Breathing Deeply in Bryce…

Is not a thing. Not while hiking. No oxygen up that high. OK, not really, and we did eventually adjust, but it made hiking a challenge. After two days in Zion, we left for Bryce Canyon National Park (not a canyon). It’s not very far away, and there are a lot fewer people than Zion, hallelujah. A chunk of the park was still closed for snow…including some hikes and the main road past mile 12. That was still cool, though, because it was beautiful with the snow on the rocks.

So we camped just outside of Bryce, because campsites in the park are first come, first served, and we didn’t think we could get there early enough to get one. It was just outside the park, though, so no worries. We got in, set up camp, and then headed off to Bryce to see the sights.

The first day, we just drove to all the overlooks and well…looked at them.

The snow made it even more beautiful…

No matter when you go to these parks, the weather is going to have an effect…too hot? Too cold? Snow closed the road?

I enjoyed seeing Bryce with snow…

I think I’ve only been here once before. I’m not sure.

So driving up to the points closer to where the road was closed, there was definitely more snow…

At least by the side of the road…

Natural Bridge was as high up the road as we could go…and these guys were hanging out there…

We didn’t see much wildlife at Bryce…just a few deer on the last day.

We figured it was too cold.

Although our first night, we heard what sounded like a very lonely or wounded animal. A really loud animal. A sound that worried us a bit. Is that a bear? I don’t think that’s a bear. Do we have bear boxes here? Um. No. We don’t.

Bears are pretty rare up there, but the noise was loud and from a large animal.

Plus honestly, we kind of froze a bit on the first night camping here. It was in the low to mid 30s (good thing it didn’t get down to 18 degrees like we had originally seen). We didn’t prepare enough for that…the second night, we figured it out.

Anyway, so we got to all the overlooks on the first day, and then headed back to the campsite.

So we overlooked this field…there’s a fence on the left and in front that is the end of the campground, and then there’s all this open space out there. It didn’t block any of the wind, but that died down around 8 PM…

There was still snow in some of the campsites, but we liked this one well enough. It was pretty damn quiet. We made skillet enchiladas the first night…

Pretty easy…

Pretty tasty…and then the sun started to go down.

Definitely time for fire.

Like I said, at this point, the wind had died down.

And the moon was starting to come up behind the tent. We changed into warmer clothes…

And watched the sun go down and the moon go up.

The next morning, we planned to hike the Fairyland Loop. We didn’t get up very early, honestly, after not sleeping much, and my blood sugar had crashed, so that always helps me be in a sunny mood. We got to the parking lot a little late, but it turned out OK. I think we started hiking around 10 AM.

So in this loop, you hike down into the amphitheater and then around inside for a while, and then you hike out. It was awesome. Breathing was an issue at times, but mostly it was OK. It got warm at times when the sun came out…I was perfectly happy with the clouds and slightly cooler temperatures for most of it though.

It was definitely cool seeing the formations from below as well as above.

It’s supposed to be an 8-mile hike, but somehow we managed to make it 9 1/2 miles.

I guess we wander a lot.

That formation is definitely a cat.

I was fascinated by the trees, dead and alive. I saw at least 4 different pines, including one very strange one…

The one in front…almost sausage-like branches with the thicker needles.

There were people on this trail, but not a ton…and most of them understood trail etiquette, until we got to the very end.

And there’s flowers growing in rock…

We stopped to breathe as needed…

So the trail down to the Tower arches here is a shorter one…so lots of people here.

But we climbed out here…

And went and found a bathroom, washed off our muddy boots (I think my boots still have Bryce mud on them). There was a little snow on the path too, but not much.

But that was at the top, at Sunrise Point. Then you have to walk around the rim to get back to Fairyland Point, because the shuttle doesn’t go there.

It’s mostly level. MOSTLY. I saw on the hiking apps that people were arguing which direction was easier. I’d recommend starting at Fairyland Point and hiking down and back on the rim. Otherwise, you’re climbing up Fairyland for about 3 miles.

I like a short painful climb better than a long one.

He agrees.

The last 2 1/2 miles were all on the rim…

Which was a nice way to end. So I think that other fire picture was actually the second night, where we were warmer (dressed better, towels on the air mattress, etc), but the wind picked up and was throwing things around. We did sleep better, and that weird animal only yowled once. Well. So not a yowl. This is a shitty picture of what is probably a pronghorn antelope (it was far away), and when you listen to them online, that was what we heard.

A lonely or horny antelope. Good to know.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing stuff here. I swear. Getting ready for school. Ugh. But also…finishing the second embroidery. Gotta get these washed and ironed and officially photographed.

And also cutting out Wonder Under, because I finished tracing on Saturday night.

Good to know. Plus yesterday was Calli’s 10th birthday…

From the girlchild. This is her baby. Old baby, for sure.

OK, off to school. Not sure exactly what I’m doing today, but I know I’ll be tired doing it.

Hiking Zion…

Soon, so soon, I will have to get back into the standard routine of up early, write early, think early, eat early. I am not an early person. I can do it if I have to…trust me, on this trip, there were times we had to be up early to hike before heat or beat the crowds, and I did it, but sleep sometimes is so hard to get that it almost hurts. This morning, I am so tired, and it’s not even that early…tomorrow it will be two hours earlier, and my body is already protesting. Part of that is staying up too late, of course. Whoops. My bad. Good reasons though.

But I do have a meeting today and will have to leave soon (hence the not sleeping in until I really want to wake up, although really, the cats were already like, BIATCH WHY YOU NO FEED ME, so there was no hope).

I went through the 3000 pictures I took on the trip (I don’t really know how many there were) and pulled some I thought were especially good. I posted a brief run-through of the trip a few days ago after the most amazing shower in the world (not the shower itself, the physical stall in a bathtub…it wasn’t that awesome…it was just an amazing shower because I was so dirty by the time I got to it). Here’s the first two days, extended dance mix.

We left early in the morning, drove through Riverside and Las Vegas, and killed an inordinate amount of butterflies, it was truly disturbing.

I feel to atone I will need to plant my yard with whatever plants they eat and then get a bunch of caterpillars and let them feed off my yard. Because it was horrific.

On the way to Vegas, we stopped at Seven Magic Mountains…not because it’s totally amazing…but because it was weird…

It was also virtually impossible to avoid all the selfie people and people in general in this photo…

Definitely an interesting start to a trip that was all about rocks.

We drove all day, pretty much, checked into our bunkhouse, and then drove into Zion to check it out, hopefully get a map, and figure out what we were going to do the next day. It did actually bring a tear to my poor little eye, driving into the park and seeing those towering rocks. We did a short hike to make up for being in the car for hours…

and checked out the view…

From a little further back even…

Yeah. That.

And on the way back to the car, saw our first of many mule deer…

Oh hai! Sorry. Go back to eating that bush. Tree. Whatever it is.

We talked to the ranger at the entrance, and he said to make it into the visitors’ center parking lot, we needed to be there before 8. OK. We can do that.

This is, of course, how we end up making sausage and eggs on a barbecue outside at 6 in the morning. Ugh.

The different lights of Zion…

We didn’t camp in the park because apparently the tent caterpillars are awful this time of year. We did see lots of caterpillars. We’re hoping they all survived, to make up for the deaths we perpetrated on the way out there, even though it’s not the same butterfly dammit.

So the night before, we decided we would hike the Angel’s Landing trail until just before the crazy part, the single-file part. We decided to do it first, because it’s the hardest thing we wanted to do. We were on the trail early, around 8 AM, with this deer…

There were others. The hike starts in the bottom of the canyon, and then it climbs.

It climbs about 1000 feet to Scout Lookout, and then another 500 feet for the Angel’s Landing part. It’s also a higher elevation than we’re used to, so we took it as slow as we had to. Basically, that’s how we did every hike this trip. At the appropriate speed for us.

A view of the valley…you can see some of the trail we’re climbing on the bottom right.

Part of the trail that climbs up…this is the easier part.

Much easier in shade too…the full heat of a summer’s day? I wouldn’t be able to hike this…looking down at what we’ve climbed up…

There were quite a few people on this trail.

The valley again…see the trail to the left of those people? Yes, we started down there.

Beautiful views as the sun starts to come into the valley. And we’re still smiling…

At this point, we’re on the 21 switchbacks that make up Walter’s Wiggles…looking down, you can see a bunch of the switchbacks.

It was slow going, but we went.

And finally at the top…

Well, at Scout Lookout, which is where we stopped. The Virgin River where we started…

The rock face in front of us…

And the crazy people who aren’t scared of heights and don’t mind waiting forever for a space to keep moving.

I’m sure it’s cool. I just wasn’t gonna do it. I am afraid of heights. So there.

The sun peaking over the rock walls…

Then we explored the rest of the park until we couldn’t handle badly behaved tourists any more.

This is on the Riverside Walk…down to the Narrows.

The Narrows had too much water flow to hike down it. But I’d do that. Another day.

This fat squirrel perched in a tree…

Eat your greens.

On one of the flatter hikes we did…

An afternoon view of the rocks now…

At this point, it was much warmer, although still only in the high 70s. It felt warmer than that though.

This is the Lower Emerald Pool…

There were many closed trails and the main road through Zion was closed for repairs, so we’d have to come back to see the rest of it. The people made it hard, though…not on the first trail, but everywhere else. There should be a trail etiquette class required before you can come in a National Park, I think. Although Zion was the worst for that.

Anyway, more later…I have to leave in 5 minutes. We spent one full day and an hour or two of another day in Zion, and we could have spent a whole ‘nother day, no problem. Good to know.

Art on Vacation…

I’m totally off schedule now on blogging. I downloaded about a million pictures this morning, but can’t get my head around most of them yet, so let’s keep it simple. I did artsy stuff while traveling. I drew all but two nights, mostly in campgrounds. Which is a cold and dark thing to do, let me tell you. But easier to see than trying to embroider in the dark on black fabric.

So the drawings…the first night, we drove from San Diego all the way to Zion National Park. We stayed about 25 minutes outside the park, but my first night was obviously influenced by driving in and seeing the rocks…brought tears to my eyes when we drove into Zion. The skirts that the rocks make, the sedimentary lines…I’d been seeing them all day. The moon was almost full.

And we saw our first of many deer that evening.

The second drawing was after a full day of approximately 14 miles of hiking in Zion. I don’t fall asleep easily, but the man does. So I sat and embroidered in the semi-dark (and then drew myself embroidering, which is just weird) while he slept…hands over head because the neighbors had their TV on too loud.

That was pretty realistic…except the room had no rugs…just cold concrete floors. Rugs, people!

Then the next night, we were freezing our asses off in a campground near Bryce National Park…there were lows in the mid-30s. The man made a fire behind me, and I drew the hoodoos I’d seen while we went to all the overlooks.

The next night was still cold, although it didn’t seem AS cold, probably because we were smart and put on three layers of all the warm things before we even started dinner. I had a glove on the non-drawing hand. I apparently can’t draw with a glove on. We’d spent the day hiking down into the canyon (which is an amphitheater, not a canyon at all)…and then around the rim, for a total of 9 1/2 miles or so…this time, the hoodoos were above me and there were twisty trees everywhere.

One of the weirder ones. The next day, we drove to Arches National Park, to a slightly warmer, but much rockier campground inside the park, and no wood or alcohol (should plan ahead in Utah, people, or drink beer and burn your clothes…whichever works for you). How beer and Mikes Hard Lemonade are acceptable drinks to the lord, and wine is not, I will never understand. Don’t even argue alcohol percentages with me.

Anyway, that night, sans fire, I drew this, a conglomerate of everything we saw that day, driving through Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument, plus over some pass with aspens and snow.

The last night in Arches we went from dinner straight into the tent, completely exhausted after over 11 miles of hiking in the heat, plus a rainstorm that had wind and lightning, but held that far enough away that we didn’t have to sleep in the car. So I didn’t draw.

The next night was after the most glorious shower ever (after two days of hiking hot and no shower facilities)…and after that, I drew this…

The whole trip on my mind…trees, rain, water, deer, rocks, tent, hoodoos, lightning, Balanced Rock from Arches. Plus an idiotic president and political party that don’t see the importance of our park system. Fuck them. The park staff are doing their best, but they are understaffed and underfunded, and it’s obvious. If I win the lottery, I’m giving a big chunk to the National Park system. You should too.

I didn’t draw the last night we were out. Too tired.

OK, then the embroidery. My patterns are being sold on the Global Artisans page, and soon there will be kits as well. As part of that, I need to stitch all of them. So that was one thing I did in the car…not while driving…

I had already started the Space Mother at home, but continued in the car on the first day…

I thought I might run out of the gray, so I did all of it first…then I went on to the blue…

Mostly I’m using backstitch, but I like the additional thickness of chain stitch and an occasional pile of French knots. This is the 2nd night in the bunkhouse near Zion…

She’s getting closer to done. This was right before I drew the picture of this exact scene. And this is how far I got before we left Zion.

Almost done…on the way to Bryce, I finished her…

All the fussy little bits…although I thought she was done here and then…

I decided to fill in Earth…

And her eyes. There she is sitting in the campsite while I wait to set up the tent…

She still needs to be rinsed out and ironed…then she can go on the pattern cover. So that was the first night in Bryce. She took about 10 1/2 hours to embroider.

While dinner was cooking, I traced the next one, Earth Mother with Wavy Hair, using Saral transfer paper.

With her, I was worried about running out of the flesh color. In the kits, you only get one bobbin of each color, so I have to be sure what I’m doing will allow for enough thread. Honestly, I’d probably use 20 different colors if I weren’t limited to 5.

Transferred before dinner boiled over…

This transfer paper is not the most ideal stuff. Still looking for a better option on these. I started trying to stitch that night, but black fabric made it almost impossible to do at night in camp light. So the next evening, while the man was cooking, I did some stitching.

All the flesh first…then when we left Bryce, there was so much too look at that I don’t think I stitched at all. Although there’s rainclouds…so maybe this is on the way out of Capitol Reef? Not sure.

I know I stitched in Arches though…

Yup. Eating, because blood sugar had crashed. This might have been in the morning actually…yes. Waiting for tea water to boil. Always waiting for that. Goldfish are a perfectly reasonable breakfast food. Shut up.

I didn’t get much done in Arches. Rain and all. But here’s on the drive out of Arches toward Tuba City, Arizona…

I got a lot done that day…and then retraced the lines, because they were fading, in the hotel…

Before…and after…

Still looking for a better option…

I didn’t stitch going into the Grand Canyon…I was too damn tired. And then in the canyon, didn’t stitch. This is on the way out, toward Phoenix.

I got a lot done on that afternoon. And then nothing done that night.

Driving back home, I drove the first three hours or so, but eventually traded the steering wheel for stitching. This is the hill up toward my house. Home!

Damn stuff is already starting to fade. I have the flowers on her arm to do, the bronchial tubes in the lungs, her eyes, the things on her face, half her hair, the jellyfish and other fish, her fingernails, her watch, and the trees on her head. That sounds like a lot. I guess it’s a lot.

I did a little last night too…trying to do a little bit at a time. So hopefully she’ll be done in the next week. I have some transfer pens coming that might help, and an idea for a better transfer paper. We’ll see.

The only other art-related thing that happened is that we stopped to see the exhibit I’m in, Things That Matter, in St. George, UT, through July. There’s a catalog available of all the pieces…

It’s a really nice space…my face is so happy to be out of the car and walking around…

That’s a big quilt y’all.

OK, and I’m currently working on a new piece that I can’t show yet…but I did get it fully drawn and numbered the night before we left…it’s only 924 pieces…

There’s part of piece 133.

And when we got home yesterday, I spent about 3 1/2 hours last night tracing the first 300 pieces…

I’m hoping to do the same tonight. I guess all you will see are extreme closeups of things that make no sense. I’m OK with that.

Anyway, tomorrow, I’ll try to work on some posts of the other cool stuff we saw…because we did go to see mostly rocks and what rocks do. Which is also cool. Plus we hiked a lot. Also cool.

All About the Rocks

Wow. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting in years. In my defense, my cellular connectivity has been iffy as hell, if not nonexistent, for much of this trip, and when I did have it, I was busy doing something else or totally exhausted after hiking over 11+ miles a day. I realize that’s not much to some, but this old body has been running on little sleep, weird food options, and lots of climbing around for days now.

Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

That said, it’s been freakin’ awesome…a mind-blowing trip of all the different geologic formations you can get in two states (Arizona a little, but mostly Utah). I think we both decided while huddled in the tent last night during a rainstorm that we were done with camping on this trip, though, as we pinky-swore to wake the other one up if we heard thunder, so we could race to the car before lightning hit the aluminum connectors of the tent. Or the ground.

First night checking out Zion…

So this is the short version. We left last Wednesday on a long drive to Zion National Park. We originally had a reservation for the east side of the park, but they closed the road going through on April 9 to fix storm damage this winter, so I found a weird but functional place on the west side in La Verkin about a week before we left. It had a kitchenette and shared barbecues, so we used those (yes, even for pre-hike breakfasts of sausage and eggs). It’s Spring Break for about a million people, quite a few of them from other countries, and they all had the same plan for visiting Zion. We went in to the park that night to plan the hikes for the next day. We also did the Archeology Trail as a warm up for the next day…and saw our first wildlife.

Mule deer everywhere…

We got our butts up early and headed out to garner a spot in the coveted Visitor Center parking lot (you don’t wanna know how early), and then caught a shuttle to a hike I said I’d never do: Angel’s Landing. It was still morning cool, which is a good thing, because that climb and the Walter’s Wiggles with 21 switchbacks (it didn’t seem like that many) is not something I would’ve wanted to do in hot sunlight. We didn’t do the last stretch that’s single file and a chain attached to a rock wall, but we did go all the way to Scout Lookout. Some might call that chickening out…I don’t care…we did awesome.

Looking down from Scout Lookout…

From there, we caught the shuttle and did all the things we wanted to do…part of the Pa’rus Trail, the Lower Emerald Pool Trail (Upper and Kayenta were closed due to storm damage), Weeping Rock, and the Riverside Walk out to where The Narrows starts (also closed, because the water flow was high from Spring melt and rains). At that point, we’d had it with crowds of people and their bad tourist behavior. The Angel’s Landing crowd understood trail etiquette and were amazing…the shorter hikes? OMG. People. Really. So we headed back to our domicile and another barbecued dinner. We did a lot of miles that day…my app says over 14 miles that day total.

Waterfall at Weeping Rock

Friday found us driving to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we camped outside the park, because everything else was first come, first served, and we didn’t want to risk having nowhere to stay. The campground at Ruby’s Inn was quiet and the showers were free and hot, and it wasn’t as cold at night as it was originally supposed to be, but it was still pretty damn cold. We got there pretty early on Friday and set up camp, and then headed off to Bryce to check it out. I’m glad we did, because we saw a bunch of the easy stuff on Friday, thus allowing us to do a really long hike on Saturday without feeling like we had to then go look at everything else. There was snow at Bryce, most recently from like 3 days ago.

See? Snow.

Sleep was not our friend Friday night; it was just too cold. Nevertheless, we got up early again and headed out for the Fairyland loop, which goes down into Bryce and wanders around, then climbs back out (oh yes, at elevation No Oxygen for You), and then traverses the Rim Trail back to the Fairyland parking area. Wow. Great hike, but we did way more than the 8 miles it claimed.

Down in the amphitheater…

We figured a better sleeping plan on Saturday night (towels on top of the air mattress to stop the cold seeping up from the ground, even though we had a tarp that was supposed to help with that, plus three layers of clothing, and wool socks, dammit, because cold feet were an issue the night before), and got out of bed early again, expecting (rightly so) a long driving day.

I have absolutely no idea what this is a picture of, but it was on Sunday.

We made it through parts of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument and then Capitol Reef National Park, and finally headed into Arches National Park in the late afternoon, where we actually had a reserved site. At this point, it was Easter night, and there was no firewood or alcohol to be had (both useful for keeping moods light after a long hard day of driving, plus trying to pound tent stakes into hard rock), so it was not the best night, but the morning dawned ready for a day of hikes. And hike we did.

Double Arch in Arches National Park

We were camping in Devil’s Garden, so we started on that hike, although we turned around at the rock scramble where I was like um no way, can’t do that. So we then drove through the park, stopping at just about every possible sight, attempting one longer hike at Park Avenue (way too hot in between the rocks). We made a quick trip into Moab for alcohol, ice, gas, and firewood (the necessities), but then continued on to see the rest of the arches and other bits. We made it back to the campsite, and set out on a trail marked by rock cairns to see three different arches. I think that was what put us over 11 miles that day. Awesome views though and mostly avoided stupid people.

Crazy drive at night in the rain…

We had decided to treat ourselves with dinner out (there’s only so many camp meals we know how to make before wanting to drown ourselves) , so we headed into Moab for burgers and beer (or wine, as you prefer). On the way back, in the pitch black, a rainstorm wandered in and we white-knuckled the drive all the way through the park to the campground, watching lightning strikes out there in the clouds. The campground was dry as a bone, until about 5 minutes after we arrived, when the raindrops started…and then the wind. Holy crap, everything in the car or the tent, no fire tonight! In the end, we were so tired from the day of hiking that we went to bed, no thunder ever sounded, and we slept really well. Not too cold, just right, so tired we didn’t mind any of it.

Monument Valley

There was no cell service in our campsite (further up the hill had it, but they also probably had a rougher night with the wind and the rain), so we had mapped some ideas out at dinner in Moab. Canyonlands was a possibility, but in the end, we decided to brave the crowds at the Grand Canyon. We left Arches this morning and drove through Monument Valley (we didn’t go through the actual park…that’s for another trip) on our way to Tuba City, where we actually booked a hotel room. With a shower. Because there weren’t any in Arches and I think we really needed that. So we’re clean now and have a crazy plan for tomorrow, I had my Indian Fry Bread and retraced the most recent embroidery…more about those and the daily (almost) drawings in another post. Grand Canyon tomorrow and then heading back home. It’s been a whole lot of wow and hiking our old asses off, but I think it’s been an amazing trip so far. We have a pact for tomorrow to leave the park when one of us feels like pushing someone over the rim. We know this will be just a quick view of the park, and we’ll plan another trip later.

I have graded nothing. I have dealt with very little email, due to lack of access. The world is still rotating, though, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve Placed Faith in Geography*

I’m on hold. This is not a philosophical statement, although sometimes life feels that way, eh? I’m on hold with my online prescription service because there’s been a problem with putting things in my cart, and I feel like that’s kinda rude on their part, judging my ability to pay for my meds, so I’m calling to fix that shit. Oh yeah, they’re not fixing that shit. They want me to clear my cookies, and I don’t do that for just anyone, assholes. The nice woman who is the interface between me and the web folks says that THEY say if I clear my cookies, it will only affect their website. OMG you fucktards. So untrue. Absolute bullshit. Sigh. So the other option is that I call back the next time it happens. Great. So that will be in weeks. Someone remind me to do that and have the TIME to call in and walk through something like that. Not happening on a school day, is it. It’s OK, I can order meds by calling, but they ask all these questions and want responses and I just don’t want to deal with that crap. Especially before tea.

Well good morning all! It is the last day before Spring Break, hallelujah, and I am ready for it! Nope. I’m not. Not at all. I did work my butt off yesterday and created all the posts we need for the project when we come back from break. And realized I hadn’t copied one thing that we needed. Oops. Fuck me. Then I delivered my quilts to the photographer, so I should have those back in the next few days. Deadline met! Then I headed out to San Diego Mesa College for the opening of Subterranean…here’s me and Grace Gray-Adams with our respective pieces.

As another friend said, they put the person who makes lint and the person who uses lint together. Nice. I had good feedback from people…so no one came up to me and said they hated them, which is always a plus.

I did have an interesting conversation about thread and holes from the needle with one man, who knew a lot more about sewing than most men (or even people) do. This show is only up until the 25th. That probably means I will need the boychild to pick up the pieces, because I might not be back yet. I’m not sure I have pickup info yet. One more thing for the to-do list. Sigh.

I was exhausted by the time I left the show. I came home and read for a while, then exercised, and then tried to be functional. This is an issue right before break. I’m mentally done and my body keeps telling me how tired it is. Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to get everything figured out for our trip. The plus is that the nighttime temps in Bryce have come up 10 degrees (still not enough). The minus is the snow has increased.

Well OK then. I’m going to obsessively watch this for the next week. I’m hoping it stays 28 and the snow goes away, but this is better than it was. Although 30-mph winds during the day is also an issue. Apparently the road is currently closed because of trees down on it. Worrisome. I think we’re camping under trees. IT WILL BE FINE. Dad came through on a passport holder that I can shove under all my clothing that is the right size to hold all my diabetes crap so it doesn’t freeze. As long as I have blood running through my core, that is. Which is the ultimate goal.

The man, meanwhile, is totally excited and hyped and into all this trip stuff, so he can go pack and organize everything while I race around with the to-do list and grading. Uh huh.

I do need to finish a drawing before I go, at least…if not start tracing. Last night, I managed to cut a piece of paper out that is the right size for that. That was all. Then I worked on the first embroidery for a while.

So far, so good. I’m using chain stitch and backstitch so far. I’m also keeping track of stitching time, because I want to know how much time I’m using (a lot more than you would think) for whatever I get out of it. Anyway. It’s also relaxing and meditative.

I’m already nervous about how much thread I’m using. I can only use what’s on the bobbin. It seems like a lot? But not? We’ll see. If I weren’t limited to 5 colors, that would be fun. So far, it seems to be turning out OK though.

OK, so survive day, which includes a talent show (ugh). Escape room with coworkers tonight (seems ironic in some way). Come home and attempt to function. Ha! Finish all the things on the to-do list before Wednesday at 6 AM (double Ha! So not happening.). Enjoy trip. Do not freeze to death, have low blood sugar three miles out on a trail, or break a leg. Or crash. Do NOT call Emergency Services. Have a good time! Finish my book. Or books. Stitch a bit. Draw a lot. Hike a lot. Take cool pictures. Don’t hang out with any 12-year-olds. At all. OK, that might not work. Campgrounds tend to have 12-year-olds. I’m gonna try though.

*Death Cab for Cutie, Gold Rush

To Arizona and Back Again…

We’re back. Quick trip. More driving than anything else, I think. It was worth it…I wanted to see the whole Things That Matter exhibit in one place…although now I think I might be able to see it in St. George as well! On the way to Zion for Spring Break anyway. We’ll see.

So I had some pieces left to cut…my plan was to cut in the car, so I set this up…double-boxed. I’ve done this before. It’s a little crazy, but it works.

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Arizona is so flat. This might even be the flat part of California.

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Cutting while not driving…

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We try to do 2-hour shifts…after that, you need a break. This section was pretty, through the Sonoran Desert National Monument. It was the short way around Phoenix to get to Chandler. We never went into Phoenix.

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So we went to see the official opening of the entire exhibit of Things That Matter, an exhibit I was invited to be in last year. The preview exhibition, which didn’t include all the work, was at Visions Art Museum in Spring. I really thought I had done a good job of taking photos at that exhibit, but it turns out I didn’t take hardly any…and this trip was no different. Honestly, my phone camera sucks for this stuff, and the sun was going down and causing issues with lighting. So go see the exhibit or get the catalog on Amazon. Because I suck.

But here is Virginia Spiegel’s Boundary Waters 90 on the left and Pamela Blotner’s Miss Pustelschwein Regrets, a fascinating piece.

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Deidre AdamsConnections and Susan T. Avila’s Time to Relax, which needs a front view to see the words.

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My piece Not Less Than, with Rachel MeginnesDon’t Tell Me It’s Raining, then Catherine Kleeman’s Clean Water and Linda Colsh’s And the Deep River Ran On, on the other wall.

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Paula Chung’s PTSD: Betrayal…amazing stitching in this piece.

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Betty Busby’s Let Your Light Shine

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And another view of my piece that includes Susan Else’s amazing and terrifying When? on gun violence in schools, and Alice Beasley’s very cool From Russia With Love.

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Obligatory photo with my piece…

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Elena StokesHorizon XII-Peace and Quiet

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And another Blotner piece, this with Elizabeth AddisonHanuman’s Journey.

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Please remind me if I go to the St. George installation to take WAY BETTER PHOTOS. Sheesh. And all the pieces. Seriously.

So then we ate and went back to the room and I finished cutting out the quilt pieces. California, Massachusetts, California, Arizona. Impressive.

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It took 13 1/2 hours total. Kind of long.

Back in the room, interesting accent wall, especially this bit, which is totally out of reach, even if you’re standing on the bed.

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But don’t hang anything on it with a coat hanger. Warning noted.

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I drew…this is a baby start for something that’s in my head and is much bigger and fancier. Or more detailed anyway.

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I haven’t been drawing much lately. Need to work on that.

The next morning, after a solid American breakfast, we drove back.

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There was crankiness. Sigh. 10 hours of driving does that. I finished the owl’s eyes though! And the giraffe, but I forgot to photograph him. I still need to finish the hut for that block to be done.

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Now that I’m home and ready to work on the quilt that has to be done in like 7 days, the wool stitching is not really a priority. So yesterday afternoon, I sorted all the pieces…

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Less than an hour for that…

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And then I started ironing…a snake before dinner…

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Then the landscaping starts…hard to do because the water goes over and under the feet, and the water is in the 0-100s box and the feet are in the 400s box, so there was searching and I lost a toe so I had to recut it.

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Then a couple of birds went together…

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And the background behind them…

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Here’s where I’m at so far, with about 150 pieces ironed…well, more because of the toes.

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There’s a hill behind the legs, or two hills really, that have to be done, and another bird in the sky. My goal today is first to bang out the 17 errands I need to do, and then iron until the cows come home. Except also go to the gym, make dinner, and grade at least one assignment. Not a small list. But I’m glad to be ironing. It would be good if I were done with ironing sometime tomorrow and then stitching down. I think I need to be quilting by Wednesday. Seriously. You think I’m joking. I’m not. But first, groceries. There’s no food here. Can’t sustain artistic focus without food.


I’m back. Ready for school? Well, no. But I’m going anyway. My blood sugar is trying to figure out what time zone I’m in. It’s massively confused. I fed it, hoping that would help. Really I should be wide awake right now, being three hours ahead, but I’m still recovering from traveling, I think. Why sitting on a plane is exhausting? No one knows. Actually, there are probably multiple scientific studies about it. None I have time to read right now!

I miss the girlchild already. I guess it’s easier when I don’t see her all the time to forget that I miss her. But I do. She’ll be home for a little while over Winter Break…but that’s always a crazy time of year. Then I’ll see her at graduation. Then who knows when…

So there’s that. My cat was very happy to see me…slept with me all night. Haven’t seen the dogs yet…that’ll be later today. I suspect the man who lives here also missed me…

So three days of school before a short break. I can handle that, right? I hope so.

So Monday, girlchild had classes almost all day, so I headed into Boston to go to the Gardner Museum…it had a small weaving exhibit, which included this piece by El Anatsui, and some other cool work as well.

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I didn’t really know what to expect from the palace side of the museum. I only knew it because of the art that had been stolen. It was interesting…

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I walked along the water for a bit afterwards. Honestly, it was a bit chilly out.

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So I drove to Cambridge to this fabric/yarn/maker place. It was cool…

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I didn’t buy much…just a few fabrics that caught my eye and a small embroidery pattern.

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Life in a college apartment is always loud, it seems. Mine was not so…although the year I spent in Britain was a bit. I shared a floor with all guys, though, and they don’t impulse-cook like women do. I cut out quilt pieces while they made pumpkin vegan (were they?) chocolate chip cookies.

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Tuesday, girlchild sacrificed two classes to take me to the New England Quilt Museum, where I got to see Salley Mavor’s work for the first time in person…plus Susan Carlson, who came to my guild, and a SAQA show. So that was cool.

We were both tired and it was pouring rain. So we went back to the apartment and I cut out pieces while she watched a French movie for class.

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I would sit at the window and watch squirrels all day if I lived there.

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Getting on the plane was a piece of cake…no line anywhere. And the plane was almost empty. I had a whole row and more. And when the in-flight entertainment wouldn’t work, they comped me internet, so I watched Stardust on Netflix while stitching. This was after reading most of a book.

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I was missing the eyes on the owl (whoops) and the hut instructions were in Block 3, which I didn’t have (I hate it when she does that), so then I worked on the giraffe…

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So I need to find this guy some eyes so I can finish him, and then find the Block 3 instructions so I can finish the hut.

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Preferably before Saturday, when we drive to Arizona for an opening. I should be able to handle that.

So. School. Cutting more pieces out…hopefully getting them done and sorted before we leave Saturday, so I can iron a whole quilt together next week, AND quilt it and bind it (sounds impossible from here). But first kids. Yeah.

Worth It…

I’m pretty sure these pictures are all gonna be backwards, but I can’t deal with that right now. I’ll see what I can do. Going from phone to computer and back is problematic. I’m posting from Boston. It’s 11 PM and one college kid is in bed while the other 4 are presumably at the same party, or maybe another one is on her way to a party? I don’t know. I opted out. My introvert self needed some quiet time and some mental space to catch up with some grading and then this and maybe some drawing, if I feel up to it. Or maybe I’ll just READ. I finished a whole book yesterday. It was exciting.

So first of all, this is Quilt+Resist at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, which opened last night. You can see my anti-gun quilt Rooted in America in the far back.


Looks like an interesting show.

So yesterday, I flew across the country to visit the girlchild in her senior year at college in Boston. I haven’t been here since she moved in Freshman weekend, so it seemed time. Plus it was my Christmas gift from last year. I read a lot on the plane, but also watched a video or two and stitched for a while. It was a trouble-free flight, which was nice. She picked me up from the airport and I’m sleeping in her bed, which is comfortable, although she is still messy. I can’t really judge. I am too…messy, that is. This is the view from the bed…with the quilt my mom made her (and a few more, because shee-it, it’s cold here, and that radiator doesn’t come on).

Then this morning, I had persuaded her that it was OK to go to a job networking conference on conservation employment, which was at Harvard. I sat in Tatte, a cafe that is anathema to diabetics (holy crap, I forgot to post the food picture…damn…), but makes a decent cup of tea…or in my case, 4 cups of tea. Yeah. Well. I needed it, because 3-hour time difference not in my favor. I graded National Park assignments for a good three hours. Ugh. But it’s progress. And it was an interesting place in which to do it.

Floor. Feet.

Then I wandered all over Harvard looking for a bathroom, because 4 cups of tea and line at Tatte was horrific if you don’t have a penis (I don’t), and Harvard doesn’t seem to want the masses to pee. I don’t blame them, but eventually found the science center and a bathroom. Partay! Seriously. These things are important. Harvard, as always, is beautiful and old school America, plus it’s Fall and it stopped raining (did I mention last night’s rain? More than Southern California has had since last Winter, basically, in one night)…so it was really cold and beautiful, once the sun came out.


Then I tracked down girlchild’s friend in the Student Center (I just happened to be there eating my second bagel of the MONTH in the last two days, because Boston easy food is bagels and cream cheese…everything else was sugar)…and we went to the Museum of Fine Art, oh so fine, yes. I absolutely sucked at signs and figuring out who made what art, but this was cool…

And the one on the left is styrofoam cups.

Plus is that a Bernoulli? I know it’s a Van Gogh on the right…

And an exhibit in the contemporary section had this beautiful old weaving…


Here’s the contemporary part, although the video kept moving across these giant batting knots and it was making me ill. This piece is by Cecilia Vicuña; I know that. These knots hang from the ceiling. They are not small.

Girlchild twirling like a Fall leaf.

We were at a fundraiser after that, and then hanging out. I graded for a while. Two full assignments down so far. I know we have stuff planned for tomorrow, so I’m not planning on getting much done…although I need to send the parent email. Maybe I’ll do that tonight. I did get some pieces cut out for the new quilt last night…while we were watching (deep breaths) a Christmas movie. In November. And not even after Thanksgiving. OK. I can hang. There was wine. I’m going to attempt to stay up for another 30 minutes, maybe reading my book, maybe drawing, and then to sleep. Sleep is a good thing. My brain is confused by the times I eat and sleep right now, but I can handle that. It’s nice to be with her. Totally worth the chaos I will return to at school. I say that now! No, really. Worth it.

The Last Day of Summer

I sort of disappeared for a few days. Not really, because Instagram is easy and I was there, but I feel like it’s hard to write the blog if there’s no real art progress and all I’m really going to say is that I read a lot and hung out a lot and ate some foods. Not that those are bad things…we should all do that at some point in our lives. I just wasn’t motivated to write about it. I find that writing here does motivate me to get stuff done, though, which is mostly why I do it. Plus the whole family knows that if we can’t remember when an event happened, we can just check the blog. Which is how we know Kitten is 10 and not 9 (my phone thinks she’s both 9 and 10, and that’s not possible). Most important use of my blog? Figuring out how old the animals are. Yup.

So we were only at Lake Arrowhead for two nights…a short trip. The girlchild isn’t here for long and I have a pile of crap to deal with before school starts, which officially is tomorrow. We have Shakespeare tonight and a birthday dinner tomorrow night, and then she leaves. And school starts. And life continues.

So here’s three days of Arrowhead in no particular order. Lots of blue skies, cooler temperatures, and lake water.

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Oh yeah, and sleepy dogs. Very sleepy dogs.

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And not dogs. Also sleepy. This is what the week after working 10-hour days all summer looks like. Plus maybe some jet lag.

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She claims I took this picture last year. I did not. It must have been her other mother.

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Views of the lake.

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It was beautiful.

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That’s a huge acorn cap.

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We don’t have a regular boat. We have access to a canoe and a kayak. It works.

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Calli plays in the water, as always…

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There’s a bit of a hike back up to the car…

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I’m obsessed with manzanita at the moment…want one for the front yard…far away from the house.

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We have to haul stuff to and from the dock.

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Like dogs.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these in the water…

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More dog entertainment. We do a lot of that.

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Girlchild in the kayak…

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While me, the boychild, and my ex all canoe. Yeah, it’s weird that I vacation with my ex, but when your kid is only home for a week, you do shit like that.

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It was a little rough out there…

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Hogging the shade…

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Grandpa comes too…he’s in charge of keys and dogs and boat maintenance. Like the 17 spiders we had to kill in the canoe.

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Everyone reads. Well. The dogs don’t.

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They mostly sleep.

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Even with concrete as a pillow.

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We all had a chance in the kayak in the afternoon…there’s the boychild wandering off.

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Dad sits on the dock with the dogs. I got pulled over by the Lake Association during my kayak trip out. He assumed I didn’t have a boat license. Bam! I did. It was in my bra. I pulled it out. It was exciting. No one else got pulled over. He was probably worried about my technique.

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Whatever. Sitting around on a dock reading is not a bad thing.

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I did finish one binding and started another very-not-important one while watching a video.

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While guess who slept.

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At night we attempted this musical game…and then poker.

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With marbles, because we couldn’t find poker chips.

We had two cars because of the dogs…who found ways to sleep on the way back…

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I did a final steam iron of the big piece in the afternoon, but then was fighting tiredness and significant nausea all evening. The new meds may be the problem…hard to say. I did finally start stitch down at around 9 PM…and fought the machine for a while. It took about 5 or 6 tries to get the tension right. Aargh. It’s different every time I do it. I had the spool horizontal, but the thread was catching on the spool edge and feeding irregularly. So now it’s vertical and threaded differently than the manual tells me, but it’s mostly working. Remind me to take it in after I finish this one.

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I got most of the water parts stitched down…I still have a little bit of it plus the mermaid’s head to do.

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See? Good tension. Not a rat’s nest. Such a relief.

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I went to bed early because I was tired, but the nausea was still pretty bad. I gave up on water and tea last night and found a ginger ale hiding in my stash. It helped. But it’s way too high in sugar to drink regularly. It’s better this morning, but I’m afraid to eat anything. I barely ate last night.

Anyway, today is full of tons of things…need to find two quilts and ship them out of here, and then copyedit, and stitch down…plus be ready for school tomorrow (ugh. So not ready. Positive attitude! Um. Really. For tomorrow’s conference of random professional development? I don’t have any. Really. Can’t.). Last day of summer. It’s the last day of summer. Sigh. It’s OK…last year, I also felt like I got nothing done all summer. Seriously something wrong with that.


Blargh. Yup. Made it home. Functioning on very little sleep, due to small puppy thing asshole who doesn’t know how to let things move around at night without barking his head off. Kitten finally came down off Batting Mountain because her mommy was home. She whacked the crap out of her substitute parent while I was gone. Ahhh, calicoes. They are the devil incarnate sometimes.

The boychild has officially graduated. He is no longer a student. Now he is an unemployed wayward adult child (he really isn’t the wayward one) who hopefully will solve all his transportation problems today (the state of New York is truly anal about its car registration process), pack up all his shit, clean his apartment because all his roomies have left, and eventually head out to see his sister and maybe even come home. I don’t expect him soon, which is good, because I need to clean up all the quilts on his bed. I’m really proud of him for getting through 4 years at Cornell and hope he eventually figures out what to do with his life, although I have never been the best role model for that, for sure. Save the world! Cure cancer! You promised when you were 10 to build me a robot that would clean the house…WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE THAT YET???

Girlchild is back in WALTHAM…she doesn’t live IN Boston, just near it…she has a few summer jobs, the major one starting on Monday. She’ll be busy, for sure. She’ll be home for a week in August…long time away, but we saw her this weekend. She was the main cook, which was nice.

I have early stuff at school every day this week. I have a quilt that’s at the photographer for a show I’m entering later this week. I have another quilt that probably can’t get done in time…but I’m going to try. I also tried grading all those kid videos, but had absolutely shit WiFi in Syracuse Airport and on the plane this time, so I was unable to get any work done all that time…which is frustrating, because really right now, it’s either work on school stuff or the quilt, and I obviously couldn’t trace Wonder Under on the plane. So there we are. I’ll get through whatever I get through…as always.

So here was our dinner and post-dinner gathering every night, which explains each one of the 40 or so mosquito bites I have…although most of them seem to be ankle biters…

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Here in San Diego, our mosquitoes bite all over…so I find that intriguing.

Yet another of the awesome waterfalls we saw around Ithaca…this is Taugannock Falls.

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We didn’t have time to hike down, unfortunately. We had to be out of our rental place and people were slow-moving, so we went back and saw this tree fungus for the first time (it had obviously been there all weekend)…

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And then we separated. My ex went home to the Boston area with the girlchild (some worry about the car, we suspect, although he claims one-on-one time with her…also a plus), boychild went back to his apartment to figure all the packing and cleaning out, and I drove the parentals back to Syracuse, where we sat in an airport for a while…

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Wishing I could get work done. It was an efficient trip back…just enough time in Philly to grab food and get on another plane, where I couldn’t work even more, so I read a lot. Which is fine…

As we started to land in San Diego…

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I did one drawing on the plane, but it’s way over THERE and I don’t feel like getting up and photographing it right now.

Damn, my right eyelid is twitching like crazy today. I basically got home and had a glass of wine to shut my brain up and tried to go to sleep…about 17 times. Ugh. I’m tired. But happy for the kid. I’m sure NOW WHAT is looming large in his brain…hell, it looms large in my brain on a regular basis. I hope he has a cool and mostly trouble-free drive home, and gets to see lots of interesting stuff. I hope I survive the last three weeks of school and grades and finish that quilt. I hope the girlchild finally gets to move into the house where she’s living for the next year and she likes her new job and being able to eat something besides rice. I guess that’s the theme of today then…hope.