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.

Check Check Check…

There is an insistent cat head bumping my left elbow as I try to type. I managed to get her away from the keyboard, where she was before, but it’s possible that I’m not petting any of these cats ENOUGH for their preferences. OK, now she’s in front of the monitor, so any typos will have to be blamed on Kitten. And she just whacked me and I’m bleeding. So yeah. Cats. I’m also trying to listen to/watch this week’s artist talks for Quilt National and she’s not happy with my not paying attention to her, so now I’m trying to type with a paper towel held to my wrist so it will stop bleeding. Such a joy.

So somehow, the first week of Summer Break is gone. It’s always such a weird thing, that first week. I seem to waste a lot of time staring at things: books, space, social media, TV, the insides of my eyeballs. This year, I cooked a lot of things this week: wontons (very good), blueberry crisp (very good), lasagne from scratch (very good and will get frozen in batches for future eatings), and lemon bars (we had lemons…they fell apart last night, but they were still warm. I will in fact eat them with a fork if I have to). I’m still exhausted, which might be because I stayed up too late ironing last night and got up early(ish…for break, anyway) to watch the Quilt National thing. By the way, I will be participating in their weekly talks (signups are here) on July 30. You can also see me talk about my quilt here:

I don’t remember what I said. I’m going to watch all of them, honestly…just pick the playlist for this year’s quilts, and maybe even watch the ones from 2019. Why not?! It’s either that or I watch another badly dubbed movie like the last one I watched.

The damn cat is back, headbutting my elbow, decidedly nonapologetic about the divot in my wrist from biting me. My fault for having a calico cat. Feisty beasts.

So what have I been doing? Some errands, some garden stuff. Some house stuff. Some organizing. I can’t quite bring myself to clean out closets yet. I’ve found two things I want to get rid of…the rest is overwhelming. I’ve read a lot. I love reading. I’ve exercised for five days in a row…and my hips are complaining. I think that was from pilates on Wednesday, but I might take today off from exercise, since I know I will be hiking tomorrow hopefully (checks weather app…yes, I can hike tomorrow, as long as it’s not in the mountains, because they have a heat wave and I don’t? Whatever). I’ve also been doing art stuff in between all that, working on quilting a 20-year-old hand-appliqued quilt during the day…

I’m just doing the outlining right now; the background quilting will take a lot more thought and time. I’m not there yet.

I did a little embroidery on Sue Spargo’s Homegrown during book club…

Super slow moving on this one. But that’s OK.

And then I’ve been ironing at night, with a little bit yesterday during my quilt group Zoom.

Some bright colors were added for some small spaces in the quilt…

I’m about 6 1/2 hours into picking fabrics, and not done. It’s not an easy ironing job. So many muted colors that have to contrast with each other. I’m in the 300s somewhere, maybe almost done with them. Yah. Almost done, and I’ve already ironed some of the 400s, so I can safely say I’m at least halfway through. I’m hoping to be done with the ironing Sunday, but I’ve put a bunch of social stuff in the next few days, so I don’t know if that will really happen.

I’m meditating every night, mostly with the help of this cat.

Not help. She hasn’t whacked me for a while though…wait, that’s a lie. She scratched me two days ago because I dared to carry her past the little dog for her breakfast.

Yesterday’s walk almost didn’t happen. I finished making lasagne and then decided to walk.

Which is why I actually ate dinner at 9:22 PM. Not the smartest. Ah well. Routine is not my friend during summer.

This was me at pilates on Wednesday when the instructor told us we could do whatever we wanted with the balls we’d been using during class. Hmm. I did not throw it. I just thought really hard about why I was an adult and shouldn’t throw it.

Hey! There’s the girlchild.

Great picture. Love that face. Boston looks good too.

OK. I need more caffeine. And a shower. And to pick up a library book. Because I don’t have enough books to read. Plus make art. And check off about 20 things off the to-do list. By the end of the week, they freakin’ accumulate and I can’t handle it any more. Check check check. Plus tune out the neighbor woman behind me yelling at her screaming children. I’m thinking the ones below me must be at camp or something, because it is surprisingly quiet down there, except there’s the new house being built two properties below that, so there is NEVER NOT hammering going on except when it’s dark. Hallelujah for sending kids to camp though. I think I need to win some money and buy a second home somewhere with a massive amount of property, away from people and roads and builders and everything but nature. I would really appreciate the shit out of that space, but it would have to be real close…like up in our mountains, because otherwise I would never have time to go there. I could have a second studio there with a separate stash of fabrics, yeah? So I wouldn’t have to haul shit up there all the time. It could be the OTHER project that I only work on when I’m there. OR…get a little trailer and drive all over the US during breaks and make art in the trailer in campsites all over. Yeah. Both of those.

The Art Option…

Monday! Surprise! Yeah, maybe not. You probably knew it was coming. So did I, but I hoped it would slope off in another direction and leave me alone for once. Sundays and Mondays feel SO different during the summer…Sundays especially. I’m always working on Sundays during the school year…trying to finish plans, make posts, make sure everything is ready and I’ve got my head around it (I rarely have my head around it, just to be clear). Today is the last week of academic work, because grades are due next Tuesday. I’m a little panicked about that, because I had a plan to grade a bunch of stuff on Saturday, and then I ended up driving. Yeah. That.

First of all, though, I did finish the binding and sleeves on the newest quilt by staying up too late on Friday, because I knew I might have to drive on Saturday…

I know I always say the cats are helping, but they’re really not. I know you people with cats know that. This one, Nova, spent a lot of time trying to crawl INTO the quilt, between the layers, with pins everywhere poking at her, before settling down to claw my belly rhythmically. I love cats, but they do not help.

I don’t have total hours on this quilt yet. They’re in the app on my phone and I haven’t gotten that organized yet. I will. Maybe later. I’m still playing catch-up.

I had a plan to deliver the quilt Saturday afternoon, because I needed time to clean it up and pack it up, plus I had a quilt guild meeting on Zoom. Yeah. So that didn’t happen. Well, it did, but differently. I got the quilt cleaned and packed up Saturday morning while waiting to hear if I was driving, and when I found out I was, I texted my photographer, who luckily was available, so I dropped it off early. It’s done! On time! A miracle! Not really. I’m pretty good about deadlines.

So the driving. The hiking man had a rough week…long and hot and not enough water…and he wanted to come home for a week off. NO, he’s not quitting (everyone keeps asking). He was just homesick and missed his cats and maybe even me (although he’d just seen me), and needed a chiropractor. So all that. He tried a variety of ways to get home and they all fell through, so I left the house at around 10:30 AM on Saturday, dropped off my quilt with the photographer, and drove 4+ hours to Ridgecrest…

A lot of the drive looked like that. Ugh. Boring. I did stay on my quilt guild Zoom until my first pee stop in Temecula, and then I lost service for Zoom. So yeah. I went from 80-degree temperatures to 106 degrees. That was warm. It was long. Then we got in the car and came back, but he drove, so I could finish stitching one of my Patreon rewards…

Yes, my windows are dirty. I just drove a million miles. Second time in a week. Ugh. But he’s home for a week, so that’s nice. Probably I will have to reset my missing-him-sadness next week when he leaves again. Double ugh. I’m not thinking about next week. I’m literally thinking about 20 minutes ahead at the moment. Welcome to the last two weeks of school.

Once I finished that thing, I just stitched on the Sue Spargo Homegrown block I’ve been slowly working on for months…because I didn’t have the time (or presence of mind) to prep another embroidered block before I had to get in the car and drive.

Super slow. But slow will get it done eventually. For a week, I have a dinner companion, so I’m sitting and stitching after we eat and until we finish an episode of whatever we’re watching. It’s nice. If it’s just me, I read, which is how I have read a million books in the last two months. It’s while eating by myself.

Anyway, so there’s that. It means I didn’t get all that grading done on Saturday, though, so I’m pretty far behind. I will get there. I will be exhausted for the next two weeks, though, while that happens and school ends, and if anyone knows what I should do on the last four days of school, please, for all that you love me and care about me, please let me know. I’m blank. At a loss. Don’t have any creativity left in me. Everything I’ve seen will require me on high-attention mode, which I just don’t have in me at the moment, or I need to do a bunch of editing.

Well, that’s not true. I’m drawing the next quilt. That’s creative. I think. I had done a drawing in Tehachapi that was sort of an idea in progress, and now I’m revising it for this entry.

We’ll see how that goes. Went to bed too late again. Silly. Probably part of the tired, but I hate going to bed when I haven’t made any art. It’s frustrating. I have all these things I want to make and then I have to work for 6 hours and I don’t get to do what I want. Silly job. I’m gonna work today on getting stuff done during the school day. That’s what’s (one of the things that’s) lame about this job…we are constantly trying to find time during the school day to get the work done so we don’t have to work 5 and 6 hours on a Sunday or after school. This job is a time suck.

Anyway. At the grocery store yesterday, Mother’s cookies has branched out from Circus Animal Cookies (which are awesome, although IDK if they still are? I know they changed the taste a while ago and got Way Too Sweet…not sure if they reverted back or not, because I’m scared to buy them and shouldn’t buy them anyway).

I find this amusing. Sparkly too. I would get these for students if I were in person. We could do a taste test on Monday, short periods, mythical vs circus animal. Yeah. But no. We’re on Zoom. So tired of Zoom.

OK, the plus is that I don’t have anything going on tonight, so hopefully I’ll be working on some Patreon rewards and the commissioned little quilt I’ve had going for ages, and then maybe some drawing. That’s the plan anyway. I might just fall asleep at 8 pm instead. Hoping for the art option.

Tehachapi Weekend

I always appreciate a day off from teaching during the school year. I appreciate that I got to drive to see the hiking man and I still have a day to plan for school, because honestly, I have no clue what’s going on with 2 out of my 5 classes this week. Minor issue…I will figure it out. As soon as my brain wanders back from I’m Exhausted City. I appreciate that some people gave service in wars that changed our world, hopefully for the better, and I hope we have less need for said service and sacrifice in the future.

I did find out over the weekend that my piece at Quilt National sold. I do not know who bought it. I only saw the red dot (thanks to a friend for that). This is Fire and Water

On the far left. I finally found someone who posted a picture of it. Thank you! I am planning on going to the closing exhibition…just couldn’t swing the opening. Hopefully school will be less crazy in September. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, we stayed in a “beach house” (nowhere near any beach) in Tehachapi…full of interesting bits and pieces…

The man claims I pick quirky places, but really, I just pick what I can find most of the time…

And I don’t mind quirky. We were almost at the end of a road out of Tehachapi…

Nice views…including deer…

But yeah, some quirk…

I feel like the aliens are everywhere we go…

It was nice to have a home base out of town a bit…

We don’t actually do much…just hang out…

With our friends. Yeah, it’s a mannikin. I did some drawing in fits and starts…

He’s on the phone…not something he can do on the trail usually.

We saw this weird refraction happening in a cloud at dinner one night…

And we tried out a brewery…

I’m not actually drinking beer. The guy called it a seltzer? IDK what it really was…

I did some drawing…

And this one might have been at dinner…

I don’t understand the giant-flags-in-truck-beds phenomenon. I also didn’t understand this sign in the bathroom until the man explained it to me…

So yeah. I’m not really a gun/flag-in-your-truck person. Obviously.

The hardest part for me (well, for both of us) is dropping him back on the trail…

This is at mile 566. And that’s where he turned back to wave.

He had a rough day yesterday. Water is short in this section and it was bright and dry and warm. Plus he took some days off and it’s hard to get back into hiking. He just got more water, but there’s an upcoming stretch of heat wave plus areas where there are no streams or springs, just water cached by trail angels. Scary bit of miles. Plus his pack is heavy with food for about 8 days of hiking. Hoping it will all be OK. It’ll be at least 3 weeks, probably more, before I can see him. There’s one place he has a plan to be pulled out, but if it hits before I get out of school, I can’t do it. We have a friend who will, but then the access for me to be able to get to him is a bit iffy for a hundred miles or so. Sigh. At least I will be out of school. I plan to drive up a little early and do some hiking myself, relax a bit. We’ll see how that goes.

So I drove home yesterday and was mostly braindead. It’s hard to leave him and come back to what feels like hard work at the moment. I did pull out the quilt in progress, which needs to be done SOON, and placed the dyed blocks on top. These are old blocks I bought off eBay a million years ago, and I never did anything with them. I dyed a few of them about a month ago, and I was going to piece them into the background, but then I didn’t do that. Then I was just going to place them on top, but that looked weird, so yesterday I had the idea to cut them into cloud shapes and use them that way.

I put a few little squares of Wonder Under underneath some of the edges, pinned them down…

Then stitched near the edges, not zigzagging, like I normally do, and quilted them down. Hopefully I’ll get this quilted and bound before the weekend. That’s my plan anyway. Along with everything else.

Last night, we had dinner at my parents and I was working on this Sue Spargo block…

I did one how row in the wrong thread. I’m not pulling it out. I will probably be the only person who notices.

The cats were glad to have me back, apparently…Kitten giving me the eyeball….

I’ve had both Luna and Nova on my chest, poking holes in my flesh…

And some play time as well.

Ugh. I am still tired. More caffeine. Check the to-do list. There’s some art stuff to do first, then some art stuff for school. I might get a walk in later, and then quilting tonight. At least this week is a short one…and school is getting closer to done. I’m more than a little panicked about getting all the grading done in time, but that is what it is. I also need to get my Patreon rewards finished…they are in progress, but all this travel plus deadline on the big quilt is screwing up my schedule. Ah well. Eventually everything will get done, one way or another.

I’m Back in the Saddle Again…

Aerosmith song running through my head this morning. Actually, yesterday, from about 1 pm on, this song was in my head, as I was trying to finish all the things (I didn’t finish, in case you were wondering. I can just about teach what I need to today, although I need to make one assignment and one video, maybe two, before school starts. At 9 AM.). I did manage to do almost no school on Saturday…Friday was a bit hit or miss. I had plans to get some posts done before school and then leave by 9 AM, but there was a Zoomergency (an emergency involving Zoom, not a zoo) and I spent that time trying to get my guest teacher access to my online classes. So has the right eye stopped twitching? It has not. It probably will not until June 18. I’m trying.

I drove over 3 hours, through traffic, construction, up a mountain road, and then up a dirt road…

2.3 miles, where the PCT crosses, I found the man. He was kinda dirty and a little smelly (actually not too bad, considering), and has lost a lot of weight.

We ate some food and checked into our AirBnb, which overlooked an airstrip (it was kinda cool watching the little planes land and take off). The place we ate had Marilyn Monroe in the bathroom…

Like you do.

He showered and started laundry and we just sort of hung out together, because it’s hard to have full conversations via text and even worse via Garmin, because there’s a time lag, and you’re never really sure what conversation you’re on when you get an answer sometimes. So we needed to catch up and clarify.

Our AirBnb had a nosy neighbor…

Yup. That’s a goat.

The man did some planning and spacing out and talking and I did some cutting out of the new art quilt…

Dinner on the first night included these…

OK, we didn’t actually eat those. But laughed at them. Saturday, we drove to all the places to try to find him food (four places for that) and pants that were smaller that might stay up (no success there). We didn’t go to the lake or do any touristy things. We pretty much hung out. Like back in the day when you first started dating. Just hang out on the couch and talk and watch videos.

And for me, cut more stuff out. The flesh is all done. I’m down in the Earth stuff, which is a lot of little pieces and will take a while.

We went to dinner early, so we could hang out (some more) in the jacuzzi, which had a tad too much chlorine in it…

OK, a shit-ton too much chlorine. But it was warm and nice.

And then the next morning, we got up really early and had breakfast and saw three bald eagles fly over us as we walked back to the house, and then drove up this damn dirt road again and saw three deer. He hasn’t seen larger wildlife…just heard it. Ironic that we saw those in the car. I’m sure he’ll see them in the future.

It’s pretty up here…

Some part of me would love to just drop my job and get the hell out of this house and follow, but I can’t. I’m glad he’s doing it, because although he has bad days, low moments, shitty stuff that happens, in general, he’s finding peace in his head and trying to figure out his future. All good things. All big things.

He was smiling just before this. I swear. I think he was feeling the weight of 5 dinners and 4 liters of water in his pack and thinking about that.

And then he took off up the path. Both of us were sad about that part, but that is a good chunk of this trip, missing each other. Not much we can do about that part but keep trying to meet up (not an easy task as he gets further away, for sure). We have tentative plans for 3 weeks from now, and then it will be after school gets out. I’ll have some more leeway then, but the drives get significantly longer.

See, that’s the PCT face…he’s looking good, looking happy, enjoying (for the most part) the trail…and the trip. After I dropped him off, he did 14.8 miles and ended up here.

It’s a good thing…a hard thing for both of us, but good.

Meanwhile, I have to catch up on work this week (ugh) and keep cutting out pieces (not so ugh). I’m still tired…went to bed early last night and still don’t feel rested. Not great.

The animals were glad to see me back, though, so that’s a thing. I laid on the floor with the cats and watched birds for a bit with them.

Yeah. I know. Weird. I like seeing things from their viewpoint sometimes though.

OK, buried in work today. My guest teacher did fine, except he marked everyone absent who was actuallyin class, so I’m trying to go through that mess. Hopefully making it to the art stuff tonight though. We’ll see. And missing the man. Sigh. There’s a lot of that going on.

I Want Up and Out…

I managed to see the man this weekend on one of his zero days. He was about an hour away from me, so I drove out and hung out with him for…well…less than 24 hours. It is what it is. I’ll probably get one more visit with him before the end of school, if the trail coincides with my weekends, and then he’ll be too far out. I’ll manage a visit or two over the summer, depending, and then that’s it. It’s a lot of days and it’s hard, but he’s having a great time (most days, most minutes) on the trail and all that is a good thing.

He is still trying to lighten the load, so I brought some things back with me…

We went out to dinner, and there was live music.

It felt really strange to be sitting outside, having a drink and some food, while listening to music. I really missed that. Almost cried at the table. Silly, yeah? But yeah.

I stitched while he was organizing his stuff…both times? All three times?

There was a lot of organizing going on. The next day, his group found out that the next resupply store they were aiming for had burned down overnight, so there was some scrambling, both physically and mentally. In the end, I offered the boychild to drive up the resupply boxes when they got to the next section. Complicated stuff, but we can still help right now. As they get further north, they might be camped out next to a post office for a few days instead.

The next day, we shuttled out to where they had left the trail, and I sent him off on the next section.

I won’t see him for at least 2-3 weeks.

It was warm, windy, and dry.

This was his view a few hours later.

Desert flowers are blooming…some are so tiny.

I was glad to see him, sad to see him go. I’m a little isolated at the moment by my job situation and the continuation of COVID stuff here. Sure, I’m vaccinated, but my kids aren’t. And he’s not either, which worries me. But with Johnson and Johnson getting pulled, he doesn’t have any great opportunities to get vaccinated, unfortunately. And he doesn’t seem worried about it, so I will do that for him, in true Kathy fashion.

Friday night, the family and I went down to the beach. It’s not somewhere I usually go, and there were a lot of unmasked people walking around in Pacific Beach. Scary really. For me, I guess. This is my brother and his youngest.

They left Saturday. Girlchild leaves Thursday. It will be quieter here then. Not necessarily a good thing. Just a thing.

I came home to bees in the composter.

I took the lid off, hoping they would leave. They haven’t yet, but it’s been less than 24 hours. I’ll call the bee guy eventually.

This guy is currently barking his head off.

The kids left to go on a hike and so it is just me and 5 animals. He is offended by any living creature on the property. I haven’t gone to look at what’s setting him off, but it’s probably a bunny or the neighbor.

There have been window geckos exciting the cats…

So that’s how far I got on these over the weekend…

This is Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month from a few years back. I started stitching things down when the pandemic started, but only just started the embroidery. They are fun. Distracting.

I started up on the tracing again, after coming home last night. I’m in the 500s…

So officially halfway. I need more Wonder Under, though, so will have to venture to JoAnns hell today. Oh well.

I’m not ready for school. I didn’t get much done over the weekend due to family and hanging with the man. So I’m behind. Oh well. I am looking forward to more tracing tonight, though…I finished the world and am now in the human figure. So I’m getting there. 43 days of school left. I finally lost some students, instead of just adding them on. So that’s a plus. I’m really mentally done with my job. I’m still doing it. I’m still creating stuff and recording videos (4 yesterday, I’ll need to do 2 more by Thursday or Friday) and grading stuff and answering emails, but I’m finding it difficult to be present in the chair, on Zoom, without being really antsy. I want up and out…and over. I want school to be over. I want everyone vaccinated. Although the man is loving his trip and he’s barely started, I want that to be over too. It’s hard being the one left at home. So I count days and keep myself working on art and reading and being distracted by those things. The ends will come. Eventually they will come.

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!

Off the Grid…Sort of…

It’s hard to get totally off the grid, but certainly hanging out in places where cell service is random (4G in the bathroom, but only at 2 PM on a Thursday for 14 seconds) and wifi is nonexistent helps. We got back from our whirlwind trip yesterday, completely exhausted. We only did about 26 miles in 4 days of hiking, with two days more strenuous than the others, but elevation whomped us a bit as well, plus unexpected heat. 75 degrees F at 4000 feet is hotter than it is at 400 feet above sea level. That’s my excuse anyway. Plus not enough sleep, ever. Camping plus camp noises (I listened to a tree branch groan for at least an hour one night) plus AirBnb noises (that peacock chorus one night…). I wouldn’t trade the experiences out, but it does lead to general exhaustion…a different kind of tired than what school does to me, but tired. I am still tired. I could have slept in this morning, but I mis-set my alarm too early and then my to-do list entered my brain and that was the end of it. So I was up. Not fully functional, but up.

So last Tuesday night found us in a hotel room in Fresno with a massive Jacuzzi tub that I could have used every night AFTER that (my dream is a Jacuzzi, but it will probably never coalesce into reality), and as always seems to happen, one of the Jurassic Park movies was on, so we watched and I drew.

To bed earlyish…driving is exhausting, isn’t it? Then the next morning, up and out for the Yosemite experience.

I grew up in the Sacramento area, and my parents must have driven around rolling hills with oak trees a lot, because it’s a landscape my brain really responds to, so we stopped on the way up for one photo…

The flowers were starting to pop and everything was that bright spring green that doesn’t last in California.

The first view of Yosemite National Park…it never fails to bring tears to my eyes, when we get the first view of WHY this is a national park and not just some local thing.

I guess it’s why we keep going to all of them, eh?

Definitely worth it. I haven’t been here since high school, I think, when they brought us all in and sent us off in groups. My group hiked/backpacked a short distance (?) up into freezing coldness. Susie Cranston and I zipped our sleeping bags together and invited some dog (an actual dog, y’all) into the bag for warmth.

So it’s been a while…

It’s the crowds of people that keep us away. This was Spring Break, but it wasn’t too bad. A lot wasn’t open yet (like the showers and the pizza place, until our last day), so that probably helped. Plus we asked which hikes had fewer people, and when to do the more popular ones. It helped. So did camping…the first two nights were nice and quiet, once the rampaging gangs of children stopped screaming. We were on the outer edge of one of the loops…a good choice.

The last night, we were surrounded by groups of 20-somethings with copious amounts of alcohol. They were remarkably quiet, considering.

We got set up relatively early on Wednesday, and went for our first walk, but got sent back by a bear on the trail.

Hmmm. That was the only bear we ever saw, luckily? Or not.

Back to camp, cooked dinner, settled down to draw by the fire.

I cooked. Someone else has to do dishes. A tree, my view. Those damn ravens.

They’ll steal as soon as you walk away.

The next day was a our big hike day. We started with Vernal Falls…weren’t sure how high we’d go. It was definitely a climb.

We made it a ways up. Not all the way…

There was a lot more of that, and it was getting more and more slippery.

This was a good view though. After lunch and a bit of a rest, we set out to do the hike from the day before…no bear today, just deer…

Almost didn’t see them resting there.

We hiked up past Mirror Lake, doing the whole loop.

It was warm but otherwise mostly quiet.

Tired legs at that point…

Somewhere between 10 3/4-12 1/2 miles that day, between the two hikes. Our multiple apps wouldn’t agree on mileage.

Tired seemed legit. I finished this Sue Spargo Homegrown block between the driving and the camping…

Then made dinner and drew again by the campfire.

It was a good night.

The reward for lots of hiking is sleeping through the tree and people noises.

The last day, we headed out to Yosemite Falls…there were tons of people, which explains the man’s face.

He was reaching his limit. We considered trying to get to Upper Yosemite Falls, but it was hot and we were officially tired. So we checked out the Ansel Adams Gallery, got our National Park passports stamped, and got our official Yosemite T-shirts.

We scoped out a dinner option that didn’t make us cook, rejoiced that we weren’t in Curry Village (soon to be Half Dome Village), and rested a bit.

We actually got a pizza to go and brought it back to the campsite to avoid people. Yes, we hiked a mile for pizza. It was worth it.

There are other things we’d explore in Yosemite, but it would have to be later in the season. Too much was still snowed in.

I did draw that night too, but there’s no picture of that. We spent (well, mostly the man spent) about 2 hours trying to get a fire started on the third night. The young folks on either side had roaring fires (they both had fire starters of some sort), but ours was lackluster until we ignored it, and then it finally caught.

Some serious fire-building science and Girl Scout knowledge failed us on this one.

The morning had us packing up, with the ravens waiting for our leavings…

We were out early and headed south for our next park, Sequoia. On the way out, we stopped to look at some burn damage.

It’s hard to look at, even when you know some of it is necessary to the forest. Not as much as we’ve had lately, though. Lots of damage around from a big windstorm in January too, which toppled trees throughout the park.

I’ll write more about the rest of the trip tomorrow. Now I need a shower, groceries, and about a million other things to get crossed off the list. Wish me luck.