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.

To the Bat Caves!

Hello 2021. Nice to see you, all bright blue skies and sunny (well, here in San Diego, anyway). Probably should have started the new year without the hangover, but whatever. Shit happens. I also think the Man made me watch motocross videos, so that should never happen again. 2020 feels like it lasted forever and yet went by quickly. I didn’t finish as many quilts as I normally would have, because my job got harder and more time-consuming than it’s ever been (oh holy hell, if you think teachers aren’t working their asses off right now…maybe some aren’t, but everyone I know is). Normally, I get 6 exhibit-sized quilts done in a year…this year, I only got 4 done, and then 2 smaller ones.

It is what it is. It’s a new year now and I can make more. I have one that should be finished this month, and then I’ll work on some more. Hopefully the job will be easier this year. Ha! Well, it could be…we went back to our regular curriculum, which is a known entity and I don’t have to redo the world to use it…just some of the world, plus we actually have two months planned ahead at the moment. A miracle. I haven’t been planned more than a few days ahead since March 2020, when everything shut down.

The last prompt for the 31-day challenge was my 2021 sewing goals…I guess that’s it. More than in 2020. It’s a reasonable goal.

Continuing documentation of our trip, after we went to Salvation Mountain, we checked into our Airbnb in Bombay Beach, changed clothes, and headed to the Bat Caves! It’s a hike. No Batman involved. I think it’s the first time I’ve crossed a railroad on foot. This was in the Salton Sea Recreation Area.

A little frightening. Except you could see a train coming for miles, because the Salton Sea area is pretty damn flat.

There was no trail, really. There was the “trail” that we followed (and eventually ditched) on All Trails. Mostly there were washes…

And we walked in them until they got really deep and we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get out of them, and then we tried to walk on top and around them, and that was funny, because then we’d have to find ways around them, all while trying to follow this trail someone else had recorded on All Trails.

It’s OK. We found the caves eventually.

We never figured out how to get up on top of the ridge, and we didn’t see any bats, although we saw and smelled guano, plus evidence of people leaving their trash and carving up the rocks. Humans suck.

It wasn’t a super long hike.

Also off-road vehicles were around…

We are not fans. We are fans of nature, though, and there was plenty of that, if you like rocks and sand. Which we do. To get back to the car, we ignored the AllTrails map and headed for that tower you can see way out there in the middle.

We also avoided the washes this time. It’s not ideal, trampling over the landscape (which was mostly dirt, yes, but also some plants), but it worked.

When we got back to Bombay Beach, it was close to sunset, and we’d been told the beach was a nice place to go then, so we headed out. Here’s the front yard of where we were staying…

I read that someone called the art installations at Bombay Beach ‘trash porn’. It’s eclectic.

The beach has some installations…

The history of the Salton Sea is also interesting. It’s sort of an oops that never went away.

The birds really like it and apparently so do tilapia.

Apparently it’s not so good for humans. It used to be a resort of sorts, back in the 50s and 60s, and then there were environmental issues.

The guy whose Airbnb we stayed in is one of three people who set up an art biennale in 2016. Some of what we saw was remnants of previous biennale exhibitions.

Lots of people were walking around and driving around, looking at stuff, considering this place is in the middle of nowhere. More on that in a later post.

We eventually managed to cook food (propane was out, minor issue), and then the wifi was problematic, so we read and then I drew…

The place we were in has art (mostly nudes) all over the walls, and one was a woman holding a prickly cactus. That’s where this came from. We went to bed early (long day) and we knew we wanted to do a longer hike the next day, so the plan was to rest up. With no TV or internet, it seems we go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Interesting, that. More on the next day in later posts.

Wednesday night, I ironed for a little bit…

Got a leg and more landscape in there. We have the beginnings of a dry river bed being dug…

I think more of it might happen today. It’s been cold at night…this dog is very catlike.

Whereas the cat was busy cleaning herself…

Yesterday, I cooked lots of things, plus went on a walk…

Came back to the house and cooked a NYE dinner with the man…IDK how the cat gets into these positions…

We watched some TV and drank a little too much (it’s been a year, y’all…it’s been a year) and went to bed like normal people. I think the girlchild did the same in her part of the country…

Although she dressed up and I was in sweats…

I also stitched a little on this thing that I meant to do over the summer and then meant to do as a Christmas gift and obviously that didn’t happen, but I finally finished the edges of the fabric so they wouldn’t unravel to holy bits and started it. It’s been a million years since I’ve done any cross stitch…

Today, I’ve cooked some more things and will probably put the Xmas stuff away and decide where to put the Xmas tree (it needs to be planted out this year…it’s getting too big to lug around and bring indoors) and maybe even take a shower. Dinner is in the crockpot and will be ready later; I have some art things I’d like to do and maybe I’ll even do them. Or not. Hard to say. Maybe I’ll just read my book, because it’s due in 7 days and 4 people are waiting on it, so I should finish it before then.

Happy New Year, all…may it bring peace and hope or at least not be like 2020.

The Eye Twitch of 2020

I did NOT drop off the face of the earth. Seriously. Proof on Instagram. We walked a lot. Yes, we left the county. No, we didn’t talk to anyone or go in anywhere or do anything but buy gas. Pretty much. I was going bonkers. Now I am possibly less bonkers. Who knows?

But first, holy moley, I missed three days on the blog-a-day thing. Whoops. I did take my computer, but the wifi was horrendous. Well, it was horrible the first night and then improved, but by then, I was used to just sitting and drawing or reading or stitching, instead of being on the interwebz, and that was a good thing. So I flailed.

Monday the 28th, the topic was a skill I want to improve: Eh. If I think of something, I’ll tell you. You know how you improve? You do more of it. I do a lot of the things I like to do at the moment. I’m not sure I feel like I need to improve beyond the “Do More of It” stage. You do you, though…go for it! Improve yourselves! OK, so right now, I want to improve my arm and core strength…not really stitching related, but something I’m working on. Good?

Tuesday the 29th, the topic was My Latest Project: Well, it’s the one that’s still on the ironing board. Here’s where I last was on it on Sunday night, the last time I worked on it…

It’s still fussy as shit; half those leaves aren’t ironed down to anything, because there’s a leg that needs to go in there first. Maybe tonight.

Today’s topic, for December 30, is My First 2021 Project: Hang on, y’all…my first 2021 project is still my current project, because there’s no way in hell this thing will be done by tomorrow at midnight. So that was easy. After that? Well, I just entered a show and realized I need more quilts for shows and quickly, so probably I should get on that. I haven’t picked anything yet, though, because I have this crazy idea that I should finish the one I’m on before I pick (or even start) a new one. So I’m going to do that.

One more day…you’re gonna love the last topic. OK, probably not. Who knows? I’m not really very good at these, am I. Oh well.

Sunday night, I drew…in fact, I’ve drawn the last three nights, but am blowing the run tonight by not drawing. Oh well. My brain wandered. Odds are I will draw tomorrow night. It’s Drawing a Day…Mostly. Sort of. It goes along with the rest of 2020, wherein we try to do shit and sometimes succeed but sometimes just give up because it’s all too much and we have to give ourselves a break.

Speaking of, here was my break, my socially distanced, don’t even fucking come near me, break. Honestly, the original plan was a cabin in Julian or near Mount Laguna, but I didn’t want to be in a trailer park of tiny houses, and that’s what was left…so I headed for the Salton Sea. I can’t even tell you why, except that I’ve been trying to get the Man to go here with me for a good many years, and he’s always refused.

Right, you say, why the freak does an atheist want to go to Salvation Mountain? Because it’s weird and funky and bizarre, and that was the theme of this trip, for sure.

You know what? I thought it would be bigger.

I still liked it. I wish we could have climbed around on it, but apparently it’s being repaired.

Seriously, hand me some paint and I’ll go up and repair it myself…in fact, I’m trying to figure out how to really annoy my neighbors and add this to my front yard somehow, except the ones I really want to annoy are below me and will never see it. Oh well.

And Love IS Universal. Can’t argue with that. Here’s a video of Leonard Knight, the artist, taking you on a tour of the place.

I had a smile on my face the whole time, and usually, that’s not how I feel about religion.

Hmmm. Construction equipment in the name of God. Interesting.

There’s some interesting texture on the vehicles.

We could just walk around the outside of things, because, you know, COVID. I might be able to get the man to come back here some day, just because we couldn’t go to East Jesus, and there’s a garden there I wanted to see, but probably we’ll have to be on our way to or from somewhere else, and I might need to buy him some really nice beer or a steak for him to agree to it.

I enjoyed it.

But I’m possibly a little deranged at the moment from my job and being at home all the time, except home is work and work is home and the two are never separated any more. All the things they tell you NOT to do when you are trying to balance work and the rest of your life. 2020 is not the year of balance, and 2021 isn’t looking like it will be either.

The pro is that Salvation Mountain was on my bucket list and now I can cross it off. And build some adobe structure around my mailbox. I’ve actually been talking about that for years.

Leaving San Diego, we drove through rain and then snow, to Salvation Mountain. Makes sense.

We drove around Slab City a bit…I’m not and never will be an RVer, so it makes no sense to me, but it’s interesting to see how others live.

East Jesus claims an art vibe, but again, it was closed.

I drew Sunday night. I can’t explain it. I started with the right arm.

As we were getting ready to leave on Monday morning, the rain had started, and you know what that is in the pool of water in the driveway?

Pretty sure it’s a peregrine falcon. We’ve seen them a few times around here. It was just standing in the water. Not bathing, not drinking, just soaking its feet. Like you do.

I’ll continue tomorrow with more eclectic art and some hiking, because there were both those things in spades. I just can’t handle 196 photos in one post. Suffice it to say that we are back, looking forward to sleeping in a bed that doesn’t have a rooster a foot from our heads, and ready to quarantine our stay-at-home asses for another holy crap how many months? Yikes. I just realized this afternoon that tomorrow is the last day of 2020. Weird year, y’all, weird year. I’m not convinced that 2021 won’t bring its own version of weird to the table…in fact, I may not trust a year ever again. But for the rest of the evening, I’m going to attempt to iron shit together (fabric, really, not shit), suppress the feeling that I need to buy more fabric (I don’t; I have a lot of it), and hope that maybe the eye twitch of 2020 will stay gone for more than 24 hours…knock on wood.

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.

Maybe Some Eggnog…

Yoinks. I missed another day. Oh well. And it’s two topics I can actually write about! First is What I Listen to/Watch, presumably while working. So I watch things while I’m drawing, tracing, cutting, and ironing. I mostly bingewatch things if I can, and a huge variety of stuff, whatever I can find that’s interesting. I’m currently watching the 5th season of The Expanse and Peaky Blinders. But I just finished Bailey & Scott (or is it Scott & Bailey, can’t remember) and The Wilds…so you can see the range of stuff that pops up. I do prefer sci fi and detective stuff, especially the dark and mostly British stuff, but why limit yourself?

I listen to things when I’m doing the stitch-down and quilting, because I can’t watch and do that at the same time. Sometimes I listen to podcasts (This Podcast Will Kill You, the Quilting Arts podcast, and my daughter’s, Rideshare, when she’s not on hiatus), but in general, I space out on podcasts and stop listening, so I prefer music. Again, ALL the musics. Well, not country and not a lot of hip hop or rap, and very little classical. So everything else. I have a ton of music on iTunes still, and use Pandora for the ease of it all.

The question for today is easy: prewash or not? I’m allergic to every chemical under the sun, and that’s only gotten worse over the years. I often got rashes on my hands before I started washing my fabric…so now it’s the first thing I do when I get home with it: put it in the machine. If I’m smart and I remember, I put Retayne in with all the batiks, especially the dark colors I like for backgrounds, just because I’ve had so many run over the years. So yeah, wash that stuff.

What else? I started ironing the new quilt together on Monday night…

It doesn’t look like much because there’s about a hundred rocks in there. Because I don’t do things simply. I make one rock at a time. Here’s some of them…

I did more last night…

More rocks. And I’m missing two finger bones. If I don’t find them in the next box, I’ll cut two more.

Hey, how are the holiday preparations going for y’all? I think I’m stuck on 5 ornaments on the tree, lights up, a few holiday things around the house. I can’t be bothered. I worked the last two days, put in a chunk of hours in prep, and then yesterday, graded three assignments. I have two more for science, but five for art, plus warmups. I said I wanted them done by Christmas, so I don’t have much time left. It weighs on me otherwise. We are hiking tomorrow, though. We’ll see.

This was from yesterday’s walk with the kids and dogs, although I ditched them halfway through and went the long way home.

It was backwards to what I usually do. But over three miles, so it was something I needed. And then I drew after dinner…

Which might have been why I never made it to the blogpost.

There are only so many hours in the day. Tonight, I’m hoping to finish grading the science assignments and the art warmups, and then ironing of course. Maybe another drawing. Depends on how I feel. I have Pilates on Zoom, which should help. I have a headache and I’m tired. I just realized there are Santa Ana winds coming in…that’s probably the headache. I met outside today, socially distanced, with my school team. Miss being around them. I just never get to vent about work at home, or I vent and no one knows what I’m talking about, or they want to fix it and you can’t fix it.

Anyway. It was a nice break from what has been my reality. Trying to be safe and sane and healthy…there are so many conflicting messages in my brain. See people. Don’t see people. Whatever. Anyway. OK, gonna go grade now. Happy holidays to everyone…may there be lots of what you need and maybe some eggnog with it.

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.

It Needed a Chandelier…

Day 20: Proudest Achievement…still making art after so many years? Nah, I do that to keep me sane. Oh yeah, they probably mean with quilting…I used to think that once I got into Quilt National and Visions (two big art quilt shows), that would be it. And I’ve done both…I’ve been in Quilt National three times now (the latest to be 2021) and Visions once, and they are prestigious shows and fun to meet all the artists and be part of the group (well, you know me and groups…I do my best, but sometimes I need to introvert for a while). So then what? Because yes, it’s cool and awesome to hit a goal, but are you just gonna stop making? So then it was wanting a solo show, and I’ve managed that twice plus another 2-person show with a sculptor, which I thought was pretty cool. Give up? You’ve done it? Nah. Still making. What should my next goal be? I think I’ve admitted to myself that I’m just going to keep making and entering shows and getting offers for interviews and videos and putting my work in shows, more invitational stuff, which has been happening more, and I fully appreciate those things, because they aren’t things I tried for or asked for…they just happen because people think of my work for those things. So that’s awesome too.

I’m not that good at proud, really. I’m proud of my kids and my students. Proud of myself is more complicated. It’s not in my nature. I do know to say ‘thank you’ when people say nice things about my work, instead of downplaying it or making excuses. I know how hard I have worked over the years and how much of me has gone into my pieces. So thanks to those who acknowledge that and tell me they like my work. Appreciated.

I’m having a rough weekend. I’m tired and family stuff is all around. Stressful. Work is hard too, even with days off…I have too much grading to do and I just want it done. I’ll feel better when more of it is done, let’s put it that way.

Last night’s drawing with fire in fireplace and really difficult movie on the telly (Tenet…the man watched it twice, the second time with closed-captioning on, and even then, I’m not sure he got it all)…

I didn’t have the patience for a second try…straight up. Started with the hair and somehow ended up with a chandelier. It needed a chandelier. I can’t explain why.

I thought I’d have everything cut out in the current quilt last night, but no…I still have some to go…

I’m watching total escapist television (The Wilds on Amazon Prime), so tonight, I’ll draw, watch some episodes, cut some more pieces out, hopefully all of them, and then ideally tomorrow will be better. I have work tomorrow, lesson planning, actually AT school, if I see you, I will spray you down, because I’m in super-paranoid mode at this point. By the way, if you know someone has anxious tendencies, telling them to stop worrying is really useless. It makes us feel worse, actually, like we don’t have a right to be anxious or worried…and we usually do, but maybe not about what we’re voicing our concerns…those are maybe easier to say than what we’re really worried about. You can say “don’t worry about it until it happens,” but you know, I’ve been this way for a long time, and one part of my brain is constantly saying that while another part of my brain is worrying, and sometimes one part wins out over the other, and I have to try to sway it back. I do that when I feel supported and loved, and not when I feel chastised for natural feelings. More helpful? “I’m sorry you feel that way. Is there anything I can do to help?” There probably isn’t, but I feel better when you say it. So there.

Yeah. Rough weekend. Gonna go draw it out.

Stop Thinking for a While…

Hello vacation! Or break! Or NO ZOOM ZONE. Whatever you wanna call it, this teacher is on it for three weeks. Don’t get too excited. You should see my to-grade list for that time period…it’s massive. I’m hoping to bang through it quickly though. Although it includes 5 large art assignments. WTF was I thinking? Nothing. No, I was thinking that if they didn’t finish before break, they would throw them away, and no one would have them. So there we are. Anyway, wish me luck on that. I’d like to have everything planned for January (except art, because I need to wait for the other teacher to do some stuff) and graded by Christmas Eve. Could be impossible. We’ll see.

I’m stressed, I need sleep, I need to not be on Zoom a million hours a day. I need exercise and books and sewing and drawing and relaxing. We’re halfway through the longest school year I’ve ever experienced, and it will take everything I have in me to get through the next half. Sure, there’s a few 3-day weekends in there and 2 weeks of Spring Break, but mostly it’s a hellaciously long stretch of ugh. Meanwhile, my neighbors aren’t social distancing for shit, because they are young and apparently can’t get sick or die or get their relatives sick or anything. I don’t even know what to think about that. I think about every interaction I have, every time I leave the house, everything I do that is outside of here. And I’m paranoid as shit about it. Maybe it’s being high risk? Or just naturally paranoid? Anyway. They’re fucking nuts.

So the topic for today is “If I could sew with…”. Hmmm. Is this a person? If so, I want to sew with Queen Elizabeth. I know she learned how. And I’d like to talk to her and meet her dogs. And then I want to sew with Sue Spargo, just to see how her mind works; she’s incredibly creative. And then maybe the BadAssCrossStitch woman, Shannon, just because she sounds interesting and is trying to create community with stitching. Honestly, anyone who’s ever stitched the word “fuck” on fabric…I wanna have a big stitchalong with them. And then I’d like to stitch with about a million of the stitchers I follow on Instagram, because some of them have such interesting and different styles from what I do…I wanna watch them and try to do it that way and maybe just talk to them about birds and cats and pine needles. Or whatever.

Now the other way to look at this is “If I could sew with…” metal. Are we talking materials here? I have done a tiny bit of metal stitching, not the metallic thread, because that is always a pain in the ass, but the twisty stuff, damn, what’s it called, purl? AKA French bullion wire (because it looks like a bullion knot, but wire, not thread). I also have some metal mesh I always wanted to use. There isn’t much stopping me from using metal, but time and ideas…I got close when I stitched on window screen to make my COVID mask.

Not quite metal. Maybe just stitching with different things. Experiment more. In my spare time. Some day, I will have spare time that is not eaten up by grading 17 assignments in a week, and I will have more time to spend on experimentation. Or not.

It’s highly possible I should have looked at the list of blog topics before I signed up to do this. Speaking of, it’s the first day of Winter Break! I like to do a drawing a day over Winter Break. Shall I? Can I? Do I have the fortitude? I have the last two years. Hmmm. Gaming tonight…it’s possible to draw and game.

Meanwhile, I’ve been cutting tiny pieces out…I made it through all of the flesh last night…

I did a lot of it in a stitching meeting, totally exhausted.

Made it into the sky. I’m hoping to be done by Sunday so I can start ironing it together. We’ll see how it goes.

You gotta love your job a lot to answer an email like this…although the suggested answers are pretty valid.

I didn’t use one of them. I wanted to.

Remember back in November when we went up to 29 Palms to help construct that labyrinth? Well here’s a drone view of it…

Linda did an awesome job setting this up and building most of it. So cool.

Got some more artsy shit coming up over break too…mostly looking at other people’s art, but as artists, we need that connection to other people’s work.

But for now, find a sketchbook and a pen for drawing while gaming, plus probably need to see if I can grade a few things, and I need to find some supplies for these classes I’m taking in January, ironically need plastic bags, just the words off them, but I don’t have a lot of plastic because I don’t use it unless I really have to, plus some stabilizer I don’t use either. Maybe mom has some? Who knows. It feels a little lighter having no required work for three weeks…hopefully by the end of next week, it will be a lot lighter. Unlike the summer, I know mostly what the next 6 months of school look like…painful but doable. Summer was so stressful because we knew nothing at all. This is just stress that I know about.

OK. Find sketchbook. Stop thinking for a while.

Meditative Rocks

I’m glad I have Wonder Under meditation for this week. What is Wonder Under meditation? It’s when I get to trace 1185 pieces from my drawing onto Wonder Under…numbering each piece…and deciding what bits go under and adding an extra 1/8″ to that side. Last night, it was dirt and rocks. About a hundred rocks. What part goes under? This part. Or that part. Can I worry or even think about school when I’m doing that? I probably COULD, but I don’t. All I think about it “I’m drawing Piece 17. I’m drawing Piece 17. Piece 17 is under Piece 18. Add a sliver to go under. I’m drawing Piece 18. I’m drawing Piece 18.”

Can’t argue with that. I traced Pieces 1-178 last night. It was good.

See all the rocks? Yeah. Me too.

It was way better than when I couldn’t fall asleep. And then after I fell asleep, when I got woken up and then couldn’t fall asleep again. I mean, everything is better than that, right? Well, maybe not. Being sick is worse and so are other things. Not sleeping is pretty low on the pole, but I even tried to go to bed early (aka before midnight) so I could start the week in as well-rested a frame of mind as I could. Party fail. I try.

I am hanging in there. I am surviving. I just don’t like it and I get frustrated and even more overwhelmed and think about quitting and working in a nursery (plants, not children) or becoming a park ranger (it’s not the first time in my life I’ve considered that) or maybe just something totally brainless, but safe, because of my COVID risk. Sigh. And then I get out of this chair and walk into the living room, where my makeshift office is (I need a bookshelf for school shit in there) and I log in and start grading shit or posting shit or writing 5-paragraph essays of feedback to 6th graders about how to improve their stuffed animal drawings. Why do people assume that if you like to make art that you will enjoy teaching it? I don’t. I mean, it could be worse…it could be history or math or english. It’s not science. I might feel the same way about science in a different grade level. Who knows.

Nova hangs out on the drawing…

So after I finish tracing each night, I have to put the light table back together (top on, all the school stuff on it) so I can teach the next day. Actually, for science, I don’t need it as much…for art, I need it every day, but I only teach art three days a week. It’s a pain, but it’s a pain that’s worth it. Having the doc cam helps teach that subject, for sure.

OK. Well, Monday, hopefully the health training I have later today will not suck. It didn’t look particularly helpful from the part I already reviewed, so if that’s the case, I’ll duck out. I don’t have the brain power for that right now. Otherwise, I’m on Zoom all day…and then some. Tonight, though, tonight I get to do Wonder Under meditation again. After I clean the girlchild’s room…she’s coming home for a week to see the family. We’re hosing her down with bleach or shining UV light into her orifices or something like that. Next week is a holiday week. Totally need that.

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.