All About the Rocks

Wow. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting in years. In my defense, my cellular connectivity has been iffy as hell, if not nonexistent, for much of this trip, and when I did have it, I was busy doing something else or totally exhausted after hiking over 11+ miles a day. I realize that’s not much to some, but this old body has been running on little sleep, weird food options, and lots of climbing around for days now.

Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

That said, it’s been freakin’ awesome…a mind-blowing trip of all the different geologic formations you can get in two states (Arizona a little, but mostly Utah). I think we both decided while huddled in the tent last night during a rainstorm that we were done with camping on this trip, though, as we pinky-swore to wake the other one up if we heard thunder, so we could race to the car before lightning hit the aluminum connectors of the tent. Or the ground.

First night checking out Zion…

So this is the short version. We left last Wednesday on a long drive to Zion National Park. We originally had a reservation for the east side of the park, but they closed the road going through on April 9 to fix storm damage this winter, so I found a weird but functional place on the west side in La Verkin about a week before we left. It had a kitchenette and shared barbecues, so we used those (yes, even for pre-hike breakfasts of sausage and eggs). It’s Spring Break for about a million people, quite a few of them from other countries, and they all had the same plan for visiting Zion. We went in to the park that night to plan the hikes for the next day. We also did the Archeology Trail as a warm up for the next day…and saw our first wildlife.

Mule deer everywhere…

We got our butts up early and headed out to garner a spot in the coveted Visitor Center parking lot (you don’t wanna know how early), and then caught a shuttle to a hike I said I’d never do: Angel’s Landing. It was still morning cool, which is a good thing, because that climb and the Walter’s Wiggles with 21 switchbacks (it didn’t seem like that many) is not something I would’ve wanted to do in hot sunlight. We didn’t do the last stretch that’s single file and a chain attached to a rock wall, but we did go all the way to Scout Lookout. Some might call that chickening out…I don’t care…we did awesome.

Looking down from Scout Lookout…

From there, we caught the shuttle and did all the things we wanted to do…part of the Pa’rus Trail, the Lower Emerald Pool Trail (Upper and Kayenta were closed due to storm damage), Weeping Rock, and the Riverside Walk out to where The Narrows starts (also closed, because the water flow was high from Spring melt and rains). At that point, we’d had it with crowds of people and their bad tourist behavior. The Angel’s Landing crowd understood trail etiquette and were amazing…the shorter hikes? OMG. People. Really. So we headed back to our domicile and another barbecued dinner. We did a lot of miles that day…my app says over 14 miles that day total.

Waterfall at Weeping Rock

Friday found us driving to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we camped outside the park, because everything else was first come, first served, and we didn’t want to risk having nowhere to stay. The campground at Ruby’s Inn was quiet and the showers were free and hot, and it wasn’t as cold at night as it was originally supposed to be, but it was still pretty damn cold. We got there pretty early on Friday and set up camp, and then headed off to Bryce to check it out. I’m glad we did, because we saw a bunch of the easy stuff on Friday, thus allowing us to do a really long hike on Saturday without feeling like we had to then go look at everything else. There was snow at Bryce, most recently from like 3 days ago.

See? Snow.

Sleep was not our friend Friday night; it was just too cold. Nevertheless, we got up early again and headed out for the Fairyland loop, which goes down into Bryce and wanders around, then climbs back out (oh yes, at elevation No Oxygen for You), and then traverses the Rim Trail back to the Fairyland parking area. Wow. Great hike, but we did way more than the 8 miles it claimed.

Down in the amphitheater…

We figured a better sleeping plan on Saturday night (towels on top of the air mattress to stop the cold seeping up from the ground, even though we had a tarp that was supposed to help with that, plus three layers of clothing, and wool socks, dammit, because cold feet were an issue the night before), and got out of bed early again, expecting (rightly so) a long driving day.

I have absolutely no idea what this is a picture of, but it was on Sunday.

We made it through parts of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument and then Capitol Reef National Park, and finally headed into Arches National Park in the late afternoon, where we actually had a reserved site. At this point, it was Easter night, and there was no firewood or alcohol to be had (both useful for keeping moods light after a long hard day of driving, plus trying to pound tent stakes into hard rock), so it was not the best night, but the morning dawned ready for a day of hikes. And hike we did.

Double Arch in Arches National Park

We were camping in Devil’s Garden, so we started on that hike, although we turned around at the rock scramble where I was like um no way, can’t do that. So we then drove through the park, stopping at just about every possible sight, attempting one longer hike at Park Avenue (way too hot in between the rocks). We made a quick trip into Moab for alcohol, ice, gas, and firewood (the necessities), but then continued on to see the rest of the arches and other bits. We made it back to the campsite, and set out on a trail marked by rock cairns to see three different arches. I think that was what put us over 11 miles that day. Awesome views though and mostly avoided stupid people.

Crazy drive at night in the rain…

We had decided to treat ourselves with dinner out (there’s only so many camp meals we know how to make before wanting to drown ourselves) , so we headed into Moab for burgers and beer (or wine, as you prefer). On the way back, in the pitch black, a rainstorm wandered in and we white-knuckled the drive all the way through the park to the campground, watching lightning strikes out there in the clouds. The campground was dry as a bone, until about 5 minutes after we arrived, when the raindrops started…and then the wind. Holy crap, everything in the car or the tent, no fire tonight! In the end, we were so tired from the day of hiking that we went to bed, no thunder ever sounded, and we slept really well. Not too cold, just right, so tired we didn’t mind any of it.

Monument Valley

There was no cell service in our campsite (further up the hill had it, but they also probably had a rougher night with the wind and the rain), so we had mapped some ideas out at dinner in Moab. Canyonlands was a possibility, but in the end, we decided to brave the crowds at the Grand Canyon. We left Arches this morning and drove through Monument Valley (we didn’t go through the actual park…that’s for another trip) on our way to Tuba City, where we actually booked a hotel room. With a shower. Because there weren’t any in Arches and I think we really needed that. So we’re clean now and have a crazy plan for tomorrow, I had my Indian Fry Bread and retraced the most recent embroidery…more about those and the daily (almost) drawings in another post. Grand Canyon tomorrow and then heading back home. It’s been a whole lot of wow and hiking our old asses off, but I think it’s been an amazing trip so far. We have a pact for tomorrow to leave the park when one of us feels like pushing someone over the rim. We know this will be just a quick view of the park, and we’ll plan another trip later.

I have graded nothing. I have dealt with very little email, due to lack of access. The world is still rotating, though, and that’s a good thing.

Filter Out the Noise*

Notre Dame…it seems you will be rebuilt yet again. I’ve seen so many people posting pictures of it in days past. I did visit Notre Dame, but was in those fussy artsy photo years, so if I have any pictures, they are probably of gargoyle-type things in black and white from my junior year abroad. It’s sad to see it burn, but I’m hoping enough of the stone and glass survive to allow it to be rebuilt. We humans are stubborn about our architectural symbols…so many of the big churches have been burnt and rebuilt multiple times. I wish we could show as much empathy for humans as we do for buildings…although this is a beautiful one, for sure.

The drawing for the next quilt is coming along nicely. It might be done today. It might not. I can’t show it to you, nonetheless, but suffice it to say, it has some imagery I’ve used before and some new stuff…because that’s always the way it is. I seem to only be able to work on it in the middle of the night, so that’s something. I wandered around it, staring at it multiple times during the day, but the stress of trying to focus on just one thing and get it done kinda got in my way. That was true for mostly everything yesterday.

I did run errands, mostly successfully. I did laundry and pulled the first round of clothing for the trip, now to be culled down to something reasonable. I am an overpacker. I admit it. I wrote out a very color-coordinated list of everything we need to take with us. Except I probably missed something. Today we try to make sense of that list. I have one medication that may not arrive in time, but it isn’t crucial. I still need to run a couple of errands today, including sitting in front of my school, waiting for the last 16 kids to show up with their Unit 6…I’m betting on the one who emailed me and no others. But they can’t say I didn’t try to help them.

We did walk the dogs too…it was too beautiful a day not to do it…

I meant to go to my quilt group meeting, but this happened instead…

And then I spent an hour or so with HTML code. Like you do. Still haven’t totally solved that issue…

This is all at Crestridge Ecological Reserve…

It’s further away, so we don’t usually go there.

But I’m on break, so there.

More flowers I never usually see…

The rain was good for that this year…

Looking forward to seeing some new landscapes in the next week…

Posting here might be more difficult…

I’m OK with that. No, I haven’t finished grading stuff. I have 10 things left to grade. I’m trying not to think about that.

I’m trying to think about the flowers instead.

Certainly they’re less stressful.

*Young the Giant, Simplify

Helps If I Have a Title

It’s all about checking off the to-do list at the moment. How much can I get done before we leave on our trip? How much can I get done before we go on Spring Break and I can pee whenever I want? How much can I get done in class today? How much can I get done in an evening? I made myself go on a walk after school yesterday, because after tutoring and the chiropractor, I still had enough daylight. And it’s good for me. It confuses this guy…

Yeah, that’s my dog. At my ex’s house. Don’t ask. He comes barreling out of the house to bark at me as I walk by, and then realizes it’s me and wants to know why I’m not walking him. Huh. Well sometimes I like NOT picking up poop.

This is the urban hike I sometimes do. It has a lot of weeds right now.

At least on this section. There’s a big hill at one end of it. Good exercise. Takes me about an hour. Then I can come home and cook dinner and get on with things.

I graded for a while and then realized how late it was and that I was supposed to finish the binding on that quilt last night, because I have a union meeting tonight and I’ll need to iron, dehair, and pack up both quilts, which is not a small amount of work for one evening. So I stopped grading (I like to finish a whole assignment if I can. I didn’t.)…and started sewing binding down.

Assist not needed, Satch. Yeah, I did the whole thing. I finished just before midnight. There’s a couple of embroidery stitches I need to do as well, but they won’t take more than about 10 minutes. So she’s done.

To the photographer tomorrow…and then I start on the next one. Which I can’t show you. Awkward. Seeing as how my whole artistic existence is focused on what the hell did I get done yesterday? Well. We’ll see how I roll with that. Might be hard. Lots of dog and cat pictures. Weird views of lines and piles of stuff that you can’t recognize. Wait. That sounds like about half the quiltmaking right there. I’ll be fine. First I have a pretty significant to-do list to get through today…starting with the last of the girlchild’s college payments. Yay! (don’t think about the loans. It’s OK.)

Feeling Fresh Like a Ziploc*

Somebody’s phone was buzzing with notifications last night and it wasn’t mine. It’s a weird world we now live in, where technology is so ingrained in our existence, when a mere 30 years ago they weren’t…maybe even 20 years ago? It means I’m a little tired this morning. Buzzing wakes me up. It doesn’t wake everyone up. My brain’s not fully up though. It’s wondering about sleep. Still. Forever maybe.

My progress report grades are done. Good thing because they’re due today. Before I finished them, we walked the beasts. I need a good walk on a Monday afternoon…

It cleans out the crazy shit in my head after meetings and kids.

It was hot though, almost 90 degrees. Ugh.

This time of year, teacher empathy is really at a low. I don’t understand parents or how they deal with kids. You look at really bad behavior and you know it doesn’t come from nowhere. This one kid is driving us all bonkers and parents made this. He’s a fucked-up mess and a bully and is being a general shit, when he’s capable of much more. But there’s zero parental support for that. We have 4 days until Spring Break, and then he’s not my problem for two weeks. He’ll still be my problem when we come back, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel for that.

Trying to get the dogs to drink water while walking…they don’t like it.

The thing is, whatever jerk I have this year? I’ll have another one next year. And I’ll start out with a shitload of empathy and try to work with them, and at some point, I won’t have it any more. Or I’ll use it on another kid, a kid where it seems to have an effect.

It sounds really awful, but we are human and some kids are in need of more help than I can ever give them. At this point, I’m just managing behavior. His bullying is increasing because he’s feeling pressure somewhere. I’ll report everything I see and hear toward other kids…his need to bully adults though? That’s amusing. As a middle-school teacher, I always find it funny when they use the stuff they use on other kids on us. Talk about my clothes? Talk about my being chubby? So what dude. You’re not hurting a grown adult who works with kids all day with that shit.

It really was a beautiful walk. I managed to kick that kid out of my head until I did his grades. And then for the rest of the night.

I think it was too hot for the old lady though…

She was moving pretty slowly. The dog. And me, I guess. We let her lie in the water to cool off a bit.

See the tongue?

Pretty sure this was dead.

And LOOONG.

So after dinner was made (by me, to be clear) and grades were done (also by me), I trimmed the quilt and remembered to put the binding in the dryer and then put it on the quilt.

So a bunch of handsewing tonight and I’m done. Tomorrow I can iron and dehair both quilts and deliver them to the photographer, and then I need to draw the next one. I did one preliminary drawing. I need to do something slightly different. But I can worry about that tomorrow. Tonight I need to finish this. Before that, I need to go teach hotspots. And some of the kids are kinda like hotspots. They need our attention. Rolls eyes at encroaching empathy attack. Damn. It’s in me. I can’t stop it.

*Max Frost, Good Morning

Progress Unseen

My website is acting like my students. Won’t do it the first time I ask…finally loads when I try again. I know how they feel. Sometimes it’s just hard to do what you know you’re supposed to do. Grownup brains might do a better job with the have-tos. Because we understand the consequences. I walked yesterday after work…it was good. I didn’t take any dogs. It was still daylight when I got home, even though it was after tutoring. I was definitely tired. My legs were absolutely yelling WTF you already walked all day. Whatever. At my age, budging the weight is not easy, but it needs to go. I need to move.

There’s a walk near home, so I don’t have to drive. I actually walked past my ex’s house, so I saw the dogs…but didn’t feel like dragging them along too…

New flowers though…it’s what we call the flume road. I don’t know why. Presumably there was or is a flume…

It’s just a semi-wild path between houses…

It’s mostly better than just walking on the street, although I do that coming back.

I scared a whole shitload of bunnies during their evening plant munch. I’m always boggled to see ferns out here in East County.

Passion fruit? Or some relative…

I used to have one of those just for the flowers. It’s too hot out here for them really.

They need more water than I usually give plants on my property. The walk was good. Needed. But it’s time too. I lose time…for a good cause, but it feels stressful with everything I need to get done. I graded some stuff after dinner…although I’d already started cutting pieces out. I took a break and did one quick assignment, one part of the big project they handed in last week. Only 6 more parts to go! Yeah, this one is a pain in the butt to grade.

The box on the bottom is everything that needs to be cut out. The box on top is my trash. Every 6 months or so, someone really wants my trash. They are freakin’ tiny pieces. But people use them. I toss them once the quilt is ironed together.

I keep them for a bit just in case I need a small piece of something that gets lost while I’m ironing.

There’s the stuff that was cut out before I started the second round of cutting…with Satchemo in deep sleep.

I kept cutting for another 2 1/2 hours or so. So I figure this will take about 8 hours to cut out, maybe a little less. This (the top right) is a little over 3 hours of cutting…

And it looks like nothing…like I’ve barely touched the surface. I mean, you can see in the trash box that I did something. And certainly the really little pieces sometimes take longer to cut due to fussiness…but it looks like I’ve barely started, when I’d like to think that I’m almost halfway done. Yeah. No. It doesn’t look that way at all. All right then. Progress unseen. There’s a lot of that going around these days. Totally.

Tonight? Tonight I have a 2-hour meeting after school. I won’t be walking after that. I will be on the stationary bike. It’s not my night to cook (holy hallelujah). I will grade something small again. I will cut more things out. These are my plans. They are pretty simple. Oh yeah, I probably need to enter a show too. OK. Well I wish I could do that and the bike thing at the same time, but I don’t think I can. I probably could grade at the same time though. First I need the boychild to build an adjustable desk for the stationary bike…yeah. That. OK, maybe I’ll just try the iPad. That might be smarter. First I need to go to school and teach what’s alive (me, apparently) and what’s not (a rock. A real rock, not the middle-school kid brain three weeks before Spring Break).

The Pile Is Still There…

That moment when your daughter, who is less than 2 months away from graduating college, tells you she’s dropping out to become a boudoir photographer.

It’s OK. She’s joking. I’m good. I’m laughing even.

Long staff meeting yesterday. It was supposed to be fun, a photo scavenger hunt, but I wasn’t in the mood for it. I have too much work to do. I wanted to get home and walk the dogs. Which I did anyway…

There’s still water in the streambed…

This guy wasn’t scared of the dogs…

Everything is so pretty now…

Lots of flowers and greenery…

Enjoy it now…it’ll be dead in a couple of months…

Walks are good for dogs and humans…pretty interesting flowers on this bush.

I know this bush is always there, but I don’t remember the flowers…

I’m just so happy when I make it out there, even though we got back at like 6:30 and then I had to cook dinner and it was late and I was tired. It’s OK.

Lots of these little guys…

Anyway, after dinner, I did not grade anything. I figured an almost-2-hour staff meeting that was mostly a waste of time (sorry…I wasn’t in the mood for interacting with people. Introvert problems) meant I shouldn’t have to grade at night as well. Plus I wanted to finish ironing…which I did! So 8 hours total of ironing to fabric, with 142 fabrics…

That’s a lot for a quilt this size. But there’s all the pieces…

Now I need to cut them all out. Ha! OK. Easy peasy. I only worked for about 30 minutes, because it was late by then, but I did a little.

You’ll be seeing this pile for a few days. Hopefully not a lot…but who knows. Meanwhile, work calls. Loudly. Sigh. I always feel bad when I don’t grade at night. Silly really. I should be able to take a break. But then I get to school and the pile is still there.

Gonna drag my introverted self out of here now. To school. With a million people. Yeah.

“You’ve Been in the House Too Long” She Said*

You know how exercise is supposed to help you sleep? Hmm. Me too. I know that. I don’t always have that experience, but I know it’s supposed to. Last night. Sheesh. No rest. I don’t know if my brain was the issue or my body (my neck really needs the chiropractor, which is tonight, unless I forget again, which is what got me in trouble in the first place)…the dog needed to pee at around 4:30 AM; that was fun. I just don’t know anything but that I was awake a lot for such a short period of time of sleep. I went to bed too late because I was ironing the flesh colors down and I like doing that in one fell swoop, but then I had to be up early for a meeting (ugh). You might have noticed that I don’t like early. I don’t. And I was really tired yesterday after the dog walk…it took me a long while to rally.

The plus is that the kids were much better at labs yesterday, thus saving me from sacrificing one (or ten) of them to the science teacher goddess. Let’s hope that continues. The staff meeting was short and sweet. Also a blessing. Well, not sweet, but certainly not as onerous as some of them are.

Mondays are for dog walks…when I don’t have 2-hour meetings and no daylight. We haven’t been here for a while, maybe a month…the first part of the trail is still underwater…

No biggie…we go around. Although there were ducks swimming in it…and tadpoles growing in it (OK, they’re really hard to see in here, but they’re gray-ish and pretty large).

Is this a quilt blog? Well, sort of. Quilters should go on walks and get inspired.

Still green and bloomy…although not superbloomy here…the dogs still like it…

I just like to get out and exercise…

The wildflowers make it good too though…

It’s like this annual fascination with Spring…

Every year I’m like OMG, look! There’s flowers!

Some sort of renewal in the brain brought on by the weather. Honestly, these flowers are easier to think about than job stress, weight loss, the shooting in Christchurch, the flooding in Mozambique, the idiocy of my elected officials.

Yup. Flowers. And a good long walk after work.

For some reason, the puppy doesn’t like this hike as much as the others. He fights it until we turn back toward the car, and then he’s fine…

Although we took another side trip up to see the vernal pool…which was huge!

And had those other big fat tadpoles, but also these tiny ones…

Makes me wonder where all the frogs are most of the time…

There’s glass up there…that’s why he’s carrying the pup. So he doesn’t get glass in his toes from the dumbasses who break their beer bottles up there. It’s nature, but the town is right there. And people are stupid.

They kept following me around when we got home…although I think this was following someone else around.

After the walk, I did some photo editing for work, some scanning for embroidery designs, some business paperwork, some email…picked colors for this one…

I have a really hard time seeing what they will look like without stitching them out. That’s soon, I guess.

After some flailing time, some braindead time, I finally persuaded my old tired body into the studio for this…picking flesh.

It’s really much easier to do all the fleshy bits in one go, so I did. It was pieces from the 100s through the 800s, so I have no idea how much I actually did…at least 100 pieces, I suspect. I have one piece of the cheek that I couldn’t find, so I’ll need to retrace that tonight.

Fitting pieces together. I don’t like to waste fabric.

Somewhat obsessive about that. Here’s where I’m at so far…

Not a whole lot of color yet. Wait until I do all the other stuff…bugs and sky and heart and hair…it’ll have lots of color then. I fell asleep to imagining the hair all the colors of nature. Which is good, because that’s what this quilt is about…my need to be outside for a little bit every day, for longer when I can. This week will be a mishmash of finding that space, for sure…too many meetings. So I’m glad I got yesterday’s walk in.

OK…meeting, school (last day of labs hallelujah), tutoring, chiropractor (oh holy moley my back and neck will be so happy), and then whatever else I can handle before I iron again. It’s a good plan.

*The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now