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

« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

13 posts from June 2006

Picture HeavyJune 30, 2006

Three things.

Thing Number One: The Dyke March, which was Saturday. I am blonde.


My friend Geena. And her bike. I rode on the back of it! Okay, it was only around the block, but BOY did she go fast. I was all screamey, but I sure had fun.


The start of the march. Geena always parks her truck and we dance in the back of it. This year we danced to Bollywood pop, and waved at all the ladies. (Hi, Jessica! It was Jessica, right? It was nice to meet you!)


Thing Number Two:
Sweaters Eaten

Clara's been attracted to wool since she moved in. Sheep-herding instincts is all I can peg it as. Well, she caught some the other morning.


She pulled a whole pile of 'em off the bottom shelf, which is where I keep most of the store-bought sweaters. Luckily. Turns out that she only ate two of them: a cashmere one, and a thin wool one. Interestingly enough, those are the two sweaters that I routinely sleep in when I camp out -- thin, light, and extremely warm. Now, I suppose, they'll be a little chilly.



Nice, huh?

Thing Number Three: More Dogs.

Now, it is true that we still have cats. Two cute cats, Adah the drooler, and Digit the fighter (he's lost four collars in the last month to fights. Punk). But I have approximately one bajillion photos of them, and very few, relatively, of my new girl Clara, so the camera clicks more often in her direction. But don't worry. Digit is still my boss.


Why is it that she is so naturally drawn to other border collies? And they to her? I find it fascinating that she mirrors herself that way. She loved running with this guy.

And she loved swimming in the open waves at the Albany Bulb. Oh, my god, that place is just the greatest for swimming dogs (although I have to admit that I am STUCK when it comes to figuring out what to do when she cocks her tail, standing on her tiptoes fairly far out, and poops in the waves. I suppose I could wade out and pick it up, but I didn't. I did look for it, and couldn't see it. I felt like a bad dog owner, with a naughty sweater-chewing open-water-pooping dog).


More romping with yet another new friend:


I love how kicky their legs are.

And here's one with our short Harriet! Look at her go, as fast as her cocker-spaniel/dachshund legs will carry her! Clara sometimes makes her forget she's not a person.


And just the two of them:


I am smitten. I must be, to put up with chewed sweaters and wet-dog smell. But there it is. That's love for you. Putting up with the little annoying things because the being-together is just so good.

Too LazyJune 27, 2006

for more than a list:

1. I'm tired. Working tonight, on my off night. Off at 6am, home by 7am, asleep by 8am, up again by noon. But I'm seeing Neko Case tonight, so that's good.

2. Tomorrow, also an off day, I'm working all day. Overtime.

3. Thursday I start my real work week.

4. I dream of sleep. It's like thinking about a hot-fudge sundae. You know?

5. Clara is SMART. The other day she had emptied her Kong, so she kept throwing it at my feet, while I sat on the couch, lazy and sleepy. Then I heard crinkling. She BROUGHT me, in her mouth, the bag of Kong snacks for me to fill the toy. She didn't eat them in the kitchen, although she could have. She brought the bag to me.

6. Also this (and I wouldn't even write about it, knowing that no one would believe me, but Lala was with me, so I have a witness), yesterday while we sat on the back porch, we saw Clara run out of the kitchen, over the porch, and down into the yard, carrying not only a bagel in her mouth, but the plastic container of cream cheese. Both, in her mouth at the same time. I was so overcome by this that I had to hang up on my sister so I could reclaim my food and double over in laughter.

7. Tonight, before work, I had to go to a terrible HOA meeting, in which I confronted the Problem Neighbor, who is NOT an owner. I told him I knew. He backpedaled and said he WAS the owner. It just didn't show on records. No, he was HALF owner! That was it! And it was none of my GD business, nowhere does it state that only homeowners can come to the HOME OWNER'S association meeting. Even he stuttered a little bit. I made the point that according to the tax assessor's office, he was not the owner, and also he hadn't paid dues in more than a year, and so therefore, NO, he was NOT part of the association. At this, he stormed out. Then the other two owners and I heaved a great sigh of relief and discussed fixing the railing, which is wobbly and dangerous.

8. Anyone know Sarah Kahn in the Bay Area? She's the real owner, and I don't know how to find her, since Jose said, "She doesn't want to know about these petty problems. I'm not giving you her number." I've googled, and found nothing. Thought I'd ask.

9. My wife gave me the best gift of all, on this rather crappy HOA/work-filled day off: She installed an air conditioner in our bedroom window. A real cold one. I will make jingling sounds of joy when I come home this morning. She will know how much it means to me. I think she already does.

10: WATERDOG (click for big):



WaterdogJune 24, 2006

I've made the most amazing discovery. Actually new-dog Clara has.


I've always LOVED watching the water-dogs at the Albany Bulb, and I always wanted one. Badly. Harriet has short little legs and doesn't trust them to hold her up in water, and I don't blame her. Miss Idaho is smaller than the average football, so it behooves her to stay out of the waves, too.

When I first took Clara down to the water's edge at Point Isabel, she only showed mild interest. She got her paws a little wet and then traipsed away.

But the other day (she's off-leash now where it's legal -- she knows she's part of our pack now), she was just paddling her tootsies when a fast, wet Lab roared past her and into the water, after his errant tennis ball. She followed, because she is a goer. Suddenly, she was IN the water, no ground below her feet. She went down. Came up. Froze. Paddled. Then she had it, and boy, did she.

It was like watching a kid learn to speak, but more like the kid didn't waste time with "mama" and "dada" but went straight to "I wanna ride a bike and later kin we have a bathtub full of ice cream?"

She was SWIMMING. She was leaping, dolphin-like. Weird, really, that she can do that. She would run up and out of the water, and tell me that she had been swimming, and then race back in.

And she is so cute. I don't think I've ever seen a more joyous dog. Some pics, and then I've gotta run, 'cause I think I head Lala pulling up. She's got two gigs today (including one at the Fillmore, tonight -- wow!) and also, it's Pride Weekend, which means today is the Dyke March, our national holiday. I'm second in line for a ride on the back of a friend's motorcycle, so I have high hopes. Sunscreen. Must remember sunscreen. I forget it every year.

Dogs is cute.

Harriet is a brave little toaster on the sidelines.


Sometimes Harriet will show off and go a little farther in:



The new(to-us) wagon already smells like wet dog. But Harriet likes the ride:

NewJune 22, 2006

Well, whew. It's been busy 'round these parts, and I apologize for my absence. There are several New Things, and I'll tell you about them, shall I?

Okay, really, there have been many new things this year. In the last seven months, I have had:
A new job.
A new house.
A new wife.
A new dog.
A new car.
A new hairstyle.

Yeah, you missed those last two, huh?

So. The car. Okay, it's not new, but it's new to us, and that's something. Last week, I drove to work from Oakland to Livermore, where the temperature has been in the triple digits. My convertible is a true California convertible -- no air conditioning. While on the coast that might make sense, out in the desert where I work, that sucks the big one. I left for work on Friday and sat in traffic that was. not. moving. 30 miles door to door -- it usually takes 35 minutes -- took almost 2 hours. I had put the top down, since that is the slightest bit cooler than leaving the black top up, so I had the added bonus of a sunburn by the time I got to work. As Lala said, it was like standing in a field in that kind of heat. No wind relief at all, and iced coffee only lasts 20 minutes or so. So I cried. Quite a lot, actually. I HATE heat. I especially hate it when I'm going to work where I'm going to sit in one place for 14 hours, all sticky and sweaty and rumpled and tired before the night even starts. (Also, when you're not moving on the freeway, and you're trying to listen to NPR, you are constantly subjected to people listening to their short-range iPod FM transmitters. People! Do NOT program your beloved Hootie and the Blowfish to play on 88.5, for the love of all that's holy. I'd pick up a song for 7 feet, NPR for 10 feet, and then get some other random song for 12 more slow feet. I wanted to strangle someone.)

So I told Lala we needed a new car.

She is a good sport, and loves me, and was probably just tired of hearing me blubber, "It's soooo h-hhh-hh-o-ttttt-ttt. Hic. Whine," so she agreed. I researched cars, priced out the new Mini convertible, and realized that I'd lost my mind. Can't afford it. Then I priced out the new Chevy Aveo. Came close to justifying that expense, and couldn't. Then I priced out BART/bus option, which would guarantee that I would be home on my work days from 8am until 3pm, seven hours total, including eating/sleeping/showering/dog-walking time. As it is, I'm only home for nine hours a day, but that's just enough. So that option was out.

Then we went car shopping. Found, almost immediately, a nice little 97 Saturn wagon, 87,000 miles, for CHEAP. And I mean cheap. It totally runs great, starts most of the time on the first try. And AIR CONDITIONING! Brand new condenser and cold, cold air. I drove to work today, and I chilled myself, I had it up so high. Blessed relief.

It's a pimpin' ride, too. Check it out, it's like this, but in stunning beige:


Of course, I might mack it out like this:


Maybe flaming knitting needles? Whatcha think?

So that's fun.

Also, I've been going gray (BIG time, probably almost 75% gray by now, at age 33), so I did a little work on that today:


And now:


It's not a mid-life crisis -- more like just plain fun, but it is kind of staggering how much change I've had lately. I'm just about ready to sit around and stare at the wall. Maybe I'll run out of Things To Do and get back to writing, hey? Now there's an idear.

You Gotta Hear ThisJune 15, 2006

That home-owners association member who is pain in the tuckus? Get this: He is NOT a home-owner. Based on something weird I'd heard briefly from another owner a year ago, I called the city assessor's office, and they told me that sure enough, that unit is owned by a woman and has been since the month he moved in in 2004. Maybe the property is in his ex-wife's name? Maybe. Don't really care. The fact remains that of the four-member HOA, it is explicit in the bylaws that the HOMEOWNERS are the members, duh, no one else. He's been shady, all the way around, and I'm done with him.

Boy, am I glad. Perfectly happy to be polite to him, but the dues on that unit have to be paid so we can finally get the roof fixed. He's been the sticking point, the reason nothing's been done in a year. He stalls on everything, and fights every member of the HOA, and no longer will he be able to. Yay! He won't even be able to go to the meetings! Triple yay!

There is just the smallest part of me that feels guilty about being this happy. But I'm ignoring it. Yep. S'cool.

Added LaterJune 13, 2006

After that last whingey post? Where I whined about being lazzzy (you should be grateful you can't hear me, really. Poor Lala) and tirrred ad nauseum? Then, strangely enough, I did all the things I didn't want to do. Just did them. I felt so much better after giving myself permission to do crap-all that I got most everything done.

Then I went to Point Isabel, which is only a mile down the road from where we usually take the dogs (I thought it was in Marin, for some reason), and it turns out that it's dog heaven. Really. SO MANY DOGS, all shapes and sizes, most off-leash (not Clara yet), all running and leaping and having fun. Also, they have a cafe with lattes and hot dogs and nice things like that, and a little shop where you can wash your dogs with nice soap. And they're so nice. Everyone is nice there. It was as if they were all Canadian or something. And the view of the city today was so clear, the Golden Gate looking as if I could reach out and smoodge it with my finger.

Seriously nice.

   Three, with Golden Gate in the distance

    One happy Clara

    Two dogs in the car

    Two dogs in the yarn room

Pep Talk

I am absolutely in the most anti-adult mood right now. I have a list of things to do. I usually like lists. I'm good at them. Today, not so much. I feel SO tired, and everything is making me grumpy. I have an amazing house but it needs cleaning. I have an amazing new dog and two amazing older dogs but they take energy. I am completely horrid today, and I was last night, too.

We were going to eat dinner at a friend's in San Francisco. Now, the downtown area south of Market is one of the areas I'm comfortable with. I know where things are, I kinda know how the streets work in their crazy way. But I could NOT find 11th and Bryant last night. I was picking Lala up at the gym, and I just couldn't find it. Poor thing. She must have known that she was in for a night when she called me to see where I was (I'd been searching and getting lost for 20 minutes by then),
Phone rings. I answer, "So LOST! 20 minutes! Around and around! South Van Ness! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHCKKKKK."

I know *I* always love hearing that even before hello.

And the mood has stuck.

Now, I'm good at taking care of myself. Very good at it. I'm the first to tell myself to take it easy. I love to plan a pajama day. Taking one today, unplanned, feels very, well,  just lazy.

Hah! I got it! That's what I feel. I don't feel like I'm taking care of myself, I just feel lazy, which is a Bad Feeling. So I'm going to actively change this all around. While I still have the clothes on, I'll take the dogs out for a long walk (Clara didn't cry in her crate last night, and I promised if she was good she'd get a good long romp). Then I'll come home, take a bath in the daytime, put on pj's and keep them on. And eat ice cream. Tomorrow I will do laundry and pay bills and make icky phone calls, but Not Today.


Thank you for witnessing my little pep talk. If I thought too much about it, I'd be embarrassed. So I won't. Mwah.

Y'all RockJune 10, 2006

But I've told you that before. It's still true. And oh, my god, the comment about drawing a picture of the person you're having the problem with, then burning it over the toilet and then peeing on it? I don't have a person THAT bad in my life, maybe I never have. Hopefully I never will. Asshat HOA Member isn't even that bad. But I can imagine that if he were, BOY, would that help.

Also, driving home yesterday morning after work, thinking about the things I hear at work, after hearing a coworker attempt CPR on a 6-year old for three minutes, seeing my coworker's face after that call (he has kids -- those calls have to be harder on parents than on me, and I HATE them), yeah, my problems are so minuscule. I'll take care of what I have to do for the association, and HOA-guy will, too. Eventually. One way or another.

So. The question I asked about turning off those arguments in your head, the ones you know you should let go, but just can't? Those ones you keep fighting and rehearsing and scripting?

Things that worked yesterday:
* Perspective. Yeah, duh, but think about 25 million dead in 25 years from AIDS. You feel a little dumb after that, worrying about your rental property. Sheesh. (Also? That's so scary and bad and wrong and horrible and OHMYGOD. But you know the numbers, I know you do.)
* A gin and tonic at 7am on the porch swing. (They're GOOD in the morning, and you still get that morning bad-girl thrill even if you've been working all night and you've been awake since 2pm the day before.)
* Hugging the wife.
* Hugging the new dog. Bigger dogs are so GOOD to hug. Who knew?
* Sleep.
* Y'all.


    Starfish! Dead!

Grrrr. June 8, 2006

Hello. My name is Annoyed. There is really only one thing bugging me, but it's a good one, and I can't seem to let it go.

Briefly, because the long story is just too tedious: There's a member of my 4-member home-owner's association (at the condo, which we still have) who is an ass. He hasn't paid back dues in more than a year. He's demanding the roof and his bathroom be fixed before he pays dues (he says his bathroom is in this state due to the roof leaking, me, I'm not so sure). We say he needs to pay dues, and then the HOA will happily fix everything that needs to be done, as long as its an HOA problem. We all want our property to appreciate, that's not at issue. We just need money to fix things, dude.

What's at issue is that he's an ASS. Seriously. It would be so easily resolved if he would just grow up and quit sending stupid emails. It would be even better if he would write and say, "I'm sorry for being such a problem. I'm going to eat crayons now." Yes, that would be good.

See? I'm venting HERE and not in an email to the other members. Oh, this could be fun. Wait, here's what I WOULD write:

No, hold on a second. I started to write that out, and I didn't like where I was going or how it was making my head feel, so I erased it. HE'S the one shouting, I can be the cool one here. I just hate the mind-arguments I have with people like him. Driving home this morning, I thought of about fifteen stunning things I could say to him that would drive home to him just how stooopid he is, and how he should do the right thing, and then my brain would spin and I would imagine the next thing he might say, and what I would say, and and and. I got up after five hours sleep, knowing that once my brain started arguing with him, I wouldn't get any more rest.

Now, when it comes down to him, he's not a threat. I don't think it will go to legal action. I don't think he could manage that -- he hasn't managed to put up a mailbox that he promised to put up last year. And I'm not really sure what he could sue us for, since he's been the one stopping the HOA from taking any positive action. If he did, however, we'd just sue him right back for HOA dues.

Do you have ANY idea how much I don't want to deal with this? (Oh, yeah, the escrow on the sale fell through, and we're just going to rent out the place. Thus, having to deal with HOA crap again.)

But the mind-chatter, the mental anger and frustration. How do you turn that off? That's my real question. I know with my logical mind that this is not a big deal -- he just needs to pay his dues, and the HOA needs to decide who to hire to fix the roof and any resulting rain damage. It's hard just having only four members, you know? Two are sane, one is an ASS, and one just moved in this week and will be entirely confused by old matters and frictions. Poor him.

I have to just let it go. I can't do anything right now. I'm at work. I can't do anything tomorrow, since I just need to sleep because I'm coming back in for an extra long shift tomorrow afternoon. Then I can't do anything because it's the weekend. So I should let it go. Stop thinking. Stop obsessing. Stop picking apart his crazy email, ridiculing spelling errors and lapses in logic.


But there aren't many things that make me feel like this, and that's a blessing. And I have a wonderful new dog at home that I miss like crazy. And a girl that I miss even more who's seeing Hank III in the city tonight. So, with your permission and encouragement, I Won't Worry Anymore.

Story TimeJune 6, 2006

Our new Clara is fitting in wonderfully. She requires massive amounts of chewy things and treats and hugs and loves, and the remainder of the same falls on the shorter, lower heads of Harriet and Miss Idaho so I am a new superhero. Lala actually has to hand out small gold bars when she gets home now, just so they lick her fingers again.

I spent the afternoon making the sunporch into a Clara-proof room. This is after last night's escape: The crate! Rachael didn't latch the top latch right, because she has an IQ less than 197! Go, go, GO! I woke up, very sleepy, thinking that the cats were playing awfully loudly for cats, even for cats with extra toes. When I went out of the bedroom, I found Clara streaking by, naked, waving her top a-la-spring-break-in-Cabo, leaving poop in the hallway and Lala's gnawed slipper on the couch. She's a chewer. So the sunporch is now Chew Central. She has plastic furniture and thriftstore blankets which she LOVES to chew (all dogs were interested -- must have been a doggy house -- I considered washing them and then thought, Why?). The room is littered with bones and antlers and cute little starfish which must DIE!

Also, the internets are out here, so that's where I am tonight. She's snoring at my feet. I love her.

Also: You must go read Miss Doxie's new children's book about naughty dogs. It is to kvell. Go now. Mwah.

I Have a New GirlfriendJune 5, 2006

Yes, Lala knows. She was there when I decided I needed more. A wife was just not enough. I needed another girl to love.

Meet Clara:


Oh, my god. I'm head over heels.

So here's how it went down: Ever since we moved here, I'd been thinking about getting a dog for me. I have Harriet and Miss Idaho, of course, and they love me, but their little heads explode when Lala comes home, and I love how she looks at them, and I wanted that. Plus, I wanted a tall dog, one I could run with. Harriet hates running when it's not in order to catch a squirrel.

So last week, we decided it was time. By that I mean I decided, and Lala was very good to me about it. I went out looking, ending up visiting five shelters in three cities. One pup, a cattledog named Darby spoke to me, and I adored him, but he thought Miss Idaho was prey when we introduced them at the shelter, and that's not cool. She's not even much of an appetizer, you know? Quick snack, and that's all. Not worth it.

We met Clara at the Oakland SPCA, a wonderful, wonderful place. Clean, well-run, nicest people in the world working there. We met her, petted her, liked her, played with her, and left her to go look at another place. After we left, I couldn't stop thinking about her. It was weird. And then when I decided suddenly and irrevocably that she was the one for me, I was terrified that by the time I got back to the shelter, she'd be gone (she'd only been on the market there for one day, yesterday, and another family had been interested in her). I dropped Lala at home and drove hell for leather to the shelter where I picked up my dog.

She's perfect, by the way. You know why? Let me list the ways:

*   She's a border collie, a sheepherder. You know me and sheep. (Mom, I bet you had dogs just like her on the sheep farm growing up, right?) (No, I know I don't need sheep. Not really.)

*   She doesn't bark, even when Harriet and Miss Idaho are going crazy right next to her, barking at people on the sidewalk.

*   She isn't scared of any noises, not even the vacuum cleaner.

*   She's soft and long-haired, and doesn't mind brushing.

*   She rides in the car with the top down and smiles at things, but doesn't freak out. Just sits and smiles.

*   She's the best walker ever, neither pulling nor hanging back, just walking next to me and nudging my hand with her head every once in a while. Oh! That must be herding! Cool.

Those are the pros. The cons are few: She splashes a lot when she drinks. She poops BIG. Damn big. I was used to little dogs, I suppose (Clara's 48 pounds and a year and a half -- won't get much bigger). She's super energetic and would be a chewer if we let her. But she's being crate trained which she already seems to like, and she has plenty of toys to throw in the air and catch. Which she does. Because she's CUTE.

Her name: Colleen, the nicest SPCA worker ever, named her Claire after her sister because of her sweetness. MY sister Christy came over last night and said "Clara" which I liked even more. Then Lala came home and said "Clarabell" which is her professional dancer name, which suits her down to the ground.

More pics you say? Well, all right! This is coming home yesterday. Can you tell we're happy?


These are from our first real walk today, up in the national forest which is 5 minutes away from our Oakland home:

    Harriet leads the way.

    Miss Idaho at my heels, as usual.

    It's gorgeous out here. And we only met one jogger and one horse-mounted patrol.

    I liked 'em.

    We rest a moment.

    Harriet continues to blaze the trail for us.

    A matched set! We finally have stackables!

    Harriet and Clara even like riding in the backseat together.

    At home, with her favorite toy. (Leash on; we're doing the umbilical thing for a couple of weeks.)

    I'm in love.

Boy,June 4, 2006

am I tired.

First week back on midnights. It ain't easy. Just finishing my week up -- it's 0519hrs and I'm off in 41 minutes. I will go home and nap. I will hope that the house is cool. Yesterday afternoon, when I just couldn't sleep due to the neighbor's dog and the other neighbor's power washing and the other neighbor's effing smooth jazz, for the love of gawd, I got up and MAN, was I grumpy. It was hot, I was hot, all was hot. Then I dropped an entire cup of hot coffee on the bathroom floor, breaking the cup in the process. I was a mental case.

Then I went to work, and an hour later called Lala and apologized for being a mental case. I said I felt better and I didn't know why. She asked if I were in air conditioning. I realized that yes, I was, and yes, I was human again.

Fans are good. Air conditioners are better. We may have to get a little one someday, just for our room. Hopefully a REALLY loud one to drown out effing Kenny G. I mean, it's good it's not loud rap. But Sade at 150 decibels from TWO HOUSES AWAY coming through the walls and through my earplugs really blows.

But like I said, almost the weekend. The Whoreshoes are playing tonight! I plan on going, and I know there will be knitters there, but please forgive me if I flake at the last minute. Haven't quite decided yet, but a night in and quiet would be good for me, I think. As would hanging out with my rockstar wife. Decisions....

The Pickle and the IdahoJune 1, 2006


It just so happened that we noticed they were both wearing hoodies....