I’m Back…Physically…

April 9, 2018

Hi. I’ve been gone a while. Well. I’m back. Not READY to be back, but what’s new, right? Still need to clean out and patch the tent, but the sleeping bags have been aired out and packed up, the man’s head has been shaved, and very little grading is done. In fact, yesterday, while I’m trying to sit out on the deck in the lovely (not windy) weather, ready (sort of) to power through some grading, the app that we use to sign in to all our other apps decided I didn’t exist…

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OK then. I still needed to grade. Luckily my phone and iPad still let me in to the app I needed, but it was slow and fussy, so I didn’t get much done. Oh well! This was the view…

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No gusty winds, no 10% humidity or less…sleeping in my own bed. All good. Travel is nice, but it’s also nice to be home.

I have a drawing in my head. This isn’t it. This is the drawing I did to remind me that what’s in my head is better. It may take me a while to get there.

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This is the pile of science units that I did manage to grade over break…so that’s not a small amount.

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But there’s still a ton sitting around here that needs doing.

I worked on this on the trip…got all the wool bits sewed on. It actually took a lot longer than I thought I would to do that.

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And that hut is significantly crooked. But I’m OK with that.

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Mostly I worked on those two not-so-crooked huts and the warthog, who just needs his tail finished.

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The instructions were like “use the instructions from January to complete this stuff” and I didn’t bring those. I couldn’t figure the flowers out, but for the baby warthog, I just looked at his parents and figured him out. So I didn’t get much done.

I did drive about 2500 miles though and went to a bunch of cool places, which will pop up in posts over the next few weeks, because it will take me forever to find all the photos.

But today, I go back to school…I just spent 20 minutes actually talking to the girlchild in Madagascar, so that was cool. Nice to hear her voice. And now off to work. Hopefully my brain will follow.

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A Title Would Be Nice

April 5, 2018

Not much time for writing these days. Internet is one of those things that many of us have easy access to (unlike the girlchild, who’s definitely missing it in Madagascar), but this trip has been out in the middle of nowhere for goodly chunks of time. Which is fine…we’ve been doing real-world stuff (well, some of it is NOT so real world), so the online world takes a back seat.

I think when last I wrote, I was sitting in a tent town that was a wheeled spoke of wooden walls in a KOA, which was a blessing against the 50-mph winds that mostly died down overnight. It was a rough night…being a light sleeper, road noise kept me awake, as did the wind kicking back up at 1 AM. There’s something about your entire tent trying to take off while you’re still in it that affects your ability to sleep. The plus is that we had to be up and out early, because we had a tour booked at Carlsbad Caverns that morning, and the elevators are currently out. Some poor souls were stuck in them for 3 1/2 hours last week and they’re still trying to fix them.

I just kept comparing the climb in (not what worried me) and out (somewhat more challenging) to Cowles Mountain, our local San Diego most popular hike for the non-hiker. 750 feet down in a mile and a quarter? Your knees will notice…

Going back up? Well they said there was food at the bottom, we were doing the Kings Palace tour (which ended up being very easy but totally worth the money for Ranger Mark’s story of the crazy-ass kid Jim White who discovered this cave), and then there was no food (being diabetic often sucks). But honestly? It wasn’t as hard to climb out as we thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong…there were quite a few happy dances when we made it to the top.

The caves themselves are freaking amazing. I have a ton of pictures, but it’s nothing like being there.

I suggest you go when the elevators are working, although the hike in is also a very cool experience. Those cave structures will definitely end up in some drawings…oh wait, they already have.

So after all that amazingness and natural splendor, we drove to Bottomless Lakes State Park to a very basic campground where the showers couldn’t decide on a temperature OR stay on more than 10 seconds at a time…we were the only tent in a sea of RVs and other smaller camping vehicles. And it was cold and windy…we gave up on cooking (no open fires with the wind) and ate out for the first time on our trip…

It was a cold night, but this is where I drew…fleece on, blanket wrapped around me. I get why no fires, but damn, fires are warm!

The next morning, it was in the 30s, so we packed up and went to breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe, where there was a taxidermied deer butt in the bathroom…

So I don’t remember ever being in New Mexico as a child (I must have been…I was almost everywhere else in the US), but here’s what I now know about this state: most popular vehicle: big white truck. Second most popular vehicle: any other color truck. New Mexicans run red lights with wild abandon. New Mexico is a lot flatter than I imagined.

And there’s a lot more Southern drawl than I expected. My phone thinks we’re in Texas half the time though, so maybe that’s related. Plus we’ve only been in the southern part of the state.

We were going to try to go to Cadillac Ranch in Texas yesterday, but decided to roll that into a future trip to Colorado…the thought of a day with 8 hours of driving was too much. So we headed back into Roswell for some alien fun.

Well you know…I like me some aliens…

And I think they like me too…

And then we headed for Santa Fe…more about that later, because today is all about Georgia O’Keefe and my WordPress app has decided I can’t see what I’m typing. Minor issue. Just know I’m alive and well and fed and showered and warm (ish…it is a high elevation here)…and more will follow.


Someone Let Me Drive…

April 2, 2018

So internet access has been sketchy at best…or when I have it, I seem to be doing other things, like driving, hiking, zoning out in a natural mineral spring, or sleeping. These are all good things, of course. I have no complaints. Well. Hmmm. The super high winds that greeted us this evening in Carlsbad, New Mexico, rumored to be anywhere from 30-50 mph gusts, well those were a little overwhelming, but true to my weather app, they have now died down to a reasonable breeze and my eyeballs appreciate the lack of dust pummeling them. As I type on my iPad, my new friend Mothra hanging around on my thumb, I smell an illegal fire in a nearby campground as bugs dash their tiny bodies against my clean face. Hallelujah for showers…I’ve taken three in the past 26 hours to make up for missing one Sunday morning. Hopefully the showers in the next campground will delight as well, because the elevators at Carlsbad Caverns are broken…so we hike in and out. At least it will be underground. In fact, that’s kind of cool. I usually hike up the mountains, not down into them.

I have about 3,000 pictures so far and probably not the internet to publish this (I’m gonna try anyway). Saturday, we drove a long way to Chiricahua National Monument (some bug just divebombed my wine…poor drunk little sucker), where we saw lots of birds, two deer, a skunk, three lizards, and the butt end of a coatimundi, just as we’d given up on seeing one. We did some hiking at over 6500′ and camped overnight in a gorgeous space that was unfortunately also peopled very closely by an incredibly loud family who said Shut up Don’t Touch That about 17 thousand times.

I’m trying to put photos in…who knows if it will work. It was an awesome place. More photos later when I have better internet.

We then drove to Truth or Consequences, NM, to Riverbend Hot Springs, where the draw was multiple soakings in mineral hot springs, based on a friend’s photo from last year…where I was like I Must Go There (I was right).

We spent time in three different pools, both in the evening and the next morning before leaving. Goodbye muscle aches from the hike…and a goodly amount of stress as well.

Our somewhat kamikaze trip continued today with a side trip to White Sands National Monument (never assume you can buy gas on a missile base) (I know how to coast a long way downhill). The wind had already started up by then, but not as bad as later, or we would have seen nothing…I’m pretty sure there’s white sand in everything I own right now.

It was REALLY WHITE…and soft, but not hot. Definitely glad we risked an empty gas tank on that. Really, I need a gas tank that realizes how much gas is left, looks at the map app for where I’m going, calculates my gas needs, and starts telling me about last-chance gas stations well before I need them…I’m imagining a high-pitched squealing voice getting louder and more hysterical until I can do nothing but pull over and fill my tank.

Until that happens, I will probably continue to space out on that shit until it becomes a desperate issue.

Then we drove over this pass that was about 8700′ and quite gorgeous…

And yes, about all I’ve managed is to finish one book, sew some wooly animals down, and attach 7.5 eyeballs. I don’t think we’re cooking much from here on out, so hopefully I’ll get enough sleep and downtime (ha!) to maybe draw. I’ve talked about drawing. It just hasn’t happened. And because the elevators are broken at Carlsbad Caverns (tomorrow’s adventure), we just added two hours of hiking up and down 75 stories to the day. I think the original plan allowed for one of those, not both. But what can you do, but put on your boots and rest when you need to? I’m looking forward to the equivalent of a Cowles Mountain hike, but down into a cave and back out.

When I’ve finished my glass of wine tonight, I’m going to head across to the very clean bathroom one more time in the dark…then consider tossing the ice chest back in the car for faster packing tomorrow. I’ll take a last look at the beautiful stars in the sky (there are way more than in San Diego…at least to my eyeballs)…damn, even all the moths have gone to sleep now…and then crawl onto the air mattress, bouncing my travel companion up and down at least 14 times until he cries for mercy, rolls over, and falls back to sleep. Seriously, this place isn’t Chiricahua, but it isn’t half bad when the wind stops.


I Can’t Control What I’m Going Through Now*

January 22, 2018

OK. Well the girlchild is on the first of three planes over the next 36 hours or so. She comes back in 104 days (she actually goes back to Boston, not San Diego, but that’s way closer than Madagascar). Hopefully she has what she needs. Certainly we tried to make sure she did.

She was in here, the office/studio, last night while I was sewing, practicing her French. She can introduce her husband and her sister (she has neither) and ask where the bathroom is. She should be fine.

Me? I’ve been up since 4 AM and have work with 150 7th graders today. I will be fine. I went a whole year and a half where I only slept like 4-5 hours a night (that is actually more than I got last night, honestly though).

Her bag is only 51 pounds. There’s a backpack in there, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a ton of useful crap. I think.

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Sending her off. She does not want me to take her photo this early in the morning. I don’t blame her…but there’s proof I got her in the TSA line.

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Last night, I guess my brain finally stopped stalling and let me finish the stitch down.

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It did not take long…only about an hour over what I’d already spent on it.

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Two hours and 13 minutes total…so short on a little quilt!

So then I found some backing fabric…I was going to use something extra and ugly, but I used the full width of a batik for the front, so honestly, batiks are usually the widest…I couldn’t find anything non-batik in the stash that was wide enough. It’s OK…this was a background for some other quilt.

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I don’t usually lay them out on the studio floor. I used to iron on it…hence the holes here and there. But this was small enough.

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Pinned down…ready for quilting. Maybe tonight? We’ll see. I should have graded something yesterday and I didn’t. Too wired.

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Someone posted pictures of the Threads of Resistance show at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. The show is there until February 18. I think we’re behind a curtain again…Tanya Brown’s piece hanging with mine (presumably pooping is an issue for little kids to view? Not sure.).

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Mine always hang together. I’m not even sure they like each other. They’re all feminists though, so that’s OK.

OK, I’m going to make myself go to school and make sense, or get some shit done, or something. Certainly with both kids gone again, I have fewer excuses. Just those in my head. The commission piece will come back in a bit…so I should be efficient and get the other binding on that other quilt…and get this small one quilted and bound, so I have something done in January. That would be a good plan. Do some of the drawing that’s kicking around in my head. A Frida Kahlo-esque piece of the girlchild is in there…the boychild as well (they love it LOVE IT when I put them in my stuff. Absolutely. Sarcasm there. Lots of it.).

*The Alarm, Strength


There Is a Light and It Never Goes Out*

May 30, 2017

I am home, but I think I left my brain somewhere en route between Ohio and here. Or perhaps it never got to Ohio in the first place. My brain was a little fuzzy there too. If I hear one more explanation of jetlag and why I still feel like I was hit by a train, I might…well…I might just go back to bed.

I told people at Quilt National that I do art every day. This is usually true. On Thursday, I did not. On Friday, I did not. Well, I did the one stitch on stitch a day. On Saturday, I did two drawings. On Sunday, I did one drawing. Yesterday, I finished the block for the big quilt we’re doing for the Don’t Shut Up show coming in July. So I guess I technically do art every day even when I’m traveling…I think even when I went to Northern California in April, I managed a stitch a day and quite a few drawings.

This was due Saturday, but I had already negotiated to deliver Monday. I got up early Monday (because still on Ohio time…and yes, I slept over 10 hours, my body desperately trying to catch up)…it just needed some outlining.

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Here she is at delivery. She’ll show up again in the quilt…plus I’ll probably make her into her own piece at some time.

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She’s small, 18 x 24″ I think.

Puppy is glad I’m back. He sat next to me, chin on my leg as I graded.

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Lots of chaos this week. An early meeting today, lots of school stuff, need to finish a slide show for Friday, plus grading grading grading. And a culture fair.

I’m a little in the air as to what art thing I’ll be doing next. I was expecting to have to sew the larger quilt together this week, but we’re going to wait until after the meeting next week, because people aren’t done yet. So I should take a deeper look at what I might want to enter in the next 6 months. First I have to figure out the final version of my Visions exhibit (tonight! Decisions will be made! If it kills me!) and get some of them professionally photographed. Then I’m hoping to do some drawing tonight. Even if it’s off topic. Whatever that means. Quilt National was such a great experience…I’m glad I went. I do have photos…just like I have photos of the opening for California Fibers last weekend…need to do a lot of processing and typing I guess. Plus you can see that my brain is still wandering all over the place…I mean, worse than normal.

At least it’s a short week.

*Morrissey (The Smiths), There Is a Light That Never Goes Out


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)