Off the Grid…Sort of…

It’s hard to get totally off the grid, but certainly hanging out in places where cell service is random (4G in the bathroom, but only at 2 PM on a Thursday for 14 seconds) and wifi is nonexistent helps. We got back from our whirlwind trip yesterday, completely exhausted. We only did about 26 miles in 4 days of hiking, with two days more strenuous than the others, but elevation whomped us a bit as well, plus unexpected heat. 75 degrees F at 4000 feet is hotter than it is at 400 feet above sea level. That’s my excuse anyway. Plus not enough sleep, ever. Camping plus camp noises (I listened to a tree branch groan for at least an hour one night) plus AirBnb noises (that peacock chorus one night…). I wouldn’t trade the experiences out, but it does lead to general exhaustion…a different kind of tired than what school does to me, but tired. I am still tired. I could have slept in this morning, but I mis-set my alarm too early and then my to-do list entered my brain and that was the end of it. So I was up. Not fully functional, but up.

So last Tuesday night found us in a hotel room in Fresno with a massive Jacuzzi tub that I could have used every night AFTER that (my dream is a Jacuzzi, but it will probably never coalesce into reality), and as always seems to happen, one of the Jurassic Park movies was on, so we watched and I drew.

To bed earlyish…driving is exhausting, isn’t it? Then the next morning, up and out for the Yosemite experience.

I grew up in the Sacramento area, and my parents must have driven around rolling hills with oak trees a lot, because it’s a landscape my brain really responds to, so we stopped on the way up for one photo…

The flowers were starting to pop and everything was that bright spring green that doesn’t last in California.

The first view of Yosemite National Park…it never fails to bring tears to my eyes, when we get the first view of WHY this is a national park and not just some local thing.

I guess it’s why we keep going to all of them, eh?

Definitely worth it. I haven’t been here since high school, I think, when they brought us all in and sent us off in groups. My group hiked/backpacked a short distance (?) up into freezing coldness. Susie Cranston and I zipped our sleeping bags together and invited some dog (an actual dog, y’all) into the bag for warmth.

So it’s been a while…

It’s the crowds of people that keep us away. This was Spring Break, but it wasn’t too bad. A lot wasn’t open yet (like the showers and the pizza place, until our last day), so that probably helped. Plus we asked which hikes had fewer people, and when to do the more popular ones. It helped. So did camping…the first two nights were nice and quiet, once the rampaging gangs of children stopped screaming. We were on the outer edge of one of the loops…a good choice.

The last night, we were surrounded by groups of 20-somethings with copious amounts of alcohol. They were remarkably quiet, considering.

We got set up relatively early on Wednesday, and went for our first walk, but got sent back by a bear on the trail.

Hmmm. That was the only bear we ever saw, luckily? Or not.

Back to camp, cooked dinner, settled down to draw by the fire.

I cooked. Someone else has to do dishes. A tree, my view. Those damn ravens.

They’ll steal as soon as you walk away.

The next day was a our big hike day. We started with Vernal Falls…weren’t sure how high we’d go. It was definitely a climb.

We made it a ways up. Not all the way…

There was a lot more of that, and it was getting more and more slippery.

This was a good view though. After lunch and a bit of a rest, we set out to do the hike from the day before…no bear today, just deer…

Almost didn’t see them resting there.

We hiked up past Mirror Lake, doing the whole loop.

It was warm but otherwise mostly quiet.

Tired legs at that point…

Somewhere between 10 3/4-12 1/2 miles that day, between the two hikes. Our multiple apps wouldn’t agree on mileage.

Tired seemed legit. I finished this Sue Spargo Homegrown block between the driving and the camping…

Then made dinner and drew again by the campfire.

It was a good night.

The reward for lots of hiking is sleeping through the tree and people noises.

The last day, we headed out to Yosemite Falls…there were tons of people, which explains the man’s face.

He was reaching his limit. We considered trying to get to Upper Yosemite Falls, but it was hot and we were officially tired. So we checked out the Ansel Adams Gallery, got our National Park passports stamped, and got our official Yosemite T-shirts.

We scoped out a dinner option that didn’t make us cook, rejoiced that we weren’t in Curry Village (soon to be Half Dome Village), and rested a bit.

We actually got a pizza to go and brought it back to the campsite to avoid people. Yes, we hiked a mile for pizza. It was worth it.

There are other things we’d explore in Yosemite, but it would have to be later in the season. Too much was still snowed in.

I did draw that night too, but there’s no picture of that. We spent (well, mostly the man spent) about 2 hours trying to get a fire started on the third night. The young folks on either side had roaring fires (they both had fire starters of some sort), but ours was lackluster until we ignored it, and then it finally caught.

Some serious fire-building science and Girl Scout knowledge failed us on this one.

The morning had us packing up, with the ravens waiting for our leavings…

We were out early and headed south for our next park, Sequoia. On the way out, we stopped to look at some burn damage.

It’s hard to look at, even when you know some of it is necessary to the forest. Not as much as we’ve had lately, though. Lots of damage around from a big windstorm in January too, which toppled trees throughout the park.

I’ll write more about the rest of the trip tomorrow. Now I need a shower, groceries, and about a million other things to get crossed off the list. Wish me luck.

Jacuzzi?

Hi Spring Break. I’m in Fresno. It’s an exciting place to start my mini vacation, the last trip I’m going on before the man heads out on the Pacific Crest Trail. I graded for two days straight, copyedited another whole day (not done with that, no way, no how), and then we drove away from all of it, leaving the dead leaves, weeds, 5 animals, and all the leftovers in the house with the boychild, who is probably ecstatic to have the place to himself for once.

You know what? Copyediting (above) looks a lot like grading (below).

I have three assignments left to grade and nine chapters to copyedit.

We hiked on Saturday. It was supposed to be a nice, mostly flat walk around a lake. That didn’t happen. Instead, we hiked up a thing and then along a thing. Lots of wildflowers.

And a snake…

Yes, it had a few rattles.

I started drawing the next quilt…

And on Monday night, I went for ink.

Lots more to do. Got some experimental (for me) processes I’m going to try with this. Wish me luck.

I haven’t had some of this for a year, I think. It used to be a treat on the way home from a meeting I don’t go to any more. It’s on Zoom. No need to get In ‘N Out for a Zoom call.

I did some stitching in the car…been a while since I’ve done that.

The drive today was long and blah. Tomorrow, though, is Yosemite, camping, hiking, yay! Then Sequoia…half the trip we planned for last April, which all got canceled. We’re being safe, masked, hands sanitized, Clorox wipes, eating outside, but this staying in a hotel is a bit scary. There’s a jacuzzi in the room, though, and after I wipe it all down, I’m going to prepare my temple of a body for three days with no showers. Hallelujah for time off!

Starting with Not Enough

Yesterday, I had a plan for if I felt OK after my second vaccine (I was mostly OK; finally ran a fever Sunday night, but then had a major blood sugar issue, probably related to that, and so I’m a little exhausted and fucked up this morning, thank you very much). I was going to do some work, grade a major art assignment, get it out of the way. I need a clear brain for it, and I wasn’t counting on it, due to the possibility of side effects, but when those didn’t show up (well, until later), I wanted to be ahead of the game with grades this week. The week before Spring Break can be really stressful, although it might be easier online than in person. Plus I’m exhausted and done with school and ready for a break.

That was my plan, anyway, and then a nastygram from a parent popped up and that threw me. You know you’re overwhelmed and overstressed when just one email can take your brain and smash it up like that. Anyway, I answered the email (like the mostly consummate professional I am) and then shut down the work computer and walked the fuck away from it. Now, it means I’m not actually ready to teach this morning (thanks brain for that, thanks parent for that). But I will figure it out. On four hours of sleep (thanks blood sugar and immune response for that). It’s fine. It really is. Some part of me just lets all of it roll over me and occasionally I lose my mind and go weed the yard or just sit and cry (seriously, y’all, if your kids are in school, know that a huge portion of their teachers have cried this year…multiple times). I still have a job to do and I’m going to try to do it. I sent the appropriate emails to the appropriate staff, and if the mom follows through, her child will never have to be in my class again. I am that heinous.

It’s OK. I know I’m not. I know this is the kid. I hope the family figures it out. I understand Mama Bear tendencies; I have some myself. I also know that it doesn’t help the kid. Get all the information, make sure you understand what’s going on, and if your kid has lied to you before, y’all know what you need to do.

So with all that, I am starting this week with not enough sleep and not enough prep and not enough graded. Oh well. So be it.

Friday and Saturday night, I worked on this…so close to done.

I poked holes in my finger doing the applique. It’s OK. It happens. But I finished, and did some hand embroidery on the fish, her face, and her belly (my 2000 self made notes to do that, so I followed her instructions). And then I pinbasted her last night.

She’s different than what I’ve been doing, but not that far off. As soon as I have a machine, I’ll quilt her.

The school thing that happened, sometimes what I need after that is something that occupies my brain pretty completely…my quilt guild is doing these tiny modern blocks, so I did the next variation, the hourglass…

I have a healthy chunk of blocks at the moment, all 2″ square (well, they will be when I trim them, and probably, some of them won’t be. Oh well).

It occupied my brain appropriately for a while…

Although I wonder sometimes which is the crazier thing to do. Next up? Arrows. No, I don’t know what I’m doing with them. Piecing is not my friend. I do have a plan for art quilting this week. I just need the mental and physical energy and last night was not that time.

So yeah, got the second one.

Doing OK. Pfizer, before you ask. Could have done without the blood sugar issues. I went for a hike afterward…

It was a good day for it…

I went alone because my hiking partners were either gone or not feeling well. One of my hiking partners is leaving on the PCT soon. His band singer made him a poster…

I wish him lots of good traveling. Certainly I’ll be stalking him on the Garmin website and maybe in person for a few days at some point. We’ll see.

He rallied Saturday night for dinner…here was my pre-dinner drawing.

I don’t think too hard about these. Just do them.

Speaking of not thinking too hard, here’s Simba…

Happily dream chasing. Hope to be there tonight, Simba. OK, y’all. Let’s do this.

Maybe We All Need Repotting…

Somehow, the month of February whizzed by my head without fully whacking me unconscious, so here we are. In March. Four weeks closer to Spring Break. Another paycheck closer to Summer Break. And no paychecks. Love summer for that. Such a challenge. Every year. That said, it’s getting Spring-like, and that’s nice…new growth on plants, flowers popping up, weeds taking over the yard. All the things!

Well the biggest news, besides my sewing machine being in the shop because it wasn’t dropping the free-motion foot (it dropped feet when straight stitching, but not zigzag; talk about fussy), is that I got my first vaccine. I am a teacher, in case you didn’t know that, and the school I teach for (not AT at the moment, because I can’t go back without these shots) is in a high-infection area (which means that, yes, I live in a high-infection area), so we were first on the list. Got my email on Friday while my science kids were finishing their work; got an appointment for Saturday morning…with a few hundred other people. Seriously, this was the most people I’ve been around since before COVID. And in an enclosed space. Freaked me out.

Plus a shot. Finally getting closer to being safe. Hopefully. I forgot to take a picture when the doc injected me, and he forgot to give me a sticker. Ah well, my co-teacher came to the rescue and met me outside after they monitored me for 30 minutes due to my weirdo reactions to shots.

I’ve been fine, just a sore arm and maybe a headache and fatigue. Hard to say if those aren’t things that I would have felt anyway. Probably! On to the next shot in a few weeks. Exciting stuff.

Our weekly gaming with friends seems to have moved to Sunday night, but that leaves open a night to game in person at home with the two men…we had a new Settlers of Catan expansion, so we read all the instructions 17 times and played a couple rounds.

I almost won one without even noticing. I’m not that good at games. I like to play; I don’t need to win.

Saturday, we did a little hike after taking the sewing machine in.

It’s definitely Springlike.

But the weather is still cool and breezy, so hikes are nice.

We tried a new trail in a place we hike all the time. It had a little up in it.

But it was good. Only 3.5 miles though. No time for a longer hike…left too late.

Then because the sewing machine was being cranky, I did some hand-sewing for a while on Saturday night.

Just sewing things down.

There might be a time when I come back to these and add more stitching.

I enjoy it, but don’t usually make time for it.

I also started this drawing at dinner on Saturday night.

And then finished it last night. It’s small. This is actually a printout of it larger than it is in real life. I joke that now I have the nanites in me, so everything will be fine. Honestly, I’d be OK with the nanites. Fix me, you little machines. Fix me.

Otherwise, I’ve been buried in schoolwork. Posting things, redoing things, making videos of things, grading things, answering too many panicked emails and ignoring others. School is frustrating in the best of times. These are not the best of times. These guys don’t care. They just want pets.

So we pet them. Although Nova, the sweetheart on the right, caught my finger and ripped it open Saturday? Friday? when I was petting her and tried to stop. So it’s a little painful. Otherwise, they’re all good.

This plant finally flowered. I’ve never seen it flower.

I repotted it and it is obviously much happier. Interesting take on the world there. Maybe we all need repotting.

School all day, hopefully some exercise, hopefully some art. A lot of grading. Every day until I’m done.

All That…

It’s a Monday morning. We all have feelings about that. My current feeling is that I’m not ready. I did get almost caught up with grading…well, until this week, when everything at the end of everything is due. Friday will feel overwhelming, for sure, but for now, I’m trying to get to a place of managing that. The trimester ends next Friday, the science unit ends this week, all the art projects end this week. And the month ends! It’s probably not related. Plus in the last week and a half, there are 4 pickups for art. I’m handling 2 of them and the men are handling the other 2, because they’re all during my work day…during a normal person’s work day, honestly. So yeah. Not sure what I’d be doing if I didn’t have people home to do pickups. Negotiating alternate pickup methods, I guess.

Did anyone do QuiltCon? I am realizing I prefer an actual class with a teacher talking to me to a pre-recorded video class. So be it. I’m in it for the human interaction. I watched both my classes, but haven’t started due to materials issues and time issues and just plain issues. I might get there. We’ll see. I missed the lecture I signed up for because I forgot about time zones, which I’m sad about, but it was recorded, so I watched it anyway: Chawne Kimber, who looks like fun to watch quilt. Like she’d be fun to take a class from. Future thoughts. I’m also signed up for the SAQA conference in April; looking forward to that, although some of the events start right when school ends, which could be complicated. We’ll see. My current QuiltCon project, by the way, looks like this.

That’s not much there. It might become more. We’ll see.

I did some other stuff, embroidery finishing, then piecing, and putting borders on, but it’s a recent Sue Spargo piece that hasn’t been published yet, so I can show anything but the cat guarding one of the spools of thread.

Just know I’ve been working on it and it will eventually show up here, probably in the next month or so. Mostly brainless easy stuff that I can do when nothing else is working.

Saturday, we did a longer hike (it was actually 1.4 miles shorter than it was supposed to be, not sure why)…this is another Coast to Crest challenge hike, from 2019-2020 though. It starts in Del Dios Highland Preserve, on the Lake Hodges side.

And basically it goes up 1100′ in less than a mile, no switchbacks. It’s not impossible…just hard.

And then at some point, you cross over into Elfin Forest Recreational Forest. This is not all the way up.

But we didn’t start that high up, for sure.

Spring has started to show up.

The point is to get to the Lake Hodges overlook, but you walk by Olivenhain Reservoir to get there.

It was the longest 6 miles I’ve ever done. It just felt hard.

Although the weather was perfect…cool with a breeze.

So yeah, we started at the level of Lake Hodges…down there.

Yeah. So my legs are still feeling it two days later.

Mostly flat. Literally 1365′ feet up and then back down. Averages out.

Anyway. Not a bad hike…might be easier to go up the Elfin Forest side? Hard to say.

Hey! There’s my piece in the California Fibers: Historical References show that is currently open in Los Angeles.

Yeah, mine is the big one, One of My Kind. There are appointments available to go see it, or you can see it online.

I did do the stitch down on the little owl last night…then sandwiched it.

And then fought the sewing machine and the sewing machine foot for a while and gave up and read my book. Because life is too short for fighting machines. I’ll try again tonight.

For now, I need to get some work done. A pissy parent demanding things, plus getting ready for school and teaching and all that.

Appreciate the Sunsets.

Mid week already? That was fast. I’m even somewhat caught up. Wait. No. I still have 5 assignments to grade from last week, and even though I finished grading all the late work yesterday at 8:20 AM, there is now more in the pile that needs grading, because that is how the never-ending pile of grading works. It’s why the last week of school is such an inordinate relief. There cannot possibly be any more grading for at least two months! A reprieve! Sundays back. No constant planning, trying to answer emails, contacting parents. Such a relief.

Unfortunately, we are quite a few days away from that. In fact, with the trimester ending in 2 1/2 weeks, we are well into panic mode (we being the kids) because we forgot that what we do every day counts for a grade. You know. Like school does. That said, I had expected yesterday to be really stressful and yucky, and it was very manageable. The kids mostly listened and/or did the nothing they do on a regular basis. This is when standing over them (or like I do, rolling my chair around the room and staring into their panicked eyes) helps to get them motivated. Yesterday I called parents during class instead. Muted myself on the Zoom and called and left messages because they aren’t going to answer a number they don’t recognize, and even if I were calling from the school number, they probably wouldn’t answer. Ah well. That’s nothing new. The checked out kids are always there. This year is harder for that, sure. I was reading instructions for a program we’re supposed to be monitoring, and they say to “walk around and make sure they are on task.” Um. OK. Imma gonna do that. Rolling my eyes. It’s like the distance learners and teachers don’t exist sometimes. Please give me some more useful supports, y’all. I’m at my wit’s end with monitoring this program.

So we’ll see how today goes…Day 2 of a project…could be chill; could be not. Never know. Even in person.

Here’s the final finished picture of the Sue Spargo Block-of-the-Month quilt Earth and Twig I finished.

I do have another one pinbasted, ready to go, and a third one that is a finished top, and a much smaller one that’s finished. I should keep this going. First I want to finish the little bird quilt I have, though. Although it’s been hard to find the energy in the last few days to sit down at the sewing machine. Maybe tonight? We’ll see.

So I did finish ironing all the bits of Wonder Under to fabric in the most recent art quilt…

It only has 56 colors in it (small quilt) and it took a little over 4 hours to pick all those fabrics.

I started cutting them out Monday night…

And finished last night…

in 4 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe start ironing it together. So fast! I think I’ll do a few fast and easy ones like this and then start thinking about the next big one. I have ideas and I have one that’s drawn and numbered and ready to go. I’m just not ready for a big one yet. I need some quick successes, achievements, goals.

Here’s one of mine getting ready for a show in Los Angeles at Studio 203, opening the 20th. This is California Fibers: Historical References.

Not sure I’ll get up to see the show, but there should be video and maybe even some online stuff. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Spring is coming (Southern California does Spring early…sorry to all the snowed-in states)…the coyotes don’t care about humans on their paths…

And I’m no longer walking in the dark, which is nice.

Although I do appreciate a good sunset. Today is going to be pretty easy, I hope, and maybe I will get some grading done as well, knock some of those projects off my to-do list. My goal is always NOT to be working at 9 PM on school stuff, but on art stuff instead. So more of that. And I forgot to wish my mom a happy 80th birthday on the internet…although I made her a chocolate cake, so I think we’re good. Although it could have been more lava-like. My fault…should have taken it out of the fridge earlier. Anyway. Both parents have their 2nd vaccines scheduled, they’re relatively healthy, and those are good things right now. OK. Off to work. In the other room.

Spargo Obsessed

Roof is getting fixed today. Solar got fixed yesterday (that was just the monitoring system…so cool to see the data again! Yes, I am a science geek. I need data.). I’m almost done with a quilt I started in January 2012. Kind of amazing. Nah, it’s not an art quilt…well, it is art, but not mine. When I need to relax or when I’m spending hours at soccer games (remember those days) or wherever and need something to soothe my brain and keep my hands busy, I stitch. I’ve appliqued lighthouses and national monuments from a friend’s patterns, I’ve cross-stitched from patterns, and in 2012, I started doing Sue Spargo’s block-of-the-month quilts. There’s something about stitching through wool and embroidering to embellish that is just truly relaxing. I do love making my own art, but this is not dependent on what stage of an art quilt I’m in. Sometimes I embroider on my own stuff too, but that still requires more brain power than I sometimes have at the end of the day. And was difficult to do in certain situations. So Spargo stepped in (or her patterns did). I don’t even remember where I saw them, but I signed up for Earth and Twig at the end of 2011 and got my first package the following January, and it’s been sort of an obsession ever since.

I was pretty good about working on this back then, and honestly, I think it’s less complicated than her current pieces, so it was pretty easy to keep up. In April of 2013, I was finishing up the last of the embroidery, but I felt like there was a flower and a bird missing. It looked unbalanced to me.

A bird in that space on the bottom left of the tree thing. And a flower near the rooster. Oh yeah, I added that one. But it took me a long time. You may notice it’s a slightly different color than the others (it is). I also ran out of the thread and the and the fabric for the flower center, so I improvised. I gave up on the bird, though. In May of 2013, I pinned the flower down. I even started stitching it down. And then I got distracted and it sat until 2016.

Some part of it was because I had never quilted on wool before and it made me nervous. When I started this Spargo quilt, I had never really appliqued with wool either, so it has some wonky moments.

So in 2016, I finished that flower and pinbasted the quilt. And then set it aside until sometime last year, maybe when the pandemic started, and I tried quilting it.

I just did some outlining and it was a pain because of the embroidery and the type of stitching foot I had, and then something was a higher priority and it got pulled off the machine. Meanwhile, I finished two more Spargo quilts and then a smaller piece over the summer. One is pinbasted and ready for quilting, the other two are tops.

My quilt guild is having a UFO contest, and without any pressing deadlines (pressing, ha ha ironing humor), I pulled this back out and made myself quilt it. In two days. Seriously, it wasn’t hard. I must admit, I am not a precision quilter. I take the word ‘free’ in free-motion stitching quite seriously. I measure and mark nothing. And I’m OK with that. There are some issues with the quilting on here, but it’s the first one I’ve ever done and it’s mine (despite a few people wanting to buy it yesterday) and I’m OK with the mistakes. It has hours and hours of embroidery in it, so it’s staying with me.

Sue Spargo has a book and maybe even still has a kit, y’all…you too can spend 9 years making this. OK, I could have been done in 18 months with a little more staying power, it’s true. I like the process of the embroidery more than I like the finishing. Last night, I finished up some of the quilting in the brown areas (they needed more) and trimmed it and got the binding machine-stitched on.

And I started the hand stitching. It won’t take long. I don’t know where she’ll hang, but I’m glad I got off my scared-of-wool ass and did it. Next is the one I call Bird Crazy (it’s not really called that).

It has less room for quilting, which might be OK.

Who knows. I have a different machine foot on its way to me as well, just to hopefully make life a little easier. I am still going to work on the other art quilt things I have lying around…I just needed to get this off the machine FINISHED so it wouldn’t languish in a pile of unfinished stuff forever. I don’t care about the quilt guild prize for finishing stuff, but I’m grateful they reminded me I have unfinished things. Sometimes I forget and they slip out of the to-do list. It would be nice to have them done and hanging somewhere. I’m not sure where that will be, but I’ll figure that out. There will probably need to be a rotation.

In other news, I’ve spent almost 6 hours in union meetings for the last two days and I’m kind of done. Still. Again. I’m glad it’s Friday. I’m glad my roof is getting fixed (it’s supposed to rain a little today). My mom turns 80 this weekend (wowza). And yes, I’m still working on Sue Spargo quilts, more than one at a time (because I’m crazy, that’s why). I can’t show you the one I’ve been working on since the pandemic started, because she hasn’t published it yet, but I’m also chipping away at some of the older ones. It’s relaxing to just sew stuff on and then make 200 French knots. And now I know I can actually quilt them. That’s a plus.

OK, school today. Challenge mostly accepted. Tonight, I’ll stitch a little. And hopefully get back to the two art quilts that are in process in here. Oh yeah, this picture of Greta Thunberg stitching makes me so happy…

That girl. She’s amazing.

Go Well…

Ah yes. A country with someone in charge whose speeches I don’t have to diagram so that I can attempt to make any sense of them. A white guy, though. An old white guy. But our VP! Finally a woman, and a woman of color on top of it. So proud. So happy. So worried about those who still feel disenfranchised and ignored. That being-ignored feeling really sucks. I agree. Having people ignore your needs and desperate calls for acknowledgement…I mean, I’m a cis female, but white and educated, so inordinately privileged, but I get that for sure. And I worry about y’all. I don’t know what to do about it though; I don’t know how to talk to you, to help you see the world in a different way. I really try to see how you all are seeing, and I just can’t. It looks like fear and hate to me. So yeah. So many things in my head yesterday. I was lucky to see the swearing ins happen right before virtual school started…trying to watch video with kids on my computer/Zoom setup is not always a positive experience, so we talked a little about the inauguration, but then it was a normal day. Well, this crazy-ass pandemic version of normal.

I’ve been fighting my sewing machine for a few days. The thread kept breaking. I changed needles (twice), rethreaded everything (many times), cleaned out the bobbin area, used thread conditioner, sanded the throat plate, and then prayed to the goddess of the machine. Nothing helped. It improved slightly, but I was still breaking thread about every 6-10 inches of quilting. An incredibly frustrating experience.

I got to the point last night where I was like, shit, I’m going to have to take the machine in, but I’m trying to finish this quilt and I have another machine, but I’m not sure where exactly it is, and there’s a re-learning curve I don’t have the mental fortitude for right now…but sigh, how else?

And magically, really, IDK what changed, much like my blood sugar at the moment, magically, it all started to work. I could sew without the thread breaking.

For an hour. Holy moly. SO MUCH EASIER. It’s like I became a rich white man. Oh wait. No. Not quite. He wouldn’t be sewing. But you know what I mean! Things were easier, I felt like I could achieve something, the world felt like a new presidential team was in place. Yeah. That. Fuck. Yesterday was interesting. I posted this picture before…spot the Bernie.

I love the mitten story. And Bernie. And the dogs and old man in the photo, but that’s something else. This doofus…

OK. Well. I hiked on Tuesday in the wind and cold…

Apparently there’s more coming this weekend. These flowers are fascinatingly huge.

I still try to exercise every day. This is just from AllTrails, an app I use for hiking…

It doesn’t count everything I do, just the hikes I do with the app.

Yeah, my boots got over 150 miles since February, so there’s that. More to come.

Goofy cats.

I finished this…

Ready to clean it and hoop it up and send it off to its new owner.

My quilt guild is starting a UFO challenge. I needed to post at least one I could finish in the first quarter. This one, I started quilting, but gave up.

Wool is different than cotton, that’s all I can say. I can do it…but something else jumped the queue. There’s also this one…

And another one that needs pinbasting…all 3 are Sue Spargo quilts. I love the embroidery part, but IDK what I will do with them when they are done. Pick a Sue Spargo wall and switch out the three every few months? Maybe.

Ah mornings. You are not my friend.

Today is sunny at least. The crazy wind the last few days has been stressful to watch from my virtual school workspace. Today is much calmer. OK, but today, I am teaching stuff in art that I’ve never really done before (again), so that’ll be fun. FUN. And Zooming for meetings as well (one in 5 minutes). Hopefully quilting later tonight, with the new calm sewing machine behavior…maybe it will continue to go well.

Quilt with Wild Abandon…

It’s been a few days. I lost track of them, actually. The wonder of a 3-day weekend when I did things that weren’t schoolwork, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I worked a big chunk of Monday, grading shit, but mostly I ignored school. Mostly. Not in my head; just in my practice. It’s hard to do that, because the work has to get done sometime. In fact, a chunk of it needs to be done before school starts in 43 minutes, but it’ll happen. Somehow.

So Friday night was the last time I wrote. Since then, I participated in two Craft Napa events, and I have one coming up this weekend. I was waitlisted on one and offered today to take it, but um, yeah, so like, that’s a school day. So I picked another one instead. It’s OK. It’s really just a chance to hang out and do artsy stuff with other artsy people. The actual project doesn’t probably matter.

So Saturday night was a virtual wine tasting…

It was interesting and a good distraction for a Saturday night. We enjoyed it.

Then Sunday morning, I was up early for a recycled plastics sewing class with Natalya Khorover.

Let’s hope the girlchild doesn’t recognize the bag of hers I cut into. I don’t actually have a ton of plastic bags in the house. We have reusable bags, so not many plastic bags make it in here.

I was going to do this long quote, but decided against it…this was more doable.

I got all the letters stitched down. Need more embellishment. I’ll do that…

It was fun to take a class after months and months of not doing it. I’ve always wanted to go to Craft Napa in person, just as a break, but the timing with school is difficult, plus expense. This was very doable.

I did start quilting as well, but I’ve been plagued with thread breakages…

I’ve tried switching out the needles, conditioning the thread, cleaning everything…probably it’s a burr in the thread plate, so I’ll try to deal with that today.

So I got the bottom three layers done, the fire and rocks, basically…

Pretty damn frustrating, if you ask me.

I don’t really need more frustrating things right now.

What else? Dogs.

Lots of animals require attention here. I’m OK with that most of the time.

The man is getting his Pacific Coast Trail permit day today. We think. Hoping for the end of my Spring Break, so we can do a little camping/hiking together before he leaves for potentially 5 months.

I’m almost done with this thing…

A few more TV episodes after dinner and it will be done. Stick it in a frame and mail it to its new owner.

OK, now I can go do the school stuff I need to do and teach all day and then maybe hopefully go for a walk. Then sand down the potential burr on my needle plate and hopefully quilt with wild abandon tonight until I need to go to bed to repeat tomorrow…tomorrow, inauguration day, when hopefully the crazy insurrectionists won’t do something really stupid and irreversible. Sigh. We can all hope for some semblance of order and peace, ’til we return to trying to figure out how to mend a bunch of stuff in our country and help people accept more variety in their worlds than they’re used to. Whatever that looks like…because honestly, some days, I don’t know. Until then, I need to answer an email from a kid that came in at midnight (I ignored it) and do all the shit I forgot to do yesterday. Sigh.

Oldest What?

OK, the 6th day of this blog challenge is one of those topics that I feel like is more about project people than art people (and there’s some serious overlap there, y’all…art people sometimes just make projects, like me and the baby quilts, and project people sometimes make their own art)…Oldest UFO. I seriously don’t care if I have UFOs. Some of them will get done eventually, some of them will end up in another piece, and some were just so I could figure out how to do something (or how NOT to do something), and its existence in my current stash is really just because I hate to throw things out.

I know that somewhere in this house is an old cross stitch or embroidery from when I was a kid that I haven’t (and probably never will) finished. I’m OK with that. Also, some early quilts from when I was learning how to do things…that I will never finish…like this one.

There was some painting and some fusing and there must be some piecing that I don’t remember (I think there are directions somewhere, yo Susan, I think this was one of yours?)…

That is SOME cloud there. I don’t know that I will ever finish this, and I’m totally OK with that. I took a lot of classes when I started learning how to quilt and I have a bunch of unfinished stuff from it. This was when I learned how to do hand applique.

I did a lot of it for a few years. I think every single one of those quilts is unfinished. Sewing things together is not my forte, unless it’s one of my art quilts. There are only two unfinished art quilts, no three; the first two probably don’t need to be finished. They were experiments in a style that didn’t really work. The other one is hand applique and will eventually be finished. It takes so long to make an art quilt in my style by hand.

I also did a lot of crazy quilting for a while…

These are still in process. I think there are 20 of them…and they are all just hanging around, waiting to be stitched on. And maybe they will be finished in the future…

But like I said, the art quilts get done. I have a drive to finish them that beats all the projects I do as hobbies. I guess every drawing I make could be considered a UFO, since less than half of them become quilts. Some years I draw a lot and some a little (this is a little year…which sucks, but I can’t get my head out from under the day job and carve out more time and energy).

So the oldest UFO? Those are all old. Some older than others. I don’t really care about that. They will either get finished or not. I even have other people’s UFOs…unfinished quilts and blocks. UFOs come to me to live an unjudged life. I will love them, unfinished or not.

No art has happened in two days. I’ve been really tired and working a lot. I am making walking and exercising a priority, best I can, so Saturday afternoon was a long walk/hike thing outside. This is the Walker Preserve Trail in Santee…

It’s pretty flat…

Not very strenuous. Might have been all I could deal with. There was a line of painted rocks at one end of it.

A rock snake, as it were…

Interesting idea…I do like these signs…

I think lots of people need to see that sign.

Maybe not that one.

We did a little over 3 1/2 miles. Probably could have done more, but the man’s back started acting up. My next walk is hopefully Tuesday. Too many meetings this week. Too many things I have to do. I’m fairly sure I’ve forgotten some of them. I’m holding space in my head, a bubble, where I can feel OK with the world. I can’t stay in there for long, but it helps. Many things are hard right now. More walking, more art. Speaking of which, getting off this machine and onto the ironing board (not ME on the ironing board…the fabric y’all).