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13 posts from December 2007

Year In ReviewDecember 31, 2007

How simple an idea, and how nice to do. Let's see, what did I do in 2007?

January - Started Runagogo, which got a whole lot of people (was it about 800 by the end? Can't remember exactly how man) moving 100 miles in 3 months. And I said on January 12th, "I would like to finish writing a book. There. That's all I'm thinking this morning." And Lala and godson Dylan matched:


February - Got a travel piece on Venice published in Curve magazine. My writing seen nationally in all major bookstores. WOOT! And I got a ukulele. I can still only play the same seven chords, but they're doozies, I tell you. Went to Stitches, saw my people. Discovered yams are good things, especially dipped in chipotle aioli (mayo with chipotle powder, salt, garlic and lemon).

March - Taught a knitting class for knit-one-one. Almost got hit by lightning. Finished my 100 running miles and only just. And Lala still had brown hair:


April - Married one year! Great hotel, great time. Hotel with spa-tub. Oh, yeah. I told you what I didn't want you to know, that Digit was dead and gone since February, and that my heart would never heal. You were wonderful to me. And in his honor, I adopted a kitten from the kill-shelter. Only I accidentally wound up taking two of them home, one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I've ever made. Willie and Waylon:


May - The freeway here melted! That was something. I got sick as hell with tonsillitis and it stayed. Ran the Bay to Breakers! Naked people everywhere! Run! The square foot garden started giving us things:


June - My friend Bob died. I rode on a freaking motorcycle in the Dyke March, a dream come true. AND MY DIGIT CAME HOME. Came back after walking for four months, literally almost dead. Wouldn't have lived another day, we think. Didn't think he'd live another hour after he came in. But from wherever he'd been accidentally transported to (Seattle? Vegas?), he walked home. Went from 17 pounds to 7. Back end wide with wounds. One eye almost gone. But he made it home. My heart lived.



July - My birthday! I already had the best present I could ever want. Held a sweater raffle, and you lovely people paid every cent of his HUGE medical bills, with money left over for Milo and Best Friends. He went from being the Cat of My Heart to the Cat of Our Hearts. I'm happy to share, and he doesn't mind, either. Also, in other news, Harry Potter came out and my sister's band, Knockturn Alley, made a huge splash in the Wizard Rock world! And I had my second tonsillectomy in five years. Digit and I recovered together. 


August - Digit and I recovered some more. I Ravelry-d. I typed The End on a novel. And then I entered that first draft in the Borders/Simon&Schuster First Romance contest.

September - Camilla and Kirk got married! I rode my bike. I think I whined more than usual.

October - Was one of five finalists in the romance competition. WOOT! The Whoreshoes played Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a great coup.  I went to New York! Rhinebeck!


November - I won Nanowrimo for the second time, writing more than 50,000 words during the month. Saw my first Raiders game. Got bangs. Put up a Christmas tree for the very first time as an adult. (Must take that down now.) Digit continued to get better, eat two cans of cat food a day, and still maintain his grumpy disposition.


December - Mellow. Early Xmas with my folks, on-time Xmas with La's. Found out I am allergic to soy lecithin. Saw SNOW!


So to you and yours, Happy New Year. Here's to a wonderful 2008. (Man, I keep typing 2009. What's up with that?)


Good Morning

Good morning, my schmittens. How are you? I'm fine, feeling a little under the weather, but I think that's due to the THREE Manhattans I had last night. Just two is enough to snocker me, and the third was probably an unwise decision. I don't feel sick, really, I just feel.... weak. My legs ache. You might know the feeling. Maybe.

But I had such a good time. Lala and I end up having this kind of night quite often (not usually with three Manhattans, thank god), where we make a little dinner (she cooked good pork) and wind up spending the whole night sitting at the dining table, goin' on about everything and nothing. We moved from the table after dinner and ended up in my yarn room, talking about music, listening to Concrete Blonde, of all things, and I realized yet again that I am so lucky to be with and live with such an amazing person, a person that fascinates me, and challenges me, and believes in me. Yep, we're both pains in the ass sometimes, but we're really damn good together.

That is so rad.

It's been a great year.

Tonight the Whoreshoes play Amnesia with Rube Waddell, and we'll be bringing 2008 in with style and perhaps a little less alcohol than last night. You should come if you can.

(Also of interest to locals: My friend Kira has a couple of classes coming up -- she's a great teacher and you would enjoy either one, I think: The Cocoon Sweater (baby sweater! So cute!) and Perforated Gloves (I love these). Even if you ain't local, you should go click and look. Yep.)

Happy New Year, all!

Howdy! And Soy Lecithin Question. December 28, 2007


I am in bed, nursing something annoying which I shall tell you about in good time, but first let me say that I had wonderful Christmases. The first one I already told you about, with my family on the coast.

The second one was with my family in Idaho, the in-laws, and IT SNOWED. I don't think anyone except for Lala's family knows how crazy I get in snow. It's so foreign and interesting and cold and soft and fluffy and pretty and new snow does things I don't expect it to, like NOT BE UNDER PARKED CARS! That's just weird. And it blows on the road. Rain doesn't blow like that! It's so pretty! I love it! It's my favorite weather! (I bow, of course, to those of you who have so much snow to spare they'd like to shove some my direction. Feel free! Mail it to me, and I'll play in it!)

I got to wear knitted items, and I wore them with sheer determination. When exiting the car to go to the house, I would put on my hat and mittens and scarf, even though it's a short walk, and it wasn't really that cold. But I could, and I did. Because it was SNOWING! And we walked around a lot in it, and I think I might have gotten frostbite. In my cheeks, you know. Or maybe chillblains. Or windchill? Lala is rolling her eyes right now, as are you in the frozen north but HOW FUN!


That is not dandruff, folks.

And Christmas itself was lovely. While the standing rib roast was in the oven, we went to view the Christmas lights in the botanical gardens. Pictures to follow sometime, hopefully. When we got home, Lala and I made potatoes and asparagus and salad, and we ate. Couldn't have been easier. Then we sat around the table and Tony, my father-in-law, put on stacks of Kingston Trio records and he and mom-Jeannie and I sat singing for hours. Lala listened, and appeared to like it. Excellent, lovely trip. I'm so glad I got to go.

But today, whew. I'm in bed, recovering from some kind of belly-unhappiness attack, and I think I know what it is. I've been fighting allergic reactions, mostly the facial lip/eye swelling kind, for a while now, similar to my MSG reactions, and I've narrowed it down (pretty easily, in fact) to soy lecithin. Every time I eat chocolate, I swell up. Soy sauce hasn't been treating me well. Yesterday at work, trying to avoid all the chocolate surrounding me on all the flat surfaces, I was proud of myself for having only a sugar cookie and some wheat thins. Then the roof of my mouth started to itch, and my belly started to hurt badly. I read labels -- both the cookie and the wheat thins had soy lecithin. WHY do they have soy lecithin? So annoying. The tummy upset got bad, and I'm still felled by it, so spending some time prone today. I'll catch up on blog-reading, that's a good thing.

I am certainly making an appointment with an allergist. Another one. But a question for you geniuses: Who's allergic to soy lecithin or soy products? What are your symptoms? And how can I face life without sushi (without soy sauce, it is pointless) and chocolate? O, Cadbury Creme Egg, do not leave me in my time of need! WTF? Help!   

Nordic PuzzleDecember 21, 2007

Brrr. It's cold. And here at Chez Hehu, we do what we can to stave off the chill.


And one of my main man Digit, taken while we were at the little mama's house:


He's sitting on a sweater I'm going to attempt to duplicate, and I have a brain teaser for you Nordic knitters (Janine, I'm looking at you). This was made in Norway for my mother forty-ish years ago. The woman who made it was from the Shetland Islands and married a Norwegian. And there's something going on here that I've never seen. Seems that she picked up and knit the collar, fine and dandy. Then she made one purl ridge at the top of the collar and started knitting a stockinette facing that you can see (the solid green) above. Another picture (turned sideways) here:


And here:


So you can see the facing not only gets used as a kind of hem-binding along the steek edges, but it makes the button band, as well.

I understand the construction. I understand how to knit it. What I'm not getting is how to attach it so neatly. I have pulled those seams apart and looked between the stitches, and while it looks like the knitter used a machine to reinforce the steek, I can't for the life of me figure out how she used that long strip so neatly -- as a perfect ribbed button-band, and as a stockinette facing to case the steek. She's using that strip in two ways, and must require two perfect seams. Is there anything written about how to do this well? How, exactly, to sew it? Anyone?

That is the Christmas puzzle I leave you with. I'm off for Boise tomorrow. Snow! Skiing! So excited! Back next week. Much love to you, my pets.

Early XmasDecember 19, 2007

Hello, my chickens.

I have been internet-less! By choice, not by anything else, and it's been nice. I'm at the parents' house right now, and I'm stealing just a few minutes to say hello because I miss you! I do!

We had a very sweet, very nice, impromptu Christmas visit (I'll be with Lala's family in Boise for the real day). Sisters Christy and Bethany were here already on Sunday and Monday, helping get the tree, and I came down on Monday morning. We did gifts (from them to me and from me to them) and it felt like Christmas morning, only with a little less fanfare, which was lovely. We even had stollen, our traditional Christmas breakfast. No one makes it like Mom, although Trader Joe's isn't bad.

I came away with SUCH a haul. A sock-dying kit, a subscription to the New Yorker (thank goodness I will be smart again), the sweatshirt that I wanted, the BEST tee-shirt evar (will post a picture sometime, it's very wool related), and a copy of my great-great grandfather's autobiography -- Jim Herron was the first sheriff of the Oklahoma Panhandle (before it was such a thing) and then got accused of cattle-rustling, so lived for fifty years on the lam, on the Owl-Hoot Trail. It's pretty well-written, actually. I'm loving it. And Christy found it on Amazon. Seriously, the internet is an amazing place, isn't it?

Yesterday Mom and I did a massive grocery shop, and today we'll just have fun. Going to the bead store, and the yarn store, and a winery or two.... Then tonight I'll drive myself and The Cat home. Digit has been here, being admired by all his Arroyo Grande fans. He's been kind of a jerk, as usual, bouncing poor Mouse, Mom's old timid kitty, and waking me at 3:30 in the morning by yowling. But we're glad to be here together, that's all I know.

Oh, and we listened to a tape we recorded twenty-three years ago -- I was twelve-ish, and the first thing you can hear me talking about is knitting. And interestingly enough, I talk about knitting a plain row, then a purl row. Knit a plain row, then a purl row. I think because I learned the basic stitches from Mom at age five or six and then taught myself everything else, I called the knit stitch the plain stitch. I remember calling it that, for years and years and years. Also, I knew I was bossy. Yes, I did. You can hear me bossing Christy and Beth around, which they took with grace. But such a ham! I sing! I play the piano! I identify myself by first and last name as least twice, as if people will someday be interested in listening in. Which I was. So I was right.

Wow. December 14, 2007

In his dreams, Digit is the Fishing Cat.
Oh. My. God.

Good Day SweaterDecember 13, 2007

Another sweater done. And damn it, it's too big.

Which is fine if you're having a Good Day, you know, when you're confident and your jeans look and feel good and your hair is working and you're wearing this cute throw-over sweater.

However, there are those days when the jeans DON'T fit right and you're trying to take pictures of yourself in your new sweater at night without the flash because OHMYGOD the flash makes you look like someone you don't recognize, someone with way more chins that you had yesterday. Not a confidence booster. And a big ole wide sweater on top of that.

Meanwhile, what I should have done was just wait for daylight to take the pictures. I eventually figured that out, after a frustrating hour, and now I like the sweater just fine. For the Good Days, anyway. I won't wear this while I'm PMS'd, I know that for sure.



Hi, can you see where I carry my cell phone? Speaking of new jeans, I need some.....


Pattern: Simple Knitted Bodice, by Stephanie Japel
Size: L (40-42) aka too big
Yarn: Brown Sheep Serendipity, color Chocolate Lily, 5 skeins used
Needle: US 5

I love this new yarn. It's 60% cotton, 40% wool, and it's soft and heathered and gorgeous. Also, I got dyelot #001 of this color, and I swear I felt like I was buying a first edition.

So in recap, I like the sweater. I like it for Good Days. I will NOT reknit (you know me, not a ripper), and I won't even reseam it with the machine, although I was thinking about it. Might someday, but for now I'll just enjoy the swinginess of it.

O Sole MioDecember 12, 2007


We at the Hehu household took our lives into our own hands last night. We did it for you, our loyal readers. We know that it is more important to amuse you with the Tiny Tiny Venetian Gondola Hat than it is to avoid bloodshed. Would that our world leaders understood the same.

In this game, which we've played before, all members must participate. This is sometimes harder than it looks. I'm sure you're surprised by this information. Some participants, however, are not only willing, but look good doing it.


Lala, looking rakish while attending the stir-fry.

There are days when Harriet, at approximately 112 people-years old, thinks that she would be better off living in Australia. Yesterday might have been one of them.


Miss Idaho, however, carries it off with elan. A dash of panache. It was, after, made just for her (and sold off the Venetian tchochke carts by the handfuls for 4 euros each -- why, oh, why didn't we get two?)


And it is just so impossible to take a picture of a black cat with a cell-phone camera that after three thousand attempts with Waylon, we never even attempted it with Willie. This is as good as it got:


He was quite disappointed in us, I think. He likes fun, and while he got into the spirit of it at first, since WE were having so much fun, wearing a hat didn't amuse him as much as it did us. Again, weird.

Adah of the Arctic, living on top of the fridge, though, she didn't seem to mind that much. Equanimity, that's what she's after:


She's a California girl, though, all the way, and prefers the sombrero style, thank you very much.

Who are we missing? Oh, yes! Me!


And my girl, Clara, who didn't get it, even though she's a border collie:

Whiskey tango foxtrot.

However, and I can say this with no reservation, Digit had the most fun. That's not what we thought might happen when we started. It didn't go so well at first:


This is when a sensible person gets out the bandages they are sure to need within seconds. Moves the phone closer, in case a call to 911 for an ambulance is necessary. We threw caution to the cold California winds, though.


He is yelling at me. Of course.

But that's where he surprised us. Big time. HE DIDN'T MIND THE HAT.

Let me say that again. He didn't mind the hat. Was it perhaps because the chin elastic just felt like a collar, or because he wore that cone for 5 weeks earlier this year? That whole experience of getting lost for four months changed him. He is a new man (although still nice and jerk-ish, just like we like him). He just didn't trip on the hat, which made it even funnier. Seriously, we were dying.

Here he was keeping an eye on the kittens playing below him, under the table. Can you imagine what they thought? Looking up at our grumpy gondolier?


And then he just felt good. Sexy. He knew he looked sexy, and he worked it:


Look at that smooth fellow. My little Venetian polpetta. Gads, we love him, don't we?

Hat game! Hat game! You should play a hat game!

(Lala, enroute to work (sucka!) says that I should remind you that she's playing this Friday night, and I believe it's at the Starry Plough. Details HERE.)

Today I am off work and I will dye my hair in preparation for La's Christmas work party tonight. When your wife is the web developer for Good Vibrations, you don't really dread the work party, I find. Good times.

Saturday, Cup of Coffee Number OneDecember 8, 2007

Goldang it. I've been using something called Don't Break the Chain. It's just a blank calendar, and you click on a day to make it red. (You can put it on your iGoogle home page so you see it every time you're online.) If you're trying to do something (or not do something, I suppose), you get to make the day red when you succeed -- the equivalent of putting a big ole X through the day with a marker.

I use it to track my writing days. In September, about half the days are red. In October, month of travel and extreme flu, only one day is red. Shameful. Every single day in November is red, and then I continued the trend until yesterday. For thirty-six days in a row, I wrote. I was following my Latin mantra, Nulla die sine linea, no day without a line. (No one really knows to whom to attribute the saying (perhaps Horace, Apelles or Pliny), but when I was a kid I read that George MacDonald went by it, so I took it then. Loved me some George MacDonald. I'd like a tattoo of it someday. The saying, not George.)

Yesterday I didn't write. I remembered on my way home, and meant to, just so I could keep that string red, with no gaps, but I forgot. Now, on my little calendar it says, "You've been dropping the ball for one day straight," instead of "You've been getting things done for thirty-seven days straight."

So now I have to beat 36 days in a row. That's going to be hard. Dang it.

I'm going to count this as today's writing, though. I don't always count blog-writing, and I didn't count it at all in November, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, you know?

Also, this morning, at 4:15am, on my way to getting up for work, I smashed my pinky finger in the bedroom door. I have NO idea how I did that, pure talent, I suppose, because our door hardly shuts on a good day, but it hurt like a sumbitch. I slammed it right on the nail, and then stood at the foot of the bed, whimpering-crying until I woke Lala up. Because, really, all that wakes her up is whimpering. A brass band won't wake her, but a dog whining will shoot her right out of bed. It's really a miracle. Usually it's Harriet, begging to go outside, but today it was me. It was nice to have her say "Poor baby."

I think that's one of the best things about being with someone you love. Someone to say that. And she was still in bed, so there were no flying peas, another nice thing. Usually when I hit the deck, slipping on the tiled floor, or tripping over a cat, she rushes to the freezer to grab the peas. Lala has always kept peas in the freezer for bumps and bruises, but she hates them as a food item. She rushes up to me with the bag, holding it out, flinging it my direction in her haste to help, and is astonished when peas fly out in a green spray all around me. Nowhere in her imagination do people (like me) actually open the peas-bag to eat them. This has happened more than once in our house. I fall, bump myself, and then duck, dodging well-intentioned frozen flying peas. No, none of that this morning. Just me whinging, holding my throbbing finger, dreading the alarm clock, Lala mumbling nice things to me through a sleep-haze.

So no more writing. For today, anyway. For your viewing pleasure, I present the Kits. My brother- and sister-in-law are in Korea, so we are watching his Siamese kitten, Viking. When she came to our house, she was smaller than our kits, Willie and Waylon. I think we have been feeding her a bit too much.


December 6, 2007

Good morning. I'm at work and my eyes are tearing from yawning so much and I made my coffee just a touch too strong, and I'm having some kind of allergic reaction to something. My lower lip is itchy, but I don't think it's blowing up in my normal MSG reaction. I have been so careful lately with food -- it seems that some additives in cheap chocolate are now settting off my face/lip/eye swelling thing. Whoppers did it one day at work, and then Reeses PB cups another day. No, we can't talk about it. It is too sad. I refuse to be allergic to Reeses. Will not think about it.

But in the meantime, I'm trying to be good about cooking well and eating good stuff. I got the new book Veganomicon, not because I'm trying in ANY way to be vegan (no cheese? Please!) nor even a vegetarian, but because I want some new ways to cook veggies. My new favorite thing: Brussel sprouts cut in half, chopped up potatoes, and cubed butternut squash, thrown in the oven with olive oil, salt and chopped garlic, roasted at 400 for 40 minutes, pine nuts thrown in during the last ten minutes. WHY DOES THAT TASTE SO GOOD? I've never liked brussel sprouts before, but now I'm dying for them. And beets. Never been a beet fan before this year, but now, oh, give me some beets with some spinach, poppyseed dressing, yum. I don't recognize my cravings anymore. Weird.

Last night I made a marinated portabello avocado spicy mustard salad from the book. Took like forty minutes, including cooking the mushroom, which was a lot for me on a work night, but it was so damn good. Also, the book itself is hysterical. I read most of it yesterday at work, and kept reading bits of it out loud to the annoyance of my coworkers. I mean, really, anyone reading a vegan cookbook out loud is the HEIGHT of pompous arrogance and deserves a good pinch. But the authors, they're irreverant and casual, traits that I value in anyone, but in cookbook writers I find particularly charming.

Now I'm going to stop writing and go back to knitting. I'm working on a scarf for a coworker that I drew in the work Secret Santa exchange -- normally I would never knit for a coworker, but I lurve her, and she deserves a nice scarf even though I am SO bored of knitting k1p1 rib. Looks pretty, though, in blue merino Arucania.

Knitter's Abacus BraceletDecember 3, 2007


This is my new favorite thing. Really. I LOVE THIS IDEA, both in concept and in execution. Actually, I don't have this exa yet, but I did just order it. I think it is the most clever dealie-bob EVER.

It's a knitter's abacus. Throw out your red dangling stitch counter, this bracelet is prettier. Let me explain real quick-like: those little green beads? They count for one row, and there are nine of them. The larger beads count for ten rows. You slip the beads through that little elastic ring of beads as you go. If you have three large beads and two small beads on the Big Bead side, you're on row 32. They're trapped close to the big bead, so your count is safe, even when you take the bracelet off (which you won't want to do). You can count up to one hundred rows, the same amount as those ugly plastic counters. On your wrist! Pretty! (Plus, there's a hook for holding stitch markers! I'm dying here.)

And these are UNDER TEN DOLLARS. Seriously. There are other people selling similar items, for more, but I think Hide and Sheep's are the prettiest. I ordered one, light green, earlier this week and got it in three days flat.

I've been using it and I love the way it looks and feels. And I just ordered that one above, so sadly, you can't have it, but her site says if you want one duplicated, she'll do that fer ya, and I believe it. Here's another one available right now:


Shoot. I love that one. I shoulda bought that one.

Site is HERE. Go. Buy. Be happy. I swear I don't know this gal, but I wish I did.

* Since I posted this, she's run out of all but Xmas bracelets, but look at the SOLD bracelets -- she can custom make any to match prior bracelets, at no extra charge. She rules.


TGIO PartyDecember 2, 2007

Went to the Nanowrimo Thank God It's Over party last night, and it was FUN.

There were crowns:

    My sister Bethany and me.

And more crowns:
    Me'n'Becky, hooray!

My sister Christy read to a group of fascinated listeners, and I was SO PROUD of her. She was the only one of our group who had the cojones to do it.


    Jodi, hooray! You may remember her from such hits like officiating my U.S. marriage.


WOW! Chris Baty! The Nano inventor himself! I walked up to him and asked if I could take our picture together. I asked if I could blog it. He said no one had ever asked him that! Weird, we thought. Then I opened my mouth and something very close to this came out, "I just have the biggest crush on you. Probably everyone in this room does, we're all just watching you walk by and saying, 'there goes Chris Baty.' So anyway. Thanks! You're cute! I'll send you the link for the photo!"

So I'll send him the link. Hi, Chris Baty! You rule! Thanks for being nice to me and dude, your speech rocked. You practically have me talked into ScriptFrenzy.

Then we left, and went and saw the Union Square tree.

Yay for sisters! Christy, me and tree.

And I apologize for plastering my image all over this post, but I have to mention this: I paired Meet the Fleet with the new Rowan Arianne sweater, something I never thought I'd do. And it worked. Very strangely, it worked. I never wear that tank, but it was something cool under such a fuzzy warm sweater that I might just do it again sometime.

Now. I have three days OFF, and I don't have to do anything. (Because of that, my brain is full of things I want to do, like drive and get ollalieberry pie in Pescadero, or see Enchanted, or watch the hang-gliders at Fort Funston. Or I may just sit on the couch and knit and watch the Raiders. Dunno. But it will be nice. (PS - Bethany just texted back -- we're off for pie! And maybe I'll come across some yarn on the way! O joy!)

December 1, 2007

Reading: Lost and Found, by Carolyn Parkhurst. SO much fun. It's a novel based on an Amazing Race-type reality show, and it's like a long, extended, interior version of my favorite reality TV. It's not literary fiction, but it's literate fiction. I love her language, and I'm caught by the characters. Brain candy, but more like a banana than a doughnut.

Listening: "Hate on Me" Jill Scott.  Get thee over to iTunes now and take a listen. I really like the whole album, love certain songs, but LOVE that one. I dance in the car every single time, and I'm not that big a car-dancer.

Doing: Going tonight to San Francisco with sisters and friends to the Nanowrimo party (OH YEAH!), and then to Union Square to see the tree, and then to the Top of the Mark for a holiday drink (the last two are my sister Bethany's traditions, and I'm so glad I'm off work tonight and get to go).

Also doing: NOTHING for three days. I'm off for the next three days, long, beautiful days in which I have NOTHING planned. No writing! (Although I can if I want. But no pressure.) Lala's coming home from Buddha camp tomorrow night, after being away 11 days, and I'M SO READY FOR THAT. I miss her AND I need help with the menagerie. Eight animals. Six different feeding areas. No joke. It takes time, friends. I should learn a language on tape while I feed animals.

I'm off work in 15 minutes! Weekend! Hoooray!