All About the Rocks

Wow. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting in years. In my defense, my cellular connectivity has been iffy as hell, if not nonexistent, for much of this trip, and when I did have it, I was busy doing something else or totally exhausted after hiking over 11+ miles a day. I realize that’s not much to some, but this old body has been running on little sleep, weird food options, and lots of climbing around for days now.

Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

That said, it’s been freakin’ awesome…a mind-blowing trip of all the different geologic formations you can get in two states (Arizona a little, but mostly Utah). I think we both decided while huddled in the tent last night during a rainstorm that we were done with camping on this trip, though, as we pinky-swore to wake the other one up if we heard thunder, so we could race to the car before lightning hit the aluminum connectors of the tent. Or the ground.

First night checking out Zion…

So this is the short version. We left last Wednesday on a long drive to Zion National Park. We originally had a reservation for the east side of the park, but they closed the road going through on April 9 to fix storm damage this winter, so I found a weird but functional place on the west side in La Verkin about a week before we left. It had a kitchenette and shared barbecues, so we used those (yes, even for pre-hike breakfasts of sausage and eggs). It’s Spring Break for about a million people, quite a few of them from other countries, and they all had the same plan for visiting Zion. We went in to the park that night to plan the hikes for the next day. We also did the Archeology Trail as a warm up for the next day…and saw our first wildlife.

Mule deer everywhere…

We got our butts up early and headed out to garner a spot in the coveted Visitor Center parking lot (you don’t wanna know how early), and then caught a shuttle to a hike I said I’d never do: Angel’s Landing. It was still morning cool, which is a good thing, because that climb and the Walter’s Wiggles with 21 switchbacks (it didn’t seem like that many) is not something I would’ve wanted to do in hot sunlight. We didn’t do the last stretch that’s single file and a chain attached to a rock wall, but we did go all the way to Scout Lookout. Some might call that chickening out…I don’t care…we did awesome.

Looking down from Scout Lookout…

From there, we caught the shuttle and did all the things we wanted to do…part of the Pa’rus Trail, the Lower Emerald Pool Trail (Upper and Kayenta were closed due to storm damage), Weeping Rock, and the Riverside Walk out to where The Narrows starts (also closed, because the water flow was high from Spring melt and rains). At that point, we’d had it with crowds of people and their bad tourist behavior. The Angel’s Landing crowd understood trail etiquette and were amazing…the shorter hikes? OMG. People. Really. So we headed back to our domicile and another barbecued dinner. We did a lot of miles that day…my app says over 14 miles that day total.

Waterfall at Weeping Rock

Friday found us driving to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we camped outside the park, because everything else was first come, first served, and we didn’t want to risk having nowhere to stay. The campground at Ruby’s Inn was quiet and the showers were free and hot, and it wasn’t as cold at night as it was originally supposed to be, but it was still pretty damn cold. We got there pretty early on Friday and set up camp, and then headed off to Bryce to check it out. I’m glad we did, because we saw a bunch of the easy stuff on Friday, thus allowing us to do a really long hike on Saturday without feeling like we had to then go look at everything else. There was snow at Bryce, most recently from like 3 days ago.

See? Snow.

Sleep was not our friend Friday night; it was just too cold. Nevertheless, we got up early again and headed out for the Fairyland loop, which goes down into Bryce and wanders around, then climbs back out (oh yes, at elevation No Oxygen for You), and then traverses the Rim Trail back to the Fairyland parking area. Wow. Great hike, but we did way more than the 8 miles it claimed.

Down in the amphitheater…

We figured a better sleeping plan on Saturday night (towels on top of the air mattress to stop the cold seeping up from the ground, even though we had a tarp that was supposed to help with that, plus three layers of clothing, and wool socks, dammit, because cold feet were an issue the night before), and got out of bed early again, expecting (rightly so) a long driving day.

I have absolutely no idea what this is a picture of, but it was on Sunday.

We made it through parts of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument and then Capitol Reef National Park, and finally headed into Arches National Park in the late afternoon, where we actually had a reserved site. At this point, it was Easter night, and there was no firewood or alcohol to be had (both useful for keeping moods light after a long hard day of driving, plus trying to pound tent stakes into hard rock), so it was not the best night, but the morning dawned ready for a day of hikes. And hike we did.

Double Arch in Arches National Park

We were camping in Devil’s Garden, so we started on that hike, although we turned around at the rock scramble where I was like um no way, can’t do that. So we then drove through the park, stopping at just about every possible sight, attempting one longer hike at Park Avenue (way too hot in between the rocks). We made a quick trip into Moab for alcohol, ice, gas, and firewood (the necessities), but then continued on to see the rest of the arches and other bits. We made it back to the campsite, and set out on a trail marked by rock cairns to see three different arches. I think that was what put us over 11 miles that day. Awesome views though and mostly avoided stupid people.

Crazy drive at night in the rain…

We had decided to treat ourselves with dinner out (there’s only so many camp meals we know how to make before wanting to drown ourselves) , so we headed into Moab for burgers and beer (or wine, as you prefer). On the way back, in the pitch black, a rainstorm wandered in and we white-knuckled the drive all the way through the park to the campground, watching lightning strikes out there in the clouds. The campground was dry as a bone, until about 5 minutes after we arrived, when the raindrops started…and then the wind. Holy crap, everything in the car or the tent, no fire tonight! In the end, we were so tired from the day of hiking that we went to bed, no thunder ever sounded, and we slept really well. Not too cold, just right, so tired we didn’t mind any of it.

Monument Valley

There was no cell service in our campsite (further up the hill had it, but they also probably had a rougher night with the wind and the rain), so we had mapped some ideas out at dinner in Moab. Canyonlands was a possibility, but in the end, we decided to brave the crowds at the Grand Canyon. We left Arches this morning and drove through Monument Valley (we didn’t go through the actual park…that’s for another trip) on our way to Tuba City, where we actually booked a hotel room. With a shower. Because there weren’t any in Arches and I think we really needed that. So we’re clean now and have a crazy plan for tomorrow, I had my Indian Fry Bread and retraced the most recent embroidery…more about those and the daily (almost) drawings in another post. Grand Canyon tomorrow and then heading back home. It’s been a whole lot of wow and hiking our old asses off, but I think it’s been an amazing trip so far. We have a pact for tomorrow to leave the park when one of us feels like pushing someone over the rim. We know this will be just a quick view of the park, and we’ll plan another trip later.

I have graded nothing. I have dealt with very little email, due to lack of access. The world is still rotating, though, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve Placed Faith in Geography*

I’m on hold. This is not a philosophical statement, although sometimes life feels that way, eh? I’m on hold with my online prescription service because there’s been a problem with putting things in my cart, and I feel like that’s kinda rude on their part, judging my ability to pay for my meds, so I’m calling to fix that shit. Oh yeah, they’re not fixing that shit. They want me to clear my cookies, and I don’t do that for just anyone, assholes. The nice woman who is the interface between me and the web folks says that THEY say if I clear my cookies, it will only affect their website. OMG you fucktards. So untrue. Absolute bullshit. Sigh. So the other option is that I call back the next time it happens. Great. So that will be in weeks. Someone remind me to do that and have the TIME to call in and walk through something like that. Not happening on a school day, is it. It’s OK, I can order meds by calling, but they ask all these questions and want responses and I just don’t want to deal with that crap. Especially before tea.

Well good morning all! It is the last day before Spring Break, hallelujah, and I am ready for it! Nope. I’m not. Not at all. I did work my butt off yesterday and created all the posts we need for the project when we come back from break. And realized I hadn’t copied one thing that we needed. Oops. Fuck me. Then I delivered my quilts to the photographer, so I should have those back in the next few days. Deadline met! Then I headed out to San Diego Mesa College for the opening of Subterranean…here’s me and Grace Gray-Adams with our respective pieces.

As another friend said, they put the person who makes lint and the person who uses lint together. Nice. I had good feedback from people…so no one came up to me and said they hated them, which is always a plus.

I did have an interesting conversation about thread and holes from the needle with one man, who knew a lot more about sewing than most men (or even people) do. This show is only up until the 25th. That probably means I will need the boychild to pick up the pieces, because I might not be back yet. I’m not sure I have pickup info yet. One more thing for the to-do list. Sigh.

I was exhausted by the time I left the show. I came home and read for a while, then exercised, and then tried to be functional. This is an issue right before break. I’m mentally done and my body keeps telling me how tired it is. Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to get everything figured out for our trip. The plus is that the nighttime temps in Bryce have come up 10 degrees (still not enough). The minus is the snow has increased.

Well OK then. I’m going to obsessively watch this for the next week. I’m hoping it stays 28 and the snow goes away, but this is better than it was. Although 30-mph winds during the day is also an issue. Apparently the road is currently closed because of trees down on it. Worrisome. I think we’re camping under trees. IT WILL BE FINE. Dad came through on a passport holder that I can shove under all my clothing that is the right size to hold all my diabetes crap so it doesn’t freeze. As long as I have blood running through my core, that is. Which is the ultimate goal.

The man, meanwhile, is totally excited and hyped and into all this trip stuff, so he can go pack and organize everything while I race around with the to-do list and grading. Uh huh.

I do need to finish a drawing before I go, at least…if not start tracing. Last night, I managed to cut a piece of paper out that is the right size for that. That was all. Then I worked on the first embroidery for a while.

So far, so good. I’m using chain stitch and backstitch so far. I’m also keeping track of stitching time, because I want to know how much time I’m using (a lot more than you would think) for whatever I get out of it. Anyway. It’s also relaxing and meditative.

I’m already nervous about how much thread I’m using. I can only use what’s on the bobbin. It seems like a lot? But not? We’ll see. If I weren’t limited to 5 colors, that would be fun. So far, it seems to be turning out OK though.

OK, so survive day, which includes a talent show (ugh). Escape room with coworkers tonight (seems ironic in some way). Come home and attempt to function. Ha! Finish all the things on the to-do list before Wednesday at 6 AM (double Ha! So not happening.). Enjoy trip. Do not freeze to death, have low blood sugar three miles out on a trail, or break a leg. Or crash. Do NOT call Emergency Services. Have a good time! Finish my book. Or books. Stitch a bit. Draw a lot. Hike a lot. Take cool pictures. Don’t hang out with any 12-year-olds. At all. OK, that might not work. Campgrounds tend to have 12-year-olds. I’m gonna try though.

*Death Cab for Cutie, Gold Rush

I Couldn’t Hide from the Thunder in a Sky Full of Song*

I didn’t really disappear over the weekend. I just worked a lot. On everything. There’s significant progress, but I don’t feel relaxed. I’ll get there. I have most of my taxes done, except for one large task that I’m about halfway through doing. Teacher expenses. Pain in the ass to collect. But I need every penny. I got through grading all the makeup work, although as soon as I input everything, the kid emails started. Because they don’t believe it will be graded until it’s graded. So then they email me and tell me how they’re gonna fix things tonight, and I’m like, well, that sucks to be you for progress reports, because I’m done grading makeup work until next weekend, sweet thang.

Then we started trying to figure out our trip, beyond the panicked moving of one place to stay…mucho debate about the next place, because it’s cold. And snow. Or sleet. But definitely cold. And ice. And we are from sunny Southern California and do not do either of these things well. We knew we both wanted hiking pants anyway, and we had our REI dividends plus a coupon, so we headed out. And bought some warm stuff too. Plus went to my parents and found the sleeping bags and the tent we used two years ago (rain flap!)…and of course, we set up the tent in the living room, to see if the air mattress would even fit, because it never went in this tent…

And it does fit…so does the cat…

But it’s pretty tight…mostly because when it’s inflated, it’s pretty tall, and the sides of the tent go in, and it would be an issue with rain. Or sleet. Or maybe even snow…I don’t know, because I don’t think I’ve ever camped in snow. That’s probably not true. But I’ve blocked it out if I did, and now I’m old and the snow thing is really throwing me.

I was OK with the tent, but the man was not and went online and got something we could put two coolers, a fan, a chair, and a television into (not really, something about a guy in Louisiana and a storm, but the tent was fine). So that’s managed. Mostly. We need clothing that ranges from 72 degrees down to 20 degrees. Fun stuff. At the moment, the man is looking forward to this trip and I’m a little apprehensive. I’ll be fine. Just not right now. Right now, I have too much on my plate. I was trying to get shit done yesterday and he kept coming in to show me maps and pictures and other stuff, and I’m like, this is more than a week away I’m panicking about stuff for tonight please ok fine just say it and then I’ll make a noise that sounds like I get it and then I can work on what I’m working on which is due before we leave. Deep breaths.

I tried quilting Saturday before my art meeting (where I got more things to do), but the machine was being a cranky nasty bitch. There were a few of these…

And a whole ton of broken thread. I switched the needles, the position of the spool, rethreaded about a million times, put the sewing goo on the thread. Sigh. I came back and quilted some more at night, and it still refused to behave. It wasn’t until Sunday that I figured out that it wasn’t on the right setting for the foot I was using. I don’t know why it wasn’t…it was the last thing I did. I think? Whatever.

After that, she worked like a dream. Mostly.

Sunday, I pulled it off the machine, even though it wasn’t done, and went and bought the binding fabric, because I knew I wouldn’t have time later this week. Like today.

And then I came home and did more grading and cook prep and taxes and organizing and grocery shopping and I don’t even remember what else.

After dinner, I quilted. And quilted…

And somewhere around midnight, I finished quilting…

Almost 6 hours. Did you know that not last week, but the week before, I did 20 hours of artmaking? While working? I think that was the week I was sick too. My weeks have been nuts. But she’s quilted. Tonight I can get the binding on. I might even finish early. I have to deliver two to the photographer. I should email him. I said I would. OK, done. Emailed.

And then the next one needs to get drawn, but you won’t see that one. You might see these getting done…

Although not until this binding is done. I have six to do. That’s a lot. I might let friends do some of them, once I’ve done one. We’ll see.

I miss this kid. She hasn’t sent me a photo for her graduation announcements. I’m thinking of using this one.

She’s a Leo, in case you were wondering. She really is a Leo too. I’m a Pisces, but sort of atypical. I live with a Capricorn and a Cancer. I’m not counting the dogs and cats. OK, well, I’m going to continue to pray to the no-snow gods and to try to finish shit and exercise and read my book and not panic too much and keep my cool with the kids who are gonna tell me It’s Not Fair for whatever reason. Did I mention grading All the Things? Gonna do that too. Oooohhhhmmmm.

*Florence + the Machine, Sky Full of Song

Back.

I’m back. Ready for school? Well, no. But I’m going anyway. My blood sugar is trying to figure out what time zone I’m in. It’s massively confused. I fed it, hoping that would help. Really I should be wide awake right now, being three hours ahead, but I’m still recovering from traveling, I think. Why sitting on a plane is exhausting? No one knows. Actually, there are probably multiple scientific studies about it. None I have time to read right now!

I miss the girlchild already. I guess it’s easier when I don’t see her all the time to forget that I miss her. But I do. She’ll be home for a little while over Winter Break…but that’s always a crazy time of year. Then I’ll see her at graduation. Then who knows when…

So there’s that. My cat was very happy to see me…slept with me all night. Haven’t seen the dogs yet…that’ll be later today. I suspect the man who lives here also missed me…

So three days of school before a short break. I can handle that, right? I hope so.

So Monday, girlchild had classes almost all day, so I headed into Boston to go to the Gardner Museum…it had a small weaving exhibit, which included this piece by El Anatsui, and some other cool work as well.

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I didn’t really know what to expect from the palace side of the museum. I only knew it because of the art that had been stolen. It was interesting…

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I walked along the water for a bit afterwards. Honestly, it was a bit chilly out.

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So I drove to Cambridge to this fabric/yarn/maker place. It was cool…

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I didn’t buy much…just a few fabrics that caught my eye and a small embroidery pattern.

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Life in a college apartment is always loud, it seems. Mine was not so…although the year I spent in Britain was a bit. I shared a floor with all guys, though, and they don’t impulse-cook like women do. I cut out quilt pieces while they made pumpkin vegan (were they?) chocolate chip cookies.

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Tuesday, girlchild sacrificed two classes to take me to the New England Quilt Museum, where I got to see Salley Mavor’s work for the first time in person…plus Susan Carlson, who came to my guild, and a SAQA show. So that was cool.

We were both tired and it was pouring rain. So we went back to the apartment and I cut out pieces while she watched a French movie for class.

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I would sit at the window and watch squirrels all day if I lived there.

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Getting on the plane was a piece of cake…no line anywhere. And the plane was almost empty. I had a whole row and more. And when the in-flight entertainment wouldn’t work, they comped me internet, so I watched Stardust on Netflix while stitching. This was after reading most of a book.

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I was missing the eyes on the owl (whoops) and the hut instructions were in Block 3, which I didn’t have (I hate it when she does that), so then I worked on the giraffe…

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So I need to find this guy some eyes so I can finish him, and then find the Block 3 instructions so I can finish the hut.

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Preferably before Saturday, when we drive to Arizona for an opening. I should be able to handle that.

So. School. Cutting more pieces out…hopefully getting them done and sorted before we leave Saturday, so I can iron a whole quilt together next week, AND quilt it and bind it (sounds impossible from here). But first kids. Yeah.

All Good Things Are Wild and Free*

Including Walden Pond on Veterans Day. Yes, I am still here in sunny Massachusetts. It’s OK…it won’t be sunny for long. And sunny means cold. Although pouring down rain is probably also cold in my perspective, being from sunny Southern California.

We went to Walden Pond yesterday, which was cool…although it’s a pretty big body of water for a pond in my mind. Like Thoreau, dude, this is a small lake…so now I’m wondering where the line is between a pond and a lake, and then I’m realizing I just taught landforms at school and I really should know the difference.

Meditative girlchild (or something else…possibly just tired)…

This was near the foundation of the tiny little house he lived in for 2 years. No way dude. Could not have done that.

Apparently all the fall color fell down about 4 days ago, but there was still some here.

Fall is remarkably pretty. Leaves and all.

There’s a replica of the tiny house. Seriously claustrophobic. Sure, you have nature outside and all, but in the middle of winter, I want a couch to loll about on and room for a big dog or two.

I guess they put the replica up by the visitor center so everyone can see it…rather than having to walk almost halfway around the pond. It probably doesn’t take long to walk around the pond. It’s only 1.7 miles. We might have gone that far. Hard to say. We went out and back.

After that, we watched the Brandeis men play soccer…’twas cold. I stitched. Just like in the old days. Sitting on bleachers, wrapped up in fleece, warm boots on, freezing my hands off. I gave up on stitching in the last 10 minutes…because my fingers were no longer working.

It was 33 degrees or so. And then I watched indoor soccer and stitched, although this is definitely a picture of the girlchild half dead on the floor while other people play soccer.

It was much warmer in there. And I can’t really explain this.

Otherwise, I’ve been grading some stuff on and off, reading a lot, hanging out, and trying not to think too hard about school…which is somewhat easy, because when I come back, I only have 3 days of teaching before break. Awesome stuff.

*Thoreau

Let Me Enfold You*

I’m excited! The 2019 official Spring Break vacation is booked! We’ll even have no showers for a couple of days! Oh boy! I like showers. I do. Especially when hiking and camping. But I’ll live. It’s Utah this time…we tried to stay in one place a bit longer than last time, although last time, there were a couple of campsites that I was glad I didn’t have to stay there more than one night. Anyway. It’s done…although the tent caterpillars in Zion are keeping us out of the campsites there, and you can’t book Bryce in advance, so we’ll only actually be IN one of the National Parks to camp. It’s OK. We will survive. Looking forward to lots of rock and probably freezing my ass off at night. It’s a good thing I’m bringing my own personal space heater.

I also booked the girlchild home for Winter Break, which is nice. Now I just need to get my parents to answer email so I can book her graduation trip. I have no idea what full name my mom has on her drivers’ license. Can’t book a flight without that. Like does she have her real middle name that she never uses? Or her maiden name as her middle name? Or what? I don’t know. I never changed my name when I was married, so I don’t know what people do. Honestly it’s a practice I’ve never really understood, so there’s that.

Anyway, trip progress was made. That’s all that matters.

What did I do all weekend? I did go to see the Visions opening at the Visions Art Museum. There were some interesting pieces in the show. I always recommend it. I also graded a bunch of stuff and traced a lot of Wonder Under, like 6 hours’ worth or so. All good.

But what it looks like HERE is a lot of piles of Wonder Under…which is not very exciting for YOU, but it is for ME. This was Saturday night…I had almost 4 yards traced…

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Piles of done yardage…

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Three dogs refusing to be photographed. Or to lie in the same place…

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More yardage on Sunday!

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I’m done with the main figure…I’m doing the water contrails or whatever you wanna call them.

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I’m in the second to last of them, around piece 820…so another 170 pieces to go.

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I seriously considered doing those last night, but the clock (and my teacher brain) told me no. Fun stuff. So now you know what I’ll be doing tonight.

OK, this song was on what I was binge-watching yesterday…and I remembered how much I loved it when I was young…

So now you get to listen to it.

*This Mortal Coil, Song to the Siren

Hope

Blargh. Yup. Made it home. Functioning on very little sleep, due to small puppy thing asshole who doesn’t know how to let things move around at night without barking his head off. Kitten finally came down off Batting Mountain because her mommy was home. She whacked the crap out of her substitute parent while I was gone. Ahhh, calicoes. They are the devil incarnate sometimes.

The boychild has officially graduated. He is no longer a student. Now he is an unemployed wayward adult child (he really isn’t the wayward one) who hopefully will solve all his transportation problems today (the state of New York is truly anal about its car registration process), pack up all his shit, clean his apartment because all his roomies have left, and eventually head out to see his sister and maybe even come home. I don’t expect him soon, which is good, because I need to clean up all the quilts on his bed. I’m really proud of him for getting through 4 years at Cornell and hope he eventually figures out what to do with his life, although I have never been the best role model for that, for sure. Save the world! Cure cancer! You promised when you were 10 to build me a robot that would clean the house…WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE THAT YET???

Girlchild is back in WALTHAM…she doesn’t live IN Boston, just near it…she has a few summer jobs, the major one starting on Monday. She’ll be busy, for sure. She’ll be home for a week in August…long time away, but we saw her this weekend. She was the main cook, which was nice.

I have early stuff at school every day this week. I have a quilt that’s at the photographer for a show I’m entering later this week. I have another quilt that probably can’t get done in time…but I’m going to try. I also tried grading all those kid videos, but had absolutely shit WiFi in Syracuse Airport and on the plane this time, so I was unable to get any work done all that time…which is frustrating, because really right now, it’s either work on school stuff or the quilt, and I obviously couldn’t trace Wonder Under on the plane. So there we are. I’ll get through whatever I get through…as always.

So here was our dinner and post-dinner gathering every night, which explains each one of the 40 or so mosquito bites I have…although most of them seem to be ankle biters…

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Here in San Diego, our mosquitoes bite all over…so I find that intriguing.

Yet another of the awesome waterfalls we saw around Ithaca…this is Taugannock Falls.

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We didn’t have time to hike down, unfortunately. We had to be out of our rental place and people were slow-moving, so we went back and saw this tree fungus for the first time (it had obviously been there all weekend)…

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And then we separated. My ex went home to the Boston area with the girlchild (some worry about the car, we suspect, although he claims one-on-one time with her…also a plus), boychild went back to his apartment to figure all the packing and cleaning out, and I drove the parentals back to Syracuse, where we sat in an airport for a while…

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Wishing I could get work done. It was an efficient trip back…just enough time in Philly to grab food and get on another plane, where I couldn’t work even more, so I read a lot. Which is fine…

As we started to land in San Diego…

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I did one drawing on the plane, but it’s way over THERE and I don’t feel like getting up and photographing it right now.

Damn, my right eyelid is twitching like crazy today. I basically got home and had a glass of wine to shut my brain up and tried to go to sleep…about 17 times. Ugh. I’m tired. But happy for the kid. I’m sure NOW WHAT is looming large in his brain…hell, it looms large in my brain on a regular basis. I hope he has a cool and mostly trouble-free drive home, and gets to see lots of interesting stuff. I hope I survive the last three weeks of school and grades and finish that quilt. I hope the girlchild finally gets to move into the house where she’s living for the next year and she likes her new job and being able to eat something besides rice. I guess that’s the theme of today then…hope.