long time.

Actually, if you read my blog, you already know that.

It’s how my brain works. I have lots of words and lots of pictures and they all need to get out. Here’s a link. Hopefully. If I did it right.

https://www.maurajames.com/podcast/episode/2ffd4eb9/ep-88-not-here-to-make-pretty-pictures-w-kathy-nida

I appreciate her searching me out and caring enough to come up with good things to talk about. Certainly a lot of what I talked about is on my mind for the next quilt. So there’s that.

OK. I’m tired. I’m going to get more tea and decide what’s next. Still waiting for the paint to dry on Athens for me to do the machine stitching, plus I still have a quilt to finish, plus two videos to make for school, and probably there’s a bunch of other shit that needs doing that I’m just not remembering because my brain has been in artmaking mode all day, which is such a wonderful place to be. Yeah. Happy Saturday, all.

Go Well…

Ah yes. A country with someone in charge whose speeches I don’t have to diagram so that I can attempt to make any sense of them. A white guy, though. An old white guy. But our VP! Finally a woman, and a woman of color on top of it. So proud. So happy. So worried about those who still feel disenfranchised and ignored. That being-ignored feeling really sucks. I agree. Having people ignore your needs and desperate calls for acknowledgement…I mean, I’m a cis female, but white and educated, so inordinately privileged, but I get that for sure. And I worry about y’all. I don’t know what to do about it though; I don’t know how to talk to you, to help you see the world in a different way. I really try to see how you all are seeing, and I just can’t. It looks like fear and hate to me. So yeah. So many things in my head yesterday. I was lucky to see the swearing ins happen right before virtual school started…trying to watch video with kids on my computer/Zoom setup is not always a positive experience, so we talked a little about the inauguration, but then it was a normal day. Well, this crazy-ass pandemic version of normal.

I’ve been fighting my sewing machine for a few days. The thread kept breaking. I changed needles (twice), rethreaded everything (many times), cleaned out the bobbin area, used thread conditioner, sanded the throat plate, and then prayed to the goddess of the machine. Nothing helped. It improved slightly, but I was still breaking thread about every 6-10 inches of quilting. An incredibly frustrating experience.

I got to the point last night where I was like, shit, I’m going to have to take the machine in, but I’m trying to finish this quilt and I have another machine, but I’m not sure where exactly it is, and there’s a re-learning curve I don’t have the mental fortitude for right now…but sigh, how else?

And magically, really, IDK what changed, much like my blood sugar at the moment, magically, it all started to work. I could sew without the thread breaking.

For an hour. Holy moly. SO MUCH EASIER. It’s like I became a rich white man. Oh wait. No. Not quite. He wouldn’t be sewing. But you know what I mean! Things were easier, I felt like I could achieve something, the world felt like a new presidential team was in place. Yeah. That. Fuck. Yesterday was interesting. I posted this picture before…spot the Bernie.

I love the mitten story. And Bernie. And the dogs and old man in the photo, but that’s something else. This doofus…

OK. Well. I hiked on Tuesday in the wind and cold…

Apparently there’s more coming this weekend. These flowers are fascinatingly huge.

I still try to exercise every day. This is just from AllTrails, an app I use for hiking…

It doesn’t count everything I do, just the hikes I do with the app.

Yeah, my boots got over 150 miles since February, so there’s that. More to come.

Goofy cats.

I finished this…

Ready to clean it and hoop it up and send it off to its new owner.

My quilt guild is starting a UFO challenge. I needed to post at least one I could finish in the first quarter. This one, I started quilting, but gave up.

Wool is different than cotton, that’s all I can say. I can do it…but something else jumped the queue. There’s also this one…

And another one that needs pinbasting…all 3 are Sue Spargo quilts. I love the embroidery part, but IDK what I will do with them when they are done. Pick a Sue Spargo wall and switch out the three every few months? Maybe.

Ah mornings. You are not my friend.

Today is sunny at least. The crazy wind the last few days has been stressful to watch from my virtual school workspace. Today is much calmer. OK, but today, I am teaching stuff in art that I’ve never really done before (again), so that’ll be fun. FUN. And Zooming for meetings as well (one in 5 minutes). Hopefully quilting later tonight, with the new calm sewing machine behavior…maybe it will continue to go well.

May I…

Well, that came up quickly. I have 5 minutes to write this post. There’s no way I can do that. What happened to the morning already? Oh yeah, I did 5 work things before I sat down to write. Duh. I still don’t know what I’m doing for my art warmup today…should figure that out. My brain is all over the place. AND tired. Not a good combination.

In art news, I finished painting the 4th background…

Saturday night? Because that’s what you do.

Hopefully I will now start drawing on them, instead of being terrified to do anything to them. We’ll see how that goes.

I cut the pieces out for one of my Applique Stories women.

She seems surprised. Need to stitch all this down.

And I finally started stitchdown on the current quilt.

I only got 15 minutes in last night before I persuaded myself to go to bed. Hopefully more tonight.

Kitten is a great support.

Saturday afternoon’s 4-mile walk was full of people…

But mostly flat, and that was requested, so there we are.

Ugh. I’m so tired. It’s OK. I’ll figure my shit out. Hopefully. First day back to school in 2021. May it go well. May I figure out what the hell I’m doing.

My Country

Sigh. Well. You know, the Man and I picked yesterday to finish the fifth hike in the Coast to Crest Challenge (and finish it we did), and then were on our way home and got a call from my mom that my dad now has COVID (fuckin’ a, man…he cannot catch a break) and is quarantined in skilled nursing for two weeks, and then while I’m on the phone with my mom, the Man has the news on, and I’m like, WTF is that, WTF is happening? You can’t really pick a day (New Year’s) and say OK, everything after this day is gonna be good, this year is gonna be better, I mean you CAN do that, but it’s silly to think that the flip of a calendar month or pinning up a new calendar (I did that) is going to make the world make sense. There are a lot of people who need to answer for their behavior yesterday, and none of them are Antifa or BLM protestors, and if you think they are, GET THE FUCK OFF MY BLOG. Seriously. I don’t even want you to look at my art. I don’t want you in my personal space or even my public one.

Sigh. Wait a minute. I do want you here, because if you’re here, there’s some part of your brain that must think something sane, right? You can’t possibly look at my work or enjoy what I write without some sense of what should happen in the world. Yes, in real life, I seesaw from anger to empathy to concern to anxiety. I’m checking my meditation app for “political coup plus aging and ill parent with COVID plus only four days until I go back to school” and there is no course of meditations for that, dammit. There SHOULD be. I guess I’ll stick to anxiety (control what you can…wait…WTF…that is literally NOTHING right now) and sleep for meditation.

No, I changed my mind. Get the fuck off my website. Wait No. If we don’t talk, you’ll never see how your attitudes and beliefs are hurting other people, hurting yourself. I don’t think you’ll ever see that, but I have to hope you can.

I live in East County…the eastern portion of San Diego County, where unfortunately, some of the deplorables from yesterday hail from, like the woman who died. We have our proud boys and our KKK here; my UPS driver the other day was wearing an AK-47 T-shirt. I should have complained about that one. He was also missing an arm. Fuck me. The world is so hurt right now; I don’t know how to fix any of it, and here I am, making a quilt about childbirth. I was considering the next quilt for a show I heard about, back to how I, as a privileged white woman (I am educated, I went to good schools, I can pay my bills) can make anything important or legitimate about the existence of people of color…and I can’t. I can only make something that is a story…I don’t know what that story is or what it looks like. I keep running through imagery in my head, and it feels like it’s not my story to tell. But then it is my story…to talk to the white women who think it’s OK to support Trump, who think it’s OK to be racist, who think it’s OK to tell others they can’t tell their stories. That’s my job. And I don’t know how to do that, because I don’t understand those women. At all. Fear? Fear of change? I don’t know. And now we have this…this terrorist event.

Processing, y’all. Processing. I do it here on the blog. Sorry. Not sorry.

So here’s what we did yesterday…the Lusardi Creek loop of the Coast to Crest Challenge…there are tons of invasive wild artichoke plants on this hike.

It feels like you are hiking through an alien landscape.

It’s probably much nicer in Spring, but right now, mostly everything was dead and dry and weird looking.

This hike is probably really hot in the summer. It was pretty hot yesterday, and it wasn’t really hot. There’s a few climbs in here that might merit its ‘moderate to strenuous’ rating. Mostly it’s fire roads though, with some steep inclines.

We took the fire road straight where the map wanted us to turn. That might not have been the best choice, because we then had a hill from hell to trudge up, so on the way back, we went the ‘correct’ way, which still had hills…

It wasn’t the most fun hike I’ve been on, but I prefer the wooded hikes personally.

My partner in hiking was not having a good time, and honestly, I just go very zen on the trail. I mean, this is the trail, we’re hiking it, and it’s not doing anything TO us, so we’re just going to hike it until it’s done. I find you can do just about anything if that’s your attitude, except for some hills, so I hiked away from him for a while. Let him get his anger at the trail out in his own mind. I can’t listen to his complaints. Everyone has to figure out their own relationship to hard trails. I can’t deal with his, so we spread out.

All this while white supremacist terrorists were storming the US Capitol building. That’s the weird part. We’re out on this really quiet hike, hardly any people, in this big wide-open space surrounded by million-dollar homes and there’s a coup going on, an attack on my country.

That might be my next quilt. My place in this country. I’m not sure where it is. Shifting ground. Lack of communication. Can we require therapy for the whole country? I think we should consider it. Worried about my students. Hey, there’s a hawk nest up there.

A nest for your babies in the middle of electrical wires.

So that’s it. We did all five hikes, we get the stickers, we get the patches. Whoop whoop! IDK what we’re doing next. Maybe the previous year’s challenge…there are still patches left for that one, apparently.

Meanwhile, more work is happening on the dry river bed…we dug it out more, the boychild and I…

Spreading the dirt around a bit more. Then we covered it with landscape fabric…

Now I need to get gravel and then river rocks and then plants and somehow make it all look natural. Or not. I just don’t know. It’s such a strange thing to be working on while worrying about dad and the nation and school.

The bees are happily getting nectar from the agave flower spike I got this year. Fascinating stuff.

This from Tuesday night’s walk…

My legs have been like lead blocks lately. So tired. I’m giving them a break today, I think. I need exercise, but I also need rest. Rest with kitties…

Still fucking up on the counting on this…

I actually have more than that done. But then Calli ate the pattern this morning. I found it on my computer (this is why you buy PDFs and not actual patterns, y’all) and printed it again. This is what my brain can handle…make an X. Now make another one.

I did iron Tuesday night, got 100 pieces of the torso done…

And then last night, walk away from the television, shut down the social media apps, and iron the rest…

Easier to iron the heart and face separate and then put them where they belong.

Same with the eyes.

And then got the whole thing in the center of the quilt…

Now I just need to iron it down to the background and start the stitch down. Progress. It’s such a complicated piece.

These guys last night…asleep together…

The two old ladies. No coup on their minds. No insurrection, no terrorism, no confusion about why yesterday’s ‘protestors’ were treated differently than the BLM protestors. We know why (cough cough racist fucking country, stupid police, stupid politicians, who the fuck is in charge). There’s a lot of questions that need answers, a president who needs to be removed right now, some politicians who need to quit, a large number of people who need to be charged with sedition, and probably, in a little while, a quilt for me to draw. I don’t solve anything but the chaos in my own mind when I do that, but I guess that is one thing I can do.

The Land of Fussy Ironing…

I moved my calendar. It’s now to the left of the computer instead of the right. I keep looking to the right, staring at the blank space, thinking “where the fuck is the calendar”, remembering, and looking to the left. I’m wondering how many days before I just remember to look to the right. Probably not a lot. We relearn simple shit like that, if our brains are in working order, pretty quickly. I feel like I’m unlearning how to teach this year. This is not how I like to teach. So much of it is direct instruction, cutting corners, just telling them stuff we’d normally have them figure out on their own in groups. Ugh. Don’t forget how to teach. Don’t forget what it feels like to be in the classroom. Seeing their faces. Responding to their understanding there instead of in the chat.

I made one longer video yesterday for school; 23 short ones to go, but I need to get the Man to stop watching survival TV long enough for me to do that. Later today, maybe. We delivered two quilts yesterday for a SAQA show, Here and Now: Now and Then, at the Front Porch Gallery in Carlsbad. The show opens Sunday; 10 people are allowed in the gallery at a time. After that, I wanted a walk in a different part of town, so I persuaded the man to wander off into the Mount Calaveras area…we were expecting a chill walk by a lake. Not so much.

There was a steep downhill and then a steep uphill and then some bushwhacking crap and trails wandering all over…

We eventually found something that might have been a lake, but never got near it.

We backtracked a few times, had to follow the app to get us out. Found a fucking volcano (who knew? Actually, I vaguely remembered it existed…)…

No one should allow me to pick hikes.

To get back out, we had to go back up the hill we’d gone down. Weird how that works. There’s the volcano in the distance.

It was fine in the end. Finished it off with a trip to Costco (oooh exciting) and picking up my car, which needed an oil change, but broke some lug nut stud in the process (oops), so that cost more than I had thought it would. Poor car hasn’t gone hardly anywhere this year.

My goal is to finish up the background painting on all four of these this week.

Then I can draw on them in future weeks…

To draw on them, I don’t have to clear the entire work table, so that will be easier. I think that’s what kept me from doing these until now…work space. Although that doesn’t explain flailing over the summer. Nothing really explains that.

After doing that background, I set off to continue in the Land of Fussy Ironing.

I did get the entire background done, though…it took a while, but I did it…including the rocket ship.

All I have left now is the main female figure: her torso, arms, and head. LOTS of fussy little pieces. But I’m going to iron them all together separately and then hopefully just plop that mess on top of the existing background. I laid out the 900s last night, plus the 1000s and the 1100s. So still a bit under 300 to go. Slow as fuck, this one. Slow as fuck.

It’s OK; it will get done. It gets easier from here. Maybe give myself a break on the next one, less complicated. Yeah right. Today, I’m baking bread, like a good pioneer woman, plus making a bunch of videos, posting shit for school, can’t remember what else is on the to-do list, but it’s good and fat and long (ugh). Tomorrow, we’re doing the 5th and last hike in the Coast 2 Crest Challenge…hoping for chill weather. So many things need to happen before next Monday. So many things.

It’s a Wash

I’m a little slow on documenting stuff these days. I honestly keep losing days. How is it dark already? I remember getting up. What freaking day is it anyway?

I have one week of Winter Break left. I know I am lucky, because many teachers go back tomorrow, and I’d be really not ready to do that. I’m two weeks in to this ‘vacation’ and I’m still grinding my teeth. I think I stopped for two days, but that’s it. My to-do list is heinous. Then I get distracted, like today, obviously, and trim a bunch of plants that have been bugging me for two months, instead of crossing things OFF the to-do list. I mean, the plants didn’t even make it ON the list. Sigh. I think I focus better when I’m totally overwhelmed with teaching, simply because I have no choice. I have to do that…for survival’s sake.

So back to the 48 hours where we ditched the world. We got up the next morning, opened the front door of our Airbnb, and saw the chicken. The man says I have to call him a rooster, because it’s a definite sound difference, but I will argue that he is still a chicken. He kept trying to come in…

Finally shooed him out and figured out he wanted breakfast. I hope he liked it.

The place we stayed was definitely not the Ritz, but it was fun…this was in the bathroom…

And this was embedded in the floor…

What it lacked in niceties (a fireplace, working oven, consistent Wifi), it had in character in spades. After breakfast, we headed out to the Mecca Hills Recreation Area for some hiking. We’d hoped to go to one section, but my car wasn’t keen on the 9 miles of dirt (sand? ruts?) road out to it, so we headed for the Slot Canyon hikes on All Trails. The parking lot was definitely sand, but just off the road and pretty solid.

Again, hiking in washes…although we started in a really big one…

Signs of 4WD vehicles and shotgun shells for a while, but no people…

Eventually we turned into some smaller canyons where only people could go.

It was cold and windy most of the time, and kind of a trudge. Lots of sand and rocks and a slight uphill…

Very little wildlife to be seen, not even birds, and not a lot of living plants.

I like a good hike though. We got to a point where the canyon we were in would require climbing, and that was enough…I spent most of my brain power trying to figure out how to escape the water if it started raining (it wasn’t going to start raining, but I am the paranoid type)…

Weird cactus. So it was about 5.7 miles. Not bad. You have to like sparse desert landscapes and rocks for a hike like this.

We came back and wandered around Bombay Beach for a while to see the sights we’d missed the night before…the balls light up at night…it’s quite pretty…

It’s also an Airbnb. Same owner as ours, across the street. I like ours better because the yard was fenced. Lots of people wandering through the zigzag yard.

Not fancy. Quirky.

The trailers and sheds had art in them too. Interesting place.

Wall of TVS…turn right at the TVs to get to our place.

Down the road from there, is this wondrous beast…

Pretty sure it’s related to the one we saw in Joshua Tree back in February. Oh yeah, it is…Randy Polumbo did both. This is Lodestar; the other was Angel Queen. Fun stuff.

From there, we headed back to the beach, further down from where we were yesterday…

I enjoy random metal and concrete sculpture personally…

And a good sense of humor…

And some good colorful grafitti…

The museum was not open, unfortunately…

And pigeons lived here…

I’d seen photos of this online and was glad to find it…

The hardest part of all these installations is finding artist info to go with them…

All I can tell you is that it is in the Bombay Estates.

Back home for dinner, reading, and drawing, because no TV…fine by me.

Very 70s. That night’s drawing…

And morning chicken…

We stopped by the drive-in on the way out…

And then kamikazed back home after talking to almost no one.

Meanwhile, back here…after New Year’s, I proceeded to make 17 more mistakes on this…had to rip out an entire tree, because it was half a stitch off and that won’t work.

Nope. Wasn’t drinking. Promise.

I’ve been ironing…it feels like this quilt is taking forever. Because it is. I got this leg done so I could insert it into the landscape…

And then worked on building the stuff up on the other side…a cat and a quilt of a cat…

Ironed her separately and put her in the landscape as well.

Here’s some bits and pieces I had left to do…mostly snake and bird, I think.

Progress as of Friday…

Leg in place. It’s just a really detailed piece is all.

Then Saturday, I kept going…

Pain. In. The. Ass. Yeah well. I’ve done the 600s and the 800s and barely started the 700s, plus I think a few of the 900s are done as well. So I have about 300 pieces to go? Or 400? I don’t know.

Great Horned Owl…

Which brings me to one of my Xmas presents, now installed and ready for inhabitants…

My very own owl box. I’m happy. And it’s on a system that can be lowered for cleaning, hopefully not when owls are in it. Awkward maybe. We’ll see.

Other things that happened. This cake made a spaceship on top.

It was the boychild’s 25th birthday yesterday…

His cake request was intriguing. No, I was not smart enough to take a picture of the final product. Apparently it’s better warmed up. IDK. I’m allergic to chocolate.

Coyote print from the front yard. They are here, y’all…right here.

Couple photo from the Salton Sea, stolen from the man.

My eyes might be closed.

So back in March, I asked for paint pens for my birthday…or maybe Xmas last year? I can’t remember. And then when everything shut down, I ordered gessoed canvas. I had see some posts Judy Coates-Perez put on Instagram (it’s a guide on there; can’t remember how to find it, wait, no, go here to her Instagram and then click on highlights and you can get to it there.) for how she paints and then uses the pens to decorate her paintings, and I wanted to try it. It took forever to get the canvas, and then school sucked and summer came and stressed me out with all its We Don’t Know What School Will Look Like shit and then Real School happened and kicked my ass, although at some point, I cut up some of the canvas into smaller pieces with some ideas to make some different stuff. Well, y’all, it’s been on my to-do list since fucking April, and I’m finally doing things with all the paint and pens. OK…just the paint so far, but I’m hoping to get the complicated stuff that requires plastic and water done so I can draw in peace over the next month or so.

Luna inspecting the biggest one. I drew a faint outline of a human figure in pencil on this one…

And on the others. I prepped four of them.

I wanted to just block in some color shapes to start…

I’m not really a painter, but it’s OK, because I’m going to draw all over this, Nida style. I think. We’ll see. Because I usually only draw in black and white and these are colors.

Obviously, right? I’ve got some more painting to do first. But I think this will be a nice change for me. We’ll see how it goes.

Also still baking sourdough, y’all, although the girlchild gifted me a lame, so I can stop using the box cutter to score the bread, and this nice glass starter container, so I can stop using the crappy plastic container.

My starter is still super happy to be alive. So that’s a plus.

From the book I’m reading, Gods of Jade and Shadow

A good thing to remember for the new year. Well, like I said, I have a week before I go back, and now I need to actually do schoolwork (again) this week. I have one ungraded assignment, a few late assignments that kids have turned in, and a bunch of prep to do for all three classes. Science is mostly planned, but there’s details to get done. Art is a clusterfuck. Don’t even ask me, because I don’t know. Plus I’m dealing with the car, my teeth, and who knows what else this week. Making 23 videos about the elements (periodic table elements, not the other kind). And hopefully finishing the ironing of this quilt and the painting of those backgrounds, and somehow steeling myself for the next 6 months of teaching. UGH. I’m so not ready. Luckily I don’t have to be. Yet.

To the Bat Caves!

Hello 2021. Nice to see you, all bright blue skies and sunny (well, here in San Diego, anyway). Probably should have started the new year without the hangover, but whatever. Shit happens. I also think the Man made me watch motocross videos, so that should never happen again. 2020 feels like it lasted forever and yet went by quickly. I didn’t finish as many quilts as I normally would have, because my job got harder and more time-consuming than it’s ever been (oh holy hell, if you think teachers aren’t working their asses off right now…maybe some aren’t, but everyone I know is). Normally, I get 6 exhibit-sized quilts done in a year…this year, I only got 4 done, and then 2 smaller ones.

It is what it is. It’s a new year now and I can make more. I have one that should be finished this month, and then I’ll work on some more. Hopefully the job will be easier this year. Ha! Well, it could be…we went back to our regular curriculum, which is a known entity and I don’t have to redo the world to use it…just some of the world, plus we actually have two months planned ahead at the moment. A miracle. I haven’t been planned more than a few days ahead since March 2020, when everything shut down.

The last prompt for the 31-day challenge was my 2021 sewing goals…I guess that’s it. More than in 2020. It’s a reasonable goal.

Continuing documentation of our trip, after we went to Salvation Mountain, we checked into our Airbnb in Bombay Beach, changed clothes, and headed to the Bat Caves! It’s a hike. No Batman involved. I think it’s the first time I’ve crossed a railroad on foot. This was in the Salton Sea Recreation Area.

A little frightening. Except you could see a train coming for miles, because the Salton Sea area is pretty damn flat.

There was no trail, really. There was the “trail” that we followed (and eventually ditched) on All Trails. Mostly there were washes…

And we walked in them until they got really deep and we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get out of them, and then we tried to walk on top and around them, and that was funny, because then we’d have to find ways around them, all while trying to follow this trail someone else had recorded on All Trails.

It’s OK. We found the caves eventually.

We never figured out how to get up on top of the ridge, and we didn’t see any bats, although we saw and smelled guano, plus evidence of people leaving their trash and carving up the rocks. Humans suck.

It wasn’t a super long hike.

Also off-road vehicles were around…

We are not fans. We are fans of nature, though, and there was plenty of that, if you like rocks and sand. Which we do. To get back to the car, we ignored the AllTrails map and headed for that tower you can see way out there in the middle.

We also avoided the washes this time. It’s not ideal, trampling over the landscape (which was mostly dirt, yes, but also some plants), but it worked.

When we got back to Bombay Beach, it was close to sunset, and we’d been told the beach was a nice place to go then, so we headed out. Here’s the front yard of where we were staying…

I read that someone called the art installations at Bombay Beach ‘trash porn’. It’s eclectic.

The beach has some installations…

The history of the Salton Sea is also interesting. It’s sort of an oops that never went away.

The birds really like it and apparently so do tilapia.

Apparently it’s not so good for humans. It used to be a resort of sorts, back in the 50s and 60s, and then there were environmental issues.

The guy whose Airbnb we stayed in is one of three people who set up an art biennale in 2016. Some of what we saw was remnants of previous biennale exhibitions.

Lots of people were walking around and driving around, looking at stuff, considering this place is in the middle of nowhere. More on that in a later post.

We eventually managed to cook food (propane was out, minor issue), and then the wifi was problematic, so we read and then I drew…

The place we were in has art (mostly nudes) all over the walls, and one was a woman holding a prickly cactus. That’s where this came from. We went to bed early (long day) and we knew we wanted to do a longer hike the next day, so the plan was to rest up. With no TV or internet, it seems we go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Interesting, that. More on the next day in later posts.

Wednesday night, I ironed for a little bit…

Got a leg and more landscape in there. We have the beginnings of a dry river bed being dug…

I think more of it might happen today. It’s been cold at night…this dog is very catlike.

Whereas the cat was busy cleaning herself…

Yesterday, I cooked lots of things, plus went on a walk…

Came back to the house and cooked a NYE dinner with the man…IDK how the cat gets into these positions…

We watched some TV and drank a little too much (it’s been a year, y’all…it’s been a year) and went to bed like normal people. I think the girlchild did the same in her part of the country…

Although she dressed up and I was in sweats…

I also stitched a little on this thing that I meant to do over the summer and then meant to do as a Christmas gift and obviously that didn’t happen, but I finally finished the edges of the fabric so they wouldn’t unravel to holy bits and started it. It’s been a million years since I’ve done any cross stitch…

Today, I’ve cooked some more things and will probably put the Xmas stuff away and decide where to put the Xmas tree (it needs to be planted out this year…it’s getting too big to lug around and bring indoors) and maybe even take a shower. Dinner is in the crockpot and will be ready later; I have some art things I’d like to do and maybe I’ll even do them. Or not. Hard to say. Maybe I’ll just read my book, because it’s due in 7 days and 4 people are waiting on it, so I should finish it before then.

Happy New Year, all…may it bring peace and hope or at least not be like 2020.

Happy and Healthy and Safe to All…

Happy Holidays all! If Christmas is your thang, that too. Hope it is all happy and healthy and safe. It’s quiet and weird this year, but relatively safe. We are just doing one shorter gathering outside later today to do all the food and presents, and our other gathering was on Zoom last night.

I missed the prompt for yesterday, so again, I’m pushing two into a day. The State of My Work Table. Um. I don’t have just one work table…in fact, I don’t really have anything I consider a work table? I use the light table for some of the art process, although it’s currently being used for school as well. I sit on the couch for some parts, the drawing and cutting. I sit at a sewing machine that is on a desk used for other things as well. I have a rolling table I use for some other parts of the process…you can see that here with the ironing board and the sewing desk.

Everything is kind of jimmy-rigged together, no fancy work table or setup. I’d say I’m obviously doing it wrong, but it works for me. Sure, I’d love a giant sewing room with a big table in the middle, but that’s not in the cards right now. I have what I have and I make it work. I have to clean up between each project because otherwise there isn’t room to do the next one. That’s probably a good thing. If I had more space (this is an 8×10′ room and the computer is in here too), I’d fill it and have to clean a larger space. It works.

Today’s prompt is Show Us Your Scraps. Um. Again. I don’t separate my fabric by size of piece…color is a much more useful separation for me. So they’re all in bins of different sizes…

And the smaller bits are shoved in there too, as you can see in the bottom right corner…

If I need black and white, odds are I don’t need a huge piece, so this is what I pull from. Most of what I do doesn’t use huge pieces.

Christmas Eve Eve was spent watching bad television with the girlchild while grading science. She managed to decorate some cookies in between drama on the TV…

Simba worked hard…

Oh yeah. Wish I were that dog.

I took pictures of my pitiful tree…I managed 5 ornaments this year and that was it. Oh well.

It was a good thing I took that picture, because when we got back from our hike, all the presents were gone to the ex’s house, where Xmas will happen. Outside. On a deck. In the sun.

The man and I decided to spend Xmas Eve on the 4th hike of the Coast 2 Crest Challenge, San Pasqual Valley to Raptor Ridge.

It claims to be 5 miles. It’s not. It was 4.4 miles.

The first part is very flat and runs next to the road and then wanders off across probably old fields. I don’t think these are native. They were planted in very straight rows. But they’re pretty.

We didn’t see many people on the trail. Or the Not a Trail.

It’s an easy hike even with the short bit of UP to get you out of the valley.

It would be really hot on a summer’s day.

Very little shade. So interestingly, a few years back (wait…searches blog…February 2014, to be specific), I hiked from the other direction, near the mall in Escondido, past Mule Hill, out to this tree. Yes, this tree. I remember it. It was an 11.8-mile hike that day…much longer than today’s.

So it was interesting to link up to that hike 6 1/2 years later.

A view of the valley that looks similar to one I took that day. We took the required selfie (we get a patch when we finish all five)…

It was cloudy and gloomy, but still a little warm. Started to rain when we got back to the car…

It might be prettier in Spring…wildlife!

He kept poking his head out to see if we’d left. We hadn’t.

We came back and I read for a bit, then Zoomed with the man’s family for Christmas Eve, then graded while watching a movie by the fire. The sky was impressive.

Yes, I graded on Christmas Eve. Y’all, I just want it done and out of my hair. I don’t want it hanging over me. And I don’t want to deal with it in January, which often happens.

Sleepy Kitten.

All the cats were pretty chill, because the dogs were with the kids at their dad’s house. Until a moth showed up.

And then there was excitement all around…

Christmas presents for cats are so easy…just find them a bug.

Eventually the man caught the moth and we released it outside, but sure, Luna had her paw on it twice and then fumbled it. So much excitement.

Oh yeah, I drew after I finished grading.

I finished science anyway. Still have 5 large art assignments. Honestly, yes, on Christmas Day, I am going to try to bang through one of those. I NEED THEM DONE. But here’s last night’s drawing for you.

And no, I haven’t been able to work on the current quilt for the last two nights…too much other stuff going on. But later today, the family will meet and social distance and eat and gift. And then tomorrow, the girlchild wings back to Boston and another COVID test and quarantine, while we keep on keeping on here. Yeah, having her home was a bit of a risk, but the family health issues have had her and the rest of us pretty worried and anxious, so hopefully this will help. Hope your holidays are whatever you need them to be. I guess mine need to be quiet yet productive and apparently full of sugar. Could be worse. It’s a beautiful day and I don’t have to Zoom. Oh wait, I’ll be FaceTiming later, won’t I? Ah well.

Maybe Some Eggnog…

Yoinks. I missed another day. Oh well. And it’s two topics I can actually write about! First is What I Listen to/Watch, presumably while working. So I watch things while I’m drawing, tracing, cutting, and ironing. I mostly bingewatch things if I can, and a huge variety of stuff, whatever I can find that’s interesting. I’m currently watching the 5th season of The Expanse and Peaky Blinders. But I just finished Bailey & Scott (or is it Scott & Bailey, can’t remember) and The Wilds…so you can see the range of stuff that pops up. I do prefer sci fi and detective stuff, especially the dark and mostly British stuff, but why limit yourself?

I listen to things when I’m doing the stitch-down and quilting, because I can’t watch and do that at the same time. Sometimes I listen to podcasts (This Podcast Will Kill You, the Quilting Arts podcast, and my daughter’s, Rideshare, when she’s not on hiatus), but in general, I space out on podcasts and stop listening, so I prefer music. Again, ALL the musics. Well, not country and not a lot of hip hop or rap, and very little classical. So everything else. I have a ton of music on iTunes still, and use Pandora for the ease of it all.

The question for today is easy: prewash or not? I’m allergic to every chemical under the sun, and that’s only gotten worse over the years. I often got rashes on my hands before I started washing my fabric…so now it’s the first thing I do when I get home with it: put it in the machine. If I’m smart and I remember, I put Retayne in with all the batiks, especially the dark colors I like for backgrounds, just because I’ve had so many run over the years. So yeah, wash that stuff.

What else? I started ironing the new quilt together on Monday night…

It doesn’t look like much because there’s about a hundred rocks in there. Because I don’t do things simply. I make one rock at a time. Here’s some of them…

I did more last night…

More rocks. And I’m missing two finger bones. If I don’t find them in the next box, I’ll cut two more.

Hey, how are the holiday preparations going for y’all? I think I’m stuck on 5 ornaments on the tree, lights up, a few holiday things around the house. I can’t be bothered. I worked the last two days, put in a chunk of hours in prep, and then yesterday, graded three assignments. I have two more for science, but five for art, plus warmups. I said I wanted them done by Christmas, so I don’t have much time left. It weighs on me otherwise. We are hiking tomorrow, though. We’ll see.

This was from yesterday’s walk with the kids and dogs, although I ditched them halfway through and went the long way home.

It was backwards to what I usually do. But over three miles, so it was something I needed. And then I drew after dinner…

Which might have been why I never made it to the blogpost.

There are only so many hours in the day. Tonight, I’m hoping to finish grading the science assignments and the art warmups, and then ironing of course. Maybe another drawing. Depends on how I feel. I have Pilates on Zoom, which should help. I have a headache and I’m tired. I just realized there are Santa Ana winds coming in…that’s probably the headache. I met outside today, socially distanced, with my school team. Miss being around them. I just never get to vent about work at home, or I vent and no one knows what I’m talking about, or they want to fix it and you can’t fix it.

Anyway. It was a nice break from what has been my reality. Trying to be safe and sane and healthy…there are so many conflicting messages in my brain. See people. Don’t see people. Whatever. Anyway. OK, gonna go grade now. Happy holidays to everyone…may there be lots of what you need and maybe some eggnog with it.

Trusted the Brain…

There’s a definite weight off the shoulders. There’s still plenty of work to do, but knowing I don’t have to have 17 posts ready for Google Classroom by tomorrow night is a relief. Knowing I don’t have to be on Zoom and watched by parents and brothers and sisters is a relief. I can just sit quietly with myself if I want. Well, when I’m not around all the other people and animals in the house, right? It’s hard to get away from absolutely everybody, and I’m not sure I’d want that. I am alone here right now and it’s dark and I just heard something go over the gate. Or under it. Probably a bunny. But who knows; I’m in here freaking myself out about it. You’d think after living mostly alone for a goodly number of years while the kids were in college I’d be OK with it.

Today’s topic is “on the design wall.” Ah, so many assumptions in that topic…that everyone has or wants a design wall. It’s not how I work at all. I don’t ever pin something up and step back and look at it. Maybe I should, but I don’t have the space or the time, so I mostly always did without…trusted the brain to do the previewing and critiquing before things were all put together. Crazy, really. So yeah, I draw in a sketchbook and sometimes on a big sheet of paper, and then, when I’m ready to iron Wonder Under to fabric, when I’m at the color-choosing stage, that’s the closest I get to a design wall. I hang the drawing up and stare at where each piece is and stare at the fabrics I’ve already picked and stare at the background fabric, and that’s it. My brain does the work.

So there’s the drawing clipped up from when I did that. It will come down when I start ironing together next week, because I use it as the pattern: put the teflon sheet on top of it, so I can get the pieces in the right place.

No design wall. Sorry? Not sorry. It’s just now how I work. I did in the very beginning; I even had this big cubicle wall for a while that I was going to use for that, a leftover from somewhere, but there was never room for it in the house, so it went at some point…probably when we cleaned out the garage a few years back.

Speaking of the most current quilt, I’m almost done trimming all those bits and pieces…I had Calli for a while…

Simba too, but not photographed…and then Kitten…

I cut for almost 3 hours last night, quite happily.

There isn’t much left in the box on the left. Maybe I’ll be done tonight? Sort tomorrow night? We’ll see.

I also started my Winter Break tradition of a drawing a day…while gaming…

I was pretty tired, and I didn’t think very hard about any of it.

Certainly my glass ended up in the drawing…in fact, that’s where I started, with a hand around the glass.

Today’s been pretty quiet…some grading, some Pilates on Zoom with dog assist, plus a 4-mile hike…

Outside is always a good thing.

San Diego is currently full of idiots refusing to stay safe…so we go out here, where most people are sane. We think. It’s certainly not a restaurant full of people.

OK, so finish cutting, do a drawing, watch a movie. It’s supposed to be chilly tonight; maybe a fire in the fireplace, dinner from somewhere, not inside, not around people. Then sleep again, because I haven’t gotten enough of that in a good long time.