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.

Jacuzzi?

Hi Spring Break. I’m in Fresno. It’s an exciting place to start my mini vacation, the last trip I’m going on before the man heads out on the Pacific Crest Trail. I graded for two days straight, copyedited another whole day (not done with that, no way, no how), and then we drove away from all of it, leaving the dead leaves, weeds, 5 animals, and all the leftovers in the house with the boychild, who is probably ecstatic to have the place to himself for once.

You know what? Copyediting (above) looks a lot like grading (below).

I have three assignments left to grade and nine chapters to copyedit.

We hiked on Saturday. It was supposed to be a nice, mostly flat walk around a lake. That didn’t happen. Instead, we hiked up a thing and then along a thing. Lots of wildflowers.

And a snake…

Yes, it had a few rattles.

I started drawing the next quilt…

And on Monday night, I went for ink.

Lots more to do. Got some experimental (for me) processes I’m going to try with this. Wish me luck.

I haven’t had some of this for a year, I think. It used to be a treat on the way home from a meeting I don’t go to any more. It’s on Zoom. No need to get In ‘N Out for a Zoom call.

I did some stitching in the car…been a while since I’ve done that.

The drive today was long and blah. Tomorrow, though, is Yosemite, camping, hiking, yay! Then Sequoia…half the trip we planned for last April, which all got canceled. We’re being safe, masked, hands sanitized, Clorox wipes, eating outside, but this staying in a hotel is a bit scary. There’s a jacuzzi in the room, though, and after I wipe it all down, I’m going to prepare my temple of a body for three days with no showers. Hallelujah for time off!

It’s a Wash

I’m a little slow on documenting stuff these days. I honestly keep losing days. How is it dark already? I remember getting up. What freaking day is it anyway?

I have one week of Winter Break left. I know I am lucky, because many teachers go back tomorrow, and I’d be really not ready to do that. I’m two weeks in to this ‘vacation’ and I’m still grinding my teeth. I think I stopped for two days, but that’s it. My to-do list is heinous. Then I get distracted, like today, obviously, and trim a bunch of plants that have been bugging me for two months, instead of crossing things OFF the to-do list. I mean, the plants didn’t even make it ON the list. Sigh. I think I focus better when I’m totally overwhelmed with teaching, simply because I have no choice. I have to do that…for survival’s sake.

So back to the 48 hours where we ditched the world. We got up the next morning, opened the front door of our Airbnb, and saw the chicken. The man says I have to call him a rooster, because it’s a definite sound difference, but I will argue that he is still a chicken. He kept trying to come in…

Finally shooed him out and figured out he wanted breakfast. I hope he liked it.

The place we stayed was definitely not the Ritz, but it was fun…this was in the bathroom…

And this was embedded in the floor…

What it lacked in niceties (a fireplace, working oven, consistent Wifi), it had in character in spades. After breakfast, we headed out to the Mecca Hills Recreation Area for some hiking. We’d hoped to go to one section, but my car wasn’t keen on the 9 miles of dirt (sand? ruts?) road out to it, so we headed for the Slot Canyon hikes on All Trails. The parking lot was definitely sand, but just off the road and pretty solid.

Again, hiking in washes…although we started in a really big one…

Signs of 4WD vehicles and shotgun shells for a while, but no people…

Eventually we turned into some smaller canyons where only people could go.

It was cold and windy most of the time, and kind of a trudge. Lots of sand and rocks and a slight uphill…

Very little wildlife to be seen, not even birds, and not a lot of living plants.

I like a good hike though. We got to a point where the canyon we were in would require climbing, and that was enough…I spent most of my brain power trying to figure out how to escape the water if it started raining (it wasn’t going to start raining, but I am the paranoid type)…

Weird cactus. So it was about 5.7 miles. Not bad. You have to like sparse desert landscapes and rocks for a hike like this.

We came back and wandered around Bombay Beach for a while to see the sights we’d missed the night before…the balls light up at night…it’s quite pretty…

It’s also an Airbnb. Same owner as ours, across the street. I like ours better because the yard was fenced. Lots of people wandering through the zigzag yard.

Not fancy. Quirky.

The trailers and sheds had art in them too. Interesting place.

Wall of TVS…turn right at the TVs to get to our place.

Down the road from there, is this wondrous beast…

Pretty sure it’s related to the one we saw in Joshua Tree back in February. Oh yeah, it is…Randy Polumbo did both. This is Lodestar; the other was Angel Queen. Fun stuff.

From there, we headed back to the beach, further down from where we were yesterday…

I enjoy random metal and concrete sculpture personally…

And a good sense of humor…

And some good colorful grafitti…

The museum was not open, unfortunately…

And pigeons lived here…

I’d seen photos of this online and was glad to find it…

The hardest part of all these installations is finding artist info to go with them…

All I can tell you is that it is in the Bombay Estates.

Back home for dinner, reading, and drawing, because no TV…fine by me.

Very 70s. That night’s drawing…

And morning chicken…

We stopped by the drive-in on the way out…

And then kamikazed back home after talking to almost no one.

Meanwhile, back here…after New Year’s, I proceeded to make 17 more mistakes on this…had to rip out an entire tree, because it was half a stitch off and that won’t work.

Nope. Wasn’t drinking. Promise.

I’ve been ironing…it feels like this quilt is taking forever. Because it is. I got this leg done so I could insert it into the landscape…

And then worked on building the stuff up on the other side…a cat and a quilt of a cat…

Ironed her separately and put her in the landscape as well.

Here’s some bits and pieces I had left to do…mostly snake and bird, I think.

Progress as of Friday…

Leg in place. It’s just a really detailed piece is all.

Then Saturday, I kept going…

Pain. In. The. Ass. Yeah well. I’ve done the 600s and the 800s and barely started the 700s, plus I think a few of the 900s are done as well. So I have about 300 pieces to go? Or 400? I don’t know.

Great Horned Owl…

Which brings me to one of my Xmas presents, now installed and ready for inhabitants…

My very own owl box. I’m happy. And it’s on a system that can be lowered for cleaning, hopefully not when owls are in it. Awkward maybe. We’ll see.

Other things that happened. This cake made a spaceship on top.

It was the boychild’s 25th birthday yesterday…

His cake request was intriguing. No, I was not smart enough to take a picture of the final product. Apparently it’s better warmed up. IDK. I’m allergic to chocolate.

Coyote print from the front yard. They are here, y’all…right here.

Couple photo from the Salton Sea, stolen from the man.

My eyes might be closed.

So back in March, I asked for paint pens for my birthday…or maybe Xmas last year? I can’t remember. And then when everything shut down, I ordered gessoed canvas. I had see some posts Judy Coates-Perez put on Instagram (it’s a guide on there; can’t remember how to find it, wait, no, go here to her Instagram and then click on highlights and you can get to it there.) for how she paints and then uses the pens to decorate her paintings, and I wanted to try it. It took forever to get the canvas, and then school sucked and summer came and stressed me out with all its We Don’t Know What School Will Look Like shit and then Real School happened and kicked my ass, although at some point, I cut up some of the canvas into smaller pieces with some ideas to make some different stuff. Well, y’all, it’s been on my to-do list since fucking April, and I’m finally doing things with all the paint and pens. OK…just the paint so far, but I’m hoping to get the complicated stuff that requires plastic and water done so I can draw in peace over the next month or so.

Luna inspecting the biggest one. I drew a faint outline of a human figure in pencil on this one…

And on the others. I prepped four of them.

I wanted to just block in some color shapes to start…

I’m not really a painter, but it’s OK, because I’m going to draw all over this, Nida style. I think. We’ll see. Because I usually only draw in black and white and these are colors.

Obviously, right? I’ve got some more painting to do first. But I think this will be a nice change for me. We’ll see how it goes.

Also still baking sourdough, y’all, although the girlchild gifted me a lame, so I can stop using the box cutter to score the bread, and this nice glass starter container, so I can stop using the crappy plastic container.

My starter is still super happy to be alive. So that’s a plus.

From the book I’m reading, Gods of Jade and Shadow

A good thing to remember for the new year. Well, like I said, I have a week before I go back, and now I need to actually do schoolwork (again) this week. I have one ungraded assignment, a few late assignments that kids have turned in, and a bunch of prep to do for all three classes. Science is mostly planned, but there’s details to get done. Art is a clusterfuck. Don’t even ask me, because I don’t know. Plus I’m dealing with the car, my teeth, and who knows what else this week. Making 23 videos about the elements (periodic table elements, not the other kind). And hopefully finishing the ironing of this quilt and the painting of those backgrounds, and somehow steeling myself for the next 6 months of teaching. UGH. I’m so not ready. Luckily I don’t have to be. Yet.

To the Bat Caves!

Hello 2021. Nice to see you, all bright blue skies and sunny (well, here in San Diego, anyway). Probably should have started the new year without the hangover, but whatever. Shit happens. I also think the Man made me watch motocross videos, so that should never happen again. 2020 feels like it lasted forever and yet went by quickly. I didn’t finish as many quilts as I normally would have, because my job got harder and more time-consuming than it’s ever been (oh holy hell, if you think teachers aren’t working their asses off right now…maybe some aren’t, but everyone I know is). Normally, I get 6 exhibit-sized quilts done in a year…this year, I only got 4 done, and then 2 smaller ones.

It is what it is. It’s a new year now and I can make more. I have one that should be finished this month, and then I’ll work on some more. Hopefully the job will be easier this year. Ha! Well, it could be…we went back to our regular curriculum, which is a known entity and I don’t have to redo the world to use it…just some of the world, plus we actually have two months planned ahead at the moment. A miracle. I haven’t been planned more than a few days ahead since March 2020, when everything shut down.

The last prompt for the 31-day challenge was my 2021 sewing goals…I guess that’s it. More than in 2020. It’s a reasonable goal.

Continuing documentation of our trip, after we went to Salvation Mountain, we checked into our Airbnb in Bombay Beach, changed clothes, and headed to the Bat Caves! It’s a hike. No Batman involved. I think it’s the first time I’ve crossed a railroad on foot. This was in the Salton Sea Recreation Area.

A little frightening. Except you could see a train coming for miles, because the Salton Sea area is pretty damn flat.

There was no trail, really. There was the “trail” that we followed (and eventually ditched) on All Trails. Mostly there were washes…

And we walked in them until they got really deep and we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get out of them, and then we tried to walk on top and around them, and that was funny, because then we’d have to find ways around them, all while trying to follow this trail someone else had recorded on All Trails.

It’s OK. We found the caves eventually.

We never figured out how to get up on top of the ridge, and we didn’t see any bats, although we saw and smelled guano, plus evidence of people leaving their trash and carving up the rocks. Humans suck.

It wasn’t a super long hike.

Also off-road vehicles were around…

We are not fans. We are fans of nature, though, and there was plenty of that, if you like rocks and sand. Which we do. To get back to the car, we ignored the AllTrails map and headed for that tower you can see way out there in the middle.

We also avoided the washes this time. It’s not ideal, trampling over the landscape (which was mostly dirt, yes, but also some plants), but it worked.

When we got back to Bombay Beach, it was close to sunset, and we’d been told the beach was a nice place to go then, so we headed out. Here’s the front yard of where we were staying…

I read that someone called the art installations at Bombay Beach ‘trash porn’. It’s eclectic.

The beach has some installations…

The history of the Salton Sea is also interesting. It’s sort of an oops that never went away.

The birds really like it and apparently so do tilapia.

Apparently it’s not so good for humans. It used to be a resort of sorts, back in the 50s and 60s, and then there were environmental issues.

The guy whose Airbnb we stayed in is one of three people who set up an art biennale in 2016. Some of what we saw was remnants of previous biennale exhibitions.

Lots of people were walking around and driving around, looking at stuff, considering this place is in the middle of nowhere. More on that in a later post.

We eventually managed to cook food (propane was out, minor issue), and then the wifi was problematic, so we read and then I drew…

The place we were in has art (mostly nudes) all over the walls, and one was a woman holding a prickly cactus. That’s where this came from. We went to bed early (long day) and we knew we wanted to do a longer hike the next day, so the plan was to rest up. With no TV or internet, it seems we go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Interesting, that. More on the next day in later posts.

Wednesday night, I ironed for a little bit…

Got a leg and more landscape in there. We have the beginnings of a dry river bed being dug…

I think more of it might happen today. It’s been cold at night…this dog is very catlike.

Whereas the cat was busy cleaning herself…

Yesterday, I cooked lots of things, plus went on a walk…

Came back to the house and cooked a NYE dinner with the man…IDK how the cat gets into these positions…

We watched some TV and drank a little too much (it’s been a year, y’all…it’s been a year) and went to bed like normal people. I think the girlchild did the same in her part of the country…

Although she dressed up and I was in sweats…

I also stitched a little on this thing that I meant to do over the summer and then meant to do as a Christmas gift and obviously that didn’t happen, but I finally finished the edges of the fabric so they wouldn’t unravel to holy bits and started it. It’s been a million years since I’ve done any cross stitch…

Today, I’ve cooked some more things and will probably put the Xmas stuff away and decide where to put the Xmas tree (it needs to be planted out this year…it’s getting too big to lug around and bring indoors) and maybe even take a shower. Dinner is in the crockpot and will be ready later; I have some art things I’d like to do and maybe I’ll even do them. Or not. Hard to say. Maybe I’ll just read my book, because it’s due in 7 days and 4 people are waiting on it, so I should finish it before then.

Happy New Year, all…may it bring peace and hope or at least not be like 2020.

The Eye Twitch of 2020

I did NOT drop off the face of the earth. Seriously. Proof on Instagram. We walked a lot. Yes, we left the county. No, we didn’t talk to anyone or go in anywhere or do anything but buy gas. Pretty much. I was going bonkers. Now I am possibly less bonkers. Who knows?

But first, holy moley, I missed three days on the blog-a-day thing. Whoops. I did take my computer, but the wifi was horrendous. Well, it was horrible the first night and then improved, but by then, I was used to just sitting and drawing or reading or stitching, instead of being on the interwebz, and that was a good thing. So I flailed.

Monday the 28th, the topic was a skill I want to improve: Eh. If I think of something, I’ll tell you. You know how you improve? You do more of it. I do a lot of the things I like to do at the moment. I’m not sure I feel like I need to improve beyond the “Do More of It” stage. You do you, though…go for it! Improve yourselves! OK, so right now, I want to improve my arm and core strength…not really stitching related, but something I’m working on. Good?

Tuesday the 29th, the topic was My Latest Project: Well, it’s the one that’s still on the ironing board. Here’s where I last was on it on Sunday night, the last time I worked on it…

It’s still fussy as shit; half those leaves aren’t ironed down to anything, because there’s a leg that needs to go in there first. Maybe tonight.

Today’s topic, for December 30, is My First 2021 Project: Hang on, y’all…my first 2021 project is still my current project, because there’s no way in hell this thing will be done by tomorrow at midnight. So that was easy. After that? Well, I just entered a show and realized I need more quilts for shows and quickly, so probably I should get on that. I haven’t picked anything yet, though, because I have this crazy idea that I should finish the one I’m on before I pick (or even start) a new one. So I’m going to do that.

One more day…you’re gonna love the last topic. OK, probably not. Who knows? I’m not really very good at these, am I. Oh well.

Sunday night, I drew…in fact, I’ve drawn the last three nights, but am blowing the run tonight by not drawing. Oh well. My brain wandered. Odds are I will draw tomorrow night. It’s Drawing a Day…Mostly. Sort of. It goes along with the rest of 2020, wherein we try to do shit and sometimes succeed but sometimes just give up because it’s all too much and we have to give ourselves a break.

Speaking of, here was my break, my socially distanced, don’t even fucking come near me, break. Honestly, the original plan was a cabin in Julian or near Mount Laguna, but I didn’t want to be in a trailer park of tiny houses, and that’s what was left…so I headed for the Salton Sea. I can’t even tell you why, except that I’ve been trying to get the Man to go here with me for a good many years, and he’s always refused.

Right, you say, why the freak does an atheist want to go to Salvation Mountain? Because it’s weird and funky and bizarre, and that was the theme of this trip, for sure.

You know what? I thought it would be bigger.

I still liked it. I wish we could have climbed around on it, but apparently it’s being repaired.

Seriously, hand me some paint and I’ll go up and repair it myself…in fact, I’m trying to figure out how to really annoy my neighbors and add this to my front yard somehow, except the ones I really want to annoy are below me and will never see it. Oh well.

And Love IS Universal. Can’t argue with that. Here’s a video of Leonard Knight, the artist, taking you on a tour of the place.

I had a smile on my face the whole time, and usually, that’s not how I feel about religion.

Hmmm. Construction equipment in the name of God. Interesting.

There’s some interesting texture on the vehicles.

We could just walk around the outside of things, because, you know, COVID. I might be able to get the man to come back here some day, just because we couldn’t go to East Jesus, and there’s a garden there I wanted to see, but probably we’ll have to be on our way to or from somewhere else, and I might need to buy him some really nice beer or a steak for him to agree to it.

I enjoyed it.

But I’m possibly a little deranged at the moment from my job and being at home all the time, except home is work and work is home and the two are never separated any more. All the things they tell you NOT to do when you are trying to balance work and the rest of your life. 2020 is not the year of balance, and 2021 isn’t looking like it will be either.

The pro is that Salvation Mountain was on my bucket list and now I can cross it off. And build some adobe structure around my mailbox. I’ve actually been talking about that for years.

Leaving San Diego, we drove through rain and then snow, to Salvation Mountain. Makes sense.

We drove around Slab City a bit…I’m not and never will be an RVer, so it makes no sense to me, but it’s interesting to see how others live.

East Jesus claims an art vibe, but again, it was closed.

I drew Sunday night. I can’t explain it. I started with the right arm.

As we were getting ready to leave on Monday morning, the rain had started, and you know what that is in the pool of water in the driveway?

Pretty sure it’s a peregrine falcon. We’ve seen them a few times around here. It was just standing in the water. Not bathing, not drinking, just soaking its feet. Like you do.

I’ll continue tomorrow with more eclectic art and some hiking, because there were both those things in spades. I just can’t handle 196 photos in one post. Suffice it to say that we are back, looking forward to sleeping in a bed that doesn’t have a rooster a foot from our heads, and ready to quarantine our stay-at-home asses for another holy crap how many months? Yikes. I just realized this afternoon that tomorrow is the last day of 2020. Weird year, y’all, weird year. I’m not convinced that 2021 won’t bring its own version of weird to the table…in fact, I may not trust a year ever again. But for the rest of the evening, I’m going to attempt to iron shit together (fabric, really, not shit), suppress the feeling that I need to buy more fabric (I don’t; I have a lot of it), and hope that maybe the eye twitch of 2020 will stay gone for more than 24 hours…knock on wood.

Out in the Wind

So I spent this weekend in 29 Palms helping to install a labyrinth our fearless leader Linda Litteral has been working on for months. Our ex-fearless leader, Anna Stump, has started an artists’ residency out there on a property she’s been cleaning up for a while. The landscape speaks to you, whether you want it to or not. This is all part of the art group Feminist Image Group that I’ve belonged to for about 7 or 8 years, when I was looking for somewhere to show my work that didn’t write me off as a porn artist (the quilt shows, because of the nudity) or a crafter (the art shows, because of the quilts). It’s a supportive and accepting group that is growing every year. The pandemic might have slowed our exhibitions down a bit (there’s one still trapped in the downtown library), but we are all still making in one way or another.

I have about a million photos to process and no real time for it this morning, so this smidgeon will have to do. A 3-hour drive up and back, my first In ‘N Out since March? February? No seats in the house.

It’s OK. You’re supposed to eat it in the car.

We stayed in a quirky barely-more-than-one-room AirBnb about 3 miles from the dairy.

It was a funky place, probably one of the cabins originally built so you could get a free 5 acres.

Concrete floors, painted…

Well a little bit…

Headed out earlyish the next morning to haul rocks…

Literally drove out a ways, opened up the back of the car, picked up rocks, drove them back to the labyrinth where Linda placed them. This is where I heard they had called Biden/Harris for the win. There was some yelling! A miracle? Not really. So many people still OK with Trump-level hatred and behavior. I’m not OK with it. And this isn’t a solve…we can’t go back to standard Democrat government…because it didn’t solve a lot of the issues in schools, in communities, for people of color, for immigrants. We need to work on this country…and I don’t know how to get people to see that only focusing on your fear of different or of losing “what you have” is not a healthy way to live. But let’s hope we can move forward…I don’t have a lot of faith in the far right, the group that promotes white supremacy and shooting people and Let’s Make America White Again. It didn’t start out that way, y’all. And we aren’t special enough for it to go that way. And damn, the environment, people’s rights…ALL people. Shee-it, it’s gonna take some time to fix some of the last 4 years of crazy. And for people to find the love for their species. All that went through my head in the middle of this labyrinth.

We had a tour of the place, and by then, the wind had picked up and it was hard to be out there. I was expecting more work, but there were a goodly number of us and it went quickly.

The man wanted to hike up in Joshua Tree, but got up there and encountered hail and rain, and was warned of snow (it never rained on us, OK, maybe a few drops in the afternoon), so he gave up, came and got me, and we watched bad and OK movies while I drew…I finished this one from earlier in the week.

There’s the rocks! IDK what is going on with the tree, but her face is good. Sometimes I just draw.

We debated venturing out into the cold, still a bit windy, to make a fire, and decided to stay warm.

The next morning, I was out at the dairy earlyish again for the dedication of the labyrinth. We had a video guy out there with a drone and he recorded us walking it a few times.

We also recorded our artist statements for our particular pieces in the labyrinth…

There’s mine, officially untitled. Then they recorded us again inside, because the wind had really picked up and I suspect some of us are hard to hear.

I have loads more photos and will get them on the FIG blog hopefully later this week.

And the video, whenever it’s done. I can’t say I love the desert, but it is fascinating. And we keep coming out to Joshua Tree and having weather issues. The last was hot (in February)…this was the opposite. The wonder of a land that is so harsh and beautiful.

Long drive back, I’m so exhausted now, I can’t even tell you. But it was worth it to see the piece in person and help put it together. The animals were glad to see us. Nova is hiding here.

“You can’t see me.” Hmmm. Kitty butt. Oh yeah, and I drew this on Saturday.

I actually have a way I want to redraw this…we’ll see if it works.

This week is a weird one. We get Veteran’s Day on Wednesday off, which fucks up schedules for the kids…some of them have two days of instruction and some have three, so I have to do something that will help the group that gets more, but not harm the ones who don’t. I did some school planning in 29 Palms…had to…grades were mostly done (they’re due tomorrow), but I hadn’t planned much. I don’t feel ready to start teaching in an hour and 18 minutes, but it’s not like that’s gonna go away. I’ll get it done. Hopefully. I am totally exhausted. Went to bed early last night but didn’t sleep well. My body is tired, my brain even more so. Somehow by tomorrow, I’ll have to get my head around planning the next week of school…not even sure how. I don’t feel good about this year, I’m having a hard time making sure the kids are connecting with the curriculum, the assignments…I know a goodly chunk of them are connecting with me, because of emails and chats in Zoom, but it’s so hard not seeing them. Plus I feel like I’m talking to myself half the time. Trying to get them to answer on Zoom is like pulling teeth.

Well, I get a flu shot today, finally…couldn’t get in before now. My left eye is twitching…not a good sign. I need to pack up two quilts for a local show and another to ship it out of here. Got paid for it and am happy to send her to a new home…just need to get the slats and a box, I think. Yikes. Then hopefully draw the second iteration of the second drawing above, and maybe start making something. Kinda driving me crazy not having that to go to in the evening. My fault for not being able to make a decision. So on with it!

42 Hours…

It was good to have a few days, wait, was it even days? It was not…it was good to have…um…42 hours off of work. Seriously. It was. I came home with a nail in my tire, a bunch of wet tent parts, and a tick embedded in my torso (it’s OK…that one is gone and now I’m on antibiotics, purely precautionary. No way was it on me long enough to do anything but an allergic reaction. But the doc thought it was worth treating). I’m tired…we didn’t sleep well either night, from idiotic camp neighbors one night (solved by Ranger Eric, who reminded them of their indoor voices and the camp quiet hours) and the wind the next night as a storm wandered, no blew in. Hence the wet tent parts. But we got the hell out of here, and yes, I’ll pay all week with grading and planning, but I was doing that already. There is no catching up this year. There’s no feeling like you’re on top of things, like you’ve got it all under control. There’s just getting through it.

Let’s see if I can keep that in my mind as I wing it today in one of my classes…the other 5 are planned, but one is a little um not nope planned. Ah well. I have a short prep period before it happens.

We made it out of the house Friday at 4, but had to deliver stuff and pick up dinner and then the tire pressure light went on, but that’s not when we found the nail. We finally made it to Cuyamaca and Paso Picacho Campground at around 5:30, I think. Not dark yet, but wondering about it. Tent was up in the light still, although it was a bit dodgy. It’s been a while since we put it up.

It was a great campsite, no one on either side, down slope a bit. It would have been more awesome if the people inhabiting three campsites across from us hadn’t been throwing a rave that night, or if the camp host had taken that down. They were pumping music and yelling at sports-attendance levels until after 12:30 in the morning. I was too tired and cold to get out of the sleeping bag to go yell at them, but the man talked to the rangers the next day, and it was handled. They were great the next night, proving that even Trump lovers (ah the T-shirts) understand a man in a uniform telling them to shut the fuck up.

We got up Saturday and headed up to Cuyamaca Peak, at elevation 6512′, the 2nd highest peak in San Diego County. I’ve been up there at least twice before, maybe three times. It’s not an easy hike, but it’s not impossible…

This area was burned some years back. The trees are definitely coming back, in full force, which is nice to see.

We started from the campground and took the Azalea Glen trail up to Conejos, and then across to the peak. Sounds easy, but it’s a good 5+ miles of climbing to get there.

Trees are still dying and falling from the fires, and there are huge sections where the tree parts are just piled by the side of the trail.

Also, morteros…signs of Native inhabitation in the past…

Lots of new trees coming up, of all different types. Not sure what the conifer with the long needles is…

It’s heartening to see the new trees popping up all over…imagining what it will look like in 10, 20, 30 years. A forest again.

Even the dead trees grow stuff…burnt wood feeding fungus…

It took us a long time to hike it…

The weather was reasonably cool, a plus, because there wasn’t much shade on the first part.

It’s a pretty steady climb. There’s Middle Peak…another way up.

I’ve done that too.

Eventually we got out of the fire-devastated area into some with more trees…

Great views though.

One part of the trail is pretty rocky…slowed us down.

OK, to be honest, we didn’t hike fast. It’s at elevation, we were both tired, and it was long. But we did it. We always do.

And there are great sights along the way.

Earlier in the week, the man had said we would get up, do this hike, take a break, a nap, whatever, and then do the other peak, Stonewall, across the way.

At some point, I said, nah. I’m gonna do this one and that’s it.

I do love it. I just need a break. At the top…

It’s a pretty spectacular view, even when you can’t see to the ocean. The fire road you use to get to the top is steep and evil, but that is often the case.

We get there eventually.

I think our slowest mile was 53 minutes…ouch. Funny, that wasn’t even the last bit up the fire road…it was mile 4. Our fastest was 20 minutes, more our style.

I think I had to put blister bandaids on in mile 4…definitely slowed us down having me redo both shoes. Anyway…we’re not in it for the speed.

We came back and relaxed. I drew.

We ate, we stared at a campfire on a much quieter night than the one before, went to bed, and the storm started up. I’m not sure if the wind was louder than the neighbors the night before? Certainly it brought rain and then next morning, we packed up pretty quickly and came home. Tent still needs a bath, but we’re waiting for better weather…it’s all laid out in the garage for now.

All good things. Cats were glad to see us.

Luna love.

Today I am back to work, school all day, barely planned some of it, made some progress in some places, I need to go do some stuff now. Oh yeah, the tick got pulled, probably attached less than 24 hours, but the doc wanted to be safe…plus I obviously had an allergic reaction to it…nice red ring (no bullseye until day 3, so we’ll be good). So I’m on antibiotics for 10 days just to be sure. Fun stuff. The quilt goes to the photographer today and then I’ll start on the next one. Once I figure out what that is.

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…