I think I am going to go to sleep tonight and wake up sometime next Wednesday. And hopefully all the things I need to do and/or have forgotten to do will magically be done and I will feel refreshed and ready to take on the last 9 weeks of school. Damn, that sounds long. Not as long as 38 weeks, but long. I’ve managed to grade a ton of stuff in the last three weeks, so I will go into break with two academic assignments, a couple of effort questions, and (so far) 4 classes of packets. I’ve finished one of the 8th grade packets; they’re small and easy to grade. 7th grade is probably coming home with me. I have to clean my room enough so that they can clean the floors (finally! last cleaned in August), and there’s a 90-minute talent show assembly today, so both of those things are exhausting. But doable. I can see the light! At the end of a long tunnel. It’ll be fine. Bad news the other day was bad. But not devastating. Ah well. Change. It’s neverending. Just keeps happening. Roll with it. Maybe roll over on your back and look like a dead bug, but roll nonetheless.
Artwise, the break is looking awesome. There’s a show I want to go see, I have two quilts ready to iron together, one of which needs to be done by the time break is over, I’m going to have time to draw the two quilts that are hanging out in my head at the moment. One of them is school shootings again. Because you know what? They haven’t stopped.
When I have problems falling asleep or falling back to sleep at night, I imagine where I am in the current quilt and walk myself through the next steps. My counselor said I could also think about the next quilt. That might have been a mistake. I drew an entire anti-gun/pro-kid quilt in my head the other night and now I have to draw it for real.
So much truth. And this one is heartbreaking.
Certainly I think about whether I’ll get to retirement without living through a school shooting at my own school. I think all teachers probably do. It’s exhausting on top of everything else we do.
So there’s all that, and then there’s making art. I actually have a second quilt that drew itself in my head in the last week, so I have some drawing to do at some point.
Wednesday night, I cut stuff out.
I was feeling close to done, and sure enough, last night, I finished.
It took 6 hours and 45 minutes over the last week. Tonight I’ll sort them and clean up in the studio a little bit so I can iron. I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to start ironing, but if I don’t tonight, I will tomorrow. Because I don’t have to grade anything tomorrow or lesson plan anything. I will need to at some point during break, but it doesn’t have to be tomorrow. Looking forward to a break from all that work, every day, nonstop, panicking regularly about what the fuck I’m doing in 8th grade. Don’t want to normalize that.
I find this funny, but I don’t think I’m either. There’s a regular disagreement about silverware, but whatever.
Oh yeah! One of my students painted me this…
She also wrote me a long note on the back and that helped me get through a long day. Kids are good. In general. Even the annoying ones (which she is not).
Another kid I’ve had for almost 2 years now actually showed up in my classroom after school and asked for help (!) after never doing that before, and then she went home and did the thing and emailed me she was done and I am so damn proud of her for doing all that. She’s super shy and quiet and honestly anxious maybe frightened and I’m so happy she got to that point. A good day if that’s all I look at (I should learn to just look at that and not the annoying tiresome bits, yeah?).
Simba has a new friend…
My ex got a new dog, a puppy. Anwen is 14 weeks, so this is a good comparison for the future when she is full grown next to Simba, who is middle-aged at this point. She’s adorable and sweet and I’m looking forward to seeing her grow up.
OK. It’s the final countdown. Eight hours until they are gone and I am finalizing my disaster of a room. Spring Break is a reset button. Get back to eating healthy and more exercise. REST for fuck’s sake. Let my teaching brain have a break. It’s time.
If you know me, you know I suck at resting. The closest I get is sitting on the couch and stitching, or the bad version of that, scrolling endlessly through social media, which is, of course, silly. Short blurbs of that while waiting for someone to get out of the only bathroom or for the cat to get her blood draw…that’s cool. But just staring at it for an hour? I try to force myself off the couch for that. Even when I meditate, I have a hard time staying still, physically or mentally.
Anyway, our vacations tend not to be particularly restful physically, although I do my best to leave my job at home. I have not answered a student email since last week some time, so I guess that’s a good thing. All this lack of rest thing is why we got up early on a perfectly good Easter morning, ate a hearty breakfast, and drove the nausea-inducing, vomitous, hour-long drive from the Sequoia National Park Foothills entrance up to where the real shit is. You know, the trees. My lord, that road. Blech. Ten-mile-per-hour hairpin turns up and up and up. I was driving and still felt sick to my stomach. Beautiful sights, though…although I am still worried about the terrified deer that was tap-dancing its way down the walled-in road. IDK where it came from (cliffs) or where it was going (hopefully not cliffs).
I don’t know if my parents ever took me to Sequoia…I remember the Kern River, but I’m not sure when and where that was. Last year, we were supposed to camp in the park, which also has no showers (I’m sensing a smelly trend here), but this year, I was worried about temperatures being really cold at night, because Spring Break was earlier than last year. I’m not sure I needed to worry about that. The campground is down in the valley and I think the temperatures I was seeing are up at the top, a good 6000-foot different in elevation. So next time! Next time, we left a lot of Sequoia to explore. We wanted to get in early because the ranger the day before had warned us about parking and people (it was Easter weekend). We started at the General Sherman Tree lot and hiked in to see the biggest (in volume) tree in the world.
OK, I’m not sure it’s that one. I seriously spent a lot of time wandering around looking up and taking pictures of trees. I know the man has a picture of it with tiny me in front of it. Hang on. I got this.
See me? See tree? The man has a newer phone than I do and it has this cool feature where he could zoom out and get the whole thing, where I was stuck taking pictures of either the bottoms of trees or the tops of trees, but not both. Makes me want a new phone, just for that.
Sometimes the trees lie down for you so you can take pictures, right?
So we did the Congress Trail and then tried Bear Hill (no go on that…trees down and snow and up and it got old fast). What’s interesting is that a few years back, we went to Humboldt to see the redwoods there, and it’s very moist and wet and rainforesty, and this is totally not that. I mean, snow is wet, but there wasn’t a ton of undergrowth and it was much drier than Humboldt.
We did see two marmots.
Weird little furry beast balls. There was snow on the trail, but just enough to make it interesting…we had poles and spikes, but didn’t need them.
And it eventually warmed up enough to be in short sleeves with no issues.
We drove down to the main area and braved the crazy crowds there, although we skipped the Big Tree loop in favor of Moro Rock, which still had a lot of people. This photo is from Beetle Rock.
This is Hanging Rock, which scared the crap out of my height-hating self. I’m usually OK at the tops of things, but maybe I’m getting worse. The man walked out to that edge and looked over, and I just stayed way the fuck back. It was weird.
But no way was my brain letting me go out there. Too much down.
It was definitely much warmer at this point.
We didn’t go up Moro Rock. It was rock stairs and I was kind of done with that. Plus too many people. I can look at a rock without having to be on top of it. It’s OK.
The other thing that was different about Sequoia compared to Humboldt was fire damage. Almost all of the big trees had it…
Some much worse than others.
Burns had definitely come through this area multiple times. It was gorgeous though. Especially when we found the trail away from the road and ditched 90% of the people.
These redbuds were popping out everywhere in the lower elevations. Happy bees.
The drive back down didn’t seem as bad, for whatever reason. We did about 9 1/2 miles of hiking total and were completely exhausted by the time we got back. Although first, the man spoke to this turkey and made it shake her tail feathers and do a little dance.
Until she realized he was not good mating material. We’ll have to go back some day, because we didn’t get our National Park book stamped. We had to wait in line for the store, and by the time we got back down to the first visitor center, the rangers had packed up, and they weren’t out in the morning when we came though. COVID hours still. Or winter hours? Not sure.
Back to our little house in Exeter, where Tiger Roll (his real name) eventually parked his pointy butt on my lap and kneaded my boobs for a while. Ouch.
Also I finished the second Homegrown block, sitting outside and resting (my version) post-shower. Showers are wonderful, y’all. Really, they are.
The previous night, we Zoomed with the man’s family. They wanted a group/family hug of sorts before he left on his PCT hike. Here he is planning while I draw.
He leaves Friday. He’s hoping to do the whole thing…we’ll see how he does. Being in San Diego means I can drive to somewhere near him for like the first month of the trip…but unless it’s desperate, I’m going to pretend he’s further away…until summer, when I’ll meet him in Northern California somewhere. It’s weird prepping for a trip like that…on my end, too. Someone remind me that all the Oregon and Washington maps are in the bathroom and I need to take them with me when I meet up with him.
The next morning, we packed everything up, said goodbye to Tiger Roll and the peacocks and all the other animals…
And drove home through Los Angeles…this is near Castaic, where I had to start driving. Block 3 of Homegrown was not finished by then.
But I did manage to finish it at night when we got home.
Three done. IDK how many to go. I haven’t been focusing on these really…just sewing stuff down on them because that’s easy to do when I have no brain power. And I can’t show you the other one I’ve been working on because it hasn’t been published yet.
I’ve been home for a little more than 36 hours now and I’m still exhausted. I have been copyediting, prepping stuff for an online show, picking up a quilt and yammering with a friend for way too long (I don’t get to talk to people much…be kind to me when you do see me because of that). We have groceries. My sewing machine is back from the fixit guy. I have a drawing for the next quilt started but not finished. I have a lot of work to do before we go back to school. I need focus, but have very little of it. Straight up, Spring Break is never very restful…it’s just a break from school tasks, and a mostly short one, since I graded stuff last Monday. I still have three things left to grade (got an email from a good kid about one of them on Monday), tomorrow I meet with my co-teacher to plan as far out as we can to reduce our stress levels, the family is showing up in the next few days to see my dad, and the man is leaving on his hike…which is stressing me out, but probably not nearly as much as it is stressing him out. So there’s that. But I’m not on Zoom 6 hours or more a day, and that’s a major plus. For now. There are 48 days of school left. I can’t decide if that’s a lot or a little. But it’s not the majority, so that’s a good thing. If I do the math for how many Zoom hours that is, I might panic, so I’m not gonna do that.
Also, I’ve been rejected by I think three shows in the last month? Sigh. It’s OK. It reminds me that I don’t make work for shows. I make work for me, and when people want to show it, that’s a bonus. Seriously. It’s OK.
OK. I’m showered. I had a cup of tea. Need more. Need food. Strange cravings for English muffins. No idea why. Need to take the cat to the vet soon, plus a lot of other shit. See you later, hopefully with some art progress. I miss it!
It’s hard to get totally off the grid, but certainly hanging out in places where cell service is random (4G in the bathroom, but only at 2 PM on a Thursday for 14 seconds) and wifi is nonexistent helps. We got back from our whirlwind trip yesterday, completely exhausted. We only did about 26 miles in 4 days of hiking, with two days more strenuous than the others, but elevation whomped us a bit as well, plus unexpected heat. 75 degrees F at 4000 feet is hotter than it is at 400 feet above sea level. That’s my excuse anyway. Plus not enough sleep, ever. Camping plus camp noises (I listened to a tree branch groan for at least an hour one night) plus AirBnb noises (that peacock chorus one night…). I wouldn’t trade the experiences out, but it does lead to general exhaustion…a different kind of tired than what school does to me, but tired. I am still tired. I could have slept in this morning, but I mis-set my alarm too early and then my to-do list entered my brain and that was the end of it. So I was up. Not fully functional, but up.
So last Tuesday night found us in a hotel room in Fresno with a massive Jacuzzi tub that I could have used every night AFTER that (my dream is a Jacuzzi, but it will probably never coalesce into reality), and as always seems to happen, one of the Jurassic Park movies was on, so we watched and I drew.
To bed earlyish…driving is exhausting, isn’t it? Then the next morning, up and out for the Yosemite experience.
I grew up in the Sacramento area, and my parents must have driven around rolling hills with oak trees a lot, because it’s a landscape my brain really responds to, so we stopped on the way up for one photo…
The flowers were starting to pop and everything was that bright spring green that doesn’t last in California.
The first view of Yosemite National Park…it never fails to bring tears to my eyes, when we get the first view of WHY this is a national park and not just some local thing.
I guess it’s why we keep going to all of them, eh?
Definitely worth it. I haven’t been here since high school, I think, when they brought us all in and sent us off in groups. My group hiked/backpacked a short distance (?) up into freezing coldness. Susie Cranston and I zipped our sleeping bags together and invited some dog (an actual dog, y’all) into the bag for warmth.
So it’s been a while…
It’s the crowds of people that keep us away. This was Spring Break, but it wasn’t too bad. A lot wasn’t open yet (like the showers and the pizza place, until our last day), so that probably helped. Plus we asked which hikes had fewer people, and when to do the more popular ones. It helped. So did camping…the first two nights were nice and quiet, once the rampaging gangs of children stopped screaming. We were on the outer edge of one of the loops…a good choice.
The last night, we were surrounded by groups of 20-somethings with copious amounts of alcohol. They were remarkably quiet, considering.
We got set up relatively early on Wednesday, and went for our first walk, but got sent back by a bear on the trail.
Hmmm. That was the only bear we ever saw, luckily? Or not.
Back to camp, cooked dinner, settled down to draw by the fire.
I cooked. Someone else has to do dishes. A tree, my view. Those damn ravens.
They’ll steal as soon as you walk away.
The next day was a our big hike day. We started with Vernal Falls…weren’t sure how high we’d go. It was definitely a climb.
We made it a ways up. Not all the way…
There was a lot more of that, and it was getting more and more slippery.
This was a good view though. After lunch and a bit of a rest, we set out to do the hike from the day before…no bear today, just deer…
Almost didn’t see them resting there.
We hiked up past Mirror Lake, doing the whole loop.
It was warm but otherwise mostly quiet.
Tired legs at that point…
Somewhere between 10 3/4-12 1/2 miles that day, between the two hikes. Our multiple apps wouldn’t agree on mileage.
Tired seemed legit. I finished this Sue Spargo Homegrown block between the driving and the camping…
Then made dinner and drew again by the campfire.
It was a good night.
The reward for lots of hiking is sleeping through the tree and people noises.
The last day, we headed out to Yosemite Falls…there were tons of people, which explains the man’s face.
He was reaching his limit. We considered trying to get to Upper Yosemite Falls, but it was hot and we were officially tired. So we checked out the Ansel Adams Gallery, got our National Park passports stamped, and got our official Yosemite T-shirts.
We scoped out a dinner option that didn’t make us cook, rejoiced that we weren’t in Curry Village (soon to be Half Dome Village), and rested a bit.
We actually got a pizza to go and brought it back to the campsite to avoid people. Yes, we hiked a mile for pizza. It was worth it.
There are other things we’d explore in Yosemite, but it would have to be later in the season. Too much was still snowed in.
I did draw that night too, but there’s no picture of that. We spent (well, mostly the man spent) about 2 hours trying to get a fire started on the third night. The young folks on either side had roaring fires (they both had fire starters of some sort), but ours was lackluster until we ignored it, and then it finally caught.
Some serious fire-building science and Girl Scout knowledge failed us on this one.
The morning had us packing up, with the ravens waiting for our leavings…
We were out early and headed south for our next park, Sequoia. On the way out, we stopped to look at some burn damage.
It’s hard to look at, even when you know some of it is necessary to the forest. Not as much as we’ve had lately, though. Lots of damage around from a big windstorm in January too, which toppled trees throughout the park.
I’ll write more about the rest of the trip tomorrow. Now I need a shower, groceries, and about a million other things to get crossed off the list. Wish me luck.