Less Cottony

Dear all my youngish neighbors with your little children who have now all installed really bright motion-sensor lights: Do you know that things that MOVE make your lights go on ALL NIGHT LONG…on the other side of the house, where you don’t even know about it, and the things that MOVE are animals, birds, and trees, sometimes bats. Seriously, the wind makes your stupid lights go on and you don’t really NEED them because you’re not out there in your side yard checking out what’s setting them off, BUT THEY ALL SHINE IN MY HOUSE. EVERY DAMN ONE OF THEM. Plus the damn fairy light strings everywhere. Yes, they are nice and pretty, but they don’t need to be on all night. I think they’re still on now and it’s broad daylight. Have you never heard of light pollution?

I hear my parents have a BB gun.

Yes, I am the crazy old lady neighbor. But seriously. So much lighting of spaces where there are no peoples.

Hey, well, it’s Thursday. Somehow I got off my every-other-day schedule and am trying to write on the days when I don’t normally write. Today is a staff meeting day AND a lab day, so this will be hopefully quick. What have I been doing? Well, working on a quilt, of course. And I needed to dye some old quilt blocks for the background of this one.

So I don’t know about you, but I have all the dye supplies ready to go in the cupboard, and can start a small dye job at 9:38 PM on a school night. I don’t usually do this, but it worked. I picked some of the old (really old, because I got them on Etsy a million years ago, but they aren’t in that great condition) blocks and tossed them in a mix of dyes that I thought would approximate the background fabric I already had picked. Left them for 24 hours and got this…

What’s funny about this is when I did the first rinse out of the dye bath, they all were that purply blue color…and by the time they got out of the washing machine, you can see that three were less cottony than I thought. OK. And I’m not sure the one on the bottom left will work…I don’t really want anything that has a lot of contrast. The 5 that worked are probably not enough (although they could be?) so I will probably try again. I did get the subtle changes that I wanted in about half of them, so that’s a success. Sort of.

Then I’ve been picking fabrics for an hour or so each night…

I find it really difficult to stop, actually. I just want to keep ironing. But I need to stick to my earlier bedtime, even though I don’t seem to be falling asleep much earlier. I’m sure I’m getting a little more? Maybe.

I’m averaging about 10-11 hours of artmaking a week at the moment…

That’s much better than the month of March, when I did a lot of nothing on art quilts. No sewing machine? I guess it was an issue. Plus overwork and exhaustion. Now I’m using the art to distract myself from isolation. But it’s also the artwork…and I love that normally. It’s not that I don’t love it now…it just isn’t giving me the same hit as usual.

I’ve been ironing for over 4 hours and I only have 200 pieces ironed down. Not super fast, y’all. There are a lot of fussy little decisions in the stuff on the Earth in this piece. Lots of overlapping colors and bits that require thought.

I finished appliqueing all the bits down to the April Homegrown blocks during one book club this week…

On to May. During the second book club (yes, I did that this week. Nights are deadly empty time.), I drew my Patreon drawing for the month…

And posted it. Talk about multitasking. I do it all the time. It works for me. I know it doesn’t work for some people. Certainly things like sewing and drawing occupy a different part of my mind than the meeting part. So it works. It’s not as effective during staff meetings, when I actually work on schoolwork through them. Those are overlapping parts of the brain and it means I sometimes miss stuff, but since 3/4s of what they talk about right now in staff meetings doesn’t apply to distance learning, I don’t really fucking care. I ask my team when I miss stuff.

I created that slide deck during the last staff meeting for the lab we did this week. And that calendar thing is so true at the moment.

I don’t even deal with one day. It’s sections of days. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. Night. Rinse. Repeat.

Here’s the lab we actually did…cellular respiration…

I have to do it one more time, today. It’s a pain in the butt, but it helps them think about the different types of food. Although then they think that sugar and food are the same thing. Not quite. I’m having a hard time getting a good chunk of them to listen at the moment. Normally, this is almost where we start sex ed and I have their full attention. I think this year will be harder at the end. I guess I will just roll with it. I don’t have control over so much of what goes on with their home lives, their attention spans, and their Wifi.

These two are sweet.

When Luna is not rampaging.

OK, hours of Zooming today followed hopefully by a good long walk and an already made dinner. Then more ironing. I think. Maybe I’ll get through more than 100 pieces in one night.

Everything’s Wonky

I don’t have a lot of words this morning. But here’s the current quilt getting ironed down.

Actually that’s the drawing hanging up so I can see it while I pick fabrics, with the old lady lying underneath. Here’s actual dirt being ironed down.

Night 1 was not very productive. Mostly I cleaned so I could get to this part.

Night 2 was slightly better, made it into the 100s, with some 200s tossed in for variety.

Ironic. Those colors are not my mood at the moment. Fake it until you make a rainbow! Yeah!

My brain.

Kind of irritated that the artist’s name is not on this. I will try to remedy that. OK. This is a meme. Who knows whose it is.

The boychild and I took the little dog for a walk yesterday…lots of flowers popping up. Haven’t seen this one before. I think.

Really, these are all for Julie, so she will go out and start seeing all the flowers.

Speaking of seeing, this dog likes bread.

And I finished this block. I should paint my house like this. Except the windows aren’t a good color.

I like that they’re crooked. Everything’s a little wonky. Well, more than a little. Well that’s a little too real right now for me. Moving on. More ironing tonight. Hopefully clarity. Or calm. Or something.

To the Other Side…

I guess the weekly exhaustion is now outweighing the nightly inability to sleep. Or the cats are standing on me in the middle of the night less? Hard to say. I evaluate nightly sleep on the number of times I get up and/or look at the clock. It was a one-clock, no-get-up night. Not bad.

I just walked away from the computer to heat up my tea (crucial to thought processes, the movement AND the tea), and had a bright idea about the jeans remnants that my daughter left on the ironing board for me. Sometimes I really love my creative brain. It is an incredible beast, working with almost nothing to create amazing things, or sometimes even just workable things (school). It’s the same brain that mires itself in anxiety and insecurity. That creativity can go both ways. That’s this morning in a nutshell. It’s a damn good thing it’s Friday. I’ve been so antsy in my work chair, so tired of sitting in front of Zoom and answering tiny little questions over and over and worrying about getting stuff graded and preparing the best stuff for my kids. I so appreciated last night’s Zoom with stitching friends, because it did let me get out of that shitty headspace for a couple of hours. SAQA conference is this afternoon and tomorrow, so hopefully that will also help.

I finished tracing the Wonder Under for the newest quilt last night…

I thought I was only on piece 600 Tuesday night; turns out, I had made it to 700, so Wednesday night, I did another 100 or so pieces, and then finished the final 100 last night. That’s almost 11 hours of tracing 890 pieces…not incredibly efficient, but OK.

Three full yards and one baby yard, not even full…in fact, I cut out all those pieces in the baby yard last night in 14 minutes.

Three full yards to go. And then it was time to meditate, clean up cat stuff, and go to bed. More tonight. Looks like I’ll be ironing to fabric next week, hopefully. That’s the plan anyway.

I worked on these during the Zoom call with stitching friends. It’s brainless stuff, just sewing wool and cotton down for the Sue Spargo Block-of-the-Month Homegrown.

It’s easy, I enjoy the stitching, and the bright colors are fun.

The man is heading for Idyllwild at the moment. He did his longest hike yesterday, 17.3 miles…

He has been hiking with a group, but half of them are not thru-hiking, and are almost done. He has to have a totally different mindset…he’s got a good 2500 miles to go. Yesterday was hard, but he did it, and I’m proud of him for persevering. I’m going nuts at home, but that’s me. Thirty nine days of school yet. Don’t even ask me how many days before I see him again…not sure when his trail will meet up with my weekends. And coming home? It’s a LOOONG time. Many too many many days.

Girlchild left yesterday. Here she is with my parents.

More family photos, y’all. I suck at taking them and should work harder at it.

OK. It’s Friday. My lessons for today are hard hard hard. Not really, but they will be hard to mentally get my own self through…well, maybe art will be OK. It’s always difficult when we start a new project. It’s hard to show things. I make videos to help, but not everyone will watch them. I have a bunch of new kids in art and I’m having a hard time getting them to produce trackable work, like my other kids have learned to do. I have some parents who don’t understand how I hold kids accountable for their in-class time. It’s just a lot of frustration. Plus the district gave us a new “required” curriculum that is not set up for distance learning at all, which I figured out last night and just about lost my mind over. It’s OK. I sent yet another bitchy email. It’s all I do these days: remind the powers-that-be that me and my students exist and that they all mostly suck at remembering that.

It will be better in August. It has to be. Or I might just decide another job is better for my sanity. I can see why people jump out of life and hike the PCT. I can’t afford to do it, so that’s a thing. But I get it.

Friday. Conquer it. Or at least get through it to the other side.

I Want Up and Out…

I managed to see the man this weekend on one of his zero days. He was about an hour away from me, so I drove out and hung out with him for…well…less than 24 hours. It is what it is. I’ll probably get one more visit with him before the end of school, if the trail coincides with my weekends, and then he’ll be too far out. I’ll manage a visit or two over the summer, depending, and then that’s it. It’s a lot of days and it’s hard, but he’s having a great time (most days, most minutes) on the trail and all that is a good thing.

He is still trying to lighten the load, so I brought some things back with me…

We went out to dinner, and there was live music.

It felt really strange to be sitting outside, having a drink and some food, while listening to music. I really missed that. Almost cried at the table. Silly, yeah? But yeah.

I stitched while he was organizing his stuff…both times? All three times?

There was a lot of organizing going on. The next day, his group found out that the next resupply store they were aiming for had burned down overnight, so there was some scrambling, both physically and mentally. In the end, I offered the boychild to drive up the resupply boxes when they got to the next section. Complicated stuff, but we can still help right now. As they get further north, they might be camped out next to a post office for a few days instead.

The next day, we shuttled out to where they had left the trail, and I sent him off on the next section.

I won’t see him for at least 2-3 weeks.

It was warm, windy, and dry.

This was his view a few hours later.

Desert flowers are blooming…some are so tiny.

I was glad to see him, sad to see him go. I’m a little isolated at the moment by my job situation and the continuation of COVID stuff here. Sure, I’m vaccinated, but my kids aren’t. And he’s not either, which worries me. But with Johnson and Johnson getting pulled, he doesn’t have any great opportunities to get vaccinated, unfortunately. And he doesn’t seem worried about it, so I will do that for him, in true Kathy fashion.

Friday night, the family and I went down to the beach. It’s not somewhere I usually go, and there were a lot of unmasked people walking around in Pacific Beach. Scary really. For me, I guess. This is my brother and his youngest.

They left Saturday. Girlchild leaves Thursday. It will be quieter here then. Not necessarily a good thing. Just a thing.

I came home to bees in the composter.

I took the lid off, hoping they would leave. They haven’t yet, but it’s been less than 24 hours. I’ll call the bee guy eventually.

This guy is currently barking his head off.

The kids left to go on a hike and so it is just me and 5 animals. He is offended by any living creature on the property. I haven’t gone to look at what’s setting him off, but it’s probably a bunny or the neighbor.

There have been window geckos exciting the cats…

So that’s how far I got on these over the weekend…

This is Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month from a few years back. I started stitching things down when the pandemic started, but only just started the embroidery. They are fun. Distracting.

I started up on the tracing again, after coming home last night. I’m in the 500s…

So officially halfway. I need more Wonder Under, though, so will have to venture to JoAnns hell today. Oh well.

I’m not ready for school. I didn’t get much done over the weekend due to family and hanging with the man. So I’m behind. Oh well. I am looking forward to more tracing tonight, though…I finished the world and am now in the human figure. So I’m getting there. 43 days of school left. I finally lost some students, instead of just adding them on. So that’s a plus. I’m really mentally done with my job. I’m still doing it. I’m still creating stuff and recording videos (4 yesterday, I’ll need to do 2 more by Thursday or Friday) and grading stuff and answering emails, but I’m finding it difficult to be present in the chair, on Zoom, without being really antsy. I want up and out…and over. I want school to be over. I want everyone vaccinated. Although the man is loving his trip and he’s barely started, I want that to be over too. It’s hard being the one left at home. So I count days and keep myself working on art and reading and being distracted by those things. The ends will come. Eventually they will come.

The Rest of It (Not Resting)

If you know me, you know I suck at resting. The closest I get is sitting on the couch and stitching, or the bad version of that, scrolling endlessly through social media, which is, of course, silly. Short blurbs of that while waiting for someone to get out of the only bathroom or for the cat to get her blood draw…that’s cool. But just staring at it for an hour? I try to force myself off the couch for that. Even when I meditate, I have a hard time staying still, physically or mentally.

Anyway, our vacations tend not to be particularly restful physically, although I do my best to leave my job at home. I have not answered a student email since last week some time, so I guess that’s a good thing. All this lack of rest thing is why we got up early on a perfectly good Easter morning, ate a hearty breakfast, and drove the nausea-inducing, vomitous, hour-long drive from the Sequoia National Park Foothills entrance up to where the real shit is. You know, the trees. My lord, that road. Blech. Ten-mile-per-hour hairpin turns up and up and up. I was driving and still felt sick to my stomach. Beautiful sights, though…although I am still worried about the terrified deer that was tap-dancing its way down the walled-in road. IDK where it came from (cliffs) or where it was going (hopefully not cliffs).

I don’t know if my parents ever took me to Sequoia…I remember the Kern River, but I’m not sure when and where that was. Last year, we were supposed to camp in the park, which also has no showers (I’m sensing a smelly trend here), but this year, I was worried about temperatures being really cold at night, because Spring Break was earlier than last year. I’m not sure I needed to worry about that. The campground is down in the valley and I think the temperatures I was seeing are up at the top, a good 6000-foot different in elevation. So next time! Next time, we left a lot of Sequoia to explore. We wanted to get in early because the ranger the day before had warned us about parking and people (it was Easter weekend). We started at the General Sherman Tree lot and hiked in to see the biggest (in volume) tree in the world.

OK, I’m not sure it’s that one. I seriously spent a lot of time wandering around looking up and taking pictures of trees. I know the man has a picture of it with tiny me in front of it. Hang on. I got this.

See me? See tree? The man has a newer phone than I do and it has this cool feature where he could zoom out and get the whole thing, where I was stuck taking pictures of either the bottoms of trees or the tops of trees, but not both. Makes me want a new phone, just for that.

Sometimes the trees lie down for you so you can take pictures, right?

So we did the Congress Trail and then tried Bear Hill (no go on that…trees down and snow and up and it got old fast). What’s interesting is that a few years back, we went to Humboldt to see the redwoods there, and it’s very moist and wet and rainforesty, and this is totally not that. I mean, snow is wet, but there wasn’t a ton of undergrowth and it was much drier than Humboldt.

We did see two marmots.

Weird little furry beast balls. There was snow on the trail, but just enough to make it interesting…we had poles and spikes, but didn’t need them.

And it eventually warmed up enough to be in short sleeves with no issues.

We drove down to the main area and braved the crazy crowds there, although we skipped the Big Tree loop in favor of Moro Rock, which still had a lot of people. This photo is from Beetle Rock.

This is Hanging Rock, which scared the crap out of my height-hating self. I’m usually OK at the tops of things, but maybe I’m getting worse. The man walked out to that edge and looked over, and I just stayed way the fuck back. It was weird.

But no way was my brain letting me go out there. Too much down.

It was definitely much warmer at this point.

We didn’t go up Moro Rock. It was rock stairs and I was kind of done with that. Plus too many people. I can look at a rock without having to be on top of it. It’s OK.

The other thing that was different about Sequoia compared to Humboldt was fire damage. Almost all of the big trees had it…

Some much worse than others.

Burns had definitely come through this area multiple times. It was gorgeous though. Especially when we found the trail away from the road and ditched 90% of the people.

These redbuds were popping out everywhere in the lower elevations. Happy bees.

The drive back down didn’t seem as bad, for whatever reason. We did about 9 1/2 miles of hiking total and were completely exhausted by the time we got back. Although first, the man spoke to this turkey and made it shake her tail feathers and do a little dance.

Until she realized he was not good mating material. We’ll have to go back some day, because we didn’t get our National Park book stamped. We had to wait in line for the store, and by the time we got back down to the first visitor center, the rangers had packed up, and they weren’t out in the morning when we came though. COVID hours still. Or winter hours? Not sure.

Back to our little house in Exeter, where Tiger Roll (his real name) eventually parked his pointy butt on my lap and kneaded my boobs for a while. Ouch.

Also I finished the second Homegrown block, sitting outside and resting (my version) post-shower. Showers are wonderful, y’all. Really, they are.

The previous night, we Zoomed with the man’s family. They wanted a group/family hug of sorts before he left on his PCT hike. Here he is planning while I draw.

He leaves Friday. He’s hoping to do the whole thing…we’ll see how he does. Being in San Diego means I can drive to somewhere near him for like the first month of the trip…but unless it’s desperate, I’m going to pretend he’s further away…until summer, when I’ll meet him in Northern California somewhere. It’s weird prepping for a trip like that…on my end, too. Someone remind me that all the Oregon and Washington maps are in the bathroom and I need to take them with me when I meet up with him.

The next morning, we packed everything up, said goodbye to Tiger Roll and the peacocks and all the other animals…

And drove home through Los Angeles…this is near Castaic, where I had to start driving. Block 3 of Homegrown was not finished by then.

But I did manage to finish it at night when we got home.

Three done. IDK how many to go. I haven’t been focusing on these really…just sewing stuff down on them because that’s easy to do when I have no brain power. And I can’t show you the other one I’ve been working on because it hasn’t been published yet.

I’ve been home for a little more than 36 hours now and I’m still exhausted. I have been copyediting, prepping stuff for an online show, picking up a quilt and yammering with a friend for way too long (I don’t get to talk to people much…be kind to me when you do see me because of that). We have groceries. My sewing machine is back from the fixit guy. I have a drawing for the next quilt started but not finished. I have a lot of work to do before we go back to school. I need focus, but have very little of it. Straight up, Spring Break is never very restful…it’s just a break from school tasks, and a mostly short one, since I graded stuff last Monday. I still have three things left to grade (got an email from a good kid about one of them on Monday), tomorrow I meet with my co-teacher to plan as far out as we can to reduce our stress levels, the family is showing up in the next few days to see my dad, and the man is leaving on his hike…which is stressing me out, but probably not nearly as much as it is stressing him out. So there’s that. But I’m not on Zoom 6 hours or more a day, and that’s a major plus. For now. There are 48 days of school left. I can’t decide if that’s a lot or a little. But it’s not the majority, so that’s a good thing. If I do the math for how many Zoom hours that is, I might panic, so I’m not gonna do that.

Also, I’ve been rejected by I think three shows in the last month? Sigh. It’s OK. It reminds me that I don’t make work for shows. I make work for me, and when people want to show it, that’s a bonus. Seriously. It’s OK.

OK. I’m showered. I had a cup of tea. Need more. Need food. Strange cravings for English muffins. No idea why. Need to take the cat to the vet soon, plus a lot of other shit. See you later, hopefully with some art progress. I miss it!

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!

This Is My Day Off

Yeah. Some president gifted me this day so I could have extra time to grade stuff without having to try to do it during the work day. I do that too. Kids are completing work, asking me questions, typing in the chat, fucking around on Roblox or YouTube INSTEAD of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and I’m answering questions, typing in the chat, shutting down Roblox and YouTube, but also encouraging everyone to finish ALL THE THINGS, all the while trying to grade the easier, less-brain-encompassing assignments on the other computer. Jumping between tabs on a slow-ass Chromebook the school gave me. The teacher Mac is slightly faster, but not by much. I need a third one that works at the speed of light. What are they giving me instead? Another monitor. So I can have two laptops and two extra monitors to WATCH things. And try to bounce between things, which is already an issue for me. ANYWAY. I have found that there are some things that need my full attention for grading: anything for an academic grade that is more than two sentences OR anything that is artistic and requires some sort of holistic analysis of effort and craftsmanship. Cannot do either of those while doing anything else. Usually I need a rubric up on one screen and the document/photo on another. Big screens. Not tiny Chromebook screens. Also can’t do late work particularly easily while teaching…too much bouncing between screens and printouts of gradesheets. So last night, I graded 62 of the 97 pieces of late work that had come in during the last 8 days. I’m still behind. I’m always behind. And now I have an admin semi-hounding me so she can check in with a parent. Sigh. If only the sweet dingbats would turn work in on time. Life would be so smooth.

We’re hiking today. And I’m cooking some semi-complicated dinner (is it? I don’t know if it is…I just know it has lots of ingredients). We’re getting a late start…I didn’t push for an early morning…no need. So there’s that. I’ll grade some more later today, hopefully get my bread started (I keep mistiming it), and get some more art time in.

Friday night, I ironed some pieces from Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month to fabric and thought I was missing a piece…

I have plenty of fabric, so I found a green that was similar (minus the dragonflies) and used that. The block of the month is from 2018, so I knew I probably couldn’t get a replacement piece. It’s OK, though, because the next day, during my guild meeting, I figured out that the piece of green was folded under and I just hadn’t noticed. There was plenty of dragonfly fabric there.

It’s possible that I shouldn’t do anything on Friday nights that requires brainpower, y’all.

The rest of Friday night I spent putting fabric away from the last quilt and from some monthly shipments I thought I would use in a certain way and decided to just throw in the stash for general use.

I don’t keep a lot of fabric separated…just some Kaffe Fassett fabrics I need for a quilt I don’t seem to be working on at all. Awkward. But I bought them specifically for that quilt and there’s a ton of Fassett fabrics already in my stash, getting used regularly.

This meant I could start picking fabrics for the new quilt. Good plan. Cleaning is pretty brainless. I like the feeling of clearing the slate for the next piece. Remind me to pick fabrics I haven’t used lately in this new one. I’ve already blown that, I think. Whoops.

Saturday morning was my guild meeting. They are very activity-based, challenge-based. I don’t know how many challenges I can handle besides the real-world ones. I have done a tiny bit of wool quilting for the UFO challenge, but not much. I spent most of the meeting trying to get those Spargo pieces cut out and pinned down.

That space under the computer is useful. Then I did some stitch down on the 4th Applique Stories piece.

It’s relaxing to do this…

Just a different way of putting things together. Maybe someday I’ll finish one. Who knows…it could happen. For a while, at the beginning of the pandemic, I stitched through staff meetings and trainings. Now I work through them, planning, posting shit for classes, basic grading. Sad but true.

I love how flowers always make great boobs.

And hearts…certainly not what the designer intended, but I’m OK with that. I’m continuing with this series into 2021. We’ll see where it goes.

After the guild meeting, I needed to be outside. Too many meetings on Thursdays and Fridays.

I find I don’t get outside enough. And it looks like Spring…recent rains make things green. We came home and I did more outside, watering some, cleaning some, finding the speaker that got lost back in May or June last year…it was under a chair pad, and kudos to Anker, it still works.

It didn’t even need to be charged.

The man and I went out for dinner…facing away from everyone.

It’s a bit of a risk, but one that keeps us sane. We stayed home when the governor told us to, which is why the numbers went down. Probably they’ll be back up in 2-3 weeks because of the Super Bowl, unfortunately. Stupid people and parties.

Speaking of challenges, the SIL has issued one.

Definitely needs doing. Then I’m supposed to pass it on, keep passing until someone doesn’t want to any more, and see how many marks get done. I haven’t had time to pull my own stuff, but it’s on the list. Then maybe I’ll mail the card to the girlchild.

Poor Calli…post Super-Bowl dumbasses shooting guns, we think. Super loud. She doesn’t like it.

She’s old and somewhat deaf, but not deaf enough.

Last night, I finally got around to ironing the small owl commission together that I’ve been working on…

It’s the owl from the last quilt, just by itself. She likes owls. I think this is the third one I’ve done for her? Not sure. Maybe second. I’ve done a lot of owls. I recorded the ironing of it for my Patreon…well, at least most of it. It’ll go out to them next weekend, after I process it.

I toned down the background slightly from that in the original quilt. Something this small needs a different focus than in the big quilt. It’s ironed to a background now that will never be seen, so I’ll do stitch down sometime soon (damn, gonna have to pull that wool quilt off the machine to do that! Or finish it) and get it quilted and bound.

Then I started ironing Wonder Under to fabric on the newest piece…

Didn’t get far before it was midnight. Time slips. But it’s a start. Like I said, I wasn’t very good about picking new fabrics so far, but this was the sand and the sky. I guess I can try harder for the rest of it.

OK, ready to hike! Or something. Then do things.

Manage This Better…

I am currently completely and totally procrastinating answering all the parent and kid school emails from this weekend. Some don’t need an answer; they were an appropriate acknowledgment to the weekly notifications I send about hey, y’all aren’t turning shit in. Unfortunately, some weren’t. I saw the first one roll in Friday night. I could say I ignored them, but I didn’t. I just didn’t answer them. So they’ve been sitting in my gut all weekend. Maybe that’s why I answer right away…so that doesn’t happen. Sure, I could be like some people and not have my email come to my phone…or my home computer…and I could never open my school computer during the weekend…HA HA HA…oh wait, that’s bullshit, because I can’t even come close to getting all my school work done in the 5 days of the week I’m paid to do it, who the fuck am I kidding? Anyway, it is my constant goal to manage this better, acknowledge my failure to do so, and move on. Those emails will get answered today; no one will like the answers, but oh well. The really annoying one from last weekend, the mom never emailed back and said, oh hey, I’m sorry for bitching you out for something you don’t even do, don’t have any control over, and tried to fix for me. No thanks, no sorry, no acknowledgment at all. Noted. Fully noted.

This job. Is. So. Hard. This. Year.

Luckily, when I went in to school on Friday, my co-teacher was still there and helped me (and my overwhelmed fuzzy brain) gather all the science-y stuff together for this week’s demos. Chemistry for all! It’s hard to make art around the job sometimes…literally, right now, I need the light table, and I have all this school stuff on it, so I’m trying to work around it. Or through it. Hard to say which.

Friday, I dropped my quilt at the photographer (pictures tomorrow!), then went to school, then to enlarge some drawings from December 2019-February 2020. You know, pre-COVID shit hitting the fan.

I only copied three drawings. They’re out of a 9×12″ sketchbook and I enlarged them 200%. I figured that was a good size for right now, when I don’t have much room on the light table or in my brain.

I think this was one of my Patreon drawings…maybe? Can’t remember.

This was one of the December drawings a day from 2019…because I didn’t even come close to doing that in 2020.

And this was from our Joshua Tree trip from February last year…

I sometimes go back and read previous year’s blogs for the same month as now, just to remind myself of the mindset at the time. It helps when I think things are out of control. I saw these drawings and thought they’d make good smaller quilts. I posted all three on Insta/FB, and there were a few votes for this one.

But I’d already picked the Joshua Tree one for the first quilt. I started tracing it last night and forgot to take any photos. I forgot a lot of things yesterday. I also stayed up way too late on Friday night trying to manage some of the stress in my head…stitching things down.

It didn’t really help. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll figure it out.

I wanted to hike Saturday, but with all the rain on Friday (we got over an inch in 24 hours, which is a lot for us), we didn’t want to stomp through a muddy trail and destroy it, so we picked an urban hike, the Seven Bridges Trail. I’ve done it a couple of times, but the Man hadn’t. It starts in Balboa Park, where there were lots of people…

Bridge number 1…

It’s not a difficult hike…fairly flat…bridge number 2…

Interesting views though…bridge number 3…

And some intriguingly bouncy bridges…OK, only one bouncy one…bridge number 4…

Came through Hillcrest, which is constantly evolving, and got off the official trail down a back alley of murals…

Which is probably how we got over the 6-mile mark…

It’s a little weird waiting for signals during a hike…

Bridge number 5…did I miss one??? Maybe.

Yeah, I didn’t photograph one. I don’t know which one. Bridge number 6…no wait, I did it right…

Some people will argue this is not a hike, because it’s not ‘out in nature’. Except there was nature all around. Hence the urban word. Not my preferred type of hike, but we still walked the whole time, didn’t stop and get ice cream (although it would have been OK if we had)…

Bridge number 7…

And I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s the Seven Bridge Walk, if there are eight bridges…

Another side trip adding to our mileage…

Through the cactus garden at Balboa Park…

Bridge number 8…

Like I said, over 6 miles. Tired. But good. Outside. Too peoply. Next weekend, we’ll do a hike on dirt with fewer people around.

Saturday night, I ironed all the fabrics for the tiny owl quilt I’m making…

And then cut them out…

After doing the January Patreon drawing…

And numbering the third of the smaller quilt drawings…

Plenty of art happening. Plenty of work happening. It’s February now. I have 17 emails to answer before school.

I mean, my school district actually has kids in physical school too, but I have kids in school, every freakin’ school day, and yeah. Working my ass off. Stressed out. Overwhelmed. Buried. Don’t tell me I’m not working.

Cats…

They handle everything better than I do.

OK, work, then exercise, then art.

Clear My Brain

I do write to clear my brain. Otherwise the words pile up in there and cause havoc. It’s currently 10:20 PM on a Saturday night. I have words in my head and I’d like them out.

We hiked almost 7 miles this morning, and then I did some schoolwork, stitched down the rest of the quilt top, and sandwiched and pinbasted it. It’s been a busy day. There are piles of fabric in the girlchild’s room, and I happened to find something the right size and shape (a rectangle, by the way) for the backing.

I’d already checked for batting. Check!

I did a significant part of the stitch down on Friday night, but I knew we were getting up early to hike, so I quit.

In retrospect, I would have been up for another hour and a half if I’d kept going last night. It was easy enough to finish this afternoon.

Pinbasted in no time.

It’s what we do on a Saturday night. It’s good…it means I can quilt a bit every night this week. I do need to do some thread shopping tomorrow though.

Friday night, we gamed, and I graded some and stitched some.

The cat is no help while grading. Actually, this was my setup for science and art on Friday. Cleanup still happening for demo the day before, art ready to go, rocks in place.

This morning, we hiked Los Penasquitos Canyon, starting at the Mercy/Black Mountain end.

There were quite a few people…

It was much cooler than it has been, much cooler than it will be this week.

It’s mostly flat.

The man is training for the PCT, which will be mostly not flat.

I, however, am training for nothing.

Except regular exercise.

I had to put my phone in my bra for a bit because people don’t understand how to share the trail and there was some chance I’d fall into the water and I wanted my phone as high up on my body as possible.

I didn’t. Fall in, that is.

Anyway, stupid people on trails. What can you do?

Avoid them. The man getting his zen on.

We actually passed a half naked guy (young) meditating with a pointy zen hat on.

So there’s that. Rocks, sand, poison oak, and a baby rattlesnake.

No real rattles yet. The man moved him off the trail.

Good thing because the next group coming along had two small children.

Strange pods…

Pro: We were done by noon. Con: I’m exhausted right now.

This is a pretty suburban trail, right between two rows of houses. In two weeks, we go camping…and two weeks after, we’ll be near Joshua Tree, although I have an art thing to do, so mostly the man will hike and I will not.

I do enjoy hiking. There are limited numbers of hours in the day, though…so tomorrow holds a few hours of work in it. So I’m ready for the week.

This week is already full of meetings.

And hopefully quilting…

I so want to be a cat. I’d be less tired, I think. Hard to say. Interesting to clear one’s brain right before bed. Hopefully it will help with my current tendency to have weird-ass, scary dreams. Because that’s been the last two nights, and I’m kind of done.

Oh yeah, Fire and Water got into Quilt National. That’s cool.

It was the throwaway quilt. You pay the same for 2 or 3 entries. I needed a third. I figured the big one would get in, if anything. It didn’t. This one did. It’s a quilt that was made for another show and didn’t get in. So was the last Quilt National Entry. It’s weird…I get in every OTHER year. 2013. 2017. 2021. Freaky. OK, consider sleep. And whatever is sneakily walking out on the slope. And making more art.