Today I Am a Lemur.

Happy Halloween y’all. Today I am a lemur. Tomorrow I will be a cranky old lady yelling at kids about their candy wrappers, but today I am a lemur.

I did blow off all school things yesterday after 3:40 PM and hiked…

Iron Mountain on Halloween was windy and chilly.

But beautiful. I almost fell twice, but a bush saved me. I don’t move well when I’m tired, and doing labs all day made me tired.

Also my classroom is a total disaster, but that’s what homeroom slaves er students are for.

I came home, cooked food and ate it, and sat around for a bit. Then I stood up, because I am crazy, and I kept tracing the new piece off the crappy photocopy.

I needed the old photocopy to help with some areas. You can see how much bigger (and BETTER) this one will be. I’m adding and changing a few things. Not a lot. My instinct is always to add more details, but this thing is already complicated enough.

There’s most of it…there’s the earth stuff in the background to finish…it was after midnight at that point. Ugh. I’m tired today. It will be fine. I’m giving a quiz and setting fire to things. It’ll be good. Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of the newest quilt.

My Tired but Happy Feet

OK. So I hiked over 6 miles last night and it was good. Yes, it was after a full day of walking all over the freakin’ place, fetching ice and water and index cards, cleaning up stuff, trying to get kids on task. Today is the last day of these stations. Hopefully we will all survive it. I did manage to get videos for all of the labs, either on the interwebz or by recording my own, so there’s no kid who can claim they didn’t get to a station so they didn’t get the info. The grade file opens today…so we have until Tuesday at 2 PM to get through whatever gets turned in. Although it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them. There’s a listening issue right now. And a doing issue. Some learned helplessness going on. It will be apparent on progress reports…and some kid will tell me I never SAID it was going to be their grade. Ha! Well then.

My feet hurt this morning. My blood sugar is also really low. I need new boots. I may also need to adjust my insulin again. I already reduced it once after the hot flashes stopped and the blood sugar numbers seemed to calm down with that. I don’t trust all that not to come back though. I love that my doctor/insurance give almost no assistance in this process. But the insurance company sent me an email yesterday telling me how to stop smoking. Um. ??? Really? Because I never have. They want to reduce costs? They should better support their diabetes patients who want the support and maybe stop sending useless emails.

Anyway. I guess the day health insurance does what I want is probably the day I die. I don’t have much faith in them. I just remember the conversation I had with them about when they offered flu shots (only during work hours)…although they’ve changed that. Duh.

So we hiked Iron Mountain.

There was a storm rolling in from Mexico, the tail end of one of the tropical storms or even Hurricane Lorena. I’m not sure what we’re getting at this point. It was beautiful out…not too hot, clouds everywhere. As always, some people are super speedy.

I’m not. I used to be. The sun came out and disappeared and then wandered out again.

This is a night hike eventually, so we all had some sort of headlamp or flashlight. The sun actually went down while we were on the back side of the mountain.

I’ve done this hike a million times. Maybe.

Looking east was beautiful too.

Although west was definitely more dramatic…

Oh yeah.

I hike with a Meetup group. I’ve hiked with them for about 6 years, I think, on and off. Now it’s more off. But five years ago almost exactly, I did this hike with them. It popped up in my photos.

That’s kind of a cool thing.

I was nervous because I thought I’d have a hard time going up. The last hill climb I went on was a while ago and I had to stop a lot…but there was elevation involved in that one. This one isn’t that high. And I did OK on the climb.

From the top…

Or at least it doesn’t start as high up as the other one did. When we came back down, we spread out and did a silent (sort of) hike. There were many scorpions…

And a few people had black lights, because these suckers are fluorescent…

Saw a tiny snake and a few tarantulas, and then this spider, who I’m pretty sure is carrying all its babies on its back…

Someone else had a better picture of it. They haven’t uploaded it yet.

Here’s a better scorpion picture though…

And my hiking group…

It was a good thing. I came home and ate dinner at 9:30 PM though. And then processed some videos for school and created a post for those.

Only then did I iron. And only for an hour.

Mostly I did the sun and the clouds. I was too tired to even do the rain, the lightning, the stars, or the moon. They should have been easy. But it was almost midnight and I was not-so-shockingly tired.

More ironing tonight. Although I have to grade stuff too. Maybe not tonight? I don’t know. Right now, I don’t feel much like doing more work than I already do.

OK, off to work again I go. Me and my tired but happy feet.

Today’s Word: Iron

I’m barely functional this morning. The dogs were up early and hyper, ready to play before 6 AM. I’m never ready to play that early. I’m not playing until they learn to bring me a cup of tea and let me sleep a full 6 hours at least. Not happening.

So now I’m sitting here nursing a headache and my first cup of tea after trying to go back to sleep and flailing massively. Birds are too damn loud, dogs barking, Kitten trying to headbutt her way into getting me up to feed her. I did feed the dogs. I’m sure it seems unfair.

I did get to the ironing stage yesterday though…I cleaned up, put all the fabric away, and hung up the giant-ass drawing so I could see what I was ironing.

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It’s people-sized. Seriously. It’s 64″ tall…and so am I…on a good day.

Here’s all the stupid fusible web that released. Yes. I am a little OCD about my pieces…

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You can see all the shapes this way. It makes it easy to figure out what’s what. For instance, I know that the piece that is 4 from the right side, up three pieces, is in the 1600s. I can’t remember what they are, but they’re all in the 1600s. Ahh…this is what the drawing is for…it’s part of the snake wrapped around her arm.

Then I laid out the first 100 pieces, which are mostly big because they’re part of the earth at the bottom of the drawing…

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I ironed some and then (ironically) we went and hiked Iron Mountain.

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Really, that wasn’t on purpose. And no, I didn’t try to put the mountain in the sign on top of the real mountain, because if I’d waited any longer to take the photo, you’d have the version where my son is flipping me off because he doesn’t like his photo taken. And it’s been much cooler the last two days…so the high-heat advisory? Maybe over.

We aimed to get to the top by sunset, but we also forgot the headlamps. You know, the ones we checked earlier in the afternoon to make sure the batteries were OK. So that was kinda stupid.

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The purple flowers were beautiful. Julie will know what they are.

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Sunset was a little marine-layer-affected, but it was nice anyway.

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Then we headed back down in the dark and didn’t have dinner until 10 PM. Not necessarily the best plan, but whatever. It was a good hike, although for the first time in 3 months, my boots gave me heel blisters. I don’t know why. Annoying.

Then I eventually got my tired butt up off the couch and ironed some more…while watching Longmire. Those are the fabrics I’ve used so far…

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I did the earth and the mountains, but not the volcano. I didn’t even get 100 pieces ironed…

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Which is fine. I’ll get more done today. Although I have to go to a meeting first. And to the gym at some point, probably later. I do better at the gym at night. Anyway, I’m getting art stuff done…that’s a good thing.

Hiking It Off…

Ah. Grades are done. For the year. No more grades for at least 2 1/2 months. No more lesson planning for…um…a while (teachers work unpaid over the summer, in case you didn’t know that). I just have to survive a field trip to a bowling alley, one day of “teaching” (who thinks that’s a good plan?), and trying to entertain my kids during graduation because they’re not allowed out of my classroom for two hours.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? But grades are done. That is a relief.

I planned a hike with my kids last night because one said he’d never been up Iron Mountain and because I want to test my foot out and make sure the pain isn’t coming back before my podiatry appointment. Plus I’m totally out of shape, so it makes sense to kick my physical ass when it’s 80 degrees out (I survived…tomorrow, I will be significantly sore, but I will survive). We did Iron Mountain, which claims to be 7 miles (I swear I thought it was only 5)…

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I was uber-smart and made dinner the night before and put it in the fridge. I always forget how long this takes, and doing it after work is exhausting sometimes. I had a good long conversation with the boychild though…

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I pissed off the girlchild (again) on the drive there, so she took off…

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Whatevs. She got back in the car with us at the end, so I guess she hasn’t disowned us yet.

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It was a little warm (OK, a lot warm) at the beginning, but a nice temperature by the end. And it was a relief to do it. I had two muscles cramping, and my knee is fussy, but the foot didn’t hurt. I’m planning more for next week too.

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This week is more of a survival thing (I keep saying that…because it is). That said, I managed to finally get off the couch after 10 PM and head into the office…

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Oh wait. That’s not an office picture. Oh well. I did quilt…

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And whoever the dingbat is who thought I could do the background quickly? She forgot that I needed to go in and around all those branches and leaves of the tree. Which took me over an hour last night. Argh. I’m at 7 hours and 40 minutes. I might get some time tonight, but Wednesday night is the girlchild’s graduation and Thursday night is something else. So I’d like to be done, but it’s highly possible I won’t be. And I might run out of thread (I should deal with that, shouldn’t I? Have a plan? I always have a plan. I put the color number in my phone. There’s the plan. I put a reminder in my calendar for after school)

How is it possible that the neighborhood mockingbird never sleeps? I hear it again now and I heard it when I went to bed. I hate that thing.

Anyway, I suspect there’s another couple of hours of quilting in this (at least)…so I underestimated the time. Oh well. It’s not like I can finish it sooner just because I want to. And I will get it done.

The Two Sides of Kathy

OK. Let’s not joke about this. There aren’t just two sides. I’m a dodecahedron…at least. But titling my post “Kathy: a Dodecahedron” would probably just overemphasize my geekdom. Geekness. Geekosity.


Yesterday I quilted for many hours, then went to the beach and jumped through a bunch of waves at the beach, then showed up at my appointment in a towel and bathing suit (eliciting much amusement to those in the waiting room, and even a bit of applause after I emerged from the bathroom fully dressed), then to dinner at my parents, and then I went back to quilting, this time tiny fussy bits of blue that showed through between elephant legs and bird wings.

In the morning, I had the whole left side of the quilt and a bit of the top to do, so I just sat down and quilted until I wanted to scream and tear my hear out, I was so sick of blue and stippling and did I mention blue?

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I kept hoping and praying the phone would ring and I would be able to leave to go to the beach, but they spent more time than they thought they would at the Midway, and it wasn’t until late that I got the call, and by then, I was done with the main part of the background and was in the apple tree branches, still wanted to tear my hair out and scream and rant and rave about stupid crap and filling in fucking tiny spaces and gaargh.

The beach was fun, jumping in the waves and getting salty water in my eyes, just like in high school and college.

After all that and dinner with my Belgian sister and her kids and my parents, I came back, tired, exhausted, up since holy crap in the morning to take the girlchild and her dad to the airport to go visit college, the one where she might actually go, but I wanted to be DONE DONE DONE.

I even did the clouds…

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They needed something.

And then, after 19 hours and 34 minutes of quilting this week, starting Sunday, I was done.

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Done. It’s done. OK, I still need to trim it and bind it, so another 6 hours or so, because it is a big beast of a quilt…but done. Almost.

OK. I’m still trying to get my head around that. I mean yes, that was my goal over break, and yes, I blew off a ton of other things (grading, cleaning, yardwork) to get it done, but it’s done. A month and a half early. Whoop! I can work on something else. OK, yes I have to finish that other recycled quilt, but it won’t take long. And yes, I have two that I need to do early in summer, or maybe one is later, can’t remember. Time to sit down with the schedule again.

Then this morning, my exchange sister Claire and I went on a hike. Much as we went our separate ways after the year she lived in our house, my senior year of high school, our lives are not that different. She hikes in Europe and I hike here. We both try to figure out how to eat healthily when kids are there and then gone to their dad’s houses. We both try to figure out what happy looks like from here on out. And we both know part of it has to be outside.

We hiked Iron Mountain, which I’ve done before, but never in full daylight…always night hikes. It’s the big mountain in the picture.

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It’s a local favorite, but less crowded than Cowles Mountain, because it’s longer.

The weather was nice today… mostly cloudy when we started and not too hot…

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The views were a little hazy, but still nice long views to all the compass points…

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The yucca have started to bloom…

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It’s a dry hike, but there were lots of wildflowers by the side of the path…

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And as the sun burned away some of the cloud cover, you could see all the way to the ocean…

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And south to the Mexican border…

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(Yo Julie…what is it?) Julie says it’s called a Silver Puff…what a dorky name. It’s quite soft…not as spiky as it looks.

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A rare sighting, a California horned toad (aka lizard). Sweet little one…

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And more beautiful views…

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California poppies…

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And Claire staring off into the landscape…


And here’s the panorama that shot came from…

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Beautiful day, great time with a long-time-no-see sister…two sides: quilt on my not-so-fat butt because I get outside and do that hiking thang. They often conflict with each other, as the need to do one fights with the need to do the other, and the need to fit it all into a single day or weekend is some sort of Clash of Kathy Brain. It’s kind of a miracle I get as much done as I do…but it was all good, all worth it. So one of my 12 facets is NOT about housecleaning or yardwork. I’m OK with that. Now I’m going to go read a book (oops, another facet) until they call me with the next event.

Kicking It Back…

So yeah, I’m back. I’ve actually been here all along, but as I’m sure you realize, that whole holiday-with-family thing kind of eats up your free time. So I sleep even less. And at 1:30 AM, I’m not willing to START writing a blogpost. And mornings have been fraught. So here’s what happened.

On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time cutting out Wonder Under for the new quilt, which is for a theme of Women at War, with interpretation pretty open as to what that meant. I’ve felt like other people have been coming after my uterus and everything within and around for quite a while, despite some nice-guy misogynists telling me I was imagining it. I mean, what the fuck do you know as a privileged rich white man? Best thing you can do as a man? Admit that you mostly don’t have a fucking clue what it’s like to be a woman. You might have an inkling, but otherwise: Not inside, biologically, with periods and pregnancy and mood swings and menopause; not outside, trying to walk somewhere in public, dating, safety, being perceived as an object, wearing the wrong thing, whether you’re showing stuff off or not, it’s always wrong. Not breastfeeding, not being the mom, not with society’s expectations. I’m not saying being a man doesn’t have similar issues; I just think there are more “acceptable” options for men (in terms of what society believes). And I full-on admit I don’t understand what it’s like to be a man. Some men have some of a clue, but mostly it seems not. The better men are understanding even when they don’t understand.

So the drawing was full of all these stereotypes and yet she stands tall on a pile of men. Because every man came from a woman, y’all.

Anyway, my rampant feminism aside, I need to get the quilt done in the next…um…5 weeks. Yup. So speedy mode. Midnight? Not helping…

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Licking my elbow does not help me. This might even have been the night before. It looks awfully dark. It is! It’s Tuesday night. I sit on the couch and watch all the stuff I have saved on Tivo…

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If girlchild is still awake, I have to watch her stuff. Some of her stuff is also my stuff…top box is pieces, bottom box is trash…in case I drop pieces in it (which I often do).

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In the late afternoon (because I had to run a thousand errands), I managed to finish cutting and sort them all into bins by 100s. This is a smaller quilt, so there’s only 8 bins! A miracle.

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Of course, I also did the two birds that need to be done in December, so that was two more bins.

And then because this time of year isn’t crazy enough, girlchild and I hiked Iron Mountain in the dark with the group I often hike with.

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She wanted to show she had conquered the mountain.

That night, I realized I would need to clean the office up a bit to be able to cut fabrics out. I hadn’t put everything away from last time (and honestly, it’s a disaster area in here anyway, because all my school stuff lives in here too). So I had drawers open that cats had slept in and fabric piled everywhere…

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I like a fresh start. Plus I need that table cleared off because that’s where I put the Wonder Under pieces.

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And one section of the floor, I think the cats had knocked a bunch of stuff down (they get a bit rambunctious sometimes), so I needed to clean that up. Finding floor space in here has been a priority this last month. Two feet at a time, people. Two square feet is all I ask.

I had a ton of fabric to put away, both from the last quilt and from Houston, so I started by stacking by color, because everything in here is stored by color, except for the ones where I can’t figure out what color it is.

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That was about halfway through. There were some issues with storage. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I use…it is not enough.

And I found this from a million years ago, from an Ellen Anne Eddy class.

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Hand-dyed silk velvet plus thread-painted fetus. You know, like you do. That may still be in here when I die.

So at that point, it was Thursday, and although girlchild does most of the cooking, that means I get stuck with the cleaning (and then she complains that she can’t find anything because I moved it…from the couch to her bedroom), and I also cook a few things and I constantly try to clean up in the kitchen, which drives her nuts, but I can’t stand having to do it all at once.

So this picture is about 10 minutes before dinner is served. She’s making gravy. The fire extinguisher is out because she spilled turkey juices on the stovetop and it got in the box where the controller things are (technical term) and short-circuited something, and for a few minutes, we had loud popping noises and big sparks and electrical fire smoke. So yeah. A typical Thanksgiving…

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The wine? Well. Obvious. See fire extinguisher. Especially after loud pops and sparks. And no, it’s not fixed yet. It’s actually not top on my list at the moment. The rest of it works, I got everything cleared off of there because of the fire danger, and I have other things that are more pressing. No really, the sink is completely clogged and getting fixed this afternoon, so I can finally do all the dishes. THEN I will deal with the stove.

Thanksgiving was small this year…just my parents, me, the girlchild, and the ex…

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Guess he has decided Brits can celebrate that holiday…food was good, of course…

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She makes a mess in the kitchen, tries to set the house on fire, but it always tastes good.

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And yes, we’re still eating it. Ex came over last night and took away two platefuls of food. Sent a bunch home with my parents as well. And then we realized girlchild wouldn’t be around next year to cook.

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Shit. I think we’re going out. I do cook. I just don’t want to spend that much time cooking for so few people.

Or dogs. I don’t feed dogs people food. Dogs LIKE people food.

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Oh yeah. Pie and pi. All good.

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Once the food was all eaten and I had cleaned up as much as I could with a nonworking sink, I finished cleaning up the studio (ah, much better)…

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Hung the new drawing where I could see it, assumed the background fabric I had would work, and started the next fabric-picking adventure…

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I don’t know what YOU do when chock full of tryptophan. I told you I was a bit crazy.

I picked all the stuff on the bottom…

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And then started thinking about the fleshy issues…a pile of 7 or 8 bodies that I need to be able to distinguish from each other? Need at least two sets of flesh runs…

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Luckily, they’re pretty simple bodies, so I don’t need the usual run of 7 fabrics or so. Although on the right, that’s the run for the main female figure, I think. The stuff on the left was the first of the male bodies.

Friday morning dawned nice and clear, and soccer was first on the agenda…of course.

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Girlchild decided to play for another team, because hers didn’t get into the tournament they wanted. Luckily, it’s local, because we have a game a day.

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I graded papers (ah, back to reality) and watched her run around and score one goal…

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They beat an Alaskan team 5-1. I’m sure that team was a little hampered by the over-80-degree weather. Then I came home and helped dad do some yard things and went and bought two trees with him to block off that big open space that has been there since April? March? Don’t even remember how long. I need to go out there today and dig holes and trim off dead stuff and be a responsible homeowner (my neighbors will be thrilled). And I went to the gym. See, this is where time goes. But at the gym, I wrote…yes, I’m still writing. The story’s still not done. And I finished my book (the one I was reading). And these were good things. And then I traced some more Wonder Under for another piece, a small one that’s been lying around for a good long while…

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Of course, technically it has nudity in it, so it can’t go into any of the shows coming up that need smaller pieces. I’m tired of making things FOR something, though, even though I don’t mind the themes that I’ve been in…sometimes you just have to make the stuff you WANT to make. I’m getting a wave of that feeling coming on…strong. I traced this also because I was watching something on Netflix that I couldn’t watch in my studio and I wanted to finish the episode.

Anyway, then back to the studio…where I kept going on the pile of flesh…

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Which is taking significantly more time than I usually take, mostly because it’s complicated to figure out what is overlapping where, and to make sure I have all the pieces for that body, and that the fabrics don’t overlap in the wrong way.

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After 4 hours of ironing, I am barely in the 200s. The plus is I should finish the pile of bodies today, so it will go faster after that. I think. I hope. Because remember how I said I wanted to be done with the ironing by the time school starts again? And there are two more soccer games? Plus I have to plan for school, because hey, we do have to go back there, despite the scary adrenaline rush I get when I think about it? I calculated grades yesterday from the stuff I had graded so far after break. It’s possible I should just quit teaching right now. I’m an absolute failure.

Sigh. So. And on top of all this, I slammed my finger in the door and I keep reopening the wound (bandaids forever!), a Golden Retriever is currently trying to play ball with me, my kitchen looks like a hurricane hit it, and the fish at school has probably died because I keep forgetting to go over there and feed it. Girlchild has applied to her first college, boychild got food poisoning on Thanksgiving from something (he did not have turkey dinner), and I’ve been living on deviled eggs for three days (I’m not sure that’s a bad thing).

This time of year just kicks my ass. So I’m going to kick it back by making lots of art. Yup. You can’t stop me.

Here’s Aug(de)mented Reality 2…for some post-turkey amusement…

Yeah, it’s goofy. Goofy’s OK sometimes.

Hiking for Peace

Nope. Not what you think. Sure, I want world peace, but I don’t think we can make it happen with a hike. Personal peace though? Damn straight it works. Unfortunately, it takes giant bites out of my time to get art made or papers graded or apparently even sleeping well. We hiked Iron Mountain last night and had to put the headlights (ha ha headlamps) on before we even got to the top. It’s getting darker so much earlier now. And then we had homemade ice cream, smoothies, fruit, and champagne up at the top (it was someone’s one-year anniversary with the group). It was very cool.

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Actually, it was hot when we started, but the cooler air coming back was really nice.

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Great views from the top, but it was dark. I actually didn’t take many photos. This was at the table with the ice-cream setup etc. It was good to get outside and move around though, even though I’m feeling it this morning. I thought I would sleep better, but no!

By the way, this is what the fridge of a hiker looks like…

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I needed my water to be cold, at least to start. I had packed the whole bag up and realized I wasn’t leaving for 30 minutes, so I shoved the whole thing back in there, poles and all (you should always chill your poles). What I love is that nobody in my house says a word about finding this in the fridge. Not a freakin’ word.

Anyway. The hiking does clear my mind, but it also fucks me for the rest of the night. I couldn’t eat when I got home and thought I could just skip dinner, but then I started feeling it later, too late really. But I had to eat. Diabetes Grrr. So easy to mess with your blood sugar by not following your routine. But the hike! Oh well.

So in the end, I ironed for about 30 minutes last night.

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I could have gone longer, but I was SO tired. So I went to bed instead (smart choice, eh?). And then couldn’t fall asleep. And then was awakened by stalking cats and peeing dogs and who knows what else on the roof. So this morning I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Not good. Oh well. More tonight hopefully (after the high-school back-to-school night?). I’m getting close, but I’m not close enough yet. I wanted to be fully ironed by Friday night, and now I’m chaperoning girls at a concert that night, so I won’t be home until really late and you know I’m not going to be fully awake then. Oh well. There’s always Saturday night. The night that chases me around the room trying to rip flesh out. Sigh.

Mood is rough besides the hiking peace. I made it home almost OK and then had to deal with some stuff and go back out in the car and the mood tanked. I’m trying to hold on to the mental state brought on by the hike, but the 17 texts from work don’t help and stupid emails don’t help and having to clean up after everybody else’s stuff doesn’t help. But that’s what it’s always like and maybe I just don’t have the right personality for holding on to the peace. Or maybe it’s that I’ve spent the last 12 years plus trying to manage everything without a ton of help and I just suck at it. I know I was better at it for a while, but then the support disappeared and I got worse. It’s hard to know that there’s something that helps but that you don’t have it and you can’t just go get it and it kinda feels stupid that you should need it, but you do. And it’s not like I don’t have friends and family who are giving support, but it’s not the same. I don’t know why. Something stupid in my head.

Anyway. I have another drawing in my head for a piece that needs to be done by January 1 (oh yeah, baby), but should be smaller (I’m really thinking about how to do that and still have all the details I love). And I’ve almost survived September, one of the worst months of the year for school and life and soccer, and I’m not sure I was even paying attention. My to-do list is growing exponentially, but I’m still getting it done. And hopefully this quilt will turn out well. It’s all still colored in my head and I think it’s turning out OK, but I won’t know until it’s ironed, and then I can’t really show it to you until the opening. Oh well. I’ll show you details. And I’m still working on my brain. I take it on hikes and give it pen and paper and fabric and books, and it’s coming around, really awfully slowly with sometimes what feels like massive steps backwards, but it’s coming. It’s reluctant. It’s having a hard time getting out of bed. It needs lots of encouragement and mental stimulus and I try to provide, but I also know it was badly broken and damaged, so I keep glue on hand. Some of that glue is climbing up a mountain, even when it seems like you’ve got better things to do.

Because It Has to Be…

So I hiked last night. I think it will be very difficult for me to pull these hikes off during the school year, though…the mid-week after-work hikes? I didn’t get home until 9:30 and then cooked dinner and laid around like a sloth for a while, which is what you do after a 5- to 6-mile hike at the end of a long day, and then I did some more stuff on the floating house, but it really sucks hours out of your day. Three hours just gone. And I’m gonna need those hours. Sigh.

We did Iron Mountain again…

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It’s a nice hike. Not too hard. Harder coming down in the dark. We led a Swedish team of kids down (actually, although I was in front, I led no one…Gail had to tell me where to turn, because I suck at that).

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It was beautiful at the top. We ate snacks and talked and watched the sun drop below the marine layer and the colors reflecting off the mountains and clouds to the east.

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Every time I get to the top of a peak in San Diego County, I look out and see this beautiful undulating, rocky landscape that is home. Maybe I need to put mountains on my floating house (shit. I don’t think I have the right colored organza for that). The surrounding landscape is home too. Living in the UK for a year, it never felt like home. It was too green and verdant, and although it was undulating (I was in Wales), it wasn’t very high or rocky. It was hills with sheep cavorting across them. It didn’t take long to climb to the top of anything. You were never very far from sea level.

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And I tried to figure out last night, Why Hiking? What is it about putting the pack on, pulling 720 foxtails out of your boots from Saturday’s hike (seriously, I am not kidding), slathering deoderant on so you don’t smell too bad, stomping up a steep slope in the late-afternoon August heat, into the cool shade of the back side of the mountain, shading your eyes from the low-slung sun as you come around the corner facing west, summitting the peak, taking your pack off so the sweat drenching the back of your shirt can dry before heading down, thinking the downhill might never end, slipping a bit because you’re hiking in the dark, blinded by the lights behind you that splash your giant silhouette across the trail in front of you. And you don’t have dinner waiting, you barely ate all afternoon, you had a handful of peanuts and two grapes and five carrots at the top. And you come home covered in dust and needing to shower, sweaty to the core despite the cool night breeze for the last half of the hike. Why do this? What does it bring? There is this sense of accomplishment, of survival sometimes on the longer/harder hikes, this mental rush from the adrenaline, the serotonin release, and it makes you turn up the music LOUD on the drive home and you feel all I Am Strong for a while, and then the rush slips away and you are sad. Because there is no dinner waiting; there is only silence. And yeah, you did it. Good. You will strengthen this body and make sure it lasts as long as possible. This is one reason why you hike. And you hike so you actually TALK to people in the evenings or Saturday mornings, because otherwise the silence overwhelms you. But that feeling doesn’t last. It’s not sustainable. And that is the depression talking. It always has a cord around your neck, pulling you towards the hole, and when you are tired from the hike and you haven’t eaten yet and the thought of cooking something is already exhausting, then that cord can pull you back down really easily.

I came home and meditated while dinner was cooking. Jake, the German Shepherd, was not very respectful of my meditation time and kept plopping toys into my lap (I had left him alone all day). Tired won for a while. I worked on the house after professional development yesterday, before the hike…

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I started the veins on the other side of the house…I run the stitching line first and then trim…

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And then I put a second layer on top. Because if you’re using organza, you should overlap it.

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And I’m not sure I like it at the moment. I liked it last night, but today I’m not so sure. I have some other stuff that needs to go on it. But I may just leave it hanging there for a bit to get used to it. Maybe. And I have another idea for something I want to do, but I’m supposed to be simplifying my life, right? So it doesn’t overwhelm me right as school starts?

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It looks so different in artificial light…

I just don’t think that’s in my nature. Simplifying. I mean, maybe on some level, because last year, I worked really hard to streamline stuff so I wouldn’t have to bring so much work home, and I think that worked, but…reducing the amount of time I’m in the art mode? Or the number of things I work on? That doesn’t seem healthy. I know I cause more stress to myself by taking on artistic projects, but these are also the things that keep me functioning. They keep me from falling into that hole and staying there. Even though I’m barely out of the hole, hanging on by my fingernails, slipping back down on a regular basis, at least I’m mostly out. And that’s the art. The hiking might help a little, but it’s the art that sustains me.

Anyway. Back to school again today and tomorrow. In the old days, I would have fought it more, stayed away longer, but in the old days, I had more that was at home that sustained me and kept me recharged. I don’t have any real rechargers any more. I don’t feel like summer has given me the break I need to start a new year of teaching, but I think it will be OK. It will be different, and I don’t know what that different will look like, and I’m sad about some parts of it and excited about others, but I also know at the end of every day, I can come home and draw or sew or cut up pieces of organza and hang them from a coathanger in some crazy-ass desire to express what home is. And for now, that is enough. Because it has to be.

Hiking Iron Mountain for the Full Moon

Last week there was a full moon and a huge hike planned for Iron Mountain, which is just north of here. The last time I hiked Iron Mountain was more than 10 years ago, also at night, so I thought it would be good to try it again…a further test of the knee as well. The hike was cross-posted with three groups, so about 70 people were supposed to be going up together, and that doesn’t count all the people who do this on a regular basis. There’s a huge parking lot at the bottom of the mountain because lots of people do this hike, especially after work or on the weekends…in fact, this is what we started with…

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with Iron Mountain rising up on the right side. Wait a minute. That’s where I’m going? We had dogs and kids and lots of food…potluck at the top.

The hike started at about 6:30 PM, so it was still warm, in the 80s. That’s the hard part about hiking in San Diego in the summer…it’s hot. Night hikes really are the only way to go, unless you start at 6 in the morning. I’m not a fan of 6 in the morning.

With so many people on the hike, my goal was to get out in front and not have to follow anyone who was walking too slowly. I’m not the fastest hiker in the world, but this group was slow-moving.

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This isn’t a horribly hard hike. It’s about 5.8 miles round trip, with some steep bits. It is a mountain, you know. You will have to climb it.

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But as the sun went down, it started to cool off and it was like a good sweaty workout at the gym.

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In nature…

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The views of San Diego from this hike are great…you can see why we have so many hiking trails…there are so many hills to climb.

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The sun was only in my eyes for a short part of this hike, unlike the Cowles Mountain hike a week or so ago, where you were squinting for a good portion of the trail.

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However hard you might think the trail is yourself, there’s a mom and three kids all beating me up the mountain. I was OK with that.

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Another view on the way up. The evening before had been cloudy and I wondered if it would even be worth going…but it cleared up beautifully.

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At the top, you can get 360 degrees of views of the county…to the west and the ocean…

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As we were up there, the sun started to set…

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And we set food out, as you do…everyone pulling this or that from their packs, from olives to homemade salsa to wine to chips to avocados and crackers.

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There were two tables set up like this…rumor is there’s a third table up there, but I never saw it (I am actually in that picture).

This is the view to the south…

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More to the southwest…

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And the southeast…

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We got up there in about 55 minutes (I slowed down my hiking partner, who usually does it in 48 minutes…sigh). Then we watched the sun set, talked, ate, and drank.

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It was gorgeous.

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Vast expanses of pretty-colored sky. Someone asked me (because I’m a science teacher) why the colors, and I was able to tell them…because I teach that.

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Then we moved over to the other side of the mountain for the real reason we were there (well, the REAL reason is exercise, right?), moonrise in the east.

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The moon was really big. I realize it doesn’t look like that in these photos, but what can I say?

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Maybe it was just big in my head. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience watching it rise.

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I kept my eyes open for animals on this hike…I had heard the scorpions would glow in the dark and someone was carrying a black light. I never saw them myself, but stole this picture from someone who did…

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They’re not very big, but they look pissed off. Reason why you should wear real shoes up there (one guy was hiking in flipflops with no water).

We headed down around 8:30 or so…and for part of the downhill, didn’t use anything but the light of the moon (my depth perception can’t do that on rocks, but flat surfaces are fine). The actual hiking was about an hour and 40 minutes…plus an hour or so at the top. It was very cool…and a good hiking temperature for most of it. Not so cold that you needed a jacket (though some had them), but not so hot that you were dying. Definitely worth doing again.