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.

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.

Favorite

Maybe it’s the word ‘favorite’ that bugs me. I’m not such a black and white person. The topic for Day 12 is Favorite Color. When? Today? Right now? Purple. Tomorrow morning, when I’m barely awake? Maybe teal or turquoise. Tonight I’m supposed to start ironing the figure in my quilt, so probably heading into the flesh terrain…so those are the pink boxes, which for me are one of the largest parts of my stash…not because I love pink (I don’t), but because I stash all the flesh tones in there, unless they are hiding in brown or purple…which some of them are. For backgrounds? I love a seriously dark blue…not black, which is my favorite (not)color to wear. And draw with. I love using really bright colors in my work, in my quilts, not on my body. But I appreciate a toned-down palette for when that’s what’s needed. So ‘favorite’. Not a thing. All of them. Wait until tomorrow…I’m supposed to talk about ‘least favorite.’ I think because I make figurative quilts, quilts that tell a story, that all the colors are important and useful. I don’t think of one being more or less useful than the others. They all have their place and I don’t dislike any one.

It’s different if I’m wearing them. Then it’s a different story, right? But every color has its place in the palette.

I ran that year of color thing on my Instagram for 2020 (a weird year, yes, but I still post on Insta almost every day)…

They analyze the colors in your photos by how much they appear. Interesting. So many flesh tones and blues.

I barely ironed last night. I worked and gamed and worked some more. I ironed a rocket ship and I think that’s it.

Oh, I laid out all the 800s. Flesh, baby.

This next section is a big commitment, with all the body parts in there. And it’s already almost 10:30 PM.

We hiked this morning, Boden Canyon, the third hike we’ve done in the Coast to Crest Challenge…

It was pretty; fall colors everywhere.

It’s probably pretty hot in summer, but I was freezing at the start.

It started down in the canyon and then climbed out a bit.

The whole Boden Canyon loop is over 14 miles with 2000-foot gain, which we did not do, although we did do 6.7 miles.

Came home, ate, exhausted, then graded for 5 hours, but got progress reports done. Woo hoo! A miracle.

Now I’m trying to wake up enough to start picking flesh fabrics. The man is working on his Santa disguise.

It was a nice hike, mostly flat for the bit we did.

I’m really not sure how this gate is supposed to work.

Intriguing construction. Anyway. Go outside. Do the nature thing. It’s good for you.

Me? I’m going to try to iron for a bit and then collapse into a death-like sleep. Then tomorrow, I’ll try to figure out what my least favorite color is, in between grocery shopping and trying to finish planning for the week. It’ll be good.

Put That on the Calendar…

Whoa Nellie. Or is it Nelly? I hate how vacation weeks go so fast. Tuesday is almost over. I’m close to the halfway point, where I officially start to panic that I have nothing done. I may already be panicking. I may have never stopped panicking. Hard to say. I know I did no schoolwork until Sunday night. I know! Almost 48 hours without schoolwork! It was amazing. Not really. There’s been other stressful things going on that sucked up my brain and spat it out. But Sunday night, I realized I needed to get my act in gear in order to reach my goal of having everything that is possible to be done…DONE…by the time we start school again on the 30th. So I started grading. I did two assignments Sunday night, then three yesterday. I’m a third of the way through number 6 today so far, and when I’m done writing this, I’ll go finish that one. It’s one of the hard, thinky ones. I have one more of those to do for three classes, and then two hard, thinky, ARTY ones (this does not make it easier, let me tell you, I hate grading art assignments, IDK whether I’m being mean or too easy or WTF is going on) after that. Then some minor stuff and 17 thousand late assignments handed in by kids because I emailed their parents and told them they’d done NOTHING for weeks (my own fault. I should have kept my mouth shut and let them live with it, but no, I was a responsible teacher and tattled on them). Those will hurt. But OK. I’ll do it. Then planning is almost done for science for next week and (shhh, don’t tell anyone) not even started for art. Fuck me. I need an assist on that one. IT’S OK. I’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

So there we are. I’m working. My day job. That I currently am on vacation from. (From which that I am currently on vacation. Or something.) I have no choice. This is how we roll, 2020 school year, with a Fuck You here and a Fuck That there.

I have been dealing with Wonder Under. Sunday night, I finished tracing Wonder Under…

So technically, I think that’s 5 1/2 yards of Wonder Under. From what I can see. It took almost 17 hours to trace all that.

I was kinda slow. Oh well. Then I started cutting it out on Sunday night as well…

Kitten does not help. She just gets irritated that the boxes are in her way. Calli also does not help.

She wanted to be on the couch. Sometimes I let her, but Kitten was already there, so it just wasn’t going to go well. Monday night, she was on the other side.

I’ve only cut out a yard and a half, I think.

It doesn’t look like much.

More tonight. And the next night. And probably a few more nights. I need to clean the office/studio too, so when I’m ready to iron, I can. Because if I wait and try to do that once school is back in session, it won’t happen as quickly as I need it to.

The man and I are doing the Coast to Crest Challenge for 2020…we were going to do one of the longer hikes today, but we both needed to be in cell-phone range, so we chose the Lake Hodges section instead.

Neither of us had ever been here.

In general, this piece of the trail is pretty easy.

It would be really hot in summer though. There’s the dam…

And there were a lot of mountain bikers, which is annoying.

We only hiked about 4.5 miles…not bad for a Tuesday morning. Here’s the official photo so we can get the patch at the end of all this.

The man tested out his new hiking shirt. We both need better hiking hats. There was a cool telescope thing at the end. (Note, point it at the big yellow letters in the surrounding landscape.)

Not the most exciting hike in the world, but it was nice to be by water and see all the birds.

Three more to go. We will probably try to do another one on Friday? Maybe? Not sure.

Lots of work to do. School. Art: gonna finish trimming Wonder Under. Got some Thanksgiving cooking to do. Some yardwork. Housework. Cleaning. Fun stuff. I would like to do some drawing? I’ve got a few in my head. Put that on the calendar.

The Snarling Beast

Hey Sunday. I have a shitload of work to do today for the day job. I can’t get my head around it yet though. I did none of it yesterday. I try to do that one day a week. Not work. It’s about all I CAN do. It means Sundays seem overwhelming for work because there’s so freakin’ much planning to do for the week. I got a chunk done Friday night after gaming, but nowhere near all of it. First we need to grocery shop and pet food shop and I don’t remember what else. A nice friend is picking up my quilts from the show that’s closing, so I don’t have to lose 90 minutes to that trip today. So nice. So appreciated.

I lost my mind on Friday. School became a snarling beast and I did not deal well. I’m still irritated by all of it, the presumption of the district that teachers are available outside of contract hours for mandatory trainings. Oh but we PAY you! I don’t fucking care. It’s a whopping $35. I’d rather have the daylight time to exercise or just NOT stare at a computer for some period of time. But no. Plus both my aides called out on Friday, so the one science class I had was an absolute clusterfuck where I could help no one. So frustrating. There are days when if they were both gone, I could still do what I was going to do…this was not one of them. I mean, we did it, but it was not effective. At all. Just frustrating. Plus some other similarly frustrating stuff. That’s when I know I’m at the overwhelmed end of the stress spectrum. I just wanted to unplug everything and make a pillow fort. I cried all through lunch and then my 6th graders helped me find some presence of mind to teach. And the planning I’d done the Sunday before helped. There’s little to no support for teachers right now, y’all, and those of us who aren’t in school don’t even really get the mental support of teachers around you. It’s a Survivor Island situation that I apparently don’t do well with. My left eye has been twitching on and off for over a week. I don’t usually get eye twitch until almost Spring Break, often not until May. Not a good sign.

Luckily, there is just this week and then I have a week off. And then three weeks, with three weeks off. And please don’t make me think of anything beyond then because I might cry again.

I met with my former team, hopefully to be my team again someday, after work on Friday for socially distanced drinks. It helped. Maybe. Talking to humans helps. I don’t do enough of it. Zooming with students doesn’t count. Staff meetings and parent-teacher conferences don’t count. Sigh.

Friday night, we gamed and I graded through it. I worked on school stuff until after 10 PM, and then pulled the drawing out again.

I added more details in the ground area before succumbing to sleep. I had some Luna love first…

While working, of course. This was during gaming. She’s a sweetie. I’ve needed lots of kitty love in the last few days.

I had to get up earlier than I wanted on Saturday to go hiking. The man has a plan. He wants to do all 5 hikes of the Coast to Crest Challenge. So the plan was to do two on Saturday (um, so I was betting we would only do one…I was right.). This is the West Vista Loop of the Santa Ysabel Preserve.

It’s 4.4 miles. I actually did this hike in July with two friends, except we did the long version, starting at the Nature Center and going up behind it, then catching the loop, coming down, and picking up a trail that takes you back to the Nature Center. That one is 5.6 miles, and I’d recommend it over the climb that starts this lollipop loop version. I’m not a fan of straight up fire roads, and that’s how this starts and ends.

It’s still flat…mostly…here.

There are great views of the valley…

There were some clumps of other people out on the trail…

But mostly it was people free.

When we were done with the all up, it was nice to be out and hiking around. By then, my legs had stopped pretending to be jello. I’m just tired these days.

We took the official photo so we can get the patch and whatever else they give us. The man is better at smiling than I am.

Plenty of beautiful trees and rocks to be seen. Plus cows.

We did get a late start, though, and the thought of doing another 6.6 miles was not something the Man was ready to do (it’s OK…we have plenty of days on which to hike). So that’ll be the next one.

We stopped and got a frozen pie as my reward (there are few things that will get me through the next four weeks of school. Pie is one of them.) and then stopped for a burger and a drink outside at our regular stopping place.

I took a nap after all that. I was just exhausted by not sleeping at night during the week and last weekend’s short sleeps. And then I didn’t eat dinner. But I got up and finished the drawing by obsessively adding things all over the place.

It was making me happy to do that.

And since it’s my art, I get to do what I want.

Unlike the rest of my life right now.

Where I have no control. Yes, I dropped a COVID virion in there. Hid it in the ground. Can’t completely ignore that shit. I did tell a man “Fuck You” nice and loud in the pie place because he wouldn’t back off 6 feet, and told me to “just turn around” when I asked him to move back, so I called him a dumbass and told him that’s why we were in Purple Tier now (further lockdown as of yesterday). His girlfriend/wife/female companion was embarrassed and was whispering at him to be quiet. Fucking idiots in my country.

I’ve managed 8 hours of artmaking in the last 7 days, mostly in the last three days, I think. The previous week? One hour. Same with the week before it. Fuck me. It took 6 hours and 15 minutes to do the full-size drawing of this. The original drawing was another 2 or 3 hours last weekend, that I didn’t track. I started the numbering, assuming I’d go over 1000 pieces.

I’m OK with that. Give me something I can do after school and lose my head in, and maybe school won’t hurt my head so badly.

I do not like my job at the moment. The periods when I’m working with kids more one on one or small group…those are fine, good even sometimes. The rest of it…I don’t like teaching like this, direct instruction, can’t see what they’re doing, feel like I’m useless most of the time, can’t ever catch up, district keeps asking for more, I have admin who don’t answer emails, I have almost zero connection to school and what’s going on there, and my current team is dead silent.

So I have this. Tracing Wonder Under next.

After that, I cuddled two cats on the couch…

And watched some bad TV.

This guy got the cats up and off the couch, so that’s when I went to bed.

I was up early this morning and reserved a campsite in Yosemite for my Spring Break. I don’t even know if anyone will be around to go with me, since the Man is hiking the PCT if it’s open. But I need to have something to look forward to. I went back to sleep after reserving it. I needed to sleep.

Today. Groceries. Work work work. Hopefully trace onto Wonder Under tonight. Survive this fucking stupid week. Take a week off. Sleep in. Hike. Do art. (I will have to grade shit and plan shit, but at least it won’t all be in one freakin’ day.) Survive to the next weekend. My work mind is not OK. But it will get it done, whatever IT is. I need a job. I need the money. I can’t retire yet. I’m lucky to have a job. I don’t have to like it to do it. Hopefully this week, I will do it better than last week.