Really Hard Dirt

I meant to write this in the morning, before school, but I worked instead. I thought about writing it in the afternoon, but I had to deliver art supplies to students who can’t leave their homes. I got home after that and had a little time before gaming tonight, but instead of writing this, I talked to my mom about my dad coming home in the next few weeks, which is good news, but a little frightening as well. I’m going to go see him this weekend; I get to talk to him through a window. I could go now, but it’s close to midnight and if I know my dad, he’s asleep. Hopefully. I might go to bed before I ever finish writing this. I was up late last night and didn’t sleep well; I had a really low blood sugar drop, no reason that we could see, and it really messed up my nighttime routine. You know, sleep and all. It took a while to come back up, and then I woke up a few times at night to check it. It’s happened once before, about a year ago, and the phone nurse just keeps asking me if I’m sick and did I eat. Well yeah, I did eat and no, I’m not sick. So I just took my insulin tonight and I’m kinda watching the clock and giving it some time to make sure everything is OK tonight. Hopefully. Because I need the sleep. And I need some time this weekend to get some work done, because I didn’t get any done tonight, art or otherwise. Good thing it’s a 3-day weekend.

Wednesday night, I finished the stitchdown on the current quilt…

It took just under 5 hours to do that…not bad…

I wasn’t sure I’d get her sandwiched and pinbasted last night…it was a long day, and it meant mopping the floor first, but I pulled it off…

Sometimes I have energy and I do shit.

It’s not actually a huge quilt…just has a lot of pieces in it for its size. I should be able to start quilting this weekend; we’ll see how that goes, because Craft Napa started on Wednesday. I was able to hang out in the Welcome group for about 50 minutes, until I had to go to a union meeting. I spent most of Wednesday’s prep period, 5th period while kids were working, the Craft Napa meeting, and the union meeting sorting art supplies for my 72 online art students.

I actually had a fairly impressive stash of colored paper. Anyway, I delivered those envelopes Wednesday night around 8 PM, and then today, hand delivered a few of them. In general, I make them go get them from school. As always, some kid three weeks from now will tell me they didn’t even know about this and it’s not their fault they couldn’t do the project. Sigh. I put a lot of time into my classes. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I really don’t know how to half-ass it. Although I lost my mind on Wednesday when they pushed one of my classes to 40 kids. Apparently that is my line: 40 kids in a class. They fixed it (the kid really was supposed to go to another teacher), but I’m still annoyed with myself that my mindset for the 2nd half of the year went out the window in just three days. That said, they flipped about 5 kids from hybrid to distance and back, and then gave me three additional students, so I suspect my crazy was somewhat justified.

Anyway, I have one Craft Napa class on Sunday and another next Saturday, plus the wine tasting tomorrow night, although after the blood sugar thing last night, I’m cautious about that. No, I wasn’t drinking either last night…you sound like the nurse. No no no no no. I wasn’t doing any of those things. Sigh. Stupid body. I hate when you feel like you can’t trust your body. It sucks. Anyway, knock on wood that it was a one-off. Again. The second time.

I’m still chugging away on this…

I might find the pattern designer at some point and post it with this. I might. I’m using stash. One of the designers I follow was asking if people preferred kits or PDF patterns, and it’s not that I don’t like kits, they’re easy, but I have all the floss in the world (I say that, but I had to buy 3 skeins for this one because they were using all the new colors) and besides, I have a dog who eats patterns, and if it was a kit, I would have to buy another one to get the pattern, unless the designer was really nice (dude, I would totally send pictures), but with a PDF file, you can just print another one.

Kitten agrees.

No art tonight. No energy either. I do however have excited sourdough starter.

Can’t argue with that. I’m making sourdough focaccia tomorrow. Or Sunday. Hard to say. I never get the timing right.

I’m teaching radial zendoodles for warmup this week.

These are the practice ones, which all look like hydras. Really, I’m teaching kids how to fold carefully, because that seems to be the bigger issue.

We got this freebie cat tent when the kittens came over a year ago. Nova would sleep on it. Luna would kamikaze all over it, but this is the first time anyone (Kitten) has slept in it.

We planted the Christmas tree…Calli for size.

Of course, that makes me sad, because in a year, when I check the size again, odds are Calli won’t be around. But she’s cute. I don’t know why I say “we” planted the tree. I whacked the bottom with the shovel to break up the roots and helped shove dirt into the hole, but the boychild did the rest, including digging a hole in rock. Or really hard dirt. Maybe really hard dirt is just rock.

OK, I’m feeling OK. It’s 45 minutes since the insulin. I’m going to test my blood and crawl into bed, hopefully for better sleep than last night. Wish me luck. Then do some exercise this weekend, hang out with some quilt artists, do some schoolwork, quilt a little, see my dad through a window, and hope the body and brain feel better at the end of it.

I See Things…

Impeach. Jail. Hey, have there been any cases yet in the courts brought by people who got COVID from assholes who refused to wear masks in their presence? I wonder. I’m thinking of Representatives Jayapal and Watson Coleman, who were sheltering in a space with Republican (what do you call them when they are House and Senate? The article said ‘lawmakers’, but I’m having a distinct issue with calling them that right now…let’s just call them…) assholes who refused to wear masks, and to quote Rep. Jayapal, “I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.” MOCKED. Fuck them. She wants fines levied. I want them arrested. There are diseases out there that carry jail terms.

I’m saying this as my family sits on pins and needles, watching my dad for symptoms (none so far) and I listen to a friend who is losing her mom to this disease, and it’s hard to hear, because I know we’re all a step away, a fucking short step for some of us, from losing someone we love. This thing ain’t over yet. Buckle down and put your fucking masks on.

Do I think it’s worthwhile to impeach the president? Fuck yes. Make a point. Look at the law and how many broke it…in Congress too. You tweeted locations? You’re out. You opened doors? You’re out. You colluded in creating that chaos? GET THE FUCK OUT. The president and his flunkies thought it was funny to rile people up to attack the Capitol. Anyone who thinks arresting those people and putting them in jail or impeaching the president will make things worse…dayum, you have NOT been paying attention. If I, an educated white woman, with all the privilege that brings, am sitting around with a rock in my gut, worried about the state of my country, worried about people with guns who want a revolution (and just to say, I am not and never will be worried about BLM protestors…they aren’t the problem…they’re the voice of the fucking solution), worried about people who think THIS election was stolen, but the last one was somehow different? You don’t have to be woke to see that shit is going down right now, that unity is the last thing we’re getting right now. Unity with terrorists? Fuck that shit. WTF, people. WTF. And if that election was stolen (it wasn’t), there are some senators and congressmen who need to step down, because they weren’t really elected. Ted Cruz, I believe I’m talking to you…and a few others.

I’d love to see the Republican party clean house and go back to the semi-competence of years past, where we hated them for their stupid kneejerk policies about war and the environment and immigration that seem incredibly SANE after the last four years. I honestly think school should be called off for Inauguration Day, because I don’t see us getting through it without some crazy news from somewhere.

Still working on a quilt from all this, somehow. I had one draw itself in my head the other morning while I was in the shower. No time to draw right now. School is overwhelming and exhausting, and we’re only on Day 3. I’m not allowed to talk about any of the above stuff with my students, unless they bring it up, and then only in general terms, no politics. I know. I always roll that way. Although with some of what I teach, it’s hard for my political beliefs NOT to show. I say “where’s the evidence of that” a lot. I taught “coping with stress” yesterday as part of trying to touch on whatever they might be dealing with at home. Uncertainty should be next on my list…but the counseling department hasn’t released that slide show yet.

In the midst of all the political crap, I am trying to be sane about work. Ignoring parent and student emails if they come in after 5 PM…until the next morning. Taking some time at lunch to NOT work. Read my book instead. My book about fairy tales where women are taking the reins. Sigh. I wake up in the mornings to the alarm and I’m in the middle of dreams, dreams where I’m driving away from everything, but I’ve forgotten all the stuff I need, I’m breaking into houses where no one lives and trying to set up shop, but I’ve left my computer (which, by the way, is an Apple 2e from the 80s…no idea why I couldn’t dream a nice laptop instead) somewhere else and I have to go back into the unsafe zone to get it. I’m exhausted and it’s only Wednesday. Yeah OK. We’re back.

This made me laugh. Because hey, I’m Antifa, by the way…antifascist? Totally…

And I wear all black pretty often. So yeah. Blame me for those things that QAnon actually did. And posted all over social media.

I’ve been doing a little stitchdown every night. Actually, the first night, it was a whopping 15 minutes, but I managed 90 minutes Monday and Tuesday nights.

So I have about 3 1/2 hours done, and I made it up into the sky…

Just barely, but I haven’t finished the torso and head of the body…

The machine was being cranky last night after running super smoothly on Monday night. So I took everything apart a couple of times, tore some stitching out, and got it working well again. More tonight. Wait. I think. Honestly can’t remember what tonight is. Oh yeah, it’s Wednesday. Union meeting, pilates, need to deliver supplies to school, don’t know when the fuck I’m going to do that. Really need the art teacher to answer email. My frustration levels with the system are high.

But I should finish up the stitchdown sometime this week and hopefully get it pinbasted this weekend and start the quilting. I did sign up for Craft Napa this weekend, and am taking two classes (but one is next weekend), just for the experience with the teachers. I don’t really NEED to take classes, y’all, but sometimes it’s good to stretch your brain beyond what you’ve been doing.

I walked after work yesterday…

Into the sunset…

And into dusk…it’s staying lighter later…

Need to reinstate walking the dogs with the boychild…soon. Almost light enough for that.

Got a little more done of this…actually, I have more than this done.

Forgot to photograph it last night. Whoops. Oh well, you’ll see it soon enough. This is a pattern and it’s for someone, not me.

Girlchild sent a baby seal photo…

Hope mom is coming back for it.

OK, I’m panicking a little about school today, only because I need stuff decided for tomorrow OR I’m doing it all on my own with so little information. That’s kind of the story of the year. My superintendent reminding me not to politicize shit, but ALSO reminding me of my wellbeing and self-care, while the assistant superintendent sends a crazy (must have been a draft), badly written and honestly accusatory email about how we need to personally instruct each child at their level of reading. You know what? I invite her to teach my one class of 39 with 11 special education students (I have more than one class with 39 kids, by the way), and to show me what that would look like. A personal reading plan for each of those students with no working curriculum at their level. I’d really like to see that. You tell us this and then tell us we can’t have any reading material below a 4th-grade level…when the average reading level at my school is 2nd grade. Way to support us. Thanks.

I’m glad my dad is not showing symptoms. I hope that continues. I’m glad I’m finally at the stitchdown phase of this quilt. I hope I finish it. I hope I can find a way to draw the political turmoil for the next quilt. I want to get plenty of exercise and more sleep (ha!) and work on the rock in my gut. Today, I want the patience to deal with whatever comes up without feeling like I’m losing my mind. And I need another cup of tea. See? I have hope. I look into the future and I see things. Some very far away things, and some that might be this weekend, and in the case of the tea? About 10 minutes from now.

It Probably Will Involve Celery…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still cross-stitching this…

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

I wanted to know what happened. Calli did too.

Cat play time…I knocked all the boxes over…

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

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

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

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

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

The Land of Fussy Ironing…

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

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

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

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

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

No one should allow me to pick hikes.

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

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

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

Then I can draw on them in future weeks…

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a Wash

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

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

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

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

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

And this was embedded in the floor…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not fancy. Quirky.

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

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

Down the road from there, is this wondrous beast…

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

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

I enjoy random metal and concrete sculpture personally…

And a good sense of humor…

And some good colorful grafitti…

The museum was not open, unfortunately…

And pigeons lived here…

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

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

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

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

Very 70s. That night’s drawing…

And morning chicken…

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

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

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

Nope. Wasn’t drinking. Promise.

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

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

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

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

Progress as of Friday…

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

Then Saturday, I kept going…

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

Great Horned Owl…

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

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

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

It was the boychild’s 25th birthday yesterday…

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

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

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

My eyes might be closed.

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

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

And on the others. I prepped four of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Bat Caves!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s OK. We found the caves eventually.

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

It wasn’t a super long hike.

Also off-road vehicles were around…

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

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

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

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

The beach has some installations…

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

The birds really like it and apparently so do tilapia.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday night, I ironed for a little bit…

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

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

Whereas the cat was busy cleaning herself…

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

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

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

Although she dressed up and I was in sweats…

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

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

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

Conquer All That Shit

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

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

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

I have a bunch of feet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girlchild made an awesome dinner…

Plus dessert and appetizers.

Then back home for a relatively quiet evening…

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

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

She’s a little irritated with my saying no.

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

Handmade by a friend of his…

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

I did finally do some ironing on this last night…

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

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

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

Maybe Some Eggnog…

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

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

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

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

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

I did more last night…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Art…

Someone asked me to post the pieces that got into Quilt National and Visions over the years.

2013 Quilt National: Spread Out on the Pavement

2017 Quilt National: Beyond the Concrete

2021 Quilt National (yes, it appears to be every four years…creepy, huh?): Fire and Water

And Visions 2012: Sediment

I enter both shows every time, if that helps you at all. Lots of rejections over the years. One year, the Visions reject made it into Quilt National; another year, vice versa. It’s all OK.

So today’s topic is Top 5 Gift Ideas. Y’all…go buy art. Small business art. They don’t have to be quilters…they can be printers or ceramicists or painters. Buy small if you have to. Commit to one piece of art a year, if you can. I buy one SAQA auction piece a year. It’s my donation, plus I’ve gotten small art by artists I really enjoy, some I knew of before the auction and some I didn’t. Buy prints if you can’t afford the art, or even cards. Send them to everyone you know. So many small businesses, especially in the arts, are struggling right now. I wish I could do more, but I try to buy some every year. This year, two of my family members are getting original art from people I know. It can be a knitted sweater or an embroidered landscape, or a drawing, a bowl, a mug, jewelry, whatever. Just buy art. This pandemic has been devastating to so many people. I know as an artist that so many depend on classes and conferences and show venues, and so much of that has dried up. Sign up for a class, if you don’t want to buy art. Find ways to put your money, even if it’s a small amount, in the hands of an artist.

I worked with my co-teacher today for four hours, masked, in a room, away from each other, with the door open.

We got January planned, although then I came home and spent like 3 hours making digital versions of stuff so my kids could do the same stuff as the kids in a physical classroom. I’m still ahead, though…further ahead than I’ve been all year. I’ve always been starting to plan on Thursday for the following week, usually finishing Sunday night. I need that to chill out a bit. I need to be a little ahead of the game. Tomorrow, we’re doing it again, trying to get February planned. At least the pieces will be in place. Details to follow. I need to make a bunch of videos.

Last night, I stayed up too late, but I finished trimming all the pieces.

That’s almost 16 hours of cutting in the last week. Tonight, I sorted them…

Took me about an hour and a half.

I can start ironing tonight. I won’t get much done; it’s already late, but I can start.

Last night, I drew…

Tonight, I did not. There’s a lot of stressful stuff going on. I’m not forcing myself to draw if I don’t have the mental space. I know there’s a place for that kind of thing; making myself draw when I’m not in the mood makes my brain be more creative, solve problems, but there’s a need for self-care at the moment. So I’m just going with it. I can draw tomorrow night if I want. There is absolutely no point in beating myself up about what I can and can’t handle at the moment.

Be like a cat.

Sleep well.

OK, well it’s already past 10 and I need to be up sort of early for lesson planning. Hopefully the rest of the day will let me get some grading done and get a walk in. Tonight, I’ll iron a bit and get my ass in bed earlier than last night. And hopefully I’ll sleep.

Stop Thinking for a While…

Hello vacation! Or break! Or NO ZOOM ZONE. Whatever you wanna call it, this teacher is on it for three weeks. Don’t get too excited. You should see my to-grade list for that time period…it’s massive. I’m hoping to bang through it quickly though. Although it includes 5 large art assignments. WTF was I thinking? Nothing. No, I was thinking that if they didn’t finish before break, they would throw them away, and no one would have them. So there we are. Anyway, wish me luck on that. I’d like to have everything planned for January (except art, because I need to wait for the other teacher to do some stuff) and graded by Christmas Eve. Could be impossible. We’ll see.

I’m stressed, I need sleep, I need to not be on Zoom a million hours a day. I need exercise and books and sewing and drawing and relaxing. We’re halfway through the longest school year I’ve ever experienced, and it will take everything I have in me to get through the next half. Sure, there’s a few 3-day weekends in there and 2 weeks of Spring Break, but mostly it’s a hellaciously long stretch of ugh. Meanwhile, my neighbors aren’t social distancing for shit, because they are young and apparently can’t get sick or die or get their relatives sick or anything. I don’t even know what to think about that. I think about every interaction I have, every time I leave the house, everything I do that is outside of here. And I’m paranoid as shit about it. Maybe it’s being high risk? Or just naturally paranoid? Anyway. They’re fucking nuts.

So the topic for today is “If I could sew with…”. Hmmm. Is this a person? If so, I want to sew with Queen Elizabeth. I know she learned how. And I’d like to talk to her and meet her dogs. And then I want to sew with Sue Spargo, just to see how her mind works; she’s incredibly creative. And then maybe the BadAssCrossStitch woman, Shannon, just because she sounds interesting and is trying to create community with stitching. Honestly, anyone who’s ever stitched the word “fuck” on fabric…I wanna have a big stitchalong with them. And then I’d like to stitch with about a million of the stitchers I follow on Instagram, because some of them have such interesting and different styles from what I do…I wanna watch them and try to do it that way and maybe just talk to them about birds and cats and pine needles. Or whatever.

Now the other way to look at this is “If I could sew with…” metal. Are we talking materials here? I have done a tiny bit of metal stitching, not the metallic thread, because that is always a pain in the ass, but the twisty stuff, damn, what’s it called, purl? AKA French bullion wire (because it looks like a bullion knot, but wire, not thread). I also have some metal mesh I always wanted to use. There isn’t much stopping me from using metal, but time and ideas…I got close when I stitched on window screen to make my COVID mask.

Not quite metal. Maybe just stitching with different things. Experiment more. In my spare time. Some day, I will have spare time that is not eaten up by grading 17 assignments in a week, and I will have more time to spend on experimentation. Or not.

It’s highly possible I should have looked at the list of blog topics before I signed up to do this. Speaking of, it’s the first day of Winter Break! I like to do a drawing a day over Winter Break. Shall I? Can I? Do I have the fortitude? I have the last two years. Hmmm. Gaming tonight…it’s possible to draw and game.

Meanwhile, I’ve been cutting tiny pieces out…I made it through all of the flesh last night…

I did a lot of it in a stitching meeting, totally exhausted.

Made it into the sky. I’m hoping to be done by Sunday so I can start ironing it together. We’ll see how it goes.

You gotta love your job a lot to answer an email like this…although the suggested answers are pretty valid.

I didn’t use one of them. I wanted to.

Remember back in November when we went up to 29 Palms to help construct that labyrinth? Well here’s a drone view of it…

Linda did an awesome job setting this up and building most of it. So cool.

Got some more artsy shit coming up over break too…mostly looking at other people’s art, but as artists, we need that connection to other people’s work.

But for now, find a sketchbook and a pen for drawing while gaming, plus probably need to see if I can grade a few things, and I need to find some supplies for these classes I’m taking in January, ironically need plastic bags, just the words off them, but I don’t have a lot of plastic because I don’t use it unless I really have to, plus some stabilizer I don’t use either. Maybe mom has some? Who knows. It feels a little lighter having no required work for three weeks…hopefully by the end of next week, it will be a lot lighter. Unlike the summer, I know mostly what the next 6 months of school look like…painful but doable. Summer was so stressful because we knew nothing at all. This is just stress that I know about.

OK. Find sketchbook. Stop thinking for a while.