Looking Up…

April 15, 2017

So we made it back, alive and still a bit muddy (one load of laundry is done; the tent and rain cover are out on the deck, waiting for me to have the energy and help to clean it out), still a bit exhausted. Driving through Los Angeles can do that to you. Ahhh, traffic, I miss you not.

It’s the first time I’ve taken a week’s vacation without the fam in about a million years. Being a mom and a financially strangled one at best doesn’t allow for such things, so it was much appreciated. And there will be more, once we do the math and see how bad the money actually was, and then try to focus on future travel plans. There was lots of WOW said; even if you’ve seen them before, the redwoods elicit WOW.

So then I have about 50 pictures of the trees, looking up…

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Because that’s what you do…

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(That was the one non-rainy day on our trip…the day we chose to hike around…)

I’ll have to write a post later this week about the trip, I think. Too many pictures for a Saturday-morning brain.

I did draw each night…well, minus one…

Certainly what I was experiencing ended up in the drawings. The first night, we had set up the campsite and cooked under a lean-to tarp, and sat there listening to the rain for hours. We’d made it to the visitor center and read about local animals and plants, and seen a beetle and lots of ferns and trees.

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That beetle on her cheek was on my sketchbook for a while…I saw his big brother in the bathroom for the next three days. Just hanging out…on the toilet paper rolls…waiting…for something.

We hiked the whole next day, with on and off rain…but a lot of sun. We cooked tacos that night, and tried to get the fire started. I think it lasted a whopping 20 minutes before the rain kicked up again. We had moved the tent by then.

I don’t think this one is done, but I was tired.

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At least one hand is facing the wrong way…or both are left hands…or something.

The last night, we had very little rain (after rain on and off all day, mostly on), but lots of high winds, which is a little nerve-wracking in a forest that really only loses trees to wind and the occasional flood.

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I skipped the next night…but the last night, food was on my mind apparently. And misplaced arms. They’re just wrong, all wrong.

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As part of the last day’s drive, we stopped at the California Fibers’ exhibit at The Blackboard Gallery in Camarillo, California, where two of my pieces are currently hanging through early May. This is Give Me Time

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As always, I love having my photo taken and can’t figure out what to do with my hands.

And here I am with Holding It All In, which is a big quilt…

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I’ll be writing a California Fibers’ post about the show, with details, later this week. I’ll link it here. It’s a nice show…in an interesting space.

I did keep up with these once a day stitches, albeit barely. I did some green lazy daisy leaves on the right with that curly line I added earlier in the week, with the pinky lazy daisy flowers (that’s three days right there)…then a feather fern stitch thing next to the tree trunk (hard to see here) and some star-shaped flowers in red/burgundy with straight stitch green leaves to the right of the feather, under the bird…finishing the thread off with some French knots (or colonial knots, who knows) down the side there.

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I didn’t actually do much stitching (or reading) on the trip. I finally pulled this out the last day for in-the-car stitching (mostly I can’t stitch with curvy roads…or while I’m driving)…finished the tree trunk, which I’d started at the campsite until I couldn’t see in the dark any more, then finished the flower center and started the bird. I think the bird is all that’s left, and then I’ll be done with this one. Maybe tonight. Not sure what my plans look like yet.

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I know they include cleaning and drying these, the second load of laundry, finishing my taxes…

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Working on the current quilt, which has to be done in a week, a ton of grading, some emails/contracts/headshots (ugh) to be sent out, and I don’t even know what else. Trying to get my head around all of it…which I will…eventually…maybe not today. Still looking up…even though the trees are gone…but here, at home, the furry beasts are all around. Both cats slept with me last night (strange), although I did not appreciate Midnight’s hairball extraction in the middle of the night (guess the duvet cover needed washing) or Calli’s early morning plea to pee. And the house reeks of skunk…fun stuff. No one cleaned while I was gone (another wonder of living alone). But I’m glad to be here, in my own bed, surrounded by annoying beasts, where I can make a proper cup of tea whenever I want dammit. (still wanna travel more though)


All Work No Play…

April 13, 2017

You know how that goes…but barely 24 hours out of the mud, after a wild, animal-filled camping trip, listening to my guy analyze Danish wine bars (don’t even ask), having a hard time focusing on anything…have a story of a moth, lots of plant pictures and even more of classic rolling California hills dotted with happy cows and gnarly oak trees. 

Well, those are vineyard grapes…but I have more pictures than I can handle at the moment.

I also got into two shows while traveling, which is awesome. I’ll be home soon enough and will try to sum everything up, although the moth will need a post all to itself really. Glad we finally did this, got the hell out of San Diego, did a vacation with no work, despite the hellacious pile that awaits me at home. 

Free spinach artichoke dip and somebody’s very happy about his beer flight…

More later…we’re still alive…looking forward to seeing my furry babies…

How to Do the Holidays…

November 25, 2015

I’m eating cold toast at my brother’s dining room table right now, having been woken by light early enough…having listened to a teenager wake up very differently than my girlchild, then having two boys come down to play some Star Wars video game. The cold toast is because we blew a fuse, of course.

Kitten was not thrilled about my leaving…IMG_5139No, you don’t fit in the suitcase…barely anything fits in the suitcase, honestly.

My flight was uneventful, except for the old guy (my age, maybe a bit older) dancing in his seat next to me and offering to rub his companion’s feet or feed her peeled grapes while wearing a toga (say WHAT?)…I was greeted by a sweet dog and a goofball of a nephew…IMG_5152

The dog is Gracie and she loves me, of course. Apparently she also loves underwear. So she’s a real dog.

Yesterday we ran some errands and hung out with middle child and then went to pick up youngest at his hip environmentally friendly private school…lots of cool stuff going on there, but this was my takeaway as a science teacher…IMG_5155I could do this in my classroom I think…in fact, a rack on wheels with two sides would be kinda cool. Just an idea for next year’s grants…if I remember.

Then home, where I graded stuff until dinner time, with a brief view of oldest child, the only girl, who is now taller than I am, I think. Amusing. It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen these guys, I think, and that’s too long.

Indian food for dinner and conversations of people now dead or might as well be, plus childhood etc. My kids are together in Ithaca, where most people went home for the holidays…IMG_5161I couldn’t afford to fly them home for four days, and they’re home in three weeks anyways. I get occasional pictures from them as they move around…entertaining themselves. I haven’t heard from them today yet. Girlchild’s phone is probably dead.

Yes, I was grading here. I have to. I am so far behind, it’s not even funny. I have five assignments on Google Classroom and another major one I left at home, because it’s really not transportable. Ideally, I need to finish all of them this week (ha!). I finished two periods of one assignment last night. I’m about to start the third period (one was done at home), which won’t take long because many made the incredibly crappy choice of not actually turning the assignment in. Some shockers for them when grades come in.

I haven’t drawn yet, but yesterday, I was so tired…up at 4 AM is not fun. I fell asleep on the couch watching TV with my brother (now that’s funny). I’m sure I will draw today…my niece is an artist, which is very cool. The boys are goofy…apparently they know me as the aunt who makes vajayjay quilts. So I lectured on the difference between…well…you know.

Hope your Thanksgiving preparations are coming along (if that’s what you do). This is the first year in a long time where I basically have nothing to do but show up (and maybe help prep things I don’t usually cook). I have to behave as well…as well as I can. And there might be a quilt store today (because they have different fabric in Seattle? Yeah, I know…).

How to buy fabric for Kathy: walk into quilt store. Walk around. Pick 4 or 5 fabrics you like. YOU like, because Kathy is a fabric slut and will use everything, and she likes it when other people pick, because they see different stuff than she does, stuff she might never think to pick out. Get a half yard of each. Put a bow around them and hand them to Kathy. She gets happy. So easy.

I’m Just Doing It Different…

May 26, 2015

So I made it home yesterday, and then to pay for taking 2 1/2 days off of my life, I spent the next 8 hours running around like a crazy person, trying to catch up. That part wasn’t fun. At all. And at some point, around 10:30 at night, I quit. I am still feeling overwhelmed this morning…back to negotiating with my brain for a day at a time. “Today we will do this.” And trying not to think about the 70 trillion other things that need doing, but that I can’t possibly deal with right this second. Or even next week. And apparently I’m doing it all wrong anyway.

Giant ass sigh. Today we dissect frogs. Big lab day. I am leaving here early to set up, because I never got there yesterday. Ran out of time. The alarms are on at school at 11 PM, or I would have gone over then. Seriously, I was shopping for dog food at 8:45 last night.

That said, I did have a relaxing weekend (too bad I ruined it with real life, eh?), so that’s kind of a tiny buffer against all the crazy right now.

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It was really cold on Saturday, but this was part of the walking view…

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Bizarre broken panes of glass in the middle of trees…flowers everywhere…

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Birds wouldn’t shut up.

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My parents’ dock with dad’s canoe (took that out on the water on Sunday, when it wasn’t so cold and choppy)…

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The ever-present fog this weekend…or cloud, really. We spent a lot of time driving in clouds.

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There it is creeping into the valley…

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Sunday was nice out on the deck. I drew a whole picture and got sunburnt in the weird places where I forgot to slather on the sunscreen…

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Like the part of my wrist that is normally covered by a watch. It’s burnt now.

Coming home was a lot of putting stuff away, cleaning stuff, washing stuff, making lists, buying stuff, planning stuff, typing stuff, printing stuff.

And around 10:30, I sat down and started cutting these out again…

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I had to stay up pretty late to get the laundry through, so I’m tired this morning. Then again, I’m always tired in the morning, so this is really nothing different.

I know there are lots of people trying to help me, but sometimes the help comes out as criticism. And there was a lot of that yesterday, some of it crazy-from-the-teen’s-mouth criticism (really? How many times do I have to ask before you will just do it?) and yeah, I sat in my office and cried for a bit, because it was all too much and I was obviously doing it all wrong.

Or am I? Because I’m the only one sitting in this chair, carrying all of it on my shoulders, and if there is a lack of understanding, I can’t really do anything about that. I have this huge job that sucks up so much time and energy, and then I try to be an artist on top of that, and woven through the whole mess is this parenting thing, which I do by the seat of my pants and with very little support. And when I get it wrong, I apologize and move on. But it seems like even with all I get done, there are still expectations that I’m not meeting. And yet I know I’m not doing it all wrong…I’m just doing it different. I have to remind myself of that, that my experience is mine…and they’re not seeing what I’m seeing.

You could just take one look at my art and realize that, I guess.

Getting through this week will clear some of this out, I think. Meanwhile, I’m still making art. There’s no magic that fixes the rest.


February 8, 2015

I went north to San Francisco this weekend to visit a high-school friend…who doesn’t actually live in the city of course. We ate Ethiopian food…

Tanya joined us, thus connecting two parts of my world in one small restaurant.

From there, a tiny bit of wine tasting…

Then on to SCRAP in San Francisco

Where we ferreted through artistic junk for stuff we might like…

And tried to decide what would fit in my already full luggage (it was raining, so I had to bring a jacket).

There was a lot of fabric, and we only had about 30 minutes…

Here’s what I should do with all my yarn…


The surrounding area is not particularly pretty…

Liked this flower, but couldn’t figure out what it was (Julie!)…in Vickie’s friend’s garden…

Wine, juice, and ginger ale tasting after Gilbert and Sullivan…

And now breakfast is being created by many hands…I might survive it! No seriously, it’s been a fun-filled weekend and I have enjoyed all the interactions.

Hello Friday…

February 6, 2015

Hello Friday. I’m glad you’re here, although you will be long and full of tests and whiny kids who didn’t study because they think grades are magical things that happen to them and there will be soccer and a plane flight and lots of girly squealing on the other end…wait…no…this is me and Vickie…we don’t girly squeal…we guffaw and snort and make rude comments. So there’ll be lots of that. And maybe I’ll be allowed to sleep…who knows? But there will be lots of food and a musical and hanging out with Tanya and Ethiopian food and maybe some SCIENCE and some art supplies and who knows what else.

But it’s Friday at least, and although I will get absolutely no art made today, Saturday, or probably even Sunday, that’s OK, because I will be feeding the artist’s mind with all the experiences and laughter and goofiness and serious discussion that it needs to be what it is. To do what it does.

Plus I have Monday off, so I can catch up!

Who am I kidding? I will never catch up. Seriously, I have three assignments that need grading from last week, can’t hand any of them off to my TA because they’re too complicated, and I’m about to get four more today. Really I should take all my grading with me (not happening). Or I should stop assigning things.

I am looking forward to coming back and getting my focus on…it’s been off this week for a variety of reasons. I need to stitch down, sandwich, and quilt the two cancer hands. I need to stitch down (although it will probably fray like a bitch) the first of the recycled pieces and pick fabrics for the next one, because they are currently in piles in my living room. I need to start tracing Wonder Under for the Earth Mother from Ventura (seriously, I think that’s her name). That’s next week. Ha! Because I won’t have 7 assignments to grade, 2 soccer games, a union meeting, and god knows what else that hasn’t even hit me upside the head yet?

Yeah. Whatever. I can do it.

And I’m taking my sketchbook on the plane. I’m hoping to sit beside some conservative businessman and draw scary boobs with eyeballs in them. Wait a minute. I really do like that idea. I have not done that. How have I not done that?

Hey Vickie, can I sit at the breakfast table with your kids and draw? She’s gonna say yes.

Meanwhile, my FFAC donation quilt will be winging its way to a newish art quilter in Florida, while mine comes from Belgium…

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I’ll post pictures when it gets here. Could be a while. I can handle waiting. Then maybe I will hang art in the living room, ignoring the girlchild’s edict of no nudity. My house. My rules. Ha. Like that works.

In other cool news, Earth Stories is now traveling through the middle of 2017…

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It will be in Athens, Ohio, May 23-September 7, 2015; San Jose, California, November 6, 2015-February 28, 2016; Huntington, West Virginia, June 25-October 2, 2016; and Erie, New York, January 20– June 11, 2017. Plenty of opportunities to see it…I’m aiming for the San Jose one of course.

I fly places once or twice a year…my quilts? They get to go all over. Lucky beasts.

Hello Cornell…

April 25, 2014

Last week, the boychild and I visited Cornell University so he could make a decision about college for next year. He had said all along that he didn’t need to visit a college to decide, but hey, when reality is staring you in the face and it’s a few thousand miles away, then apparently you change your mind.

So I scheduled a last-minute trip during his (and my) Spring Break and their Cornell Days. I watched the weather and was a little freaked out about snow being forecast, especially since we were flying into Syracuse and driving to Ithaca (cheaper). We got into Syracuse (and Ithaca) pretty late. Luckily, I’ve realized that all college towns in the East have the same pizza place that delivers (yes, even to hotel rooms) late at night.

The next day, we ventured out into the rain to the registration area and a class and an info session and lunch and the bookstore, but it was nasty wet rain (I actually bought an umbrella, it was so bad…I know. I’m from Southern California and my old umbrella had BROKEN way back in January or February and I hadn’t replaced it because I DIDN’T NEED TO. I realize my entitlement). I took zero pictures during the rain, mostly because it was so wet and then it got cold, dropping about 40 degrees from the morning to the late afternoon. So ALL of these are from the next day. Well, except this lovely photo, taken from the (crappy) hotel room window when I realized it was SNOWING. Yes, I don’t get out much.

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It’s not even sticking at that point. We actually went out in that to find a local brewpub for dinner.

The boychild doesn’t like to write his name…in fact, I have no problems posting this online, because you can’t even read it (OK, not really).

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He did wear this, but under his jacket. OK, wait, I lied. I did take pictures at Buttermilk Falls State Park, where we went before dinner, just to get a walk in. It was bloody freezing and snowing and absolutely different from what he’s used to here at home, and gorgeous.

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I’m not sure you can argue with any of that. Certainly, visits to see him at college will be fun. Although I might avoid some of the snowier months.

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To many of my readers, this style of house and yard is probably very familiar, but San Diego doesn’t do it this way.

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The next morning, we headed back out to campus to wander around in NON-rainy weather. This I believe is one of the cooperative houses on campus…there were a few of them. At this point, there were some brief snow flurries, but mostly it was just a pretty (and bloody freezing) day. I managed to keep my nose from freezing off my face, but only barely.

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Boychild acknowledged that he might need gloves and better shoes for next year. He wore short sleeves the entire time we were there, but the jacket I bought him for Christmas was entirely the right move.

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There’s a lake on campus (it’s not very big, but it’s cute) and a bridge going over the river that exits the lake…

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The falls were very impressive in the morning…

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He was kind of amazed by the color of the water and the walls of the ravine on each side.

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I was kind of amazed by the ice…

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And the tree icicles.

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Towards the bridge we walked over in the rain yesterday.

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I know. Not much snow.

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This time, we just wandered around to get a feel for the place when water wasn’t sluicing into your eyes.

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He likes it. He says it’s pretty.

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And it has its own art museum.

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Lots of old buildings that remind me of going to school in Wales.

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With Spring just around the corner.

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We ate in there the day before…the bathrooms looked like something out of Hogwart’s, and there was a library with lots of soft chairs and tables, a really old library, that I was too lame to take pictures of…

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Part of the student housing is down this big hill…so I made him walk down it…

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Looking back up at the main campus…

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So he could then experience walking back UP that hill. Definitely a good exercise option if you have to do that a few times a day.

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The weather stayed nice (but still freezing!) the whole time we walked around.

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When we were done exploring (he had decided…he needed no more exploring), we headed off for Syracuse…driving the Bob Nida (my dad) way: If there is a two-line road running parallel to the main highway, then you should be on it, because it is more interesting than the main highway.

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Plus, it has more cemeteries (I warned the boy that I like these…he has experienced my cemetery habit before)…

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And the trees and blue skies with the snow made it quite lovely…

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Meanwhile, back in San Diego, it was SO HOT (per the girlchild)…

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It was in the 80s.

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Certainly a temperature difference.

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We had some time when we got to Syracuse, so we went to a local lake…

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Where fish were dropping from the sky…

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And geese were squawking…

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and trees were falling in the lake…

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More icicles (things I NEVER see).

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Anyway, the goal was to help him decide and it worked, and now I know where he’ll be for probably the next 4 years, so that helps me be less freaked out by it. Besides, I figure he’ll WANT to come back to Southern California after 4 years of freezing his butt off…and it gives me a good excuse to go out there and hike some new trails.