Drawing on Vacation

I’m back! I haven’t had WiFi for a week, obviously. I had enough cell coverage to post Instagram photos, but then my phone died and refused to charge for a bit. There’s so many photos and stories from the last week that I can’t even deal. Maybe a little at a time. Let’s start with the drawings…because I basically did one a day. That’s the best part of being away from the house on vacation…I can’t distract myself with the to-do list that’s here. I can read, I can stitch, I can hike, or I can draw. So I draw mostly at night with a headlamp while the Man builds (and stares deeply into) a fire. It’s my form of staring deeply into a fire, I guess.

The first drawing is actually from the trip to Boston to see the girlchild. She needed a nap and I needed some down time, so I went back to my AirBnb and drew and watched some Marvel movie I thought I hadn’t seen (I think I only hadn’t seen the beginning…like I was grading during the beginning of the movie?)…

When I’m really tired, just drawing concentric or parallel lines is one thing I can do.

Then I was home for about 36 hours (max) and we left to go camping. The first two nights, we were in Ojai, California.

Everyone asks why Ojai? I don’t know. It was on the map and had hikes and campsites. We are short on money right now, so no fancy restaurants and wine tastings. Well, we did one, but not in Ojai. I used the ridgeline to start her back and then filled in from there.

This was the second night in Ojai, after a particularly difficult (it shouldn’t have been, but it was) hike…

I drew a bunch of the stuff I’d seen on the hike, plus the campfire and the mountains and the oaks.

The next night, we made it to Paso Robles and our one stay inside. The first night, we went to see Sensorio (more on that later). I didn’t actually draw that night…this was the next day, when it was a bit drizzly in the morning and we decided against the hike we’d planned.

Then later that day, we headed out to a winery with a bunch of sculpture and had a (very expensive) wine tasting.

Still focusing on the landscape; lots of trees and grapevines in this one. I didn’t finish this one, actually, until later in the day. We headed over to Tin City, which has lots of winery tasting rooms. We picked a brewery instead, because it had a food truck, and we hung out there for a while, watching the people (some) and dogs (mostly). I finished that drawing and started another…

Although I did most of the embellishment on this one the next night in the campground at Pinnacles National Park, after a 6-mile afternoon hike (mostly flat).

The next night, I drew this one…

After seeing condors just sitting on a rock and in a tree. Amazing stuff.

From there, we drove through Morro Bay and down to Pismo Beach, where we stayed in the Oceano Campground. Another fire, another drawing…

The sea otter showed up from hanging out by the bay. It’s a relief to be able to just draw and draw. My school days have been so full and heavy that drawing for no purpose but to draw is just not happening. I’m too tired and have no mental energy, unless I’m working on a specific project. Then I make written lists of things and figure out how to fit them in a drawing. It’s not like these, where I just doodle my brain out on the paper.

The last night in Pismo Beach, we had talked about my leaving the Man in Kennedy Meadows the next day to avoid the snow that was supposed to be coming in. Plus honestly, I was tired. I don’t sleep well with weird noises, and we had two nights of frogs, really loud, inconsistent frogs, and then one night of some big squawky birds (heron, egret, or cormorant…not sure which), and my foot had been hurting and I was tired of not eating enough vegetables. Seriously. I just had a salad. It was delightful. I think I just wanted to be home and sleep in a bed. I wasn’t ready to camp in snow and wind.

So I drew this…

Which was literally us sitting around the campfire. I knew he wanted me to stay another night in Kennedy Meadows, but bad weather and driving alone stress me out, and I need to be back at school on Monday, and there are a bunch of things that need to happen before then. So I made the decision to drive home yesterday. I’m still exhausted today, and probably will be tomorrow. And there wasn’t as much snow up there as predicted, but I know I wouldn’t have slept for yet another night. So I made the best decision I could.

I’ll be back up there at the end of May to pick up all the equipment he doesn’t need on the PCT, so I’ll get to camp there then. I am hoping to find some drawing time between now and then, but going into the end of the school year is not usually an easy time no matter what. We’ll see how it goes. Why did I leave him there? He’s working up there until he hikes, trying to put away some money so he can hike further. Potentially he’ll be gone through the end of July, knock on wood and barring any injuries.

More tomorrow, assuming I can get my head around it.

Ode to a Shower…

Showers are wonderful y’all. I appreciate them even when they aren’t great. The water is warm, even hot? Check. It’s above me and there’s enough water to do the things? Check. BOOM. I’m in. Yes, I have been showerless for a few days. Bathroomless even, although there was one down the hill. I had a porta-potty nearby. The flies buzzing in close proximity to the gentler parts were a worry, but survivable.

We left Wednesday and went to see Alice Beasley’s 30-year retrospective show at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica. No, LA traffic has not changed. It was worth it though to see more of her work in person.

This is Isle of Dreams Revisited.

And the incredibly relevant From Russia with Love…

Definitely worth a drive up. No matter how much the Man complained about LA traffic. If you just accept that there will be traffic, it’s a lot easier to take.

From there, we headed to Ojai and the showerless campground. It was OK…nothing to write home about, but serviceable for our needs. A nice tree, some great views, and these weird tanks.

The view…in one direction…

And the other direction…

The Man has a thing for campfires, but occasionally we’ve had starting issues. Solution? Buy firestarters…

Totally worth it for my sanity. Oh yes, I draw while he fights the wood and the fire.

I started with the mountain ridge line and added the figure.

On Thursday, we picked what we thought would be a reasonable hike. You know how some 5-mile hikes feel longer than others?

Yeah, this was one of those. It was fine. I think we were both tired and hadn’t been exercising much (for me, in the last week…too much school crap and then going to Boston).

Depending on which app you were talking to, it was 5.5 or 5.6 miles with 1400+ feet of gain.

There’s some gain right there. It wasn’t horrible. It just took us a lot longer than we thought it would.

Lots of spring flowers and butterflies…

I came around the corner into a flock of these little blue butterflies.

You’ve heard of slowing down, slow stitching, slow cooking?

We slow hiked.

It’s not a race. Came back, hung out, had a drink to celebrate the end of the hike, stitched a bit, read a lot, took a nap…

Another fire…

Another drawing…shit, that’s what I could be doing while I wait for all these pictures to load…draw!

This morning, we slept in, then fed ourselves and packed up in just 90 minutes. Drove out of Ojai to Paso Robles, where we have an actual shower and stove and bed. OK we had all those things in the campsite except for the shower.

Tonight is art, tomorrow is hiking and some entertainment. Then book it out of here on Easter for Pinnacles National Park (has showers!). I know lots of people wanna know why I don’t hike the PCT with the Man. There are quite a few reasons (my job is one), but also…showers. My goodness, it has taken two hours with the slow internet here to get this written. Time for dinner and then art! Not sure when I’ll be able to write again. We’ll see. Rest assured that I will be reading, stitching, hiking, napping, and photographing…and trying to avoid thinking about school.

Revising…

There is currently a cat head under my elbow. I’m not sure why. Kitten needs lots of attention these days. Usually she jumps up on the table, puts her butt in front of me for a second, and then moves on to the nice sleeping place behind the fabric. Today I get cat headbutts…she has now moved to the table and is headbutting my chin as I type. OK. Now she just bit me. Because I was petting her wrong. Sigh. Calicoes. They are cantankerous.

This weekend. Pro: finished a bunch of shit. Con: didn’t finish all of it. My quilt guild had their first in-person birthday…our first meeting was supposed to be in April of 2020. So it was our 2-year birthday when we finally had a party…

We did a little printing project, which was cool…

Also, on Saturday, I delivered two quilts that will be in the California Fibers’ show Inside Out that is opening at Visions Art Museum on April 16. I went to my guild meeting. I came home and mopped floors and did some other stuff, then went to another art meeting, came back, and hiked 3 miles.

The hike was good. The meetings were good. It was weird to see so many people in such a small space for the second meeting. So many unmasked people in a small space. And a few of the people who didn’t come emailed about testing positive. I’m getting on a plane this Friday…I don’t want to get sick before then…so I’m still one of the few teachers at school who is wearing a mask. Plus I saw my parents last night…sigh.

In quilt news, I got a little ironing in on Friday night…

More sky, a rocket ship, the stuff around the face.

Then Saturday night, I did the rest…

Got the face done…the hawk…

And the rest of the sky. Then last night, I pieced a background and ironed it all down…

I need to do a little more steaming before I do stitchdown, but that’s 22 hours of ironing there. As my dad said, it’s pretty colorful. I wasn’t expecting that, but the sky really had an effect on the piece. Yes it’s weird that I don’t really know what it looks like until I get to the end…and even now, all the outlining that will happen when I quilt it will change it again.

So revising my goals on this thing once again…get the stitchdown done this week and get it sandwiched and pinbasted before I leave for Boston (that’s 4 nights I have…ha! Oh my). Then I am home for exactly two days, if I’m lucky, before the end of Spring Break. Can I finish it before the deadline? I don’t know. Probably not? But I’ll try. I’ll finish it anyway, and it will go somewhere…but this school year is still kicking my butt. I’ll be glad to have a break next week. Some reading, some hiking, some stitching, some change of scenery. All good.

Couldn’t Find the Fingernails…

After a million years of teaching (and being me), I’ve tracked down the tells that I am stressed, besides yelling out “I am stressed” in the car or the house, which I do often, unfortunately. My body clues me in by refusing to fall asleep even when exhausted, but making my eyelids twitch (haven’t hit that one yet, knock on wood), the inevitable teeth grinding (started in college; froze my jaw in Freshman year), and the random canker sores. I only get them when I’m stressed out. And they last a week and are quite uncomfortable, despite medications. I guess other people get stomach issues; is this better? I don’t know. I tend toward frustrated mutterings to myself that YES, I KNOW I’m stressed. I up the exercise and the artmaking and reading, trying to make it better, but really, I just need a break from school usually. The symptoms of stress do tend to show up before breaks, so that’s a thing. In this case, though (lack-of-sleep exhausted and canker-sored), I need to get through two whole weeks before I get a break.

The plus is that I finally finished my taxes. I had to add the art sales in as a separate thing, so that complicated shit this year. Normally I don’t, but I’m no longer head of household for the boychild (he’s too old! and employed), so I need to find tax breaks for the extra income. It’s not a lot, but I can’t afford to pay any taxes this year with the septic and all. I managed to mostly balance the state and federal taxes…hopefully the state will pay me in time to pay the feds. Perhaps the feds could take less of my money too…so many deductions they are no longer allowing. I guess the middle class and those with super tiny businesses on the side are not the blessed ones…haven’t been for a while. I hope the financially challenged are getting the breaks instead of me. But now that I know I need to keep track of that side business (as well as the copyediting one), I’ll be better about keeping track of deductions. It’s not a bad thing to have extra money coming in…I’d just like to not have to spend it all on emergency repairs and taxes.

I still have a couple semi-urgent things to get through this week, and next weekend is a cluster…how to be in ALL the places at once. And then I fly to Boston to see the girlchild. And then camping and hiking with the man. Need the break. Need time to think and sleep and read and draw. Need a day where I’m not focused on how much work I can get done before the next batch shows up. The power went out Saturday morning for a couple of hours, but the outage map was claiming all day, and I freaked out…so much to do and almost all of it required electricity and access to my desktop computer. It turned out OK, and I got some ironing and hiking in, so that was good.

Friday night’s ironing of an arm and some plants…

I couldn’t find the fingernails until I went through the trash pile (reasons why I don’t throw it out until the quilt is done…I often drop things in it that need to be cut out because I am not paying attention)…

Whoops. I also found the bush parts missing from the first 100 pieces (too late; already recut them) and another part I needed. Who knows what else is hiding in there?

Saturday afternoon, after grading a bunch and panicking a lot, I did a few more plants…

And then went on a 4-mile hike…a hike I needed.

Lots of tiny wildflowers about…

No poppies yet…usually they cover the hillsides…not enough water yet or still too cold.

Yes, some of the stones are under water…

I managed it without getting my socks wet…all good.

And then came back, made dinner, and ironed some more plants…

Oh yeah, and a bat. That got me into the 800s, or almost done with them. I still have half the 400s to do once I get back to the sky.

Last night, I only had a little time, just under 45 minutes, so I did some pupfish…

Barely into the 900s now. I keep revising my completion date. Definitely gonna be tight. If at all…ah well, deadlines are just a place at which to aim. If I miss it, I’ll enter it elsewhere.

But my plan this week is to finish ironing (that was last week’s plan) and stitchdown. Ha! That should be interesting. Saturday is already gone. Sunday is half gone. It’s fine. Everything is fine.

This week is three days of labs in a row plus starting a new art project while harassing kids to finish the two they already have. Plus grading all the things and trying not to stress more about school and money. Property taxes are also coming up. Pretty sure I can pay those once I get paid. Need to write a script for a lightning talk (plus record that…dunno when that’s happening). Need to find quilts to deliver for a show. Need to enter two things. Need to do some cleaning. Some grading. Yeah. All the things. Need to do some meditation in between all that. Wish me luck.

How You Be…

Daylight Savings, how you be…all dark and tired like in the Spring. I will appreciate you in the evening, although not this week, because this week is a clusterfuck of meetings and crap. At SOME point, though, I will appreciate being able to hike in the afternoons again. It seems this school year is trying to copy last year, where at the end of the third trimester, I remember exactly nothing I’ve done because the doing of it was so traumatic and exhausting. Because I know that up front, I will write lots of notes to myself for next year’s Kathy, so she will know what I did.

What I DID do was finish the second round of copyediting, hallelujah. Gotta invoice that. I also ran some errands, sold one of my little journal quilts back from when we were doing those once a month. That was nice. This time of year, though, my brain is not my friend. Driving along, in my head…

I think I normally (pre-COVID) make it past Spring Break before this happens, but that’s a good 4 weeks away. Ah well. Embrace the suck! Find time and space for the stuff you like. For example, Saturday evening, I went to an actual art opening! I know! WTF! It’s almost like the Before Times…mostly because I wanted to see Amy Meissner’s work.

This is Milk on the Tongue, a piece (pieces?) about breastfeeding and motherhood and reconfiguring the purpose of decorative “women’s work” (those doilies! I have some of those). I love the 3D nature of these.

And the details…

And that there are 63 of them…although not here. I also loved seeing Amy again! We met at one of the Quilt Nationals (she says 2017) and she juried one of my pieces into a show. So that’s nice. Plus her work is intriguing on many levels and I really enjoy it. The exhibit is Small Acts and it’s at City College and there are lots of cool and amusing and cringy pieces in it. Totally worth it.

We also hiked (short one) on Saturday and hung out with some friends, so it really was almost like normal.

Despite the masks at the show and the constant worry you’re going to get someone sick. My school goes mask-optional today, like many in California. I’ll be continuing to wear one through Spring Break at least. I’m willing to watch the science experiment in my school, as long as I don’t have to be part of it.

I’ve been cutting things out…here’s Friday night with Kitten guarding it.

This is after I took her to the vet for her senior panel and physical, and she was still talking to me…sort of a miracle. I didn’t cut anything out on Saturday…

But I did last night…

I see progress. It’s slow, but it’s happening. I need to ramp up production on this one if it’s going to be done by the deadline. Ugh.

We went to dinner at the parentals last night, my birthday dinner. I forgot to take any photos except this one of Simba, because he’s not supposed to be on the chair. Although I guess he’s on the boychild, not the chair.

Cheater.

We have baby doves in the yard. They know not to move, apparently. The adults will fly away, but the babies pretend they are dirt and Simba never sees them.

Kind of boggling really.

Anyway. It’s Monday. Short classes, everyone will be tired and half awake, cranky by the end of the day. Then a staff meeting, but then chiropractor with short massage beforehand, so that’s a good thing. I think I’m cooking tonight too, though. Chaos day. I’m seriously behind in grading (again…goddess forbid I do anything but the day job in my spare time)…I lost a prep period on Friday to a lack of substitute teachers. I was hoping for an easy period, but no…she actually left complicated-as-fuck lesson plans, so I taught newcomers English! I think only one or two of them understood anything I said. Fun stuff. But more cutting the things out eventually tonight. A million hours from now.

Juggling…

It’s been a busy weekend…did a ton of grading and schoolwork-like stuff, made it to a quilt meeting, cut out a bunch of pieces, ironed some more, hiked for a bit, drove to a closing reception, sold a quilt (that was fun)…still not done with grading…or ironing…or cutting things out. But I have money to pay for the septic fix now (yay!) and the current quilt in progress is further along, and I should be able to finish grades today, one hopes, because they are due tomorrow.

Meanwhile, acknowledging Ukrainians trying to escape war and/or save their country from invasion while Russia behaves like a big asshole. So there’s that. On my mind, always. I have a newswatcher in the house, so even though I am gone for hours on end, I will get the summary at the end of the day. It doesn’t seem like it will end well. Certainly it has already ended badly for many. Sigh.

Meanwhile, here in San Diego, I ironed a little on Friday night, exhausted…

I’m in the 1000s…getting close. I got home late, because I stayed at school to grade all the art assignments and set up for today. Today’s Kathy appreciates that I did that, but Friday’s Kathy was pretty tired when she got home well after 5 pm. Owl box at sunset…

We’ve been having camera issues. It’s currently charging in here and will go back out this afternoon, if I remember. Simba demanded some play time when I got home too…

Saturday, I had my quilt meeting…nice to hang out and do art things in person. I took pieces to cut out, because I had a huge pile of them and it seemed to make sense. Then I ironed some in the afternoon after we hiked…it was cold out there and rained on us a little bit…

I guess ironing continued into the evening…

Still very green and brown. Which is OK…

We watched a movie with dinner. After the quilt meeting and the movie, I had this many pieces cut out…

The top box is cut. The bottom is not. There are still a ton in the other box that need cutting. Last night, I managed a whopping 29 minutes of ironing…

I think I ironed a rock and a chuckwalla. Getting closer to done.

And I sold a quilt! One of my favorites, but I think once I make them, I don’t need to own them.

They seem to really like the piece…I hope they enjoy her. The California Center for the Arts show is now closed; I brought home the other two pieces. There’s still one of mine at Visions Art Museum, and in April, there will be two more. I’m also going to be doing a Lightning Talk for the SAQA conference, so I’ll be working on that in the next few weeks…I thought I would have through the end of the month, but apparently not. Yikes. And I’m finishing up my copyediting job this week, as soon as I finish grades today. Deep breaths. Everything will get done. Everything will get paid for. I might even end up with some extra to put into savings. One can dream. Thanks to all who support artists though! We appreciate you.

Barely Here…

Hey, February. WTF. You were barely here and now you’re almost gone? What is up with that? Pro: Spring Break is coming. Con: Grades are due again. Seriously short month though…will just make March seem vast and massive. So many things have to happen in March. I’m not ready. Like THAT matters!

Sigh. The Man spent a lot of time this weekend watching Ukraine/Russia coverage, and I feel for the people living there, I wish Putin would stop and/or keel over or run out of ammo, and I hope there is a peaceful and less destructive solution to stopping him (Go Ukraine!), but there’s some disturbing info coming out about African students not being allowed out of the country, because of their color…”Ukrainians first”…when OMG those kids must be fucking terrified, let them go the fuck home. Racism everywhere. Like that’s a surprise. Seriously, I get women and children first, but also those who are helping your economy by living there but don’t actually LIVE there long term…let them leave. There should be no race discrimination there. Although even the gender stuff…why do the men have to fight? Some men probably are not cut out for it and some women probably are, maybe are even staying to do that? The assumptions we make…they don’t help society.

It was too much for my brain. At one point, I told the Man that he had seen the same news stories repeat three times now, and I got a glare for that. So I did other things. I had a lot of grading to do though, and I’m missing one earbud, so finally put it in the ear closest to the television and blasted it so I couldn’t hear bombs and more explanation of details. I realize I have the privilege of doing that, living here, but also, I have a job to do and it’s hard enough to do without bombardment of really horribly anxious things in my brain. Small doses, a summary at night, I can handle that. Lots of donation programs popping up for Ukrainians, refugees and in country. Need a shortcut on that info too…donating via a quilt block pattern? I’d rather send what little money I have directly to an aid agency. Keeping my eyes open on that one.

I’m still ironing the quilt…it’s really slow and I’m so tired these days. I would have liked more time on Saturday, but chose a hike instead, plus a trip to Home Depot so I could prep quilts to ship them out for shows. So Friday night, I did absolutely nothing. I was so exhausted after the field trip…

I stayed at work until almost 5 to get stuff done, went to the chiropractor, got home, and then cooked dinner. Wasn’t much brain power left after grading for a while.

I did iron Saturday night for a short while…

The box is filling up…and then last night, I got into the arms. They’re all sand.

Lovely sand fabrics.

I’m pretty sure I’m more than halfway. I still have more than half of the 600s left to iron, but I’ve done a bunch of 800s, 900s, 1000s, and 1100s, as well as half the 1300s, so I’m getting there. It’s just not fast. Grading all this week (grades due next Tuesday), slogging through the last project unfortunately, and then copyediting a final run through the book I worked on over Winter Break. No pressure! Stressful though.

I finished all the unit packets Saturday morning with help from this doofus.

And this one kept rubbing her head all over the papers…they must smell good.

They smell like middle-school backpacks. Yuck.

I packed up one quilt, the smaller easier one, and then we walked the dog…

He was quite happy to get out. Too much war for him too.

I came back to my ex and the boychild installing a camera on my tree…

A year ago, they installed an owl box (it was my Christmas present). We’d heard owls and disturbed a barn owl the other day, so I guess they wanted proof there was one in there.

There are two actually. Very cool.

I’m excited.

We went out to dinner and I managed to finish a drawing I started in Phoenix…the food came really quickly so I didn’t get it done.

Lots of chomping on things.

Well there’s this…

Same goes for being a teacher, I think. Today is pretty chill…notes and demos. Tomorrow is a bit more chaotic and we’re not quite ready for it. Hopefully between a teacher’s aide and two of our prep periods, we can get it ready. Can’t grade anything though. Never time for that. Too much prepping labs and panicked copying of papers and dealing with kid stuff. I’ll be glad for the end of the trimester this week…getting rid of a group of kids that are mostly fine, but a small group is driving me bonkers. Will not miss those kids. Nope. I might get them again next year, but for now, let’s hope they grow the fuck up by then. Ugh. Focus on the kids who are awesome. Focus on the kids who are awesome.

Staff meeting though. Lots of crazy shit happened last Friday. Stupid shit. Dumb adults and dumb kids. It’s done though. It’s 6 weeks until the next field trip. I can do that, because I get Spring Break after it. This job. It’s hard right now, really hard. That said, it’s not as hard as having a foreign country invading you in a dick move. So there’s that.

Run Away!

I am in Phoenix for QuiltCon. I got here by getting up at holy shit in the morning and packing the car and leaving by 6 AM. Hence my face.

It’s a 5-hour drive to Phoenix, which always seems doable until you’re doing it. Luckily the man came with me, so it wasn’t just me in my head. It’s a drive we’ve done all too many times. There are some interesting rocks and some ups and downs of the road and there was a moment of “did I wait too long to get gas?” (I did not…it was fine) and then we were here and I got dropped off and took my tired and sort of brain-weary self into the convention center. I bought caffeine and then they wouldn’t let me take it into the show, so I downed it one (bad plan) and headed in for my guild’s official photo (I don’t have a copy of that) in front of our donation quilt.

Later, I took a photo of ME in front of it (I think I made two blocks…couldn’t tell you which ones), because I was supposed to be posting all these pictures for our guild challenge, and I pretty much failed on all of it.

I’m going to blame my brain and/or Arizona time change. But there’s that.

One of the first quilts I saw, I looked at it and thought, “That looks like a Sheila Frampton-Cooper quilt.” I was right. This is her Dragon Dance.

Unfortunately, there was someone standing there and I was trying to get the right angle and fucked it up, so in the way of ALL quilt show photos, it’s crooked. I still love it, so there we are.

I have a ton of quilt photos, but I’m going back and forth between the iPad to get the photos and the laptop for easier typing, so I’m not going to add all of them now. But there were some…this is from one of the Social Justice Sewing Academy quilts…

It reminded me of some of the politics going on right now.

This is one of Latifah Saafir’s quilts, We Still Matter, made for the family of Steven Taylor, who was killed by the San Leandro Police. Saafir used pieces of Taylor’s clothing to make memorial quilts for his sons and grandmother, and couldn’t stand to waste any of his clothing, so this was the leftover pieces…

The quilt is beautiful in its own right, but as a symbol for Steven Taylor, it is even more stunning. The worn-out parts of his jeans as the knuckles…

Truly amazing.

I appreciate that the Modern Quilt Guild makes an attempt to showcase local groups and people of color, in this case, indigenous quiltmakers. This is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Children: Robbed of Their Innocence.

If you haven’t heard about the shocking number of indigenous children (and women, and men) disappearing with very little news coverage and/or police assistance in finding them, well you should read up on it. I’m fairly sure most of my readers are aware, but it’s something that makes me wonder. America is so obsessed with children and bad things happening to children, but only certain children…or certain women. Let’s change that. I appreciate how so much seems to be happening underground in this quilt by Susan Hudson, a Navajo/Diné artist.

We did hike on Saturday morning at Papago Park…these are the buttes.

It wasn’t a super long hike, about 2 1/2 miles, and not much elevation gain. We were testing out the man’s knee, which got injured last weekend. It was nice to get out though, after spending most of Friday in a car or in a convention center.

This mural was painted down the street from our Airbnb.

My Saturday class got canceled; the instructor tested positive for COVID. So I moved my Sunday class to Saturday. This beautiful art glass piece was in the classroom area…

It had a partner, but the sun was in the wrong place. This is Southern Exposure by Einar & Jamex de la Torre.

I took Activist Quilting, taught by Sara Trail of Social Justice Sewing Academy and some other members of the academy. I came in with a brain way too full of things I care about, but my table helped me realize that a lot of it was stuff I carry in my head as a teacher. I took this class (and the other one I was hoping to take) because I want to try to give my students an activist voice of their own. Although as the pandemic continues and some of the true beliefs of staff, superintendent, and school board members have become more apparent, it makes me realize I will have a hard time ever getting permission to do so. I always figured it would be an after-school club of some sort, once COVID is less of a restricting factor, but even that might be an issue in the district I live and work in. That said, I am training to be a facilitator of the workshops anyway, and it was nice to hear Trail and the others talk about how they do these workshops with kids and communities. It won’t be about what’s on MY mind, but what’s on theirs…and that’s what I’m interested in. I can make my own political and social issue quilts–I already do–I’m interested in helping others do the same.

Anyway, my block…

And as I look at it, there’s more I want to add, but I already handed it over. Someone else will embroider it and then hopefully it will end up in a quilt somewhere with a bunch of other blocks. That would be cool.

I also look at it and think, hey those aren’t even all MY issues, but those of my students and they have other things on their minds and it isn’t MY place to document them, but honestly, as teachers, some of our burnout comes from carrying the emotional trauma of the kids we teach. It’s hard to stomach, it’s hard to walk away from at night, and it’s hard to drive away and think you don’t have a resolution of what happened to that kid. And we do it all the time. So for me, in the space I was in, this was my social issue.

Here was my table and their blocks…strange and somewhat awkward to have these conversations with people you have just met, but it happened. The woman next to me is from San Diego and knows others in my guild, so small world?!

It was a good experience. I didn’t do any schoolwork for three days (well, mostly), which was great. I talked to cool people I’ve always wanted to meet at the Quilt National and SAQA booths and met Richard the kilt guy from Global Artisans finally, plus have some new thread and fabric to try out and two big hefty books to read. All in all a good thing. We need breaks. I do have to go to school tomorrow to grade art things and hopefully my classroom is not in disarray…well TOO much. And maybe this little break will help me get through a few more weeks of school without feeling like I’m losing my mind (definitely was the last two weeks).

New Growth…

It’s Monday. It’s Monday but it’s a holiday for me, which is like a gift of love all by itself. Yea through the piles of work and giant-ass to-do list I do wander with an extra day off to prep food, grade things, panic about taking one freakin’ day off this Friday, and try to pull a weed or two. Oh yeah, and it’s V-Day, which I don’t really do. My mom made me a card, which was nice. The man and I will avoid today’s crazy entirely and go out to dinner tomorrow night, because he’s been backpacking and tonight is not a hoop we want to jump through. But love to all of you, unless you’re an insensitive jerk who doesn’t have an alternatively neuro brain, in which case, I’m probably going to cut you a break.

The pro is that I started ironing the quilt to fabric, which might be my favorite part of the quiltmaking process. It’s long sometimes…this one definitely will be, because there are a lot of realistic living things in it that I want to be their real-life colors, so I’m using a lot of photos to help me do that.

I hang the full-size drawing up so I can refer to it…that’s where all the pieces are numbered. Then I lay out the first 100 pieces in groups of 10 on my table to make it even easier to find the pieces I need.

I do sections…all the creosote at one time…

This is all of the bighorn sheep parts.

Slowly I get through the tiny animals this way…they are all at the bottom of the quilt, mostly.

I didn’t get much ironed on Friday…had to finish cleaning up, plus bordering on exhaustion.

Saturday was a little better…

And then Sunday night…

Mostly earth tones, which will be true of a lot of the quilt. Blue skies, brown everything else with hints of green and some floral colors. This will not be fast. But that’s OK.

I hiked Saturday…lots of new growth popping up…

Amazing that after so many years, I can still see new things on the same old hike…

It was hot Saturday, 87 degrees at 4 PM when I left…

But as soon as the sun popped down under the ridge, it cooled off a good 10-15 degrees.

I’m debating exercise today…go to the gym now (cooler) and finish my book (need and want to do that) or wait until later and hike (pup needs exercise). Not sure I have time for both.

Sunday’s hawk yelling at me. I think it’s out there again now.

I warned the dove in the nest that she needed to build further into the tree for safety. Last year, the hawks definitely found the nest.

Simba wanted to lie in the sun, but Luna isn’t that fond of dogs, so there was a minor issue.

So what else do I need to do today? I managed to make lunches and breakfasts for the next two weeks while grading and setting up posts for this week and part of the next. I leave Friday morning early for QuiltCon, so I need to do some prep for that, both in terms of packing and writing sub plans. My sub got canceled, so I have to assume whomever is in my classroom won’t know diddly shit about art or science. Science is an easy plan…do these three things, be quiet, don’t bug the teacher. Art is never an easy plan. I told my co-teachers that if they got stuck in that class to bring backup. I need to set up a septic pumpout (fun stuff) and cross another host of shit off the to-do list. Plus finish my taxes and decide if I will ever have enough money to get the trees trimmed. Let alone anything else. Probably not.

Well bless the neighbors for being quiet today. Or gone. Whichever. I appreciate it for whatever reason. No screaming children, no lawnmowing, no sawing or drilling or other noises of industry. Just a quiet Monday listening to the birds, including the one I just ID’d with a new (to me) app recommended by a reader: Merlin. I have a loud and boisterously singing Song Sparrow (what a name, eh?). Good to know. OK. Book calls. So does the laundry unfortunately.

Let the Day Surprise Me…

Oh my. Yesterday felt like a Friday without the relief of it. I’m a little frightened of today, but am willing to let the day surprise me. I’m lucky to have a 3-day weekend here, especially since I still haven’t caught up with all the work from two weeks ago. I’ve found out that the way you tame boisterous and loud 6th graders is by handing them a glue bottle (it’s weirdly fascinating how quiet they get…before they start doing other stupid things…unfortunately it does not last long). I’m mostly done with adults at the moment…I have some I like, and some can just fuck off. I need some quiet time with my plants, my book, my fabric, on a trail, eating ice cream. OK that last one is in response to our almost-summer temperatures this week. Dry hot windy dry yeah. Hair loves it. Eyes love it. Head loves it. That’s sarcasm.

So I finished sorting all the Wonder Under…usually takes about an hour…sometimes more, sometimes less.

Basically I lay out one box for every 100 pieces and then stand there and sort all the little fuckers. It’s not fun but it makes the next part easier. From here, I will sort each box of 100s one at a time and iron them down. The drawing helps me figure out what’s what…unless I forget to number one…

It’s OK. I know it’s a lizard leg. I just have to figure out which lizard. I think this quilt has two or three of them. It should be obvious when I start ironing.

To iron, I need to clean up my studio. Sometimes this is quick and easy. Sometimes I have made a huge mess of it. Guess which time it is? Ah yes. The mess. Mostly because I’m doing some weirdo quilt-along thing where I use up stash on blocks I normally wouldn’t make. I had some half cut out but then didn’t get any further (hello Day Job), so on Wednesday night, I picked some fabrics for the third part of the blocks, and then rejected them last night, but I did get the rest of the chaos cut out.

It’s highly possible that this is too much chaos for one block, but there’s only one way to find out. That’s 6 blocks laid out by the way, in case you’re having a small heart attack. Well, continue to have it because they will all be in the same quilt top. Need something for the bed. Want to see it from a distance. It’ll be fine.

After that, I went after the piles on the floor from the last quilt and from winning my guild’s fat quarter game…

Sorted them all by colors and then started putting them away. I didn’t finish. It got late fast. Well, I did go hang out with friends and do some stitching in the evening. Finally got the pekinese stitch done on the fourth set of flowers.

The dark blue ones are what I’m on…so there’s three more stitches on each of those, and then two more sets of flowers to finish. I will never finish. That’s what it feels like anyway. I’m sure it will happen sometime in 2022.

I did rescue a stuck cat at one point last night…

She randomly gets her claws stuck fairly often…the other one does too occasionally, but she was more in sleep mode.

So tonight, hopefully I will finish clean up and then start ironing for this quilt. I might piece a few of those crazy blocks first, but I suspect it’s better to do that NOT at the end of a long school week. I’m already exhausted from all the meetings (literally ALL the meetings were this week and I still have one more) and not enough sleep. Plus frustrating students and more frustrating adults. I could do without all that.

Luckily the house (and TV) are mine this weekend. Although honestly I will probably be in here, in the stash zone, for most of the free time. I do still need to grade three thousand things and plan for another thousand, but the book calls, exercise calls (it’s been a shitty week for that too), and hopefully the weather will calm the fuck down so hiking isn’t horrendous. Ironically, as everyone else in my household is hiking this weekend without me. Ah well. Alone time with the cats. And the fabric.