Ode to a Shower…

Showers are wonderful y’all. I appreciate them even when they aren’t great. The water is warm, even hot? Check. It’s above me and there’s enough water to do the things? Check. BOOM. I’m in. Yes, I have been showerless for a few days. Bathroomless even, although there was one down the hill. I had a porta-potty nearby. The flies buzzing in close proximity to the gentler parts were a worry, but survivable.

We left Wednesday and went to see Alice Beasley’s 30-year retrospective show at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica. No, LA traffic has not changed. It was worth it though to see more of her work in person.

This is Isle of Dreams Revisited.

And the incredibly relevant From Russia with Love…

Definitely worth a drive up. No matter how much the Man complained about LA traffic. If you just accept that there will be traffic, it’s a lot easier to take.

From there, we headed to Ojai and the showerless campground. It was OK…nothing to write home about, but serviceable for our needs. A nice tree, some great views, and these weird tanks.

The view…in one direction…

And the other direction…

The Man has a thing for campfires, but occasionally we’ve had starting issues. Solution? Buy firestarters…

Totally worth it for my sanity. Oh yes, I draw while he fights the wood and the fire.

I started with the mountain ridge line and added the figure.

On Thursday, we picked what we thought would be a reasonable hike. You know how some 5-mile hikes feel longer than others?

Yeah, this was one of those. It was fine. I think we were both tired and hadn’t been exercising much (for me, in the last week…too much school crap and then going to Boston).

Depending on which app you were talking to, it was 5.5 or 5.6 miles with 1400+ feet of gain.

There’s some gain right there. It wasn’t horrible. It just took us a lot longer than we thought it would.

Lots of spring flowers and butterflies…

I came around the corner into a flock of these little blue butterflies.

You’ve heard of slowing down, slow stitching, slow cooking?

We slow hiked.

It’s not a race. Came back, hung out, had a drink to celebrate the end of the hike, stitched a bit, read a lot, took a nap…

Another fire…

Another drawing…shit, that’s what I could be doing while I wait for all these pictures to load…draw!

This morning, we slept in, then fed ourselves and packed up in just 90 minutes. Drove out of Ojai to Paso Robles, where we have an actual shower and stove and bed. OK we had all those things in the campsite except for the shower.

Tonight is art, tomorrow is hiking and some entertainment. Then book it out of here on Easter for Pinnacles National Park (has showers!). I know lots of people wanna know why I don’t hike the PCT with the Man. There are quite a few reasons (my job is one), but also…showers. My goodness, it has taken two hours with the slow internet here to get this written. Time for dinner and then art! Not sure when I’ll be able to write again. We’ll see. Rest assured that I will be reading, stitching, hiking, napping, and photographing…and trying to avoid thinking about school.

That’s All You Can Do…

Hey. So I went back to school today. It’s school. It’s the same old. It’s depressing, honestly. Seeing the people I work with, adults and kids, not depressing. The workload, the constant pile of crap, that’s depressing. The feeling you get when you realize you will be carrying this load for another 3 months before Spring Break, and then there will be more after that, and then you will have Summer Break, and then it will start all over again? That’s heavy. It’s not what I want. I want to teach kids and be their science inspiration, but I don’t want all the paperwork and the stress and the constant heavy negative crap that comes with teaching. But there’s no escaping that at the moment. There’s nothing I can do that’s different right now…I have kids going into college and I need reliable income and health insurance, and I need to focus on getting my kids a good start in life so hopefully they can do it way better than I did…hopefully they can have some semblance of happy and stable and not worry all the time about money and the septic tank and how dinner will get on the table…because that was a giant-ass disaster tonight, although it eventually came together.

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I was on this hike the other day and another single/divorced mom was talking about her older teens not doing laundry, and I just laughed. I trained my kids on dishes and laundry at about age 6. I was divorced and was teaching by then, and I needed them to help. I’m totally honest with them about what needs to get done and what I can handle, because one’s an adult and the other is approaching that, and they need to see that life isn’t always easy…that you have to bust your butt sometimes to get through…and that it might hurt and be hard, but you can get through. Because I think some kids never see that part and when it gets hard? They run away, they hide, and people get hurt when they can’t deal. Each year, the helping part from my kids gets bigger, and tonight it culminated in one kid on the phone with me analyzing the 1/2″ vents cut in a cooking bag while I was running tutorial at school, then another kid coming home early because she didn’t hear me say I would leave the gym early to deal with step 2 (or 3?) of dinner. Meanwhile, the first kid had read the post-it note instructions I had left for the second kid, but hadn’t panicked enough to text me yet. We are a working unit. They are adults in many ways, trying to help their mom survive work and art and life in general. They know I’m having a hard time and they try to make it easier. On the one hand, I feel incredibly bad that they have to do that…on the other, I know they will be more competent adults because of it.

God damn. I’m going to miss them when they’re gone. I’m not going to miss the fussing about getting Christmas thank-yous and college apps done, or the refusal to take the trash out until I’ve thrown things and yelled at them…I’m going to miss their care for me, their careful consideration of their broken mom and how they can help and still be the pissy teenagers they’re supposed to be. I did good with them. They will be good adults. They will know how to survive adversity and hopefully get past it. They will bitch at me about the text I sent, and then ask for a hug in the next text (yes, I text my kids while I’m in the same house…). I hope they will be happier than I am. I hope someday to be happy too, but more importantly, I hope they are happy.

I am 8 1/2 hours in to the quilting of the Celebrating Silver quilt. Technically the photos are due February 1 (I think), but I’m trying to get it done by Saturday night, so I can get it and the other quilt photographed next week. I emailed the photographer to set up a time, so now I HAVE to finish. Way to put pressure on myself. I’m juggling some other deadlines as well…I have a quilt that has to be delivered to VAM next week and it’s missing a label; my parents are doing that delivery, because I have no way of getting there within their time constraints (it takes a village). That show opens February 15, I think. I found out today that one of my older quilts, Here, will be going to Ojai to the Beatrice Wood Arts Center for an exhibit opening February 9.


It needs to be delivered a week from Sunday, but that’s to a regular meeting I would go to anyway, so that’s not a supreme hardship. I just have to FIND the damn thing. I love this quilt…it’s been in a ton of shows and has traveled all over the place. A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and I drew this…she is still cancer-free, knock on wood. That’s 13 pieces out on exhibit and 3 in process, about to be sent on exhibit. I should be proud of all that. I should be able to take a deep breath and have that achievement fill me up with joy and success.

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Those are Sion’s thorns…

Yeah, well, we know how depression deals with all those feelings. That said, meditation is focusing on this visualization technique and I am rocking that. There’s something about my ability to see quilts fully colored in my head that translates to this ability to visualize myself filling with warm light, the warm light of creative thought. It’s a good place to be…in meditation. I cry still, but it’s tempered by this calm feeling of being filled by some artistic thing…some creative thing. So many people are lacking that…lacking an ability to create, to make, to draw, to paint, to take what’s in their head and make it INTO something. I have that. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I have that and I am so glad that I do, because it pulls me up out of the muck. I’m still depressed, but I’m not crawling into bed and not getting out. I’m not refusing to shower. I’m not crawling into a hole and never coming out. I’m not suicidal. I could be. This experience has been bad enough, has dragged me low enough that I often think I just don’t want to be awake…I don’t want to exist, please don’t make me get up and get dressed and deal with the world. I just can’t. But the art is there, banging on my skull, saying FUCK YOU. GET UP AND MAKE ART. So I do. And I know that’s the way out of this crap…and I will eventually GET out. But I also know what it looks like to want to give up and not deal with anything. That even doing the laundry or grading papers or saying hi to someone in the morning is sometimes the hardest thing in the world for me. Sometimes I wonder how I get up, how I get in the car and drive to work, how I manage to do anything at all. Simple. Art brain. It’s saving my life. It’s making me deal. It’s taking on all the pain and crap and shit and it’s pulling me along, whether I like it or not. And when the days are really bad, really low, it puts the pen in my hand, it makes me sit down at the sewing machine, it pulls fabric out of a drawer, and it makes me be…exist…survive.

I don’t know what made that happen in my brain, but I’m grateful that it did.

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One eye stitched…one eye not.

It sounds so lame to write all that out. I read a blog once about how to decide you want to be alive. I want to know how the book I’m reading ends. I want to know what quilt I will make next. I want to know if that kid I’m teaching will graduate from high school. I want to see what my own children will become. I want to see my grandchildren. I want to see the next dog I will have. I want to see the next sunset…sunrise…mountain top. That’s how you get through. That’s how you survive. That’s how you bully through depression and get to the other side. I’m not saying it’s easy and I’m not saying it works for everyone. It’s just working for me. I’m still depressed. I’m still really really sad and hurt and not happy. But…that will not be forever, even on the days when I can’t quite convince myself that it feels like forever and I see no light at the end of the tunnel, hey. I’m in these shows and I’m making art and my kids are trying to cook dinner and manage the recycling bins. So there.

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Broken? Yup. Totally. Permanent? Nope. Will be cracked forever, but will figure it all out. The crone? She is there, she is in me. I’m not her yet. I’m not there yet.

Sigh. Rough day. Babygirl is quite happy with my folded-up batting pile…

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When I decide that the cat hair is too much, I do have piles of smaller batting pieces. I’m thinking she is so ecstatic about the batting that I should just make her some batting piles throughout the house. Because when part of your life is focused on how to make the life of a bitchy, old-lady cat a good thing…how do you make her last years enjoyable and make her feel loved? Well, really, that’s all you can do in this world…