People Getting Loose Y’all*

I was on a hiking trail yesterday morning, instead of writing a blogpost. Not a bad decision, although it was mighty chilly. I don’t think I’ve done an entire hike with my fleece on except for one in the snow. It’s a good thing I don’t live somewhere colder.

The hike was out to Kitchen Creek Falls, near Campo. It wasn’t particularly long…maybe 5 1/2 miles or a bit more. There were a few climbing bits, but I managed. I did expect more water, but that’s OK. It was still pretty.

First of all, I got up early enough to see the sunrise. On a Saturday. Ugh. That part sucks.

But it meant I had most of the day after the hike to lie around and pretend I was being productive, when I was really just futzing and reading my book. I guess that’s a thing.

Both the men who live here were supposed to go, but the older back damaged himself helping to dig and fill a giant hole so we could have the water back on. The younger back came with me though…

I used to hike all the time with this group, but my work life has evolved in a way that makes it more difficult to do so. I’m supposed to go every 90 days to stay in the group, but the leader is nice to me, so even though I haven’t shown up since August, I haven’t been kicked out yet. I try to come! But it’s not always possible.

We hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail…I’ve been on this hike before, as part of a longer stretch of the PCT…

Although it was almost 5 years ago.

Oh yeah, there was this plant with these weird growths on it by the car park.

They were soft and probably filled with spiders.

Everything was very sage gray in color. And it was cold…low to mid 30s with a minor threat of rain or snow.

But in the end, we avoided most of that moisture, except on the drive back. The first part of the hike goes under Interstate 8…

It takes a while to get away from the noise of the freeway…there are a couple of gates…

No big deal in terms of a trail…mostly flat after a few switchbacks…

Greener than usual…we’re heading up there somewhere…

I love to hike. I wish I could do more of it.

It’s been a wet year for us…almost 10 inches down on the flat, so more up here…

Not much for other places, but we are dry. There’s the freeway.

Here’s where I was…

This group likes to take photos.

Finally we got to the falls…

Although there was a bit of a climb first…

To pole or not to pole? It was a crapshoot…needed them for part of it and not for the rest. You can see how far down we’re going.

Down by the water…

The rocks are very slippery…

Down there is another larger waterfall. I didn’t go down that way.

Didn’t trust my ability to get back up. The boychild is way the fuck down there…

I stayed up top and felt the temperatures drop again.

So we came out and headed back…

Just a few droplets though…

I would have been OK with some snowflakes at this point, but no.

Just a pretty view of the trail.

I really do love manzanitas…and one weird geocache.

OK then. We drove back home and showered and ate and then I tried to be a productive member of society by wrapping this giraffe, one of my Christmas presents…

He still needs a mane and a tail, but I have to wrap the other one first. Yes. I’m weird. I just liked the kit.

While I was putting stuff away, I found this. Sigh.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about trying to find all the blocks and threads for this quilt I must have started in 2008 or so. And I thought I’d found everything, but I was missing some of the threads. So I ordered new ones. Well here they are…in an entirely different container with another block that’s not finished. (Bangs head on table). OK then. It’s not the end of the world.

We eventually went out and to a bunch of art things…more of those later, when I feel like resizing all those photos. We stopped once for a drink…here’s my artsy photo…

And the photobombed one…

You should always be with someone who has a good sense of humor.

Who knew wine came in a can? Well. Lots of you probably. This was with dinner, over by another set of art things. We came back and I was tired and basically pretended to be functional until it was time to go to sleep. I guess that’s the way some days go. Today isn’t a whole lot better so far, but let’s hope I get that under control. I have a huge pile of grading and quilting to do. I do have tomorrow off, but there’s a medical thing in the middle of it. Whoopee! Love those. Not.

But a day of hiking and art is not a bad thing.

*The Trammps, Disco Inferno

Dreaming of Water…

So I have no running water. Apparently my pipe way way way down the street, but AFTER the meter, so it’s my problem, is broken…has been probably for days. Not that we could tell here, unfortunately, so I probably have a $3000 water bill coming that I don’t wanna know about right now. It’s interesting because the neighbor down the street widened our private road when he built his place, and in doing so, moved my pipes. Like 2 years ago? And that’s the road that’s now broken with my pipe underneath it. Working on getting some info on that, because seriously, I don’t think they should be breaking if they were installed correctly, but more importantly, I need water. I took a shower at my parents’ house, because I have to go to work today, like a normal person, although there will be two people here who also might need water at some point. I’m hoping the plumber calls back soon…because I’m leaving for work in about 20 minutes.

Yes, my stress levels are a little sky high at the moment. It’s a lab day at school too…so lots of management and behavior checks, plus reminding them NOT to pour all the water into the sugar. Ah chemistry. Plus we’re supposed to be going on a hike with a group tomorrow morning, and I’m trying to decide whether to cancel. I don’t want to, but I might have to.

I found out about the leak while I was at my monthly stitching meeting, getting very little done…

Seriously, I did the stems/leaves under the lion and next to the house. And I didn’t even finish. Stress does not help me stitch. Stitching helps with stress.

I came home and meditated (in real life, I actually did, because generalized deep breathing was not helping)…I did some school stuff too, because yeah. That never stops. And it’s not like I could fix the pipe right then anyway.

After meditation, I couldn’t quilt. That requires a significant amount of motor control that I was missing, but I needed something to try to shut up the panic brain, the one that’s trying to fix everything (just STOP…you can’t DO anything right now)…so I started trying to draw the larger version of what I need for the next quilt.

I briefly debated just enlarging the existing drawing, but there’s things about it that I wanted to change, so I went bigger and different, but not a lot.

But the new nose really bugs me and now I want to change the hair too. I’m going to try again. But not right now…right now, I’m going to go to work and attempt to function without exploding, and hopefully at some point a plumber will get involved and maybe even fix this clusterfuck. Who knows.

Thanks for Showing Me Your Swiss Army Knife*

My cat freaks me out. I’m sitting here, typing at (staring at?) the computer, and she’s sitting there watching me, and then all of a sudden, she snaps her head up toward the ceiling and is STARING, like there’s a demon punching through the ceiling, so I stop (immediately) what I’m doing and stare at whatever space of bumpy ceiling SHE is staring at…and I see nothing. All the hairs on the back of my neck are up, but…ghost? Bug? She’s just fucking with me? I just don’t know.

Yeah, like WTF is that, cat?

Right now, there’s a dog under my feet, trying to catch the cereal I drop. I do drop cereal. He’s not stupid. It’s a smart place to be. Not a very fulfilling life, if you ask me, but he does ask for (and get) lots of pets.

I’ve made this pattern of getting the hell off school campus at least once a week to take the dogs out. It’s so much easier when we get more daylight (I think we’re past 5:15 PM for sunset at this point, so that helps)…I’m glad we chose (well, I chose) this hike yesterday, because there was lots of water still. Straight in front of us is the path…underwater.

It’s OK…it doesn’t take much to go around it.

There was water everywhere…

Friday we had like 3/4s of an inch…plus more on Saturday and Monday. That’s a lot for us.

It was chilly here yesterday…in fact, I think it was warmer where the girlchild is in Boston than it was here.

Nice clear skies though…we were pushing sunset, as always.

We saw one baby coyote, giant ears, rushing toward a hiding spot. And the vernal pool was full.

Just a few weeks ago, it was totally empty. Or at least only a damp spot. Ah nature.

Then back to the house and a million tasks, including a dinner made by moi. I was surprisingly efficient (although I didn’t spell either of those two words correctly the first time…I’m tired.). I spent some time dealing with emails and a list of possible pieces for my upcoming solo show in Pittsburgh. Looking forward to that…and this guy, still needing pets.

Never-ending mopey furball. He’s sweet. When he’s not barking his mad little head off.

Oh yeah, I also set fire to a lot of things in science today…

There was a lot of squealing for that.

Well it’s finally time for quilting this beast. It won’t be fast or easy, but it’s fun.

I didn’t get very far…I only had about an hour and a bit. First I had to fight the thread a little bit. As always. Every time, the machine has to be set up slightly differently to work right. It’s a guessing game. Plus this thing is huge, so it has to be manhandled to quilt it. Anyway, I guess you know what I’ll be doing with the next 20 hours of my free time. I do need to get it done though. The next one doesn’t exist on paper yet and it’ll be due sooner than I like…and the one after it is soonish too, and I’ll be on Spring Break for part of it, freezing my ass off in some campsite.

I’m looking forward to that actually.

So I got Figure 1’s bottom half done, and part of the hand that crosses her from Figure 5…

And then I wandered over into Figure 2…

There was some logic to how I did the stitchdown, and I seem to be following that order for the quilting. I should think about quilting all the in-between spaces as I do the outlining…maybe admit now that I will be using the same color? Or not. Decisions.

Right now, the decision is to get my act together and go to work. And be a productive member of society. Or at least get some grading done. That would be good.

*Laurie Anderson, Let X=X

A Game with Added Reality*

So I’m trying to add the meditation back into my daily practice (I really need 2 or 3 more hours of awake time a day, and that’s problematic). I’m not sure it’s helping yet. Certainly my brain hasn’t seemed to shut the fuck up around bedtime since I’ve started…and yes, that’s WHY I started. Maybe it’s like anti-depressants…it takes two weeks to start working. Anyway, I’m paying for the not-sleep right now. Should be a good day. I’m setting fires all day in class. Actual fires. No biggie. I don’t need to be alert for that. It’ll be fine. (Fills jug with water for counter next to fire implements.) Should remember hair tie.

Things I have in my head from school: too much grading that is not done and time-consuming, one kid acting out and constantly angry and disruptive with no obvious solution, another kid very needy but trying mostly with lots of hand-holding when I have time which is not every day, about 5 kids who need parent-meeting follow-up but I haven’t found the time, one kid who needs all the text blown up to 18 pt or larger and shortened assignments, all the things I’ve probably forgotten that I’m supposed to do. Oh yeah, and the kid who hasn’t come back yet. Sigh. So there’s that.

Here’s a message from one of those kids though.

So you wonder how we stay in teaching. We aren’t saints. It’s this crazy shit.

After work, I kamikazed to some office park in the rain, with a rainbow stretching across the sky, after dealing with one really cranky kid and one kid who was trying to do his work in detention after school. I hate detention, but sometimes there are behaviors that need handling and that is one way to handle them. So I did it. And then went to a union training, where my daughter’s high-school English teacher sat behind me. Small world.

Then back home to grading and dinner and Katie the parents’ dog finally getting to see her family again. Oh wait, and listening to that fucktard that is our president. There was a lot of yelling at the television. The SIL even called, because she was in the car, yelling at the radio. Katie didn’t leave right away…this was after I cleaned the entryway floor so I could pinbaste that quilt, but it was wet out and the parents tracked mud in and so I spot-cleaned it. I kinda knew that would happen, but I didn’t want to do the whole floor that late, after they showed up. A trail of muddy footprints was easy enough to clean up. I don’t feel organized most days, but that was pretty organized thinking for the end of the day.

I had to finish piecing the back. I hate piecing, but I have all these long skinny pieces of stuff leftover from other quilt backgrounds, so I pieced the leftovers…

Part of trying to use up all the fabric…like that’s possible…or even a thing. I used 6 different fabrics…

And now there is not much left of any of them. Good. Goal reached. No new fabric, old stuff used up. I had this huge pile of stuff I use for backgrounds and now it is half the size. Much better.

And then I set to making this thing go together…

I would be hard-pressed to go much bigger…I could move the bench. I’ve done that before.

All laid out…

There’s always a cat somewhere around when I do this. In fact, the bathroom is just to the left. I went in there to pee and when I came out, he was sitting on it. Later he was out in the living room, because I made him go out there.

He was not happy about it. Ironic, since there’s a cat on the quilt right there. On the left. Not a real furry one who leaves bits all over it! This thing has enough fur on it already.

Pinbasting…still the fastest, easiest, least respiratory-offensive method to put these together.

Although I’m fairly sure the backing has got some issues. I don’t really care right now. It will be quilted to death. Everything will behave.

Or else be swallowed.

I have a title for this quilt somewhere. It’s something about swallowing. Nothing gross or sexual, nothing about food…this quilt is so NOT about food. It’s really my brain. Complicated thing, isn’t it? Anyway. It’s pinned. Ready for quilting. I have enough thread to start…I’ll probably run out at some point. So I wrote the color numbers down somewhere. I can start though. Tonight.

*Depeche Mode, Master and Servant

That’ll Do

Ah yes, dogs and rain. One dog doesn’t mind, trundles out in all weather, although needs a friend when it’s dark. She gets scared. The other one runs out, pees as fast as possible, sometimes still on the pavement, then yips to come back in and refuses to be toweled down. Kind of an asshole. The other hides when it’s raining, pretending he doesn’t really have to go out for hours on end, until he’s desperate. Totally an asshole. This morning, the good one, the one who doesn’t mind weather, had a poop fail. Gaack. My morning, nauseated. Oh well. I don’t really need to eat breakfast. Oh wait, yes I do. The little one, the one who hides, ran out and did his thing with no complaints. He must have been desperate. The other one, who’s leaving tonight (the cats will appreciate free reign over the house again…reign, not rein, right? In this case?), did a lot of barking and scratching at the door. The rain will stop soon and hopefully that will help.

Yesterday was a mess. The lab went well, although rushed because we had short periods. We’ll catch up today. I came home and went to the gym, which is good, but it kicked my butt for getting anything else done apparently. Well, not entirely true. I did a bunch of computer stuff, booked a hotel for our LA trip in May to see Amanda Palmer, excited about that. Sent the girlchild food money on her school account. Very exciting that. Sent out a bunch of emails about photos for an exhibit I need to put on a blog for an art group. Finished my book. Well, that was at the gym. I meditated. That was good. I might have fallen asleep quicker? Or that might just have been how tired I was from not sleeping the night before. Worried about a student. Can’t do anything about it, of course. I’ll worry until I know something, and the fun part about that is that I might never know. I still worry about this kid I had when I was a student teacher in 2001. Seriously. I wonder if she’s OK. Can’t remember her name, but I still wonder. Worry.

So did I make art? Well, sort of. I was trying to let my brain stop running like it was on fire, so I reconciled the daily calendar, which was a clusterfuck until around 10 PM…up until then, I had one thing crossed off and 72 things clamoring for my attention. I moved some stuff further off than today, talked to the guy about some things and moved them into a different list, and just plain old moved some to the weekend. Sigh. And then I drew. I knew I couldn’t make any progress on the quilt last night…not enough time or energy. I needed a good 2-hour block (maybe tonight?). So I drew a little picture…

Still working out the ideas for the next quilt…this drawing stuff helps quiet my brain down.

I wish I could sleep like this guy…

I don’t think he worked very hard yesterday, but here he is. He probably has fewer responsibilities.

OK. Well so yesterday wasn’t a great day for achievements. Today can be better. Just don’t think about the 2-hour workshop after school. Today I pinbaste. That’s my only goal. Well, and eat right, drink plenty of water when I have access to a bathroom (problematic), have healthy conversations with 12-year-olds, get some grading done, and drive safe. There we go. That’ll do.

There Is a House in New Orleans*

Another rainy morning. I might need to buy some real rain gear if this keeps up. I’m not quite ready mentally for this week. I did prep the science lab for today before I left Friday. All I have to do is pour the grape juice. I did the water and baking soda ahead of time, but thought the ants might have too much fun with the juice. I haven’t seen ants this year, except for the first day after they had all those teachers in our rooms, and they left their lunch remains in my trash cans…I know better than to do that. My school was built on an anthill.

As always, I got a bunch done this weekend, but not enough. C’est la vie. I do what I can.

I spent most of Saturday grading stuff…sitting in here with 2 out of the 3 dogs…

It wasn’t very exciting…but it rained a lot. Not as much as on Friday, despite the warnings, but enough.

A lovely view.

And eventually I went back to the stitchdown…

But I didn’t finish. I wanted to, but I was really tired. Sleep seemed like the best option. It was a good decision, because I got hardly any sleep last night. Brain won’t Shut Up.

Sunday was the same mix of errands and household/work tasks that always fill up my first official day of the week. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the dogs out today, so we went yesterday…it was gorgeous out (good choice).

Everything is green…except for the trees that haven’t come into leaf yet. The rain had moved this bridge…most of the dogs jumped across.

Calli just waded over. She likes water…

The boychild tried to move the bridge back, but it’s heavy and I couldn’t help because I was holding three dogs. We don’t usually see water here…

It’s nice to see it occasionally.

Water on the path, draining down into the creek.

Someday I will remember to put a towel in the car…

There was no escaping the mud…although this was one option…

There will be lots of fire danger this summer.

It was a beautiful day for a walk though…lots to smell and explore…

We were going to go up the hill instead of across the bridge, but the stream went across that path and there were no rocks big enough to cross…so this is the view down from the bridge.

There’s usually water there anyway, but not quite this much.

Katie enjoyed this random pool of water.

Apparently she is sort of a water dog. When she chooses…

Then there was this, coming back…listen carefully…

The babies talk…we could see them up on the slope. And then mom and dad answer from the stream bed directly across, right where we’d been before. I’m sure you can imagine that conversation. “I told you not to leave the den.” “Mom, you said to call if someone came near.” “They’re nowhere near you. Get back in the den.” “Moooommm.”

Fun stuff. The only dog that reacted to the coyotes though was the little one. The other two just stood there.

They were all tired last night…a good thing. I stitched during the post-dinner TV moments…and he slept.

Sunday’s project is moons…a place for some handwork to happen.

The beginning of that is making some scenes or places for the moons to occur. Embroidery to follow. Lots of it. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see what actually happens. That’s what I wanted with this daily project…some projects getting done finally, and some things I’ve wanted to try getting tried. I get tied up in deadlines on the art quilts and I never get to do other stuff. So there are two projects in the rotation that will allow that.

I finally went in to do this…

The last hour and a half of stitchdown. Finally!

Kitten agrees.

Actually mostly she said Pet Me. Loudly and insistently. I did a lot of that.

Then I checked the back, looking for things I missed, like this.

Three snakes. All of them have two eyeballs on the front…only one had two eyeballs on the back. So I fixed that.

The back is pretty fascinating.

And soon to be covered up for good…

I started piecing the backing out of leftover bits from other quilt fronts. I need to use up stuff before buying more. I hate piecing big pieces, but I’ll survive. I didn’t finish though. Stayed up too late, because my brain was racing. Tried to slow it down. Hopefully tonight I’ll finish piecing it and be able to pinbaste. We’ll see if I have time. So far there are 5 different fabrics on the backing, and I’ll need at least one more. Which is fine. I’ve had this pile of leftover pieces just lying around for ages. This is good.

It took 9 1/2 hours to stitch it down…I think I guessed 10. Not bad. I suspect quilting will be over 20 hours, easily. Looking forward to it. This quilt is taking much longer than I expected.

OK, but before that, I’ve got an early meeting, I’m running labs, I have a shitload of grading still, and it’s still raining, I think. Fun stuff.

*The Animals, House of the Rising Sun

It’s All Possible Right Now

‘Tis Saturday morn and the wind comes and goes, some large droplets splash down between the tree branches, always hitting my glasses. Seriously, they never miss. I hear the sounds of a big dog slurping an entire water bowl up, which means she’ll need to pee soon, and the whisking of the last 4 eggs in the house. Boychild must be making breakfast. Note to self: buy more eggs. My breakfast? Triscuits and pub cheese with horseradish. I can’t be bothered to be more creative. No eggs too. My blood sugar is some weirdo anyway. It doesn’t behave the way it’s supposed to. At some point, I’ll have to go back to the doc to figure that out.

Yesterday was exhausting. I’m not sure why. Maybe just because it was Friday. I had to prep Monday’s lab ahead of time…probably better to be prepared anyway. This chemistry unit is high maintenance…the kids are engaged, fully, but it’s a mess to clean up and a pain to set up. We try not to do labs three days in a row…it’s too much. Put a weekend between them. Or a day of something else. That said, they did awesome with the Oobleck…very few issues. I’m glad.

I worked when I got home…got through one assignment and inputted about four. This is the weekend of work, for sure. I need to get closer to caught up. That’s the plan. It’s supposed to dump down rain, so that should help.

Grading happened on the couch with this little one grunting in his dreams…

The little gray one trying to climb into my lap or onto the computer…

And eventually settling down. Boychild fed me something that looked like it would be weird from the ingredients, but as always, was quite tasty. That’s when my blood sugar went whackadoodle though, by no fault of the meal…it was well below the carbs I should have been able to handle. So I got on the bike and continued to read my book for 45 minutes or so. After that, I was too damn tired to do any sewing. That’ll be later today.

I did draw though.

Because I didn’t want to feel like I hadn’t done anything dammit. I hate that feeling. I’m not going to have that feeling today. First I’m going to shower like I’m leaving the house. Then I’m putting my pajamas back on. Then I will grade stuff and prep for next week, followed by finishing the stitch down. I might venture out. You never know. It is supposed to rain a lot, but whatever. I need some plants. I might do that. I might even do another drawing. It’s all possible right now.