Out and About…

Well we’re back from nature. Into cold feet and a house that perennially needs cleaning. So much easier to control a campground’s worth of stuff. Although even that can be a pain. The meat didn’t defrost…it was too cold! Well there we are. Years of mom experience to the rescue.

We left for camping around 2:30 PM…drove a little over 90 minutes to a campground in chaparral, mostly, dry, but with oak trees for shade. No showers, OK for a couple of days. It was already cold when we got there and started setting up. It seemed like I kept going into the tent and putting more layers on, or trading out my current layers for better ones.

We had a simple dinner planned the first night…probably a good thing. Mostly we tried to get the fire going…and wondered why people in campgrounds feel a need to play their music loudly.

I managed to finish a drawing I started in May in Ridgecrest, the night before I dropped the Man at Kennedy Meadows to continue his hike.

In bed early, because sleeping bags are warm. Parties around us continued until 3 AM, although we were pro the coyote parties, not the human ones.

We went hiking the next day, although 4 miles was our max.

It was all up. Well the first two miles were anyway. We’re both out of shape. The Man broke his toe in July and wasn’t hiking for a while because of that, and the weekends have been busy with either openings, shows, or my day job sucking up the weekend. We vowed to change that, although my left knee is being cranky and probably needs something.

This was the night of the non-defrosting meat. Warm water baths to the rescue, but my hands are still paying the price today with the repeated dunking in water in dry, cold air. My drawing started in the afternoon, which was a lot of reading and drawing…

This was a big one. I’ve had an idea in my head for the next quilt for about a month now, and this is the first iteration.

After dinner, I did another drawing, not related…

In the smaller sketchbook this time…

Watching the firewood make faces…

The cold chased us to bed around 9 PM again…where the Man had bought lights for the tent…

Fairy lights it is.

Morning dawned cold.

That was after we’d been up for 40 minutes. The cell service was more than we expected, in that it existed, mostly, although not always. The weather app was quite willing to tell me I was actually freezing. We ended up packing out early and eating breakfast at home. There were dark clouds and I didn’t want to deal with rain. Plus I had an artist Zoom at 11, so it made sense. Here was our last view of the area…

Those were not the dark clouds…they were behind me.

We got home in time for the Zoom, managed to shop, do laundry, clean out the tent (the Man did most of that, thanks), and get everything packed away. Every time we do this, we plan to make a list of things we should take, and then the day jobs take over and we never do it, which is how we forget stuff. Ah well. And I’ve misplaced my flashlight too. It’s here somewhere; I just don’t know where I put it down.

I did a bunch of school work yesterday, none of it grading unfortunately. Got a ton of that to do this week and next. More unfortunately. I did pin the bindings on the big alien quilt for the bed…

I’ll be stitching for a while. A bunch of people recommend using those clips to do this. I know I have some…just not sure where.

Earlier, I had enlarged that drawing from the fire…200 and 250%. I started taping it together to see if this is it, or if I’m going to (a) redraw a clean one over the top of it or (b) cut some bits out and redraw them. Don’t know. Will look again tonight. I had to go to bed. A warm bed. Squished between two cats and a dog…a little TOO squished. But warm at least. And not an air mattress. Old bodies.

Work today. Can’t say I’m in the mood. Only five days though. I’d like to get as much work as possible done this week, so I don’t have to do it all next week, but I don’t know how that will play out. Just wish for the best, be as efficient as possible, stay on task, get it done. Art at night…got 8 weeks to finish this next quilt. Don’t make it huge and insanely detailed (might have already blown that edict). Work on it every night…that I can probably do.

Drawing on Vacation

I’m back! I haven’t had WiFi for a week, obviously. I had enough cell coverage to post Instagram photos, but then my phone died and refused to charge for a bit. There’s so many photos and stories from the last week that I can’t even deal. Maybe a little at a time. Let’s start with the drawings…because I basically did one a day. That’s the best part of being away from the house on vacation…I can’t distract myself with the to-do list that’s here. I can read, I can stitch, I can hike, or I can draw. So I draw mostly at night with a headlamp while the Man builds (and stares deeply into) a fire. It’s my form of staring deeply into a fire, I guess.

The first drawing is actually from the trip to Boston to see the girlchild. She needed a nap and I needed some down time, so I went back to my AirBnb and drew and watched some Marvel movie I thought I hadn’t seen (I think I only hadn’t seen the beginning…like I was grading during the beginning of the movie?)…

When I’m really tired, just drawing concentric or parallel lines is one thing I can do.

Then I was home for about 36 hours (max) and we left to go camping. The first two nights, we were in Ojai, California.

Everyone asks why Ojai? I don’t know. It was on the map and had hikes and campsites. We are short on money right now, so no fancy restaurants and wine tastings. Well, we did one, but not in Ojai. I used the ridgeline to start her back and then filled in from there.

This was the second night in Ojai, after a particularly difficult (it shouldn’t have been, but it was) hike…

I drew a bunch of the stuff I’d seen on the hike, plus the campfire and the mountains and the oaks.

The next night, we made it to Paso Robles and our one stay inside. The first night, we went to see Sensorio (more on that later). I didn’t actually draw that night…this was the next day, when it was a bit drizzly in the morning and we decided against the hike we’d planned.

Then later that day, we headed out to a winery with a bunch of sculpture and had a (very expensive) wine tasting.

Still focusing on the landscape; lots of trees and grapevines in this one. I didn’t finish this one, actually, until later in the day. We headed over to Tin City, which has lots of winery tasting rooms. We picked a brewery instead, because it had a food truck, and we hung out there for a while, watching the people (some) and dogs (mostly). I finished that drawing and started another…

Although I did most of the embellishment on this one the next night in the campground at Pinnacles National Park, after a 6-mile afternoon hike (mostly flat).

The next night, I drew this one…

After seeing condors just sitting on a rock and in a tree. Amazing stuff.

From there, we drove through Morro Bay and down to Pismo Beach, where we stayed in the Oceano Campground. Another fire, another drawing…

The sea otter showed up from hanging out by the bay. It’s a relief to be able to just draw and draw. My school days have been so full and heavy that drawing for no purpose but to draw is just not happening. I’m too tired and have no mental energy, unless I’m working on a specific project. Then I make written lists of things and figure out how to fit them in a drawing. It’s not like these, where I just doodle my brain out on the paper.

The last night in Pismo Beach, we had talked about my leaving the Man in Kennedy Meadows the next day to avoid the snow that was supposed to be coming in. Plus honestly, I was tired. I don’t sleep well with weird noises, and we had two nights of frogs, really loud, inconsistent frogs, and then one night of some big squawky birds (heron, egret, or cormorant…not sure which), and my foot had been hurting and I was tired of not eating enough vegetables. Seriously. I just had a salad. It was delightful. I think I just wanted to be home and sleep in a bed. I wasn’t ready to camp in snow and wind.

So I drew this…

Which was literally us sitting around the campfire. I knew he wanted me to stay another night in Kennedy Meadows, but bad weather and driving alone stress me out, and I need to be back at school on Monday, and there are a bunch of things that need to happen before then. So I made the decision to drive home yesterday. I’m still exhausted today, and probably will be tomorrow. And there wasn’t as much snow up there as predicted, but I know I wouldn’t have slept for yet another night. So I made the best decision I could.

I’ll be back up there at the end of May to pick up all the equipment he doesn’t need on the PCT, so I’ll get to camp there then. I am hoping to find some drawing time between now and then, but going into the end of the school year is not usually an easy time no matter what. We’ll see how it goes. Why did I leave him there? He’s working up there until he hikes, trying to put away some money so he can hike further. Potentially he’ll be gone through the end of July, knock on wood and barring any injuries.

More tomorrow, assuming I can get my head around it.

Ode to a Shower…

Showers are wonderful y’all. I appreciate them even when they aren’t great. The water is warm, even hot? Check. It’s above me and there’s enough water to do the things? Check. BOOM. I’m in. Yes, I have been showerless for a few days. Bathroomless even, although there was one down the hill. I had a porta-potty nearby. The flies buzzing in close proximity to the gentler parts were a worry, but survivable.

We left Wednesday and went to see Alice Beasley’s 30-year retrospective show at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica. No, LA traffic has not changed. It was worth it though to see more of her work in person.

This is Isle of Dreams Revisited.

And the incredibly relevant From Russia with Love…

Definitely worth a drive up. No matter how much the Man complained about LA traffic. If you just accept that there will be traffic, it’s a lot easier to take.

From there, we headed to Ojai and the showerless campground. It was OK…nothing to write home about, but serviceable for our needs. A nice tree, some great views, and these weird tanks.

The view…in one direction…

And the other direction…

The Man has a thing for campfires, but occasionally we’ve had starting issues. Solution? Buy firestarters…

Totally worth it for my sanity. Oh yes, I draw while he fights the wood and the fire.

I started with the mountain ridge line and added the figure.

On Thursday, we picked what we thought would be a reasonable hike. You know how some 5-mile hikes feel longer than others?

Yeah, this was one of those. It was fine. I think we were both tired and hadn’t been exercising much (for me, in the last week…too much school crap and then going to Boston).

Depending on which app you were talking to, it was 5.5 or 5.6 miles with 1400+ feet of gain.

There’s some gain right there. It wasn’t horrible. It just took us a lot longer than we thought it would.

Lots of spring flowers and butterflies…

I came around the corner into a flock of these little blue butterflies.

You’ve heard of slowing down, slow stitching, slow cooking?

We slow hiked.

It’s not a race. Came back, hung out, had a drink to celebrate the end of the hike, stitched a bit, read a lot, took a nap…

Another fire…

Another drawing…shit, that’s what I could be doing while I wait for all these pictures to load…draw!

This morning, we slept in, then fed ourselves and packed up in just 90 minutes. Drove out of Ojai to Paso Robles, where we have an actual shower and stove and bed. OK we had all those things in the campsite except for the shower.

Tonight is art, tomorrow is hiking and some entertainment. Then book it out of here on Easter for Pinnacles National Park (has showers!). I know lots of people wanna know why I don’t hike the PCT with the Man. There are quite a few reasons (my job is one), but also…showers. My goodness, it has taken two hours with the slow internet here to get this written. Time for dinner and then art! Not sure when I’ll be able to write again. We’ll see. Rest assured that I will be reading, stitching, hiking, napping, and photographing…and trying to avoid thinking about school.

A Weird Wind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey. Play with me. Now.

Hopefully it will all go well with this old lady…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something like that.

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

I should recruit Kitten as my secretary.

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

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

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

One Thing and Another Thing

My head this morning needs a lot more caffeine and a secretary. I’ve had a shower and I ate apple crisp for breakfast. Not the most responsible choice, but I’m in that place right now. I have a shitload of work to do. I’m trying not to have a headache about it. I stayed at school late to get the field trip list done…we have to do them 10 school days ahead of time now, which is annoying. So on top of collecting money and permission slips, I was running a lab, which went pretty well, and trying to organize for next week’s labs and a crazy visit by a bunch of politicians (why did I say yes to that? Because…because someone needs to explain what our kids need to people who don’t teach but make decisions about what we do.).

I didn’t get much done when I got home…graded one assignment (well, 4 days and 5 periods’ worth of one assignment)…someone fetched food. I paid some bills, filled out some forms, and then cleaned the office. That was tiring, but all the fabric is put away, the floor is swiffered, and the bits and pieces of crap are organized. It took an hour or so to do that.

Part of that was trying to corral all the fabric in a logical way. I gave in this morning and ordered more plastic containers, because I can’t deal with the mess in here. I also decided to piece the background of the current quilt. It actually makes sense on multiple levels…I often use similar dark colors for backgrounds and then have these weird pieces left over. I do use them, but they’re close enough that I can piece them into one larger background. Also, the current piece has four figures, one in each corner, so it visually will make sense as well.

So I need to leave in two minutes. Today is crazy. The whole next 7 days are crazy. I’ll check back in with the crazy. Playful Kitten…

That piece of paper is very offensive.

Bitey old lady dog…

Her bone is fascinating.

And the not-so-great-but-at-least-we-got-one campsite for Yosemite for three nights in April. We’ll be fine!

Look how many other people will get attacked by bears before we do!

OK, off to one thing and another thing and then who knows what.

We’ll Survive, but There Might Be Tears…

My heart is still racing, my stomach is in knots, I’m running on an adrenaline rush…why? Because today was the day to try to reserve campsites in Yosemite for Spring Break. Oh yeah. Well. That was a clusterfuck, but we got three nights. In a row. In the same site. We’re old. We don’t wanna move. We could. Well, actually, we probably couldn’t. In 12 minutes, almost everything was gone except for a night here and a night there. TWELVE FUCKING MINUTES. OK. So it’ll be crowded and annoying because people, but YOSEMITE. So we’ll be fine. And we’ll book lonely far-out places for the rest of our trip. Or whatever. The man will tell you I was yelling, “What number! Give me a number!” as he kept asking “Why isn’t it giving a reason?” I’m like, seriously? Because it’s booked. Apparently he wanted like a message saying which nights were gone, and the computer took a while to refresh the availability and other people have bots or alien technology or better internet than I do. Whatever. WE HAVE A SITE. I’m good. Let the other people get eaten by bears because they got a better site. We’re going to hike all the time anyway.

Plus it might snow that early in the year, so there’s that. WE’LL BE FINE.

So that was my start to a Friday morning. It’s stress stress stress for the next week. We’ll survive, but there might be tears. Pilates last night helped. So did art stuff. But I spent a good long time doing work stuff yesterday. Emergency meetings. Managing groups for today. We set up for the lab but still need to do materials. And we have duty.

At least we have a campsite for April.

So when I load photos for this blog, I usually do a quick run through the photos from previous years (I really need to organize photos at some point…some months are totally organized. Apparently November is a chaotic month in every year.)…and it’s interesting that I was in exactly this same stage on a quilt on November 15 in 2016 AND 2017. I don’t know which quilts…I’d have to search more than I have time for right now to figure that out.

So I sorted…

It was late…but it was also fast…

A whopping 35 minutes. Did I clean the office? Fuck no. That will be tonight. Hopefully.

Slightly blurry due to psychotic movement.

Anyway. Crazy day. I need to go. But this first! I’m excited…my piece is here in San Diego! OK, it’s been in San Diego all this time, but now it’s officially finally part of the Tiny Pricks Project AND hanging in San Diego…

Even better, the infamous Diana Weymar staring at it and smiling…

Tres awesome.

OK. Off to the slaughterhouse. Oh wait. No. School. Yeah. School (no commentary on school shootings here. Today anyway.).

Looking Up…

So we made it back, alive and still a bit muddy (one load of laundry is done; the tent and rain cover are out on the deck, waiting for me to have the energy and help to clean it out), still a bit exhausted. Driving through Los Angeles can do that to you. Ahhh, traffic, I miss you not.

It’s the first time I’ve taken a week’s vacation without the fam in about a million years. Being a mom and a financially strangled one at best doesn’t allow for such things, so it was much appreciated. And there will be more, once we do the math and see how bad the money actually was, and then try to focus on future travel plans. There was lots of WOW said; even if you’ve seen them before, the redwoods elicit WOW.

So then I have about 50 pictures of the trees, looking up…

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Because that’s what you do…

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(That was the one non-rainy day on our trip…the day we chose to hike around…)

I’ll have to write a post later this week about the trip, I think. Too many pictures for a Saturday-morning brain.

I did draw each night…well, minus one…

Certainly what I was experiencing ended up in the drawings. The first night, we had set up the campsite and cooked under a lean-to tarp, and sat there listening to the rain for hours. We’d made it to the visitor center and read about local animals and plants, and seen a beetle and lots of ferns and trees.

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That beetle on her cheek was on my sketchbook for a while…I saw his big brother in the bathroom for the next three days. Just hanging out…on the toilet paper rolls…waiting…for something.

We hiked the whole next day, with on and off rain…but a lot of sun. We cooked tacos that night, and tried to get the fire started. I think it lasted a whopping 20 minutes before the rain kicked up again. We had moved the tent by then.

I don’t think this one is done, but I was tired.

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At least one hand is facing the wrong way…or both are left hands…or something.

The last night, we had very little rain (after rain on and off all day, mostly on), but lots of high winds, which is a little nerve-wracking in a forest that really only loses trees to wind and the occasional flood.

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I skipped the next night…but the last night, food was on my mind apparently. And misplaced arms. They’re just wrong, all wrong.

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As part of the last day’s drive, we stopped at the California Fibers’ exhibit at The Blackboard Gallery in Camarillo, California, where two of my pieces are currently hanging through early May. This is Give Me Time

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As always, I love having my photo taken and can’t figure out what to do with my hands.

And here I am with Holding It All In, which is a big quilt…

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I’ll be writing a California Fibers’ post about the show, with details, later this week. I’ll link it here. It’s a nice show…in an interesting space.

I did keep up with these once a day stitches, albeit barely. I did some green lazy daisy leaves on the right with that curly line I added earlier in the week, with the pinky lazy daisy flowers (that’s three days right there)…then a feather fern stitch thing next to the tree trunk (hard to see here) and some star-shaped flowers in red/burgundy with straight stitch green leaves to the right of the feather, under the bird…finishing the thread off with some French knots (or colonial knots, who knows) down the side there.

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I didn’t actually do much stitching (or reading) on the trip. I finally pulled this out the last day for in-the-car stitching (mostly I can’t stitch with curvy roads…or while I’m driving)…finished the tree trunk, which I’d started at the campsite until I couldn’t see in the dark any more, then finished the flower center and started the bird. I think the bird is all that’s left, and then I’ll be done with this one. Maybe tonight. Not sure what my plans look like yet.

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I know they include cleaning and drying these, the second load of laundry, finishing my taxes…

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Working on the current quilt, which has to be done in a week, a ton of grading, some emails/contracts/headshots (ugh) to be sent out, and I don’t even know what else. Trying to get my head around all of it…which I will…eventually…maybe not today. Still looking up…even though the trees are gone…but here, at home, the furry beasts are all around. Both cats slept with me last night (strange), although I did not appreciate Midnight’s hairball extraction in the middle of the night (guess the duvet cover needed washing) or Calli’s early morning plea to pee. And the house reeks of skunk…fun stuff. No one cleaned while I was gone (another wonder of living alone). But I’m glad to be here, in my own bed, surrounded by annoying beasts, where I can make a proper cup of tea whenever I want dammit. (still wanna travel more though)

Water Pooling

So when the weather app says 0.08″ of rain, that really means it’s gonna rain almost all night, leaving muddy puddles everywhere. The app kept saying rain would stop in 60 minutes. Thirty minutes would go by and it would still be 60 minutes of rain. The plus is the tent only leaked in one place (put a hand towel under it), and though it was cold enough to see my breath, it wasn’t horribly cold. 

All these pictures took a horrendous time to load, due to intermittent cell service…so they’re all out of order and I can’t even see them at the moment. 

Oh there they are…the Eel River. After more than half an inch of rain last night, today eventually got sunny and verging on warm for us Southerners…

We took a 5-mile hike and saw beauty everywhere…

Checking out gurgling streams…

And waterfalls…

Some fungus among us…

Last night, we huddled under a tarp shelter and I drew a bit…

Raindrops and a spotted skunk showed up in the drawing…under the tarp. Hat with lights was helpful…

Made burgers for dinner…after the fire in the pit got rained out…

I finally got almost caught up on this…I was 4 days behind. I did some blue fly stitches in the bottom area, then a bunch of cross stitches in a thread that went from peach to teal, also down in the bottom. Then the fly stitches that look like redwoods in the bottom right, in a variegated green.

Left it at one day behind, losing light.

These are some of the trees above the campground.

And here was our original setup.

Last night’s rain pooled under the tent, so we moved it today. 

Good times. Well fed and hiked. Mostly warm and dry. We will appreciate the hotel bed and shower when we get there. We haven’t killed each other yet, for those who were concerned. And my eye stopped twitching…all good news. 

Running Away to Anza Borrego…

So I’m back. A short trip to the Anza Borrego desert, only one night of camping (honestly, with the wind trying to pick the tent up, I’m glad we only had to deal with it for one night. Vacation shouldn’t be sleep-deprived.). We saw about a million metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda…OK, there are apparently only 130 of them, but we saw all of them.

I liked the dinosaurs best…especially the ones where you had to drive way the heck out into the desert to see them. This post is photo-heavy…mostly a picture journal of the trip. The wildflowers were apparently “gone”, but there were plenty of things blooming for me…

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I took photos of almost every sculpture we saw, but some of them were definitely better than others. I was amused by the eyelashes…Brecedo definitely likes eyelashes…

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Harvester ant holes…we didn’t actually see a lot of wildlife. Even birds were absent the first day, mostly probably because of the crazy winds.

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The dinos I liked the best were way off the road. We didn’t see many people out here. This is a newer one…he hasn’t rusted much.

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After a while, they all look like they’re dancing.

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Teeth abound…

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It’s actually a little frightening seeing these guys and thinking about them wandering around…

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Humans would not have survived, I think.

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You look tasty, my dear.

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These guys were wobbling in the wind. Then again, the bursts were pretty strong.

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Definitely all about the teeth.

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More flowers…I missed the pink cactus. Never remembered to stop for those.

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The details on the skin/hide were kind of amazing.

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And all the pieces of metal. Breceda wasn’t an artist until his daughter asked for a T Rex.

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Ocotillos were in bloom all over the place.

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This thing had a name. Most of his creatures are prehistoric, although honestly, there’s one group that wasn’t on the maps, and we’re pretty sure they’re made up things.

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Yup. I brought someone to conquer the angry beasts.

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That cloud stayed until sometime in the middle of the night. The winds above must have been competing for air space.

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The scorpion…that reminds me…Yup. Scorpions have two eyes on top and 2-5 pairs along the sides. Yick.

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So this thing. Not on the map. Big curved claws. Carries its young. Furry as heck. Looks like a cross between a beaver and…something.

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Here’s one who fell over…

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Making shit up. Don’t know what that is.

The famous serpent, which goes across the road. Awesome. Need that for my yard.

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Llama with serpent in background…

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Indian Head right near the opening to Indian Head trail.

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The caterpillars were around…some much bigger than others. The wildflowers come, then the caterpillars try to eat them all, and then the Swainson’s hawks migrate here to eat the caterpillars. More on the hawks later…

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One of the few furry beasts we saw…HUGE ears. The rest we saw were dogs. On leashes.

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I swear they’re dancing…

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These guys were up a road that was misnamed on the map…

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The tortoises were all a little feisty too…

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Peccary with babies…

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An entire wash of bighorn sheep…which was nice, because we didn’t see any in real life unfortunately.

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The wind is still scattering the clouds.

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An ironic metal saguaro in the middle of the desert without saguaro.

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We were sure it was a cutout from a distance, but it was in fact 3D when we got there…

A ha! A hawk! So we headed out to one of the hawk counting areas and saw a kettle of hawks scared off the ground by three coyotes. These hawks migrate from Argentina to Canada…

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There’s the kettle settling back down after being scared up.

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I’d never seen so many hawks in one place…over 60 of them flying together.

Camping in the high winds…the ice chest kept the tent from taking off.

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The campground was nice and quiet, despite quite a few children. There are bathrooms and showers and running water, and even shelters over the tables. Definitely a nice place to hang out.

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The next morning, we were tired from the windy-night’s sleep (or lack thereof), but planned a hike up into Borrego Palm Canyon.

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It wasn’t a long hike, but there was some chance of seeing bighorn sheep, plus it was supposed to be pretty. And it was.

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It was a bit warm, but bearable.

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A stiff breeze (and sometimes serious wind) dried off the sweat as we hiked.

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There were plenty of flowers still around.

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But the wash was dry…at least down here it was.

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As we went up the canyon, there was water. It must go underground at some point.

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Still no sign of sheep, but I caught this guy in a photo…

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The palms grow naturally here…

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When we got to the oasis, there were about 100 6th graders there eating lunch. Wow. So get the hell outta there before they leave! They probably scared off all the sheep.

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We’ll have to come back to see them (the sheep. Not the 6th graders).

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We took an alternate route down and promptly got lost and were wandering through the wash.

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A quail led us back home (not really).

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After a change of clothes, some food and drink, and a relatively easy ride home, I took my second shower of the day and fell promptly asleep on the couch. The dog woke me up for her dinner. Mine was a piece of toast. So not motivated to cook!

I couldn’t find my brain for the rest of the night, so I just messed around with the wool projects I have lying around. Tried to organize them and cut stuff out so that I could sew things down, but never found the energy to actually sew.

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It was a good, albeit short trip. Maybe there’s a longer one in my future. Who knows? Meanwhile, I have plenty of work to get done here, if I can just get my brain to come online. I’m in recovery mode…

No Fit…

I’ve never been good at fitting in. I have a lot of different interests and that seems like it should make it easier, but it doesn’t always. I suspect part of it is my fault…I see all the differences, as well as the similarities, and the differences feel like they push me away. I’m not even sure I want to fit in most of the time…maybe it’s that I want to feel accepted even when I don’t fit well. Maybe I will never fit well. That’s not true. There have been times when my core existence was a good fit, or at least I thought it was, and it made it easier to feel like I fit in elsewhere. Or that it mattered less. Right now, I can’t even find my core…I’m floating around in this weird mental space that doesn’t feel right, I don’t feel right, and maybe that’s the issue. It’s not that I don’t fit in with any particular group. I can handle that. I’m OK with that. It’s that I don’t feel like I fit in with myself.

It’s hard to explain. It’s like wearing a shoe that’s not quite comfortable. There’s a rock in there. You pull the shoe off, readjust the sock, find the rock, put the shoe back on, walk for a while. Nope. Still doesn’t feel right. It’s just uncomfortable. It’s wrong. You stomp your feet a bit to try to make them conform to the shoe or vice versa. No luck. No fit.

I have conversations with my counselor pretty regularly about how this feels and what to do about it. It’s part of what feeds the depression, feeling out of place, unsettled, like I don’t know who I am. I do the stuff she suggests, sometimes I’m already doing it, because I do know how to make a life. I’ve had to remake my life before. I remember. It wasn’t this bad last time though. This time, it’s like going from a scorched landscape…like the hike we did on Saturday, where the fire was a year ago…where baby plants are just now popping up, and here we are stepping on them, feeling bad about it. A fire goes through, it can take 10 years or more to get back to something approximating normal. So maybe I am the fire-scorched landscape, and it hasn’t even been a year, and I have baby plants, but they’re not strong enough, big enough, and they’re getting stepped on. I’m betting those hillsides don’t feel normal yet. They certainly don’t look it.

So why do I hike? Being outside in nature helps with the depression. Being outside doing something physical, sometimes even challenging, it helps. (Saturday was a challenge, between elevation and my knee acting up…not a good thing…it was a challenge. Not a significant challenge, like the previous week, which hopefully I’ll post later today, but still…) Forcing myself to be with people for at least part of the days when I would normally be alone, in dead silence, it’s probably a good thing. I do OK when the people are around most days…it isn’t until I’m on my own, driving home or wherever, that I have an issue. Out of the group, into the pit.

I’m working on all of this. I’m aware of it. I’m trying to find my trail through all of it. There are marked trails, but I’m not good at following those…I’m out bushwhacking my own trail. It may take me a while. It most definitely will take me a while.

So this weekend, I tried a few social events. I did OK. I haven’t found a balance between trying to be with people and getting my introverted and artistic needs met. I have to sacrifice one to the other, it seems, and that’s not ideal. It’s not what I want. But it is what it is right now. I went to a work thing. I went hiking. Then I went camping with people from work (well, one people from work, because the others bailed). In the moment, it was fine. I did OK. I like hiking. I like camping. The crap feelings I have on either side are what I need to work through. And I am.

So after I hiked about 10 miles off of Sunrise Highway, I drove out to William Heise County Park near Julian, where a friend from work and a bunch of her family and friends were camping. Here was my setup…

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We had four campsites all clustered together under the oaks, with a nice wide area in the middle for the ten kids to race around and throw things at each other (you know, like kids do…).

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We hung out and chatted and ate and sat by the campfire…

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It was nice. I was tired, but it was OK. I even walked around and took pictures of flowers…

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These are the oaks that were above my tent…

 

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Here was my breakfast (very exciting…I did not challenge myself on the cooking. I bought a burrito for dinner and heated it up on the fire).

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I read. I drew. I made tea (shocking, for those who know me). It was nice. This drawing has been in my head in pieces for months. It’s not done.

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I’m not even sure I like it, but if it’s in my head, it needs to get out.

This one I did Sunday morning while drinking tea…

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It’s also not done. I like it better than the other one, but I’m not sure it needs to become a quilt. Maybe.

Sometimes I just draw and I don’t worry about the purpose of the drawing or the final product. It is enough to draw. I haven’t been drawing much lately. You need time to draw, and my time has been limited. That is one of the issues of doing all the hiking and social stuff…it takes away from my art time, from the actual space I need in my head to draw. I hate that. It’s a nasty balance. I don’t seem to be able to work it out right. I was better at it before, but that was a different me. She’s gone. This other me is a lot more needy.

I only camped for about 22 hours (yes, I counted). I had stuff I had to do yesterday, including groceries and getting the boychild a tux for prom. Yes, he’s going…with a group of friends, which is the best way to go anyway. So we stood around in a tux rental place yesterday and tried to get him to make decisions (amusing!). And I was uber-tired yesterday night after very little sleep two nights running, so I fell asleep while trying to grade tests (I am so far behind…) and finally gave up and went to sleep. No amount of caffeine was going to help. I slept over 9 hours last night, almost straight through, so that tells you how exhausted I was. Good thing I had today off. Today? Gotta be efficient. This week? Gotta be on top of my game. Whether or not I fit is irrelevant this week. I just have to get through.

So here’s the science teacher brain at work. One of my coworker’s daughters pointed out these bugs while we were setting up my tent (it required two people…it was a bizarre shape…kinda buglike, actually). There were some on the ground near the tent, and then she found them on the tree. These are the adults, I think, with the wings…

 

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Then these are the larva, no wings, look kinda like bees with the stripes.

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There were husks of the larva on the tree, attached to it, so like a cocoon, but not. The legs are still there. Like they stick to the tree for a while.

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Then as I was taking the tent down, I saw this one, probably newly emerged, because the wings aren’t entirely unfurled, and it still had a really pink, new-looking body.

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And this one, also on the tent, looked full grown.

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We were concerned that these were the gold-spotted oak borers that have attacked many of the trees up in the Cuyamacas, including in this park, but those are much smaller, and the larva are worms, not crawly beetle things. So I don’t know what they are. But it was interesting seeing all the stages around (most of them on my tent).

Anyway. Today? Not trying to fit. Just trying to cope. But see, I’m back with my kids in my house doing the stuff I need to do as a mom and teacher. So that’s not where I have the problems. I have issues when it’s just me on my own…and that’s going to get worse over the next two years as the kids go off to college, so that’s my goal…figure out my head before they both leave. Have a comfortable space where I feel like I fit, even if it’s just me by myself, and be OK with that. Be able to go out and do this more social stuff and come home and feel content, not empty and lost. It sucks to be in my late 40s and trying to figure all this stuff out yet again, but there’s nothing I can do about that except try to do a better job from here on out. Find my fit.