I Did What I Could

May 28, 2017

It’s really early in the morning…it’s even earlier in California. Some Saturday nights, I would still be awake, for whatever reasons. On school nights, I try to pretend I am not as nocturnal as I really am. We’re leaving Athens, Ohio, and Quilt National. As usual, I feel like I should have seen the exhibit one last time, taken more pictures, something. But that was it. I did what I could. 

Now we just hope we can make it home easily. Thunderstorms are all over the place…it’s peaceful right now, but it’s not supposed to stay that way.

Yesterday afternoon, we had quiet time. I sat and stitched and then drew. Trying to recharge my brain. I graded nothing. No surprise there. I’ll scramble this week. It’ll happen. 

Drawing 1, while a thunderstorm passed over…

Some Sue Spargo, for it’s calming effect…

I managed all three days on this piece, all around the hand…fly and cross stitches…

And drawing 2…

I think I miss pizza. 

Quilt National was very abstract this year, lots of channel quilting, very tight and perfect. I joke that I can’t quilt that perfect (it’s true), so that’s why I make the quilts I make. Some of the abstract was loose and free or big and open or detailed and complex. And sometimes talking to the artist made you feel something more about the piece then you did when you first saw it.

I missed seeing Pamela Allen and Paula Kovarik this time…I was here in 2013 with both, but never found a chance to talk to Pamela. They both had work in again this year. I really loved making it to the opening this time though! Even though I missed a San Diego opening, I think the interactions between artists are truly amazing here: people I’ve followed for ages and finally got to talk to in person. That’s the value in coming out. 

Well I started writing this at 5 AM in Athens. Then we drove to Columbus and that’s where I’m sitting now, waiting for my plane. Hoping for trouble-free travel. Looking forward to my own bed and normal water pressure in the shower and a non-sticky floor…plus hopefully some mental space to process what I saw and heard.

Looking Up…

April 15, 2017

So we made it back, alive and still a bit muddy (one load of laundry is done; the tent and rain cover are out on the deck, waiting for me to have the energy and help to clean it out), still a bit exhausted. Driving through Los Angeles can do that to you. Ahhh, traffic, I miss you not.

It’s the first time I’ve taken a week’s vacation without the fam in about a million years. Being a mom and a financially strangled one at best doesn’t allow for such things, so it was much appreciated. And there will be more, once we do the math and see how bad the money actually was, and then try to focus on future travel plans. There was lots of WOW said; even if you’ve seen them before, the redwoods elicit WOW.

So then I have about 50 pictures of the trees, looking up…

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Because that’s what you do…

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(That was the one non-rainy day on our trip…the day we chose to hike around…)

I’ll have to write a post later this week about the trip, I think. Too many pictures for a Saturday-morning brain.

I did draw each night…well, minus one…

Certainly what I was experiencing ended up in the drawings. The first night, we had set up the campsite and cooked under a lean-to tarp, and sat there listening to the rain for hours. We’d made it to the visitor center and read about local animals and plants, and seen a beetle and lots of ferns and trees.

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That beetle on her cheek was on my sketchbook for a while…I saw his big brother in the bathroom for the next three days. Just hanging out…on the toilet paper rolls…waiting…for something.

We hiked the whole next day, with on and off rain…but a lot of sun. We cooked tacos that night, and tried to get the fire started. I think it lasted a whopping 20 minutes before the rain kicked up again. We had moved the tent by then.

I don’t think this one is done, but I was tired.

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At least one hand is facing the wrong way…or both are left hands…or something.

The last night, we had very little rain (after rain on and off all day, mostly on), but lots of high winds, which is a little nerve-wracking in a forest that really only loses trees to wind and the occasional flood.

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I skipped the next night…but the last night, food was on my mind apparently. And misplaced arms. They’re just wrong, all wrong.

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As part of the last day’s drive, we stopped at the California Fibers’ exhibit at The Blackboard Gallery in Camarillo, California, where two of my pieces are currently hanging through early May. This is Give Me Time

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As always, I love having my photo taken and can’t figure out what to do with my hands.

And here I am with Holding It All In, which is a big quilt…

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I’ll be writing a California Fibers’ post about the show, with details, later this week. I’ll link it here. It’s a nice show…in an interesting space.

I did keep up with these once a day stitches, albeit barely. I did some green lazy daisy leaves on the right with that curly line I added earlier in the week, with the pinky lazy daisy flowers (that’s three days right there)…then a feather fern stitch thing next to the tree trunk (hard to see here) and some star-shaped flowers in red/burgundy with straight stitch green leaves to the right of the feather, under the bird…finishing the thread off with some French knots (or colonial knots, who knows) down the side there.

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I didn’t actually do much stitching (or reading) on the trip. I finally pulled this out the last day for in-the-car stitching (mostly I can’t stitch with curvy roads…or while I’m driving)…finished the tree trunk, which I’d started at the campsite until I couldn’t see in the dark any more, then finished the flower center and started the bird. I think the bird is all that’s left, and then I’ll be done with this one. Maybe tonight. Not sure what my plans look like yet.

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I know they include cleaning and drying these, the second load of laundry, finishing my taxes…

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Working on the current quilt, which has to be done in a week, a ton of grading, some emails/contracts/headshots (ugh) to be sent out, and I don’t even know what else. Trying to get my head around all of it…which I will…eventually…maybe not today. Still looking up…even though the trees are gone…but here, at home, the furry beasts are all around. Both cats slept with me last night (strange), although I did not appreciate Midnight’s hairball extraction in the middle of the night (guess the duvet cover needed washing) or Calli’s early morning plea to pee. And the house reeks of skunk…fun stuff. No one cleaned while I was gone (another wonder of living alone). But I’m glad to be here, in my own bed, surrounded by annoying beasts, where I can make a proper cup of tea whenever I want dammit. (still wanna travel more though)

All Work No Play…

April 13, 2017

You know how that goes…but barely 24 hours out of the mud, after a wild, animal-filled camping trip, listening to my guy analyze Danish wine bars (don’t even ask), having a hard time focusing on anything…have a story of a moth, lots of plant pictures and even more of classic rolling California hills dotted with happy cows and gnarly oak trees. 

Well, those are vineyard grapes…but I have more pictures than I can handle at the moment.

I also got into two shows while traveling, which is awesome. I’ll be home soon enough and will try to sum everything up, although the moth will need a post all to itself really. Glad we finally did this, got the hell out of San Diego, did a vacation with no work, despite the hellacious pile that awaits me at home. 

Free spinach artichoke dip and somebody’s very happy about his beer flight…

More later…we’re still alive…looking forward to seeing my furry babies…

Water Pooling

April 10, 2017

So when the weather app says 0.08″ of rain, that really means it’s gonna rain almost all night, leaving muddy puddles everywhere. The app kept saying rain would stop in 60 minutes. Thirty minutes would go by and it would still be 60 minutes of rain. The plus is the tent only leaked in one place (put a hand towel under it), and though it was cold enough to see my breath, it wasn’t horribly cold. 

All these pictures took a horrendous time to load, due to intermittent cell service…so they’re all out of order and I can’t even see them at the moment. 

Oh there they are…the Eel River. After more than half an inch of rain last night, today eventually got sunny and verging on warm for us Southerners…

We took a 5-mile hike and saw beauty everywhere…

Checking out gurgling streams…

And waterfalls…

Some fungus among us…

Last night, we huddled under a tarp shelter and I drew a bit…

Raindrops and a spotted skunk showed up in the drawing…under the tarp. Hat with lights was helpful…

Made burgers for dinner…after the fire in the pit got rained out…

I finally got almost caught up on this…I was 4 days behind. I did some blue fly stitches in the bottom area, then a bunch of cross stitches in a thread that went from peach to teal, also down in the bottom. Then the fly stitches that look like redwoods in the bottom right, in a variegated green.

Left it at one day behind, losing light.

These are some of the trees above the campground.

And here was our original setup.

Last night’s rain pooled under the tent, so we moved it today. 

Good times. Well fed and hiked. Mostly warm and dry. We will appreciate the hotel bed and shower when we get there. We haven’t killed each other yet, for those who were concerned. And my eye stopped twitching…all good news. 

Happy Cows

April 9, 2017

Well let’s see if I can write a blogpost today…unlike yesterday, when I had to figure out how to fit this…

Into the car. ‘Twas a challenge. This is why all the Subarus you see in camping ads have that pod thing on the top. But I managed. It’s supposed to rain on and off, so there’s a lot of shit in there for trying to keep us dry. We’ll see how that goes. Also there’s a lot of shit to try to keep us warm. Same deal.

I’m currently sitting in a freezing and sorta crappy hotel room (sigh) waiting for my turn in the shower, not motivated enough to go down to the office and check out their Froot Loops, and wondering if there’s even shampoo up here, because I know I left it in the car. Sheesh. 

We drove for about 11 hours yesterday to get to Santa Rosa…

Los Angeles patterns…

Picnic lunch…

The Grapevine…

Rainbow in the Central Valley…

A closeup of the rippling rainbow…

Cows…I don’t have pictures, but we saw cows in dirty yards full of manure and happy cows cavorting in green pastures. I want more happy cows.

Windmills going into San Francisco…

Today we head for redwoods and relaxation (I hope). 

And limited cell service for a while. So peace out!

Daylight Licked Me into Shape*

October 25, 2016

I think that’s the longest blog break I’ve taken in a while. No real good reason except out of cell area one morning, out of time the other two days. The weekend was busy and it fell over into Monday as well. Sometimes that happens. I’m so used to writing daily, though, that it felt weird.

I think these are from Friday morning…I’m not sure…I know I found these glasses in my classroom a couple of years ago and no kid would ever claim them. Weird, right? But I think they go with the nightstand.


I had started drawing down below…all the down below stuff, ironically.


Then Friday after school, I drove in the dark to Agua Caliente to a friend’s bachelorette weekend. This was my home for 24 hours…


Cute little thing. Actually not so little. We hung out in the pool, tie-dyed, didn’t hike (WAY too hot, even in October), and napped. OK. I read. I didn’t nap. Here was my before shirt picture.


Interesting what plants are out there…


I had to drive 2 miles out of camp to get cell service to tell people I was alive and well. These guys were everywhere.


I never got a picture of the ocotillos…

We played Cards Against Humanity…always fun…although I had to wait until I got home to Google “YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS.” Because it’s from some military sci fi game I’ve never heard of…and I’m OK with that.


So then I drove back in the dark on Saturday night, worked most of Sunday on school and art stuff, and then went to see the Proclaimers. Last time I saw them was in the late 80s and I remembered their show as really good and raucous. They did not disappoint. They were still awesome, even though I realized how many albums they’d released that I’d never heard of. It was a good show.


But then I took Monday off work because. Well. Yeah. Because. Because I never take personal days and I needed one. I slept in and picked up the dogs and got stamps and voted while researching and texting back and forth with the girlchild about the 223-page booklet of propositions we have in California at the moment.

And then I graded. For hours. While texting my co-teacher, who was back at school and stuck in a staff meeting where she was supposed to be planning with me. Oh well.

I walked both dogs (the parentals are home and their dog is back with them…the cats are pleased), fully expecting to be rained on at some point, but it wasn’t until we got back that we got thunder and lightning and pouring rain. Calli hates thunder. REALLY hates it. This was an hour later, when she was either hugging my leg or the cabinets or both. Poor baby.


After dinner, I gave up on grading, plus the girlchild called.

And then I drew. This had been in my head since Friday.


I did most of the other side last night in a couple of hours…


I think it’s done. Maybe.

And then I started on the top.


It’s not done. But it’s more done than it was. So far, I have about 4 hours of drawing on this. I still need to varnish it, so I have to be sure it will be dry by Tuesday. I’m hoping to do it Friday or Saturday at the latest. It would be nice to have more than one coat on.

And then I can move on to the next set of deadlines, which are admittedly less crazy, but only slightly so. I know what I’m doing over Thanksgiving Break…let’s just say that.

*The Cure, Just Like Heaven

Running Away to Anza Borrego…

March 23, 2016

So I’m back. A short trip to the Anza Borrego desert, only one night of camping (honestly, with the wind trying to pick the tent up, I’m glad we only had to deal with it for one night. Vacation shouldn’t be sleep-deprived.). We saw about a million metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda…OK, there are apparently only 130 of them, but we saw all of them.

I liked the dinosaurs best…especially the ones where you had to drive way the heck out into the desert to see them. This post is photo-heavy…mostly a picture journal of the trip. The wildflowers were apparently “gone”, but there were plenty of things blooming for me…

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I took photos of almost every sculpture we saw, but some of them were definitely better than others. I was amused by the eyelashes…Brecedo definitely likes eyelashes…

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Harvester ant holes…we didn’t actually see a lot of wildlife. Even birds were absent the first day, mostly probably because of the crazy winds.

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The dinos I liked the best were way off the road. We didn’t see many people out here. This is a newer one…he hasn’t rusted much.

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After a while, they all look like they’re dancing.

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Teeth abound…

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It’s actually a little frightening seeing these guys and thinking about them wandering around…

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Humans would not have survived, I think.

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You look tasty, my dear.

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These guys were wobbling in the wind. Then again, the bursts were pretty strong.

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Definitely all about the teeth.

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More flowers…I missed the pink cactus. Never remembered to stop for those.

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The details on the skin/hide were kind of amazing.

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And all the pieces of metal. Breceda wasn’t an artist until his daughter asked for a T Rex.

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Ocotillos were in bloom all over the place.

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This thing had a name. Most of his creatures are prehistoric, although honestly, there’s one group that wasn’t on the maps, and we’re pretty sure they’re made up things.

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Yup. I brought someone to conquer the angry beasts.

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That cloud stayed until sometime in the middle of the night. The winds above must have been competing for air space.

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The scorpion…that reminds me…Yup. Scorpions have two eyes on top and 2-5 pairs along the sides. Yick.

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So this thing. Not on the map. Big curved claws. Carries its young. Furry as heck. Looks like a cross between a beaver and…something.

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Here’s one who fell over…

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Making shit up. Don’t know what that is.

The famous serpent, which goes across the road. Awesome. Need that for my yard.

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Llama with serpent in background…

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Indian Head right near the opening to Indian Head trail.

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The caterpillars were around…some much bigger than others. The wildflowers come, then the caterpillars try to eat them all, and then the Swainson’s hawks migrate here to eat the caterpillars. More on the hawks later…

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One of the few furry beasts we saw…HUGE ears. The rest we saw were dogs. On leashes.

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I swear they’re dancing…

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These guys were up a road that was misnamed on the map…

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The tortoises were all a little feisty too…

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Peccary with babies…

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An entire wash of bighorn sheep…which was nice, because we didn’t see any in real life unfortunately.

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The wind is still scattering the clouds.

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An ironic metal saguaro in the middle of the desert without saguaro.

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We were sure it was a cutout from a distance, but it was in fact 3D when we got there…

A ha! A hawk! So we headed out to one of the hawk counting areas and saw a kettle of hawks scared off the ground by three coyotes. These hawks migrate from Argentina to Canada…

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There’s the kettle settling back down after being scared up.

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I’d never seen so many hawks in one place…over 60 of them flying together.

Camping in the high winds…the ice chest kept the tent from taking off.

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The campground was nice and quiet, despite quite a few children. There are bathrooms and showers and running water, and even shelters over the tables. Definitely a nice place to hang out.

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The next morning, we were tired from the windy-night’s sleep (or lack thereof), but planned a hike up into Borrego Palm Canyon.

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It wasn’t a long hike, but there was some chance of seeing bighorn sheep, plus it was supposed to be pretty. And it was.

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It was a bit warm, but bearable.

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A stiff breeze (and sometimes serious wind) dried off the sweat as we hiked.

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There were plenty of flowers still around.

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But the wash was dry…at least down here it was.

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As we went up the canyon, there was water. It must go underground at some point.

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Still no sign of sheep, but I caught this guy in a photo…

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The palms grow naturally here…

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When we got to the oasis, there were about 100 6th graders there eating lunch. Wow. So get the hell outta there before they leave! They probably scared off all the sheep.

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We’ll have to come back to see them (the sheep. Not the 6th graders).

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We took an alternate route down and promptly got lost and were wandering through the wash.

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A quail led us back home (not really).

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After a change of clothes, some food and drink, and a relatively easy ride home, I took my second shower of the day and fell promptly asleep on the couch. The dog woke me up for her dinner. Mine was a piece of toast. So not motivated to cook!

I couldn’t find my brain for the rest of the night, so I just messed around with the wool projects I have lying around. Tried to organize them and cut stuff out so that I could sew things down, but never found the energy to actually sew.

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It was a good, albeit short trip. Maybe there’s a longer one in my future. Who knows? Meanwhile, I have plenty of work to get done here, if I can just get my brain to come online. I’m in recovery mode…