Hard Landing…

You know how sometimes a plane lands really hard? Like BANG. When I came back from Boston, we landed hard, and then we fishtailed. Kind of nerve wracking, honestly. But we were fine. That’s what coming back after Spring Break has been like. I’m still exhausted. The booster shot is still kicking my ass. I feel completely off, both mentally and physically. Trying to give myself some grace, just get through a day at a time. Trying not to get angry at the teacher who randomly transferred a kid into my class without talking to me. This is a kid who already had that class last trimester, so it makes no sense to give him back to me? Whatever. He failed mine before…he can do all the things he didn’t do last trimester. But maybe talk to me next time? However tired and irritable I am, I wouldn’t do that to another teacher. 36 days.

I Zoomed with my co-teacher to plan since she is still stuck in Germany. It was OK, although I still need to figure out what I’m actually posting and how to make the printer work with my computer, because it stopped. That’s today’s plan. Hopefully. And grade things. Because I’m still massively behind.

In other news, I finished the stitchdown (finally!) on the desert piece.

Only 7 hours and 44 minutes. Not bad, considering the killing of a free-motion foot. I bought a variety of feet that I didn’t have for the new machine, just to see if something else would work better, because the one I used after I broke the one I like was not my favorite.

Somehow I ordered 5 of the littlest one. IDK how. Late-night Amazoning. Always an issue. Bought two of the one that broke. That was on purpose. I’ll try the others too. There’s one other one I could try if I can find it online. Meanwhile, hey Husqvarna…fix your badly designed foot! It’s funny…I’d only broken one of those in years on the last machine. Anyway. Problem solved. Hopefully.

I was hoping to pinbaste last night, but I made the decision to go to the gym last night, and it ended up being late, and then I cooked dinner, and ate it, and then it was 9:30 PM. And moving my ass off the couch became difficult. I did though…ironed the whole top and found an entire arm that wasn’t stitched down. It’s not uncommon for me to miss a small section while I’m stitching, but a footlong piece? A little more rare. So I need to do that. And then I realized I didn’t have a big enough piece of batting that was already washed.

And then it was 10:30 PM. Not staying up another hour for that. So it will get done tonight, I guess. Although I have to cook again tonight. It’s never-ending! That’s not totally true…I mean, yes, it’s never-ending, but I have leftovers set up for tomorrow and Friday night, and honestly, probably Saturday too. Maybe. We’ll see if there’s any left by then. Slow quilt. This one is slow. I blame the day job.

Yeah, there’s been a lot of that lately. Yesterday was kind of one of those. Certainly it was a “No, you’re not crying on the way to work. Oh wait, yes you are.” day. It’s fine. I’m just tired and feeling overwhelmed. It’ll get better.

Saw a hawk on the neighbor’s swingset that is just on the other side of my fence…

Pretty bird.

I think the only way I’m going to get through the vacation photos is a little bit at a time. We had shitty wifi in Paso Robles, so that was the last bit I posted and it took forever. The first night, we went to something called the Light Fields at Sensorio, which is an artist installation of all these LED lights over the fields near Paso Robles. It was cool…

Also cool that the moon was out…

There were an awful lot of people, though, so realize that. And it’s not cheap.

I did really enjoy the light show though…some of them change colors as you’re watching. But the non-lit landscape was also cool.

The next day, we were going to hike but it rained all morning and we couldn’t get our acts together, so we read and tried to watch TV (see bad wifi) and I stitched some…

Those little bees were pretty fun to make…

Even though my cast-on stitches are not perfect. I’m OK with not perfect.

When it cleared up, we headed out to an area called Tin City that is all winery tasting rooms and a few breweries, packed full of people and dogs, and we hung out at one brewery for a few hours, people- and dog-watching, plus I drew, and we ate dinner.

It was entertaining enough. When it got cold, we left…next day? Pinnacles.

OK, going to work now. Today I teach all the things. Should be interesting. I’m not ready. I’m rarely ready, but these days, really I’m not feeling it. Let’s hope prep period is productive and I get a ton done and feel successful and on top of things. That would be nice.

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.

What If I Run Out?

I came home Monday night, still on Boston time. Sort of. Yesterday, we shopped and packed, and today we’re leaving on California time. Sort of. I’m still up too early and tired and hungry at the wrong times. If at all (hunger…always tired). I’ve got 9 maybe 10 days of mostly nature in front of me. There’s some art and one house stay, but mostly nature. Mostly have showers and toilets, but maybe not on one night. I might come home on my own; I might bring the Man back with me. So many possibilities (no, I’m not leaving him by the side of the road…he might have a job). I have a couple, maybe three books loaded up to read, some stitching, a sketchbook, and probably more shirts than I need. I have more pants than the Man. IDK how he does it, but I can’t wear one pair of pants for ten days. Not happening.

Here’s hoping for some sleep, some hiking, and some relaxation. Keep the weather nice and the neighboring campsites nicer. Or empty. I’m good with empty. The campsite we’re supposed to be in tonight had 21/35 campsites empty yesterday. I’m good with that. Suspect they won’t all be that empty, but that’s OK. I bought a new camp chair to lounge in. I made rice krispies treats (that’s my camping treat). I get to see some art quilts on the way up. It sounds good, yeah? I hope it is.

Monday, I blogged from here…

The couch in the girlchild’s bedroom. I left for the airport from there and flew home, graded most of one assignment because the video screens in our row on the plane were broken. Sucked. I wanted to see the second half of the movie I started watching on the way out. Oh well.

On Monday, we got to announce (finally) that we got into Quilt Visions…

I’m excited. And so glad the jurors Sheila Frampton Cooper, Lisa Walton, and Petra Fallaux chose the abortion rights quilt, My Body. My Choice.

It’s one of those quilts that might never get into a show. Politics y’all. Difficult topics.

So I thank them for being brave. I appreciate the opportunity to show the hard quilts. I know some people aren’t going to like it. I’m hoping we can have a conversation.

Also, this.

I waver between this level of confrontation and wanting to converse to hopefully give people a different view. I think I know what they will say about their side of it, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m wrong a lot.

I read a bunch the last few days…this is from Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. The cat amused me.

I really liked that book. Also about a pandemic. Maybe should stop reading dystopian futures.

Because the pandemic. Yeah. I tested negative when I got home on Monday. I have no symptoms, either from my daughter’s cold or exposure before I went on break. Knock on wood that it stays that way. Guess I’m not ready to give up masks at school yet.

I was hoping to get some stitchdown done the Friday I left and/or yesterday around packing, but I just didn’t have the energy. I have to concede defeat. I will not meet the deadline. It’s OK. It’s still a beautiful quilt and will find a home, an exhibition, somewhere to be seen. Most of them do. Yes, some of them don’t. Those always perturb me. Sometimes it’s obvious why…they’re a little TOO quirky and strange. Sometimes I have no idea why.

Last night, we watched the first episode of a series. I wondered why the Man chose that, since the probability of his being gone until sometime in late July/early August is pretty high. Ah well. It wasn’t that compelling. I stitched stuff down because it was brainless. Kitten hung out with me because she missed me.

I missed her too.

I need to keep track of how much embroidery I do while camping. I am currently panicking that 5 blocks of embroidery is not enough. Is that crazy? It might be. I feel like I finished one on the last trip. OK, so to keep track, I have two blocks of the four March blocks embroidered, so I’m taking two with me, plus three or four from April. Should I pack May? Is that crazy? I don’t know. I just don’t know. WHAT IF I RUN OUT?!

Crafty people understand. OK, we leave in 35 minutes. I need to go pack the food and get the hell out of here. See you on the web. I have internet in three days? Maybe?

Refreshing Brain and Body…

Currently I’m lounging on the girlchild’s couch, listening to her work on some Zoom-like app. I only hear her side, so it’s a partial story. I’m not really fully awake. Although I’ve slept a decent number of hours in the last few days, I’m in Boston, so it’s the wrong time zone, and I think my body knows that.

I made it to the last day of the Gaia exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum; it was awesome to see the show in person after hearing many of the artists talk about their work on Zoom in the early days of the show. I think this started traveling right before COVID hit. Like many shows, it’s been in some places and canceled in others, but it was an honor to be included. I love this picture of me with Luana Rubin, who curated the show.

I flew on a redeye flight because we had a field trip at school on Friday, so I couldn’t take the day off. I dozed on the plane, arriving at 5 AM in Boston. I slept for about 4 hours in the morning and then we drove out to Lowell for Luana’s talk. She asked me to speak about my piece, which is just proof that I can do anything…talk about a piece with no prep and no sleep! Ah well.

I loved seeing this Cas Holmes piece in person…it’s so beautiful.

I was amazingly bad at taking photos there…probably due to massive lack of sleep. There was a bird exhibit too…this piece was by Linda Heatherley…

I really like the separation of spaces and graphic quality of this piece.

After the show, I got more caffeine (necessary) and briefly checked out this cool artsy space in Lowell…

Then back to the room for a nap before dinner. Rally! It’s nice to be here just with the girlchild. When she is in San Diego, there are many pulls on both our time, so I appreciate being the only one with her, even if it’s just a short time.

Sunday, she coached a soccer game and I watched. I spent 13 or so years sitting on soccer fields watching her play, either grading or stitching while I sat.

It’s a little different watching her coach, but not a lot. It was cold out there, but I did stitch…

Last night, we got takeout in my room and watched a movie, and I stitched some more…

These two blocks from March Homegrown (Sue Spargo) are done. I only finished the bottom one here. Not sure why I dragged a finished one across the country.

I also drew on Saturday.

Lots of zendoodly filling-in of space. Brainless.

I leave for the airport in about 90 minutes…gonna read and stitch until then. I get home tonight and tomorrow is shopping and packing for 8 or 9 days of mostly camping and hiking. Expect more nature photos, drawing, and stitching. Looking forward to it, but also, I’m tired. Hope I catch up on sleep at some point. It is Spring Break…not thinking about school is mostly happening. I did briefly grade warmups and I am set up to watch student videos if I feel like it. I might now ever feel like it. And that’s ok. I have 38 days of school left when break is over and there’s a bunch of stressful things coming up too. I need to refresh brain and body for all of that. So. Back to stitching for a while! See you back on the West Coast…

Sustaining the Unsustainable…

OK, I obviously made it back from Phoenix and QuiltCon, and there are more quilt pictures, but I don’t have time to mentally (or digitally) process them yet. I came home and went right into school/house mode, which is why I wanted to leave in the first place. We had a good time hanging out, which is nice. It’s been a long couple of years without much of that, and we definitely need more of it. Spring Break! Yeah that’s 44 days away. So is seeing my daughter again! Woo hoo! And hopefully some quilt stuff…then camping and hiking with the man. I think I planned all but two days of my Spring Break, so nothing else will get done…at all. Not a bad plan until I get there and the grading is not done.

Which is part of what I’m panicking about now (again)…grading and an upcoming field trip. Once we get there, everything will be fine, but right now, it’s just crazy.

So what’s been going on? Well here’s my QuiltCon guild in front of that same donation quilt…

A few were photoshopped in…I made it to Phoenix just in time for this photo, but some did not.

The man drove for a bit on the way back, so I got to work on those damn flowers.

Apparently a year ago I was cutting them out of wool, so that’s a year working on this. I am not fast.

That said, I am almost done with the 4th type of flower…then just 2 more types to go.

I’m also still doing Molli Sparkles’ Cut-It-Up quiltalong. This is block 4, can’t remember what it is…hang on…

X Plus…well that bottom one sure is busy. I like it. I cut out 6. They’re not hard to piece, just don’t have a lot of time at the moment.

They’ve already posted Block 5, so shockingly, I am behind. It’s OK. I will survive. As my copyeditor is emailing me about the next readthrough and school is imploding into a mushroom cloud of to-dos. Yeah.

I did come back to my own quilt, which has a deadline, that honestly, I may not meet. I took a picture of these fabrics to remind me what I used for this plant, because there’s another one that’s more complicated further up the body, and I didn’t want to find those pieces now.

I often reuse fabrics in a quilt for continuity. That’s why I keep them all together until the quilt is finished.

I also started working on the sky, which has a sunset in it. Or a sunrise. Nah, it’s a sunset.

Because why keep it simple?

Sunday night’s progress…

And Monday night’s…

I got all of the sky done except for those two and the things zooming around the sky…which I finished last night…

Well, almost. I need to do the actual meteor and the rocket. I did the clouds and flames behind them. Then I get to start on the body and all the plants.

Kitten has taken to climbing the mountain of batting to survey me from up above. She’s trying to get up into the shelves (I’m not sure why)…

She usually hangs out behind that crazy pile. I need to remodel this room: new carpet, pull out the wallpaper, get rid of the popcorn ceiling, new lighting, maybe new slider doors and a bigger, nicer window, plus STORAGE. It’s on my list. Lots of things are on my list, but apparently my septic system needs a new baffle wall, which is probably expensive and will mean I don’t remodel anything.

School is all labs this week. Exhausting but good for the kids. Not as good for us…

But if they are paying attention, this helps them learn.

This is true.

Hey! My owl box has an actual OWL…a Barn Owl. We were going to pull it down to see if it needed cleaning, but then an owl swooped out. I’m hoping it has babies. And the bunnies in our yard are annoying me by eating all the new green leaves so they will have to run fast. Sigh. Predator/prey relationships disturb me, but I also recognize their necessity. It does make me worry about trimming the trees though. It’s not like I can afford to do that right now anyway…not until the baffle wall is solved.

Anyway, the owl part is exciting. School today is an exhausting mess of move this, clean this, move that, listen to instructions (them, not me), then a meeting I really didn’t want but let myself get bullied into. Fun stuff! Do everything for your students! And then more! Yeah, it’s not sustainable…we keep saying that and then we keep on sustaining it. But more ironing tonight (after grading)…that’s a good thing.

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).

Ditching School

I took a whopping two days off school since COVID started. Getting a sub for what I teach was difficult…sub plans for what I teach felt like writing a novel, then rewriting it because it was too long. It’s a tough call: how much do I need a break vs how much work is it to TAKE the break? A common teacher issue made worse by the sub shortage and kids who didn’t do normal school last year so sometimes learning is a challenge. But I had an art retreat coming up that I went to last year (without taking any time off) and I was determined to take a day. ONE day.

Whatever happened at school is fine. I got one kid email about kids deleting stuff…and they did. They were being dumbasses about it on Thursday with me. I’ll just torture them with it on Monday. It’ll be fine. Next week is short anyway for Veterans Day, and I can get them through what I need to. Zen and chill.

So where am I? Twentynine Palms, right outside of Joshua Tree National Park. We drove a back way to get up here, and it was delightful…no traffic, nice views. Then we came in the southern entrance of Joshua Tree and enjoyed the drive through, going on a couple of short hikes (mid to high 80s here still…)

There were too many people in some places, but the longer hike lost them all…

And it was outside, not teaching, didn’t have to be anywhere. Although I checked email when I had service.

Sometimes people are very hardass about disconnecting and not looking at their phones on vacation, and I just do what makes me feel comfortable. Sometimes my anxiety means I need to check email. Or school stuff. So I do it. One of my students had emailed me about the chaos in her class. No worries, kid, I got this.

We checked into our AirBnb, the same one we stayed in last year, ate dinner outside at a local place, met Kyle and tried his special sauce, shook hands with him (weird feeling that), then I headed over to my friend’s place for a fireside conversation about the future of our art group, which has grown in size, but not volunteers…unfortunately.

Dinner drawing. This morning, we’re up early so the man can hike and I can draw in a space with other artists for a while. Not sure what the rest of the day will bring, but I’m ok with that. I have two books on my iPad, three different sketchbooks, caffeine, and goldfish snacks. What more do I really need? Plus got news that one of my pieces will be at some art show in Torrance next October, which is a new venue for me…always cool.

All in all, sometimes ditching school is what teachers need to do. My district spouts self care constantly and then hands us more work to do and won’t give us a cost-of-living raise. So more hours for less pay? Eh. You don’t get buy-in that way. Anyway…drawing soon, if my brain lets me.

If I Can’t Have You…

I just spent some time in Los Angeles. Why? Well because it was the man’s birthday and usually we go hiking or camping or somewhere in nature, or maybe on walking food-and-drink tours or winery hopping or something like that, but with the Delta variant wandering around and his knee still on rest, I needed to be somewhat creative. So we booked a hotel in Little Tokyo, within walking distance of a bunch of stuff, including some breweries and art museums and a shit ton of ramen (unfortunately, the man is not a ramen fan).

We drove up and stopped at Left Coast Brewing in Irvine…

We had some food and drink. I went to college in Irvine and the men in blue business shirts still frighten me.

After we checked in, we checked out (ha!) two local breweries, Mumford Brewing…

And the Arts District Brewery…

Food was a little more complicated…we ended up back at the Arts District Brewery for food. Eh.

The Arts District area has a variety of restaurants…we just weren’t sold on anything. Well, except Salt and Straw (ice cream), which we had the next night. Not everything is fully open yet either. Although ramen. I could have had a lot of ramen. It’s OK.

We walked around the area a bit…lots of murals. And this neon artist, Lili Lakich

She likes the neon. And her work looks fun…

Our hotel was fine…

Clean and relatively quiet, considering the location. Good views of the haze that is LA. I should clarify that I grew up in LA County and that haze has been around for a LOOONG time.

The next morning, we eventually got up (no cats to stand on us) and headed out for breakfast. This mural is by Bunnie Reiss, who I follow on Instagram.

First time I’ve seen one of her pieces in person…very cool.

We aimed for Grand Central Food Hall, to try out Eggslut.

It was OK. I know. Both my kids think I’m crazy, but it was just OK. Better than McD’s or Starbucks, yes. $10 better? Eh. That juice, by the way…sometimes when they say “triple ginger”, I’m like yah, sure, and it really isn’t that gingery. This was. Totally. More ginger than I’ve ever had. Overpoweringly gingery. ALL the gingers. Not from Eggslut though…juice place across from it in the Food Hall.

So then we had to decide what to do with the rest of our day. It was warm, we were warm, we were kinda tired, the man is sad about his knee, all the things. So we went to The Last Bookstore

It was also OK. I wasn’t really in the mood to shop. I don’t need to OWN more books. I’d like to read more though. There were some interesting art and shops upstairs. Worth a look.

And more murals.

We headed back to Grand Central for a drink (chai for me, beer for the man from a brewing company he recognized) before booking free tickets at MOCA and The Broad (don’t pronounce it wrong…if you’re not from LA, you might not know. OK, I didn’t know.). Some contemporary art? Sure. Especially in air conditioning. Plus things to look at.

Ah ha ha. SEE what I did there? Yeah. I know. Corny. Diet Piece: Moral Kinship, by Samara Golden.

I saw many cool things there. An Asawa. Never seen one in person.

Part of Cromosaturacion by Carlos Cruz-Diez. Green makes your hands look really weird.

Oh yeah, here’s the drawing I did in all the breweries the day before…

And then waiting for The Broad appointed time, we sat in a grove of 100-year-old olive trees and I drew one of them…

Yeah, no leaves. I didn’t get to those.

The Broad was great. I really enjoyed it.

I think the man is not as into contemporary art as I am. Gotta love some Jeff Koons.

There was some Kara Walker, which I’d never seen in person…

Oh man. Amazing stuff.

Just a fun museum.

We asked the staff about these lumps and they didn’t know what they were called and whether they were by an artist or the architects, just that they were watered daily, and yes, dogs pee on them and kids climb on them. Turns out they are called eruptions and they are part of the architectural design.

Even the crosswalks are artsy…

We walked past the Walt Disney center…

It was hotter on that block.

Cool flower…very few plantings in downtown LA. Probably what makes it feel hotter than it is. Plus lots of buildings.

Lots of street art though. I do love me some street art.

That night, we tried Angel City Brewery, which had been closed the day before.

They have a nice outdoor space. We ate there too, but eh. Basically food for three days: Eh. The ice cream at Salt and Straw was amazing. Everything else was eh. Even the chai. Ah well. I should ask the man about the beer. He did not wax poetic. That said, we got out of town and did some things. So that is always worth it. Although one of the things we did was watch Saturday Night Fever (my god, was it always that sexist?) and the sequel (you didn’t even KNOW there was a sequel…feel free to skip it) and something else. And there was air conditioning, which there isn’t here. So that’s good.

And lots of street art and mural. All good.

And then we drove home on Friday through crappy traffic that could have been worse. I finished the binding on the third quilt in the hotel and delivered them all to the photographer this morning. Oh yeah, I drew at Angel City…

I liked the wings on that heart mural.

And then this morning, I found out why all my clean laundry has cat hair on it.

Not really a shocker, but she hasn’t been a laundry basket sleeper before. Much. Ah well. A sign that I should put my clothes away.

Today is quickly disappearing, but we’re gonna walk some and art some and IDK what else, probably watch some bad movie. Oh yeah, and I have Bee Gees songs recurring in my head over and over again and it’s driving me crazy. If I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody baby… Otherwise, it’s all good. One month until I’m in a classroom with kids. Seems like a mistake. More like a woman to me…

Whatever Psychotic Tension Issue…

Well I don’t know what this sewing machine is thinking, but apparently threatening to throw it into the pool worked. Yeah. Because after thread breaking 17 times in an hour, I turned it off, went to bed, tossed and turned about how in hell I was going to fix this issue in time to get the quilt done for a deadline, and then it freakin’ worked. No issues. One thread breakage in two full quilts worth of quilting and binding. No idea why. I didn’t change anything. Same thread, same needle, same settings, no breakage. This is an issue. Inconsistent tension, the feed dogs won’t stay dropped (yes, I free-motion quilted with them up about 2/3s of the time), and when I zigzag, the needle still wanders as far left as it can and I worry about it hitting the foot, but it seemed to know its limits there.

I called yesterday to set up a time for it to be cleaned out and adjusted. It was in last September for that, but then it was in for repair in March because the foot wouldn’t drop down while free-motion zigzagging. That time, it was gone for 5 weeks. So I figured it would be put on a list and I’d bring it in during school some time (usually it’s 6 weeks out for an appointment), but they asked a bunch of questions (it was just in? Did you clean it…that was MY question. What’s wrong with it? I just printed that list out. SIGH.) and now I’m dropping it off today.

Not before I kamikazed and finished both little quilts though…because it was mostly fucking behaving. It will straight stitch just fine, and now that whatever psychotic tension issue is mostly gone (it popped up briefly), I’m not fighting thread breakage constantly. So frustrating. Yes, it is an 11-year-old machine that I got used (barely used…most people don’t use machines like I do) and yes, I probably need to replace it. Damn, though, the last two lasted longer. I think. Maybe not. Sigh. It’s a conversation I will have with the machine guy, but money is not free-flowing and nothing is cheap. I certainly won’t be buying a new machine. And no, Bernina, Pfaff, and Husqvarna don’t want to sponsor my artwork by gifting me a machine. Too many nude parts in my work, I suspect. Plus I swear a lot. LOL. I’m always impressed when people are gifted expensive equipment to make their work. ANYWAY. All that is negative and the positive is that I have two more quilts that are done or almost done.

They’re not very big…I did all the outline quilting on the bottom but not the top…not a single breakage.

Finishing up this one…

I got the binding on it, using a fabric from my stash. No shopping on this quilt. I had everything. I don’t always have enough for binding, but the smaller quilts don’t take a full half yard (or more), so I can usually pull from stash. I finished the hand-stitching last night while watching The Handmaid’s Tale (am I the only one crying through episodes right now?). We only watch one at a time. Can’t binge this thing. I’d lose my mind.

Then once I had called about bringing the machine in and they said yeah! Bring it! I was like, OK, gonna see if I can get the machine to finish the other one that got set aside in March when the machine broke last time.

Quilted like a dream, no breakages at all. Seriously? Fuck you, machine.

Same spool of thread, same needle, didn’t even clean anything out, no tension change, no breakage, no nothing. Well, except the feed dogs kept popping back up. Kind of annoying. Makes it harder to drag everything around, but on a smaller quilt like this, it’s not impossible.

Then got the binding on the other one too, again, from stash.

We’re going to Los Angeles for a few days to celebrate the man’s birthday, so I’ll have to finish the hand-stitching in the car. Or a brewery. Or a hotel room. Whichever works. These two have names, but the hand-appliqued one I finished almost two weeks ago doesn’t. They are all going to the photographer hopefully this weekend though.

And then I have to figure out what’s next. I need to finish a small one for my Patreon, but then I need one for an upcoming “family friendly” show. That phrase drives me nuts. But whatever. It’s in my head and I’ll maybe draw it in the next few days. Need to draw the little one too.

Speaking of drawings, apparently this is Captain Kangaroo…

I wasn’t thinking that when I drew it…although it did make me laugh a lot.

OK, we leave later today. I need to drop off my machine, do a bunch of packing, then drive to LA. Hopefully there will be some walking and eating and drinking and maybe some art and drawing and stitching. Who knows? It won’t be here, though. The boychild will hold down the fort and feed all the animals. I was looking forward to meeting the man on the trails this summer, which unfortunately didn’t happen. He is exercising his knee, though, and hoping to get back on trail in a month or so…but then I have school, so meeting him is much more complicated, especially if he starts from Washington instead of the Sierras. So I guess LA will have to stand in for the Sierras? Not really a fair comparison, but it will have to do.