UberOverwhelmed

I’m not the only one who feels like this week has gone on forever. It was somewhat of a surprise to wake up this morning and realize it was finally fucking Friday. A joy! Well, I still have to get through the day, but I think it will be easier than yesterday? I hope? I finally started getting my head around the new art assignment that starts next week. I have a plan, at least, for the first full week of it, mostly. MOSTLY. So that should help. I realized Monday that I just assumed I could teach whatever was there without reviewing it, and I was oh so wrong. Again. Art reaches up and slaps me in the face again. “I drink and I know things” doesn’t work for teaching middle school. Anyway, I have a goal for today during school: to get everything posted for next week today, so I don’t have to spend hours on Sunday doing it. We’ll see how successful I am.

I’m up 5 students this week, after being told that I would get no new kids without other kids leaving. Such a load of bullshit. Whatever. I have dropped a few of the May Do’s that I had assigned myself for school, because I am a good teacher and I do all the things, but this year, no one can do all the things without insanity, and hopefully that will help. I’ve got people who are doing things to help me, which I greatly appreciate. I am beyond overwhelmed. Is there a beyond overwhelmed? OVER is already beyond whelmed…how can you get beyond that? UberOverwhelmed? That’s it. That’s what I am. 44 days, y’all. 44 days.

Meanwhile, the man hikes on. He’s at about 63 miles last night? I think? And I will see him tomorrow at mile 77 and hang out with him for probably less than 24 hours. I’ll drop him back at the trail, and then it will be a couple of weeks at the minimum before I can meet him again, and that’s only if the trail and my schedule work out. Hopefully. And also hopefully, my brain will start getting used to being the only one here for part of the time. The boychild is here half the week with the dogs. Otherwise, it’s just me entertaining cats.

They are finally coming out a bit. They do like to hide in the bedroom, but it was sunny on Wednesday morning, so they were happy about it.

Nova likes pets…

So does Luna, but she still whacks.

That’s her pre-whack face, so I’m standing back a bit.

We’ve been doing a little cat entertainment in the evenings, once the dogs have gone to bed.

Luna enjoyed that. The girlchild is working here, still on Boston time, and she takes the dogs to bed with her at a very early hour, but that gives the cats some time to run around without them. Not that the big dog cares about them, and half the time, the little dog doesn’t care either, but try to tell the cats that.

Speaking of the little one, he’s not good with being quiet during meetings…

Or for that matter, during class. My students know about him. He’s sometimes a giant pain in the ass. Like most little dogs.

One of my quilts is in the current issue of Fiber Art Now, part of the Excellence in Fibers exhibit…

Which didn’t get to be an actual exhibit unfortunately. Ah COVID. So many things.

And I am still tracing away on this…

I didn’t get any of it done on Wednesday night…was working on copyediting, and then was too tired to pull everything off the light table to do any tracing. Last night, though, despite being on Zoom from 8 AM to 5 PM, I pulled stuff off for my quilting Zoom and traced for 3 hours straight, so that makes up for it. I’m in the low 400s now, not quite halfway though. Getting there. I’m not expecting to get any of it done in the next two nights, though. Family plans plus the Man plans. All good. I’ll get there. It’s not fast, though, not so far. Lots of little pieces to trace down in the planet. It’s been confusing figuring out what is overlapping what. But meditative to trace. That’s the plus.

OK, well I have some late work to grade, some planning for next week to do, and a day of teaching cellular respiration and texture. Those do not go together. Then I am part of the SAQA conference that’s going on right now. I did the meetup last night and met some people from New Zealand and Boston and Wisconsin and Sacramento and San Francisco and that was cool. There’s some stuff tonight too, but I might miss most of it for family stuff. I planned to attend the conference before everyone else’s plans coincided with that. It’s OK…there’s stuff during the week next week and I’ll be around for next weekend’s stuff as well. I’ll get my money’s worth in the end. For now, I’m going to focus on one block of time at a time. 8-3 right now. That’s school.

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!

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!

Cute Clean Tape Dispensers…

Hello Friday, the last day I have to teach or be on Zoom because of work until April 12, you delightful day, once I survive you. The last day of March for school. The last day I have to cajole kids to work, remind them of why I can’t give them all the answers, text their parents to get them to at least pull up the document we’re on, try to do chemistry or middle-school art on my light table instead of art that I want to do. I wish I could say that I won’t look at work over break, but that is impossible. I am still grading last week’s work. I want as much as possible of this week’s work graded before we leave for Yosemite. We’re planning the next unit when I come back. Plus I have a copyediting job. I need the money. Sad, isn’t it, that a public-school teacher has to take on extra work to pay the bills, but that is reality. So I’m actually relieved and stressed at the same time. Fun times.

At least I can do all the school things with music playing or with dead silence (well, except the screams of the neighbor kids). Not half turned, crick in my neck and back, trying to grade AND follow the chat AND answer questions as kids are finishing assignments. Wishing I could actually send them out for the asynchronous time, but knowing that they will not complete their work if I do that. This year is exhausting. \

So I have a show I want to enter, and I let it percolate in my brain, even sent the call to the girlchild for her expertise (although she just suggested what I was already thinking). Tried to draw some version of it the other night.

It’s under the cat. I swear there’s a drawing under there. It’s not a very good one though.

You know when your cat suddenly stares intently at something and you turn around and there’s nothing there?

It’s totally ghosts. I guess she left me the big planet there to draw on, but I was working on the person. It’s OK. I needed to go to bed. I needed to let it percolate more.

And then last night, my decision was to clean off most of the light table (I do still have to teach art today) and start it on paper.

Full size. Fuck the sketchbook. That tape dispenser is ancient by the way. Like circa 1989. And obviously never been cleaned. You don’t notice until you Instagram it and everybody else has cute clean tape dispensers. There are so many things in the world that I don’t have time for.

Did I mention my taxes? I need to do those too. I started. I yelled a lot. I asked the boychild a question that I would normally ask my dad. He had the answer; ironic, since he doesn’t pay taxes. Or own a house. Or run a business. Or two. Plus a day job. I need a new life. Or plants. I might just need plants.

This month just makes me feel like crying constantly.

OK, it’s almost done. I can do one day. I can do 6 hours with 45 minutes in between. Except not really 45 minutes because I work on either side of it, but 5 hours and 15 minutes, wait, subtract the 5 minutes in between each class, so 5 hours and 5 minutes with kids. FIVE HOURS AND 5 MINUTES WITH KIDS ON ZOOM. Yeah. That’s my day. Before some education ignoramus jumps in, that doesn’t count the hours before and after school…yesterday was 8 AM to 4:30 PM on Zoom with a few breaks, plus another 90 minutes of grading after that and 45 minutes before. UGH.

It’s fine. It pays the bills. It’s a job I love and hate on a regular basis. I can love my job and still hate parts of it. I can love teaching and still know that some of it is incredibly fucked up. District: “we’re not adding anything new this year; the pandemic pivot is enough for you to deal with.” Also District: “HERE’S a new program and HERE’S a new program and HERE’S a new program, and you’re required to teach them all. THANKS!”

So here was my chemistry setup this time.

I’ll have to bring this back in April for one of the labs. But I cleaned all this up. Art must be made here.

While I was teaching yesterday, this huge hawk kept hanging out on my front fence, looking for rodents or baby bunnies, I’m sure. Its partner was on the electrical line above. Beautiful animals.

The kids were sort of shocked that I could see a hawk. They live about 2 1/2 miles north of me. There are probably hawks there too…they just don’t see them.

Mini modern blocks are still happening.

This was Sunday, when I was irritated by that parent. I didn’t finish these.

OK. I can do today. I can do all the things. I can copyedit everything and grade everything and finish the taxes and get ready to go camping in four days. In the cold. It’s all going to be fine. Eventually. Fine.

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.

Just Nod Your Head…

Rough week. Also, why can’t WordPress pick a font for drafts and stick with it? Also, pivot pivot pivot, even if you’re at home, you will have to pivot. It’s OK. I changed half the art stuff yesterday during lunch because…well, lots of reasons. It’s OK. It’ll be fine. I’m exhausted and headachy and panicked about getting all my work prepped today and tomorrow in case the 2nd shot knocks me out, plus there still is a shitload of stuff to do even if I don’t have a reaction (knocking on wood like a crazy banshee, don’t bring it upon me because I have thought about it, you know?). I need a break. It’s a good thing one is coming, although it’s already full, I think. Some travel, which I hope is good and relaxing, but it might not be. Positive thoughts…at least I won’t be sitting here, staring at Zoom. Thursday, I was on Zoom from 8 AM to 4:45? PM? Something like that. For school. I had a 45-minute (well a 41-minute) break in the middle for lunch, and then I was on Zoom again at 7 for a social thing. Ugh. Tired of that.

Did I mention exhausted? Ugh.

OK, so my quilt guild is doing this #minimodswap of miniature modern quilt blocks, and I wasn’t gonna touch it with a ten-foot pole, but then I saw a rainbow version and I have all these solid fabrics someone gifted me and nowhere to use them really, plus I can’t do one of my normal art quilts right now, and I really really need something brainless at the end of the day, so I did some.

OK, I did 49 of them. I’m gonna do some more, but not a lot more, I don’t think. I mean, it’s interesting enough, but I don’t need to do this. And I’m honestly not very good at piecing things. One of the blue Xs is really off, because the rotary cutter sort of didn’t go straight and I sewed it together anyway. I am not a perfectionist. It’s why my method of quilting works for me.

I am still doing hand applique…I think I have 17 pieces left…

Just the stuff in the face and a bit of hair on top. Then I’ll sandwich and quilt her, once I have my good machine back. The old one keeps freezing in the middle of stitching and the only way to get it back is to turn it off and roll it backwards through the stitch movement and then turn it back on. No way in hell am I doing that while quilting.

Anyway, maybe I will get that stuff done tonight, or maybe I will grade stuff all night in preparation for Second Shot Syndrome. Who knows?

Today is flame tests and combustion and how to draw a title and…

then take all the chemistry stuff back to school and pick up the next batch and grade all the things and measure engagement and prep all the posts for next week and…

Watch all the birds from my current work window as they collect nest materials. Or scope out a nest in the tree in front of me. Or dig for bugs in my plant pots on the deck.

After work, I wander around the property, looking for signs of regrowth, Spring, something new…the lime tree we transplanted in the yard from my friend’s house might actually make limes this year.

We’ve had flowers, but just a few at a time. We’ve had a few baby limes, but they get bumped off or something.

The lemon has flowers, but I think it’s still too young for fruit…

It also has new growth, which is a relief, because that swallowtail caterpillar that looks like poop ate a bunch of the leaves and I pruned it a bit to deal with that and then was worried there was no new growth…

Oh there it is. Although there aren’t many flowers up there. Learning experience maybe.

And this succulent has never flowered…

So pretty. Plus we have a new weed…

We have shitloads of weeds. I pull some of them, the nettles, but leave the rest because it’s too overwhelming, but I’ve never seen this one in the yard before.

There is some weeding in my future. Luckily I find it mostly meditative. I’ve been meditating regularly again, actually. Trying to get anxiety under control, figure out if some of my symptoms are just that and not anything else. I passed the stress test with flying colors, so that’s a good thing…hopefully if it IS all in my head, I can persuade my head to stop being such a dumbass.

Ninety one days until summer. Seven days until Spring Break.

My constant companions…unless they are with someone else.

Friday. That’s a plus. I can sleep maybe tomorrow morning. Maybe. Shot in the morning. Hike in the afternoon. Hoping for no symptoms, knock on wood. Or just the standard sore arm. Making videos and plans just in case for Monday. I want to read my book today. I want to draw. I want to sew. I want to go to bed and sleep a long time and then get up and not do school for at least a few hours. That doesn’t seem like a huge request, does it? Just nod your head.