As Are We All…

It’s hard not to start today with the REM song It’s the End of the World in your head, even though it’s not. The world continues whether we get tested or get sick or die or not. These are stressful times. I know that if I’d made the time to make art last night, that would have been good, but I couldn’t get my head there. That’s the same head that kept me up until after midnight and woke me up at 5:15 (or was that the rain?). It’s an anxious head, so I do what I can to mellow its ass out. I should have meditated. Ironically, most of the stress is coming from school and kids who are reacting to the rain and Daylight Savings (being tired) and probably also to their parents’ stress over coronavirus and probably their jobs and the same stuff we teachers are feeling. But they turn into umbrella-poking, pencil-throwing, off-task, selfish dipwads. Wait. So do the adults. Sigh. Not all of them. Just enough to make it difficult.

It was a day. I left school. I delivered some art. Then I came home and the boychild and I made a grocery list for enough basics to get us through a few weeks (or possibly longer). I bought dog food (essentials) and then stood in a long line at the store, which was pretty well stocked with everything except rice. And wipes. I don’t understand how half the county will only be eating white rice for the next month, but whatever. There were plenty of other grains and frozen vegetables and some meat (not much chicken choice) and a bunch of toilet paper. That’s the thing I didn’t buy, because we have enough and I don’t understand that panic. I already got all my meds, so that’s good. Probably there are still some things we need, but even in Italy, the stores aren’t closed. Girlchild reports that Boston stores are wiped out…not even frozen veggies are available. Weird. Well, lots of humans in a small space? Anyway. It’s not the apocalypse and dammit there aren’t even zombies, but people are starting to think about what this might look like and canceling things left and right and that’s probably a good thing. It doesn’t FEEL good at the time, but in the long run, I think it will be better for our future sick people if we start to close shit down now.

Speaking of canceling, I suspect San Diego County schools will be closed starting next week, which is a whole ‘nother issue. We don’t know what that looks like, but I did order more batting last night…hopefully it will get here or I will be piecing what I have in my stash or making some smaller and long, thin pieces during the next few weeks. I’m trying to look forward to some time with no students (this year has been rough) and nothing to do (except grade about 6 things, two of which are not fun), but I’m worried about family and friends and what the next month or so might look like. As are we all. Well, except for my students, some of whom think this is the best thing ever! Until they realize all the fun stuff is closed and they can’t go hang out with people and even their games aren’t that interesting for that long. Or maybe they are. Some of them won’t get enough food or will be left home alone for too long, and that worries me with some of them.

I should focus on artmaking in a pandemic.

I don’t think I’m saying anything y’all haven’t already whispered to someone else or heard in your head or flat out yelled at the top of your lungs in a Starbucks.

Here’s the view from the top of the downtown library…somewhere I’d never been until yesterday.

That opening is canceled. The art is there and you can see it, but no large gatherings.

And here are blurry playing cats…which I may see a lot of over the next few weeks…

I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering what to do about vacation plans…I think social distancing includes hikes in the middle of nowhere, don’t you? But our trip to the National Parks in April is probably not happening unfortunately. Do we cancel? Do we wait and eat the money? Do we just go to the Airbnb stuff and not camp? Is that even an option? I don’t know the answers to any of that.

Anyway. Be well. I said that yesterday. Stay safe. Take care of yourselves. I’m hoping I’m writing about art tomorrow morning, because this stuff…I just need a break…all of us do and it’s not happening any time soon. (But imagine doing this years ago without the internet and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and Spotify and books on your device and all the other things that entertain us! Now that sounds awful.)

Momentous, Not Calamitous

Ah yes, that feeling of the first morning after the time change. The pro? This…

Good morning March 9. You look good. For now. I realize you will turn into clouds and rain later, but we need that, so I’ll accept it. It’s my 53rd birthday today…a suitably prime number. I’ll accept that too.

The sheep where we stayed this weekend.

The man picked a place within walking distance of a few wineries…one was closed until July, though, and the road for a few of the others was a little iffy, but we did it. The first one, Highland Valley, came with Nate…

Dogs are always a plus for us. They have a nice, small, personable setup with a great view…

And we carried a bottle away for later. We actually stayed in an Airbnb directly across from here (not that house…that house was crazy huge).

We found out later that I actually knew someone down the road from where we stayed, three houses down, and I’d been there years ago, but it was all avocados then…now it is more grapes. The fires came through here unfortunately. We saw some evidence of that.

Poor Nate. Works so hard.

A good winery has something that brings you back besides the wine, eh?

Not a lot of greenery yet…

There was an actual barn owl in that owl box, but the sun was right behind it, so I couldn’t get a picture of it.

I am regretting our delay in getting an owl box up, because the owl has left and I’ve heard the mockingbird a few times. No mockingbird. Want owl instead. Does not keep me awake with his/her gentle hoots.

We walked back to where we were staying to drop off the bottle and grab a backpack. The next winery was further out…this is where we met the property’s cat…

We persuaded her to stop before leaving with us…and walked the mile to Domaine Artefact.

It was much busier, more of a business and less personable. But they had food and we needed lunch.

There was another one in the area, but at that point, we decided to take a break. It’s supposed to be a 1-ounce pour for a tasting, so maybe the equivalent of two glasses of wine at that point, but I’m guessing they were more than that. Plus a 2-mile hike in there. So back to the residence for the man to nap and me to read my book.

This is the road we were walking on…recently resurfaced with no lines…so not the safest in the world…

It was fine in daylight. Probably they don’t expect people to be walking it. Certainly we were the only ones. I’m laughing about it, but it was fine.

At night we headed out to Cordiano Winery, which was huge and very busy. We found a table and had some wine and dinner…

And then headed outside for another glass and a chilly view. They have blankets and these guys…

So we were fine. Back to the home base for sleep…we had planned a trip to the Safari Park in the morning, but the man was feeling like he was coming down with something (no fever, so probably not COVID-19, but he still didn’t feel well), so we had breakfast and headed home to try to catch up on stuff (laundry, groceries, email)…the children missed us.

Maybe. We had dinner at my parents, where I received this mutant cheesecake slice…

Hopefully a portent (momentous, not calamitous) for the year. Hey, cheesecake is pretty good no matter what it looks like. I cannot complain. And then yes, I did grades. And answered school emails. Then I sorted all those pieces I finished cutting last week…finally!

Kitten was not assisting. I find cats very unhelpful in most stages of quiltmaking…all sorted.

I made it to bed a little early, although the time change confuzzled my brain and wouldn’t let me fall asleep. Gotta love a new day with not enough sleep! My faithful companion…

I did a little wool stitching that I can’t show you before I went to bed. I’m up now. School today. My birthday includes a 2-hour staff meeting, which seems remarkably unfair. Then exercise and someone else making dinner. I’ll refrain from grading today, out of respect for myself, and then will start ironing! Which is exciting, I must say. May the 53rd year have a lot of art and beautiful landscapes…

Out in Exotic Escondido

Well I’m sitting here in an Airbnb as the man cooks my breakfast (pros of a birthday weekend trip, because if we were still at home, I’d be eating cold cereal). We have a sort of plan, which might involve a bit of walking, which I’m not averse to, because it’s nice out and not raining. We’re in winery country, well, it’s exotic Escondido, which can be beautiful (San Pasqual Valley and all), but is really only 30 minutes away. I had a gift card to one of the wineries, and we just decided to make a weekend of it, get away from the house and the to-do list, although I keep adding to that list as I’m sitting here. It clears my mind to write it down. That’s a good thing.

Beautiful view, ironically from the back, where there is no door or cute patio unfortunately. Things Airbnbs should have: salt (this one does), enough towel racks for more than one towel (this one does not), more than one dish towel (you’re questioning me, but it’s happened), and nice fluffy towels. Honestly, you should have your MIL (or someone else’s, if you don’t have one) stay in it before you rent it out…or you should stay in it. It’s a nice place really…we’re just fussy.

One of the wineries we’re going to is over there…

I have my sketchbook. I have my new hiking boots, which need to be broken in. I have food in me. I’m still sick. We joke that we want to be well before coronavirus hits, so our immune systems are at their strongest. I work in a giant Petri dish and I’m diabetic, although we’re not in the oldest range. Paranoid. Yeah.

Missing the animals. Oh well. At least one of the wineries comes with pets…a pro for us. Hiking boots on (yeah it’s weird to hike to wineries). Pens in bag, sketchbook too. Snacks…because have to eat when drinking. First gonna get more tea in my body. We fell asleep early and slept in (I requested that!)…which probably wouldn’t have happened at home. But I’m still tired…always tired. There’s probably a lovely afternoon nap in my future too. Proof I’m old.

Legs Like Logs…

I’m baaack. Not awake. Not caffeinated. Not ready. Nothing new! Woo hoo!

We were in Joshua Tree for the long weekend. Got a house. Hiked some. Arted some. Ate some. Drove a bunch. It was warm. And then it was cold. There’s a lot of photos. I’ll deal with them a little at a time.

We stayed in an Airbnb that advertised a funky retro style, which they definitely had…

It was small, but fine for the two of us…

We never did use that fireplace, although we bought firewood. It was a long drive up Friday night, but I had some drawing time before bed.

We knew the next day was the best weather day, so we had planned a hike from North View to the Maze Loop to Window Loop.

It was a tough hike…not because of gain or anything particularly difficult about it. I think we were both tired and it was a little warm and dry and stark as hell and it was maybe a mile too long.

The rocks are fascinating though…

I couldn’t do this in summer at all.

I’ve been to Joshua Tree a few times, although only twice that I can remember as an adult. This is the longest hike I’ve done there at 7.4 miles.

I was hoping to do some shorter hikes, rambles, on Sunday, but that didn’t happen. For one, it was really cold. Second, I don’t think we had the energy for it.

The whole first part of the hike had no Joshua Trees in it, ironically.

Ah, there we are.

It was only about 70 degrees, but there’s no shade and it’s at a higher elevation than we’re used to…which might have been part of the issue. I know my legs felt like logs most of the hike.

It really was a beautiful day though. I was a little disappointed in the trail. The North View part was nice, but we missed out the Maze part because we were only on the outer edges…and the Window section was lame, because you got a better view of the window from the Maze loop than the Window loop. And we had no energy to wander back to do the inner parts of the Maze…it would have added another 3 or 4 miles. Not happening.

We got back to the car, found some food, ate, went back to the house, showered, and tried to chill out a little. Easier for some than others? Hard to say.

That night, we went to see a bunch of art and ate a good dinner. I’ll continue later…gotta go to school and teach kids things. About rocks.

Boychild planted the other two fruit trees…now we have a lime, a lemon, and an avocado.

It’ll be a while before we have fruit, but there they are.

OK, I’ve got food in me and a little caffeine. It’s possible that I might be able to function. Tomorrow, I’ll post about the art we saw…at least some of it, because there was a lot.

Portland in Review

We’re back from Portland. I haven’t slept much. I’ve been awake since 4:42 AM. I did go to bed early, so I think it was about the same amount of sleep. It was a fun trip, too short of course, but I think I might be able to handle the rest of this week. We’ll see. Perhaps the sub notes will send me over the edge. Certainly some of the student emails I got over the weekend might. I’m getting a shirt that says “It’s not fair…” and then something pithy. That my students won’t understand. Like most of my shirts.

Anyway, we picked Portland just because. We had to use a flight before the end of the year and we didn’t have much time, so we didn’t want to spend it all flying. Portland was a good distance, had some entertainment stuff we liked, had some friends we liked, and the man had never been there. Plus we might do a camping trip up there sometime. A ways out. So this was just kind of checking it out.

My ex-San Diego friend Susan (she’s not my ex-friend…she moved to Portland recently) picked us up and pretended to be our Lyft driver. We fed her lunch, which we don’t do with our Lyft drivers…

She then dropped us off at our Airbnb…with a stop at a grocery store for some supplies. We did talk about the street art and the homeless population…comparing Portland’s treatment to San Diego’s…

No spiky rocks planted there to keep them from camping out…

It was a longish day of travel…we were up early…so the man crashed out for a couple of hours. He needed it.

I graded stuff and drew and read my book. I’m good at entertaining myself.

Our Airbnb was up a huge hill, right next to Forest Park. Pros: right next to Forest Park and great views. Cons: huge hill.

We did walk down for dinner. The cold is not something we’re really used to, but we layered up. Ate dinner. Decided not to walk back. I would have. The man called a Lyft.

We got up at a reasonable hour the next morning, ate breakfast, and walked the half block to the first trail…

This was cool.

It’s been a while since we’ve hiked together…and it was good. Lots of dogs and misty rain and runners and green, so much green.

We went out Wildwood Trail for a good 4 miles or so, and then hiked down to the road coming back. It was shorter on the way back, but a healthy start to the day. Then we did a bunch of stuff that involved two Lyft drivers, wandering through Powell’s Books mindlessly, some chicken wings and cider or beer, plus seeing an old high-school friend, his wife, and their dog (dog is sweet), plus more walking, some more cider or beer and some food, plus this…

That’s from a dollhouse in the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium…

Which reminded me a lot of an alien museum in Roswell, NM, that we enjoyed…although I wanted to file a complaint about this…because that’s not needlepoint.

So there.

Drawing in bars…my specialty…although this was a bottle shop…

This was a painting outside a food co-op…

And this was the drawing I finished on Friday…

Sort of out of order. Here’s Saturday’s drawing…

finished in the bottle shop. I persuaded the man to walk back to the house! I know. He probably had a bit too much beer in him, but we made it! I think that was 7 miles total.

Sunday, we got up, ate, packed, and our lovely not-Lyft driver took us to the airport…on the plane, we saw the first sun we’d seen since we left San Diego, plus one of the volcanic majesties around Portland. We saw two, so this might be Mt. Hood…it might not.

Someone knowledgeable will tell me. Drawing 3 happened in the Las Vegas airport, surrounded by people with hangovers…

And then we were home…the man left to go get the babies, who got spayed last week…and are quite recovered. They look sleepy there, but that was after 3 hours of rampaging around the house…

They are officially ours now…paid for and our problem.

I consoled the old lady, who missed us. Maybe.

She helped me grade more stuff. It’s always good to go on a trip right before grades are due. I really only graded in airports, except for the 2-hour nap thing. No, I’m not done. I’m close though.

This morning, babies are up and crazy again…

Stitches my ass. They are not feeling it now.

OK. Gotta go to work. Teach kids. Ignore the whiny It’s Not Fair crew. Grade some shit. Give a test! Whatever. Hopefully art this week, beyond just drawing…not that I don’t like to draw. I truly enjoyed giving myself that time this weekend. Keeping that in mind for the future. Oh yeah, Portland…we’ll be back…maybe with a tent and more hiking time to spare…

Ditching

I’m not at school. Not going today. Going on a quick weekend trip. Crazy timing for that, but it’s possible there is never a good time. Currently sitting in an airport… not sure where getting sick is more likely: school or airport waiting area. They both are cesspools of germiness.

Kittens made it successfully through their spaying; we’ll see them Sunday.

I managed to find (at a store, 10 minutes before they closed) a background for the quilt…

It’s even washed, but it needs to be pieced. It didn’t happen last night. I exercised, graded the last of the hellacious essays, and packed instead. I even posted my Patreon video. All good.

While I was grading, Kitten explored the tree…

Very closely.

Well I’m hoping this is a fun trip. I packed hiking boots. Doesn’t that guarantee fun? More later…probably while I’m sitting in an airport somewhere. Back to trying to finish grades…

A Weird Wind

A weird wind came through yesterday afternoon, and now I can see too much of my neighbor’s house (leaves fell off the two trees that normally block most of my view). I guess it’s good because I get more light in here, but I’m not a fan of seeing the neighbor’s house, so there’s that.

I haven’t been sleeping well. Can’t fall asleep, brain is in overdrive, could be school stress, could be life in general, could be hormones, could be caffeine, although I haven’t changed my intake, so why now would it keep me awake? I dare you to send me another article about more sleep and health. I’d do it if I could…I just don’t do it well. Maybe the hot flashes and weird blood sugar numbers are on their way back in with the insomnia. Who knows.

I did an artists’ talk on Saturday afternoon, after a different art group’s meeting…

One of the bathtub quilts…gotta do another one of those. I have no idea what I said. But I said it.

Saturday night was mostly grading stuff, but also visiting these two babies…

We’re fostering them as of tonight, I think. One of them is more extroverted than the other…

Hey. Play with me. Now.

Hopefully it will all go well with this old lady…

who was caught with her head in the handle of this plastic bag. We’re hoping she wants to play with kittens more than plastic bags. Let’s see how it goes.

We got another campsite booked for our Spring Break trip. I call this the Easy Bear Access campsite.

Right down that hillside. No, seriously…it’ll be a good time. No showers for 5 days, but that’s all good. Dad’s like recommending more campsites after this, and I’m like, 5 days? I’m gonna need a bed. An actual bed. Never mind the shower.

I graded a lot this weekend. We went to dinner at the parentals and I made lunches for the week (that’s one thing less to worry about) and finally, around 11 PM, I made it to the studio to iron stuff. This is where I realized that all the water, hills, and mountains behind the figures should be all the same fabrics, so I numbered stuff illogically. This pile is all the water, and includes pieces from the 100, 200, and 400 boxes.

That’s not annoying to do at all. So I’ll be continuing to do that tonight. Searching through boxes looking for 7 specific pieces. Hopefully. Got two more classes to slog through on the big grading unit.

All the 100s laid out…will move on to hills and mountains next…then the body starts in the 40s, I think.

Something like that.

I’m watching Mars…which goes back and forth between reality in 2016 and fiction in 2033. I’ve been trying to take notes for my students, blurbs they could watch…but it’s hard to do that AND iron.

I should recruit Kitten as my secretary.

My goal is to get everything ironed down by the end of the next weekend, then cut it out and start ironing. I don’t know if I can do that. I already have way too much to do next week.

I’m not really a fan of Thanksgiving week. It’s always full of work and driving. But at least there’s no kids or labs or politicians traipsing through my classroom (that’s tomorrow). And I can pee when I want. That’s a thing. Seriously. Maybe I can even sleep in a morning or two. That’s a thing too.

OK. Five more days. Head held high. Food healthy. Deep breaths. Maybe try to remember to meditate in between the panicked moments.