Really Hard Dirt

I meant to write this in the morning, before school, but I worked instead. I thought about writing it in the afternoon, but I had to deliver art supplies to students who can’t leave their homes. I got home after that and had a little time before gaming tonight, but instead of writing this, I talked to my mom about my dad coming home in the next few weeks, which is good news, but a little frightening as well. I’m going to go see him this weekend; I get to talk to him through a window. I could go now, but it’s close to midnight and if I know my dad, he’s asleep. Hopefully. I might go to bed before I ever finish writing this. I was up late last night and didn’t sleep well; I had a really low blood sugar drop, no reason that we could see, and it really messed up my nighttime routine. You know, sleep and all. It took a while to come back up, and then I woke up a few times at night to check it. It’s happened once before, about a year ago, and the phone nurse just keeps asking me if I’m sick and did I eat. Well yeah, I did eat and no, I’m not sick. So I just took my insulin tonight and I’m kinda watching the clock and giving it some time to make sure everything is OK tonight. Hopefully. Because I need the sleep. And I need some time this weekend to get some work done, because I didn’t get any done tonight, art or otherwise. Good thing it’s a 3-day weekend.

Wednesday night, I finished the stitchdown on the current quilt…

It took just under 5 hours to do that…not bad…

I wasn’t sure I’d get her sandwiched and pinbasted last night…it was a long day, and it meant mopping the floor first, but I pulled it off…

Sometimes I have energy and I do shit.

It’s not actually a huge quilt…just has a lot of pieces in it for its size. I should be able to start quilting this weekend; we’ll see how that goes, because Craft Napa started on Wednesday. I was able to hang out in the Welcome group for about 50 minutes, until I had to go to a union meeting. I spent most of Wednesday’s prep period, 5th period while kids were working, the Craft Napa meeting, and the union meeting sorting art supplies for my 72 online art students.

I actually had a fairly impressive stash of colored paper. Anyway, I delivered those envelopes Wednesday night around 8 PM, and then today, hand delivered a few of them. In general, I make them go get them from school. As always, some kid three weeks from now will tell me they didn’t even know about this and it’s not their fault they couldn’t do the project. Sigh. I put a lot of time into my classes. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I really don’t know how to half-ass it. Although I lost my mind on Wednesday when they pushed one of my classes to 40 kids. Apparently that is my line: 40 kids in a class. They fixed it (the kid really was supposed to go to another teacher), but I’m still annoyed with myself that my mindset for the 2nd half of the year went out the window in just three days. That said, they flipped about 5 kids from hybrid to distance and back, and then gave me three additional students, so I suspect my crazy was somewhat justified.

Anyway, I have one Craft Napa class on Sunday and another next Saturday, plus the wine tasting tomorrow night, although after the blood sugar thing last night, I’m cautious about that. No, I wasn’t drinking either last night…you sound like the nurse. No no no no no. I wasn’t doing any of those things. Sigh. Stupid body. I hate when you feel like you can’t trust your body. It sucks. Anyway, knock on wood that it was a one-off. Again. The second time.

I’m still chugging away on this…

I might find the pattern designer at some point and post it with this. I might. I’m using stash. One of the designers I follow was asking if people preferred kits or PDF patterns, and it’s not that I don’t like kits, they’re easy, but I have all the floss in the world (I say that, but I had to buy 3 skeins for this one because they were using all the new colors) and besides, I have a dog who eats patterns, and if it was a kit, I would have to buy another one to get the pattern, unless the designer was really nice (dude, I would totally send pictures), but with a PDF file, you can just print another one.

Kitten agrees.

No art tonight. No energy either. I do however have excited sourdough starter.

Can’t argue with that. I’m making sourdough focaccia tomorrow. Or Sunday. Hard to say. I never get the timing right.

I’m teaching radial zendoodles for warmup this week.

These are the practice ones, which all look like hydras. Really, I’m teaching kids how to fold carefully, because that seems to be the bigger issue.

We got this freebie cat tent when the kittens came over a year ago. Nova would sleep on it. Luna would kamikaze all over it, but this is the first time anyone (Kitten) has slept in it.

We planted the Christmas tree…Calli for size.

Of course, that makes me sad, because in a year, when I check the size again, odds are Calli won’t be around. But she’s cute. I don’t know why I say “we” planted the tree. I whacked the bottom with the shovel to break up the roots and helped shove dirt into the hole, but the boychild did the rest, including digging a hole in rock. Or really hard dirt. Maybe really hard dirt is just rock.

OK, I’m feeling OK. It’s 45 minutes since the insulin. I’m going to test my blood and crawl into bed, hopefully for better sleep than last night. Wish me luck. Then do some exercise this weekend, hang out with some quilt artists, do some schoolwork, quilt a little, see my dad through a window, and hope the body and brain feel better at the end of it.

May I…

Well, that came up quickly. I have 5 minutes to write this post. There’s no way I can do that. What happened to the morning already? Oh yeah, I did 5 work things before I sat down to write. Duh. I still don’t know what I’m doing for my art warmup today…should figure that out. My brain is all over the place. AND tired. Not a good combination.

In art news, I finished painting the 4th background…

Saturday night? Because that’s what you do.

Hopefully I will now start drawing on them, instead of being terrified to do anything to them. We’ll see how that goes.

I cut the pieces out for one of my Applique Stories women.

She seems surprised. Need to stitch all this down.

And I finally started stitchdown on the current quilt.

I only got 15 minutes in last night before I persuaded myself to go to bed. Hopefully more tonight.

Kitten is a great support.

Saturday afternoon’s 4-mile walk was full of people…

But mostly flat, and that was requested, so there we are.

Ugh. I’m so tired. It’s OK. I’ll figure my shit out. Hopefully. First day back to school in 2021. May it go well. May I figure out what the hell I’m doing.

It Probably Will Involve Celery…

This week has been interesting. I’m all over the map on what to worry about. Maybe better to not worry. Make something in fabric. Except I don’t have anything ready for my art classes, minor issue, keep waiting for info, but I don’t have any, so I guess we’re making sculpture out of celery and cilantro. It’ll be fine. FINE. I can’t concentrate on much either, so that’s helpful, brain, thanks so much.

I will panic more about school tomorrow. Really. It probably will involve celery.

The quilt is ironed together and I’m ready to stitch it down.

That will hopefully be an easy task. Who knows, though.

I’ve also been trying to finish the painted backgrounds, because I need to clear off the light table for teaching this week. I added the figure for this one.

Again, gonna be drawing on top of them later. Then for the biggest one, I did the figure first…

Shiny wet in the middle. And then started to paint the background.

I have to wait for parts of it to dry before I can paint the next bit.

I’m almost done with it. I’ll be drawing all over this one.

Still cross-stitching this…

I have other things I’ve been working on while watching bits and pieces of non-news TV. Really nice to not watch the news. I also finished a book…because that seemed important at the time…

I wanted to know what happened. Calli did too.

Cat play time…I knocked all the boxes over…

The cats enjoy words like “under” and “in”…

I’m thinking a box fort for the next 76 days (Spring Break). For me. Not the cats. I mean, they can stop by, but I really need the space.

Also this. As art. Because I don’t have enough going on.

It’s OK. It probably won’t happen. My life is about to go into overdrive again. Probably also I need help with the art planning for school. I’m not gonna get it, but I need it.

Today, I’m hoping to finish that one big background, and to start the stitchdown on this quilt. I’m in a quilt guild meeting online right now, so as soon as I finish this, I’ll probably cut some fabric out on the applique stories piece I’m working on right now. I’m tired, but we should walk today and maybe play a game tonight. I think. And tomorrow, I’ll panic about school. For realz.

My Country

Sigh. Well. You know, the Man and I picked yesterday to finish the fifth hike in the Coast to Crest Challenge (and finish it we did), and then were on our way home and got a call from my mom that my dad now has COVID (fuckin’ a, man…he cannot catch a break) and is quarantined in skilled nursing for two weeks, and then while I’m on the phone with my mom, the Man has the news on, and I’m like, WTF is that, WTF is happening? You can’t really pick a day (New Year’s) and say OK, everything after this day is gonna be good, this year is gonna be better, I mean you CAN do that, but it’s silly to think that the flip of a calendar month or pinning up a new calendar (I did that) is going to make the world make sense. There are a lot of people who need to answer for their behavior yesterday, and none of them are Antifa or BLM protestors, and if you think they are, GET THE FUCK OFF MY BLOG. Seriously. I don’t even want you to look at my art. I don’t want you in my personal space or even my public one.

Sigh. Wait a minute. I do want you here, because if you’re here, there’s some part of your brain that must think something sane, right? You can’t possibly look at my work or enjoy what I write without some sense of what should happen in the world. Yes, in real life, I seesaw from anger to empathy to concern to anxiety. I’m checking my meditation app for “political coup plus aging and ill parent with COVID plus only four days until I go back to school” and there is no course of meditations for that, dammit. There SHOULD be. I guess I’ll stick to anxiety (control what you can…wait…WTF…that is literally NOTHING right now) and sleep for meditation.

No, I changed my mind. Get the fuck off my website. Wait No. If we don’t talk, you’ll never see how your attitudes and beliefs are hurting other people, hurting yourself. I don’t think you’ll ever see that, but I have to hope you can.

I live in East County…the eastern portion of San Diego County, where unfortunately, some of the deplorables from yesterday hail from, like the woman who died. We have our proud boys and our KKK here; my UPS driver the other day was wearing an AK-47 T-shirt. I should have complained about that one. He was also missing an arm. Fuck me. The world is so hurt right now; I don’t know how to fix any of it, and here I am, making a quilt about childbirth. I was considering the next quilt for a show I heard about, back to how I, as a privileged white woman (I am educated, I went to good schools, I can pay my bills) can make anything important or legitimate about the existence of people of color…and I can’t. I can only make something that is a story…I don’t know what that story is or what it looks like. I keep running through imagery in my head, and it feels like it’s not my story to tell. But then it is my story…to talk to the white women who think it’s OK to support Trump, who think it’s OK to be racist, who think it’s OK to tell others they can’t tell their stories. That’s my job. And I don’t know how to do that, because I don’t understand those women. At all. Fear? Fear of change? I don’t know. And now we have this…this terrorist event.

Processing, y’all. Processing. I do it here on the blog. Sorry. Not sorry.

So here’s what we did yesterday…the Lusardi Creek loop of the Coast to Crest Challenge…there are tons of invasive wild artichoke plants on this hike.

It feels like you are hiking through an alien landscape.

It’s probably much nicer in Spring, but right now, mostly everything was dead and dry and weird looking.

This hike is probably really hot in the summer. It was pretty hot yesterday, and it wasn’t really hot. There’s a few climbs in here that might merit its ‘moderate to strenuous’ rating. Mostly it’s fire roads though, with some steep inclines.

We took the fire road straight where the map wanted us to turn. That might not have been the best choice, because we then had a hill from hell to trudge up, so on the way back, we went the ‘correct’ way, which still had hills…

It wasn’t the most fun hike I’ve been on, but I prefer the wooded hikes personally.

My partner in hiking was not having a good time, and honestly, I just go very zen on the trail. I mean, this is the trail, we’re hiking it, and it’s not doing anything TO us, so we’re just going to hike it until it’s done. I find you can do just about anything if that’s your attitude, except for some hills, so I hiked away from him for a while. Let him get his anger at the trail out in his own mind. I can’t listen to his complaints. Everyone has to figure out their own relationship to hard trails. I can’t deal with his, so we spread out.

All this while white supremacist terrorists were storming the US Capitol building. That’s the weird part. We’re out on this really quiet hike, hardly any people, in this big wide-open space surrounded by million-dollar homes and there’s a coup going on, an attack on my country.

That might be my next quilt. My place in this country. I’m not sure where it is. Shifting ground. Lack of communication. Can we require therapy for the whole country? I think we should consider it. Worried about my students. Hey, there’s a hawk nest up there.

A nest for your babies in the middle of electrical wires.

So that’s it. We did all five hikes, we get the stickers, we get the patches. Whoop whoop! IDK what we’re doing next. Maybe the previous year’s challenge…there are still patches left for that one, apparently.

Meanwhile, more work is happening on the dry river bed…we dug it out more, the boychild and I…

Spreading the dirt around a bit more. Then we covered it with landscape fabric…

Now I need to get gravel and then river rocks and then plants and somehow make it all look natural. Or not. I just don’t know. It’s such a strange thing to be working on while worrying about dad and the nation and school.

The bees are happily getting nectar from the agave flower spike I got this year. Fascinating stuff.

This from Tuesday night’s walk…

My legs have been like lead blocks lately. So tired. I’m giving them a break today, I think. I need exercise, but I also need rest. Rest with kitties…

Still fucking up on the counting on this…

I actually have more than that done. But then Calli ate the pattern this morning. I found it on my computer (this is why you buy PDFs and not actual patterns, y’all) and printed it again. This is what my brain can handle…make an X. Now make another one.

I did iron Tuesday night, got 100 pieces of the torso done…

And then last night, walk away from the television, shut down the social media apps, and iron the rest…

Easier to iron the heart and face separate and then put them where they belong.

Same with the eyes.

And then got the whole thing in the center of the quilt…

Now I just need to iron it down to the background and start the stitch down. Progress. It’s such a complicated piece.

These guys last night…asleep together…

The two old ladies. No coup on their minds. No insurrection, no terrorism, no confusion about why yesterday’s ‘protestors’ were treated differently than the BLM protestors. We know why (cough cough racist fucking country, stupid police, stupid politicians, who the fuck is in charge). There’s a lot of questions that need answers, a president who needs to be removed right now, some politicians who need to quit, a large number of people who need to be charged with sedition, and probably, in a little while, a quilt for me to draw. I don’t solve anything but the chaos in my own mind when I do that, but I guess that is one thing I can do.

It’s a Wash

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

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

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

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

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

And this was embedded in the floor…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not fancy. Quirky.

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

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

Down the road from there, is this wondrous beast…

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

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

I enjoy random metal and concrete sculpture personally…

And a good sense of humor…

And some good colorful grafitti…

The museum was not open, unfortunately…

And pigeons lived here…

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

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

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

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

Very 70s. That night’s drawing…

And morning chicken…

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

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

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

Nope. Wasn’t drinking. Promise.

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

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

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

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

Progress as of Friday…

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

Then Saturday, I kept going…

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

Great Horned Owl…

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

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

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

It was the boychild’s 25th birthday yesterday…

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

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

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

My eyes might be closed.

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

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

And on the others. I prepped four of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conquer All That Shit

Two weeks of Winter Break left, one assignment left to grade, 23 videos left to make (OK, probably more than that, but 23 that I know of…it’s OK; they’re short). A quilt I thought I’d finish in 2020, but won’t, no way. It’s OK; it’ll be the first in 2021. Expectations all year have been massively adjusted; that will continue. Our safe road trip now includes a Winter warning with snow etc. Hmm. Wasn’t expecting that, but we just need to drive through it to the other side. Should be OK. Additional stress I didn’t want or need. Whatever.

Blog Challenge almost over: I seem to have moved past the need to blog every day. For whatever reason, when I’m teaching physically on campus, it works, and it doesn’t work when I’m literally walking from this room into the other room. I can’t explain it. Welcome to my brain. People always want me to explain it, and I just can’t.

Yesterday’s topic: my favorite sewing foot. I can’t tell you how little I think about this. I use two feet on my machine, the regular one you do almost everything with and the open-toe bouncy foot for free-motion quilting.

I have a bunch of feet…

There’s even more underneath that, and I don’t use any of them. I don’t know what they even do. And I probably don’t care. I had a different free-motion quilting foot with the old machine that I liked better than this one, just because it was wider and transparent and I had better control, but I wasn’t patient enough to wait for one to ship to me and I got used to this one. I’m not that fussy, I guess.

Today’s topic is Techniques to Try. Again, there’s really nothing out there that I want to try that I haven’t? I’m not even sure where to start with that. I have some plans for doing some acrylic painting using paint pens? I keep planning to do it and never get around to it, but I’ve painted before and I draw a lot, so I don’t really think of it as a new technique. New Year’s is the time to think of these things, right? The few classes I take are more for the interaction with a different teacher/artist, listening to their way of doing things; I’m interested in their process more than I’m interested in learning their technique, I guess. I like to listen to people talk about how they make stuff.

Back to what we’ve been doing: we did a socially distanced Christmas dinner and present unwrapping. It was a little chilly, but really, it’s Southern California. We don’t have a lot to complain about with weather. My mom, considering something…

It’s been a rough month…my dad fell and is in skilled nursing right now, hopefully recovering well, but because of COVID, we can’t get all the info we want or need. Mom has taken the brunt of it. She’s a tough old lady, though…a little too tough, sometimes. We did FaceTime with dad…

Not sure what to say about that, except brain injuries are hard on everyone involved. Except Calli, the old lady dog. She was fine. And Simba…

Although he did seem overstimulated at one point…there was a lot of that going on…

Girlchild made an awesome dinner…

Plus dessert and appetizers.

Then back home for a relatively quiet evening…

Being watched by Kitten. Yes, I graded on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day. I just want it done, dammit. I am taking breaks.

This is right after Luna was shoving her face in that basket, exploring the threads hidden below the bag on top of it.

She’s a little irritated with my saying no.

I got a cool science teacher superhero from the Man for Christmas…

Handmade by a friend of his…

Someday she’ll go back to school with me. For now, she hangs out by the computer.

I did finally do some ironing on this last night…

Fussy little leaves and overlapping shit up there. It’s taking a long time.

I’ll get there eventually. Found one of the two missing finger bones. In the wrong bin. Oh well.

Tomorrow, we are leaving for a few nights away from the work/home place, safely not talking to anyone or interacting with anything but nature and a very clean Airbnb. I’m going a little crazy being stuck here every day all day. You might have noticed. Being here makes me think of everything that needs doing, and then I flail and can’t get any of it done. Typical holiday behavior, somehow worse this year. We’ll do some exploring outside and hiking and quiet time with no TV and no house/yard that need a million things and no school workstation staring me in the face. Read a little, draw a little, find some peace. And then come back and conquer all that shit. Maybe. At least some of it.

Happy and Healthy and Safe to All…

Happy Holidays all! If Christmas is your thang, that too. Hope it is all happy and healthy and safe. It’s quiet and weird this year, but relatively safe. We are just doing one shorter gathering outside later today to do all the food and presents, and our other gathering was on Zoom last night.

I missed the prompt for yesterday, so again, I’m pushing two into a day. The State of My Work Table. Um. I don’t have just one work table…in fact, I don’t really have anything I consider a work table? I use the light table for some of the art process, although it’s currently being used for school as well. I sit on the couch for some parts, the drawing and cutting. I sit at a sewing machine that is on a desk used for other things as well. I have a rolling table I use for some other parts of the process…you can see that here with the ironing board and the sewing desk.

Everything is kind of jimmy-rigged together, no fancy work table or setup. I’d say I’m obviously doing it wrong, but it works for me. Sure, I’d love a giant sewing room with a big table in the middle, but that’s not in the cards right now. I have what I have and I make it work. I have to clean up between each project because otherwise there isn’t room to do the next one. That’s probably a good thing. If I had more space (this is an 8×10′ room and the computer is in here too), I’d fill it and have to clean a larger space. It works.

Today’s prompt is Show Us Your Scraps. Um. Again. I don’t separate my fabric by size of piece…color is a much more useful separation for me. So they’re all in bins of different sizes…

And the smaller bits are shoved in there too, as you can see in the bottom right corner…

If I need black and white, odds are I don’t need a huge piece, so this is what I pull from. Most of what I do doesn’t use huge pieces.

Christmas Eve Eve was spent watching bad television with the girlchild while grading science. She managed to decorate some cookies in between drama on the TV…

Simba worked hard…

Oh yeah. Wish I were that dog.

I took pictures of my pitiful tree…I managed 5 ornaments this year and that was it. Oh well.

It was a good thing I took that picture, because when we got back from our hike, all the presents were gone to the ex’s house, where Xmas will happen. Outside. On a deck. In the sun.

The man and I decided to spend Xmas Eve on the 4th hike of the Coast 2 Crest Challenge, San Pasqual Valley to Raptor Ridge.

It claims to be 5 miles. It’s not. It was 4.4 miles.

The first part is very flat and runs next to the road and then wanders off across probably old fields. I don’t think these are native. They were planted in very straight rows. But they’re pretty.

We didn’t see many people on the trail. Or the Not a Trail.

It’s an easy hike even with the short bit of UP to get you out of the valley.

It would be really hot on a summer’s day.

Very little shade. So interestingly, a few years back (wait…searches blog…February 2014, to be specific), I hiked from the other direction, near the mall in Escondido, past Mule Hill, out to this tree. Yes, this tree. I remember it. It was an 11.8-mile hike that day…much longer than today’s.

So it was interesting to link up to that hike 6 1/2 years later.

A view of the valley that looks similar to one I took that day. We took the required selfie (we get a patch when we finish all five)…

It was cloudy and gloomy, but still a little warm. Started to rain when we got back to the car…

It might be prettier in Spring…wildlife!

He kept poking his head out to see if we’d left. We hadn’t.

We came back and I read for a bit, then Zoomed with the man’s family for Christmas Eve, then graded while watching a movie by the fire. The sky was impressive.

Yes, I graded on Christmas Eve. Y’all, I just want it done and out of my hair. I don’t want it hanging over me. And I don’t want to deal with it in January, which often happens.

Sleepy Kitten.

All the cats were pretty chill, because the dogs were with the kids at their dad’s house. Until a moth showed up.

And then there was excitement all around…

Christmas presents for cats are so easy…just find them a bug.

Eventually the man caught the moth and we released it outside, but sure, Luna had her paw on it twice and then fumbled it. So much excitement.

Oh yeah, I drew after I finished grading.

I finished science anyway. Still have 5 large art assignments. Honestly, yes, on Christmas Day, I am going to try to bang through one of those. I NEED THEM DONE. But here’s last night’s drawing for you.

And no, I haven’t been able to work on the current quilt for the last two nights…too much other stuff going on. But later today, the family will meet and social distance and eat and gift. And then tomorrow, the girlchild wings back to Boston and another COVID test and quarantine, while we keep on keeping on here. Yeah, having her home was a bit of a risk, but the family health issues have had her and the rest of us pretty worried and anxious, so hopefully this will help. Hope your holidays are whatever you need them to be. I guess mine need to be quiet yet productive and apparently full of sugar. Could be worse. It’s a beautiful day and I don’t have to Zoom. Oh wait, I’ll be FaceTiming later, won’t I? Ah well.

Buy Art…

Someone asked me to post the pieces that got into Quilt National and Visions over the years.

2013 Quilt National: Spread Out on the Pavement

2017 Quilt National: Beyond the Concrete

2021 Quilt National (yes, it appears to be every four years…creepy, huh?): Fire and Water

And Visions 2012: Sediment

I enter both shows every time, if that helps you at all. Lots of rejections over the years. One year, the Visions reject made it into Quilt National; another year, vice versa. It’s all OK.

So today’s topic is Top 5 Gift Ideas. Y’all…go buy art. Small business art. They don’t have to be quilters…they can be printers or ceramicists or painters. Buy small if you have to. Commit to one piece of art a year, if you can. I buy one SAQA auction piece a year. It’s my donation, plus I’ve gotten small art by artists I really enjoy, some I knew of before the auction and some I didn’t. Buy prints if you can’t afford the art, or even cards. Send them to everyone you know. So many small businesses, especially in the arts, are struggling right now. I wish I could do more, but I try to buy some every year. This year, two of my family members are getting original art from people I know. It can be a knitted sweater or an embroidered landscape, or a drawing, a bowl, a mug, jewelry, whatever. Just buy art. This pandemic has been devastating to so many people. I know as an artist that so many depend on classes and conferences and show venues, and so much of that has dried up. Sign up for a class, if you don’t want to buy art. Find ways to put your money, even if it’s a small amount, in the hands of an artist.

I worked with my co-teacher today for four hours, masked, in a room, away from each other, with the door open.

We got January planned, although then I came home and spent like 3 hours making digital versions of stuff so my kids could do the same stuff as the kids in a physical classroom. I’m still ahead, though…further ahead than I’ve been all year. I’ve always been starting to plan on Thursday for the following week, usually finishing Sunday night. I need that to chill out a bit. I need to be a little ahead of the game. Tomorrow, we’re doing it again, trying to get February planned. At least the pieces will be in place. Details to follow. I need to make a bunch of videos.

Last night, I stayed up too late, but I finished trimming all the pieces.

That’s almost 16 hours of cutting in the last week. Tonight, I sorted them…

Took me about an hour and a half.

I can start ironing tonight. I won’t get much done; it’s already late, but I can start.

Last night, I drew…

Tonight, I did not. There’s a lot of stressful stuff going on. I’m not forcing myself to draw if I don’t have the mental space. I know there’s a place for that kind of thing; making myself draw when I’m not in the mood makes my brain be more creative, solve problems, but there’s a need for self-care at the moment. So I’m just going with it. I can draw tomorrow night if I want. There is absolutely no point in beating myself up about what I can and can’t handle at the moment.

Be like a cat.

Sleep well.

OK, well it’s already past 10 and I need to be up sort of early for lesson planning. Hopefully the rest of the day will let me get some grading done and get a walk in. Tonight, I’ll iron a bit and get my ass in bed earlier than last night. And hopefully I’ll sleep.

Some Things Never Change

Welp. I finally missed a day. I meant to write last night, but I was so dang exhausted. I know I came in here to do it, but then IDK what happened. Plus I thought I was supposed to write about today’s topic, which I didn’t want to write about. So now I’m doing two in a day. I HAVE FAILED. Nah, it’s OK. Shit happens. Have you seen 2020? Case in point.

So yesterday was actually a good topic, Why do I sew? Well, I started because presumably my mom thought I should learn or she was doing it and I saw it and I wanted to learn. I don’t remember. I was young. So I learned how…so did a lot of my generation, and then the vast majority of them finished Home Ec and never looked at a sewing machine or a needle again.

I never stopped. I sewed stuff for art in college, I sewed stuff for the house in my 20s and 30s and less so in my 40s, and I started quilting at 23. And never stopped. Something about fabric calls to me. I started making art as a printmaker…I probably would have stuck with ceramics too if I’d had more access to equipment and people…but once I started seeing quilting as an art form, better yet, a portable, easy-to-drop-and-then-pick-back-up art form, then that was it. The tactile qualities of fabric, the design and pattern, the hand-dying, the stitching, having it in your hands, the 3D nature of a quilt on the wall. I was hooked.

Now today’s topic is the one I was avoiding, my favorite ‘sewlebrity.’ UGH. So a stitcher who’s famous? I’ve taken many classes from people who are famous in their own right…some were fascinating to learn from, some not so much. Is there someone I always watch or listen to or look for their Insta? Not really. There are LOTS of them: people who talk about their process, who keep making, who find a way to challenge what they’ve been doing. I know the purpose is to give you a name so you can check them out…eh…there’s a bunch in the blog roll on here (which I need to go check and cull this year…it’s been a while). I follow another million or so on Instagram…pictures seems to be the thing now. There are people I admire, not for their sewing prowess, but for their ability to get things done and PIVOT…hate that word: Pokey Bolton, making Craft Napa grow in a pandemic; Luana Rubin for advocating against climate change, for using her company to support art quilters and awesome causes; Carolyn Mazloomi for backing beautiful exhibits that showcase issues for BIPOC and BIPOC quilters. There are more, but it’s early and the tea hasn’t kicked in.

Keep your eyes and ears open. There are people out there using fabric and the quilt world to make some positive things happen.

Meanwhile, I’m slogging through my day job. Yesterday was exhausting, for me, but probably for the kids as well. They want to give up because it’s almost Winter Break, and so do I, but we can’t. I’m grading as fast as I can, so I don’t have a ton to do over break, but there’s no way to avoid some of it. Plus trying to get the kids through the last part of a project…some get the concepts and some are just so far away from them that I don’t know how to help them. Some just want the answers, and I want them to work for them. As always.

I started cutting stuff out for the newest quilt on Tuesday night…

Lots of tiny rocks in that box…it’s been cold, so we have had lots of animals on the couch with us…

Kitten tried to push that box off the couch at some point. And here’s last night’s cut…considerably less time. I had Zoom Pilates and Zoom book club and hit major exhaustion right after.

I did a very slow hour. That’s all flesh I’m cutting now. Kitten looks cranky…

Like she’s about to whack me. Because she is.

I did this…

One quilt is in there four times. She took a long time to make. Anyway. Thursday. Ugh. Long. Too much of you. We will get through. I tried to go to bed early last night and then ended up making plans to travel without seeing or talking to anyone except for the man, just for two nights outta here, because I’m going bonkers. Hiking and walking and just sitting around talking to a rooster. It’ll be fine. For now, I have a staff meeting, I’ve got to teach science and two levels of art today, and hopefully wake up a bit more. Then plan some science, meet with other sewists (better than sewers, y’all), and cut some more stuff out. Collapse in bed. Do it again tomorrow, minus some of it, with added Zooms. It will be nice NOT to Zoom for a few weeks. NOT to get up and walk to a computer and stare at three screens and try to type and get my internet to behave and answer a million questions in the chat and chase kids down for not doing any work and deal with 17 million emails. Really. It will. This year is different, but some things never change. Teachers need breaks. So do kids.

I Don’t Mind It…

Friday. Finally. I was surprised by my team today. They showed up here at my house (masked and social distanced) with wine and a poinsettia and a calendar of Fuckery (seriously…I’m going to love this desk calendar all year because distance learning will be forever, right?). I appreciate them coming over and sitting on my freezing cold deck in the dark on a Friday. The lack of connection to school is difficult. Really difficult. Even for an introvert.

Today’s blog challenge is ‘most impactful class’. Well, there’s the classes you like and the ones where you walk away and think, I’ll never do THAT again, or That teacher may be an amazing artist (she was), but she’s not a teacher (she wasn’t). I do think of three teachers who guided (pushed and shoved?) me in the direction I eventually ended up wandering off into.

The first was Susan, my original quilt teacher. She can be bossy about doing things “right”, but incredibly creative and supportive when you ignore her advice and do your own shit. I learned most of the basic quiltmaking stuff from her and then took classes from a ton of art quilters to get where I’m at today. Without her groundwork, though, I wouldn’t be able to make what I want.

Early on, I took a class from Joan Colvin. I don’t even remember if she provided pictures to start from. If she did, I didn’t use one. I didn’t even have a drawing. I just made shit up out of my head. But she would walk by my table and make minor suggestions and answer questions, giving me ideas of how to do things in ways I’d never thought of. Probably there’s a bunch of teachers who could have helped me in that way, but she was the first one. At the end of class, she was talking about class samples in quilt shows, and how you had to admit you’d started something in a class, but then she walked up to me and said, “You don’t have to admit you started that in my class. You did that without me.” It wasn’t entirely true, because I hadn’t considered how to make quilts without piecing or hand applique at that point, and how she did it was a significant change in my creation process. I do sometimes work that way now, but mostly not…it’s more the idea of having the fabric do the work of making the image without worrying as much about the process of attachment.

Here’s the Joan Colvin class quilt, A Study in Flesh (1999)…

The other early class was Laura Wasilowski…and again, I’m pretty sure she had patterns available, and in Nida fashion, I just started cutting out a naked woman and made the quilt. This is Fallen (2004).

She was actually started much earlier than the finish date…it took me a while to decide to turn her into a quilt. There are so many things wrong with the piece, but a lot of things are pretty good.

Eventually I took what I learned from all three teachers and turned it into what I do today. I honestly don’t take a lot of classes any more (although I’m doing a few at Craft Napa this year, just for fun). Summer 2019 I took a class in embroidery on paper. I think that was the last one. I don’t have much time outside of work right now, and I’d rather spend it making a new piece.

I think the most impactful class is the one that teaches you techniques or general ideas that push you off a cliff into making your own stuff. I do realize not everyone wants to do that though. I don’t mind it.

Last night, I got some bits in the sky ironed down…

I’m in the tail end of the 700s. Getting there. About to start ironing flesh.

This quilt seems to have a lot of colors in it. I don’t think I’ll get done this weekend. I have a long hike planned for tomorrow and grades are due Tuesday, plus I haven’t even gotten halfway through planning for next week. I worked until almost 11 PM, I think. Shit, it’s almost midnight. Sigh.

What I was doing with 6th grade art…

Should be interesting. They’re engaged in it anyway.

Advanced art is almost done with their self portraits. So much weird stuff I’ve done this year.

We’re almost at the halfway point.

Kitten curled up next to me as I tried to figure out how this stupid curriculum works.

I’m so tired these days. Anyway. I might iron one thing down, just to say I did, and then collapse into bed.