Looking Up…

April 15, 2017

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

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

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

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Because that’s what you do…

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

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

I did draw each night…well, minus one…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Water Pooling

April 10, 2017

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…

March 23, 2016

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…

May 26, 2014

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.