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14 posts from January 2007

Muffin-MakerJanuary 30, 2007

I used to be good at making muffins. I no longer am, apparently. I haven't cared for either of my last two batches, and it's been ages since I baked. What's your favorite easy, HEALTHY muffin recipe? Please?

Thank you in advance. I just ate two dried up little blueberry muffins I made yesterday, and I really, really thank you.

Sibley Volcanic PreserveJanuary 29, 2007

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We discovered the MOST amazing place yesterday on a dog outing. Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, part of the East Bay Regional Parks, practically just behind where we live (literally on the other side of the hill from the lodge we got married in last year), it's this huge beautiful space for walkin' in.

It's an old volcano, so the geology of the place is fascinating. And were I twelve years old with a fresh, curious mind, I would have been fascinated by the igneous and the whatsamacallneous, but I am old and my brain is full of things like property taxes and flax-seed oil, so I could only walk and marvel at the view and the cute, cute dogs and remark at all these loose rocks that, hey, might be volcanic!

It was all misty and damp, spitting a promise of rain, and the green hills rolled around us. We stood on the county line, looking from Oakland to Orinda. Cows graze up there (and you can still have dogs off-leash! Yay East Bay Regional!), although we didn't see any. Clara was disappointed.

Only one bad thing happened -- we climbed to the highest point to get the best view. We stood next to a barbed wire fence and oohed and ahhed. Then I noticed Clara was on the WRONG SIDE of the barbed wire. She'd gone through a few feet away, where the fence was more open. I called her, thinking she'd come back the same way, but she's a smart border collie, and came back the most direct route, right THROUGH the fence. Her nose got stabbed, and started bleeding, rather alarmingly. We grabbed her (she didn't seem to notice anything amiss) and examined her -- it was only a puncture wound, but ohmygod, did it bleed.

It bled right into her mouth and then dripped out, onto the her white chin and the ground and made her look absolutely vicious. She ran happily ahead and greeted several people while Lala hollered, "Barbed wire! Nose! She's fine!" It stopped bleeding within minutes, and today we can't even find the damage, but it was alarming.

But blood aside, it's as close to Brigadoon as the East Bay gets. The Redwood Regional Park, Leona Canyon, the Chabot area, those areas are wonderful, but they're so full of trees that block the view (I guess some people like that sort of thing) and undergrowth that includes a ton of poison oak. Sibley is open, rolling, green, almost poison-oak free. The views are amazing. It's right behind Montclair. It's just about perfect.

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It is a day off for me, and I have SO much to do. I have an acupuncture appointment (hooray!) and a meeting with the new dog walker (who trained with Cesar Millan -- no matter what you think of his methods, that man is so cute), and I'm possibly watching the godkid Dylan, and tonight we're having dinner with an Unraveled friend who is going to Venice soon and wants the scoop. Lala got new 501's that she shrunk to fit, so I sent a hot-lookin' wife off to work and then made muffins, and life is good at the Hehu house.

What I SeeJanuary 24, 2007

In my yarn/writing room, my desk sits right in front of the window, which looks out on our street. We live in a culdesac, one street south of MacArthur in East Oakland. MacArthur is a bit rough, but our little street is sweet, with good neighbors and single family houses, and the creek running behind us.

There's an old brown-shingled salmon-colored house across the street, and behind that, on MacArthur, is a church. Over that, I can see the green hill that rises suddenly above our neighborhood. We walk the dogs up there often, and from that hill, you have the BEST view of all of Oakland, Alameda, the bay and across it, from the San Mateo bridge to the Golden Gate, and all of the San Francisco skyline.

Someday I'll write about the racial lines of demarcation that the hill represents. It's mindblowing, really, from where we live in the flats, mostly black and a few hispanic families, to that hill where it goes suddenly and steeply UP for eight or nine blocks. Black families at the bottom, hispanic in the middle, and white at the top. I do not exaggerate. It is freaky and bizarre and scary and sad and astonishing, and is so vastly interesting to me that I'm only touching on it today, and then leaving it behind. Someday I'll do something with the things I think in my head about it, but this blog post isn't the time.

What I AM writing about today is what I see out my window. Arnold, our neighbor across the street, has family over. Arnold is older, and walks slowly, but is more active than I'll ever be. He takes care of the even older couple who live in the shingled house next door to him, and keeps up their lawn. He spends hours every day in his own yard, wearing a blue coverall and a newsboy cap. He has glasses and a small gray beard. He lent us his lawnmower when we moved in when he saw Lala cutting the grass with scissors. Right now he's sweeping the driveway while his nephew, the WORST parallel parker in the history of the universe, washes his car. Two younger kids have run inside -- I've never seen them before but I think they're attached somehow to the nephew.

I've watched my calico cat Adah go in and out of every yard on the block, and she's been trying to get Arnold's attention now for ten minutes, arching her back prettily and turning her paw toward him in the sun. He's busy now with a low camellia bush, sweeping leaves from underneath it and pays her no attention. She'll move on in a moment; she doesn't have time for those who Don't Pet.

Inside, I'm propped in my armchair now, still looking out the window, but now over my shoulder. Harriet is sitting next to me, watching Harriet TV out the window. Miss Idaho is sharing the space with my slippered feet on my footstool and she's wrestling with Clara. There's a lot of growling and not much action. Both appear lazy. I'm drinking green tea after having finished my muffin. This is my day off, and I plan on doing nothing except perhaps some yard work and a run to the beach with the dogs. Oh, maybe a Trader Joe stop.

Arnold just did the smartest thing: he rolled his green waste can out to the sidewalk where he'd swept up all those leaves, then he laid it on its side, opened the top and swept all the stuff in. I always use the rake and try to lift that stuff into the can, which never, ever works. Nice.

Dogs are killing each other! How fun! Harriet's going for Clara's underbelly, since really, that's all she can reach.

I'm going to drink more tea and enjoy my day off. Running every other day lately has given me the unexpected benefit of feeling like a lazy slob on the days that I don't have to, and I love feeling like a lazy slob. Oh, yeah.

They Thought We Wouldn't NoticeJanuary 23, 2007

I just spent all my blogging time writing over here, but that doesn't mean I don't love you any less.

In fact, it will show you how special you are to me when I admit to you that Cadbury Creme Eggs are back (Dear Reader Cheryl alerted me that they're in the Big Longs in Oakland, on the endcap; bless her heart, she told me last year, too) and that I have consumed almost three boxes so far.

Ahem.

But this: they are SMALLER THIS YEAR. The cheek! The sheer nerve, thinking we won't notice.

That only means I can eat more. Yep. And that's something I won't mention over that other site. Only to you, my ducks.

Knitting Help! Please! January 20, 2007

Okay, I have a knitting question that I bet you’ve NEVER read before. Or maybe you have. But I haven’t, so I need a little help here. (Warning: Poop blog ahead, Rabbitch. Turn away if it makes you weep.)

Harriet, our Queen Bee, master of all she rules, and just about the cutest dog to roam the world on Very Short Legs, is probably about fifteen years old. She hasn’t been well for the last year, and we’ve had some struggles with pancreatitis and a couple of UTIs, but the right meds helped, and right now she seems to feel great. 

She is, however, going a bit senile (yes, seeing the vet about that, too). Every once in a while she’ll have an accident where she shouldn’t, where she never would have a year ago. Like the car. When I take them out on walks and to the beach, she’s in the back of the station wagon with Clara, both of them sitting on a sheet I keep back there to catch beach sand, so it’s no big deal.

But the other day we had a very special brunch outing, and Harriet was a guest of honor, so we let her up in the main part of the car. She sat on the back seat and stood up and stuck her head out the window and let her cheeks flap backwards in the wind. Harriet heaven.

And then the smell. Not only had she had she pooped, but she had walked in it a bit before we figured out the smell (we’re not as bright as we like to tell you we are). 

And she was sitting (and walking) on my sock in progress. My really cute sock, I’ll have you know. I’m fond of that sock. About three-quarters done, all poopy now.

What the HELL do I do? 

I cleaned the car, but I was barely able to touch the knitting. I can handle cleaning upholstery, but for some reason, I couldn’t even imagine cleaning the sock.

Today I took out the needle (because I need it to start another pair) and I washed it. So I have an unfinished sock, with live stitches hanging ragged, still dirty. How do I salvage this? 

I could thread yarn through the live stitches and wash it by hand.

Ew. 

I could wash it by hand sans the live-stitch-save and prepare for major damage.

Ew. 

Or, I just realized, I could cut my losses and throw the whole thing out (including 100g ball, which also got dirty) . Damn, that’s probably what I should do. Trouble is, I don’t remember where I got the yarn or what kind it is, because I lost the ball band. I have this cavalier attitude about socks. I always finish a pair and put them on, and then people say “Where’d you get that? What’s the brand?” and I can say, “Oh, I dunno,” because I already know I’ll never want to knit the same pair of socks twice anyway.

But I loved this sock!

Help! Poop! Poop!

LunchJanuary 19, 2007

Mmm. Just finished my lunch, which was an unexpected blue cheese burger. I’m at work (during the DAY!), and while I brought food to eat as I do every day, at 9am six or seven men showed up and started ripping apart the kitchen. Truly. Ripping APART. Walls, cabinets, sink, they moved the fridge into the hall and the microwave is blocking the supervisor’s office (he hasn’t seen that yet, that should be something to watch).

Not sure yet what they’re doing in there yet. We have four cabinets, one for each of our four shifts, filled with dry goods that are now on the floor in the kitchen. And they said they’ll be done by Tuesday. Today is Friday, isn’t it? This, in a 24 hour center, where we can’t leave the room during our 12 hour shifts. We kinda need a working microwave. I went in to look for salt and just gave up.

But the upside was that the cafeteria on the property was open (DAYSHIFT! I’m telling you, it’s good stuff), and we sent a technician to get us each a blue cheese burger. Which, when it came, was a bun, a burger, with some blue cheese on it. That’s it, no dressings, no lettuce/pickles/onions, even on the side. I just mushed it together, and I have to say, it was damn good.

Have you seen the Mr. Bento? I want one, soooo badly. I have $25 gift certificate to Amazon that I haven’t used yet, but I should use it for an electric tea kettle; ours finally gave up the ghost. But that Mr. Bento. Now, that’s a sexy lunchbox. (Search for Mr. Bento p0rn on flickr for some real fun, but not when you’re hungry.)

Back on DayshiftJanuary 17, 2007

I'm tired, and happy. Have been up since 430am, and I'm loving being still awake. Really. Because soon, I get to go to bed, and it will be DARK. I love sleeping at night. All day, all twelve hours of my shift, I bounced up and down for joy. Days! Days! I had no idea I would be so happy to rejoin the day-work force.

No time for much, though. Walked the dogs. Must eat something. Perhaps a bath. Tomorrow I will fit in a run, but today, I'm a tired slob, and really, it's quite nice.

Sleep well, won't you?

Cross-postingJanuary 13, 2007

Normally, I wouldn't do this, cross-pollinate the Yarn and Run of the A-Go-Go, but I have a bra confession, and it's over there.

I am better, thank you. Midnight shifts are OVER. I shall be more human again. I got some sleep. I have learned that there is possibly nothing prettier than a very black, very short dog running through tall shiny green grass on a hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay. That will improve any mood, no? As will a run around Lake Merritt, which I am headed for right now.

(Gratuitous red shot here. It's more cinnamon than red. I like it -- I forgot to keep the box, though!)

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FinishingJanuary 12, 2007

I am frustrated. I am a good completer-of-things. I get things done. I follow through. Why, then, why can't I finish a book?

I would like to finish writing a book. There. That's all I'm thinking this morning. The long novel, the 500+ page one, is within fifty pages of being done. Yes, I'm sure of it. The middle book, that's within a hundred pages. The Nanowrimo romance, that's within perhaps twenty or thirty pages of completion.

I know, of course, that these are rough drafts. First drafts. They can be changed, ripped apart entirely. I can get the ending done and redo it later. Why don't I just do it, then? Aargh.

I won Nanowrimo, which means that I wrote 50,000 words in November. See? Completion, of a sort. But the book wants to be about 75,000 words, though, which is why it isn't Done.

And so instead of sitting down daily to finish things up, I start things like Runagogo to distract myself. Wonderful, that thing has turned out to be. Scout was right to encourage the idea to have its own website. Now I'm hooked on watching it, watching people post. I'm spending time running. It's a Project, and I adore projects. I need projects.

I just want my project to be writing, you know? I'm so easily distracted by shiny things or timesaving devices or the internet or knit-design ideas or chocolate, and it's just so hard to sit down and write sometimes.

Also, I'm whiny. ONE MORE NIGHT and I'm done with midnight shift, possibly FOREVER. That is something to celebrate. Instead, I'm unreasonably irritated with my coworkers, with the temperature, with my brainwaves. My face is itchy from dryness. I want to brush my teeth. I would like to eat ice cream but I have none. I had the WORST RUN EVER today.

I have the mean reds. They're not bad, and they'll pass, but I will certainly be glad to get home and go to bed. I don't even dare knit -- I'll screw something up, and how.

Perhaps yogurt with granola will help. I'll give it a shot.

Baby Pictures!January 8, 2007

Hooray the sitting on of children! Especially cute godbabies. (Some limited knit-content to follow, but don't get your hopes up too high -- only a small baby-sweater-sighting.)

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Dylan reached for Miss Idaho, over and over, and Miss Idaho kept pulling up one eyebrow and leaning backwards, pretending like nothing was happening. This was INSTEAD of just jumping off the couch and Lala's lap, which, of course, she wouldn't do.

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DYLAN RIDING CLARA! I love this picture. And how patient lovely Clara is.

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Seriously, when you ask your fairy godmothers to watch your son, don't blame them if they think baby-in-sink is a good photo-op. It is.

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And he only learned to turn the faucet on in the very last four seconds of this sequence.

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If that ain't red, I'll eat my hat. Or yours.


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We went to Pt. Isabel to look at the Bay and at all the dogs. Dylan played it cool in his new Christmas sweater from Auntie Rachael and his hat which matches Auntie Lala.

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Look at them, would you? I totally, like, needed to use the phone the night before, but Lala was on, like, a two-hour phone call with Dylan, figuring out what they were going to wear. I know, right? Right?

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Wave 'em in the air like you just don't care.

I just got back from a run and I had a training class ALL day, and have another one tomorrow, so that is all. Ex and oh.

January 6, 2007

I'm going to dye my hair red in a few minutes. No more blonde. On to something new.

Tonight: The Devil Makes Three in San Francisco. They're one of my favorite bands -- kind of rockabilly pirate music. I see they're on iTunes -- try The Plank on for size, and you'll be hooked.

I'm deliciously sleepy right now. Full belly, because I choose to the run the right way -- I came home from my run and iMEEJiately made a grilled cheese sammich because my GOD, I burned all those calories! Mustn't waste away!

It's my weekend. I have no brain cells. I'm inordinately tickled by the response the Runagogo thing has received. I totally just meant it, in the beginning, to be a few knitting runners keeping tabs on each other. Now it's spiralled into a HUGE group of people, moving in whatever way they like (we even have a swimmer!), and encouraging each other. People are good.

And so are you. Have a lie-in this weekend if you can, huh? We've got our godson tomorrow, and I can't to squeeze him ALL day. I'm going to see if he wants to ride Clara. 

More Dog ThingsJanuary 3, 2007

Today, no talk of running, because if you want to hear about running, you should go to the exploding site Runagogo. Seriously, people, that site is a-freaking-mazing. Every time I go visit, which is ALL THE TIME, there are three or four more posts by members. There are ninety-nine posts in just a day! POSTS! And over a hundred comments! And the comments! So good! So encouraging!

I remain amazed by knitters. Always.

However. We're talking about dogs again, because, you know, I rarely talk about knitting. So many of you are knitters, and yet you still come here? I'm not sure I know why, but I'm always ever grateful. Someday I'll show you knitting.

I'll even talk about it for a minute! Two socks at a time in the magic loop method! Dude! That magic loop is damn cool. However, as cool as two socks at the same time are, as fascinating and interesting as they may be, it's not intuitive knitting and I like my socks to be totally brainless. Seriously, and this is truth, my regular toe-up on-two-circs socks I can knit completely in the dark excluding toes and heels. The rest, all by feel.

So suddenly having two balls of wool to deal with, or if you're like me and started at work and didn't have the means or motivation to ball a second amount of wool out of the Trekking XXL skein, and you are knitting with the outside strand for one sock and the inside for the other, then you're effed when it comes to turning the needle around. Always messing with it, untangling, pulling.

I will gratefully finish two socks at the same time, bind them off, sew in the ends and relish in having, very suddenly, a pair. And I will never do it again.

The magic loop method, though, that's rad.

OHMYGOSH! Look how you distracted me from telling you I never write about knitting! Nice job, you. Very tricky.

I was telling you dog stories! Boonie The Amazing Returner has endeared herself to the knit-world. And she's done even more amazing things. I quote from Whosadele, who left this in my comments:

Rachael, your story kept me going today. My dogs disappeared last night. At 11:00pm the gate was open and the dogs were gone without a trace. My old, too old to be running around, Springer mix and our one-year-old-on-Friday lab aussie mix. That girl has always been a runner, the old boy will sit in the open gate and wait all day for someone to come home and close it for him.

My husband went walking too look for them, then went driving, then I went driving and calling their names until 2:00am. Up before dawn this morning, I was thinking of your wonderful Boonie story, I kept thinking: three days, three days, they found her after three days. I stayed home from work. I remembered someone called after seeing the posters, so I made posters, I waited for a call, I looked out the window, I called shelters, I thought about Boonie. I drove around more, I gave posters to every postman I saw, stopped at the vet, went to the city shelter, the county shelter and I cried. I ch ecked every lump, branch, and garbage bag along the road, relieved that none of the lumps was a dog.

I kept thinking of your story with a happy ending, three days. I called the answering machine, there was a message, “I have two dogs in my front yard with your phone number…” Bobbie, as sweet a lady as could be, had seen them in her front yard and decided they ought to be tied up and she called me. I can’t believe the old dog made it that far, six miles, he pants after walking two blocks. He couldn’t even get into the car, I had to lift him in, they both fell asleep on the way home and then I had to lift the old boy out of the car. I am relieved that they stayed together and that they wandered into the yard of a sweet pet loving person. Thank you for the inspiration, I needed it today.

Isn't that the best? Yay!

And if you want more, I've been enjoying Erika's How to Return Dogs Saga. Follow up story here. Seems she has a problem collecting dogs on accident, and has a 100% success rate in returning them to their rightful owners. We heart that.

Breaking News!January 2, 2007

 Introducing the new site for our fun new plan:

Runagogo.com

How AWESOME is that? The lovely and talented ScoutJ set it up for me with a snap of her fingers, and now YOU can go sign YOURSELVES up over there. I'm removing that silly little sidebar thing, and now we have a blog to share!

All of us! Blogging together! Seriously, I'm too excited. That means all y'all without blogs? Come over and register. Those of you who do have blogs, you already know how fun it is.

Run/walk/treadmill/swim/crawl your way to 100 miles more than you would have if you hadn't signed up, and come over, register, and blog your hello. See you there.

YAY!

100 Miles by April Fool's Day!January 1, 2007

Runugle

(Button courtesy of ScoutJ)

So this is what we're doing.

100 Miles by April 1.

Put your knitting down and join us!

You can walk, jog, run, crawl, swim, treadmill, spin, or bike it. Any method we crafters can use, any method to get us out of the house and out of our cars and out in the world, using our bodies to get around.

You won't be mailing me your time or mileage (unless you want to -- feel free, I'd love to know!), but register yourself at Runagogo.com and keep us posted on your mileage and your attitude! You'll have friends with you every step of the way.

It's totally do-able, I swear. 3 miles, 3 times a week. Or a little more than a mile a day. You can do it! For some it will be a challenge. For others, a literal walk in the park. But we're in it together.

At the end, we'll post a list of everyone participating, and what their end mileage was. And then we'll all sit around in our jammies and knit and eat chocolate and not run anywhere for a little while.

If you have a Nike+iPod, send me your username (my email is to the right) and I'll add you to the runagogo challenge over there, if you want to keep track that way.....

If you don't have one of those nifty gadgets to track yourself, I'm hearing good things from people using Cool Running (link is to the log function -- keep track of your distance, time, even tells you when to change your shoes).

A great way to track distance before you leave the computer (or after you come home) is to use the Google Maps Pedometer. I LOVE this thing. Put in the address or city under Jump To and then switch to Hybrid view for a really easy way to find exact mileage.

Now, my little chickadees, get out there and move! (I suddenly feel an urge to dance around like Richard Simmons....)

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If you're playing, please steal a button! (But don't forget to save the image onto your server before using it.....)  How cute is this one, huh? Thanks to Janice in GA!