Out of the Doubt That Fills My Mind*

August 19, 2016

Rough night. Dropped boychild at the airport after the first day of teaching. Too much standing and talking after a summer of…well I did stand a lot when ironing, but it didn’t feel as bad as yesterday. And the talking. And the interactions with people. I know, it’s funny that I’m a teacher and an introvert, but once you get to know the kids, it’s more like dealing with friends or family than just being bombarded with a million new folks. I can see some of the kids feel the same way after a nice quiet summer of doing whatever they wanted. Plus not getting to pee when you need to…that’s always an adjustment.

So I’m sad to send my own kids back to college, but it is what it is. This is what they’re supposed to do. I do miss them pretty horribly today though.

I’m rushed this morning, so this will have to be fast. I’m still amazed by all the commentary roiling around the internet about the quilt with no penis. I have never heard from AQS…I suspect I never will.

Meanwhile, back here in my studio, I keep making stuff. A friend liked an owl buried in the middle of the most recent Earth Mother (I’ll post her pics tomorrow) and wanted it pulled out on its own for a commission. I’ve spent all summer kinda flaking on it, mostly because I wanted to make it a certain way for the Earth Mother and I wasn’t sure it was gonna work for a piece on its own. So I waited until I knew she’d seen it in those fabrics etc. and she was OK with it (she was).

Yesterday, I finished cutting out all the pieces (and promptly lost one…like a boss)…

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And then started ironing it together…

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Here’s all the wing pieces lined up in order for easy ironing…

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Two wings…

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See the internal debate was that striped fabric for the wings…and I decided it worked.

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Now she just needs to pick a background color. I photographed it on a bunch of backgrounds last night, but I don’t have time to resize them all this morning, so I’ll hopefully do that for her tonight and let her choose.

And then I can start picking fabrics for the new quilt tonight, after I walk the dogs, figure dinner out, scan all the coloring book drawings that are coming in for something you’ll see in a bit,…oh…and I forgot. Probably collapse on the couch at some point. Timed naps are useful.

By the way, this owl has no penis. In case you’re looking for that.

*Howie Day, Collide


Back Off…I’ll Take You On*

August 18, 2016

Sits down. Throws toy for dog. Takes a sip of hot tea, even though it’s been over 100 degrees here for days. Back to the school routine. Alarm at 6:30 AM. Brain already awake, worried that I’ve forgotten something. Trying to remember to eat, because my body has to get retrained on no bathroom for 4 hours, no food until noon, standing for hours, talking nonstop (at least for today). Saying the same thing 5 times to 5 different sets of faces. I know how tired I’ll be at the end of it. Voice scratchy, feet aching. And mourning the loss of more freedom. BUT. A paycheck this month. It’s been a while. That will be nice.

Girlchild Face-timed last night…not to see me and the boychild, but to see the dogs.

The quilt saga continues, in a crazy wonky way. I got an email yesterday morning that AQS had shipped both quilts to SAQA. Their reasoning? Not overtly that they were worried there would be complaints, but because everyone else in the exhibit had 2 quilts and now I only had 1. Um. That’s because of You Guyz. Surely I can send another one? Oh no. A friend said maybe they were worried my quilt would be lonely. Does she look lonely?

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Fuck no. She doesn’t. She’s got this. Strong woman. Can hang alone.

I posted about it, after I sat alone in my classroom (I had to be at school yesterday, even though I was mostly done setting up) and cried a little. Cried because my kid is gone, the other leaves today, I’m frustrated that I keep banging my head against all these solid rock establishments…the quilt world, the Quilt Police, the art world, the anti-art people, the anti-craft people. This is crazy. And it hurts.

I make most of my work completely alone, mostly in my head. I’m fairly isolated from a community of makers. I belong to one quilt guild, but they’re awfully traditional. I don’t need to take classes. I live out in the boonies. And honestly, I’m an introvert, not much of a joiner, not a socializer. I’d really rather be in my head with my drawings and the fabric.

So I appreciate all the people checking in. Last night, at some point, I stopped trying to answer all the emails. I’ll try again after school today, because some of you have written some truly nice and funny stuff. I did get one email from a woman who interviewed me for a podcast last night, and as soon as she gets it ready to go, I’ll post all that info here, so you can listen to me and figure out how to pronounce my name right. I just know y’all are going around saying it wrong. (like it matters) But it was really nice to talk to someone who had seen the quilt in Grand Rapids before it came down and wanted me to talk about what happened. Total stranger before that, but sort of cathartic to get it out.

In other awesome yesterday news, Maddie Kertay of BadAss Quilter’s Society fame and owner of SPOOL in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was willing to exhibit the two quilts during September, so I got SAQA to set up shipping directly to her. So if you are going to Chattanooga to see the AQS show (and I really don’t want people NOT to go because of this…go see and celebrate the other artists there. They deserve it.), then stop by SPOOL as well. Maddie wrote about the issue here. And my quilting friend Judy Kurpich wrote about it here. Sometimes other people’s words are better than mine.

So yeah, the world is coming out and supporting me, and that’s cool.

And I keep going. Making. Because it’s what I do to stay sane.

I said I was going to clean up the office/studio, and I did…

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I forgot to photograph the piles when I started. There were many more of them. All the fabrics from the last quilt, plus the stuff my SIL sent. They all needed to be put back in the drawers. It took about an hour to get everything straightened out, and at that point, after being on the phone for quite a while, I was tired. Honestly, too tired to start picking fabrics for the big quilt, although I did set up for that.

See, she’s ready to go.

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And then I remembered I had this easy little guy, the owl from the most recent Earth Mother…a commission. So I had just picked up that quilt from the photographer on Monday. I pulled it out and realized I had just put all those fabrics away. Dammit. Sigh. So I found them again…

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And I laid out all the pieces (there’s only 103)…

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Ironed them all down…and started cutting them out.

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So I’m almost done with that. Hoping to maybe iron it together tonight and then give the future owner some background choices. Then maybe I can get my head around the big one.

So this sugar packet has been lying in the driveway for weeks. It’s the girlchild’s. I’m leaving it there until she gets back.

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Empty nests. Suck.

At school, I was kinda done with everything, and pacing around because of the email about the quilts, and not very focused, but I was supposed to try to draw this spiral of life thing that I do in the classroom…so I started…

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This is what I usually do with the kids…to show what we learn in 7th grade versus all the other grades, and how they’re all connected.

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I brought it home to work on it, but that didn’t happen.

This did. Kitten and Simba are wary of each other.

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In the end, Kitten comes up and sleeps on the keyboard, thus altering Google Docs forever. I come in and my school calendar has 7800 equal signs in it, because she was lying on that key.

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She doesn’t care about all that.

To school. My job. Art when I get home, after I take the boychild to the airport. Then it’s just me and the menagerie and my art.

*Trapt, Headstrong


I Like Having a Detachable Penis*

August 16, 2016

Really I don’t know how I didn’t think of this song earlier. So yesterday was the first day for teachers to be back at school, which basically means a 6-hour-long staff meeting. About halfway through the first long stretch, I get the email from SAQA telling me that AQS has pulled I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket (or for that matter, not showing a penis) from the last of the two shows it was supposed to be in, Chattanooga and Des Moines. Understand that I’m already tired and stressed from starting school, and I vacillate between angry as hell, really frustrated with reactions to my art, and incredibly depressed about the possibility of even more restrictions on my work. There are venues where I can’t show my work even now, and there’s even issues with the art world accepting quilts as art. “It’s fabric? Then it’s a CRAFT.” Huh. Last I looked, canvas is fabric. But whatever. These are not new issues. This has all happened before, multiple times. There are magazines that won’t show my work as well, which is annoying. And no, I’m not the only one. By far.

But dammit, I want that all to change.

So I was upset. Still am. But not so upset to stop working on the next quilt. In fact, I’m powering through it because of upcoming deadlines. I honestly appreciate all the positive and uplifting comments I get from y’all. One comment yesterday I had to read aloud to the other teachers at lunch because it almost made me cry. Granted, I’m a hormonal menopausal mess, so stupid shit makes me cry. It helps…because then I feel less alone, less like I’m standing at the end of a hallway with all my work piled up around me as the door gets slammed in my face. No! You will NOT show your work!

Life Jacket was drawn around the time of the Gulf oil spill…

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That guy. Yelling at her.

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“You’re doing it wrong!”

Not a penis.

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Sigh. The second part of the email is where SAQA let me know that they asked AQS to commit to not pulling my other piece, Fully Medicated (which has had no complaints lodged against it), for the rest of the circuit. AQS is thinking about that. They Have to THINK About It. I’m really unhappy about that. They accepted the special SAQA exhibit as part of their show. They should stand behind it. Or not accept it in the first place.

Either you show art, or you admit you can’t handle it.

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I’m still waiting to hear back on that level of crazy.

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It’s funny, because years ago, when I was first starting out, I preferred the AQS magazine over Quilters Newsletter Magazine, because they had more arty articles about quilt techniques. QNM seemed to be mostly traditional stuff. But QNM has backed me for years; they have posted pictures of my work, and then backed it up in the Letters section when people freaked out about those pictures. I stopped being a member of AQS years ago, when I grew out of it, but I kept my QNM subscription all this time.

I just want AQS to feel some pressure from the quilt world. I don’t want people to not go to the shows, because that hurts the other artists as well. I want them to go and then complain to the organizers. Or email AQS and let them know they don’t support censorship. I still want them to go and see the shows and buy from the vendors, and maybe, just maybe, go check out the SAQA exhibits and see what tickles their fancy.

They pulled the quilt because one person complained about something that wasn’t there. I want to be more than one person complaining about their actions.

No, AQS has not contacted me. I doubt they will. And I may be blacklisted from their shows from here on out. Someone brought up the fact that the quilt that was at the Mancuso show where a woman not only complained, but called Fox News, who showed up and called me a pornographer…the Mancusos left the work hanging. And left it in the traveling exhibit for the remainder of the shows. I’m sure I caused them some stress, but I probably also got them some tickets sold. And there were no issues at any of the other shows

So yesterday, after being at school all day, tired and stressed, affected by all this shit, I sat down and cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the new quilt…

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About 9 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe get my office cleaned up enough to start picking fabrics. I have a really tight schedule on this one…

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I also prepped a science lab for later this month…black boxes. Each box has a piece of cardboard and a marble, and they get taped shut. There are four versions, with different shapes of cardboard and/or locations. The cats did not help.

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What science teachers do at home to get ready for the school year.

Simba is being a sweetheart, sitting on the boychild…who is leaving in two days.

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I miss the girlchild already. OK. Gotta go to work and get my classroom ready for the 150 or so 7th graders who will show up Thursday. Then come home and make art that makes people freak out. Or love it. Or even just go “Huh.” And walk on by.

*King Missile, Detachable Penis


It Don’t Feel Right*

August 12, 2016

So I think yesterday was one of the most productive art days all summer. Sad that today is the last DAY of summer. And I’ll be at school for the whole morning. Oh well. At least I know I can still do those monster days. (because I’ll be doing lots of them this year…)

What did I do? I traced Wonder Under…for HOURS.

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The cats love this part of the project. I personally do not so much love their involvement, since it is mostly their fluffy butts that are involved.

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Sometimes I have to push or pull them, or pull things out from under them.

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So while I’m being thankful that this cat is still alive, I’m also cursing her existence. Or at least her existence on the light table.

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She might be cursing me a bit as well.

Really, I spent a lot of time with the cats yesterday. Wonder Under is a fascinating thing. Plus light emanating from tables. Which might be a thing if it were cold out, but it’s not. I have a fan pointed at the light table, and they don’t generally like fans. Except for yesterday. Yesterday fans seemed OK.

So did laundry baskets…

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And really, just staring at Mom on a regular basis and meowing plaintively because I am so obviously ignoring their asses.

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I traced for over 7 hours yesterday…I’m 8 1/2 hours in, I think. I’m in the high 600s, so I’m only halfway. THAT is the part that sucks. That and the fact that I might run out of Wonder Under. Sigh.

I’m four yards in? I think?

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This one doesn’t have quite so many tiny pieces as the last one. And it has about 700 fewer pieces as well, which is a good thing. I might actually finish it in time.

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Which reminds me, I’m picking the others up from the photographer today. I think. After school. And then tracing for another (insert number of hours here).

Girlchild leaves tomorrow morning. Early. That’s a hard one.

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She’s leaving so early because she’s doing orientation for the incoming freshmen. It sucks that she’s not around to help the first few days of school for the first time in like 5 years. I can’t persuade the boychild to do it. Not sure I blame him.

OK. School first. Then art. Then family.

(Apparently Pandora has decided I need some rap to start the morning. She may be right…)

*The Roots, Don’t Feel Right


There Must Be Something About Your Daughter…*

August 9, 2016

Well 19 years ago I gave birth to my youngest child…she of the changing hair colors…

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Something we have in common, although I haven’t messed with hair color for years. Just letting it do the natural Einstein white freaky hairs now. She leaves for college again in four days, and although I won’t miss her dishes, I will miss having her around. I hope her 19th year is somewhat less stressful than last year. Although I’m not sure that’s how life works. I do still remember her birth. It wasn’t easy. You know how they say the second one will be easier? Fucking liars. Whatever. She’s been out for a while now…and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does.

Yesterday, I was planning at school. About two years ago, I bought plastic folders for the kids to buy from me if they wanted to replace their paper ones. And then I lost them. For two years. I found them yesterday.

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I consider this a positive omen for the new year. And god knows we’re gonna need them…the folders AND the omens.  My brain sort of exploded yesterday as we planned the second unit, the unit that is gonna finish me off in October. Not really. But aack. I love feeling stupid and uneducated at the age of 49. Whatever. I’ve got some reading to do.

Saw this yesterday. Love it.

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Except the Up Early part. Nope. Nuh uh.

So I did a lot of work-related stuff yesterday, finally getting school supplies. And then I settled down for sewing on binding…for hours.

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Puppy was sleeping with me for a good chunk of it.

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With a quick trip to the pet emergency hospital in the middle, when we thought he might have swallowed a fatal dose of meds that he shouldn’t have gotten into.

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Yes. There have been some conversations about how to dispose of meds. But he’s also a puppy and gets into everything. So we lost a book and a pair of boots yesterday as well. He is fine today. Of course. Full of energy and ready to keep chewing up the world. Because he learned nothing from being forced to vomit repeatedly. Sigh.

I’ve been working on the next Spargo quilt in the meantime. This is from Folk Tails.

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Actually, there’s one in between Bird Dance and Folk Tails, but I like this one better. Hmn. And no, I haven’t trimmed and pieced the birds yet. Because the embroidery is what I do when I can’t do other stuff…like when I’m at meetings or at the parental’s house. So I don’t have time at home to trim and piece all those blocks. I’m too busy with the quilts that have to be done.

Yeah. The binding is not quite done…one sleeve left. I got tired. Today though. I hope.

Julie makes potholders. I have lots of them now. They’re nice and colorful, and it kinda feels sacrilegious to USE one…

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But it will just give her an excuse to make more.

So birthday stuff planned today. And quilt finishing. And then starting the next one. Enjoying the last few days of vacation. I should because it will be a while before I can say that again.

*Coleman Hell, 2 Heads (it really did just come up as I was finishing this…)


I’m Breathing in the Chemicals*

August 8, 2016

Hello morning. Earlier than usual. Have to leave for school in a few…still planning science today. And trying to figure out my classroom. Mostly I just walk in and go Oh Shit and then start moving stuff around a bit. I always feel bad because other people spend more time in their rooms rearranging stuff and doing new things they found on Pinterest, and I’m trying to go as fast as possible, so I can get back to my sewing. Oh well.

So in awesome sauce news, I’m done quilting. Twenty-two hours plus of quilting, in case you were wondering. In fact, Saturday evening, I had a time I had to be out of the house, and this is how much was left…

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It took me a whole 3.2 minutes to finish quilting that on Sunday. But yeah.

Here was my trusty companion, randomly typing shit with her head and hitting Like and Dislike indiscriminately on my Pandora station.

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I spent the evening watching a band and taking on my persona of Draws in Bars.

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It either freaks out or endears me to waitresses. This one was so serious (the waitress, not the drawing), but wanted to have a discussion about art and her uncle and then took good care of me all night. So it works! I did another drawing…forgot to photograph it. It wasn’t that good…and because people showed up, I didn’t finish this one until later…

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And maybe it’s not finished. I like it though.

Sunday was nice…although knowing there is only one Sunday left of “vacation” (in quotes because I am at school at least twice this week, despite not officially being back yet), and the girlchild will be gone by then. Some animals know how to Sunday though, even if I don’t.

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So I finished quilting and trimmed the quilt…huge motherfucker.

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She quilted easily, nice and flat for once. I’ve been fighting some of the last big ones in the flatness category.

Went and bought binding…ONLY binding. Nothing else. It helped that I had the girlchild with me and some time constraints. Got the binding stitched down last night…

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And then settled down on the couch for the hand sewing. I tell you, I’ve been looking forward to this part. Just relaxing and stitching and watching some TV for a while. Kitten follows me wherever I go.

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Kitten is lying on the next quilt (well, it’s a numbered drawing anyway).

There’s the back and the sleeves. In over an hour of hand-stitching, though, I didn’t even make it all the way down one long side.

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It was already late and I knew I had to be up early. So there will be more tonight. I should email the photographer…finally. A finish. No panicking on the other stuff that needs doing. Really. Seriously. I should be panicking. About all of it. Quilts, school, losing the kids to college again, money, dogs. Aack. There’s so much I never ever get done.

But I guess you can see my priorities. Spending time with people when I feel like it (probably should do more of that), lots of art and animals and even hiking when I can. It’s not a bad life…just a bit too stressful and work-oriented some days. I’ve held the goal of Art Everyday for the last couple of years now and I don’t suspect I’ll be letting that go anytime soon. It’s where my head needs to be.

Unfortunately, my body needs to hightail it to school now. Keeping life balance in mind…biggest thing in most teachers’ minds right now.

*Imagine Dragons, Radioactive


I Don’t Get What They Do It For…

August 5, 2016

I think I’m officially in panic mode…and it’s because we were proactive Wednesday and started planning the first science unit of the school year. But then you start thinking about what you need to do, what needs to be set up, what changes you want to make from last year. And you start to panic. You think about how many hours a day you will have to be grading and planning, on top of the hours at school, plus meetings etc. And how are you going to get everything else done? And new schedules and students and realizing you’re getting ALL the little brothers and sisters of the kids you happily said goodbye to in previous years. And then yesterday (I didn’t even have time to write yesterday), you have a nice luncheon with teacher friends, and it gets worse. I know I do this every year. I freak out about a week or two before school starts, because I realize how little I got done and how much is left to do, and I’m losing days left and right to school crap. Plus the kids will be leaving for college at about the same time, and that sucks too.

And the art stuff has been difficult to get done this summer, between working another job and having machine issues. And today I found out I have another project that has to get slotted in there. I mean, it’s a good thing, it’s something I wanted to do, but I’m hyperventilating.

Stop. Deep breaths. Manage.

Thankfully, all the construction noise that surrounds me at the moment didn’t start up until 9 AM this morning. They actually let me sleep a little. It’s been a sleepless summer.

Yeah. Gotta get my head out of this crazy.

So Wednesday, we hiked, and then I quilted a little bit Wednesday and Thursday nights…I’m up to 10 hours in. And I’m hoping to get it done sometime tomorrow.

I originally hoped to be done today, but it’s already 10 AM and I have errands, plus gaming tonight, so that ain’t happening. But hopefully I can get significantly into the background today.

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There’s a lot of detail on this thing, and some fussy little stuff for quilting, like those passion flowers, but they look awesome now that they’re done.

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I got the whole lower torso done Wednesday night…

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And even moved on to the heart…

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Then Thursday night, I did the right breast, covered with cat…

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Strategically placed flower for nipple…and then did the tiger (hid the nipple in the fur pattern) and the cactus and the seaweed to finish up the left breast and arm, except for the octopus. It was midnight. I was tired.

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So today, I’m going to do the head and the right arm, plus the very top of the torso. And then start the hours of background. This one has a lot of it.

So I had been wanting to do either a Cuyamaca or Lagunas hike all summer, but it takes a while to get out there, plus weather, so this last Wednesday was the first one I felt organized enough to pull it off. I have to make dinner ahead of time and figure out the leaving time based on sunset and hike times, etc. I wanted to repeat a hike I did in January 2015, but that was full snow. I read the organizer’s description, but there was one section I couldn’t figure out, so I emailed him and he sent the GPS map, which actually turned out to be way more useful than all the Afoot and Afield pages I photographed. In the end, it was a well-marked trail and we only had one minor crisis of direction. It lasted about 2 minutes.

It was a gorgeous day for it…nice and cool for most of it. They threatened thunderstorms in the early afternoon, and the clouds definitely looked like they could pull that off, but we didn’t start hiking until 5 PM.

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I love the mountain vistas, the pines, even the dead grass.

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And the views. Smartass.

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There was some minor bouldering, just because.

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I like hiking with my kids. It’s gonna suck when they’re gone. We did see a deer, but I couldn’t get a photo of it in time. We thought we’d see more when we got to the meadows, but the cows were out and so were the mountain bikers, so just the one. And girlchild didn’t see it, so she was pissed.

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There’s something about climbing up…

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Lots of bugs and grasses on the back end of the trail, the Sunset Trail portion.

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And then we came out into the cows…and the Water of the Woods, which still has water. Last time I saw it, it was mostly frozen over.

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The meadows are gorgeous, even without water in the lakes.

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We came back via the Big Laguna Trail…there weren’t any other hikers that we saw…just one pair of bikers on this end, and then a group of about 15 of them near the end, and we could outwalk them on the slopes.

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Big beautiful pines that survived the fires. You can see the burn marks on the trunks.

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The sun was definitely on its way down. We had a couple of really slow miles due to…um…chaos. Let’s just call it that. But we sped up on these last miles (and we had headlamps, worst case).

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We figure some virus or something causes these giant ball-shaped things on the old oaks…

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And this has to be woodpeckers…or something. Such perfectly placed holes, all the way up and down the trunk.

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This low-lying plant (not the grasses) had all these weird giant pods all over it.

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We saw morteros galore in this rock…would have been a nice place to hang out in the summer. Much cooler than East County is at the moment.

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I think this was officially sunset. We did think we should have gone BACK the Sunset Trail, so we could have seen the actual sunset, but this worked…

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These tiny flowers were everywhere…

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This was watching sunset hit the trees to the east…

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And the last bit of the path, as dusk fell around us.

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We drove off in the dark, 8 miles, a good hike…probably the last long one before they leave. We’ll see.

And yesterday, while talking to the garden guy who came out to help me figure out my yard, we watched the raccoon who has been hanging out in our yard walk right across in broad daylight and climb the tree…about 30 feet up. He’s sleeping in a fork of the tree up there…

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If you can’t figure it out, the left circle is one of his feet and the right circle is his head.

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I didn’t have my phone when he walked across the yard, unfortunately.

So I’m quilting today. Lots of hours. Need to get done. Construction noise has started up again. So distracting. Oh well. Turn up the noise.

*Amanda Palmer, The Killing Type


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