Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

knitting projects

DSCN13632.jpg Email me


Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

book tour

knitting projects


go here

Email me

« August 2004 | Main | October 2004 »

25 posts from September 2004

VacationSeptember 29, 2004

So here’s the sitch: I gave my month’s notice at my apartment.

I have done something either incredibly smart, or infinitely stupid. We’ll just see. My realtor thinks the lender is happy with me, and that I’m getting funded, and that I’ll be a homeowner in less than a week and a half.

I’ll believe it when the key is in my hand.

But today is the last day of the month. If I don’t give my notice today, then I lose over a grand in another month’s rent. As I can barely afford toilet paper right now, that’s not the best option. If I really do get the condo (o joy), then I’d like to be out of here on November 1st, not December 1st.

My realtor said I should give notice. She trusts her lender. She also trusts me, apparently, since I’ll be moving in with her family if this all falls through. I didn’t tell her that, of course, but I’m sure she won’t mind. I won’t get in the way. They won’t mind the cats....

Jeesh. I feel, I feel.... I feel too much and too scared, and in situations like that I tend to just shut off, shut down. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m pre-writing this so that it posts at the moment I’m picking Em up at the airport. And then, peeps, I’m not blogging for a week. I mean it this time. I DO! I know I always say that, and then I pop in for just a few minutes which turns into fourteen paragraphs. Not this time. I might not even check email. Just fancy! I’m just going to be ferrying our Em around, showing her this grand place I live, eating, drinking, knitting, and being happy. Like we were in School Products in New York:


ArtFibers, here we come. (Hey, speaking of ArtFibers, who were the two Canadians who came in the store and knew who Kira was through my blog? Fess up! I thought that was cool.)

And Mom and Bethany are coming in to town on Sunday night, so it’ll be a partay! I can’t wait. It’ll be good to have my brain switched off for a little while – La’s been doing a good job distracting me (ahem) and Em will do a good job, too. A different job, to be sure. (Stop it. This is how rumors start. Bad bloggers.)

I’ll miss you. Mwah!

Give InSeptember 28, 2004

Best cell-phone quote heard recently:
“That’s such a waste of a perfectly good trip down the Amazon!”

I came THIS close to spinning around and demanding to know more. What a stunning sentence. But I was in the grocery store, and I needed to buy a metric ton of ice cream. And how. You know that feeling? It's when you need chocolate brownie ice cream with that caramel/butterscotch hot topping and you need it like ten minutes ago and god forgive the little old lady who cuts in front of you in line because there is NO mercy shown even if she is wearing the most fabulous yellow fluffy duck slippers you've ever seen. I put it off all day Sunday, and it wasn’t until the evening when I finally had to give in. Moral? Give in earlier. Works for many things, says I.

I don’t actually have a metric ton of ice cream. A simple half-gallon is all. Well, considerably less by now. But if anyone in the Bay Area needs eggs, would you please let me know? I was supposed to bring three dozen hard-boiled eggs to the run site on Sunday morning. What I didn’t tell you was this: I didn’t run on Sunday. It was only an eight miler, and I chose instead to feel the pain of my shin splints. Not that they’re much worse than they ever are, which is to say they’re painful, but nothing out of the ordinary, but I was on VACATION. And there was a GIRL involved. And the lack of a POT. See how large letters increase the whinge factor? (Seriously, the biggest pot I own would comfortably boil about five eggs, or a quarter-bag of spaghetti. Shows you how much I know. It would have taken a LONG time to boil 36 eggs, no? Aren’t these grand excuses? I like ‘em all.) But I had already bought the eggs. They now overwhelm me every time I open the fridge door. Devilled egg, anyone?

Next Sunday is 20 miles, and I can’t escape that madness. The Divine Ms. Em will be in town for it, so she’ll be able to vouch for the gimpiness that will follow. [Dude, ants IN the keyboard are so not okay.]

Today is for cleaning (Em might not understand how friendly the ants are in the bathroom—I swear Oakland is just one big-ass anthill) and knitting. I’d love to finish up the Rowan sweater I’m workin’, and I’d also like to cast on something easy and small, like socks or something. I have a feeling I’m going to be knitting and talking a LOT in the next few days. O joy divine.

(Several links I'm loving: Iris does The Rachael, the Em, and models the new Iris Pose in her fabulous new sweater, Clairedelune. And Ryan writes the tell-all-end-all If You're Thinking About Blogging article. It's wonderful. Check.)

BrokeSeptember 27, 2004

Whew. Escrow is open. And I’m freaked out. They’ve already called me and said, “Don’t you have any more money? Anywhere? We thought you had more money....” Sigh. I DON’T have any more money. I really want Taco Bell right now, but I’d feel too guilty.

But I did go thrift-store shopping after opening escrow (because if I can’t have any fun a’tall, I’m not good for anything). And I so scored. Check:


50% wool, 35% silk, and 15% linen, this Old Man sweater is SO soft and light and warm. It’s way OMS (Old Man Style), so I lurve it. And if I end up hating it, it’ll be excellent stuff to rip and remake. I think it was a dollar ninety-nine.

And these:


$5.99 Docs, baybee. And they sparkle a little from the greenish/goldish paint. I like sparkle.

Okay, no more spending money. All right? I’ve got to save a little bit for when Em is in town. (We’ll be thrifty, darling, but we’ll still have FUN.) Instead, I’ll leave you with a pic of some free fun:


That’s Lala’s wonderful Miss Idaho, a five pound long-haired chihuahua (and I don’t want to argue about it). I tell you what, holding her makes you a rock star. Every single person who walks by wants to talk to you and ask you questions and tell you their stories. And if they don’t, they’re not human.

And La with the dog of her heart, Harriet:


These were taken at the Berkeley Old-Time music festival, at the free string-band contest. Did I mention I had a great weekend?

QuicklySeptember 26, 2004

It’s been a busy weekend, and this is just a note to say if I owe you an email, please hang on a bit. This vacation stuff is great, but I’m not getting anything done. Oh, but I’m having fun. And more fun is in store—my own Em will be here soon, and then NEITHER of us will be blogging much.

Oh, and woot! My offer on the condo of my dreams was really accepted! We open escrow tomorrow morning (Monday). I’m trying to remember that escrows fall through ALL the time (it just doesn’t seem right to pluralize that word: escrows. Huh). I’m trying not to get too excited until (if and when) the key is in my hot and sweaty nervous hand. But I’m letting myself dream a leetle bit more now. I was at a party last night eyeing their paint job....

I’ll just quickly give you one snippet of my weekend: Last night, I was sitting in the living room of a hundred-year old house realizing again that everything comes full circle. I have been in living rooms where music is being played a million times. Okay, almost a million. I was raised in the living room hearing Dad sing “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and thinking vaguely that it was a little strange—it wasn’t what the other kids were doing. We didn’t have cable. We read. We made things. We hung out with the grown-ups while they sang. And last night, I sat next to Lala at this house-warming party. She had her banjo, Alice had her guitar, and Jerry knew almost every verse of every standard folk song and played great guitar and harmonica. There were eight of us, and we must have sat around singing and jamming for a good two hours at least, jumping in with any words and harmony we could remember for Joni/Bob/Joan/Lucinda/Dolly/Alison songs. This was after the party had moved in from outside, leaving the belly-dancing rug out in the cold. It felt right. Y'know?

Hey, this Mary Gauthier album is insanely wonderful. Go have a listen. Mwah!

Tap tapSeptember 24, 2004

It's possible they're going to accept my offer on the condo I fell in love with yesterday.

I'm freaking OUT.

But okay. I'm brave enough to go into this. I am. I think.

Tap tap tap tap. Those are my toes tapping the wall. It's always more interesting for toes to tap walls, I think. They're so used to floors. Gets boring. (Speaking of toes, I just trimmed the cats' claws, and there was no blood anywhere, on any of us. It's just a damn good day.)

Tap tap tap tap.

A friend pointed out the other day that I'm:
1. Falling in love (well, I done fell, ackshally)
2. Buying a home
3. Training for a marathon
4. Finishing a novel (or I should be: get on it, Rachael!)

All at the same damn time. Holy cow. And I'm knitting a lot. I HAVE to be knitting a lot, don't I? If I weren't, I'd take up smoking again, I swear I would.

Have a great weekend, all. I'm going to be busy, and I'm going to have fun. I hope y'all do, too.

WishingSeptember 23, 2004

I just got back from looking at a condo. Lord, I was all a’flutter even before I opened the door (okay, my realtor’s brother opened the door because they NEVER let me use the keys. But I was hot on his leetle heels). I know the golden rule of house hunting is not to get your hopes up. But someone (was it Maggi?) pointed out that I’m strong enough to bounce back easily enough if I’m disappointed. This place, yes. I’ll let myself dream a little. It’s only a four-unit place, sixty years old, and small, and has a claw-foot tub and real wooden floors, and I could only keep about six balls of yarn in it (hello, ebay sale!), and my heart, mind, and soul feel happy and rested and good when I think about it.

But we’ll see. I’ll land on my feet (or stay on them here) just fine. Deep breath.

Lala likes her gauntlet whatchamacallits! They keep her warm at work! That makes me happy. She totally played hookie with me yesterday and we had one of those perfect unexpected days, wandering Telegraph and stepping over trippin’ kids from Marin, shopping for CDs and books, doing a whole lot of nothing and having a completely wonderful time. This is a fabulous vacation. Why have I never stayed at home for vacation before?

Well, that’s probably because I thought it would end up like today did—running errands all over Oakland, waiting in line at TWO smog check stations (oh, you’ve been randomly selected to go to a Test-Only station. Sorry you waited behind three cars for us to tell you that, but you have to go to Berkeley, good thing you brought your knitting), paying bills and cleaning up after ants (boy, are they messy when they throw their little ant-parties—all those teeny tiny beer bottles and spray cheese everywhere...). But yesterday totally made today’s errands worthwhile. (Along with the errands, I got to see Celia, who works at the same place Christy does. Go say hi to her. She's cool. And Christy gave me cookies! She's the BEST, I tell you.)

Yes, I Knit SometimesSeptember 22, 2004

I’ve been working on that Rowan Denim People cardigan which continues apace. I started it for Strawberry, so I’d have something to work on during the music and at camp, and I only have to finish the left front and make the right front, and I’ll be done. No pics, though, ‘cause they’re boring. It WAS totally fun to create a pocket within the work. Never done that before, don’t know why.

And Christy’s birthday present! No modeled shots, since I forgot to bring my camera with us when we went out, but the chair shall stand in, eh?


It’s the Yarn Harlot’s wonderful, incredibly easy pattern, found here. And the stripe is inspired by this fabulous poncho. I know, I was once a poncho mocker, too (and that’s just so fun to say; try it! Poncho mocker). And I still can’t see myself wearing one. I am just not That Cool. But Christy looked great in it. Take my word for it.


Don’tcha love a tassel? No, wait, it’s fringe. I always call it the wrong thing. (Yarn: Dale Sisik, 3 balls red, two black (they probably have real names, I just didn't keep the ball-bands because I'm like that, you know).)

And I gotta show you Lala’s gift. She’s one of those who feels the cold easily, and she works in a building where they keep the temperature at a comfortable forty-six degrees Fahrenheit, so she deserved these:


(Gauntlet patten: IK Winter 2003; Yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca, one ball made both gauntlets. Wait. Are they gauntlets? They might just be fingerless gloves. Whatever. I like to say gauntlet, too.)

Do you appreciate my fine duplicate stitch skills? Do you? Nah, I don’t either. Screw that. Yesterday I sent to Christy a picture of the first banjo I painstakingly duplicate stitched, and she confirmed what I believed—it looked more like the female symbol. Or a crop circle. Or a crop circle summoning female aliens. I ripped it out twice, swore a hell of a lot, and then just roughly embroidered that damn banjo on. The La was fun, though. And La IS fun. Have you noticed? I am smitten. Enamored. Charmed. And a whole lot of things I couldn’t put on a blog my mother reads.

Blushing off now.... Mwah!

** Late addition -- I rarely post quiz results, but this one is too deeply funny. It's a truly tasteless quiz. I love it. Thanks, Mindy!

Grover on X

Grover on Ecstasy

You're funny, you're loveable, you're entertaining,
you like to call yourself "Super
Grover!"--You're obviously on ecstasy.
But that's why we love you. Be careful, ok?

Which Sesame Street Muppet's Dark Secret Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Claw ThisSeptember 21, 2004

This is odd. I totally want to blog, but I’m having a hard time finding words I think interesting enough to place here. I’m not bored, I’m just content and happy and tired and relaxed, and while it’s wonderful to feel this way, it doesn’t make the best blog fodder. The cats are napping in the sun, no one’s peed today (well, not in any bad places, anyway), I have plenty of TiVo cued up for this afternoon—a private screening of Underworld, even though I heard it sucked, followed by Bend it Like Beckham, because it’s so cute. I’m learning how to duplicate stitch. I hate it, so far, thanks. But it’s far, far better than intarsia.

Squeamish? Spoiler here—stop now. * I need to trim the cats’ nails. The other morning, as Adah was walking over and around and over and around (and over and around) my head at four in the freaking morning, I flipped her off the pillow, as I often do. It doesn’t deter her in the slightest, but it makes me feel better. This time, though, I got a claw through my eyelid. All the way through. It wasn’t on purpose, it was just what she hit when she went over my head. I screamed. Loudly. When I was in the bathroom washing it, the soap went through my eyelid and burned my eye. Isn’t that deesgusting? Luckily, the claw didn’t hit the eyeball at all, and I’ve kept antibiotic on it for two days, and it’s almost all healed, but still. Please. I was mad at her for a whole day, and it wasn’t even her fault. Bad me. We’ve made up now, but then she escaped this morning and came back covered in mud, so we’re still glaring at each other a bit. Teenagers. What are you gonna do?

God, I’m back to having no words. Just wanna sit on the swing outside and look at the sunny day and think about knitting and eat chips. Happy.

BullSeptember 20, 2004

Oh, it’s good to be home. I’ve been running hard lately, literally and figuratively. Yesterday I woke up at 6:15am and started getting ready to go run in San Francisco. As I was padding around the apartment, I heard an odd noise. I thought, “funny, that sounds like rain. I know it’s NOT rain, so I wonder what it could be? A leak perhaps? A pipe trickling? A sprinkler left running? Strange, sounds JUST like rain.”

Well, yeah. It was rain.

Marama picked me up at 7am, and we drove into town. We got there really early, and sat in her warm, dry car, watching the runners gather in the dripping dark. She was a rock, I have to say. I kept making these little noises in my throat, small whines of discontent. I’m usually really good at staying strong, but yesterday I kept starting sentences like, “We could always make this run up later in the week....” and “Breakfast.... Mocha.... Bacon....” I was hoping she would finish the sentences for me and peel out of our parking spot, flying past those silly wet runners, laughing out our rolled-up windows.

But no. We slogged into the muddy meeting area and ran. I will admit it did not rain on us. It stopped when we started. But it was still sloppy and I give us twelve extra points (my own special scale of nothingness) just for not running away. Yesterday was a short eight mile run. I can’t believe I can type that, let alone think it. Shin splints hurt today, for some reason. Still frustrating, but I can manage.

It was sister Christy’s birthday yesterday! Hooray! At some point this week, I’ll get my camera out of my car and download the pics of her poncho that I made. She liked it! She really did! I was hoping she would... It’s only the second poncho I’ve ever made, and quite possibly the last, but I have to admit there was a small part of me that was covetous when I finished it. It’s red, with a black stripe for a border, black fringe, using the Harlot’s pattern. Couldn’t have been easier or quicker, and she likes it!

She wore it when we went to the Hootenanny yesterday. (I can’t believe my computer recognizes that as a word.) It was one of those Pretty Damn Hip afternoons in the City, at a warehouse/bar out in the back of beyond, behind the Giants stadium on the water. A bunch of bands were playing including the Whoreshoes, and you know I have rather a vested interest in them. I’d actually never seen them play, and I was really impressed. Even had I not known the very cute band member, they would have been my favorite of the day, hands down. And we got to eat hot links and drink beer and dance a little, and best of all (after the music, of course), there was a mechanical bull!


Okay, I look silly, but damn it, those are hand-knitted socks.

More house-hunting and bidding today, and I’m plumb tuckered out. Hey! Didja see, Cari got married? Whoo hoo! Remember when he proposed on their LOVEseat? I love a good ending.

Change Is GoodSeptember 17, 2004

I know, it couldn't be much further from the last skin, could it? But I'm feeling rather.... industrial. Industrious, no. But I'm lovin' hard on Oaktown. This is part of the freeway called the Maze*, and I drive under it every day. Something about that concrete makes me happy. More gray, for the skies that are coming. I am mad for fall and winter.

* This is another part of it:


At one point, there are eight different overpasses flying over and under each other. Modern-day buttresses, people. I love that I know where all the exits lead and how to find my way through and around the city streets, and I love flying on the top level, the 980 split to the 880, past the Greyhound station, looking left to the Oakland skyline and right to San Francisco lights. Home is good.


I didn't get the condo. Apparently they "accepted" two offers, and countered us both, asking for more money. I accepted the counter-offer, but the other party not only accepted but raised the amount offered. I'm second in line, should they fall through. I have to say, though, I don't even wish that their bid fails. When I woke yesterday and heard the message from my realtor, I was disappointed for a few minutes, thinking of that lovely street, and then I was completely okay with it. That whole zen thing I'm trying to do must be working out all right since I just mentally (and probably physically) shrugged and thought, okay. It wasn't the right place. (As Mariko said in a comment, "Aiyaaaa! Serenity now!!!")

Shucks, though. Why can't the right place just sit up and wave at me? Eh, the properties are frogs, and this is my frog-kissing time, I suppose. Ribbit.

Oh! I keep forgetting to advertise this:

Sunday, October 10th, 1pm
Temescal Cafe, 4920 Telegraph Ave, Oakland (next to Article Pract)

I already know there's gonna be a special guest appearance from a far-away blogger, so if you're in or anywhere near the Bay Area, mark your calendars. Nothing but fun, kids. (And it's not the Divine Ms. Em, since she's going to just miss that particular party. But I get her all to myself! Ha! I canNOT wait.)

Ribbit, ribbit. Off to look at another house. And just for you, pink sheep.

NamesSeptember 16, 2004

This whole sleepy thing? It’s like an extreme sport, only you don’t get sweaty or sore or Gatorade. This morning while driving home, I was making an extremely difficult turn (other people know it as “left”—I know it as "concentrate very hard right now”) and I almost turned in front of a white VW because it was white. Really. Somehow, the car didn’t count because it was so pale. Not a real car. Okay to turn left in front of.

I exaggerate a little, and the steering wheel didn’t even turn (that much), but I had that stupid-decision-immediately-followed-by-shocked-realization moment, where you blink rapidly and mutter things like, “jeez, sorry dude, tired, stupid, orange marmalade, TURN SIGNAL, MORON” at yourself. Then you make the turn and you iMEEjatly forget what just happened and you think only about the fact that you’re in LOVE with the new CD in your stereo. I am one of the six best multi-taskers in the world, but not when I’m that dang exhausted. I can drive. Or I can listen to music. Doing both at that point is not intelligent. But, eh. I’m training for a marathon. Talk to me about intelligent after December 12th. (Mom, I don't write things like this to freak you out, I swear I don't. I'm fine. I slept well today.)

The CD: It followed me home, I swear it did. It was on my doorstep when I woke up, and it’s totally my new favorite CD (I know I had a new favorite last week, but I have no problem with musical infidelity). It’s The Knitters Poor Little Critter on the Road. It was hard to move that rock I’ve been living under ‘cause it was heavy as hell, but finding out that X did a y’alternative album with Dave Alvin kinda blew my mind. And come on. The name of the band? That’s the reason it ended up on my porch. That and I must have done something very right to have warranted such an amazing Wednesday gift.

Let’s talk for a minute about the person who gave it to me, shall we? Let me introduce you to her, formally. Knitblog world (and other esteemed guests), this is Lala. Yes, that’s her name. It doesn’t actually say Banjo Girl on her driver’s license, as surprising as that might be. I gave her the nickname in haste, but it has become clear that she is more than that. As Banjo-Guitar-Fiddle-Accordion-LapSteel-Mandolin-
Harmonica-and-Vocals Girl is a little unwieldy, as she herself points out, from here forward she will be called by her name. It’s a good one, too. It took me a while, honestly, to get used to saying Lala: I wanted to throw an R into it somewhere, or I got stuck and landed on just one La and then just felt awkward, holding an extra la in my hand, trying to stick it behind my back where no one would notice, but it rolls off my tongue now.

(I just had a random memory of a boy I used to know. He didn’t want me to know he was smoking one day when I saw him outside, so he put the cigarette behind his back.)

Enough for now. I promised myself some writing time, and then a run. And then perhaps coffee with said Lala before work, if I'm lucky. And tonight is my last night working for eighteen days! Yowza!

Little SleepSeptember 15, 2004

Man, am I tired. But for good reason: I went to bed about nine this morning, and then got up at 11:30 because the Whoreshoes were playing on KUSF and I wanted to boot up the computer and listen to the show in bed. Because I can. Because I have wireless. (I love that. Have I mentioned that?) I thought to my sleep-addled self that I could even listen to it in the backyard (if the backyard happened to be in my bedroom, that is, ‘cause I wasn’t moving). It was a good show. I’m glad I woke up.

And then I noticed my phone light was flashing—that signal that someone had left me a message while I was sleeping with the ringer off. It was my realtor. Number 111 liked my offer the best and were countering it for more money! Really, it’s a wonderful thing to hear, but it’s a hard thing to hear after two plus hours of sleep, because there’s that painful moment of realization: I’m going to really have to wake up now. I called her back, and we had to “crunch numbers” (I really hate that phrase), and according to my realtor, the amount they were asking will still be affordable on a month-to-month basis. Very important, that last.

So I had to get up, get dressed, brush my teeth and put on lipstick (because even in the Big One I’ll have to stop to put on lipstick), and drive up to Orinda to sign Very Important Things. Things so very important that the ridiculously high nature of the sums discussed made my brain sizzle and spark, causing small shorts. I think I owe a lot of money now? Huh-uh.

Then, of course, I came home and got back in bed with all intentions to sleep again, and with all knowledge that I was going to be very very very bad at doing so. I was. It felt like a meditation exercise where you attempt to gently clear your mind and the one thing you don’t want to think about keeps sneaking into your line of sight. I refuse to get (very) excited about this property. One: It might not appraise at the amount they want. Two: I might not get full financing. Those are very real blocks. I refuse to decorate in my mind, or plan packing and moving, or think about where the cat litter box would go. So I lay there, not thinking. And then poof! I’d think, I wonder where the desk would look best? And whammo! Wide awake again, saying to myself, No Thinking About It. It’s so very far from a done deal that it’s actually an undone deal. That’s nothing upon which to prop thoughts of where to store extra toilet paper.

So. Anyway. While I’m super excited this is where I am, I almost wish I had just woken up this morning, listened to some old-time music on the new-time radio, and gone back to sleep. I would be more rested. Lots to think about. Lots, lots, lots. Not thinking. Much.

One HaikuSeptember 14, 2004

Ali challenged me to write one haiku a day for a week. Now, that's just too much for me, especially since I've recently been hanging out with a well-known award-winning haiku writer. But I have one for today.

Cat pee on the floor,
Where are all the paper towels?
Shit, I must be out.

Lord have mercy. There are other, much better ways to start the day. This I know.

Today is the day the bid gets submitted to the owner of #111, the condo I really liked. I’m not scared this time, not even a little bit. I’m very, very curious and I’m excited to hear what’s decided. But this is, let me count, the fourth place I’ve bid on in the last three years (been in and out of the market twice before this time), and I think I’m getting used to it. Even if accepted, I know my credit score and savings are iffy enough that the loans might not go through, so I’m not going to marry a property in my mind until the key is in my hand. And then, get out of my way. It’ll be all about yellow and red paint. And pillows. And happy cat spots.

Until then, I’m happy to putter here in my beloved apartment. And because I finally got off my ass yesterday and did all my mountains of laundry, I have nothing I *have* to do today. Bills are paid. House is reasonably clean. I think I’ll work on the novel, maybe at a coffee shop, and then go for a (short) run. And then work tonight. It was supposed to be a 14 hour shift tonight, but it was shortened yesterday to 12, so I’m happy. 14 hours overnight on your first day back after the weekend is tough sometimes.

I just remembered something important! I believe I’m off for the next two weeks! I mean, it had popped through my mind a couple of times, but hadn't really registered. (I don’t know how I forget these things—an ex-girlfriend used to think I did it to spite her.) I’ll work four nights this week, and then I’ll have the next seventeen days off. This time it’s real vacation, something I signed up for at the beginning of the year with the full intention of being somewhere fabulous, Venice, or Cuba, but finances being what they are, I thought I would defer the weeks for use next year. Who would want to waste Time Off not going anywhere?

Me, it turns out. I can’t wait. I have many, many places I don’t need to go.

AndSeptember 13, 2004

It's also just completely weird that my shin splints hurt less today than they did last week after a three mile run. I do not get it. But I'm not complaining.

I Have Collapsed

Apparently what you do after running seventeen miles is rest, not go house-search, house-bid, work, and then on a date. This morning I had three cups of coffee followed by a two hour nap, just an hour after waking. I have now made it from the bed to the couch. Whoo hoo! Look at me go! I’m hoping to take a shower and go for a walk, because my muscles are screaming for me to move around and stretch them out, but I weigh approximately nine hundred and thirty-seven pounds today. It’s quite difficult to lug that around, if you were wondering. I had plans all day that were cancelled, thank god. I don’t think I will do anything that makes sense today, and being completely nonsensical, while fun for me, isn’t so fun for the people around me. I have plans for early evening but they’re fast and loose and I could easily end up watching the Amazing Race in real time. Oooh.

But if I don’t do laundry, I’m going to lose my mind. It’s in such a state that I considered going to the laundromat, just so’s I could get it all done in one two-hour stop, but if I do it at home I’ll be able to lie on the floor in between loads. It’s not like I even hurt that badly. Don’t get me wrong. I hurt. But it’s not the ginger-stepping, wanna-cry kind of pain that I had three weeks ago. These are just really sore muscles. But my strength has gone south, and I’m too tired to chase it. Maybe it’ll come back when it’s ridden some Ferris wheels and eaten enough cotton candy to make it happy. I’m too tired to entertain it myself today.

Until then, I think it’s a good bet I’ll be right here, on the couch, a cat on my stomach, the sliding door open to the gorgeous day outside, birds singing, traffic rushing, glad to be freaking Not Moving.

(And thanks for your congrats, darlings. They mean the world to me.)

17!September 12, 2004


I did it.

And honestly? Gazelleish. Most of it, that is. Miles 10-14 were pretty rough and rather painful. But when I hit fourteen (after not making fourteen 3 weeks ago) and knew I only had three left, I was good to go. Soooo happy.

After the run, four of us walked out into the ocean to chill our legs—miraculous, I tell you. We were flush with our success, as well, so we were four happy gals out there in the waves.

I canNOT believe I ran that far. Wacky, crazy stuff. Shit, this proves if I can run seventeen miles, anyone can. I don’t run. I don’t exercise. I’m a thirty-two year old ex-smoker with weak lungs (anyone remember me having pneumonia about six months ago?). You can do it. If you were out of your mind enough to want to, that is.

And after the beach, I went home, scraped the sand out from the blisters and from under my lifting toenails, took a good long shower, put clothes on, and went back out to meet Ghet, my realtor. We looked at four or five places, and wrote an offer on one. I’m zenning the house-search, by they way. What will be, will be. (The unit number of the one I wrote is 111, though. Hmmm.) I’m meant to be where I’m meant to be. That’s all I know. And I know if it’s less than seventeen miles away, I could run there. Well, tonight I couldn't. Tonight I think I'm a wee bit too tired to do it again. Maybe tomorrow.

Recap: I ran for four hours and fifteen minutes. I made an offer on a condo. Now I’m off to work for a few hours. It’s been a really fucking busy day. I’m going to sleep GREAT tonight.

Not Thinking About ItSeptember 10, 2004

I am tired. I had high hopes of entertaining you with photos of the vigil last night (but I’m sure you realize that even with my best intentions, candlelit photos mostly turn out blurry. There’s an artistic effect to that, but it’s obviously accidental, and therefore seems just silly). But this: It was beautiful, and I’m happy and proud Christy went with me. There were probably about 150 people there, standing in front of city hall (not bad for 24 hours notice), holding candles silently for forty-five minutes. Every race and age were represented. No one acted stupid. All the children were wonderful. I’m not sure if there was Benadryl involved, but they sat and held their candles and for the most part, just stared into the flames.

Oh, all right. I can hear you. I actually got up to get the camera to download the pictures. See how responsible I am? (If only that would translate to laundry. There’s still a camping clothes pile in my room, and it’s only getting higher by the day. Must. Do. Laundry.) Anyway, I did manage one okay shot of the vigil:


I had to sneak out just a few minutes early to go to work, which was located about a hundred feet behind the vigil, and I have to say, walking through the PD parking lot holding a candle, wearing a PACE flag wrapped around my waist felt good. Very, very odd. But good. I then became seriously annoying at work, I’m sure, because I brought over a bunch of voter reg forms and pretty much hurled them at people, but I’ll be damned if I’ll work with anyone not registered to vote. The women I work with are too smart to be missed on election day. But I’m sure they wanted to punch me in the snoot. “Yes, Rachael, I’m registered. Just because YOU realized you moved and hadn’t re-registered and had a minor freak-out in the grocery store the other day when it occurred to you doesn’t mean I’m an idiot as well.” Well, yeah. They didn’t say that, but they were thinking it. I could tell.

All right, I’m still tired. I don’t want to go in to work tonight. I think I’m over this whole work thing. You know those people who say, “If I won the lottery, I’d still work?” Nah. If I won the lottery (too bad I don’t play), I’d be happy to stay home and listen to music and write and knit and stare at bad TV. Happy, happy, happy. I get a hell of a lot done usually, but I am lazy at heart. Really, truly lazy, and I can feel the lazy blood singing to me today.

This weekend is going to be packed—hoping to see Banjo Girl tomorrow for at least a walk with dogs in the afternoon (she owns the two dogs I like best, which is handy), and then tomorrow night I Must Do Laundry if I have any shot at all at having any clothes to wear on Sunday’s run. Sunday’s run is seventeen miles.

Did you hear me? Oy. Seventeen.

I can’t even think about that. Having not completed the last long run (14 miles), I’m positively terrified. Out of my mind.

Not thinking about it.

Really. I’m not. See how much I’m not thinking about it (biting nails, tapping feet, twitch twitch twitch).

Here’s someone who’s REALLY not thinking about it. And he didn’t pee in the house today. Someone give us a gold star.


Really. A cat like that, purdy flowers, and knitting needles? That shot makes me happy. Happy weekend, all.

Whoo Hoo!

Look! The new Fall Knitty! I'm in mad, wild love with Zigzag. I mean, really. Could that be any more gorgeous? Veronik is a genius.

September 9, 2004

Just for info, darlin' Greta's just fine and teaching a knitting class. She's without internet connection, though, so she said she'll be right back with us as soon as she can....

Zorb This

Do you know Bush hasn’t attended one single funeral? Of more than a thousand, I’m pretty dang sure there was one in his area, at least once. But maybe he was just really, really busy. Bein’ prezident’n’all.

I have to go buy a candle. I realize the ones I have in the house have either melted in the sun (ew) or are small, smelly votives that work well for baths but not so much for vigiling. Dude. I HAVE to have a regular candle in here somewhere. Don’t I? That’s just poor disaster planning.

Hey (no spoilers), didja see The Amazing Race on Monday? I just have to tell you—that whole Zorbing thing? Where they throw you into a big inflated clear plastic ball and then throw water in on you so you splash around inside and then push you down an eNORmous hill?


Done it.

Christy and Bethany and I did it all together once in New Zealand—we clambered in and they asked if we wanted the “wash cycle.” We said no, and it was good we did, because if you say yes, they throw water with soap inside the bubble with you and you come out with more than just suds in your eye.... We bounced off each other and screamed all the way down the hill, and then birth-wriggled our wet way back out into the sun. The girls had already bungee jumped earlier in the week*, but I had been too freaked out to do it with them. This was more my speed. Awfully odd thing to do. Don’t know why I’ve never seen it here, but it might be because the Kiwis are CRAZY. But fun.

*That bungee jump was something else—they did it at Taupo, the highest jump over water in New Zealand (where you can choose to actually hit the water at the bottom—that’s just asking for trouble, if you ask me). Bethany REALLY wanted to do it. Christy was gung-ho. I was all about being the photographer. I know the edges of my chicken-shittedness, and this was one of ‘em. No shame in that. This is not them, obviously, but this is from the platform:


Christy, on her way off the platform, realized that she might want to change her mind. She later described it: “You know when you fall off something and then you hit the ground a few seconds later? Well, if you don’t hit the ground within a couple of seconds, your mind realizes that this is too big a fall and that you’re going to DIE.” She screamed like I’ve never heard screaming before. Seriously. No one had ever heard anything like it—even the employees were rather shaken before the hysterical laughter started. I kept snapping pictures her whole fall (and rise and fall and rise again). I need to find those. (Yeah, I can giggle, but had it been me, I probably would have had a very literal heart attack on the way down. I couldn’t have done it.)

And Bethany? Cool little cucumber? When she remembered she wasn’t wearing a bra, she just snapped her shirt back up with one hand and kept falling. Of course, we have that one on video tape. Heh.

Now go light a candle. Kay?

Do This, Tonight

More than 1,000 U.S. soldiers have now been killed in Iraq. 1,000 of our brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, moms, dads, sons, and daughters have given their lives in service to our country.

To honor them and reflect on the loss of their lives, Americans everywhere are organizing candlelight vigils.

I'll be at Oak and Santa Clara in Alameda at 8pm tonight. Where will you be?

A BreezeSeptember 8, 2004

New favorite thing about wireless: I can sit next to the screen door on the beanbag (after moving Adah, of course) and put my feet up on the coffee table. This rocks.

It’s still hot as hell here today. Well, heck. I just checked my pixie, and SHE says it’s only 72 degrees in Oakland. Strangely, I feel a little cooler now, even though I know she's a LIAR. It’s still too hot. I could never live in the midwest. I would kill someone for hogging the ice or sitting in front of the fan, I know I would.

On the cat front, Digit has stopped peeing, at least for today. Yesterday the bathroom was hit. Thank god for tile. We had a good long cuddle session today (he loves sleeping during the day with me—we hold paws) and he seems much happier. He’s got serious separation anxiety, poor thing. He’s used to me being gone nights at work, but he hates it when I leave town. You know I had to do THIS, right?

Yesterday I was due for a maintenance run and I really knew I shouldn’t blow it off, since I had missed the seven-miler on Sunday by being up in Yosemite. (I planned on running the seven miles up there, I really did. I even bought an MP3 player to keep me company on a long solo run through the trees. Then, when I arrived, I remembered the campsite is at about 4500 feet, and that kind of altitude makes me LAZY. And there were hills. And it was hot. And there might have been bears waiting to eat me. Or really mean squirrels. I don’t like those kinds of risks. You understand.)

So yesterday, I knew I HAD to run. No getting out of it. It was bloody hot and I was miserable just thinking about it. But a certain Banjo Girl had mentioned that there was a long running/biking trail that goes for miles and miles along the Emeryville/Albany/Richmond shoreline, so I headed there to try it out.

It was possibly the best run I’ve ever had. Gazelle-ish. I flew. I ran three miles, and wanted to do more (but c’mon, I’m not THAT crazy). I listened to mixed tunes and the breeze was cool off the bay. I probably only passed three or four other runners but I felt safe as the running path is right next to the frontage road, which in turn is right next to I80. Lots of people could see me, but I didn’t have to engage (I don’t like having to be Polite while getting my steam on). I got to gaze at the San Francisco skyline and the water slapping on the rocks, and it was a happy, happy thing.

And know what? Since I’ve started taking those cold-water baths right after running (cold water in the tub, mixed with lavender oil and lots of Epsom salts, sit in it for 20 minutes with the New Yorker and a big glass of water), the shin splints have been getting better and better. They hardly hurt today at all, and usually the day after a run I can barely walk. I’m so pleased and excited I can hardly stand it.

I forgot until right now that I hadn’t publicly thanked the wonderful Amy for her donation to Team911! (And her Team Knitty has surpassed their goal, too! Yeehaw!)

Now back to being lazy until work tonight. I’ve paid bills and done several Very Responsible Things today, so now I have to catch up on the Amazing Race. Mwah.

September 6, 2004

Well, damn, I’m home. I wasn’t going to write today – I was giving myself another day off, but I’m on the couch and I REALLY don’t want to get up and think about touching the dirty clothes, so I might write a bit right now. (Added later: I just wrote a HELL of a lot, so make this one last. I’ll write again on Wednesday, prolly.)

Strawberry Festival, 2004

Friday morning, I have not even started to pack. In fact, I haven’t even thought much about packing, because if I do think about it, Digit will freak out. I like to put off that part as long as possible. So I hang out with the little mama, have some coffee, check email for the last time. Then I go to grab my sleeping bag from the closet where I keep it. Digit has peed on it, and on the CASHMERE sweater that was on the shelf above it. He hit two things: The sweater, and the sleeping bag, and the pee is only minutes old, since I had been in the closet (stop it) fifteen minutes before. The cat is amazing. And horrible.

Dad was up there the day before, and had our site all picked out. He had traveled up in his Volvo pick-up truck (he removed the trunk and added a wooden contraption). Isn’t he proud?


We were at the back of beyond, as far as it is humanly possible to camp from the main stage, and even farther from Birch Lake, but because we were on the very edge of camp, there was nothing behind us but a wooded hill. Mom napping:


And because we were on a hill, we slept on a hill. Dude, I can’t WAIT to sleep on the level tonight. Our site was great and large and very, very nice, but I hate waking up in a crumpled, slid-down ball at the end of the tent, y’know? But all things considered, it was lovely. The only things missing were my sisters, neither of whom could attend. It just wasn’t the same without them.

Music kids are nice. I forget that. I think I generally consider children as whining loud things that get underfoot and cost the earth, because I pretty much only see them in the grocery store. But these bluegrass kids, they’re all polite. They use Nice Words. They’re quiet at night. I watched three older ones play Yahtzee for about four hours without coming to blows. It’s weird.

Man, there’s been a baby boom in the generation of bluegrass aficionados, because not only were there about a thousand five-year olds running around (I might exaggerate a little), but baby after teeny baby went by. I mean itsy-bitsy! While we were at the revival at the lake on Sunday morning (always one of my favorite parts—music going on, but families playing and laughing, all ages just kind of hanging out and being happy), Mom and I watched a couple of women juggle their wee ones. She guessed the smallest was about six weeks old, and it turned out she was spot on. She said, “You went camping for the first time when you were six weeks old, you know. Dad took a bunch of kids off the reservation up to the mountains to camp and we took you in that basket that’s out in the garage. You traveled in it, and slept in it, and it was so easy.” I do remember seeing an incredible photo of Mom, sitting under a tree in a meadow, the basket at her feet, and I remember hearing that I was IN the basket, but I don’t think I ever knew it was a camping trip. Explains a lot. Here we are the revival:


And kids are nice because people dance with them.


And they get to blow bubbles.



Where would I start? I can’t tell you about all of ‘em, ‘cause that would take too long, and I’m already long-winded as it is. But I’ll hit my favorite two:

1. Martin Sexton—the man can do things with his voice that I’ve never heard done before. He’s got a three-octave range, and he ain’t even trying. And the lyrics to his songs? This is what happened: I was sitting in the Music Meadow with the little mama, trying to cool off. The sun was full blaze, and we thought we’d just stay for a few songs to see how we liked him. Mom ended up in the back in the shade, but she stayed for the whole thing (hard to do at three in the afternoon). I ended up dancing, not caring about the heat or the dust, just needing to dance. His lyrics made me want to rush home right THEN to write. To finish the novel. To start a new one. To write poetry (god forbid). The tiki I wear heated in the sun and burned my neck just as I felt that I would break into pieces if I didn’t write and keep writing.

That’s some powerful singing, I tell you.

2. The Websters—absolutely my favorite of the festival. If you like traditional music, sung by two sisters whose voices blend better than red wine and candlelight, go buy it right now. Seriously. I haven’t heard anything as wonderful in a long, long time. And I hear lots of wonderful things. Plus, and this is probably not related, but I believe I’m in love with elder sister Chris Webster (on the right).


Any girl in a cowboy hat is a good thing. Period. And her sister Cassie, holding the coffee cup, is wearing an Oakland shirt. I heart them. Go buy it now and then get back to me. Or at least go sample one. (I love “There is a Balm in Gilead”).

If you’re squeamish, you may want to skip this part. Okay. I warned you. When I camp, I have a philosophy (this only applies if you’re sleeping alone—if you have a tent-mate, please discuss prior to implementation). The philosophy goes like this: Skip the shower. C’mon. You’re camping. Showers involve long lines and icky gooey floors and drippy leftover tiny pieces of greenish soap.

Instead, swim once every day. While you’re swimming in the lake, rub legs and arms briskly with hands, and run your hands through your hair while underwater. Then walk back to camp, dive into the tent and use moist towelettes to clean off whatever dirt remains. You’ll be fine, I promise. The hair gets more and more interesting, but you feel clean enough.

Of course, this only works if you go swimming, and if you remember to bring the moist towelettes. I did neither. Whoops. Here are my nails yesterday:


I won’t even show you my feet, just know that they took some SERIOUS scrubbing when I came home. Oatmeal scrub, no less.

I am very dirty by this point:


Music festival people, when not high, are the best. Even when they’re high, they’re just mellow on weed and too much beer in the sun. My favorite exchange of the weekend, bar none, went like this: We passed a tent that was flying the Aussie flag, which is a Union Jack and four stars. The New Zealand flag is identical, but has five stars. My kiwi mother yelled, “Hey! Your flag is missing a star!” From behind the tent we heard a growl, “Er, bugger off!” I laughed for half an hour.

The weather was mostly great, not too hot, not too cold at night. Today, though, it heated up, and on the long sweaty drive home, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of lovely cool Oakland. There’s a point in the drive where suddenly the Bay air hits you, and you know you’ll survive. Today, that never happened. It’s still hotter than hell, and Digit peed in the doorway as greeting. Fer eff’s sake. There was also a note on my counter that read, “Ask us about our Great Escape. If we plead the fifth, call our Aunt Jenn for details.”

Yep, when Jenn came over to feed the cats one night, she found one cat in front and one in back, having ripped out the dining room screen. We were lucky—they’ve never been outside here before and neither wears a collar. Oooh, Jenn had a few things to say to them, as did I.

But I’m glad to be home. There. Whew. I need to go clean more things now.

Good TimesSeptember 1, 2004

You know me. I can’t quite stay away. I can almost guarantee there will be no more posts after this one until Tuesday, but then again. Almost. You never know. You DO know about bloglines, right? I could never keep up with all my favorite blogs without them.....

Damn. I’ve been having a good time lately. You know that? There’s this amazing person I’ve been getting to know, and I like her lots. The banjo girl’s got mad skills, yo. And she’s fun as hell. We went last night to a speakeasy at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland. She wore an incredible blue wool suit that had an almost silken sheen to it, and I wore a tight black dress with a big white satin bow that formed into sleeves, and my favorite diner-tile shoes. We watched the show, which included a uke act, some burlesque, a mediocre old-time band which probably would have benefited from more jug and less saw, although the saw IS cool, and some really truly awfully bad jokes. Throw in a little jack and Coke and some shameless flirting, and you’ve got yourself a good night.

AND I’ve been knitting. I started yet another simple cardie, this bomber cardigan out of the Rowan Denim People book.


I’m doing it in Paton’s Classic Merino because I can’t get enough of that stuff. I know it pills like crazy, but I don’t care. It just feels good. And it was in my stash. I cast on day before yesterday when Kira was visiting me, and I’m now half-done with the second sleeve (I want to start the Sleeves First! Revolution. Start building the barricades. Join me!).

Anyway. Regrouping. Here’s Kira, with Digit.


I love that shot. Later we met up with her wife Rachel for coffee and talk (more knitting for me, less for Kira who had finished her extremely cute top at my house—she’s so leetle it takes her about seventeen minutes and fifty yards of yarn to make a cap sleeve tee-sweater). We met at Cafe Capoeira, which is an amazing place (even though it’s in the People’s Republic of Berkeley), combining coffee house with the Brazilian martial arts/dance lessons. Bad picture, but here’s what I snapped with the phone:


I gotta tell you. We watched the 6pm class enter and start, and I have never seen a more beautiful group of people. I couldn’t figure it out. Why was every single person on the floor absolutely stunning? Then we worked it out—it was because each and every one of them was smiling. They grinned the whole time. One person focuses on another; they smile and sway around each other, throwing graceful kicks and blows that never connect but turn into dance motions that lead to acrobatic jumps and graceful flips. And smiling! Damn. I loved it.

And even later, I had a wonderful dinner that sister Christy made—roasted chicken and wine and lovely, small potatoes. She made me watch the first two episodes of the Gilmore Girls on DVD. Do you have any idea how much I balked at that? I’d seen a couple of episodes while it aired (does it still?) and had been left cold. That mother bugged the bejeezus out of me. But with Christy’s solid nudging, I liked it. God help me. Yet something else to catch up on. That and Buffy could keep me occupied for a long time.

As well as other things. Have a safe and happy long weekend, all.