Be My Very Own Constellation*

January 9, 2018

Well. I tried sleeping with the pillow over my head to shut the rain up (seriously, it’s not white noise to some of us) and then the wind picked up at 3 AM, so I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got around all that natural shit that we need to fall from the sky because drought. Always the drought. We’ve only had an inch of rain total (including last night) since July, so it really is a dry year…or a normal year, with last year as the crazy outlier. Half our students won’t show up today because of the weather, although a few little guys showed up yesterday…this is the first year we’ve started with kids on Tuesday instead of Monday. The district just wants us to have more and more professional development, and this is one of the ways they try to make it happen. It was good, because we got a lot of choice time instead of enforced crap…my coteacher and I did some planning and hopefully will get caught up. By June. Maybe.

And remember how I told you that school makes me more artistically efficient? I wonder if it’s because the non-art part of my brain is exhausted and dead when I get home, so the art part can run rampant. It really is about shutting that part up sometimes (just like I have to shut the art part up at school)…so I do think that is a factor. It’s OK…I’ll never be able to afford to retire, so I won’t have to worry about how I will make art when I’m old without the work distraction.

It was already starting to rain when I got home, but I knew the dogs needed exercise, so I leashed them up and literally dragged them out there. Well, the little one needed some significant persuasion. He kept looking back where he thought the dry car might be, and broke into a run at the end. The old lady does what she’s told. She gives me a look when it starts raining really hard, but otherwise, she’s just happy to be out there…

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It wasn’t too bad most of the way, but they were pretty wet when I got back…

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We did a short version, because it was raining pretty hard on the back end.

Puppy needed comfort from someone besides me when we got back.

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Mean old lady makes me go outside in this weather.

After that, I did a little ironing on this piece…there’s really no excuse for not getting it done. It’s small and easy. Nice filler when my brain isn’t quite ready for drawing.

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We’re watching one episode of Stranger Things a night with dinner…so when I finish eating, I’m working on the SJSA blocks until the episode finishes…this herringbone is going much faster than the buttonhole was…honestly, it’s not the stitch; this glue isn’t as hard to stitch through.

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This is what I finished the night before on whatever this is. Some bovine. I worked on it at my parents’…briefly.

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Then I went back to ironing after dinner.

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That’s where I quit…because I wanted to work on the drawing too…

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A totally different direction…there’s a world under them. I think I’m going to have to expand it a little at the top. But I think this is going to work. It was much easier to draw this…I don’t know why. Anyway.

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I’m hoping this one works out. I’ll finish drawing tonight, or as much as I can without extending it. I have a lot more stuff to put in it…of course! I like to fill space. You may have noticed that.

Anyway, let’s hope parents get their kids to school today, plus I survive it, so I can come home and iron a bit and draw a lot and sleep better than last night. I can do one shitty night, but two might hurt.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication

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Maybe We Could Find New Ways to Fall Apart*

January 5, 2018

No post yesterday due to hiking activity. This is not a bad thing. In typical Kathy fashion, though (and it wasn’t my fault…the book had the wrong mileage), we went further than I had planned. The plus is that my heel, which has bugging me on and off the last few weeks, did not hurt too much on the hike, and it’s fine this morning…meaning it’s probably due to one of the pairs of shoes I wear on a regular basis. Not the hiking boots though I think, or it would hurt today. Anyway. More shit to worry about, right? Foot pain sucks. I was in a boot cast for 6 months once and had multiple really long needles inserted in my heel. Don’t wanna do that EVER again.

So yeah, dragged the kids out to Santa Ysabel to hike the loop on the east end. The Coast to Cactus book claimed the larger loop was 4.8 miles. Which it is…as long as you don’t hike BACK to the car. Minor issue guys. So that was 7.6 miles or so instead. Which was fine…we’d been considering going further along the trail anyway…so we just didn’t do that.

There were a lot of cows out there; it was a gorgeous day, warmish but not hot.

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There are apparently wildflowers in spring, so hopefully my other hiking companion will agree to the lower part of the hike in April or May. We’ll see.

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We did see deer from afar…they saw us as well…

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And a coyote up on a hillside (not this one)…

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Beautiful oak and pine trees, some climbing up up and up (and then back down seemed much steeper than up, strangely)…

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Lots of long vistas…

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And cows. Apparently the trail headed north through these guys and we missed it. So we went off road for a bit, following something that we thought was a trail. Hallelujah for hiking apps that show you where YOU are and where the TRAIL is. Yeah.

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Wait. There’s the coyote. Bonus points if you can see it.

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So it made sense to traipse across this hill toward the trail…easy to do on these cow-trimmed meadows. Not so easy through forest.

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And back past majestic trees that survived the fires.

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Hikes are awesome, but they kick your butt for the rest of the night…although I did go to my stitching meeting.

Girlchild and I went to get our hairs cut (and hers dyed) for the new year on Wednesday. I always stitch while I’m waiting for hers…I finished this block…I just had a little to do on the sheep.

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So this whole 4-square is now done…

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In fact, all of this is done…although I don’t think this is how they fit together…

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And there’s another batch of blocks I have stitched together that has some finished stuff on it too. I’m not even halfway though. So there’s that. I have one more block for April, I’ve already done May, and June is all stitched down…just needs embroidery. I think I’m stitching the wool down on July too. This is what I do at meetings (that aren’t at school…because apparently that’s not appropriate) and places where I know I have a long wait. So yeah, if I needed to take you to the emergency room, I’d be grabbing my stitching bag. I hate being bored. I need stuff in my hands.

So Wednesday night, I worked on drawing things for this new piece, which is a commission for a woman whose daughter had surgery to correct scoliosis.

I’m not ready for a real drawing yet, but it’s weird…I like drawing things that I know how to draw…so if I’ve never drawn it, I draw it a few times to get it under my hat, or something like that. So I need to put the metal in a scoliosis surgery into the piece, but the metal is on the back of the skeleton, on the back of the person. So I’ve never drawn the BACK of a skeleton. I do aim to be sort of accurate (I’m not totally nuts, so completely accurate is not happening)…so I started with that. Then I was looking at all these surgical pictures (oh yeah, that was interesting, but kinda terrifying), so I was drawing the metal bits, what I could see from X-rays and other pictures. Then I was trying to figure out how I was going to put a human figure into this…and I’m still debating this, because I like the organs and innards, but if it’s from the back, the face is difficult and you can’t really see organs very well, and if it’s from the front, you can’t see the metal. So I’m still struggling with ways to portray what I want.

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So there will be more of these. I was gonna draw last night, but life got in the way. It does that. It’s OK. Tonight…totally. Really. Some attempt. Or maybe this afternoon on the deck…because today is my last official day of vacation (ugh!) and I refuse to do schoolwork.

Crazy dogs…

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I’m still working on these…I’m not particularly fast. And now I’m going backwards…doing all the dark purple letters with a hot pink buttonhole stitch.

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I still have two more blocks…gotta get going on that. Make myself do that every night instead of the stitch-a-day thing.

I had my stitching meeting last night and worked on this guy…Palestrina knots all the way around him. I’m supposed to fill in his whole body with running stitches too. He’s cute though.

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However much I want to stay in my pjs all day today, I have a couple of places I need to go, plus I’m doing a dye day…I have underwear and socks that need dying. All my old dyed socks have holes in them. I dye the underwear because the stuff I like comes in these packages with some heinous underwear colors. So I just overdye them to colors I can stand. The blanks have been sitting around the house for at least a year, probably two, so this is crazy. Just DO it! Plus I have some plain white fabric I can dye for quilts…so I’m gonna do that too. It’s a great day for it. And it’s harder to do once I go back to school.

I’m gonna miss being on vacation. Even though I’ve spent most of it flailing around like an idiot. I am way more artistically efficient when I’m teaching. Sad but true.

*Fun., We Are Young


Some People Call Me Maurice*

January 2, 2018

Well, luckily I’m not one of those people who looks at what happens the first day of the year and decides that’s how the whole year is gonna play out. Sigh. I’m definitely in a mood though. Late start on this today…had to get up and buy cake mix to make a birthday cake for the kid who is camping in the middle of nowhere to avoid a birthday dinner. Whatever. And my grandma died yesterday. I knew it was coming…but that never really makes it easier.

Grandma would have been 108 this month…I know she was depressed and tired of her existence, but she was still active up until a few months ago. This is one of my favorite pictures of her. She was beautiful, sassy, and funny. I was supposed to go visit her last week or this week, but couldn’t get anyone to go with me. I knew she wouldn’t recognize me, so I didn’t really want to go alone. But it’s probably better to remember her like this anyway.

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Sad.

The boychild was supposed to check in with me. The girlchild finally texted him. I guess unless the bunnies learned how to use the phone, this is proof he was alive.

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Although this morning, he sent me this…so at least we know he’s seeing cool stuff.

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Girlchild and I took the dogs on a long walk…

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More for us than them, I think. Lots of people out on the trail on the first day of the new year.

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Although not a lot on this portion…

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I felt a need to hike all the way out to this thing. They REALLY don’t want us on there. It’s so tempting because of that.

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More weird landscapes in the wildlife reserve…

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The weather was nice, not too warm. The dogs were fine, although Simba had to sniff everything.

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Here he is conked out on the girlchild. He’s getting supremely spoiled.

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I finished grading the big school assignment and input all the grades so far. I have two assignments left, one of which I’m leaving for my TA. Then there are 70 emails with makeup work. I don’t have to finish those this week. I could. But I don’t have to. Tomorrow, I have two hours of professional development as well. Whoopee. Hopefully it will be useful. I did get to choose what I wanted to develop…although honestly, as an introvert, I’d rather stay home and do it. Just give me the damn slides with links and let me do it by myself.

I’m still pushing thread through glue on this. A sharp needle helps. I’m amused by the spacing at the end. I’ve only done the lighter purple letters. I’m debating using orange or lime green on the dark purple letters. Then I have two more blocks to finish. I’m not particularly fast at this.

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I’m doing that in the evening instead of the stitch a day…I’m not doing that again. It was cool, but I’m done.

Then I sorted all the pieces for the little quilt that’s in process.

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I’m going to work on that a bit today, then do some drawing, maybe try to grade the one last assignment, and go to the gym. Finish my book. Put all the wrapping accoutrement (no, WordPress, you don’t know how to spell that) away. I’m making a cake. Mail my holiday cards. That’s about it. I’m sad…about grandma, about the boychild being gone on his birthday. This is the first birthday I’ve missed with him. 2017 was the first birthday I missed with the girlchild. I guess that’s when they’re really grown up, eh? Or antisocial.

I will try to work through the sad today and turn it into some sort of artistic achievement day. Because. That’s best.

*The Steve Miller Band, The Joker


Things Will Happen Today

December 30, 2017

My feet are cold. It’s going to be in the 80s again today, but my feet get cold and I have to wear shorts and big fluffy socks all at the same time. This weirdo winter weather in Southern California…40s at night and 80s during the day. I know, I could be back East and freezing all my parts and not just my feet. I got that. Some rain would be nice here.

I didn’t get a whole lot of useful stuff done yesterday, except for some minor purging on the kitchen counters, which is a good thing (boychild is useful for that stuff). We threw out a bunch of old pens that were dead and bagged up the rest of the pens and pencils for school. Found the address I’d been looking for and had finally emailed someone to get. Of course. Organized the boxes of sundry kitchen items that pile up because I forget I’ve already bought them. Put all my Christmas gifts away. Today I will put away Christmas stuff, I think. Maybe. In between a raptor thing (cool!) and watching that band play (another episode of Draws in Bars! By the beach! But it will be cold, because it will be dark. So I will wear socks.). I wrote a commission contract and asked my dad to look at it, because I am not a lawyer and he is.

Artwise, I didn’t do much either. I did get my slowly flattening tire fixed, but not the tire sensor. It’s annoying that they are so expensive. Obviously the tire place has not seen the last two Visa bills. They are heart-stoppening. Not a word, I know.

Walked the dogs…a good solid three miles in the full heat of the afternoon. It felt hot but good.

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The dogs were tired.

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I needed to get out and walk off some of the irritation building up. I’m kind of irritated by all these studies going on in the wildlife preserve, but if I hike far enough out, they’re gone.

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So I do that.

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Tired dogs…I said that. But they were.

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We had gaming at night. My character didn’t do much. Moved from one side of the temple to another. Dodged a flaming thing. Or a horror. Not sure which.

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Block 20 is almost done…just need to finish the sheep.

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Exciting stuff. Came home and cut out pieces. When boychild wants to go to bed, he brings me the puppy, who is fast asleep. Snuggles him up against me, where he continues to sleep.

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I cut out a bunch, but there’s a shitload of tiny little pieces in there…overlapping tree parts. This crazy thing I drew. So I’m not done. But there’s not much left to do…

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Next week starts to be full of school stuff. No, I still haven’t finished grading that thing. Ugh. I piled it up on the couch and I look at it and feel guilty. Too many little details of shit to get done in the next week. I guess it’s good I took some brainless days in there.

I finished another book, A Closed and Common Orbit, the second in a series by Becky Chambers. The first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, was good, but I thought this one was even better…all about AI trying to exist in our world when they aren’t allowed to do certain things. Very cool story. You don’t have to read the first one to get the second one…they are the same world. It would help with understanding, but it’s not crucial to the story. There’s a third book coming out in April.

Calli is better at brainless than I am. I was trying to get her off the couch to come to bed.

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It took some persuading. OK. Gotta get ready to go falconing. Or something. I’m gonna need sunscreen…in December. I got sunburned yesterday. Duh. I never remember in the winter. Anyway, things will happen today. Not much will get done, I predict, but things will happen. Typical Saturday.


Time Won’t Heal This Damage Anymore*

December 17, 2017

My brain woke me up early this morning…once at 3:31 AM and again at a reasonable hour. It’s in overdrive. What woke me up? Whether or not I need to buy batting. And then remembering a comment someone made on my blog about a podcast done by ex-gang members (Without Your Permission…most interesting thing I’ve heard so far, “kids with hope don’t join gangs.”). I started listening to that. It makes me sad. Text from my daughter this morning asking about the kid in the hospital…who hopefully will survive. Into what, though? And then bogged down by this thought of white women voting for Trump and Moore and a whole host of other things that hurt them, and they don’t seem to care or know or I just don’t know what it is? Fear of change? Being given the power they deserve? Or they just don’t believe accusations of pedophilia or the plain old crazy that comes out of Trump’s mouth. They keep invoking Hillary, but Hillary is not our president. She’s not in Congress or the Senate. She’s not passing tax laws. She’s not outlawing actual vocabulary, she’s not denying climate change or science or getting rid of National Parks. She’s not doing everything in her power to destroy our world, our freedoms, all for the sake of corporate money. Trump and his henchmen are.

So why invoke her? I guess it’s easier than arguing FOR what this current administration stands for.

So then I think, deeply, about my white woman friends…because yeah, I’m a white woman and I have some white woman friends. I’m not brunching or tea-timing with them though. I do stitch with them, but none of them voted for this crazy. They all marched with me last year in the Women’s March AND the science march, and we’re marching again this year…at least that’s the plan. I make art, I yell a lot, then I think, which white women I know would be OK with all this? Well. I know a couple. I know at least one didn’t vote for Trump, but she does agree with some of the stuff that’s happening. I don’t know why. I don’t know that I can change that. I think they’re pretty clear on my stance. I honestly don’t know how to approach the conversation in a way that might promote change in their minds. I really don’t. Their defenses are up. Mine probably are too.

So that’s something to consider. Find more hope for my students so they don’t join gangs and have conversations with my more conservative white woman friends so they change their votes, their ideas, I don’t know what. Teach them critical thinking (ironically, one of them thinks I don’t think critically…). Fucking sigh. That’s a list and a half weighing me down.

It’s true. I don’t vacation well. My brain gets weighed down by this stuff. The NRA hosted at the White House on the anniversary of Sandy Hook. WTF.

And this…you’re going to OUTLAW WORD USE. Well. If that isn’t fascism and a dictatorship, I don’t know what is. Because honestly, there’s a scientific definition for fetus (it’s one of the things I teach during sex ed), so let’s just get rid of it. Because the baby inside is the same as the baby outside. If you believe that, fine. Let’s take that baby out and see how it does without mom’s support. Right now. At 12 weeks. Let’s go. Oh wait…you don’t want that? Because YOU KNOW BETTER.

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The thing I love about America and the people who live here is their diversity. For our vulnerable members, these are not entitlements; they are rights: the right to live and go to school and have food and shelter and be safe, no matter what color, gender, belief system, background, or country of origin, whether they are the mother of a fetus (an actual scientific term) or transgender, or any other label we use to divide people instead of bring them together in their humanity. Our decisions should be science– and evidence-based, not based on archaic ideas of what society should look like, not based on guesses or the Bible or any other book of faith that doesn’t question, test, analyze, observe, and change with the times…because science does all of those things. And although science can solve many problems (if you’re really against it, put your damn phone down and stop the Tweeting), at the core of this is the heart…in our hearts, we should know that telling the CDC to stop using valid vocabulary in its communications with the people they serve is a step in absolutely the wrong direction, a step toward all those dystopian novels we read where the government is out of control, forcing people to exist in a limited space that disallows our natural human creativity and care for others. We don’t make amazing discoveries in that world. Nothing is cured, no one is saved. I don’t want to live in that world.

I saw an opening in my schedule to request blocks from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Kids made these blocks and they need stitching. So once I finish my stitch-a-night thing, I’m going to do these for a month. Or however long it takes. I’m a little concerned about that E on the right, but whatever.

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I really like this one.

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And it’s not like I have a shortage of thread. So each night, I’ll pick a strand or two and stitch these down.

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Little steps. I can’t overthrow anything at the moment.

We hiked with the dogs yesterday…dragged them through plant matter.

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The pool of water up top is gone…

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They needed it. I needed it. More of this.

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Then back to here and moving some shit around and finally sitting down for an hour and a bit and stitching stuff down.

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I’m going fast. I need to be done. Like maybe today. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

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I was days and days behind on this. I last worked on it on Monday. We went out and listened to a band for a while, but then came back and watched some Walking Dead, so I did 5 nights’ worth, all in the bottom…to fill in those empty spaces.

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Fifteen more nights on this.

I did a little of the stitch-down on this too…the houses are done, the warthog is half done, the tree needs to be done…same with the sun. Not sure if there’s other bits I’m missing. Need to look through the bag and see what’s left. Then it will be ready for embellishment.

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I think the hippo has stuff on it. I should figure that out. I also want to pin down all the circles (buds) on the Bird Crazy quilt, so I can start stitching those down. I need some long binge-watching episodes, but not until I finish this quilt.

This morning, though, I’m trying to clean up the house enough to finish what little holiday decoration I’m gonna do. Then grocery store and stitch for a while. While thinking about gangs and white women. And batting, because that’s what woke me up first.

*Linkin Park, Faint


Everything Looks Perfect from Far Away*

November 22, 2017

My efficiency was compromised yesterday by life. And my eyeballs. And the girlchild, who sobbed into the phone that she just wanted to come home. Well. That made me cry. I do miss the little fuckers. Big. They’re bigger than me. Anyway. I copyedited, I hiked, I ironed. That kinda sums up the day.

This is what copyediting looks like. Hallelujah for that raccoon, let me tell you. He makes me smile every time I look up. There’s a window above that and another one to the left. But I didn’t get as far as I wanted yesterday, because there was a girlchild incursion.

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So I sent her lots of pictures of these guys. Although I couldn’t get both of them to sit picturesquely, dammit.

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Then I did a 4-mile hike in the dark. It was a bit of a challenge, just because there were lots of rocks and no visibility. Yes, I had a headlamp, but I was having some issues seeing anyway.

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But since it was in the 90s yesterday, at night was the only way I was gonna hike. So I’m in this hiking group, but they changed the rules to make it more active, so you have to go on one hike every 6 months to stay in the group. I begged the leader last year to leave me in, but I suspected I needed to do an actual hike with the group soon or I’d be booted. It’s just hard with my current schedule to find something I can do. After work is difficult…most of the hikes I would do are on the day I do tutoring, so it’s already a really long day.

So I went to the top of Black Mountain in the dark. Hence no good pictures. Four miles total…not bad for a Tuesday night.

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Apparently she does this one all the time. I’d do it again…but I wouldn’t get there in time for after work. Too much traffic.

I came home and vegged a bit with this freak…

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And girlchild FaceTimed again, now calmer and more decisive…this face is because she misses the dogs. Simba sucks at FaceTime.

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I did iron last night…but not as much as I wanted to. Hikes tire me out. But there’s Midnight ironed down with her wings…

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Damn I miss that cat. I made a mess again.

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Got up early this morning to talk the girlchild through part of her drive to her brother…found the dog eating student warmups…luckily I’d already graded them.

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Then made the dough for rolls (need to deal with those), plus brine for the turkey (mine is cooking Friday), talked to girlchild some more, talked to SIL, finally showered, my eyes are so tired right now, but I need to go make the rolls and then copyedit. Or go to the store (damn) or drop my book at the library. I graded a little bit this morning…I need to do more of that too. Ugh. And it’s dry and 95 degrees today. My body is rejecting all that. I want a nap.

What I really want is to FINISH everything. Yeah. Not happening. Gonna try to finish grading the one assignment, finish the first readthrough on the book, and iron all the pieces down (that might be a stretch). Today. TRY. I said TRY.

*The Postal Service, Such Great Heights


You Put the Load Right on Me*

November 13, 2017

‘Twas a productive weekend…I finished grading 2 or 3 assignments, didn’t finish a bunch of other stuff, hiked a mountain, cut out a ton of Wonder Under, and replaced the headlight in my car (with help). That was an achievement.

We started late…the goal? Clevenger Canyon South, apparently 4.3 miles (a fact we questioned multiple times), on a day that was supposed to be cooler than it felt. The wonder of San Diego is the temperature can be quite warm in the mountains, even in November.

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We climbed a lot in the first mile…and if you’d told me I was hiking to that rock (and beyond) that you can see on the ridge, I might have given up. But no. We kept going…

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Looking back here on the trail we’d been on before going down into the canyon, where it was obvious one of the fires had gone through here (2007)…

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So this little guy…I just about stepped on him. He never rattled…he never even moved. I noticed him, yelled snake, moved my foot further along than I had been planning, all in a matter of seconds. Yes, I realize we’re lucky he didn’t strike…because that’s a baby rattler and he wouldn’t have known to only dump some of his venom in my calf. It would have been an interesting hike, I guess…

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From further up, the canyon is down where the green is, although there was still no water.

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Evidence of burn even on the rocks…

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Looking to the north…

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And to the south…actually, my car is way way down there…

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This was our goal: two metal chairs bolted to a boulder.

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And a view to die for. Well. Not die. But we were glad to get there…

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It ended up being 4.65 miles, mostly up for the first 1.7 miles.

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And the way down was super fast. Yes…we were to the left of that rock most of the way to the far left peak. We didn’t do the last 0.2 miles to that peak. We had the view already.

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Poles were helpful on the way down. The snake was gone on the way down.

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More evidence of burn…

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And then this was delightful…just remember that what looks like a scary dive bar on the outside houses a lovely bar with cool refreshing drinks and snacks on the inside…

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Then last night, I did some feather stitching on this, above the righthand eye.

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And I cut out a bunch of this…while watching a show in Icelandic. I think I’m semi-fluent now…

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I think this was actually the night before…

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There’s more of that in a bit, but these photos are from the Threads of Resistance exhibit, which made it to the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the weekend. As always, I’m behind the sign…

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And the curtain…

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I kinda wish they wouldn’t hang the signs on the quilts…

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But I’m in good company back there…

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So I’m a woman of a certain age…who knows if and when I will ever have another period (NOT complaining), but the app updated and now it ignores perimenopause completely. I find this highly amusing.

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And kind of a metaphor for women of my age (ignored). Whatever.

I graded more videos yesterday…at 3 minutes per kid, it takes a while, so I poured a hot cup of tea and grabbed my stitching, so I could listen better. It worked.

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I got the hippo done and part of the sun…

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For some reason, this month’s stuff is taking forever to stitch down.

Puppy was tired…but he wanted to be near me and my Wonder Under…

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Sometimes more near than others.

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I did about 5 hours of cutting out yesterday and 2 the night before, so I have a hefty chunk done…ahead of schedule.

Speaking of schedules, I need to get my butt outta here and to work. More progress tonight, I’m sure.

*The Band, The Weight