The Rest of It (Not Resting)

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!

Off the Grid…Sort of…

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.

Jacuzzi?

Hi Spring Break. I’m in Fresno. It’s an exciting place to start my mini vacation, the last trip I’m going on before the man heads out on the Pacific Crest Trail. I graded for two days straight, copyedited another whole day (not done with that, no way, no how), and then we drove away from all of it, leaving the dead leaves, weeds, 5 animals, and all the leftovers in the house with the boychild, who is probably ecstatic to have the place to himself for once.

You know what? Copyediting (above) looks a lot like grading (below).

I have three assignments left to grade and nine chapters to copyedit.

We hiked on Saturday. It was supposed to be a nice, mostly flat walk around a lake. That didn’t happen. Instead, we hiked up a thing and then along a thing. Lots of wildflowers.

And a snake…

Yes, it had a few rattles.

I started drawing the next quilt…

And on Monday night, I went for ink.

Lots more to do. Got some experimental (for me) processes I’m going to try with this. Wish me luck.

I haven’t had some of this for a year, I think. It used to be a treat on the way home from a meeting I don’t go to any more. It’s on Zoom. No need to get In ‘N Out for a Zoom call.

I did some stitching in the car…been a while since I’ve done that.

The drive today was long and blah. Tomorrow, though, is Yosemite, camping, hiking, yay! Then Sequoia…half the trip we planned for last April, which all got canceled. We’re being safe, masked, hands sanitized, Clorox wipes, eating outside, but this staying in a hotel is a bit scary. There’s a jacuzzi in the room, though, and after I wipe it all down, I’m going to prepare my temple of a body for three days with no showers. Hallelujah for time off!

Appreciate the Sunsets.

Mid week already? That was fast. I’m even somewhat caught up. Wait. No. I still have 5 assignments to grade from last week, and even though I finished grading all the late work yesterday at 8:20 AM, there is now more in the pile that needs grading, because that is how the never-ending pile of grading works. It’s why the last week of school is such an inordinate relief. There cannot possibly be any more grading for at least two months! A reprieve! Sundays back. No constant planning, trying to answer emails, contacting parents. Such a relief.

Unfortunately, we are quite a few days away from that. In fact, with the trimester ending in 2 1/2 weeks, we are well into panic mode (we being the kids) because we forgot that what we do every day counts for a grade. You know. Like school does. That said, I had expected yesterday to be really stressful and yucky, and it was very manageable. The kids mostly listened and/or did the nothing they do on a regular basis. This is when standing over them (or like I do, rolling my chair around the room and staring into their panicked eyes) helps to get them motivated. Yesterday I called parents during class instead. Muted myself on the Zoom and called and left messages because they aren’t going to answer a number they don’t recognize, and even if I were calling from the school number, they probably wouldn’t answer. Ah well. That’s nothing new. The checked out kids are always there. This year is harder for that, sure. I was reading instructions for a program we’re supposed to be monitoring, and they say to “walk around and make sure they are on task.” Um. OK. Imma gonna do that. Rolling my eyes. It’s like the distance learners and teachers don’t exist sometimes. Please give me some more useful supports, y’all. I’m at my wit’s end with monitoring this program.

So we’ll see how today goes…Day 2 of a project…could be chill; could be not. Never know. Even in person.

Here’s the final finished picture of the Sue Spargo Block-of-the-Month quilt Earth and Twig I finished.

I do have another one pinbasted, ready to go, and a third one that is a finished top, and a much smaller one that’s finished. I should keep this going. First I want to finish the little bird quilt I have, though. Although it’s been hard to find the energy in the last few days to sit down at the sewing machine. Maybe tonight? We’ll see.

So I did finish ironing all the bits of Wonder Under to fabric in the most recent art quilt…

It only has 56 colors in it (small quilt) and it took a little over 4 hours to pick all those fabrics.

I started cutting them out Monday night…

And finished last night…

in 4 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe start ironing it together. So fast! I think I’ll do a few fast and easy ones like this and then start thinking about the next big one. I have ideas and I have one that’s drawn and numbered and ready to go. I’m just not ready for a big one yet. I need some quick successes, achievements, goals.

Here’s one of mine getting ready for a show in Los Angeles at Studio 203, opening the 20th. This is California Fibers: Historical References.

Not sure I’ll get up to see the show, but there should be video and maybe even some online stuff. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Spring is coming (Southern California does Spring early…sorry to all the snowed-in states)…the coyotes don’t care about humans on their paths…

And I’m no longer walking in the dark, which is nice.

Although I do appreciate a good sunset. Today is going to be pretty easy, I hope, and maybe I will get some grading done as well, knock some of those projects off my to-do list. My goal is always NOT to be working at 9 PM on school stuff, but on art stuff instead. So more of that. And I forgot to wish my mom a happy 80th birthday on the internet…although I made her a chocolate cake, so I think we’re good. Although it could have been more lava-like. My fault…should have taken it out of the fridge earlier. Anyway. Both parents have their 2nd vaccines scheduled, they’re relatively healthy, and those are good things right now. OK. Off to work. In the other room.

Spargo Obsessed

Roof is getting fixed today. Solar got fixed yesterday (that was just the monitoring system…so cool to see the data again! Yes, I am a science geek. I need data.). I’m almost done with a quilt I started in January 2012. Kind of amazing. Nah, it’s not an art quilt…well, it is art, but not mine. When I need to relax or when I’m spending hours at soccer games (remember those days) or wherever and need something to soothe my brain and keep my hands busy, I stitch. I’ve appliqued lighthouses and national monuments from a friend’s patterns, I’ve cross-stitched from patterns, and in 2012, I started doing Sue Spargo’s block-of-the-month quilts. There’s something about stitching through wool and embroidering to embellish that is just truly relaxing. I do love making my own art, but this is not dependent on what stage of an art quilt I’m in. Sometimes I embroider on my own stuff too, but that still requires more brain power than I sometimes have at the end of the day. And was difficult to do in certain situations. So Spargo stepped in (or her patterns did). I don’t even remember where I saw them, but I signed up for Earth and Twig at the end of 2011 and got my first package the following January, and it’s been sort of an obsession ever since.

I was pretty good about working on this back then, and honestly, I think it’s less complicated than her current pieces, so it was pretty easy to keep up. In April of 2013, I was finishing up the last of the embroidery, but I felt like there was a flower and a bird missing. It looked unbalanced to me.

A bird in that space on the bottom left of the tree thing. And a flower near the rooster. Oh yeah, I added that one. But it took me a long time. You may notice it’s a slightly different color than the others (it is). I also ran out of the thread and the and the fabric for the flower center, so I improvised. I gave up on the bird, though. In May of 2013, I pinned the flower down. I even started stitching it down. And then I got distracted and it sat until 2016.

Some part of it was because I had never quilted on wool before and it made me nervous. When I started this Spargo quilt, I had never really appliqued with wool either, so it has some wonky moments.

So in 2016, I finished that flower and pinbasted the quilt. And then set it aside until sometime last year, maybe when the pandemic started, and I tried quilting it.

I just did some outlining and it was a pain because of the embroidery and the type of stitching foot I had, and then something was a higher priority and it got pulled off the machine. Meanwhile, I finished two more Spargo quilts and then a smaller piece over the summer. One is pinbasted and ready for quilting, the other two are tops.

My quilt guild is having a UFO contest, and without any pressing deadlines (pressing, ha ha ironing humor), I pulled this back out and made myself quilt it. In two days. Seriously, it wasn’t hard. I must admit, I am not a precision quilter. I take the word ‘free’ in free-motion stitching quite seriously. I measure and mark nothing. And I’m OK with that. There are some issues with the quilting on here, but it’s the first one I’ve ever done and it’s mine (despite a few people wanting to buy it yesterday) and I’m OK with the mistakes. It has hours and hours of embroidery in it, so it’s staying with me.

Sue Spargo has a book and maybe even still has a kit, y’all…you too can spend 9 years making this. OK, I could have been done in 18 months with a little more staying power, it’s true. I like the process of the embroidery more than I like the finishing. Last night, I finished up some of the quilting in the brown areas (they needed more) and trimmed it and got the binding machine-stitched on.

And I started the hand stitching. It won’t take long. I don’t know where she’ll hang, but I’m glad I got off my scared-of-wool ass and did it. Next is the one I call Bird Crazy (it’s not really called that).

It has less room for quilting, which might be OK.

Who knows. I have a different machine foot on its way to me as well, just to hopefully make life a little easier. I am still going to work on the other art quilt things I have lying around…I just needed to get this off the machine FINISHED so it wouldn’t languish in a pile of unfinished stuff forever. I don’t care about the quilt guild prize for finishing stuff, but I’m grateful they reminded me I have unfinished things. Sometimes I forget and they slip out of the to-do list. It would be nice to have them done and hanging somewhere. I’m not sure where that will be, but I’ll figure that out. There will probably need to be a rotation.

In other news, I’ve spent almost 6 hours in union meetings for the last two days and I’m kind of done. Still. Again. I’m glad it’s Friday. I’m glad my roof is getting fixed (it’s supposed to rain a little today). My mom turns 80 this weekend (wowza). And yes, I’m still working on Sue Spargo quilts, more than one at a time (because I’m crazy, that’s why). I can’t show you the one I’ve been working on since the pandemic started, because she hasn’t published it yet, but I’m also chipping away at some of the older ones. It’s relaxing to just sew stuff on and then make 200 French knots. And now I know I can actually quilt them. That’s a plus.

OK, school today. Challenge mostly accepted. Tonight, I’ll stitch a little. And hopefully get back to the two art quilts that are in process in here. Oh yeah, this picture of Greta Thunberg stitching makes me so happy…

That girl. She’s amazing.

Miles…

Hmmm. Am I walking too much? 20 miles in 9 days? Not so bad. If I were through-hiking the PCT, I’d have to do that every day. This is just in bits and bobs; 3.6 miles is the short bit, my regular weekly stomp up and down local hills. Added a couple of 4+ milers, one with dog and boychild, one with the man. I’m feeling it this morning. Plus? It helps me sleep. When I am doing more, though, I know that’s a sign that the stuff in my head is being cranky…apparently more so in the last week or so.

I’ve been quilting the Sue Spargo block-of-the-month from a million years ago…wool is not so hard, apparently. Nah, it’s really soft and mostly forgiving.

This is the first wool quilt I’ve ever quilted. I outlined everything so it would stand up, and then started quilting in the background.

Mostly spirals, but some other random stuff. There’s stars and stripes in there.

Some echo quilting around the leaves…

An occasional cloud or swirly bit. And then I ordered more thread, because I will need it.

OK, so I guess that means I can quilt all my wool pieces (there are three of them ready to go). It’s brainless and that’s what I need right now.

I started around the edges, so I’ll still need enough for the middle, and then maybe some parts inside flowers and birds in a different color. We’ll see.

We started hiking the San Diego River Valley’s 2019/2020 Coast to Crest challenge hikes because…well, why not?

Apparently there are still patches left and we can get another one. This is the northern Lake Hodges part of the trail, which starts on the east side of the 15…

And goes under it…so there’s lots of road noise in the first mile…

And then it’s a relatively easy and open trail.

With a view of the lake eventually.

A stream to cross.

I was hoping for a nice relaxing hike with the man, but it turned out to be stressful. No fault of the hike. These unprecedented times mean sometimes everyone is stressed out.

I’m kind of done with unprecedented times personally.

There are many birds that are too far away to see clearly. If you’re into that. I like birds.

We hiked to the selfie spot; didn’t do the whole 7.4 miles. Not my choice. But you know how that goes. Having a hiking partner is nice. Even when it’s not.

There was a coyote, a very skinny one, under the freeway bridge on the way back.

Last night’s hike, I heard them but didn’t see them…

Set out late (and alone) after a science planning meeting that I don’t get paid for and do every week anyway. Thanks to my school board for voting on a reduction in salary plan last night. Work more, pay less. Really appreciate it y’all. It’s been a great year. This makes it so much better.

Gonna appreciate the puppy love…

And sweet kittens…

And get to work. Sigh. Ugh. It was rough yesterday. It will be rough today. Perhaps every day. And maybe after the really long union meeting I am foreseeing in my future tonight, I will make art. If I have the energy. I hope I do.

This Is My Day Off

Yeah. Some president gifted me this day so I could have extra time to grade stuff without having to try to do it during the work day. I do that too. Kids are completing work, asking me questions, typing in the chat, fucking around on Roblox or YouTube INSTEAD of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and I’m answering questions, typing in the chat, shutting down Roblox and YouTube, but also encouraging everyone to finish ALL THE THINGS, all the while trying to grade the easier, less-brain-encompassing assignments on the other computer. Jumping between tabs on a slow-ass Chromebook the school gave me. The teacher Mac is slightly faster, but not by much. I need a third one that works at the speed of light. What are they giving me instead? Another monitor. So I can have two laptops and two extra monitors to WATCH things. And try to bounce between things, which is already an issue for me. ANYWAY. I have found that there are some things that need my full attention for grading: anything for an academic grade that is more than two sentences OR anything that is artistic and requires some sort of holistic analysis of effort and craftsmanship. Cannot do either of those while doing anything else. Usually I need a rubric up on one screen and the document/photo on another. Big screens. Not tiny Chromebook screens. Also can’t do late work particularly easily while teaching…too much bouncing between screens and printouts of gradesheets. So last night, I graded 62 of the 97 pieces of late work that had come in during the last 8 days. I’m still behind. I’m always behind. And now I have an admin semi-hounding me so she can check in with a parent. Sigh. If only the sweet dingbats would turn work in on time. Life would be so smooth.

We’re hiking today. And I’m cooking some semi-complicated dinner (is it? I don’t know if it is…I just know it has lots of ingredients). We’re getting a late start…I didn’t push for an early morning…no need. So there’s that. I’ll grade some more later today, hopefully get my bread started (I keep mistiming it), and get some more art time in.

Friday night, I ironed some pieces from Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month to fabric and thought I was missing a piece…

I have plenty of fabric, so I found a green that was similar (minus the dragonflies) and used that. The block of the month is from 2018, so I knew I probably couldn’t get a replacement piece. It’s OK, though, because the next day, during my guild meeting, I figured out that the piece of green was folded under and I just hadn’t noticed. There was plenty of dragonfly fabric there.

It’s possible that I shouldn’t do anything on Friday nights that requires brainpower, y’all.

The rest of Friday night I spent putting fabric away from the last quilt and from some monthly shipments I thought I would use in a certain way and decided to just throw in the stash for general use.

I don’t keep a lot of fabric separated…just some Kaffe Fassett fabrics I need for a quilt I don’t seem to be working on at all. Awkward. But I bought them specifically for that quilt and there’s a ton of Fassett fabrics already in my stash, getting used regularly.

This meant I could start picking fabrics for the new quilt. Good plan. Cleaning is pretty brainless. I like the feeling of clearing the slate for the next piece. Remind me to pick fabrics I haven’t used lately in this new one. I’ve already blown that, I think. Whoops.

Saturday morning was my guild meeting. They are very activity-based, challenge-based. I don’t know how many challenges I can handle besides the real-world ones. I have done a tiny bit of wool quilting for the UFO challenge, but not much. I spent most of the meeting trying to get those Spargo pieces cut out and pinned down.

That space under the computer is useful. Then I did some stitch down on the 4th Applique Stories piece.

It’s relaxing to do this…

Just a different way of putting things together. Maybe someday I’ll finish one. Who knows…it could happen. For a while, at the beginning of the pandemic, I stitched through staff meetings and trainings. Now I work through them, planning, posting shit for classes, basic grading. Sad but true.

I love how flowers always make great boobs.

And hearts…certainly not what the designer intended, but I’m OK with that. I’m continuing with this series into 2021. We’ll see where it goes.

After the guild meeting, I needed to be outside. Too many meetings on Thursdays and Fridays.

I find I don’t get outside enough. And it looks like Spring…recent rains make things green. We came home and I did more outside, watering some, cleaning some, finding the speaker that got lost back in May or June last year…it was under a chair pad, and kudos to Anker, it still works.

It didn’t even need to be charged.

The man and I went out for dinner…facing away from everyone.

It’s a bit of a risk, but one that keeps us sane. We stayed home when the governor told us to, which is why the numbers went down. Probably they’ll be back up in 2-3 weeks because of the Super Bowl, unfortunately. Stupid people and parties.

Speaking of challenges, the SIL has issued one.

Definitely needs doing. Then I’m supposed to pass it on, keep passing until someone doesn’t want to any more, and see how many marks get done. I haven’t had time to pull my own stuff, but it’s on the list. Then maybe I’ll mail the card to the girlchild.

Poor Calli…post Super-Bowl dumbasses shooting guns, we think. Super loud. She doesn’t like it.

She’s old and somewhat deaf, but not deaf enough.

Last night, I finally got around to ironing the small owl commission together that I’ve been working on…

It’s the owl from the last quilt, just by itself. She likes owls. I think this is the third one I’ve done for her? Not sure. Maybe second. I’ve done a lot of owls. I recorded the ironing of it for my Patreon…well, at least most of it. It’ll go out to them next weekend, after I process it.

I toned down the background slightly from that in the original quilt. Something this small needs a different focus than in the big quilt. It’s ironed to a background now that will never be seen, so I’ll do stitch down sometime soon (damn, gonna have to pull that wool quilt off the machine to do that! Or finish it) and get it quilted and bound.

Then I started ironing Wonder Under to fabric on the newest piece…

Didn’t get far before it was midnight. Time slips. But it’s a start. Like I said, I wasn’t very good about picking new fabrics so far, but this was the sand and the sky. I guess I can try harder for the rest of it.

OK, ready to hike! Or something. Then do things.

Let Me Check My Bag of Feet…

One thing that’s sucked about this year (one thing…ha haha ha hysterical laughter ensues) is that school starts a half hour earlier. I mean, it doesn’t really. We had to be at school by 8:30, school started at 9. Now actual school still starts at 9, but we’re supposed to start working at 8, and I do. Usually I start earlier, actually, since my commute is really short. And I never stop. Because it’s always in my face. I did make the smart decision to move school out of my office/studio and into the living room when I started up again in August, so my studio is still my escape from work. I used to do quite a bit of schoolwork in here, and now I don’t. It’s safe here, there’s art materials, occasionally I do a Zoom meeting in here, but mostly, no. Also, the internet in here is wiggy as shit. Another reason to move out to where I can hook up directly to the internet.

Anyway, so having to start 30 minutes earlier doesn’t seem like much, but I refused to get up 30 minutes earlier, settling for 15 minutes earlier alarm time, figuring I don’t have to drive to work, so there’s the other 15 minutes. Many mornings though I still feel drugged by a lack of sleep when I start working…usually before 8. Ugh. Today is no exception. And I didn’t get enough work done this week…I’m behind on one assignment that will not be fun to score, plus all the stuff piling up from this week, oh and that other art assignment I didn’t get to yet, fuuuuuck. Yes, it’s a 3-day weekend, but I’d like to spend it all hiking and arting, and that’s not happening. I need to catch up. If you don’t stay on top of it, you get buried. Since we came back from Winter Break, and we’re teaching how we normally teach (well, best we can), it’s been much MUCH easier to get done with everything and get it graded, at least for science. Art is its own clusterfuck and will be a bigger one today when I delay some stuff because I couldn’t get done what I needed to get done for today and I’m pretty sure the real art teacher didn’t either. Sigh. Anyway, I am always trying to grab time back from my job and let there be a purpose besides a paycheck. It’s a shit year for good vibes from school, so I focus on what gives me some sense of satisfaction.

Like finishing a quilt. I didn’t post these earlier, because I am still searching my mind for a title (no, politely, I don’t want your help, many thanks, it will speak to me when I have time to listen)…

Obviously a quilt about childbirth, but the COVID virion is there as well…

Lurking in the soil with some other things.

I have an online show coming up with USC about childbirth…this Spring.

So I thought I’d do a quilt that just focused on that. I have many that refer to a variety of women’s issues related to the uterus.

Rockets are related.

Anyway, this piece is not huge…like 38″ wide by 65″ high (I’ll measure it for reals when I put it on the Gallery page)…

But it took a healthy 100 hours and 27 minutes to complete. Lots of pieces, lots of details. People ask. I started it in November 2020…and normally I would have finished it faster, but in November, my dad fell and ended up hospitalized, and interestingly, he came home Wednesday finally and I finished this quilt not that much before that. So it’s not surprising I wasn’t working fast.

Hey dad.

I went to see him, of course. I only saw him twice the whole time he was gone, due to COVID restrictions. It’s going to take a long time for him to get his memory and physical strength back, but we’re glad to have him. Even when he’s cranky.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces of artmaking in the evenings. I’m really tired these days. Exhausted I guess. Not enough sleeping is happening. I cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the newest quilt.

This one only has 283 pieces, so it’s going super fast. It’s kind of nice.

I sorted the Wonder Under into bins last night in 9 minutes flat. It’s good I’m not doing a big one right now. I would’ve had to move all the demo stuff for chemistry and art to have the room. Maybe should stay away from a big one until we get through the chemistry units. Spring Break. That sounds good.

I’ve been doing some embroidery I’m not allowed to show you yet, but also started…no, continued quilting this Sue Spargo quilt from a million years ago. This is Earth & Twig, finished embroidering it before the girlchild went to college, but was scared to quilt it.

It’s the embroidery, man…it catches on everything and is annoying to quilt around. Plus I had never quilted wool before (that part is not hard). But mom and I talked extensively last night about FEET and the FOOT CATALOG (did you even know there was such a thing?) because my mom has ALL THE FEET IN THE WORLD and I really do not. I use TWO FEET (don’t most of us?), and when I got this machine, I couldn’t get a foot I liked, and for some reason, just put up with what it came with, but mom’s gonna call Jimmy (the sewing machine guy) and see if I can get a better FOOT. I was obviously semi-hysterical during most of the conversation, because whenever mom said she had a BAG OF FEET, I lost it.

It’s cool. It’ll be fine.

Lots of animals helping me with work these days…Simba barking at the asshole neighbor…

Good dog. There’s my super slow shitty school computer that I borrowed so I can see what the kids see on a Chromebook, but also use while my other computer is doing other things…and there’s the actual teacher-y school computer, which has its own issues, plus the monitor I pulled out of our stash of extras. And Kitten. Not helping by standing in front of the monitor that has the rubric for what I’m trying to grade.

Here’s where you get an idea of how fucking hard it is to grade online art…and it’s not just because of the cat in the way. Apparently the district is going to get us an extra monitor. For distance learning teachers. I think that’s when I first started the semi-hysterical laughter last night. Like keep shoving kids in my classes, because I don’t have to social distance, but almost a year into this fiasco, you’re gonna get me another monitor. Sigh. Fuck you. Whatever. Roll my eyes. I said they should come teach my classes today and see how it goes. People who aren’t in the classroom should NEVER EVER be allowed to make decisions about this shit. Or they should listen to us more.

Calli tolerating Nova, who is bunny-watching.

Kittens sleeping on the bed, until I came in…

They’re not kittens any more. But their faces there are very typical. Luna is pissed because I petted Nova first. Nova is a sweetheart.

My cat, Kitten, is demanding, but loving.

Follows me all over the house, demanding attention. Eating pine needles. Then throwing them up. Like a boss.

Speaking of bosses, I am sort of one…to 177…no wait, I’m down two who dropped…175 students (don’t tell the school; they’ll give me three to replace the two). And work starts in the other room in 6 minutes, enough time to take my meds and walk over there. And teach all day, trying to get everything under control and organized, trying to deal with parents who think I have time for phone calls and explanations that I’ve already said 7 or 8 times, for kids who need help (that I am willing to give) and assignments that aren’t graded or done, and planning that’s not complete, and posts that need to be made, and videos that need to be made. But a 3-day weekend will give me a little leeway, a little extra time for me and not school. And that’s a good thing to get to at the end of the day.

Manage This Better…

I am currently completely and totally procrastinating answering all the parent and kid school emails from this weekend. Some don’t need an answer; they were an appropriate acknowledgment to the weekly notifications I send about hey, y’all aren’t turning shit in. Unfortunately, some weren’t. I saw the first one roll in Friday night. I could say I ignored them, but I didn’t. I just didn’t answer them. So they’ve been sitting in my gut all weekend. Maybe that’s why I answer right away…so that doesn’t happen. Sure, I could be like some people and not have my email come to my phone…or my home computer…and I could never open my school computer during the weekend…HA HA HA…oh wait, that’s bullshit, because I can’t even come close to getting all my school work done in the 5 days of the week I’m paid to do it, who the fuck am I kidding? Anyway, it is my constant goal to manage this better, acknowledge my failure to do so, and move on. Those emails will get answered today; no one will like the answers, but oh well. The really annoying one from last weekend, the mom never emailed back and said, oh hey, I’m sorry for bitching you out for something you don’t even do, don’t have any control over, and tried to fix for me. No thanks, no sorry, no acknowledgment at all. Noted. Fully noted.

This job. Is. So. Hard. This. Year.

Luckily, when I went in to school on Friday, my co-teacher was still there and helped me (and my overwhelmed fuzzy brain) gather all the science-y stuff together for this week’s demos. Chemistry for all! It’s hard to make art around the job sometimes…literally, right now, I need the light table, and I have all this school stuff on it, so I’m trying to work around it. Or through it. Hard to say which.

Friday, I dropped my quilt at the photographer (pictures tomorrow!), then went to school, then to enlarge some drawings from December 2019-February 2020. You know, pre-COVID shit hitting the fan.

I only copied three drawings. They’re out of a 9×12″ sketchbook and I enlarged them 200%. I figured that was a good size for right now, when I don’t have much room on the light table or in my brain.

I think this was one of my Patreon drawings…maybe? Can’t remember.

This was one of the December drawings a day from 2019…because I didn’t even come close to doing that in 2020.

And this was from our Joshua Tree trip from February last year…

I sometimes go back and read previous year’s blogs for the same month as now, just to remind myself of the mindset at the time. It helps when I think things are out of control. I saw these drawings and thought they’d make good smaller quilts. I posted all three on Insta/FB, and there were a few votes for this one.

But I’d already picked the Joshua Tree one for the first quilt. I started tracing it last night and forgot to take any photos. I forgot a lot of things yesterday. I also stayed up way too late on Friday night trying to manage some of the stress in my head…stitching things down.

It didn’t really help. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll figure it out.

I wanted to hike Saturday, but with all the rain on Friday (we got over an inch in 24 hours, which is a lot for us), we didn’t want to stomp through a muddy trail and destroy it, so we picked an urban hike, the Seven Bridges Trail. I’ve done it a couple of times, but the Man hadn’t. It starts in Balboa Park, where there were lots of people…

Bridge number 1…

It’s not a difficult hike…fairly flat…bridge number 2…

Interesting views though…bridge number 3…

And some intriguingly bouncy bridges…OK, only one bouncy one…bridge number 4…

Came through Hillcrest, which is constantly evolving, and got off the official trail down a back alley of murals…

Which is probably how we got over the 6-mile mark…

It’s a little weird waiting for signals during a hike…

Bridge number 5…did I miss one??? Maybe.

Yeah, I didn’t photograph one. I don’t know which one. Bridge number 6…no wait, I did it right…

Some people will argue this is not a hike, because it’s not ‘out in nature’. Except there was nature all around. Hence the urban word. Not my preferred type of hike, but we still walked the whole time, didn’t stop and get ice cream (although it would have been OK if we had)…

Bridge number 7…

And I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s the Seven Bridge Walk, if there are eight bridges…

Another side trip adding to our mileage…

Through the cactus garden at Balboa Park…

Bridge number 8…

Like I said, over 6 miles. Tired. But good. Outside. Too peoply. Next weekend, we’ll do a hike on dirt with fewer people around.

Saturday night, I ironed all the fabrics for the tiny owl quilt I’m making…

And then cut them out…

After doing the January Patreon drawing…

And numbering the third of the smaller quilt drawings…

Plenty of art happening. Plenty of work happening. It’s February now. I have 17 emails to answer before school.

I mean, my school district actually has kids in physical school too, but I have kids in school, every freakin’ school day, and yeah. Working my ass off. Stressed out. Overwhelmed. Buried. Don’t tell me I’m not working.

Cats…

They handle everything better than I do.

OK, work, then exercise, then art.

Go Well…

Ah yes. A country with someone in charge whose speeches I don’t have to diagram so that I can attempt to make any sense of them. A white guy, though. An old white guy. But our VP! Finally a woman, and a woman of color on top of it. So proud. So happy. So worried about those who still feel disenfranchised and ignored. That being-ignored feeling really sucks. I agree. Having people ignore your needs and desperate calls for acknowledgement…I mean, I’m a cis female, but white and educated, so inordinately privileged, but I get that for sure. And I worry about y’all. I don’t know what to do about it though; I don’t know how to talk to you, to help you see the world in a different way. I really try to see how you all are seeing, and I just can’t. It looks like fear and hate to me. So yeah. So many things in my head yesterday. I was lucky to see the swearing ins happen right before virtual school started…trying to watch video with kids on my computer/Zoom setup is not always a positive experience, so we talked a little about the inauguration, but then it was a normal day. Well, this crazy-ass pandemic version of normal.

I’ve been fighting my sewing machine for a few days. The thread kept breaking. I changed needles (twice), rethreaded everything (many times), cleaned out the bobbin area, used thread conditioner, sanded the throat plate, and then prayed to the goddess of the machine. Nothing helped. It improved slightly, but I was still breaking thread about every 6-10 inches of quilting. An incredibly frustrating experience.

I got to the point last night where I was like, shit, I’m going to have to take the machine in, but I’m trying to finish this quilt and I have another machine, but I’m not sure where exactly it is, and there’s a re-learning curve I don’t have the mental fortitude for right now…but sigh, how else?

And magically, really, IDK what changed, much like my blood sugar at the moment, magically, it all started to work. I could sew without the thread breaking.

For an hour. Holy moly. SO MUCH EASIER. It’s like I became a rich white man. Oh wait. No. Not quite. He wouldn’t be sewing. But you know what I mean! Things were easier, I felt like I could achieve something, the world felt like a new presidential team was in place. Yeah. That. Fuck. Yesterday was interesting. I posted this picture before…spot the Bernie.

I love the mitten story. And Bernie. And the dogs and old man in the photo, but that’s something else. This doofus…

OK. Well. I hiked on Tuesday in the wind and cold…

Apparently there’s more coming this weekend. These flowers are fascinatingly huge.

I still try to exercise every day. This is just from AllTrails, an app I use for hiking…

It doesn’t count everything I do, just the hikes I do with the app.

Yeah, my boots got over 150 miles since February, so there’s that. More to come.

Goofy cats.

I finished this…

Ready to clean it and hoop it up and send it off to its new owner.

My quilt guild is starting a UFO challenge. I needed to post at least one I could finish in the first quarter. This one, I started quilting, but gave up.

Wool is different than cotton, that’s all I can say. I can do it…but something else jumped the queue. There’s also this one…

And another one that needs pinbasting…all 3 are Sue Spargo quilts. I love the embroidery part, but IDK what I will do with them when they are done. Pick a Sue Spargo wall and switch out the three every few months? Maybe.

Ah mornings. You are not my friend.

Today is sunny at least. The crazy wind the last few days has been stressful to watch from my virtual school workspace. Today is much calmer. OK, but today, I am teaching stuff in art that I’ve never really done before (again), so that’ll be fun. FUN. And Zooming for meetings as well (one in 5 minutes). Hopefully quilting later tonight, with the new calm sewing machine behavior…maybe it will continue to go well.