Not So Single-Minded…

Hello 2023. And Happy New Year to those who make a mental shift about now for that reason. We made a nice warm dinner, played a wordy game for a while (until someone got tired of losing), and then I mentally flailed while watching Serpent Queen until 11:57 PM, when we searched for a fake ball drop that happened 3 hours earlier, kissed, and went to bed. It rained all night.

The mental flail was more about what to work on…this is why I don’t like a lot of down time between art projects. It makes me uncomfortable to just SIT and not do anything. That said, I have a book I need to finish by Wednesday at 7:09 PM. I think I’m going to make it, but I had to stop reading the one I was almost done with and focus on this one, which I wasn’t expecting much of, but it is proving more interesting than I thought. I joined a new book club with my friends in the old one, this one focused on mysteries. Hoping for some more recommendations. Hoping to read more, actually. It’s been hard to fit that in once school is in. Too much visual stimulation, reading-like, for school. Not very interesting stuff most of the time. But I managed 55 (almost 56) books last year…not bad…could be better.

So I made a goal to do better in 2023. Things I care about right now: reading, art, travel, my family, my friends. My job is pushing it this year. I obviously care about it because I don’t blow it off. I just think it is taking more than it should from me. Yeah.

Anyway, what else has been going on? Well you know that drawing I started the other day? I rolled it up and put it away. I have two deadlines I’m looking at that are pretty far out, but I find both of them interesting, so I had picked one, the one I’ve been thinking about for months, but then when I got to the paper, I felt like I didn’t know enough to draw it yet. I do have a rough sketch on that paper and I’m not giving up on it; it’s just that the other one started talking to me. Mostly during this hike we did on New Year’s Eve (trying to avoid the rain and the people who like to hike on the first day of the year, by hiking on the last day of the year instead).

Hollenbeck Canyon out past Jamul…

It was nice and cool…well, actually cold and rainy at times…

Totally great for letting your brain wander around…

My knee behaved fine…I’ve been doing physical therapy and trying to exercise enough. I find it’s hard to get out of the pajamas right now. Easier when it’s cold and wet to just stay on the couch and not do anything.

But I feel worse after that. So this is better. I think today is officially the last day of break when I have nothing that I have to do on my calendar. Which sucks. Lots of work and medical stuff over the rest of the week, with a little art stuff sprinkled in. I guess I have to think about work. Don’t want to. As usual.

ANYWAY, back to the drawing, I had done some research (I like to research stuff) and came up with some things tickling my brain, mostly Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (my goodness, how DO you spell that…ah, one more capital letter). And some other stuff. Anyway, I cut out a piece of paper, walked away from it, and then started drawing.

So far, I’m all in pencil.

Yeah, I need to put the Xmas stuff away. Didn’t want to pull the boxes out yesterday with all the rain and wet. Maybe today.

So I will probably start some ink tonight, then some more pencil. Today is the boychild’s birthday. He is getting old enough that it makes ME feel old. Until it doesn’t. Because I’m not that old. Anyway, I don’t think any of that will stop me from drawing tonight, but I do want to get to a stage of this piece that is easier to do with less energy before school starts, because I know I will HAVE less energy when school starts, both mentally and physically. I’m having to full-on STEEL myself for going back (you can do it, one day at a time, you will get through it). Maybe that is always the case, but it seems worse right now. Certainly I feel in giant flail mode.

I have been slowly trying to stitch my way around this giant-ass quilt…

And I finished the April Homegrown blocks (Sue Spargo) finally…moving on to May now.

That sun in the lower right block took a goodly chunk of time on New Year’s Eve. And thread!

Oh yeah, more of the piñata show at the Mingei…

Not what you would expect from a piñata show…

Definitely worth going though…

Just think of it more as papier-mache sculpture. Plus the Mingei has other funky craft work all over the place…

Gotta love a giant Earth covered in beads.

Nova would. If she were allowed to.

Instead, she loved me.

Right up there in your face.

OK. I dreamed (nightmared?) about not having a shower last night. I’m not sure why, but it made me really want one this morning. I have a quilt to quilt, a drawing to draw, and a lot of work to work. I’m hoping to do some of all of it. Also need to pack up a fabric donation box or two, plus cut up more blocks for a donation quilt. I’m liking deadlines that are a long ways out so I don’t have to be so single-minded about making, although it freaks me out when I don’t have something to be single-minded about. I also need to read another third of my book so I finish it before it’s due (I figured a third a day would work). And enjoy the last day of break before the have-tos really kick in. Seems doable.

To Be Clear…

Sometimes it may seem that I am not paying attention to current events or politics or major issues in the world, but I surely am. They are sitting right there in my pop-up Google Glass brain, playing on repeat. I’m trying to process the images and ideas into work, mostly, or into sense, which is difficult. Portland, for example. Not Portland the city…Portland WTF is the federal government doing there. Like Albuquerque. I’m sure there are some terrified or politically different folks who are glad to see unmarked vans trolling around their city (a few blocks of it anyway) and grabbing those dangerous moms and dads of Portland or shooting tear gas at them to try to control them their singing and chanting of peace and love and change from the stupid practices that kill innocent people or even people who should have more rights, but I’m not one of them. I’m pretty sure my government is totally not my government at the moment. I’m glad to see Portland being proactive, both at a person-to-person level and at a governor-mayor-attorney-general level. And I’m sure you know this, because you read my blog, and IDK how you could if you were of a wildly different political persuasion than I, but Breonna Taylor’s killers are still free, they’re cops, they should be charged with murder, and those protesting her murder and the freedom of her killers were subjected to a lot worse than those cops. Which is so incredibly and amazingly wrong. Dead wrong, to be clear.

I honestly have a hard time watching or listening to much of the news these days. It hurts. And then I think, must be nice to be able to watch it from here, where we have no feds (yet), no cops breaking into my home, no fascist dictators (well, arguments to be had there)…I can vote, I can walk around and not be harassed by police (unless I go to Portland apparently), and no one is usually asking me for my ID in a park. It’s true. It is nice. And I want it to be that way for EVERYBODY. Including those who don’t politically believe what I do, but I’d like them to come over to our side too. Really. Let’s do this, people. White is not great. White is not right. White doesn’t even exist biologically, which makes it even stupider. More stupid. And yet the racism is there, the bullshit is there, the discrimination is there. No, I still don’t have an antiracist quilt drawn because I barely understand the people for whom I would be making it. I don’t know how to talk to them. I don’t know how to address their fears, because they just sound insane to me. Sad and crazy and insane and just plain wrong.

Keep it up, Portland. Chicago, Albuquerque, New York…be strong. White people…dayum. If you’re with me, cool. If you’re not…please explain. Because all I see is fear. And that’s not how we should be living our lives, making decisions that affect lots of people, pushing out hate and different and wrong. Oh yeah. Science! We should science more. And harder.

OK. So the last few days. The fence is kind of on hold. We’re waiting on wood slats…

They’re saying up to 2 weeks to get them, and then we get to plant. And be private? Well, who knows. This is from the road…and here is our little friend the praying mantis…

And another view…

Anyway, so more of that will happen.

This cat…

And the dogs…my parents’ dog is here…

My poor SIL and family are in a tire store in the middle of California after they blew a tire. They just called me to complain about California roads and Sacramento weather. I don’t envy them that part. I am jealous of the trip itself.

I spent some time Wednesday night just cleaning up, because I was tired and couldn’t think straight. I put all these away except for the pinks…

And I traced some stuff and cut it out for the small Patreon quilts.

I’m having a hard time with motivation. I’m tired and unfocused. I write down a to-do list every day so I can just look at it and cross things off. I should write a more specific one for these so I can get them done. They’re not hard…I just can’t focus. Although I’ve been working on this…

In meetings mostly. Zoomy meetings. She’s getting there.

Yesterday, I persuaded the boychild to hike Hollenbeck with me…

I’ve been doing shorter neighborhood hikes, but not my normal summer once-a-week bust-em-out hikes. This is still under 6 miles unless we add on…

Which I would’ve done if (a) it stayed nice and cloudy like that and (b) I didn’t have a shitload of other things I needed to get done. California horny toad there…

A little one…

There’s a hill hiding back there.

And then this thing that looked like either a fuzzy beetle or a landed bee…hard to say.

It was weird bug day.

It did get a little warmer, but not too bad for summer…low 80s.

Lots of woodpeckers and bunnies, all of which I did not manage to photograph…plus one coyote from a distance.

It was a really beautiful day.

Definitely worth it. Would recommend.

Then came home and trimmed this beast. Luckily it was pretty easy. I think I fixed three sides after the first cuts, which isn’t bad.

All while kneeling on that damn scabby knee from Monday. Ouch. Please remind me that this is too big. I should make things that are smaller than this. Really. She’s 78″ wide x 81″ high. She big.

Then I tested the binding fabrics I had…the green works…it does…

But the red makes the COVID virions, the angels, and the blood vessels pop…and that’s better…

In the end, the brighter red worked…I found a bunch of another darker red, but it doesn’t work as well. So the bright red it is.

I cut all the binding and sleeve fabrics Thursday afternoon, and then got too tired to sew them all together and on the quilt itself. Hopefully today?

We’ll see. I’m currently waiting for a really badly timed focaccia to finish cooking…

It rose nicely. I’m constantly confusing 12 and 24 hours. For whatever reason. Honestly, I’m constantly confusing a lot of things. It’s a late-afternoon focaccia instead of a dinnertime focaccia.

And I already delivered a quilt to the Oceanside Museum of Art for a show we might not be able to see. Sigh. It’s funny that the woman who works there (who I’ve worked with before) recognized me with a mask on. I’m always so impressed that she knows who I am. I got to see artist Katie Ruiz‘ rainbow of pompoms, albeit, on the floor and not on the outside wall…

But still nice.

OK, the day has disappeared, as always. I have a tree guy coming later, I have gaming tonight, the focaccia is good, hopefully my SIL and family (which, yes, includes my bro) make it to Yosemite tonight with tires complete, and maybe I’ll even get something done later. You never know. These summer days that kick you upside the head. Woo!

I’m Unusually Hard to Hold On to*

I’m thinking this was a very good weekend. It helps to have an extra day, doesn’t it? Especially for teachers, who usually lose a half to whole day of their weekend to planning and grades. I spent a significant chunk of time on school stuff, only because I had to organize the parent email for Sunday, but it wasn’t too bad. I know it will get worse, so I’m enjoying this weekend, when I had some time to laze around with a book or just NOT do something, which is really hard for me.

So we went to a couple of local wineries on Saturday afternoon…this one was nice, because of the view.

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It was a great day for grapes as well…

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And they had alpacas.

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We came home after and had some dinner, and I started trying to finish this drawing…

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And then decided I should stitch these to their boxes…these and four quilts need to be delivered next weekend for the Soka University show that opens on September 20.

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I’m going to have to figure out when I can go see it…since it’s only open Monday-Friday.

I’m still working on these…I have 5 pink balls left to embellish, and then all the dark orange ones…

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And then I’ll have TWO wool quilts that need quilting.

Puppy sleep…

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Ah yes, on Sunday, I finished the drawing. It’s good, although I’m still debating something in the top right.

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And then I numbered it…

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High 500s, I think. Not bad. Not huge. Not too complicated.

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Then we planned a hike to Hollenbeck Canyon this morning…need to get in one good long hike each month. Today was the day.

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It was shady and cool at the start…

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Those weird gourds…I’ve never seen the yellow flowers before though.

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And these spiky things are pretty cool…

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It’s definitely summer to fall here…

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Old oaks, mostly dry grass…this is near the top of the hellish hill…we hiked up from the dark green in the middle right. Boychild took a different (aka longer) route…

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You can’t see him, but he’s waving from the crotch between the two hills. He eventually caught up with us. Long legs and youth…I never had the first and I barely remember the latter.

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The path down into the back valley…

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There’s a coyote in this picture. Wave if you find him.

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Dead snake…probably got hit by the bike that went by earlier.

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And the long view out toward the south and the Jamul mountain range.

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Boychild for the win. It was a little over 5 1/2 miles. Not bad. Home before lunch!

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There’s all the parent emails I input and/or checked on Saturday. Kitten’s got this under control, yeah?

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OK, so on the schedule for today: enter one more show (I’m up to 6 or 7 I think), drop sewing machine at mom’s so she can take it in to the shop for me and they can figure out the tension/feed dog thing, make my lunches for the week, start tracing Wonder Under, pack up the 4 quilts that need to be delivered next weekend, put a label on one of those quilts, maybe read my book. Not a bad ending to a 3-day weekend.

*Sara Bareilles, Love Song

A Cool Breeze Flows but Mind the Wasp*

I spent 4 hours ironing and dehairing quilts yesterday. No problem. It was a lot of standing. I cut some slats too, and also put on 3 or 4 labels on the backs of quilts. Everything is going in today…for this…


I had a hard time coming up with a title for this show in the beginning. I really wanted Super V, but that was an issue. Then they suggested just my name or something about my story. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my name being part of the show, but now I’m owning it. Maybe it’s turning 50. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know, but hell, I must have some super powers to do what I keep doing. So I might as well adjust that cape and wear it as well as I can. I’ll share it too…any time you wanna borrow it, just let me know.

Kitten was very helpful during the ironing stage.

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I’m actually surprised she’s still talking to me. I took three animals to the vet yesterday to try to get a handle on the flea issues here, and she was one of them. She’s not a fan, but she did OK.

After the ironing was done, boychild and I hiked Hollenbeck Canyon…I have been testing the hiking out after the evac a few weeks ago. This hike just confirms that was medication-related…because I had no problems yesterday…still in the heat…climbed a few hills, much worse than the other hike…plus twice as far.

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I think I haven’t been here for a year…can’t remember. It was very dry looking, with remnants of a fire that was set out here a month or so back…

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From almost the top of the hill…

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On the back side is all oak trees and meadows…and bunnies and jackrabbits and squirrels and one coyote we saw.

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These trees always make me think of witches, for some reason…that and all the crows everywhere…

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We did do the late afternoon/evening, to try to beat some of the heat. It’s supposed to be in the high 90s by Saturday, so yesterday was supposed to be the coolest day of the week. Hiking in the summer is kind of difficult because of the weather, but it’s when the kids (or at least one of them) are home.

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This is where we saw the coyote…and where the burn was, on the left…plus some further back. Most of it was on the hills across from the park entrance. I don’t understand people who start fires.

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I’ve always loved this view, as you’re climbing out of the river valley, looking back…

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So yeah, over 6 miles, no issues, except a slow climb for me. Boychild is patient. Lets me stop and breathe. Girlchild is back next week, but the weather is also supposed to be awful. Plus I have a ton of art-related stuff happening next week.

I did something on here…more chain stitch, I think. On the right…

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And then I spaced out for a while before deciding to cut out Wonder Under for the first climate quilt…the one I didn’t really mean to make right now. And will probably have to just put aside for a while. We’ll see.

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So I have quilt delivery and installation set for today for two different shows. I don’t actually know what that entails for one delivery, but the other one, I know I’m up on a ladder.

But then I’m done. Well. You know how that goes. Done worrying about getting stuff finished for these two shows. Ready to make my own stuff…this has not been a great year so far for that I think. Well. When I look back at last year, I had 5 quilts done by the end of May, and then nothing was finished until August, because I was working on a huge one. This year, I have 3 new quilts completed, but 1 from last year that got finished differently, so most of the work was done last year; that’s number 4. And then another one that’s in the community quilt that is almost finished, but won’t be until it comes out of the quilt. Not sure if and when that will happen. It’s small too. So I’d like to have the long skinny one done in August…I almost typed BY August, but when I look at the calendar for the next two weeks, I’m not sure that will happen. It can be a goal, I guess. Then two more big ones in the Fall. That could be a challenge. But I’ve done it before…I think I’m actually much better at scheduling art time when I’m teaching…because I have to make time for it, so then I just do it. These days, these chaotic days of summer? It’s harder to do that for some reason.

I’m always looking far ahead, deciding what I need or want to get done. What I really want? A bunch of days when I can just lose myself in the making. Yup. That’s a vacation for me.

*Morcheeba, The Sea

Relaxation…the Workaholic Way…

So relaxation does not come easy to me. If it’s “vacation,” I tend to be doing just as much if not more than I do during the work year. I’m a workaholic. I do vacation the same way. With the foot injury and recovering from pneumonia way way back in February, I’ve really been trying to get back on track with my exercise plan, which has included trying to hike with the kids once a week and get back into going back to the gym. I’m also continuing to try to make art every day, which is a LOT easier if you don’t have to grade papers every night.

So I managed yesterday morning to clean a floor (kick the dogs out!) and then lay out a quilt on it and pinbaste the beast…

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It’s actually quite small for me, supposed to finish at 18×40″. Teensy. I managed the pinbasting before the dogs broke through the screen door to get back in the house, and more importantly, lie all over the floor and detach their hair upon it.

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I also stitched down the handy boob from last night…need to figure out what next on it.

Then the boychild and I set out upon a hike…It was supposed to be about 6 miles, but I think the boychild added a mile and a half onto it. The first part was what I expected…this is Hollenbeck Canyon Trail out near Jamul…

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Although I’d never seen these flowers before…

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There was still a little water left in the canyon…

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And the only geocache I can keep in my memory banks was still there…

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But then we had a divergence of opinion (I was right). Boychild wanted to take this path, which is not actually the trail that’s on the official map. OK. I’ve done this trail before. I remember the bitchy hill at the end of it.

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Here’s the beginning of it. No matter what on this trail, there is a bitchy hill…

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You can choose this one or the other one. This path is longer, but I don’t think the hill is worse. Jul 6 15 042 small

Notice he’s way ahead of me. Mom gets tired on the hills. Can’t breathe. So I stop and look back and take photos of the looming thunder clouds (no rain for us).

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And he waits for me at the top. I actually picked this trail because there wasn’t a lot of having to wait for mom. So normally, we would now take THIS trail…down. Into the back end of the hike. But no…

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He wants to take that one. Hell. That’s not on the map at all, dear heart. It’s not.

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But I’m a good sport and he seems to think he’s done this before (he has).

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But instead of heading north and then west to catch up with the other trail, it seems to be heading northeast. Like away. Hmnn. There’s a bird nest up in there.

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Probably hawk or turkey vulture. So below, way far in the distance, is the trail we should be on. I just printed the map and I think we did an extra two miles on that section…

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He’s going to argue it was less. Oh well. Eventually, after traipsing through poison oak and shady groves, we met up with the normal trail, a lovely walk through oak groves.

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And this. Fenced off…marked with signs that it’s a wildlife special place (I’m sure there were more official words than that)…

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And I’m betting this is a motion-sensor camera (which recorded me and the boychild making faces at it)…planted right in front of the water.

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Very strange. More walking, as we consider when the sun will go down and whether boychild allotted time for his mother’s tiredness and short legs (he did it in 3 hours with a few walkbacks)…

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Bug analysis…

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Lots and lots of ants and their holes…I’m sure I killed hundreds of them by walking on them.

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Long vistas with the marine layer coming in (a sign that night is near)…

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These funky dead flowers…

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And vistas worthy of a little home on a prairie apparently…

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It was beautiful, and this little old lady did it (whatever IT is, 7 miles? 8?) in 2 hours and 40 minutes. With an ankle brace. Suck THAT.

Yeah. I know. I have issues.

So then I came home and actually was able to quilt after that…

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No, I don’t know how. I just did. I didn’t do a whole lot, but I got started on the quilting, on the outlining. I think I’m up to the torso at this point. I might have part of a leg to do. Honestly, I got tired. Plus, I knew I needed to get up in the morning for THIS…

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Oh yeah baby. Wet butt, probably sore neck and shoulders later tonight…kayaking on Mission Bay. A real joy. Mostly calm (some speedboats teaching kids how to ski), a seal ahead of us. I really enjoyed it. Not so long that I was in pain, although I’m tired right now…but totally long enough to know I did a mental and physical workout.

I need to do some more quilting now, because it looks like I might have an editing job coming in tomorrow. AACK! It really gets crazy now, doesn’t it? How many different ways can I have to earn money at once? As many as it takes. So quilting, editing, the odd writing job might pop up, a commission, some small art quilts. The boychild’s financial aid came in finally, and it was better than last year, but not as good as I wanted it to be, so I’m short money…I knew I would be. Just not how much. So I take deep breaths and figure out how to get it all done.

But apparently the relaxing part means running around outside in the natural world…which is the best thing for us hermits to be doing anyway. Tomorrow? I might just go to the gym instead. Just for a change.

Geocaching in Hollenbeck Canyon

I knew I had New Year’s Day free, and despite my No-Resolution attitude, I did want to start out on the right foot (ha ha ha), so I picked a hike. I’d been curious about geocaching for a while, so I picked a hike in a group I belong to that went back to Hollenbeck Canyon (was just there last week), but would explore the geocaches hidden all over the park.

I haven’t hiked with this big of a group for a while…it was different…

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It was a gorgeous day for it, though…all you people back East, it was about 75 degrees max, beautiful blue skies, light breeze…

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We found about 17 geocaches during the whole trip, which was interesting and fun (well, for a while…). The first one (which I didn’t take a picture of) was in the parking lot, a microcache with just a log in it. The second one, though, had dropped into a deep crevice in the rocks and we needed a long curvy stick to get it out…

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Which we did…ammo box with stuff inside.

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Honestly, most of what was left in the caches was crap…there were a couple of decent things, especially farther out. It’s not surprising, because a lot of young families come here and they probably find the closer caches and so there’s lots of hairbands and plastic toys.

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And expired Souplantation coupons (really?). The caches were in a wide variety of containers…this one was a mini-M&M container painted over…

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Some just have logs in them where you can sign your name and the date; some have stuff. This one was a Bob Dylan theme…

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And contained a book (not to take)…we had to struggle up a steep slope to find this one, and getting down it without poles was difficult…I guess I can see now why some people carry them.

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I just slid down on my butt. This one was cool…each geocache has a name and this was Someone’s Watching You…and there she was…

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The cache itself was hanging on the lower screw. There were a couple we couldn’t find and one we thought had been stepped on and broken. I was traveling with a group that were half veterans and half virgins of the geocaching experience.

This was Mike’s Star…

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The same people didn’t find all the caches…and there were a wide variety of types and hiding places. I left some of my Shrinky Dinks in some of them but didn’t take anything in return. There wasn’t really anything I wanted.

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One thing I will say about geocaching is that it is SLOW…it’s not a hike. It’s a lot of wandering around and looking, and then standing around, and the people with the technology are trying to find things, and it’s not necessarily the most interesting thing to do for HOURS. At least for me. YMMV. I could see doing it for a couple of hours with the kids. I did download an app onto my phone, the Geocaching Intro (which was free)…it was fine when there was internet. That’s the problem, though…there isn’t always internet, and it didn’t have all the caches. You can pay for a premium membership, which is only $30 a year, but you’d have to think that one through and decide if it’s worth it. I did log 15 caches (although I had to do some when I got home because internet was spotty and it wouldn’t show me all the caches even when I was standing on top of them). The app wouldn’t let me log two of them without the premium membership. The guys with the GPS devices were the most useful in this place.

This is what standing around waiting for the next PING looks like…

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At least the landscape is nice, eh?

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We spent about the first 3 hours geocaching (and stopping for lunch)…

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I even found one…it was here…you can just see the corner of the plastic box poking out from under that rock…

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Lucky find. I actually suck at this stuff…

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Despite being a highly observant person. I think I don’t have the patience for it.

That’s Lyons Valley Peak…

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Apparently there’s a crazy man on it with a gun who won’t let anyone up there.

A pill container for a geocache…

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A heart-shaped box (I might have been the only one humming the Nirvana song when we found this one)…

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Sandwich container…

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Microcache on a fencepost (see, you can see a different person is finding them every time…it is a nondiscriminatory game)…

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Around about here, we realized we were a good 3 miles out from the parking lot and it was getting late. I suspect a smaller group might move faster. Plus we kind of had the mentality that we had to find ALL the caches, which I think is crazy when there are so many of them…

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So we lost a few people here who had to get back to somewhere…

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And we sped up the walking part…love the old California oak trees…

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Weather still good…

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Meadows stretching endlessly…

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This was the last cache we found…

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And then we had some trail issues…it doesn’t seem to matter how many maps and devices you have…

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Or how many brains, for that matter, because at some point, we went the wrong way…

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and the trail ended. And someone said, “Hey, let’s just go to the top of that hill (mountain) and see where we’re at,” and then we were ALL climbing the mountain (it’s only 5 minutes…and 1000 calories burned…up that thing). So in this view, we’re at the top of the saddle (I did not go to the top of the mountain, just the saddle)…and where we NEED to be is through all that brush in the horizontal dark stripe about the middle of the photo…

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So we bushwhacked…and climbed down into and up out of ravines (at least three) and avoided snakes and barbed wire and found an opening in a fence so we didn’t have to climb through barbed wire and eventually all of us got down the mountain. In the picture below, the mountain (OK, it looks smaller here) is in the middle…my group came over the saddle to the right…

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So. What do I think? The hike was fun. I enjoy actual hiking more than geocaching. I would geocache again, but with an understanding of how slow it is. I don’t have a lot of geocaching stamina…it gets boring for me after a while. Now I know all these things…and at some point, I will realize that all hikes take at least an hour longer than I think they will, even after I add on an extra hour.

Hiking in Town

East San Diego is great for hiking close to home, yet seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We’re within 10-20 minutes of some seriously good hiking areas where you will see few people and only traces of civilization. Of course, in summer, these hikes are unbearably warm, unless undertaken in the early morning hours or in the dark (not recommended for most), but at this time of year, even when it’s 80 degrees in wintry December (seriously, that’s been the high temperature the last few days), it’s a nice walk with plenty of water at hand.

On Christmas Eve, the boychild and I took the dogs on a hike in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge near Jamul. We picked Millar Ranch Road as our start…the road goes out into the foothills…

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It wasn’t too hot or cold…which for December is nice. There was still some green on the hills, showing the effects of the little bits of rain we’ve gotten this month.

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There was still mud in some areas on the trail. We hiked out the dirt road for about 30 minutes and came back. There were lots of offshoots of the trail, which goes around the back of Mt. Miguel. We saw one coyote in the distance melt into the bushes, and then there was this guy…

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Wow. That is some gorgeous winter coat. He watched us for ages, while the dogs panted along, oblivious. He was quite a ways away, which is why the picture is fuzzy…but clearly sitting there and watching us.

Then on the day after Christmas (Boxing Day to the Brits out there), we dragged both dogs and the girlchild with us to Hollenbeck Canyon, which is about 15 minutes away, east of Jamul proper, so a little further out than where we’d been two days prior. Yes, Jake was excited…

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We spent about two hours hiking through here, getting lost at one point (yes, we had a map…no, we didn’t get TOO far off of it). There are many crisscrossing trails in this area, and random signs with mileage markers to unknown areas.

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It was a gorgeous day, but hot, over 80 degrees. Yes. In December. I think hiking here in summer would be difficult in the heat of the day.

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But it was OK…we did leave a little late in the day (I had to visit the vet with a couple of animals).

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We brought food and water, although we forgot a bowl for the dogs…a plastic bag that had been destined to carry poop managed to hold water for them though.

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There were some “quad-busting slopes” (not my terminology…someone described a couple of climbs that way).

And some beautiful vistas…

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We all peed in bushes…OK, the boychild didn’t. There was poison oak that the girlchild tramped through unknowingly…luckily, no one seemed to get a rash. I did wash Calli when I got home, mostly because the vet had told me to anyway, but it seemed like the possibility of her having the poison oak oil on her fur (it won’t bug the dog, but it will bug you if you pet the dog) seemed high, since the girlchild had dragged her through there. I loved her comment…”But LOTS of plants have three leaves…” Um. OK. But this one is pretty damn obvious. I guess my years in the Girl Scouts came in useful, but I did not transmit information well to the girlchild. The boychild seemed to realize it.

We definitely tired the dogs out…five miles.

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At some point, the girlchild stopped whining about how tired she was and how hot it was and how downhill sucks and uphill sucks and it all sucks, and she took off without us.

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She had headphones on. It might have helped.

All in all, lots of calories burned, nature enjoyed, time with kidlets, dogs exercised, new vistas explored. Not a bad couple of days. I’m looking at going back to Hollenbeck for a geocaching experience…apparently there are multiple caches in the area.

Both of these are within a 20-minute drive of most of East County, San Diego. Bring lots of water, even for the dogs, and always bring food. Oops. That’s the diabetic talking. There is a map at the beginning of the Hollenbeck trail…it was sort of useful…except when we wandered OFF of it. Probably more our issue than theirs. We didn’t see anyone on the Millar Ranch walk until we were almost done. We saw more people at Hollenbeck, although mostly on horses and a few on bikes. That said, they were both technically workdays for most people…weekends may be different.