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10 posts from January 2008

January 29, 2008

Plans for today: I will get the house semi-clean. I will not spend more than an hour doing this. Whatever goes over an hour, I will ignore for another week (a long work week coming up -- expect radio silence from me). I will do a little work on the novel rewrite. I will cook some food for the coming week. That's it. No more. Oh, yeah, laundry. Sigh. I will NOT be bogged down by chores! Only a little annoyed by them.

So for fun, guess what? More Fun With Hehu Animals!

I believe we've mentioned that Waylon is often wet. Let me show you why. Sometimes they're gentle:


Sometimes they're a little more into it (let me assure you, even though it doesn't look like it, Waylon LOVES this and comes looking for more):


And lest this become a dog-blog (what? Too late you say?), a picture of my man, the most important creature in our house (Harriet would argue, but Digit could TAKE her if he wanted to. Which he doesn't):


Our Digit

January 28, 2008

Lovely day of nothing more than futzing around on the computer, making things look pretty. And we just went for a walk in the cold before going to the store to pick up goodies for a dinner party tonight. My computer said that it was going to rain, but it hasn't -- it's just cool and there are amazing clouds. The dogs and I went up to the hill I can see from my writing room.


Yes, this week you're getting dog photos. Because when you get one like this of the little Miss Idaho, what can you do but blog it?



And because I adore you and bow to your wishes, I show you that the cloche did NOT look good on me.


And this is how I felt about it:


No way. It DID however, look fantastic on my friend Marama, so it has a new home. Pattern was HERE, and it's a good one. I just have too big a head.

Tonight, knitting and eating with friends, and I'm so happy about that.

Harriet, Who Is a Cute Black DogJanuary 25, 2008

Went for a great walk the other day with the dogs. Every walk is a great walk, usually, but this one was super because I finally remembered the camera!

Harriet, at 16 years old, is very sad that I make her walk. I also don't love her, nor does Lala, and neither of us ever feed her or rub her belly. Ever.


They make me walk on stones in the cold. Oh, my bones.

Or maybe she's LYING:


She is very tall on the picnic table.

She might ignore me and the camera for a minute:


But she can't ignore me forever.


That might be too much loving, really.

I would have taken more pictures of Clara, but really she's just a blur. I caught this as she ran past, drool flying in wild strings from her jowls, racing after the next dog -- always the next dog is the best dog, the only dog, the dog that will make all her games-of-tag dreams come true:



One moment is unnerving, though. I am busy throwing the ball for Clara, or talking to someone, not paying total attention. I walk on, then I hear someone say, "Hey, isn't that your dog?"  I look behind me to see Harriet flying down the walkway, along the water, going the wrong way. And you wouldn't think it, but those little legs can get a move on when they want to. So I call her. And I call her louder. And then I remember that recently she's gone pretty damn deaf, so I scream her name. People start to look at me.

Harriet is still running hell for leather away from me, obviously looking for me and Clara, and she's about to round the turn where I'll lose sight of her, so I start to step it up. I run, Clara  leaping at my heels thinking it's a great new game, and I'm yelling as loudly as I can "HARRIET!" while taking a brief second to explain to each person I zoom past "She's sixteen, she's deaf," because I feel somehow embarrassed that they're watching me chase a dog who obviously doesn't want to be caught.

Then the onlookers start to help, and there is a chorus of Harriets all around me. She finally hears all of us, and turns around, still far ahead of me. OH BOY THERE YOU ARE!  She runs back to me, thrilled with her sleuthing skills.




This is proof. Harriet, although low, can streak along at the sound of a fast-flying biscuit.

Dogs is good.


Cloche This January 22, 2008

I seriously just spent my whole day off, between running errands and having lunch with family, trying to crochet a cloche.

To. Crochet. A. Cloche.

And finally, when I realized my crochet gauge is as crazy-loose as my knitting gauge, and after I'd gone up in size four times in both yarn weight and hook size, and when I'd finished said hat at almost ten, and when I put it on, I realized, yep. I looked exactly as if I should be selling hemp products on Telegraph Avenue with my dog and pet rat playing at my feet (no offense to hemp, Telegraph, dogs, or rats). Strangely, I did NOT (even with bangs) look like Amelie. I was not suddenly eating creme brulee, or skipping stones across St. Martins Canal. Parisian birds were not singing. Harriet burped at my feet as I looked at myself, and I vaguely wondered where my Birkenstocks were.

No I will not show you. Oh-ho, no.

Crochet is for the weak. Or the very, very strong. And I am neither. I'm going to go knit now. Solace.

Road Blog AheadJanuary 19, 2008

Are you looking for something to read? Something interesting and real and exotic and inspiring?

I have been ADDICTED to Joy's blog, Road Blog Ahead. I can't even remember how I got there, probably via a comment or something, but it's truly something else. Originally from Oakland/Bay Area, she's been living in Rewalsar, India for the last year or so, and she and her partners get up to SUCH INTERESTING THINGS. Seriously, for the first time ever, I'm starting at the very beginning of her blog, when she was still living in my 'hood, and moving toward present day.

If you have a minute (or several, it's a loooong entry), you should read THIS entry. It's a good intro to who she is and what they do.

And lifting shamelessly from this post, I'll share a bit that made me howl. Joy is making a birthday cake for a friend in the village. She is making it in a stovetop tandoor on a propane stove, using cobbled-together ingredients. The power goes out, so she lights a fire, and struggles with the second layer in the dark. She accidentally mixes the wet with the frosting, and forgets the flour, so she and her wife Lena kind of fix that, and then struggle to frost it.

At some point during this, Lena, who is trying to fill in  rapidly growing craters, looks over her shoulder, gasps and says to me, “Joy quick, put the cat out!!” This cat is a pain in the ass as he is lactose intolerant and we’re constantly on guard against him getting into milk. Thinking he’s found some cream, I look around and ask, “Why? What’s he got into now?” She points to my feet and goes, “”No no, Put it out, put it out! His tail is on fire!” Sure enough, Mr. Leopard has gotten his backside too close to the blazing hearth and is so busy hunting hunks of spilled butter that he hasn’t noticed that his tail is now smouldering. He gets really indignant when I grab his tail and put out the glowing red ember simultaneously smothering it in the chocolate icing that’s all over my hand. I hope there’s no cat hair or ashes in the final product.

Or, then there's this post, from back when they were living in Kathmandu, Nepal last year during the demonstrations for democracy. Joy says, "Yeah, old activists don’t die, they just move to Nepal and get in trouble there."  A little scene-setting: Joy is taking shelter in an internet cafe as the soldiers are arresting people and "moving" them to "safer" places, foreigners included. Lena is bound and determined to take pictures, so she's out in the melee, in her element. 

A half hour later, Lena comes in as I said above. I can tell by her hot, dusty, sweaty face that she’s been running.

“Over two walls,” she grins, dropping into the chair beside me and fanning herself with her hat. “Through a hotel, out their back door, over the wall. The hotel guys saved my ass. The soldiers were chasing me and two others. I ducked into this little hotel and said, 'You got a back door?' Once the guy realized what was happening, he was pleased to help. He showed me out the door into the dead end alley and said, 'Can you climb?' I nodded and he gave me a leg up over the wall. I almost landed in a poker game on the other side when I dropped down. The guys there got it immediately. One fellow picked up my hat and said pointedly with a smile and averted eyes, 'I don’t see you.' 'Right,' I said and ran, scaling the next wall, down and alley and back around to the main street from the other direction."

I do believe, from what Joy's said that Lena is probably over fifty (forgive me if I'm wrong, Lena), and I have a new goal: to be that fucking cool at her age. Dude. You can see the pictures she took that day at the gallery here, under the Kathmandu section.

Lena is the doctor to a Tibetan Buddhist guru (a close friend of theirs for many, many years), who lives with his cave-dwelling community at the top of a mountain. I mean, really. What a cool sentence that is.

They maintain the Tso Pema Medical Emergency Fund for the people around them, and this one in particular really moved me.

On the topic of gifts and the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to single out one particular story. We have received several donations to the Medical/Emergency Fund. I thank each of you whose compassion and kindness have led you to write to me privately or to click the PayPal button so that we can continue to help people. This week, Catherine donated some money to the Emergency Fund (see sidebar) with this note:

“This is a gift from my family … to a family in Tso Pema (whoever you think needs it) in the spirit of the holidays. … I think it’s cool that you are providing this little link between us in Maine and everyone in Tso Pema, way up there in the mountains, on the other side of the world."

Lena and I knew IMMEDIATELY who this will go to.


I may have posted this photo before. The woman’s name is Tashi Paldron and her daughter is Tenzin Zomkyi. Tashi Paldron escaped from Tibet on foot while pregnant and the birth was terribly difficult. She and her daughter are all the family each other has.

The girl is in one of the government boarding schools and it’s hard for them to be separated. The mother, who has taken nun’s vows, is living in a small damp, cave just outside town. It had a bad case of fleas last time we were there.

For a while, someone in Denmark sponsored them, sending subsistence living money a couple of times a year. Then they stopped. This spring, we thought we’d found them another sponsor but that person never wrote back. So they’ve been pretty stuck. My own daughter, Veronica, who has stepchildren the same age as Tenzin Zomkyi, pulled what she could out of her family’s Christmas budget and sent it so that the child could get a bus ticket home to Tso Pema for the winter holidays. Tashi cried with relief.

Catherine, I’m giving your gift to them also, so that they can eat and keep warm for the next month while they are together. There are a lot of needy individuals and families, particularly in the cold of winter (it was 9 degrees this morning) but we felt that these two, right this moment, have the greatest need.

There are more stories of this kind of help in THIS post from which I lifted this bit, and all over her blog.

I have the biggest blog-crush I think I've ever had. And as you've seen from the above, they're out there, doing good. I'm heading over to the Paypal link (accessible from the front page HERE) right now, to give a little money. They're at $7,959 of a goal $10,000. You wanna help me get them nearer that goal? I can't afford much, none of us can. But I know what happened with my boy, Digit, and how small and heartfelt $5 and $10 dollar donations added up into all his vet expenses paid in full. What could that same response do for them?



Not to Go All PoliticalJanuary 18, 2008

because you know I usually  don't, but please.

Mike Huckabee would like to change the Constitution to reflect God's standards. That's great. And now he's comparing homosexuality to bestiality. Fantastic.

From an interview in Beliefnet:

BN: Is it your goal to bring the Constitution into strict conformity with the Bible? Some people would consider that a kind of dangerous undertaking, particularly given the variety of biblical interpretations.

Huckabee: Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again. I think the radical position is to make a change in what’s been historic.

Wow. Ever heard of Rick Santorum, Mike? What will the word Huckabee come to mean? Any good ideas, Dan Savage?

*Edited to add: It's started! Thanks, Dan. (Warning, links might be offensive to some. That's the point.)

Fog. January 15, 2008

It's super foggy outside -- can't even see the hill where I walk the dogs. I'm drinking my tea. It's weird, I lost my taste for coffee about three or four weeks ago, something I do every once in a while. My acupuncturist calls it liver stagnation. I call it coffee-tastes-bad. And I love coffee, so it's quite strange when that happens. But I'm loving my tea, and I really need a tea cozy for the pot. Wish I would just make one, but there are so many other things demanding my attention today!

For example, today I would like to:

1. Go for a run with Clara
2. Clean the house
3. Do laundry
4. Make oatmeal-raisin cookies
5. Grocery shop
6. Dye my hair/cut bangs
7. SPIN!
8. KNIT!

Those last two things are the things I want to do most, and I want to do them while watching stupid TV. But what will happen, what always happens, is I will put off doing the fun things until all the chores are out of the way (and many more chores will occur to me as I'm moving through the house) and then it will be seven o'clock, and I'll be tired and rather grumpy from being So Busy on a day off.

So what do I do? Combat it by spinning right now? Watch a little TV? I know, logically, that if I do that, I will be happy and content, and then I will move easily into house-cleaning -- a little here, a little there. But I have such a stubborn streak about "getting things over with" that I always feel like I should do the icky stuff first, then have the reward. Although like I said, the reward is always moving away as the day slips by.

So yes. I will compromise -- I'll put in some laundry, and maybe clean the couches of dog hair and THEN spin for a bit (not with the dog hair! No! With the luscious camel/silk I'm dying to play with). And maybe knit a cozy later.

January 14, 2008


Whoops. My caps were on lock, but I suppose that's a nice, loud way to greet you, so I'll let it stand.

Just for fun, a picture from the never-blogged archives (or was it? Don't remember. But it's cute! Here you go!)


        Everyone say cheese!

And how are you?

Me, I'm pretty sleepy. But happy, because I did my soy test last night (while I'm going to see an allergist when they can get me in, I'm also practically a doctor what with my Masters in English and EMD certificate, so I enjoy diagnosing myself) and I was very scientiffik about it. I had avoided ALL sources of soy completely for two full weeks (which meant no eating out, because seriously, it's in things like hamburger buns and pasta. Please). And then last night I did my GO BIG OR GO HOME sushi feed, and I ate all the sushi I could fit in my mouth, dripping with wasabi soy saucey goodness.

And no problem. No reaction. No swollen lip/eye/tongue, no itching at all. I really think it is just a soy lecithin problem, which, while it is pretty awful to have to avoid things like chocolate and sweets, it's not as bad as also avoiding all soy. Hooray!

Today, I'm helping a friend clean out her dad's house -- he just died, and I think I'm more moral support than muscle, although I'm happy to be both. So she's picking me up in a little while, and it's off to the city for us, and it's a gorgeous, clear day, and I'm happy to not be at work. Yep. I hope your day is lovely and your teapot stays cozy.

WIPsJanuary 8, 2008

Such a nice day I've had. It's blustery and cold and rainy, and for some ungodly reason I felt moved to make good on my promise to myself to run once a weekend, outdoors, with Clara. I drove to the San Leandro Marina with her, and then sat in the car in the parking lot while the car shook and the waves were blown splashing up onto the rocks. I watched tree limbs fall. I sat for ten minutes. Then I started the car and left the marina. No way in hell. Then I apologized to a confused Clara and turned around again. I went and parked in the same spot, and then got out and ran.

It was SO COLD AND WET. But I did it, and I was glad that I did because now I can just lounge around, knitting, and brother, do I have knitting to do. And knitting to show you! I never have knitting to show you, not until it's all done, because I never get around to photographing anything. But today I did. So shall we take a walk through what I'm obsessed with right now? My works in progress:

First,  Jeanie


It is REALLY hard to get a good photo of this, but it is a blast to knit. You're always thinking a little bit, and then you get to drop stitches. It's like Clapotis on steroids. Keri is a genius. Reversible cables! Come on! Unreal! Lace by doing cables! It's a dream come true! But lordy, is it slow going. Worth it, though.

Tactile Socks:

My friend Maia and Brooke have a relatively new fiber business called Tactile, and I bought some roving from them a while back. I loved the colors they chose in dyeing this (they use organic, natural dyes):


I split the roving, one half for each sock, and spun a relatively fine, soft single:


To keep the colors together, I Navajo-plied it into a 3-ply. Having never officially been taught how to do this, and having learned the technique online, my technique involves me and my lazy kate in a battle of wills. Usually my hands are flipping somewhere above my head while I treadle frantically. Seriously. There has got to be a better way.

When I plied it, I was only middlin' pleased. Didn't know how it would look knit up:


(One can tell I am a crazy kid on the Navajo-plying bike.)

But oh, my gosh, I am so excited about the sock it's making! It's working! It's self-striping!


Isn't that purdy? I love it. Go say hi and tell 'em I sent you! I think if you email them they'll hook you up; they're still setting up the online store.

And moving on, I have no sweater on the needles. That has to change! Makes me nervous. So drawn by the gorgeous DROPS 103-1 (sexy name, isn't it?) that everyone in blogland is making, I'm going to make one, too. I would like it to fit me like Holy Knitball's fits her. Ain't that cute? For Christmas I got from Lala what I always want the most: a gift certificate to Article Pract. One can NEVER go wrong with that gift, I tell you. With that present, I was able to buy ten skeins of this:


And I also bought Son of Stitch and Bitch -- what a cute book! I haven't needed to own any of the others, but there are some awesome patterns in there, esp. the Ernie Sweater.

Okay. I've spent too much time here. Now I need to sit on the couch and cast on. Oh, yeah.

New RoutineJanuary 5, 2008

I love routines. LOVE them. I can get into a routine in two days. And then I look forward to the next day, when I can do it again. It's flexible, though. I can fall out of a routine just as quickly.

I have some new routines. Doesn't everyone? It's the new year, after all! Even if I don't make "resolutions," there's a certain clarity that comes with a new year, a fresh slate. A new blank notebook of a year.

And while it's only the fifth, I've already been to the gym three times! That's a miracle right there. I'd actually canceled the gym a few months ago, after I hadn't been in SO LONG that it was completely embarrassing. I felt good about the cancellation. Proud of saving money that would be otherwise wasted.

Then I started wanting to start running again. Runagogo has a Ravelry group! 100 miles by April 1st! I had to start keeping up with runagogo-ers (how great is it that it's taken on a life of its own?). But with the winter light, and me getting to work long before dawn and leaving after night falls, there was no way I was ever going to be able to run on work days (I won't run at night, no matter how safe the area feels -- did it a couple of times and hated it, even with Clara at my side). And I wanted more than just one run on the weekends. So I signed back up with the gym (they'd frozen my account so I didn't have to pay joining fees again), and I have a new thing now: I run before work. There is no justifying that level of crazy, except to say that getting up at 4 am really isn't that much more painful than getting up at 4:40. Seriously. It sucks either way. But three times this week I've rolled out of bed at four (or a little before -- I always wake up before the alarm -- highly annoying), fed the cats, put on my gym clothes, grabbed my work bag, and headed out.

The gym is so different at that time of morning. I go to a really huge 24-Hour Fitness in San Leandro, right on the way to work, and it's usually packed day and night. I like it because EVERYONE goes there. Men, women, gay, straight, every race, every body size, every age. I love that there will be a twenty-year old guy as big as an Oakland Raider wearing a black tank and black running shorts running on a treadmill, and right next to him will be a ninety-year old teeny-tiny Asian woman wearing a full-on pink polyester pants suit, holding her purse with one hand, the rail with the other. (The little old ladies of every race are the ones I love the best -- they always carry their purses with them, and they come in pastel-colored flocks. They perch on the weight machines and chatter and then walk very slowly and carefully on the treadmills, gossiping as they go.)

And always, when I've been there before, you have to wait for a machine (because the little ladies are gossiping) and people hover behind you, making sure you don't go over your 20 minute treadmill time limit. But that early in the morning? No one is there! Just me on the treadmill with maybe one or two others, and three or four guys pumping iron, scattered in various areas of the huge room. No one cares how long I'm on the treadmill. I'm the first one in the shower for the day, so the shower and locker room floors are blessedly dry. No one else has been in the locker room with me at all. No one's in the pool, although I don't see myself really using that -- I know how to swim, but it seems counter-intuitive to work out in an environment which doesn't support my breathing lifestyle.

I'm doing the Couch-to-5K program, using the awesome Robert Ullrey's podcast (free from iTunes). He tells you when to run and when to walk, and the music is just my style: gay-bar disco-rific. Erika, you would like this music. Yes, I could do more than this, yes, I could run farther for longer than the program has you start out (jogging for one minute, walking for 90 seconds), but I haven't been running in months, so I'm starting out again slowly. No hurry. Just want to get there in the end. You know? And it's nice to not time yourself, to have someone else doing it for you.

So yep. A couple-three times at the gym during my work week, and one longer run outside with Clara on my weekend. That's the goal. Nothing big, but it's something.

Plus, I'm eating so damn healthy right now. I've eliminated all sources of soy from my diet* for a couple of weeks, and I'm here to tell you, all good things have soy hidden in them somewhere. Even most gum has soy lecithin. It's everywhere. I am so bored without chocolate and ice cream (and by that I mean Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and Ben and Jerry's, not extra-dark chocolate and organic pumpkin frozen dessert). Gah. I kind of feel like if I'm forced to eat like this, I might as well work out.

But I like my new routine. It feels good. (As does the fact that Lala and I made a bet that the other one wouldn't go a whole month meditating every day. All right, I guess that's more of a challenge. But I like to call it a bet. And there might be financial gain in the offing, but that might be anti-Buddha to those Buddhist types, so I won't mention that part. But I like that new routine a lot, too.)

*I forgot my face soap at the gym one morning and used their soap dispenser instead. Turns out it was Dial Facial Wash Soy & Almond (no label on it). My eye blew up. Go figure.