Where’s the Pillow Fort?

I’ve managed two whole days of school without quitting or making a pillow fort, so I think I might make it through today as well. There are 46 days of school until summer break, and yes, I’m counting them down. Suffice it to say that the last two days mostly sucked and I am trying to modify my brain and responses to make that better, but if I can’t, at least there are only 46 more of them until I get a break.

This year is like no other, yeah, and I know that the next school year will be different. I can do a day at a time. I take a snack break and read my zombie apocalypse book and not think about school for 15 minutes, and then I go back to trying not to go crazy sitting in a chair for so long and pushing kids through stuff that would be so much easier in person. It is what it is, and what it is smells like shit most days.

Anyway. What else? My family is here, visiting my dad, so I’ve been over there for dinner every night. Yes, precautions have been taken. People always ask.

Hey Dad. Good to see you.

The man is smiling quite happily in all his hiking photos…here he has made it to Mile 40 and 6000 feet up.

He seems to be really enjoying it so far, although he admits it is hard. I’ll see him this weekend at one of his resupplies. He’s still close enough (and will be for a while) where I can drive and meet him.

There he is in the wild. I did get to talk to him last night. We’re so used to communicating every day in person, that this is really hard. He doesn’t have cell service all the time, so even texting is not always a thing. Going from in the house all the time to not at all and almost nothing in terms of talking has been difficult. For me, at least. We’ll figure it out.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get back to my ‘normal’ exercise schedule during school routine, which means a walk on Tuesday after school. I had to ship a quilt first. This time of year, hiking is really about Spring flower pictures…

This is the neighborhood hike, so they’re not natives…

I take a picture of that one every year, because it’s such a weird flower.

Just lots of pretty. And I got my 3.67 miles in before dinner. All good.

I started tracing the new quilt…

It’s about an hour per 100 pieces, so after last night, I have about 7 hours to go…

I’m only doing about an hour a night. Last night, I got a late start and then went to bed late, and I’m still not sleeping well, plus I woke up to my blood sugar crashing again. I don’t know why, but it throws me off for the rest of the day. I’m OK at the moment, but I’d really like to just solve the issue so it doesn’t happen. Working on that. Working on more sleep. Working on getting all the late work graded so kids can stop sending me multiple emails about it. No, I didn’t do it over Spring Break. Take a breath, y’all.

Sigh. More tonight probably. More exercise, another family dinner, more work, hopefully more sleep. I really need more sleep.

Also…Luna…

Pre-whack. She’s sweet but in a dangerous way.

OK, making a pillow fort now.

Back to Monday…

Yes, it’s Monday. Mondays are not my friend. This Monday is the first Monday after Spring Break, also difficult. Plus the man has been gone for a whole three days, and apparently that will be harder than I had hoped. I forgot what it was like to be solo on a Saturday night, and during pandemic times, when things I used to do are still shut down or not exactly feeling safe to me, it sucks. I’m really proud of him for taking on this hike and keeping moving…I am…but I was unprepared for how I would feel. Luckily, there are three cats who cuddle at night (well, mostly…sometimes they just whack, since they are calicoes, but they try). Also, my family is around right now to see my dad, and so this week, I have a lot going on, which is nice, and hopefully I’ll be more used to the alone time once they leave? Who knows. It could be a very long 6 months. I need to shift what I do a little to maybe hang with more people. I have a hiking group; I just haven’t hiked with them since before COVID. They hike at different times than I usually do, so hence the shift. Things to think about. Keeping the brain occupied.

Speaking of the man, he is still hiking.

He’s got a few miles to go. Yes, he is planning on thru-hiking the whole thing. He’s moving slower than a bunch of people (but faster than some), but he is moving. I actually get to watch him move at the moment…

My kids will tell you I was a little obsessive with watching the app the first day. I was. It’s OK. I admit it.

But the second day, I did better, although once it got dark and I knew he was still hiking because of water issues, I did worry and watch it more.

Still gotta go down in the dark to get to that lake. He took a day off…that day 2 was difficult…and today he’s on to the next milestone. I hope it stays nice and cool for him, he manages to keep his glasses on his head (that was an issue on Day 2), and he just keeps moving for as long as he needs to.

Meanwhile, I’m back at online school today, trying to deal with all the last-minute changes and kid moves. I’m really done with this school year. It makes me cry on a pretty regular basis at the moment, and that’s not healthy, but it’s what I’ve got. I made some agreements with myself about what I was dropping for the last 10 weeks, things that help others but that I just can’t do any more. It sucks, because as a teacher, I really try to do what’s best for kids and families, often to my own detriment, and I just can’t keep on keeping on with that this year. It makes me feel like a shitty teacher, but it also gives me another hour a week for my own sanity. And I need that right now.

The girlchild is here to see her grandpa. She’s working during the day, but she’s on East Coast time…

so getting some sun after work is a thing. With the dogs…

Yes, Simba gets spoiled by her. He doesn’t seem to mind. What a weirdo.

I hiked Saturday on my own…I had worked (school) almost all day and needed to get outside.

I was the only person out there; I saw no one but one lone coyote and a bunch of crows.

They were probably ravens, actually. I was really tired, physically, and it was a slog for the first mile…

Eventually, my body kicked in, I ate a snack, peed in the wild (off that trail, y’all…I’m not a heathen), and then it was better.

It sucks to do it alone; I did tell someone where I was going, in case I disappeared.

The flowers are starting to pop, which is my favorite time to hike. I’ll need to vary my locations in the next few weeks to get the full flower drama.

I think this was Friday night’s drawing…getting the head in and the birds I had dreamed about.

Then Saturday night, I gave her hair and numbered her.

Lots of weaving in this one. She has 890 pieces. I will start tracing her some time this week. I’m sort of buried in stuff at the moment, but I do want to start. I’m still as exhausted as I was before Spring Break started, so I did the sleeping part wrong, I guess. I did go to bed early last night, but couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about school; not healthy, but normal. Hopefully pure exhaustion will kick in and let me sleep the rest of the week.

So teach all day, family dinner tonight, then trace some stuff, then sleep like a cat. Cats sleep better than babies, y’all, way better.

He’s Headed North…

It’s the last weekday of Spring Break. I feel like it’s whipped past me, faster than a 12-year-old on a motorized scooter. As always, though…it’s never long and relaxing, mostly because we try to shove a trip in there, plus get everything else done. Today was the big day, though…today I dropped the man at the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail and waved goodbye, potentially for a good 6 months (that’s the hope for him anyway). I’ve warned him that I’m getting a new animal for every month he’s gone (not really…probably, we’ll lose one in that time to old age and cancer). It’s weird, though…it’s been stressful for him leading up to this, the prep and the mindset, but also for me, trying to figure out how to remember all the things by myself. Although the boychild’s memory is good, he’s not here all the time. Plus petting all the cats. That’s stressful (not really). Also, because it’s the end of break and I was gone for 6 days, I have a to-do list that is double the normal size. That is totally stressful. I’m banging through each of the things as fast as I can, but the big ones (a book to finish copyediting and school stuff) are hanging over me. So that’s today and tomorrow, fast as I can.

This morning, we arrived just before 8 AM…

He’s been planning this for months, when he knew he was being let go from his job. He’s hoping to do the whole thing; I just tell him to keep walking.

His pack feels heavy, he says. Not a surprise.

He has a Garmin and I’m sort of obsessively following him (it pings his location every 10 minutes at the moment). I’m sure as we get a few days in, I won’t be so obsessive, but right now, it’s where my head is. I am worried about him getting injured and being alone, but he has an emergency beacon and lots of snacks, so I think he’ll be OK. And I hope it helps him find what he needs right now. He loved his job until near the end…jobs are more about the people than what you do, I think, and that became a problem. But he’s a hard worker and flexible, and will come back from this stronger and ready to go back.

Meanwhile, I have had a conversation with the cats and they know to come to me for pets (they already do; it’s OK).

Meanwhile, the art is back. I almost walked away from this drawing the other day. It wasn’t really talking to me, and I’d dealt with a host of show rejections and wasn’t feeling it. I left it for the 6 days we were gone, just to see. But coming back, I wanted to just make my own thing, fuck the rest of it. But then I gave it one more chance and it started talking to me, so I kept going.

It knows what it wants now…

It needs a head, and I dreamt most of that last night. I have some different techniques and materials I want to try with this one, so that should be interesting. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping to finish the drawing tonight or tomorrow night, then numbering and tracing. After I finish all the other work I have to do.

I hung out on Zoom with my stitching friends last night for just a little while…got more of this done.

It’s not a quick process.

Speaking of not a quick process: all these need trimming.

Eh. Not on my priority list.

This is coming up…

When I have a link to the online show, I’ll post it too.

My niece released a new song…you can find it on Spotify and iTunes.

She’s in college, but has been writing music and singing for a while. The artistic genes jump around in this family, but they’re there.

This butterfly…fell in the pool, I pulled it out, then it went back in.

So I pulled it out further away, so hopefully it would survive. I know their brains are small, but sheesh.

OK, I’m already exhausted (up early to drive to the terminus), but I need to do a ton of things. Going to stay caffeinated and maybe don’t watch the Garmin app too closely. He’s still moving; that’s a good thing.

The Rest of It (Not Resting)

If you know me, you know I suck at resting. The closest I get is sitting on the couch and stitching, or the bad version of that, scrolling endlessly through social media, which is, of course, silly. Short blurbs of that while waiting for someone to get out of the only bathroom or for the cat to get her blood draw…that’s cool. But just staring at it for an hour? I try to force myself off the couch for that. Even when I meditate, I have a hard time staying still, physically or mentally.

Anyway, our vacations tend not to be particularly restful physically, although I do my best to leave my job at home. I have not answered a student email since last week some time, so I guess that’s a good thing. All this lack of rest thing is why we got up early on a perfectly good Easter morning, ate a hearty breakfast, and drove the nausea-inducing, vomitous, hour-long drive from the Sequoia National Park Foothills entrance up to where the real shit is. You know, the trees. My lord, that road. Blech. Ten-mile-per-hour hairpin turns up and up and up. I was driving and still felt sick to my stomach. Beautiful sights, though…although I am still worried about the terrified deer that was tap-dancing its way down the walled-in road. IDK where it came from (cliffs) or where it was going (hopefully not cliffs).

I don’t know if my parents ever took me to Sequoia…I remember the Kern River, but I’m not sure when and where that was. Last year, we were supposed to camp in the park, which also has no showers (I’m sensing a smelly trend here), but this year, I was worried about temperatures being really cold at night, because Spring Break was earlier than last year. I’m not sure I needed to worry about that. The campground is down in the valley and I think the temperatures I was seeing are up at the top, a good 6000-foot different in elevation. So next time! Next time, we left a lot of Sequoia to explore. We wanted to get in early because the ranger the day before had warned us about parking and people (it was Easter weekend). We started at the General Sherman Tree lot and hiked in to see the biggest (in volume) tree in the world.

OK, I’m not sure it’s that one. I seriously spent a lot of time wandering around looking up and taking pictures of trees. I know the man has a picture of it with tiny me in front of it. Hang on. I got this.

See me? See tree? The man has a newer phone than I do and it has this cool feature where he could zoom out and get the whole thing, where I was stuck taking pictures of either the bottoms of trees or the tops of trees, but not both. Makes me want a new phone, just for that.

Sometimes the trees lie down for you so you can take pictures, right?

So we did the Congress Trail and then tried Bear Hill (no go on that…trees down and snow and up and it got old fast). What’s interesting is that a few years back, we went to Humboldt to see the redwoods there, and it’s very moist and wet and rainforesty, and this is totally not that. I mean, snow is wet, but there wasn’t a ton of undergrowth and it was much drier than Humboldt.

We did see two marmots.

Weird little furry beast balls. There was snow on the trail, but just enough to make it interesting…we had poles and spikes, but didn’t need them.

And it eventually warmed up enough to be in short sleeves with no issues.

We drove down to the main area and braved the crazy crowds there, although we skipped the Big Tree loop in favor of Moro Rock, which still had a lot of people. This photo is from Beetle Rock.

This is Hanging Rock, which scared the crap out of my height-hating self. I’m usually OK at the tops of things, but maybe I’m getting worse. The man walked out to that edge and looked over, and I just stayed way the fuck back. It was weird.

But no way was my brain letting me go out there. Too much down.

It was definitely much warmer at this point.

We didn’t go up Moro Rock. It was rock stairs and I was kind of done with that. Plus too many people. I can look at a rock without having to be on top of it. It’s OK.

The other thing that was different about Sequoia compared to Humboldt was fire damage. Almost all of the big trees had it…

Some much worse than others.

Burns had definitely come through this area multiple times. It was gorgeous though. Especially when we found the trail away from the road and ditched 90% of the people.

These redbuds were popping out everywhere in the lower elevations. Happy bees.

The drive back down didn’t seem as bad, for whatever reason. We did about 9 1/2 miles of hiking total and were completely exhausted by the time we got back. Although first, the man spoke to this turkey and made it shake her tail feathers and do a little dance.

Until she realized he was not good mating material. We’ll have to go back some day, because we didn’t get our National Park book stamped. We had to wait in line for the store, and by the time we got back down to the first visitor center, the rangers had packed up, and they weren’t out in the morning when we came though. COVID hours still. Or winter hours? Not sure.

Back to our little house in Exeter, where Tiger Roll (his real name) eventually parked his pointy butt on my lap and kneaded my boobs for a while. Ouch.

Also I finished the second Homegrown block, sitting outside and resting (my version) post-shower. Showers are wonderful, y’all. Really, they are.

The previous night, we Zoomed with the man’s family. They wanted a group/family hug of sorts before he left on his PCT hike. Here he is planning while I draw.

He leaves Friday. He’s hoping to do the whole thing…we’ll see how he does. Being in San Diego means I can drive to somewhere near him for like the first month of the trip…but unless it’s desperate, I’m going to pretend he’s further away…until summer, when I’ll meet him in Northern California somewhere. It’s weird prepping for a trip like that…on my end, too. Someone remind me that all the Oregon and Washington maps are in the bathroom and I need to take them with me when I meet up with him.

The next morning, we packed everything up, said goodbye to Tiger Roll and the peacocks and all the other animals…

And drove home through Los Angeles…this is near Castaic, where I had to start driving. Block 3 of Homegrown was not finished by then.

But I did manage to finish it at night when we got home.

Three done. IDK how many to go. I haven’t been focusing on these really…just sewing stuff down on them because that’s easy to do when I have no brain power. And I can’t show you the other one I’ve been working on because it hasn’t been published yet.

I’ve been home for a little more than 36 hours now and I’m still exhausted. I have been copyediting, prepping stuff for an online show, picking up a quilt and yammering with a friend for way too long (I don’t get to talk to people much…be kind to me when you do see me because of that). We have groceries. My sewing machine is back from the fixit guy. I have a drawing for the next quilt started but not finished. I have a lot of work to do before we go back to school. I need focus, but have very little of it. Straight up, Spring Break is never very restful…it’s just a break from school tasks, and a mostly short one, since I graded stuff last Monday. I still have three things left to grade (got an email from a good kid about one of them on Monday), tomorrow I meet with my co-teacher to plan as far out as we can to reduce our stress levels, the family is showing up in the next few days to see my dad, and the man is leaving on his hike…which is stressing me out, but probably not nearly as much as it is stressing him out. So there’s that. But I’m not on Zoom 6 hours or more a day, and that’s a major plus. For now. There are 48 days of school left. I can’t decide if that’s a lot or a little. But it’s not the majority, so that’s a good thing. If I do the math for how many Zoom hours that is, I might panic, so I’m not gonna do that.

Also, I’ve been rejected by I think three shows in the last month? Sigh. It’s OK. It reminds me that I don’t make work for shows. I make work for me, and when people want to show it, that’s a bonus. Seriously. It’s OK.

OK. I’m showered. I had a cup of tea. Need more. Need food. Strange cravings for English muffins. No idea why. Need to take the cat to the vet soon, plus a lot of other shit. See you later, hopefully with some art progress. I miss it!

Off the Grid…Sort of…

It’s hard to get totally off the grid, but certainly hanging out in places where cell service is random (4G in the bathroom, but only at 2 PM on a Thursday for 14 seconds) and wifi is nonexistent helps. We got back from our whirlwind trip yesterday, completely exhausted. We only did about 26 miles in 4 days of hiking, with two days more strenuous than the others, but elevation whomped us a bit as well, plus unexpected heat. 75 degrees F at 4000 feet is hotter than it is at 400 feet above sea level. That’s my excuse anyway. Plus not enough sleep, ever. Camping plus camp noises (I listened to a tree branch groan for at least an hour one night) plus AirBnb noises (that peacock chorus one night…). I wouldn’t trade the experiences out, but it does lead to general exhaustion…a different kind of tired than what school does to me, but tired. I am still tired. I could have slept in this morning, but I mis-set my alarm too early and then my to-do list entered my brain and that was the end of it. So I was up. Not fully functional, but up.

So last Tuesday night found us in a hotel room in Fresno with a massive Jacuzzi tub that I could have used every night AFTER that (my dream is a Jacuzzi, but it will probably never coalesce into reality), and as always seems to happen, one of the Jurassic Park movies was on, so we watched and I drew.

To bed earlyish…driving is exhausting, isn’t it? Then the next morning, up and out for the Yosemite experience.

I grew up in the Sacramento area, and my parents must have driven around rolling hills with oak trees a lot, because it’s a landscape my brain really responds to, so we stopped on the way up for one photo…

The flowers were starting to pop and everything was that bright spring green that doesn’t last in California.

The first view of Yosemite National Park…it never fails to bring tears to my eyes, when we get the first view of WHY this is a national park and not just some local thing.

I guess it’s why we keep going to all of them, eh?

Definitely worth it. I haven’t been here since high school, I think, when they brought us all in and sent us off in groups. My group hiked/backpacked a short distance (?) up into freezing coldness. Susie Cranston and I zipped our sleeping bags together and invited some dog (an actual dog, y’all) into the bag for warmth.

So it’s been a while…

It’s the crowds of people that keep us away. This was Spring Break, but it wasn’t too bad. A lot wasn’t open yet (like the showers and the pizza place, until our last day), so that probably helped. Plus we asked which hikes had fewer people, and when to do the more popular ones. It helped. So did camping…the first two nights were nice and quiet, once the rampaging gangs of children stopped screaming. We were on the outer edge of one of the loops…a good choice.

The last night, we were surrounded by groups of 20-somethings with copious amounts of alcohol. They were remarkably quiet, considering.

We got set up relatively early on Wednesday, and went for our first walk, but got sent back by a bear on the trail.

Hmmm. That was the only bear we ever saw, luckily? Or not.

Back to camp, cooked dinner, settled down to draw by the fire.

I cooked. Someone else has to do dishes. A tree, my view. Those damn ravens.

They’ll steal as soon as you walk away.

The next day was a our big hike day. We started with Vernal Falls…weren’t sure how high we’d go. It was definitely a climb.

We made it a ways up. Not all the way…

There was a lot more of that, and it was getting more and more slippery.

This was a good view though. After lunch and a bit of a rest, we set out to do the hike from the day before…no bear today, just deer…

Almost didn’t see them resting there.

We hiked up past Mirror Lake, doing the whole loop.

It was warm but otherwise mostly quiet.

Tired legs at that point…

Somewhere between 10 3/4-12 1/2 miles that day, between the two hikes. Our multiple apps wouldn’t agree on mileage.

Tired seemed legit. I finished this Sue Spargo Homegrown block between the driving and the camping…

Then made dinner and drew again by the campfire.

It was a good night.

The reward for lots of hiking is sleeping through the tree and people noises.

The last day, we headed out to Yosemite Falls…there were tons of people, which explains the man’s face.

He was reaching his limit. We considered trying to get to Upper Yosemite Falls, but it was hot and we were officially tired. So we checked out the Ansel Adams Gallery, got our National Park passports stamped, and got our official Yosemite T-shirts.

We scoped out a dinner option that didn’t make us cook, rejoiced that we weren’t in Curry Village (soon to be Half Dome Village), and rested a bit.

We actually got a pizza to go and brought it back to the campsite to avoid people. Yes, we hiked a mile for pizza. It was worth it.

There are other things we’d explore in Yosemite, but it would have to be later in the season. Too much was still snowed in.

I did draw that night too, but there’s no picture of that. We spent (well, mostly the man spent) about 2 hours trying to get a fire started on the third night. The young folks on either side had roaring fires (they both had fire starters of some sort), but ours was lackluster until we ignored it, and then it finally caught.

Some serious fire-building science and Girl Scout knowledge failed us on this one.

The morning had us packing up, with the ravens waiting for our leavings…

We were out early and headed south for our next park, Sequoia. On the way out, we stopped to look at some burn damage.

It’s hard to look at, even when you know some of it is necessary to the forest. Not as much as we’ve had lately, though. Lots of damage around from a big windstorm in January too, which toppled trees throughout the park.

I’ll write more about the rest of the trip tomorrow. Now I need a shower, groceries, and about a million other things to get crossed off the list. Wish me luck.

Jacuzzi?

Hi Spring Break. I’m in Fresno. It’s an exciting place to start my mini vacation, the last trip I’m going on before the man heads out on the Pacific Crest Trail. I graded for two days straight, copyedited another whole day (not done with that, no way, no how), and then we drove away from all of it, leaving the dead leaves, weeds, 5 animals, and all the leftovers in the house with the boychild, who is probably ecstatic to have the place to himself for once.

You know what? Copyediting (above) looks a lot like grading (below).

I have three assignments left to grade and nine chapters to copyedit.

We hiked on Saturday. It was supposed to be a nice, mostly flat walk around a lake. That didn’t happen. Instead, we hiked up a thing and then along a thing. Lots of wildflowers.

And a snake…

Yes, it had a few rattles.

I started drawing the next quilt…

And on Monday night, I went for ink.

Lots more to do. Got some experimental (for me) processes I’m going to try with this. Wish me luck.

I haven’t had some of this for a year, I think. It used to be a treat on the way home from a meeting I don’t go to any more. It’s on Zoom. No need to get In ‘N Out for a Zoom call.

I did some stitching in the car…been a while since I’ve done that.

The drive today was long and blah. Tomorrow, though, is Yosemite, camping, hiking, yay! Then Sequoia…half the trip we planned for last April, which all got canceled. We’re being safe, masked, hands sanitized, Clorox wipes, eating outside, but this staying in a hotel is a bit scary. There’s a jacuzzi in the room, though, and after I wipe it all down, I’m going to prepare my temple of a body for three days with no showers. Hallelujah for time off!

As Long As It Was Easier…

Yesterday, teaching was a challenge. At some point in the middle of it, while trying to draw some level of understanding out of a class full of kids who had forgotten everything from the week before and the previous unit, I didn’t want to be teaching any more. I didn’t care what I was doing, as long as it was easier, less exhausting, less traumatizing, less IDK what. I did rally, got a new monitor from school, adjusted when my doc cam refused to work during a lab, and graded a shitload of assignments. So I guess that’s a good thing. I won’t go into Spring Break with nothing to grade…that’s impossible, but I won’t go in with MORE to grade than normal.

My school is going back to 5 days a week in person after Spring Break (not me; I’m distance through the end of the year), so I’m really hoping some parents call the school (I have a list of the ones I’d like to have call please) and tell them they want in-person instead of distance. As I was thinking that yesterday, I got two new kids in my biggest science class. Yeah. That. Hmmmm. Well there’s three more days until break, so I can dream. I’ve had way too many students all year. They could shove 40 of them back into in-person and I’d be OK.

It’s OK. I’m fine. In a normal year, I’d feel overwhelmed and exhausted right now too…maybe not this much, but at some level.

Because I graded last night, I didn’t do much artwise. I have this exhibit I’d like to enter, but I’m not sure I can get my head around what to make or what to draw. I’m aware that the process of making the fabric I use is mostly damaging to the environment. I do use a lot of fabrics that other people are getting rid of, but I don’t go out of my way to search out ecologically friendly fabrics. And I often feel bad about that. I’m making work that talks about climate change, but just making fabric into what I like to use damages the environment. Sigh. So there’s that.

So I worked on the anxiety drawing on Monday night…

It’s similar to my Swallowing Heads quilt of a few years ago…that is what anxiety feels like to me.

I did more on it last night, with Nova’s help…

It’s a slow process. I spent some time last night researching textile pollution as well. Not sure if I’m going to do something with that or not. I’m back at that place of Do I make work for a specific show? Or do I just make work? I have some group shows coming up where I probably have to do some of the former…so how do I make what’s in my head fit those themes? And how do I justify to myself making a quilt about what’s in my brain instead of some life-changing statement about racism? See that’s a hard one right there. I’ve been mulling that one over since last year and George Floyd’s murder. How do you make art about racism when you’re part of the problem? I don’t need to reveal racism to the world…I need to get the racist people to see the world differently than they currently do. I wish I knew how to do that.

And honestly, my overworked brain right now is not the best place for that conversation. It’s having it all the time, but it can’t find a way out of that knot yet.

We walked Monday with the little dog…

Although he pretended to be tired at one point…

He likes to smell the things and fake pee on the things. But not always walk the whole way.

It’s spring and the flowers are out.

Then last night, I did my neighborhood walk and ran into the boychild and my ex walking the dogs.

The dogs were pretty excited to see me. Calli takes a rest whenever she can…

She’s getting so old. Her sarcoma is getting really large. She’s already lasted longer than they said she would. We are grateful for every moment of her smelly old self. Even when there is thunder and she tries to dig through the couch while I’m teaching and can’t stop her.

I see this plant every few days when I walk past this house. The flowers are pretty, so delicate though.

New cactus is so sweet looking.

These are just weeds, but they’re pretty. I love Spring; can you tell?

New growth. A break from school. A look toward summer, a longer needed break.

Although there might be plastic in the way…I didn’t want to walk on this because I didn’t want to damage it.

Still trying to control water flow when we build in the middle of its natural path. Duh. Humans are stupid.

So I am exercising and Zooming book club today after school. I’m teaching and grading all day. Today should be easier. We got the doc cam to work again, plus I’m not doing a demo…mostly kids will be completing things on their own today. Hopefully their brains are more functional than yesterday (what are the odds?). Hopefully I can get through most of the stuff that needs grading from last week and then just have this week’s stuff to tackle over Break. We are going to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks…a short break before the man leaves for however long it takes him to do the PCT. I’ve been watching some current hikers on YouTube…will probably stalk a few who leave at the same time, just to see conditions as he’s hiking. And keep hiking in my neighborhood…same views all the time. Ugh.

OK. Tired start to the day. More caffeine.

Starting with Not Enough

Yesterday, I had a plan for if I felt OK after my second vaccine (I was mostly OK; finally ran a fever Sunday night, but then had a major blood sugar issue, probably related to that, and so I’m a little exhausted and fucked up this morning, thank you very much). I was going to do some work, grade a major art assignment, get it out of the way. I need a clear brain for it, and I wasn’t counting on it, due to the possibility of side effects, but when those didn’t show up (well, until later), I wanted to be ahead of the game with grades this week. The week before Spring Break can be really stressful, although it might be easier online than in person. Plus I’m exhausted and done with school and ready for a break.

That was my plan, anyway, and then a nastygram from a parent popped up and that threw me. You know you’re overwhelmed and overstressed when just one email can take your brain and smash it up like that. Anyway, I answered the email (like the mostly consummate professional I am) and then shut down the work computer and walked the fuck away from it. Now, it means I’m not actually ready to teach this morning (thanks brain for that, thanks parent for that). But I will figure it out. On four hours of sleep (thanks blood sugar and immune response for that). It’s fine. It really is. Some part of me just lets all of it roll over me and occasionally I lose my mind and go weed the yard or just sit and cry (seriously, y’all, if your kids are in school, know that a huge portion of their teachers have cried this year…multiple times). I still have a job to do and I’m going to try to do it. I sent the appropriate emails to the appropriate staff, and if the mom follows through, her child will never have to be in my class again. I am that heinous.

It’s OK. I know I’m not. I know this is the kid. I hope the family figures it out. I understand Mama Bear tendencies; I have some myself. I also know that it doesn’t help the kid. Get all the information, make sure you understand what’s going on, and if your kid has lied to you before, y’all know what you need to do.

So with all that, I am starting this week with not enough sleep and not enough prep and not enough graded. Oh well. So be it.

Friday and Saturday night, I worked on this…so close to done.

I poked holes in my finger doing the applique. It’s OK. It happens. But I finished, and did some hand embroidery on the fish, her face, and her belly (my 2000 self made notes to do that, so I followed her instructions). And then I pinbasted her last night.

She’s different than what I’ve been doing, but not that far off. As soon as I have a machine, I’ll quilt her.

The school thing that happened, sometimes what I need after that is something that occupies my brain pretty completely…my quilt guild is doing these tiny modern blocks, so I did the next variation, the hourglass…

I have a healthy chunk of blocks at the moment, all 2″ square (well, they will be when I trim them, and probably, some of them won’t be. Oh well).

It occupied my brain appropriately for a while…

Although I wonder sometimes which is the crazier thing to do. Next up? Arrows. No, I don’t know what I’m doing with them. Piecing is not my friend. I do have a plan for art quilting this week. I just need the mental and physical energy and last night was not that time.

So yeah, got the second one.

Doing OK. Pfizer, before you ask. Could have done without the blood sugar issues. I went for a hike afterward…

It was a good day for it…

I went alone because my hiking partners were either gone or not feeling well. One of my hiking partners is leaving on the PCT soon. His band singer made him a poster…

I wish him lots of good traveling. Certainly I’ll be stalking him on the Garmin website and maybe in person for a few days at some point. We’ll see.

He rallied Saturday night for dinner…here was my pre-dinner drawing.

I don’t think too hard about these. Just do them.

Speaking of not thinking too hard, here’s Simba…

Happily dream chasing. Hope to be there tonight, Simba. OK, y’all. Let’s do this.

Y’all. Fabric Doesn’t Go Bad…

Damn. I was sure I wrote a blog post on Monday. I blame Daylight Savings…I lost an hour and I lost part of my brain with it, apparently. Still looking for it. Tell me if you see it. It doesn’t have any tags, but it’s running fast and zigzagging so you can’t shoot at it.

So yeah. What the fuck have I been doing anyway? Besides lesson planning and grading and screaming into the void? I still haz no sewing machine (I called. I was desperate. It’s not ready.). OK, I pulled out the old machine and 2 hours later, I found the pedal and the cord for it. It works fine for straight lines and basic stitching. I don’t want to attempt stitchdown or quilting on it. But it’s here for the crazy thing my quilt guild is doing, which involves these, and honestly, the crazy part is me because I wanted rainbows and wasn’t willing to just go with two fabrics.

More on that crazy shit later. When I can get any of it done. It’s straight lines (mostly) and brainless (sort of. there is math).

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to applique this thing by hand.

That fish fabric is some Matisse garden fabric from 20+ years ago. All these fabrics are from 20+ years ago.

(Y’all. Fabric doesn’t go bad.) Hey, so headless, missing fish parts, but getting there. Yes! Those are some Kaffe Fassett fabrics from back then. Even then, I loved his stuff. More on that below.

I’m getting down to the last bits, although this thing will need a bunch of embroidery, because I did that shit on my art quilts back then.

The fish are done. No, I can’t explain this quilt.

Seriously, it’s about childbirth and IDK what else. 21 years ago I had a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old and was working full time as a copyeditor and was still married. So another world, y’all. Another world.

I will finish her though. This year. Maybe even this month.

Back to Kaffe Fassett…I saw the new collection for 2021, started looking at what I wanted. Figured out that I wanted too many of them, so I used my birthday money (and some other money I got, thanks mom and dad) and bought a fat quarter package of all of them.

I will use these until I die. Or I run out. Hopefully the latter comes first. Yes, I washed and dried and folded all of them. I did not iron them. That’s crazy. I’ll iron them when I use them. I bought them from a quilt shop online that I haven’t shopped at before…and they were nice enough to send me a note…

Whoa. They know who I am. So that’s weird? Or cool. Anyway, check them out: StitchCraft. I just searched for that link and saw some other things that are catching my eye (MUST STOP). So I’ll think about those things. Support the indies! Yes, I could shop locally, and sometimes I do, but I also can’t leave the house much and this is faster and easier. Sigh. I miss shopping for fabric when I don’t actually need something specific, just wandering around the shop. I may schedule that.

School. Sigh. It has “this intoxicated thing inside of it.”

I have no idea what this kid is talking about. Although he mentioned atoms and balloons, which was on topic.

Also art. I’m going to have to do the start of a sketchbook page every day I teach art this week and next.

It’s OK. I do them during my prep period. I have to do two of them today, I think. And grade three assignments. Plus late work. It’s OK. Really. I’m sort of resigned to my online teaching existence right now. Because there are only 8 more working days until Spring Break. I may feel differently next week. Or even tomorrow. Or later today. My co-teachers who were recently quarantined (again) are feeling the pain of pivoting (hate that word) back to distance after being hybrid. I guess I’m used to it. It’s not like I have a choice. After break, they are going back to 5 days a week. That will probably be my reality in August. But I’ll be vaccinated and mostly feral. It’ll be fine.

I’m still walking, although I had to be non-strenuous (aka flat) until my stress test.

Lake Miramar has a dirt trail below the paved trail for most of the distance around the lake. Most? At least half.

It was muddy at times, but worth it to be off the pavement.

Almost 5 miles.

More than a little chilly. And breweries have opened up, so we stopped for a freezing outdoor cider before going home.

It was nice. Relaxing. Almost normal. Not really. But better. We were outside for dinner too…also cold.

I’ve been drawing before dinner. It’s good. To draw. I missed it.

Monday’s walk with the little dog, who had some pent-up energy.

Me too, little dog.

Dinner Monday night. Good food, but the recipe said 20-minute prep, and that was an hour.

I did make my own roasted peppers, but still y’all. ‘Twas not fast.

Oh yeah. Go to this link and read this article about how Michaels censored a cross-stitch artist’s book (Stephanie Rohr you can buy patterns there too) they ordered. During Women’s History Month. And then go buy her book from an indie book store. And if you have some extra cash, offer to buy one for someone who doesn’t. I just sent one to one of my daughter’s friends.

Ah Nova. You are the sweetest cat in the house.

OK. School today. Exercise. Hopefully some more poking holes in my fingers with needles (sewing. Nothing weird. Just sewing.).

Remind Me Not to Do That Ever Again…

Well grades are done. For last trimester. Now I need to start grading the stuff from last week. But it’s a relief to have the big stuff done on time. It meant grading a ton of art stuff at the last minute, so remind me not to do that ever again. I wanted everything clear before the trimester switch. I was expecting a bunch of switching students, and in reality, two switched and I got three new kids. The school has only TOLD me about two of the new kids. I’m wondering if they will ever tell me about the third. This year sucks, y’all. It really does. Plus I have literally no idea what I’m supposed to teach in art today. I know what I’m doing Thursday and Friday, but today is a blank. I’m hoping something exists by my prep period, but if it doesn’t, I’ll be winging it. No stress! Seriously. I’m supposed to increase sleep and reduce stress, and those are proving difficult. This calendar my team gifted me is helping though…

I really need to get my brain in a better place for all of it. I started the daily meditation practice again…although I keep zoning out in the middle of it. I’m not sure that’s OK. Surely it means something. I realized the series I was on, I had started it so long ago that I couldn’t remember the prompts, so I went back to the first one, and zoned out on it too. Sigh. Thanks brain! I did get to a point with meditation where I was pretty comfortable just doing quick meditative check-ins with my brain/body without the daily lesson, but I figure I need more structure with it at the moment. 63 days of school left in this year. We’re 2/3s of the way through. I’m not sure which sounds better. Science and art are roughly planned through the next three weeks…and then there’s nothing! I love nothing. It’s my favorite when it comes to lesson planning.

Grading is a lot of this…

Well I’m still drawing, because I still don’t have my sewing machine and I’m hesitant to start another new piece. This one came from the other one…

Those swallowing heads again. I’ll probably come back to this drawing. I like the start of it.

At dinner on Saturday night, I did this one.

We do go out on Saturdays at the moment, but only to places that have outdoor seating. It’s still a little chilly here at night, but definitely not like back East, so totally doable with the right shoes and jacket on. Once the man leaves on his hike, I probably won’t be doing that for a while, so best to get out and try to have date nights while we can. I missed drawing the last year…it’s been almost a year since schools shut down, yeah? I tried doing a drawing a day or a week, and just couldn’t keep up. Some weeks, I’d be totally planned Sunday night, or even mostly planned Friday night, but lately, it’s been a last-minute rush using my prep periods to get ready for the class right after. Which sucks. So drawing suffered. Art has definitely suffered.

I pulled this out from a million years ago for the #IGQuiltFest Day 7 prompt of Lessons Learned. I’ve been flailing on those prompts as well. Oh well. I used to do hand applique, still do occasionally, but soon figured out that making art quilts this way would take just too damn long.

Although someday I will finish this one. I hope. Maybe this is something I could be doing while waiting for my machine, eh? See. Lesson NOT learned.

Saturday, we walked. I can’t hike until I have my stress test and some other stuff (IDK what the other stuff is right now), but I was antsy as hell on Saturday after finishing grades (I graded through an art group meeting and a quilt guild meeting), so we found a longish mostly flat hike walk to do.

I don’t really know the difference sometimes between a hike and a walk. But this was easy enough.

Long enough to get a decent amount of steps in, but not strenuous.

When I feel like this, I want to climb things and go up and down hills in the back country. But no.

That’s industrial crap in the background. Just look at the river side! Ah well. Hopefully all that will be done and solved soon and I can go back to climbing hills for fun.

Cats…

Kitten is hyperthyroid and needs daily meds now. Luckily she likes pill pockets.

These two were whacking at each other for a good 30 minutes on and off…

Sibling warfare. They do like each other though. Just not all the time. I understand that feeling.

This week is my birthday, and we had dinner with the parentals last night. Both have had their vaccines. I’ve had one, second one is coming up. We (the visitors) stayed masked for a goodly portion of it. But I wanted a photo with my parents. I always forget to take those kinds of photos, and with almost losing dad last year, I wanted to be sure to get a photo.

Look! Mom is still taller than I am! I am the midget of the family.

OK, well, I should go figure out what I’m doing today, especially in art. And hopefully I’ll do some art stuff of my own tonight. And grade stuff. Because that isn’t stopping for 63 more school days.