It Probably Will Involve Celery…

This week has been interesting. I’m all over the map on what to worry about. Maybe better to not worry. Make something in fabric. Except I don’t have anything ready for my art classes, minor issue, keep waiting for info, but I don’t have any, so I guess we’re making sculpture out of celery and cilantro. It’ll be fine. FINE. I can’t concentrate on much either, so that’s helpful, brain, thanks so much.

I will panic more about school tomorrow. Really. It probably will involve celery.

The quilt is ironed together and I’m ready to stitch it down.

That will hopefully be an easy task. Who knows, though.

I’ve also been trying to finish the painted backgrounds, because I need to clear off the light table for teaching this week. I added the figure for this one.

Again, gonna be drawing on top of them later. Then for the biggest one, I did the figure first…

Shiny wet in the middle. And then started to paint the background.

I have to wait for parts of it to dry before I can paint the next bit.

I’m almost done with it. I’ll be drawing all over this one.

Still cross-stitching this…

I have other things I’ve been working on while watching bits and pieces of non-news TV. Really nice to not watch the news. I also finished a book…because that seemed important at the time…

I wanted to know what happened. Calli did too.

Cat play time…I knocked all the boxes over…

The cats enjoy words like “under” and “in”…

I’m thinking a box fort for the next 76 days (Spring Break). For me. Not the cats. I mean, they can stop by, but I really need the space.

Also this. As art. Because I don’t have enough going on.

It’s OK. It probably won’t happen. My life is about to go into overdrive again. Probably also I need help with the art planning for school. I’m not gonna get it, but I need it.

Today, I’m hoping to finish that one big background, and to start the stitchdown on this quilt. I’m in a quilt guild meeting online right now, so as soon as I finish this, I’ll probably cut some fabric out on the applique stories piece I’m working on right now. I’m tired, but we should walk today and maybe play a game tonight. I think. And tomorrow, I’ll panic about school. For realz.

My Country

Sigh. Well. You know, the Man and I picked yesterday to finish the fifth hike in the Coast to Crest Challenge (and finish it we did), and then were on our way home and got a call from my mom that my dad now has COVID (fuckin’ a, man…he cannot catch a break) and is quarantined in skilled nursing for two weeks, and then while I’m on the phone with my mom, the Man has the news on, and I’m like, WTF is that, WTF is happening? You can’t really pick a day (New Year’s) and say OK, everything after this day is gonna be good, this year is gonna be better, I mean you CAN do that, but it’s silly to think that the flip of a calendar month or pinning up a new calendar (I did that) is going to make the world make sense. There are a lot of people who need to answer for their behavior yesterday, and none of them are Antifa or BLM protestors, and if you think they are, GET THE FUCK OFF MY BLOG. Seriously. I don’t even want you to look at my art. I don’t want you in my personal space or even my public one.

Sigh. Wait a minute. I do want you here, because if you’re here, there’s some part of your brain that must think something sane, right? You can’t possibly look at my work or enjoy what I write without some sense of what should happen in the world. Yes, in real life, I seesaw from anger to empathy to concern to anxiety. I’m checking my meditation app for “political coup plus aging and ill parent with COVID plus only four days until I go back to school” and there is no course of meditations for that, dammit. There SHOULD be. I guess I’ll stick to anxiety (control what you can…wait…WTF…that is literally NOTHING right now) and sleep for meditation.

No, I changed my mind. Get the fuck off my website. Wait No. If we don’t talk, you’ll never see how your attitudes and beliefs are hurting other people, hurting yourself. I don’t think you’ll ever see that, but I have to hope you can.

I live in East County…the eastern portion of San Diego County, where unfortunately, some of the deplorables from yesterday hail from, like the woman who died. We have our proud boys and our KKK here; my UPS driver the other day was wearing an AK-47 T-shirt. I should have complained about that one. He was also missing an arm. Fuck me. The world is so hurt right now; I don’t know how to fix any of it, and here I am, making a quilt about childbirth. I was considering the next quilt for a show I heard about, back to how I, as a privileged white woman (I am educated, I went to good schools, I can pay my bills) can make anything important or legitimate about the existence of people of color…and I can’t. I can only make something that is a story…I don’t know what that story is or what it looks like. I keep running through imagery in my head, and it feels like it’s not my story to tell. But then it is my story…to talk to the white women who think it’s OK to support Trump, who think it’s OK to be racist, who think it’s OK to tell others they can’t tell their stories. That’s my job. And I don’t know how to do that, because I don’t understand those women. At all. Fear? Fear of change? I don’t know. And now we have this…this terrorist event.

Processing, y’all. Processing. I do it here on the blog. Sorry. Not sorry.

So here’s what we did yesterday…the Lusardi Creek loop of the Coast to Crest Challenge…there are tons of invasive wild artichoke plants on this hike.

It feels like you are hiking through an alien landscape.

It’s probably much nicer in Spring, but right now, mostly everything was dead and dry and weird looking.

This hike is probably really hot in the summer. It was pretty hot yesterday, and it wasn’t really hot. There’s a few climbs in here that might merit its ‘moderate to strenuous’ rating. Mostly it’s fire roads though, with some steep inclines.

We took the fire road straight where the map wanted us to turn. That might not have been the best choice, because we then had a hill from hell to trudge up, so on the way back, we went the ‘correct’ way, which still had hills…

It wasn’t the most fun hike I’ve been on, but I prefer the wooded hikes personally.

My partner in hiking was not having a good time, and honestly, I just go very zen on the trail. I mean, this is the trail, we’re hiking it, and it’s not doing anything TO us, so we’re just going to hike it until it’s done. I find you can do just about anything if that’s your attitude, except for some hills, so I hiked away from him for a while. Let him get his anger at the trail out in his own mind. I can’t listen to his complaints. Everyone has to figure out their own relationship to hard trails. I can’t deal with his, so we spread out.

All this while white supremacist terrorists were storming the US Capitol building. That’s the weird part. We’re out on this really quiet hike, hardly any people, in this big wide-open space surrounded by million-dollar homes and there’s a coup going on, an attack on my country.

That might be my next quilt. My place in this country. I’m not sure where it is. Shifting ground. Lack of communication. Can we require therapy for the whole country? I think we should consider it. Worried about my students. Hey, there’s a hawk nest up there.

A nest for your babies in the middle of electrical wires.

So that’s it. We did all five hikes, we get the stickers, we get the patches. Whoop whoop! IDK what we’re doing next. Maybe the previous year’s challenge…there are still patches left for that one, apparently.

Meanwhile, more work is happening on the dry river bed…we dug it out more, the boychild and I…

Spreading the dirt around a bit more. Then we covered it with landscape fabric…

Now I need to get gravel and then river rocks and then plants and somehow make it all look natural. Or not. I just don’t know. It’s such a strange thing to be working on while worrying about dad and the nation and school.

The bees are happily getting nectar from the agave flower spike I got this year. Fascinating stuff.

This from Tuesday night’s walk…

My legs have been like lead blocks lately. So tired. I’m giving them a break today, I think. I need exercise, but I also need rest. Rest with kitties…

Still fucking up on the counting on this…

I actually have more than that done. But then Calli ate the pattern this morning. I found it on my computer (this is why you buy PDFs and not actual patterns, y’all) and printed it again. This is what my brain can handle…make an X. Now make another one.

I did iron Tuesday night, got 100 pieces of the torso done…

And then last night, walk away from the television, shut down the social media apps, and iron the rest…

Easier to iron the heart and face separate and then put them where they belong.

Same with the eyes.

And then got the whole thing in the center of the quilt…

Now I just need to iron it down to the background and start the stitch down. Progress. It’s such a complicated piece.

These guys last night…asleep together…

The two old ladies. No coup on their minds. No insurrection, no terrorism, no confusion about why yesterday’s ‘protestors’ were treated differently than the BLM protestors. We know why (cough cough racist fucking country, stupid police, stupid politicians, who the fuck is in charge). There’s a lot of questions that need answers, a president who needs to be removed right now, some politicians who need to quit, a large number of people who need to be charged with sedition, and probably, in a little while, a quilt for me to draw. I don’t solve anything but the chaos in my own mind when I do that, but I guess that is one thing I can do.

The Land of Fussy Ironing…

I moved my calendar. It’s now to the left of the computer instead of the right. I keep looking to the right, staring at the blank space, thinking “where the fuck is the calendar”, remembering, and looking to the left. I’m wondering how many days before I just remember to look to the right. Probably not a lot. We relearn simple shit like that, if our brains are in working order, pretty quickly. I feel like I’m unlearning how to teach this year. This is not how I like to teach. So much of it is direct instruction, cutting corners, just telling them stuff we’d normally have them figure out on their own in groups. Ugh. Don’t forget how to teach. Don’t forget what it feels like to be in the classroom. Seeing their faces. Responding to their understanding there instead of in the chat.

I made one longer video yesterday for school; 23 short ones to go, but I need to get the Man to stop watching survival TV long enough for me to do that. Later today, maybe. We delivered two quilts yesterday for a SAQA show, Here and Now: Now and Then, at the Front Porch Gallery in Carlsbad. The show opens Sunday; 10 people are allowed in the gallery at a time. After that, I wanted a walk in a different part of town, so I persuaded the man to wander off into the Mount Calaveras area…we were expecting a chill walk by a lake. Not so much.

There was a steep downhill and then a steep uphill and then some bushwhacking crap and trails wandering all over…

We eventually found something that might have been a lake, but never got near it.

We backtracked a few times, had to follow the app to get us out. Found a fucking volcano (who knew? Actually, I vaguely remembered it existed…)…

No one should allow me to pick hikes.

To get back out, we had to go back up the hill we’d gone down. Weird how that works. There’s the volcano in the distance.

It was fine in the end. Finished it off with a trip to Costco (oooh exciting) and picking up my car, which needed an oil change, but broke some lug nut stud in the process (oops), so that cost more than I had thought it would. Poor car hasn’t gone hardly anywhere this year.

My goal is to finish up the background painting on all four of these this week.

Then I can draw on them in future weeks…

To draw on them, I don’t have to clear the entire work table, so that will be easier. I think that’s what kept me from doing these until now…work space. Although that doesn’t explain flailing over the summer. Nothing really explains that.

After doing that background, I set off to continue in the Land of Fussy Ironing.

I did get the entire background done, though…it took a while, but I did it…including the rocket ship.

All I have left now is the main female figure: her torso, arms, and head. LOTS of fussy little pieces. But I’m going to iron them all together separately and then hopefully just plop that mess on top of the existing background. I laid out the 900s last night, plus the 1000s and the 1100s. So still a bit under 300 to go. Slow as fuck, this one. Slow as fuck.

It’s OK; it will get done. It gets easier from here. Maybe give myself a break on the next one, less complicated. Yeah right. Today, I’m baking bread, like a good pioneer woman, plus making a bunch of videos, posting shit for school, can’t remember what else is on the to-do list, but it’s good and fat and long (ugh). Tomorrow, we’re doing the 5th and last hike in the Coast 2 Crest Challenge…hoping for chill weather. So many things need to happen before next Monday. So many things.

It’s a Wash

I’m a little slow on documenting stuff these days. I honestly keep losing days. How is it dark already? I remember getting up. What freaking day is it anyway?

I have one week of Winter Break left. I know I am lucky, because many teachers go back tomorrow, and I’d be really not ready to do that. I’m two weeks in to this ‘vacation’ and I’m still grinding my teeth. I think I stopped for two days, but that’s it. My to-do list is heinous. Then I get distracted, like today, obviously, and trim a bunch of plants that have been bugging me for two months, instead of crossing things OFF the to-do list. I mean, the plants didn’t even make it ON the list. Sigh. I think I focus better when I’m totally overwhelmed with teaching, simply because I have no choice. I have to do that…for survival’s sake.

So back to the 48 hours where we ditched the world. We got up the next morning, opened the front door of our Airbnb, and saw the chicken. The man says I have to call him a rooster, because it’s a definite sound difference, but I will argue that he is still a chicken. He kept trying to come in…

Finally shooed him out and figured out he wanted breakfast. I hope he liked it.

The place we stayed was definitely not the Ritz, but it was fun…this was in the bathroom…

And this was embedded in the floor…

What it lacked in niceties (a fireplace, working oven, consistent Wifi), it had in character in spades. After breakfast, we headed out to the Mecca Hills Recreation Area for some hiking. We’d hoped to go to one section, but my car wasn’t keen on the 9 miles of dirt (sand? ruts?) road out to it, so we headed for the Slot Canyon hikes on All Trails. The parking lot was definitely sand, but just off the road and pretty solid.

Again, hiking in washes…although we started in a really big one…

Signs of 4WD vehicles and shotgun shells for a while, but no people…

Eventually we turned into some smaller canyons where only people could go.

It was cold and windy most of the time, and kind of a trudge. Lots of sand and rocks and a slight uphill…

Very little wildlife to be seen, not even birds, and not a lot of living plants.

I like a good hike though. We got to a point where the canyon we were in would require climbing, and that was enough…I spent most of my brain power trying to figure out how to escape the water if it started raining (it wasn’t going to start raining, but I am the paranoid type)…

Weird cactus. So it was about 5.7 miles. Not bad. You have to like sparse desert landscapes and rocks for a hike like this.

We came back and wandered around Bombay Beach for a while to see the sights we’d missed the night before…the balls light up at night…it’s quite pretty…

It’s also an Airbnb. Same owner as ours, across the street. I like ours better because the yard was fenced. Lots of people wandering through the zigzag yard.

Not fancy. Quirky.

The trailers and sheds had art in them too. Interesting place.

Wall of TVS…turn right at the TVs to get to our place.

Down the road from there, is this wondrous beast…

Pretty sure it’s related to the one we saw in Joshua Tree back in February. Oh yeah, it is…Randy Polumbo did both. This is Lodestar; the other was Angel Queen. Fun stuff.

From there, we headed back to the beach, further down from where we were yesterday…

I enjoy random metal and concrete sculpture personally…

And a good sense of humor…

And some good colorful grafitti…

The museum was not open, unfortunately…

And pigeons lived here…

I’d seen photos of this online and was glad to find it…

The hardest part of all these installations is finding artist info to go with them…

All I can tell you is that it is in the Bombay Estates.

Back home for dinner, reading, and drawing, because no TV…fine by me.

Very 70s. That night’s drawing…

And morning chicken…

We stopped by the drive-in on the way out…

And then kamikazed back home after talking to almost no one.

Meanwhile, back here…after New Year’s, I proceeded to make 17 more mistakes on this…had to rip out an entire tree, because it was half a stitch off and that won’t work.

Nope. Wasn’t drinking. Promise.

I’ve been ironing…it feels like this quilt is taking forever. Because it is. I got this leg done so I could insert it into the landscape…

And then worked on building the stuff up on the other side…a cat and a quilt of a cat…

Ironed her separately and put her in the landscape as well.

Here’s some bits and pieces I had left to do…mostly snake and bird, I think.

Progress as of Friday…

Leg in place. It’s just a really detailed piece is all.

Then Saturday, I kept going…

Pain. In. The. Ass. Yeah well. I’ve done the 600s and the 800s and barely started the 700s, plus I think a few of the 900s are done as well. So I have about 300 pieces to go? Or 400? I don’t know.

Great Horned Owl…

Which brings me to one of my Xmas presents, now installed and ready for inhabitants…

My very own owl box. I’m happy. And it’s on a system that can be lowered for cleaning, hopefully not when owls are in it. Awkward maybe. We’ll see.

Other things that happened. This cake made a spaceship on top.

It was the boychild’s 25th birthday yesterday…

His cake request was intriguing. No, I was not smart enough to take a picture of the final product. Apparently it’s better warmed up. IDK. I’m allergic to chocolate.

Coyote print from the front yard. They are here, y’all…right here.

Couple photo from the Salton Sea, stolen from the man.

My eyes might be closed.

So back in March, I asked for paint pens for my birthday…or maybe Xmas last year? I can’t remember. And then when everything shut down, I ordered gessoed canvas. I had see some posts Judy Coates-Perez put on Instagram (it’s a guide on there; can’t remember how to find it, wait, no, go here to her Instagram and then click on highlights and you can get to it there.) for how she paints and then uses the pens to decorate her paintings, and I wanted to try it. It took forever to get the canvas, and then school sucked and summer came and stressed me out with all its We Don’t Know What School Will Look Like shit and then Real School happened and kicked my ass, although at some point, I cut up some of the canvas into smaller pieces with some ideas to make some different stuff. Well, y’all, it’s been on my to-do list since fucking April, and I’m finally doing things with all the paint and pens. OK…just the paint so far, but I’m hoping to get the complicated stuff that requires plastic and water done so I can draw in peace over the next month or so.

Luna inspecting the biggest one. I drew a faint outline of a human figure in pencil on this one…

And on the others. I prepped four of them.

I wanted to just block in some color shapes to start…

I’m not really a painter, but it’s OK, because I’m going to draw all over this, Nida style. I think. We’ll see. Because I usually only draw in black and white and these are colors.

Obviously, right? I’ve got some more painting to do first. But I think this will be a nice change for me. We’ll see how it goes.

Also still baking sourdough, y’all, although the girlchild gifted me a lame, so I can stop using the box cutter to score the bread, and this nice glass starter container, so I can stop using the crappy plastic container.

My starter is still super happy to be alive. So that’s a plus.

From the book I’m reading, Gods of Jade and Shadow

A good thing to remember for the new year. Well, like I said, I have a week before I go back, and now I need to actually do schoolwork (again) this week. I have one ungraded assignment, a few late assignments that kids have turned in, and a bunch of prep to do for all three classes. Science is mostly planned, but there’s details to get done. Art is a clusterfuck. Don’t even ask me, because I don’t know. Plus I’m dealing with the car, my teeth, and who knows what else this week. Making 23 videos about the elements (periodic table elements, not the other kind). And hopefully finishing the ironing of this quilt and the painting of those backgrounds, and somehow steeling myself for the next 6 months of teaching. UGH. I’m so not ready. Luckily I don’t have to be. Yet.

To the Bat Caves!

Hello 2021. Nice to see you, all bright blue skies and sunny (well, here in San Diego, anyway). Probably should have started the new year without the hangover, but whatever. Shit happens. I also think the Man made me watch motocross videos, so that should never happen again. 2020 feels like it lasted forever and yet went by quickly. I didn’t finish as many quilts as I normally would have, because my job got harder and more time-consuming than it’s ever been (oh holy hell, if you think teachers aren’t working their asses off right now…maybe some aren’t, but everyone I know is). Normally, I get 6 exhibit-sized quilts done in a year…this year, I only got 4 done, and then 2 smaller ones.

It is what it is. It’s a new year now and I can make more. I have one that should be finished this month, and then I’ll work on some more. Hopefully the job will be easier this year. Ha! Well, it could be…we went back to our regular curriculum, which is a known entity and I don’t have to redo the world to use it…just some of the world, plus we actually have two months planned ahead at the moment. A miracle. I haven’t been planned more than a few days ahead since March 2020, when everything shut down.

The last prompt for the 31-day challenge was my 2021 sewing goals…I guess that’s it. More than in 2020. It’s a reasonable goal.

Continuing documentation of our trip, after we went to Salvation Mountain, we checked into our Airbnb in Bombay Beach, changed clothes, and headed to the Bat Caves! It’s a hike. No Batman involved. I think it’s the first time I’ve crossed a railroad on foot. This was in the Salton Sea Recreation Area.

A little frightening. Except you could see a train coming for miles, because the Salton Sea area is pretty damn flat.

There was no trail, really. There was the “trail” that we followed (and eventually ditched) on All Trails. Mostly there were washes…

And we walked in them until they got really deep and we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get out of them, and then we tried to walk on top and around them, and that was funny, because then we’d have to find ways around them, all while trying to follow this trail someone else had recorded on All Trails.

It’s OK. We found the caves eventually.

We never figured out how to get up on top of the ridge, and we didn’t see any bats, although we saw and smelled guano, plus evidence of people leaving their trash and carving up the rocks. Humans suck.

It wasn’t a super long hike.

Also off-road vehicles were around…

We are not fans. We are fans of nature, though, and there was plenty of that, if you like rocks and sand. Which we do. To get back to the car, we ignored the AllTrails map and headed for that tower you can see way out there in the middle.

We also avoided the washes this time. It’s not ideal, trampling over the landscape (which was mostly dirt, yes, but also some plants), but it worked.

When we got back to Bombay Beach, it was close to sunset, and we’d been told the beach was a nice place to go then, so we headed out. Here’s the front yard of where we were staying…

I read that someone called the art installations at Bombay Beach ‘trash porn’. It’s eclectic.

The beach has some installations…

The history of the Salton Sea is also interesting. It’s sort of an oops that never went away.

The birds really like it and apparently so do tilapia.

Apparently it’s not so good for humans. It used to be a resort of sorts, back in the 50s and 60s, and then there were environmental issues.

The guy whose Airbnb we stayed in is one of three people who set up an art biennale in 2016. Some of what we saw was remnants of previous biennale exhibitions.

Lots of people were walking around and driving around, looking at stuff, considering this place is in the middle of nowhere. More on that in a later post.

We eventually managed to cook food (propane was out, minor issue), and then the wifi was problematic, so we read and then I drew…

The place we were in has art (mostly nudes) all over the walls, and one was a woman holding a prickly cactus. That’s where this came from. We went to bed early (long day) and we knew we wanted to do a longer hike the next day, so the plan was to rest up. With no TV or internet, it seems we go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Interesting, that. More on the next day in later posts.

Wednesday night, I ironed for a little bit…

Got a leg and more landscape in there. We have the beginnings of a dry river bed being dug…

I think more of it might happen today. It’s been cold at night…this dog is very catlike.

Whereas the cat was busy cleaning herself…

Yesterday, I cooked lots of things, plus went on a walk…

Came back to the house and cooked a NYE dinner with the man…IDK how the cat gets into these positions…

We watched some TV and drank a little too much (it’s been a year, y’all…it’s been a year) and went to bed like normal people. I think the girlchild did the same in her part of the country…

Although she dressed up and I was in sweats…

I also stitched a little on this thing that I meant to do over the summer and then meant to do as a Christmas gift and obviously that didn’t happen, but I finally finished the edges of the fabric so they wouldn’t unravel to holy bits and started it. It’s been a million years since I’ve done any cross stitch…

Today, I’ve cooked some more things and will probably put the Xmas stuff away and decide where to put the Xmas tree (it needs to be planted out this year…it’s getting too big to lug around and bring indoors) and maybe even take a shower. Dinner is in the crockpot and will be ready later; I have some art things I’d like to do and maybe I’ll even do them. Or not. Hard to say. Maybe I’ll just read my book, because it’s due in 7 days and 4 people are waiting on it, so I should finish it before then.

Happy New Year, all…may it bring peace and hope or at least not be like 2020.

The Eye Twitch of 2020

I did NOT drop off the face of the earth. Seriously. Proof on Instagram. We walked a lot. Yes, we left the county. No, we didn’t talk to anyone or go in anywhere or do anything but buy gas. Pretty much. I was going bonkers. Now I am possibly less bonkers. Who knows?

But first, holy moley, I missed three days on the blog-a-day thing. Whoops. I did take my computer, but the wifi was horrendous. Well, it was horrible the first night and then improved, but by then, I was used to just sitting and drawing or reading or stitching, instead of being on the interwebz, and that was a good thing. So I flailed.

Monday the 28th, the topic was a skill I want to improve: Eh. If I think of something, I’ll tell you. You know how you improve? You do more of it. I do a lot of the things I like to do at the moment. I’m not sure I feel like I need to improve beyond the “Do More of It” stage. You do you, though…go for it! Improve yourselves! OK, so right now, I want to improve my arm and core strength…not really stitching related, but something I’m working on. Good?

Tuesday the 29th, the topic was My Latest Project: Well, it’s the one that’s still on the ironing board. Here’s where I last was on it on Sunday night, the last time I worked on it…

It’s still fussy as shit; half those leaves aren’t ironed down to anything, because there’s a leg that needs to go in there first. Maybe tonight.

Today’s topic, for December 30, is My First 2021 Project: Hang on, y’all…my first 2021 project is still my current project, because there’s no way in hell this thing will be done by tomorrow at midnight. So that was easy. After that? Well, I just entered a show and realized I need more quilts for shows and quickly, so probably I should get on that. I haven’t picked anything yet, though, because I have this crazy idea that I should finish the one I’m on before I pick (or even start) a new one. So I’m going to do that.

One more day…you’re gonna love the last topic. OK, probably not. Who knows? I’m not really very good at these, am I. Oh well.

Sunday night, I drew…in fact, I’ve drawn the last three nights, but am blowing the run tonight by not drawing. Oh well. My brain wandered. Odds are I will draw tomorrow night. It’s Drawing a Day…Mostly. Sort of. It goes along with the rest of 2020, wherein we try to do shit and sometimes succeed but sometimes just give up because it’s all too much and we have to give ourselves a break.

Speaking of, here was my break, my socially distanced, don’t even fucking come near me, break. Honestly, the original plan was a cabin in Julian or near Mount Laguna, but I didn’t want to be in a trailer park of tiny houses, and that’s what was left…so I headed for the Salton Sea. I can’t even tell you why, except that I’ve been trying to get the Man to go here with me for a good many years, and he’s always refused.

Right, you say, why the freak does an atheist want to go to Salvation Mountain? Because it’s weird and funky and bizarre, and that was the theme of this trip, for sure.

You know what? I thought it would be bigger.

I still liked it. I wish we could have climbed around on it, but apparently it’s being repaired.

Seriously, hand me some paint and I’ll go up and repair it myself…in fact, I’m trying to figure out how to really annoy my neighbors and add this to my front yard somehow, except the ones I really want to annoy are below me and will never see it. Oh well.

And Love IS Universal. Can’t argue with that. Here’s a video of Leonard Knight, the artist, taking you on a tour of the place.

I had a smile on my face the whole time, and usually, that’s not how I feel about religion.

Hmmm. Construction equipment in the name of God. Interesting.

There’s some interesting texture on the vehicles.

We could just walk around the outside of things, because, you know, COVID. I might be able to get the man to come back here some day, just because we couldn’t go to East Jesus, and there’s a garden there I wanted to see, but probably we’ll have to be on our way to or from somewhere else, and I might need to buy him some really nice beer or a steak for him to agree to it.

I enjoyed it.

But I’m possibly a little deranged at the moment from my job and being at home all the time, except home is work and work is home and the two are never separated any more. All the things they tell you NOT to do when you are trying to balance work and the rest of your life. 2020 is not the year of balance, and 2021 isn’t looking like it will be either.

The pro is that Salvation Mountain was on my bucket list and now I can cross it off. And build some adobe structure around my mailbox. I’ve actually been talking about that for years.

Leaving San Diego, we drove through rain and then snow, to Salvation Mountain. Makes sense.

We drove around Slab City a bit…I’m not and never will be an RVer, so it makes no sense to me, but it’s interesting to see how others live.

East Jesus claims an art vibe, but again, it was closed.

I drew Sunday night. I can’t explain it. I started with the right arm.

As we were getting ready to leave on Monday morning, the rain had started, and you know what that is in the pool of water in the driveway?

Pretty sure it’s a peregrine falcon. We’ve seen them a few times around here. It was just standing in the water. Not bathing, not drinking, just soaking its feet. Like you do.

I’ll continue tomorrow with more eclectic art and some hiking, because there were both those things in spades. I just can’t handle 196 photos in one post. Suffice it to say that we are back, looking forward to sleeping in a bed that doesn’t have a rooster a foot from our heads, and ready to quarantine our stay-at-home asses for another holy crap how many months? Yikes. I just realized this afternoon that tomorrow is the last day of 2020. Weird year, y’all, weird year. I’m not convinced that 2021 won’t bring its own version of weird to the table…in fact, I may not trust a year ever again. But for the rest of the evening, I’m going to attempt to iron shit together (fabric, really, not shit), suppress the feeling that I need to buy more fabric (I don’t; I have a lot of it), and hope that maybe the eye twitch of 2020 will stay gone for more than 24 hours…knock on wood.

Conquer All That Shit

Two weeks of Winter Break left, one assignment left to grade, 23 videos left to make (OK, probably more than that, but 23 that I know of…it’s OK; they’re short). A quilt I thought I’d finish in 2020, but won’t, no way. It’s OK; it’ll be the first in 2021. Expectations all year have been massively adjusted; that will continue. Our safe road trip now includes a Winter warning with snow etc. Hmm. Wasn’t expecting that, but we just need to drive through it to the other side. Should be OK. Additional stress I didn’t want or need. Whatever.

Blog Challenge almost over: I seem to have moved past the need to blog every day. For whatever reason, when I’m teaching physically on campus, it works, and it doesn’t work when I’m literally walking from this room into the other room. I can’t explain it. Welcome to my brain. People always want me to explain it, and I just can’t.

Yesterday’s topic: my favorite sewing foot. I can’t tell you how little I think about this. I use two feet on my machine, the regular one you do almost everything with and the open-toe bouncy foot for free-motion quilting.

I have a bunch of feet…

There’s even more underneath that, and I don’t use any of them. I don’t know what they even do. And I probably don’t care. I had a different free-motion quilting foot with the old machine that I liked better than this one, just because it was wider and transparent and I had better control, but I wasn’t patient enough to wait for one to ship to me and I got used to this one. I’m not that fussy, I guess.

Today’s topic is Techniques to Try. Again, there’s really nothing out there that I want to try that I haven’t? I’m not even sure where to start with that. I have some plans for doing some acrylic painting using paint pens? I keep planning to do it and never get around to it, but I’ve painted before and I draw a lot, so I don’t really think of it as a new technique. New Year’s is the time to think of these things, right? The few classes I take are more for the interaction with a different teacher/artist, listening to their way of doing things; I’m interested in their process more than I’m interested in learning their technique, I guess. I like to listen to people talk about how they make stuff.

Back to what we’ve been doing: we did a socially distanced Christmas dinner and present unwrapping. It was a little chilly, but really, it’s Southern California. We don’t have a lot to complain about with weather. My mom, considering something…

It’s been a rough month…my dad fell and is in skilled nursing right now, hopefully recovering well, but because of COVID, we can’t get all the info we want or need. Mom has taken the brunt of it. She’s a tough old lady, though…a little too tough, sometimes. We did FaceTime with dad…

Not sure what to say about that, except brain injuries are hard on everyone involved. Except Calli, the old lady dog. She was fine. And Simba…

Although he did seem overstimulated at one point…there was a lot of that going on…

Girlchild made an awesome dinner…

Plus dessert and appetizers.

Then back home for a relatively quiet evening…

Being watched by Kitten. Yes, I graded on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day. I just want it done, dammit. I am taking breaks.

This is right after Luna was shoving her face in that basket, exploring the threads hidden below the bag on top of it.

She’s a little irritated with my saying no.

I got a cool science teacher superhero from the Man for Christmas…

Handmade by a friend of his…

Someday she’ll go back to school with me. For now, she hangs out by the computer.

I did finally do some ironing on this last night…

Fussy little leaves and overlapping shit up there. It’s taking a long time.

I’ll get there eventually. Found one of the two missing finger bones. In the wrong bin. Oh well.

Tomorrow, we are leaving for a few nights away from the work/home place, safely not talking to anyone or interacting with anything but nature and a very clean Airbnb. I’m going a little crazy being stuck here every day all day. You might have noticed. Being here makes me think of everything that needs doing, and then I flail and can’t get any of it done. Typical holiday behavior, somehow worse this year. We’ll do some exploring outside and hiking and quiet time with no TV and no house/yard that need a million things and no school workstation staring me in the face. Read a little, draw a little, find some peace. And then come back and conquer all that shit. Maybe. At least some of it.

Maybe Some Eggnog…

Yoinks. I missed another day. Oh well. And it’s two topics I can actually write about! First is What I Listen to/Watch, presumably while working. So I watch things while I’m drawing, tracing, cutting, and ironing. I mostly bingewatch things if I can, and a huge variety of stuff, whatever I can find that’s interesting. I’m currently watching the 5th season of The Expanse and Peaky Blinders. But I just finished Bailey & Scott (or is it Scott & Bailey, can’t remember) and The Wilds…so you can see the range of stuff that pops up. I do prefer sci fi and detective stuff, especially the dark and mostly British stuff, but why limit yourself?

I listen to things when I’m doing the stitch-down and quilting, because I can’t watch and do that at the same time. Sometimes I listen to podcasts (This Podcast Will Kill You, the Quilting Arts podcast, and my daughter’s, Rideshare, when she’s not on hiatus), but in general, I space out on podcasts and stop listening, so I prefer music. Again, ALL the musics. Well, not country and not a lot of hip hop or rap, and very little classical. So everything else. I have a ton of music on iTunes still, and use Pandora for the ease of it all.

The question for today is easy: prewash or not? I’m allergic to every chemical under the sun, and that’s only gotten worse over the years. I often got rashes on my hands before I started washing my fabric…so now it’s the first thing I do when I get home with it: put it in the machine. If I’m smart and I remember, I put Retayne in with all the batiks, especially the dark colors I like for backgrounds, just because I’ve had so many run over the years. So yeah, wash that stuff.

What else? I started ironing the new quilt together on Monday night…

It doesn’t look like much because there’s about a hundred rocks in there. Because I don’t do things simply. I make one rock at a time. Here’s some of them…

I did more last night…

More rocks. And I’m missing two finger bones. If I don’t find them in the next box, I’ll cut two more.

Hey, how are the holiday preparations going for y’all? I think I’m stuck on 5 ornaments on the tree, lights up, a few holiday things around the house. I can’t be bothered. I worked the last two days, put in a chunk of hours in prep, and then yesterday, graded three assignments. I have two more for science, but five for art, plus warmups. I said I wanted them done by Christmas, so I don’t have much time left. It weighs on me otherwise. We are hiking tomorrow, though. We’ll see.

This was from yesterday’s walk with the kids and dogs, although I ditched them halfway through and went the long way home.

It was backwards to what I usually do. But over three miles, so it was something I needed. And then I drew after dinner…

Which might have been why I never made it to the blogpost.

There are only so many hours in the day. Tonight, I’m hoping to finish grading the science assignments and the art warmups, and then ironing of course. Maybe another drawing. Depends on how I feel. I have Pilates on Zoom, which should help. I have a headache and I’m tired. I just realized there are Santa Ana winds coming in…that’s probably the headache. I met outside today, socially distanced, with my school team. Miss being around them. I just never get to vent about work at home, or I vent and no one knows what I’m talking about, or they want to fix it and you can’t fix it.

Anyway. It was a nice break from what has been my reality. Trying to be safe and sane and healthy…there are so many conflicting messages in my brain. See people. Don’t see people. Whatever. Anyway. OK, gonna go grade now. Happy holidays to everyone…may there be lots of what you need and maybe some eggnog with it.

Small Hands…

My earliest memory of sewing? I remember trying to embroider (badly), but I don’t remember how old I was. Somewhere in this house are a few pieces of half-done embroidery or cross stitch from that era…definitely younger than middle school. When I was 7 or 8, I used some of my mom’s curtain material, yellow for god’s sake (not a color I ever wear). You cut four rectangles. Two got lace all around the edges. The other two were sewn together on the sides to make a short fat tube, and then gathered at the top, and then somehow you attached the two rectangles to the top of that to make these wing sleeves.

Hell…this might have been the pattern…

My lord, that is ugly. In fact, I have a stash of clothing patterns, also hidden somewhere in this house, which has some pockets of black void that hide an endless number of bizarre things I will never use again. I sewed a lot of my own clothes for a time, even into high school, thus labeling me forever as a strange beast. Nothing has changed since then, except I sew quilts instead of my clothes, preferring to fritter my time away on art rather than making stuff I can wear that costs a ton of money.

I do remember sitting at the Jack and Jill desks my mom had in her weaving/sewing studio that my dad built her, and listening to Muzak versions of the Beatles and The Mamas and the Papas, while I coaxed my mom’s old 1962 Singer (still in my garage even now) up to about 100 miles per hour of straight lines with the occasional zigzag.

Nothing has changed. Well, mom still has the desks, and I sew at my own desk, so there’s that.

I made curtains, I made a couch cover, I’ve made bedding of sorts, lots of clothing, baby quilts, etc. But mostly art quilts. There are over 90 of them here. Storage is an issue.

Anyway. Last night, I finished ironing all the Wonder Under to fabric; it took just over 19 hours.

And 165 different fabrics…

Now I get to cut them all out.

I walked tonight. Made a new friend.

Presumably he doesn’t get out much. Small hands. Stopped at the ex’s house to check out his lights.

Actually, I really needed to pee. Then I put my headlamp on and did the last half mile to home. Cooked dinner, did some grading, tried to finish my book (it’s good!), and now I will start cutting. I might grade something else first. I’m trying to get ahead (you’re never ahead) so I don’t have to work most of break. Ah ha ha ha ha. It’ll never happen. But I’ll try.

Stash

When I was growing up, there was this cardboard box in the cupboard in the hallway between my room and my brother’s and it was full of fabric scraps. I recognized some from things I had in the closet, mostly pajamas, honestly, but some other bits and pieces from dresses and tops. I had some scraps of fabric in college from classes I’d taken; being told that fiber and fabric were not of artistic merit, I ignored the professors and found classes at art centers in weaving and batik and eventually quilting. In the early days, I bought 1/8 yards, because I couldn’t imagine using up that much fabric ever. Eventually I graduated to half yards, which is mostly what I buy these days, except if I need yardage for bindings or backgrounds, or if all that’s available is fat quarters. When people give up quilting (whether temporarily to move to Morocco or permanently because it no longer gives them joy), they call me and I pick up their stashes. When someone dies and no one in the family sews, I pick up their stashes. When people move across country and can’t take it all with them, I pick up their stashes. Sometimes people see a piece of fabric and it speaks my name to them, and I get it in an envelope in the mail. Someone gave me an apron once because they thought I would like it; another person sent me a scarf.

I do love fabric, the patterns, the colors, and the texture, the flow, the hang, the drape, the shine, the touch, the feel of it.

I do probably have too much of it. Every year, I make a goal to use more of it, to piece backings and backgrounds and bindings and the like. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes it’s a shit year full of a pandemic, and although my shopping has been limited, somehow my stash has grown.

Hey, so this is just what’s in here with me. I took the doors off the closet. Each bin is color-coded. This is mostly cottons, although the crazy quilt fabrics are on the left.

So all that was the yellows, purples, whites, and some of the blues, greens, and blacks. I have a plan for redoing all this and reorganizing it…but I spent all the money to do that on fabric. OK, not really…I don’t actually buy a ton of fabric. Sitting at the computer and looking under the ironing board (like you do…damn…this is a small room and it’s impossible to get a photo without the ironing board in it)…these are most of the browns, all the oranges and reds, and a few more whites and pinks. Oh yeah, and one drawer of blue and one of black.

Well…pink isn’t exactly right. It’s my flesh collection. Yes, I wear Crocs in here…they’re bouncy and cushioned against concrete floors with no padding. I stand a lot.

Most of the fleshy pink bits hide under the sewing table, along with one more brown drawer and three black.

I like me some black and white graphic stuff.

This part is mostly a disaster. There’s some crazy quilt stuff in there, some muslin, some other solids, some quilts in progress, a pile of hand-dyed (by me) a bunch of batting, some pieces big enough for backgrounds or backings in the white drawers, plus grays, greens, and the rest of the blues. And behind all that is a small cat tunnel made of batting scraps. Don’t ask.

The cardboard box is where the cat has been hanging out lately. I can’t take it away from her.

It all needs cleaning and/or organizing. Don’t tell me to purge. I’ve tried it multiple times and it doesn’t bring me joy.

There is also fabric under my bed…mostly crazy quilt fabrics and wools and a few things that I don’t know how to get rid of, like velvets and dresses from my grandmother or mother or great aunt or who knows? Fabriholic. Yes I am. I’m OK with that. It’s not like I don’t use it.

Speaking of using it, I got a goodly chunk of the body parts ironed last night, the stuff that makes up the rest of the body besides the flesh…also a bird. But I still have lungs and hair and a baby to iron. Hopefully tonight. Then I’ll be done…

That’s all. That’s a lot of colors…

Then I get to cut stuff out.

Looking forward to it. I relax with scissors. Actually, I also relax on walks. We dared to take the old lady dog out on a longer walk (it was probably a bit too long), but we saw two white-winged kites…first time ever, I think.

Great photo, I know…distance is not a phone camera’s friend. Same with this…

Spot the blurry coyote. Ah well. Reminds me it was there.

The skies have been gorgeous for weeks…probably a sign the world is ending.

We’ll find out later that COVID has infected the sky. Lovely poinsettia from my school friends. Matches the sky.

They also brought me this calendar for 2021, since I will probably be distance teaching for most of it. Shoot me now.

Yeah well. It’s hard not to give a shit and still care about teaching. I don’t know how to turn off the ‘care about’ part, so I just try to keep as chill as possible about it with the rest of the crazy shit swirling around right now.

But in good news, even with the stupid electoral college, we now no longer have a Trump in office. May his fuckery take him down. But we’re watching, y’all. Put it all back where it was. Bring back the environment and get those immigrant families back together and if one of our asshole doctors removed a uterus without permission, then those families need to be compensated, and surely there are numerous people who belong in jail right now, and probably numerous people who ARE in jai and DON’T belong there, and let’s talk about global warming and taking care of people and finding money for businesses and people who are struggling right now. ALL OF THEM. Not just the Democrats, not just the rich people, not just the white people. Sigh. This last year has been such a fucking mess. And today is the 8th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. So let’s do something about guns for once. Really.

Also this…

That’s for sure. OK. I have ironing to do. And I need more tea.