That’s What Summer Is for…

Ah yes. It’s late on Friday night. Well, not super late, but late enough that many of you have said goodbye to Friday (if you even know it’s Friday at all) and some are well into Saturday. Or Sunday. I can’t tell. Australia, you are crazy with the days and hours thing and it could be August by now for you all as far as I know. Plus it’s winter and that just blows my mind. In fact, I think I want to live there just for a year or so, just so I can come back and NOT think that August equals hot and February equals rain, but only a little bit, because we are Southern California in a drought for all eternity.

Why am I writing so late? Well, there was a chance on Wednesday of going to the zoo, and that didn’t happen, so today ended up being the only day available forever more that wouldn’t be a weekend, and when you’re trying to avoid people, weekends are not the way to go, so we got our butts out of bed at a reasonable hour and went to the zoo. More on that later, but it was a better social-distancing experiment than I think school will be, although there were times when I thought, oh yeah, this is JUST LIKE what school will be like, and it was mostly when I was around either people or primates. Wait. We’re primates. So it’s the damn primates. We don’t do this well. Although really, I’d rather hang with the orangutans. Not the baboons. Them’s vicious bastards. MORE LATER.

So I wrote on Wednesday last, and Wednesday night, I did some stitch down…

And I kind of got to this point where I said I would use the two meetings (both social, online) I had on Thursday to finish the stitchdown, because I had other stuff (sewing stuff) I had to finish and I needed the machine for that, and I hate switching needles and thread, so I just went for it…

It’s been hot. I have two fans I’m using in here.

And besides having to be the expert on whether or not we should open schools next month [um. If you won’t open a restaurant, why the fuck would you open a school? Because you hate teachers and want them to die? Don’t even ask me about the kids who will get sick and potentially die (none here in the age group I teach, which is great, but won’t continue if we open schools), and worse, take the disease home to family members.]. Wait, I was in the middle of a sentence. Besides having to be the expert on opening schools (no. don’t.), I just stitched.

And at 10 hours and 7 minutes…

I was done. The batting will be here tomorrow, but I had other things I had to get done, so my backing isn’t pieced yet…hopefully Sunday.

My quilt guild had a stitch along for the last 4 or 5 weeks (I can’t count. Please don’t make me.), and I needed to be done by midnight tonight. Yesterday, after finishing the stitchdown, I trimmed all the blocks…except one was too small.

Yup. That red one. I added a strip to make it work. And then I laid them all out again, and because I’d seen some other people spread them out more, I got a stupid bug up my butt and pulled 5 of the blocks out of the center bit, added more white/black, and pushed them into the border…

Because why make it easy? In fact, I have no need for an abstract quilt on the wall, so this needs to be even bigger. IDK what I will do about that, but I did piece the whole center together last night.

And then put the borders on today, after the zoo.

Looks good. All I need to do is decide how I will make it bigger, sandwich, quilt it, bind it, and then toss it on the couch for cats and dogs to sleep on it. Right? Sure. The point is that I finished it on time. The pattern is Abstract Arcs by Cotton and Bourbon. Look! I pieced something.

I’m still trying to finish all the grass on this, Folk Tails, by Sue Spargo. I found another spool of green thread and jokingly said I knew I was done with the grass when I’d run out of green thread. Um. No. So this was after Thursday’s second meeting of the day…

At this point, I think I’m done with the bottom three rows, but when I look at it like this, I see stuff that bugs me…so when I sewed these two blocks, they had the grass already on them, unlike the bits I’ve been adding. But it’s so obvious that it stops at the edge of the block that it bugs me…

So I had to go in and add more grass over the seams to make it look less like straight lines. Taking photos of this stuff helps see crazy things like that, which will drive me nuts if I don’t fix them. Then tonight during gaming, I kept going on the grass…yeah, I know there’s a cat on there, but I might be close to done with grass stitching.

I’m seeing maybe one or two places that need more. “MORE”, because if you look at her photo of it on the website, she added a gazillion more bits of grass from the pattern, and I don’t have that kind of patience. So the next step is to put the borders on. Wow. Another almost finished Sue Spargo Block of the Month. Well done.

So I also drew two more of the tattoo quilt blocks…

Again, these aren’t mine. I’m taking a paper-piecing pattern by Happy Sew Lucky and shrinking it and turning it into applique. I like the images, but I don’t like paper piecing. I also need to draw some stuff for the next Patreon rewards. Maybe that will also be tomorrow. We’ll see.

If you’ve met me more than once or twice, you know this about me.

Strangely, it does not translate to my on-video self.

OK, so the zoo. We were there for about 2 1/2 hours, and at the end, we were mostly done with people. There were more and more who were either lame as fuck about social distancing, or wouldn’t move out of the way so everyone could see the animals, or would get in our personal space, or flat out weren’t wearing a mask. That last category was pretty small, actually, which is a good thing. I feel like all school year, I will be saying, “Mask ON. Six FEET.” T-shirts to come. That said, it was outside and a walk and the baby animals are cute as hell…

The baby orangutan playing with the baby siamang.

They were adorable.

There were lots of sleeping cats…

It was a warm day.

Honestly, even mine sleep in this heat…

Except this guy…

A new dad who kept coming over to this fence to check out mom and babies…

She was, in the way of all new moms, fully into Fuck Off, You Did This to Me, and hanging with the babes.

So the baboons were yelling at each other and chasing each other around the enclosure.

Let me be clear, the ones with penises were chasing each other and everyone else was just running around either trying to figure out what was going on, or trying to avoid it. Just like in real life. So many things to feel about that. We never figured out what was really wrong…also like real life.

This baboon had the best hair.

I mean, I know they groom each other, but my hair NEVER looks that good. I was jealous.

Yes, this is a photo of a tapir peeing in the water. Not because it was peeing but because the pee was making this crystalline pattern in the water…

Which you can sort of see here, but it was much more impressive in person. Me wondering about the chemical properties of tapir pee. Really.

Secretary birds are just weird.

Some guy walked by and said they were ugly. Nah. Just fascinating.

I don’t find many animals ugly. Humans? Well, that’s another story, but it’s really the insides and not the outsides.

Lots of funny little birds to be seen.

This is hanging down bird…

And its twin…wait…it’s still a hanging bird, but this one is doing it wrong…

Or maybe it was called an upside-down bird. Can’t remember. That was its name though…the assumption that it was always upside down.

The flamingos are probably the most photographed bird at the zoo…

Because they’re bright and flashy and right up front.

Otis the hippo was born in 1976, I think.

He’s very still.

This tiger was finding food in hidden locations…

Kudos to the zoo keepers for keeping them hunting…

It was a nice morning out…well worth it. And I felt less violated by people than I do when going shopping, so that was a plus. I’d do it again.

Calli’s not sure.

I took her in the pool for a cooling-off swim…

Yes, Luna is even squishier than she was last time.

I don’t understand this.

We still have monarchs on the milkweed…

Always nice. Oh yeah, and I made blueberry cobbler to use up the berries before they went bad.

I think I like a crisp more than a cobbler, in case anyone is keeping track. There are more berries coming. I’ll make the crisp next week.

OK, it’s late and I’m tired. I’m going to do the dishes I got dirty and then go to bed. Tomorrow, I’ll finish the copyediting and go to the quilt guild zoom, and then see what else I have the energy for…maybe nothing. And that’s OK. I have been working pretty steadily all week. It’ll be nice not to be copyediting or doing school for once. But then we need to do the other fence…so that’s a different kind of work. And more art! I need to make more art. That’s what summer is for.

Usually My Fault…

Well I am mostly braindead today. My fault for going to bed late. It’s usually my fault, eh? Plus yesterday was mostly copyediting and not a lot else. I want to be done with it so I can just do art all the time. I’m getting close. The references were yesterday…today is up in the air. It’s the man’s birthday and we were going to go to the zoo, which is still open, yay, but he’s also braindead, so we’re debating doing it later or doing it another day. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing all day is a thing. I personally feel like I do too much of that already, but then I remember that if I’m doing that (or doing silly things that don’t further my art or my work in some way), there’s a reason for it. My brain is pretty good at trying to give me space. Like stop reading Facebook or watching the news because all that shit about schools needing to open and withholding federal and state funding if you don’t…sigh, this country is fucked up at the moment. OK, it’s always fucked up, but this is beyond the usual fucked-up mess. Frustrating as hell.

Anyway, so on Monday, I was also not very functional, but it’s because I did the 17 million errands including the dentist and the TB test (which I have to get checked before 1:20 PM tomorrow…no, I don’t have it…how could I? I’m literally around almost no one on a regular basis), and I think that was the first time I had an almost-normal errand run in four months and it killed me. Not really, but I was tired and covered in hand sanitizer by the end of it. By the way, those automatic hand sanitizers? I’m lame when it comes to using those. They scare me. It keeps shooting the sanitizer out while I’m trying to get away from it. Oh yeah, and the dog had his teeth cleaned, so I spent about 2 hours dealing with the vet on either end of that. So it’s no wonder that I got very little else done. I did do a bunch of stitch down, because it was easy to do…

I am 6 hours into the stitch down…I guessed 9-10 hours total and I might be in that range. I am more than halfway now…I’m on the top half of the central figure and then have the two angels. Hopefully I’ll get some done tonight. I’m wavering on when to finish this one. I have to make a new smaller one and have it photographed by August 1. I think. Or I can choose to keep doing this one. I just don’t know. Today is not the day for decision making, that’s for sure. This whole week might be a goner for that.

Sometimes the back is really interesting too. I need to remember to cut pieces for that one corona virion where 4 of the parts disappeared. Maybe after writing this I will remember to do that.

So yesterday, after copyediting, I had no brain left. I just wanted to sit and stitch, but nothing hard. No decisions. So I pulled out the Sue Spargo Homegrown and finished stitching down the rest of February’s houses.

They are comforting in the process and bright colors. Although they are all wonky. I like wonky, luckily. I pulled out March this morning, so I could prep it for the next mental-fail day. Have I done any embellishment on these? No. No I have not. Don’t judge.

So the other crazy thing my brain decided on back in May was to do this Tattoo quilt by Happy Sew Lucky aka Berene Campbell. I sent you to read her reasons for making the blocks in the first place. I think that’s where I originally found her quilt, was in reading about quilt artists who make work in response to shit that’s going on. The graphic quality of her quilt spoke to me as well, and I bought the patterns. I knew they were foundation paper piecing (FPP), which I’ve done exactly one block of…ever. I think in the beginning I thought I might try it again, but no. I’m not. I’m really not. I also don’t want a huge quilt. I don’t have a lot of wall space and wouldn’t put this on a bed with the psychotic animals who live here, so I let it simmer in my brain for a LOOONG time. She’s doing a stitch along of sorts, one block a month; she sends out great info, these are awesome patterns, and the FB page where people are sharing their color versions is great inspiration. It doesn’t hurt that Tula Pink also made one using her fabrics, so people are swooning over it. If that gets Berene more income, I am totally for that. But here I am, not willing to FPP (my sanity is important), but wanting to make it, but not wanting it to be that big. Hmm. Respecting the artist’s work is also important to me, but I did buy all the patterns, so I am less worried about that at the moment. I’m not UNworried about my plans…just less worried.

So yeah. First I cut out a piece of paper the size of the image as she designed them. And I stared at that for a full 2 hours. Maybe. OK. I cut it out, looked at it, and walked away from it. Then came back. Then walked away again. Filed it in the part of my brain that processes art shit and let it do it’s thang.

And then came back and sized it in half. So a 10×16″ block image is now 5×8″. Uh huh. That’s tiny. But doable. Next step…redraw for applique. Yeah. Seriously. It’s my preferred way to make quilts, usually fused applique, but I think for this, it’s simple enough and I get enough satisfaction from the hand applique, that I should do that. I may hate myself after doing all those letters like A and R and P with the fucking tiny holes in them, but I’ve been hand appliqueing since I was in my early 20s and I’m pretty good at it, so whatever. And this is my quilt. I get to do what I want. I started with the block for July, Truth. A good one.

Ah, wonkiness, you are my bestest friend. I’ll go over this with pen and straighten some shit up. And then I did the next three months…

Some are easier to redraw logically than others. But I like it. I’m going to keep going. If you think these are cool, go buy all Berene’s patterns and make her happy too. I realize she might not be thrilled with what I’m doing…it’s hard to know how artists will go with redoing their stuff, like adding to it or using different colors, cool, but redrawing it into a different technique…I just don’t know. ALWAYS buy their stuff before you do anything like this. It’s definitely not cool if you don’t buy their stuff.

Damn, I miss this kid. She’s far away.

Thinking about selling her car.

This cat, thinking about nothing but being right where her mommy is.

Every time. She follows me all over the house. She’s in here now, occupying the green fabric drawer again…as Luna continues to occupy plastic.

She mostly fits in there. It doesn’t look comfortable, but I’m not a cat, so WTF do I know.

OK. I still have no idea what’s happening today, so I’ll start copyediting and see where we go from there. I’m also going to plan on doing some stitch down tonight (or even during the day, you just don’t know!) and maybe some prep on that Homegrown quilt, or maybe I’ll look at my drawn daughters and see if one could be a quilt. Honestly, it’s the 8th of July…could I finish another quilt before the end of the month anyway? I don’t know. I could if I could get my brain in gear and work more hours a day. Uh huh. Anyway. This post was interrupted by the girlchild and car things and lunch. Still nothing has been decided for today. It’s OK. I should go get my TB test looked at. Like now. OK. Plan for short term. Long term will follow.

Damn Society and Its Norms

Yo. I started this a while ago, but boychild ended up on the roof and tools were involved and somehow I was also involved. That’s all you really need to know, except that the cable is now attached again and the palms are mostly trimmed. I also probably have a lot of dirt in my hair, which is awesome, because I had already showered and I have a dental appointment today and no, I’m not showering again. I also have about 17 million errands I need to run, which is nerve-wracking, because you know, virus from hell abounds. San Diego is a mess and I’m kinda glad I sent the girlchild away, because at least she’s in a sane place where people are not dumbasses about masks and sheltering in place, like WTF the beaches on the weekend? Anyway. Sigh. So there’s that.

I did drag the pup to the vet this morning too…he has to get his teeth cleaned so we don’t have to pull more like we did before. Brushing teeth isn’t really successful with him for so many reasons. He was sure we were going for a special mommy-doggy walk this morning…

Poor baby. So sorry. He cried when we pulled up to the vet and then climbed into my lap. I felt horrible. First I ship his favorite person to Boston, then I put him in the crate to sleep last night because the bed isn’t big enough for all the furry beasts who want to be on it, then I don’t feed him breakfast this morning, and then I take him to the vet. I am pure evil. I will give him love and treats when he returns.

So the 4th was pretty quiet here. I copyedited a bunch, and I made my first loaf of sourdough…

Just when most people have given up on it or have truly gotten into their bread groove, I’m just starting.

It needed about 5 more minutes, but it tastes wonderful toasted. Plus our parchment paper sucks, so I’ll have to work on that. Better parchment paper or more flour. Parchment paper is mostly edible.

I also went for a long walk on the 4th…locally, not in the wildlife reserve…although that might have been smart. It was super hot though…

I haven’t tried going back to the gym yet. They opened with limited times and slots last week.

For now, this works. I could go use the machines and then go across the street to the reserve and hike, instead of doing the cardio there. I still need a better face mask for exercising. Working on it.

It was a bright and beautiful day.

Really, I just needed to get out and walk off the week’s stress. After that, we ate dinner and drove over near my parents’ house for a better view of one of the few sanctioned fireworks displays…not that the neighbors didn’t set off a bunch of illegal crap. It’s a good thing nothing burned down. Everything is so dry.

Yesterday, I watered the dog…

I only let her swim a little bit. She gets too tired. But it also cools her off. And then we sit on the deck together (and even the little boy comes out to be a guard dog for all the bunnies on the property)…

It’s all good. Last night, I took some time and stitched while watching the last episode of Unforgotten, Season 3. I got the stuff stitched down for these two blocks, from Sue Spargo’s Homegrown Block of the Month…Kitten did not help. Yes, my windows are crooked.

I’m OK with that. This is mindless stuff, but also achievable. I’m into that right now…stuff that doesn’t take a lot of brain power.

Even this is like that…I stitched down for a couple of hours, with the fan pointed directly at me. Which reminds me, there are two fans in this room. I should plug the other one in too…

This room just gets warm. I should replace the sliding glass door for something more efficient. It’s old and hard to move. I have to go outside and fuck with it and then come inside, and worry about the cats getting out. Sigh. Anyway.

I got all of Figure 3 stitched down, and just need to do the landscape where the gravestone is and up behind her. Plus then finish Figure 2 and the two angels and the skelly and and and. There’s plenty left. I don’t think I’m halfway through yet.

Well, my dental appointment just got moved up two hours because people are canceling…interesting that it’s all last minute. And my laundry needs folding and the palms need trimming and I still have those 17 million errands and I haven’t copyedited anything today. Plus lunch…WTF am I going to do about that now? Sigh. OK. Well, it’s better getting the dentist over earlier and going to get my TB test right after, and then we’ll see what I can handle today. I’m tired as hell from not sleeping well last night (it was hot and I was anxious…welcome to my summer experience). I’m going to go make more tea, put a bra back on (damn society and its norms), and then figure out how to get shit done. Hopefully there will be some copyediting and artmaking at some point. We’ll see.

Something on That Magnitude…

Well, it’s been a rough week. Hopefully next week will feel better. The girlchild is finally in Boston, the sourdough starter and I have been close and complicated, and I have 9 new boxes of fabric. The boxes are new to me, the fabric is new to me, none of it is actually new.

Before you do anything else, watch this video. It’s the 4th of July, a weird one, to be sure, but this is video of Frederick Douglass’ speech about what the 4th means to him, read by his descendants. And it’s hard to hear, because so much hasn’t changed…but they all still have hope. I have hope. Didn’t mean I didn’t cry to hear the words, because honestly, it’s hard to know how to fix it all (burn it all down! and start over…). But watch them. It’s only 6 minutes of your lives. You can give them that.

Yeah. Told you they were awesome. In youth, I see hope.

So. It’s Independence Day. It’s warm, there will be fireworks, but we can’t see them from here, and we can’t gather…so we’re gonna take a drive to my parents’ house and see if we can see them from there. I spent yesterday mostly copyediting…I’m going to do more of that today. I set a goal to be done next Saturday, so I’m sticking to my 4-5 hours a day. Nothing else really needs to get done, although exercise would be nice.

I did finish all the blocks for the Abstract Arcs quilt on Thursday…

They all need to be trimmed and sized…

That’s next week.

I’m not great at piecing accurately. I don’t do it a lot. I did lay them all out and stare at them and move them around until I got this…

I’ll have to stare at it for a while and decide if that’s it. Right now, it looks mostly OK. My real goal was to get the piecing done so I could start the stitch down on the big honking thing that was on my ironing board…

You wanna talk meditative? It’s pushing and pulling this thing under the machine, stitching down every piece. And I did a good job attaching everything in that four hours I took, so it’s been really easy and trouble-free so far (knock on wood, because that’s not always the case).

I am running out of thread, though, and I haven’t considered the background. I don’t really WANT to go to JoAnns for thread (or anything), but it seems we’ve moved past the “only buy stuff online” stage that I was at with the last quilt, and now we are in the “you can go to stores, but be smart about it” stage. There’s probably another 7 hours of stitch down to go…

I am going out more now than I was 3.5 months ago. I don’t necessarily like it, but I try to be careful. I have something right now that needs to go to the post office, another thing where I can go to the post office with it or go to the actual store to return it. They warn that mailing it will take 4-6 weeks to refund. Hmmm. Then I need a TB test for school, which is two trips…one to get poked, one to get the poke seen. Maybe the second part can be a video call? Who knows. They were jerks when I called, so I will find out when I go in. Plus I have dentist next week. And today, I drove to a friend’s house…she’s moving and downsizing her fabric stash. So I benefited…

Oh yeah, that’s exciting. I really do like adopting other peoples’ stashes. I tend to buy the same types of fabrics, and this is a way of infusing my stash with another person’s eyeball. Stuff I never would have bought gets incorporated into my quilts. Now finding room for all this will be a challenge, but the boychild and I were talking about some of the stuff in my office that I never touch that could be boxed up. So now I need some big plastic boxes for the garage, I guess. Summer is all about organization.

It’s also about breadmaking. I started with sourdough starter back in March; then the girlchild came home and took over (I’m pretty sure she tossed my starter and started over). She’s kind of awesome and obsessive about cooking, whereas I am mostly lackadaisical. That’s probably not a great trait for baking bread. Many people have sent me links to easy recipes, but I’m following the one my daughter liked, which is A Beautiful Plate, her artisan sourdough. No, it’s not easy. But I have an expert I can text at any time.

This is useful to me. Plus there’s videos. Here’s my starter after being fed yesterday. Then I incorporated it into the autolyse…

And then I stopped taking pictures. I did a bunch of things to the dough yesterday afternoon and evening, and then it went into the fridge overnight, where it still is…doing its thing. Hopefully later today, that thing will be baking bread that is tasty and has the appropriate number and size of holes in it. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, it’s a thing I’m doing. Better than this…

Although that might be a stress reliever of sorts.

Calli needed pool time, so that’s up to me or the boychild now…

She’s old and now gets all the treats. She’s eating a pine cone and just happens to be lying on a plant runner that really should get trimmed the next time I sit out there with her.

She’s a good girl. I keep telling her that. She’s another thing that makes me cry this summer. Ah well. Lots of pets and dips in the pool and maybe even bits of bread, because she really likes bread. A lot.

Luna has picked a box and will be in it. Her feet are the best part.

All the cats have their spots. Kitten has claimed this green fabric drawer.

No one may have fabric from this drawer. Only her.

Here’s the bunny who lives under my front deck and thoroughly irritates the little dog and the cats with its presence.

It’s cute. Watch out for coyotes! We’ve got those, for sure.

OK, so the internet was an asshole while I was trying to write this, so I did some other things, like eat lunch and find the ricecakes the girlchild left here and no one else will eat. I might feel that way about the raisins too, but I’m willing to listen to the boychild on that. I really want to do some creative fabric things right now, but I’m being a responsible adult and will (a) process the video for my Patreon July post, and then (b) do some copyediting. And then we will figure out the whole dinner-on-a-holiday thing and drive to my parents’ house to see if we can observe fireworks. Then back here for sleep and all that. It’s not exciting, but it’s relatively safe, so there’s that. Next week, I will figure out how to buy thread and organize fabric and do all the things I’m supposed to do. Happy 4th for those who celebrate, and if you don’t because you are an American and it doesn’t feel very American, I’m sorry. I love fireworks and staring up into the dark blue sky to see them explode, and I hope you get to enjoy something on that magnitude.

In That We Flail…

So this is kind of like summer break for teachers, in that we flail and don’t know what to do next, but also not, because I can’t run all the errands I don’t run during the school year. Or go to the gym more. I did ‘work out’ this morning, best I could with three cats judging me. And trying to sniff me. And getting in the way in general. The world is weird. We’re all negotiating it from different places.

Saturday, I watched/listened to more of the SAQA virtual conference. It was interesting. I stitched during some of it…still working on the Folk Tails Block of the Month from Sue Spargo, 2015. I’m close to the stage where I can sew all of it together…

Which will be interesting. It’s why I was working on some different blocks, because although I’ve dragged this one around on at least three different camping trips, it’s getting too big for that. So I was prepping others for our Spring Break trip, which is now officially and sadly canceled. We might camp out in the front yard, but it won’t be the same. The man and I watched the CNN Pandemic show on Saturday night…probably not the cheeriest stuff at the moment, but we were interested…and I almost finished these two blocks, minus the road, grass, and flowers, which can’t be done until I sew the whole thing together and find the instructions for how to do the flowers…

I think I just have two lettuces to stitch in the vegetable garden. Then October is done and ready to stitch to everything else. I need to add a hut somewhere and a monkey somewhere else, and then IDK what else. It’s nowhere near ACTUALLY done…trust me.

Have you seen Kitten’s eyes? This is the look she gets when I’m convinced she’s staring at ghosts, because when I turn around to see what she’s looking at…

There’s never anything there.

I did a little stitch down after that…just an hour or so. Listened to a podcast about anxiety in a pandemic.

I should meditate more. Exercise more. Yeah, I know.

I’ve had a hard time with #marchmeetthemaker and #igquiltfest lately, but Saturday’s word for one was Change. Well. I do all the things. It feels chaotic and changey right now.

Change can be good or bad. Or both. This one just feels…changey.

Sunday morning dawned sunny-ish and I took myself out onto the deck and drew.

During Winter Break, I did a drawing a day. It’s possible that’s a good thing right now. Although the table needed cleaning (I did it later).

I even recorded some of this for my Patreon folks.

I also recorded video of my reading one chapter of the book that my co-teacher and I are reading to our kids. For those who are actually paying attention. She says there are 4 of them. Well. That’s interesting. I’m wondering if we go to online education on April 20, which seems likely, how many kids will actually show up.

I need to record the next one soon. Well. Before Thursday. I should be able to do that. I’m…not very booked up right now. I also set up my calendar for the new week. It’s mostly empty.

I’m still not grading things until I know if this trimester is going to count.

Sigh. This quilt…I got the catalog for Opposites Attract, which is supposed to open in Australia next month…at the moment, it won’t open in April…but it will eventually. Which is all we can hope for.

I have another quilt UPS is trying to deliver to a venue, shipped before the venue closed. They’re still going to hang the show, but they don’t know if the public will ever see it in person. OK. That’s what we’ve got right now. I said before that I’m lucky I’m not dependent on art income for survival. For now, my teacher salary is intact, so deep breaths. I know people in dire straits, but our household will survive for now.

#marchmeetthemaker yesterday was Tools and Materials…always starting with a sketchbook and pens, then Wonder Under (didn’t make the photo) and fabric, plus scissors and thread and a sewing machine. My gloves…

Seriously need washing…a different view…

You’ll be glad to know I finally got them in the wash today. Yay! They’re nice and clean now.

More stitch down last night…in fact, I finished.

Four hours and 40 minutes total to stitch it all down. Right now, I’m washing batting so I can pinbaste it. Hopefully before dinner.

A view of the back, to be hidden inside for eternity.

This is what kept me up until 1 AM.

Today has been relatively quiet. The man is working 13-hour shifts for three days, and then he’s off for four. He was up early. I wasn’t. By the way, this is the best cat toy ever. There’s one hole we cut in the top, plus the two you can see. They’ve played with this for weeks now.

I can’t even finish a book at the moment. Sad but true. I have a list of things to do, but my brain is fighting it.

This is the stash of glass from boychild digging planting holes in the backyard…it’s like a dump, about a foot or two deep. Old glass mostly…

Weird. We used to be the trash dump?

I sold a quilt on Etsy. Oh hey, I’m on Etsy…the link is in the sidebar. Not that there’s much on there any more…but one of the cat quilts sold, so I took myself and two wipes to the post office, wiped down the self-serve machine, and shipped that baby. I saw two people.

Ah yes, made bean soup. This is my lunch this week…with the additional of bread things.

Girlchild added an egg on top. She’s creative that way. Sounds good though. Beans taste good.

OK, so the day is more than half done. I have batting washing…then I’ll pinbaste. Ready to quilt. I want to draw again today. I’m tired. I think we’ll try to walk the dogs tomorrow. Or at least me. Because that’s two days inside, no, three, and I’m going a little bonkers. Maybe not so quietly. Music helps. I feel bad for canceling on my chiropractor…she’s a good person, trying to stay afloat, I’m sure, but I’m feeling like we’re quarantining mostly here…with girlchild having been on a plane. Maybe it’s pointless because the man is going to work…I just don’t know. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. I don’t want to get her sick if I’m exposed; then she really can’t work. I did go to the store yesterday, but I did my best to stay away from people. It’s hard when they don’t move sometimes. I talked to my neighbors on Friday from about 20 feet away. The pool guy showed up this morning and knocked on the door…it’s a new guy, and he wouldn’t back up. Aargh! People! More people I know are quarantining because of fevers and other symptoms. Stay healthy. Stay hydrated. Stay sane, whatever that looks like. Stay calm, as much as you can.

Nature Has No Idea…

Hey. It’s Saturday, right? I’m currently watching a webinar on the SAQA virtual conference that was supposed to be in Toronto…the opportunity to hear and see the speakers is nice, although I missed a lot of yesterday. They were recorded though, so I can watch later. I’ve never been able to actually attend a real conference, so this is nice, plus maybe it helps SAQA cover some of their conference costs from canceling. It’s really important that we try to give back to some of these groups and companies that are hard hit by the community and state shutdowns. As much as we can, anyway. I’m lucky to still be paid under contract, but the future is making me a bit nervous for all of us, in terms of health and money.

Yesterday was a strange day, highs and lows…trying to ignore the lows because they don’t deserve my energy right now.

The boychild and I went for a 6 1/2-mile hike locally, at Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch. It’s not as busy as some of the other locations in the area (just down the road from Iron Mountain), which is better for social distancing.

There were about 4 or 5 other groups we saw over the whole hike, but otherwise it was pretty isolated.

This is obviously a yucca pre-bloom, but it looks different than what I’m used to seeing…

The weather was perfect…not too warm, not too cold, no rain, although it was cloudy for much of it.

Trying to get enough exercise to sleep well and push some of the anxiety away has been difficult. My next step is to try and bookmark some of the videos from the gym and pilates studio and get my butt in gear.

We were really looking forward to our Spring Break trip of California National Parks, but with a cancellation of one of our Airbnbs and yesterday, the parks themselves are closing campgrounds, it seems that we are not going anywhere.

And we’re not sure when that will change, unfortunately. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later, but certainly watching the numbers on COVID-19 is not promising. Although California is supposed to be shut down, there are still lots of people going out and doing things…100 kids out in our mountains hanging out together yesterday…because kids think they are immortal, yeah? That’s what they think. Sigh.

For this hike, we go along a ridge and then down into that valley…then through that valley and back up and out. Like twice. It was a bunch of up and down, but nothing undoable.

My legs feel better today. Although this sign makes me laugh every time (it’s for bikes, not humans).

Pretty sure I never hit the 5 MPH mark. And I jogged a little bit (it’s easier to jog going downhill sometimes than walking, although my brain kept saying ‘Now is not the time to break your damn leg, woman!’).

A bunch of fungus among us…

These are fascinating…

This area burned in a wildfire 17 or so years ago…this is a burned log keeping a whole host of fungus alive.

There are signs all over, but this warns me that the next up is that piece…Cardiac Hill.

It’s actually not horrible. I stopped a few times. It’s up. Boychild often ditches me in these situations…

He waits for me at junctions. Lots of flowers around…

Spring is coming…and signs of deer!

Although we didn’t see one in person. Wrong time of day.

We got to the top and found we were victims of assholes…

Apparently this parking lot has an issue with break-ins. It’s pretty isolated. In all my years of hiking, this is the first time we’ve had this happen. There was nothing of value in the car…they just rifled through the glove box and the console. Unhappy with my about-to-expire National Park Pass, my sunscreen, and my umbrella. They got nothing. Stupid. Pain in my butt.

Oh well. I believe in karma.

Seriously. Even when we are locked down in a pandemic, people will be assholes. Hence the lack of toilet paper in our stores. Still. So today, a guy is coming to my driveway and installing a new window (apparently that is an essential business) and I will hand him a check and then disinfect the glass? This is so difficult. Could I live without a window? Sure…

Whatever.

We came home, we tested a Discord server for gaming next week, and the girlchild came home…

It looks like she’s reading to the dog, but she’s not. She was laid off by her company and we suspect trying to get a job is somewhat impossible right now. She’s trying. She’ll try applying for unemployment. And yeah, we flew her on a plane with like 8 other people (JetBlue is starting to ground flights soon, so that might have been one of the last flights that didn’t get canceled). We’re keeping her away from the older people in the family, but we still have two going to work between the two households (mine and my ex’s, and the kids go back and forth until someone gets sick), because they are also apparently essential. I’m lucky to not have any requirements right now beyond checking email, although that may change in the future. She’s not here forever. Just until we figure shit out. By WE I mean HER. Meanwhile, she gets doggy love.

My lemon tree has new leaves…

Nature has no idea. And that’s OK. This bird was bathing in the water in the tray under our Christmas tree, which lives outside on the deck for most of the year.

Now I need a birdbath.

These arrived yesterday, the newest shipment in the Anna Maria Horner Applique Stories. I’m going to make another woman block…and then embroider it.

The fabrics are a challenge. The solid peach is the easy skin color, so I won’t be using it for her flesh. I stared at the fabrics for at least a week last time before deciding what to do. I can use one as a background, although last time, I decided to use something very bland and calm from my stash (maybe that’s what the peach is for?), because the rest of it was so out there. Anyway…expect something to happen with these in the next few days. Because I can. I really like most of them…solids are not my favorites and the lavender roses are Eh, but that’s the best part of this…the olive fabric is such a stretch…I love it.

Maybe this virus lets me just make what I want. OK, I’m still having a hard time with that.

Although I stitched wool for a bit last night (sorry, forgot about a photo…try tomorrow)…I eventually got up off the couch with my post-hike tired self and came in here and started the stitch down…

So meditative. So relaxing. So hard to stop.

Hopefully I can finish today and then sandwich today or tomorrow. The floors need cleaning first. I vacuumed everything even though it’s not my month. I’m sure someone will cover me at some point when I am busy (cough cough).

So yeah, I stitch down all the pieces, because no fusible lasts forever. I’m not halfway done, but I got a good chunk done. I spent the first 20 minutes fighting with the machine to get it to stitch correctly.

Kitten action…

They play any way they can…

There was some play before this.

I was up early this morning because I thought I’d have to take my car in to get the window replaced, but then he called and said he’d be here later…probably safer for both of us than having me sit in a lobby of some repair place (I was going to bring a chair and sit outside).

Nature doesn’t see this morning as any different than any other morning.

Tonight there is a Netflix DVD here, plus we will be supporting some small food business, and hopefully there is stitching and maybe a hike/walk as well. Plus more webinars. And trying to finish my book before it gets returned electronically to the library. Hope you are all healthy and well, and if you are on the front lines in some way, we appreciate you and send you lots of love.

Not This Year…

Two days off from writing…as always with this time of year, it’s busy. I’m really tired too…not sleeping well. Last night was the sound of rain…isn’t that supposed to be soothing? It was a lot of rain. Over an inch. And wind. Not so soothing. I feel like yesterday was the end of all the not-sleep and over-activity. The family stuff is done (well, mostly) and the holiday crazy is over, so now I can just focus on art and sleep (maybe?) and getting work done. Perhaps some down time? That might be a good plan.

Monday, I packed up 4 quilts…some needed slats, some needed labels. It took a good chunk of the day to get my fuzzy holiday brain on task and get it done, but then I shipped them all on Tuesday morning, which was the good thing. Four fewer things to worry about.

Then we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (no longer the Wild Animal Park) with the man’s family, on one of those safari caravan things, where you get to feed the animals. That was way cool…

I suck at names, but this giraffe is female and very food-oriented.

And only a little in your face…

I think we all enjoyed the tour…

We also got to feed a couple of rhinos and ask lots of questions…

Apparently I win on questions. Not suprisingly. I told her I was a science teacher.

Casual. Giraffe over shoulder. Plus the tour guide went through the master’s program with my co-teacher…small world.

Baby rhino!

Rhinos are the weirdest looking things…

I didn’t know about the prehensile lip thing…

I’d never seen one this close…

I kept asking about everyone’s teeth. The animals…not the people. Anyway. It was a very cool thing to do, followed by food and wine and then coming home and being too exhausted to do anything but space out and go to bed. So I didn’t draw on Christmas Eve. I thought about doubling up yesterday, so I would still get my 24-drawing count, but it’s not meant to be a law like that. So I let it slide.

Christmas Eve, we moved the tree off the hearth, because it was supposed to be cold on Christmas Day and we wanted a fire…

I think she can sit in the entryway for a couple more years before we have to plant her out…although she might want to get out of that plastic container before then.

Christmas morning, the kittens and Kitten were all in the same space without violence…

That’s a good sign…we’ve seen a few instances of co-existence. There’s hope for the old lady.

Christmas Day was a lot of presents and a lot of food…my mom and the girlchild giving Simba all the loves…

Which he totally deserves, yeah? He even got a present…

The animals all get presents, although we think someone ate a catnip mouse. Probably someone large…

Hmmm. Maybe.

My dad sits on a chair behind the couch and surveys the room…

It takes a while. We eat the foods. We clean up. Then we all do our own thing for a while…some cook, some sleep, some walk…

Some put cat trees together…

Stronger minds than mine…

I even sat down at the machine again…trying to finish the stitchdown so I can get this quilt done.

Realistically, the other January deadline I had is not gonna happen. Not sure what happened in late November/early December, but I kinda lost the creation mojo. Too tired, too overwhelmed with all the stuff that needed to happen. Not surprising. It’s fine. Someday this week I’ll reevaluate where I’m at and decide whether I’m going to just blow off deadlines or make something for something.

Christmas dinner was nice…girlchild did a good job…

I started a drawing while waiting for dinner…and added a bunch of leaves afterwards, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else to draw. The wonder of a tired brain…

Weird dogs. OK, maybe just the one on the right.

After the drawing, I finished grading one assignment and input five into the online gradebook. It needed to be done, it’s brainless, and this one was asleep in one arm while I did it…

Sweet baby.

Today is one more family thing, and then I’m hoping to finish the stitchdown, pinbaste the quilt (which means cleaning the entryway floor), doing another drawing, SLEEPING. Yeah. Not. Because the solar people are coming back tomorrow morning, so they’ll be here early, stomping on the roof. Sigh. I do sometimes go back and read past years on the blog to remind myself that it always takes a week, easily, to get relaxed in winter. It’s just chaos until after Christmas. But this quilt will get done and another started, and the grading will get as far as it gets, and I will be ignoring that parent who wants me to call them until I actually go back to school, and then I will be happy to call them. Although it’s going to be the same shit I told the kid twice now, so I’m not sure where the conversation will go from there. I’m going to read some of the 17 books I got for Christmas and maybe do some yard stuff and some hikes and some drawing. It’s good. I’ll get there. The family stuff was good…it just doesn’t leave much energy for anything else. This year, anyway. Some years, I’ve been ironing Christmas Eve and quilting Christmas afternoon…but not this year. No judgement. Just reality. Hope everyone had the holiday they needed or wanted, and if not, you now are getting to do something you do want to do. Or feeding a giraffe…because that was pretty cool.

Rocks Are Hard Yo…

Yesterday. Was a slog. Apparently 12-year-olds don’t like rocks as much as I do. Plus I had to act out a wind turbine, which was hard because (a) I forgot the sound effects (whoOSH) and (b) my arms won’t turn like that, so I just look like a crazy woman. What’s new, right? I made the SECA laugh anyway. The kids think I’m nuts though, and rocks are hard yo. Ha Ha. They usually ARE hard. I want that shirt now. Rocks are hard. OK, this is how you know we’re close to break…the stupidest shit makes a teacher laugh until she cries. Rocks are hard.

OK. That said, I had to push and shove and yank them through the understanding of mining and the rock cycle yesterday…today we finish with the copper mine and then they write the CER. QUIETLY. For reals. Sigh. I can’t help anyone when I have children losing their minds because I asked them to write 7 whole sentences. In two days, it’ll be fine. FINE, I SAID.

I went to pilates right after work. That was pretty smart. The class was half empty (it wasn’t supposed to be) and it was good. Relaxing in a shaky-muscle kinda way. When I made it home, someone else was cooking for once (yay!) and I finished grading one assignment and input it and another one, and then made a list of all the things that needed grading over break unless I get some of them done in the next two days and I lost my mind. Eyes rolling back in head. Seriously behind. Always. Never caught up. My eyelid is not twitching though…yet…so that’s a good sign. Although my neck is close to frozen in place. Massage! To the rescue!

The kittens are very energetic…

And in everything, EVERYTHING. They tried to climb one of the quilts on the wall yesterday, so we moved some stuff to stop that. This is my sewing bag. Or a cat carryon. Hard to say.

They completely shredded this toy after pulling it out of a box and dragging it around…

I wish I could get a good photo of them leaping through the air, but they are too fast…

Sometimes they even slow down and let you pet them…

They are sweet. Although the house is currently a lot of animals trying to eat poop or attack things.

Kitten is still avoiding it all…by living in my office…

Calli wants to play too…and eat poop…

Simba is in the eat poop category…but also how much cat food can he steal.

I did stitch down for about an hour. I don’t have much stamina at the moment.

My brain is all over the map, stressed out, trying to get everything done and out of my head onto paper.

I’m more than halfway around, two full figures done and started on the third. It won’t take long to finish it. I just need the mental space (as always) and the energy. At some point, I’m going to need to sit down with my art deadlines and realistically decide about the next one. I’m not there yet. Certainly with two days of school before break, that is NOT the time to reevaluate anything (except my job choice of course).

Which means I need to go to work. It’s Decade Day. I’m 90s grunge, even though I always dress this way and I have to wear my school shirt because it’s also the staff picture day. And during the 90s, I was giving birth to my children, so 90s grunge was all about breastfeeding and diapers. Well, the last half of it anyway. Whatever. Happy holidays y’all! Especially sending good thoughts to teachers everywhere. Don’t kill them! It’s not worth the jail time. Joke. Mostly.

It’s My Favorite Day of the School Year…

It is my favorite day of the entire school year. No, not the last day. I hate the last day. It’s stressful and annoying and I have my homeroom kids for 3 hours straight which is just nuts. Not fun. It’s not the day before Winter Break…then they act like they’re on crack and they can do totally stupid shit because three weeks is forever for them and they don’t think they’ll EVER get in trouble for acting out, plus sugar, plus Christmas makes them LOSE THEIR MINDS, and there’s an assembly, which just hurts my head even more, so no, not this Friday. Today is my favorite day because it’s…pajama day. You heard me. I get to wear pajamas to school. It’s like heaven on Earth. Oh yeah. I’m so happy.

Which is good, because I’m teaching about mining and spending my lunch giving quizzes, so none of that is fun at all. Well, mining isn’t bad. It’s just getting them to understand what the rock cycle has to do with it. It might be really obvious to YOU. Not so to a 12-year-old.

Anyway, I can survive three more days of school. I’m up early for yet another random meeting. Yesterday, during tutoring, I sat with an exhausting table. Sometimes I walk around and help random kids, but yesterday there was a group of kids who are mostly mine who needed science help. Literally one I had to say…now write the next sentence about farts. Seriously. Don’t even ask. Please. The rest of the time was like having WWII fighter pilots bombing you from above and trying to avoid the bombs, plus answer all the questions, and keep the pilots on task, because they wanted to go over THERE or over THERE and not do their job. EXHAUSTING. I really appreciate the other teacher who stayed late because all the other teachers ditched yesterday and I was gonna be all alone.

I came home and wrapped some gifts and talked to some people in person and on the phone and made dinner yet again (not sure how I ended up with double duty, and I’m pretty sure someone was supposed to help last night and didn’t, but when I looked over to ask for help, he had two baby kittens snoring on him)…spaced out a little, watched some TV, read 6 pages of Trump’s crazy-ass letter to Pelosi (how did he write that much? That’s a lot of words, albeit crazy words), and came in here and set up to do stitchdown…

This isn’t going to take very long. It’s very meditative…

Ah, spacecat. I only did an hour’s worth. More tonight I think…

I should be grading shit, but I couldn’t deal with it after being in tutoring. I was tired of it. I’ll do some today. I swear. There’s some easy stuff I could (should) get out of the way. I don’t want to be grading all break. Although there’s a few significant assignments this week. Ugh.

It’s really hard to get good pictures of these beasts sometimes. They’re constantly racing around…they wanted out this morning after the man left, but I knew I was leaving too, so I told them no…

They’re not really big enough yet to be let all over the house unsupervised, especially with my sweet girl (um. Well. She’s not so sweet.) in the house.

I had a moment last night…it’s the second time…where I really wanted to go to Craft Napa up in…well…Napa. It’s mostly art quilt stuff and it just sounds fun to take a class and mess around, but it takes forever to get there and I am back at school and I’m taking a class the weekend before in Palm Springs, which is a ways away, but nowhere near as far as Napa, so UGH. I had to persuade myself out of it again. Plus it would be really expensive to get there and stay there and take classes, so no, no, no, you can’t. Plus you have another quilt to finish before the end of January and it doesn’t even exist on paper, so I don’t know how the hell you think that is going to happen if you are traipsing all over California.

OK, I also need to wrap presents and pack quilts for shows tonight, so I should do some of that. I bought the boxes yesterday to get ready for it. And I have pilates right after school…I’ve never done an early class like this, right after school…I’ll need to change at school and go over there. I’m hoping it’s really relaxing and helps me slide into the evening. Because remembering to bring all my shit with me and actually leave school on time is a little stressful.

OK. I’m rocking pajama day. Happy to be in flannel. Already more relaxed than I would normally be.

The Dog Ate My To-Do List

I got to sleep in. It was glorious. Well, the old-lady dog needed to pee at 8, so I did that, and then went back to sleep for an hour. Lovely. More please. But I have work to do as well…so up and at ’em! I had a brainstorm about a thing we need to do for science last night as I was brushing my teeth, so I ran in here and wrote it on a post-it note and then fell asleep thinking about it, so of course, woke up and made it more of a thing than it was on a post-it, while texting another teacher friend about a kid and all the kids and how we get to a (tired, honestly) point of just reacting and we have to step back and reflect, which is what teachers do all the time, but this year, it’s just exhausting and nonstop. So without weekends and breaks and promising yourself to go home and NOT work and trips to the gym or a hike or whatever it is that floats your boat, we’d all go nuts. Although I promised my students I’d finish grading all the makeup work AND the essay thing this weekend. Which might have been a mistake, because I have a quilt to do.

I got up, I made my lists…which is funny, because Calli got left alone for a while yesterday while the boychild went to get approved to hike (broken toe fixed! mostly!), and she decided to take it out on my listmaking strategies…

The dog ate my to-do list. It’s OK. It was the old notebook. Most of the useful stuff had been transferred over into a new one. I do like HAVING them, though. I don’t know why. Just because. Documentation of the crazy. She was anxious.

I’m supposed to be keeping track of my actual work hours this week for school…I’m dividing it up into planning, prep, teaching, grading, duty, and meetings. We’ll see how it goes. The plan is to reduce some of it and get that time back for me and what I want to do. It’s impossible to track the thinking time unfortunately. There’s a lot of that going on.

When I got home, what I really needed was a walk. And the boychild can do that now, so we grabbed the dogs and went…

We’re getting close to Daylight Savings, when doing this will be much harder. I hate that. So I’m trying to use time now…

The dogs are a little out of shape. I might be too…a week of being sick and not working out at all seems to have had an effect. I’m still stuffed up a little and not fully healthy. But I’m mostly better.

I did grade a little last night. I also read a little. But mostly I stitched shit down. When I felt tired, I got up and heated up my tea. Then I came back and stitched some more.

I can’t say this part is particularly exciting…but it’s a little meditative. You’re just moving the fabric under the needle and trying to decide where to go next in a logical manner.

I actually planned to try to finish all the bottom section…and I did do that and more before midnight hit.

Including the butterflies…

So today, I’ve already paid all the bills, scanned the contract I needed to email, transferred some of my retirement funds to different funds, did a little bit of planning for school, dumped the batting into a pile of hot soapy water in the bathtub, and am listening to the weekly podcast for how to get more fucking efficient in my work day, while I type this blog. I’m also eating my breakfast while I type. Because I need to finish stitch down, take a shower, clean the tile floors, sandwich the quilt, and start actually quilting. Because the photographer wants it by next Saturday (oh dear. OK. Yikes.) It’s a good thing I have no need to sleep, right? OK. I’m going to get on that now. Move the batting. Start stitching. Shower. I’m gonna get this done.