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

Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

knitting projects

DSCN13632.jpg Email me

subscribe

Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

book tour

knitting projects

DSCN13632.jpg

go here

Email me

« July 2008 | Main | September 2008 »

14 posts from August 2008

SummerAugust 27, 2008

Darn it. My Blackberry ate my post. So, a list.

1. Clara and I had a wonderful walk today with our friend Kris. Kris and I stayed clean. Clara did not. (At one point Kris actually wondered why I was scolding a brown dog. Oh, that's YOUR dog!)

2
A wonderful morning of friendship, fun, and good sandwiches. Followed by a bath at home on the lawn, where Clara learned the pleasures all over again of rolling in the grass while being towel-dried:

1
Yes, we do need to mow our lawn.

2. Leaving tomorrow to go camping! Strawberry Music Festival, up in Yosemite. Four days of bluegrass jams, spinning/knitting time, swimming in the lake, and adult beverages. It'll be hard without the little mama. But Dad's coming and La's whole band (they're playing Saturday night at Evergreen!). No sisters, very sad. But I'm looking forward to it SO much.

3. Finished the February Lady Sweater!

Photo_207
Open down

Yarn: Cotton Ease, 3.75 balls. Buttons, cheapos from Michaels. Never buy buttons there if you're not willing to spend a LOT of time fishing around the cheapos. But I love it. I ran buttonholes down the whole thing, wanted the option of different ways to wear it.

Photo_203
Open up

Photo_219
Open all

Easy, satisfying knit. It'll be good for the camping.

4. I have a TON of stuff to do, but you can tell by my cheeks up there that I'm kind of flushed. Oh! I thought I wasn't feeling good, but now, remembering that I spent the morning in the sun, I realize that I'm just a little sunburned and sleepy. That's totally different than feeling sick. I think I'll try a nap and try not to have bad dreams. Today I'll get it right. Then I'll be right back to getting ready to camp. It's like getting ready to another country: You're terribly busy and worried, lists of your lists scrunched tight in both hands, and you run and run and then you SIT in the seat in the plane and you relax. Nothing more to be done (and even if there were, it's too late for you to worry about it). Camping is similar. Very, very busy and then you get to camp, finally find your site (to me, the least pleasant part), unpack, set up the tent, look around, see that there's nothing left that needs doing, and you SIT. Play a tune or two. Can't wait to get to that point. Ain't nothing like a swim on a hot summer day in a snow-fed lake. Followed by your choice of many food vendors. (The Gyros are my favorite. Yes, I'll have two.) This is my kind of camping.

Happy summer, all.

Moving ThroughAugust 23, 2008

 
Dscn2223_3

Had a rough dream about Mom yesterday afternoon. This is why I do not take naps normally. Dreams are always scarier, more visceral. Something about grabbing that time to rest -- it just throws me off.

I dreamed that Mom was healthy and fine, and in the dream my sisters and I were remembering that time with her when she was so sick we thought she might die. We were so happy in the dream, knowing she didn't die, laughing that we'd thought she might. Then, at the very end of the dream, I'm outside smoking (!) in front of the library, and I remember her death. I remember specifics about her dying. It's so awful that I wake myself up, and then I lie there. What a horrible dream. I've repeatedly dreamed ever since I was very small that someone I love dies, and it's always a great relief to lie there in bed and slowly make the connections, No, I talked to her yesterday and she's going to Target today, that was just a dream. But I couldn't do that. Instead, I had to walk myself through the memories of her dying because the dream of her being alive was so fucking real. That was pleasant.

I had a seventeen-minute long CPR call the other day. It was that long because they lived so far out in the country. It was the first thing she said when she called, "We're so far away! They'll never make it in time." So this elderly farm wife did CPR on her husband for seventeen minutes, and while I coached her through every minute, I heard the grief set in. I never have to hear that. Normally I only hear the fear. No one, no outside party should hear that private grief that happens moments after death. The call, the woman's love for her husband, and the way she worked on him even though we both knew it wouldn't help (she would not give UP! I've never heard anything stronger), affected me more than any other call I've ever had. I went outside to cry. Within three minutes I walked back in, back in control (mostly). I apologized to my coworkers for failing the dispatcher code of no crying.

A coworker said, "No, I think you passed the human code, that's all." That helped.

And that call, I think, is what's brought up some extra grief about Mom. Extra slice! Another helping! Great! Just when I thought I was pulling it together.

The world gives you a set time to grieve. A friend of ours told my sister that we'd get about a month, and then the world would assume we were pretty much done with it. I'm not done. I'm better, and I'm happy again, and I can sing and write and live without constant pain, but I'm still so sad over here, in this pocket of myself. I can almost point to to where the pocket of sad is, deep in my chest, the core of my body.

It was funny -- I woke from that dream, and I found a message on my cell phone. My sisters were having a funky day, and were headed for a Friday happy hour. So I got to meet them there in a little dive bar in Oakland. We don't know why it was such a crappy day, particularly. But it was, and it was good to be with them. We're lucky to have each other.

Today, I'm going to write. And maybe cook something for my work week. And clean the house. And go to Costco for Roomba 4.0 (the latest one just died -- must exchange again). And somewhere in there, I just want to sit and knit and laugh with Lala. It's good. It's rough sometimes, but it's good.

(That's Bethany's new tattoo up top, a New Zealand Tui bird gracing it. We're not bugging Christy yet to join our ranks, but if she wanted to THAT WOULD BE OKAY. No pressure, though.)

Sistats

G'nightAugust 20, 2008

Photo_194

I would go refill that wine-glass, but I am SO sleepy already. That migraine like-to-kilt me yesterday, and today was a kinda rough day at work, so I'm better off with no more red wine. Digit, however, says, he approves of me tucked up on my writing chair and not off at work. And he says hello to you. Of course.

Me: I'm in an acquisitive mood. I get like this sometimes. I don't crave purses or shoes or clothes, ever. I crave either music or books (and sometimes yarn). And I mean I crave them like I crave water. The cravings don't overlap; I either want New Music or I want New Books. When I'm dying for new authors, I am soothed by music I already know and own. And when I have enough to read, or when I'm content in the depths of a comfortable book, I spend hours cruising the "Listeners Also Bought" aisles at the all-night iTunes store, trying to resist the "Buy Song" urge.

But right now it's books. I love my Kindle more than I ever thought I would, and I worry that I'll soon read all the words in the world. (Did you know that Milton is said to be one of the last people ever to have read all the words written? Thanks to his poor daughter, blind old Milty got through most or perhaps all of the written world available at the time. Love me some Milton, still sorry for his daughter.) But really: What's the best thing you've read recently and why? Please?

DummyAugust 19, 2008

Things not to do when getting a migraine:

1. Go for a run for the first time in three months. (It was a great run, strangely. But I've done this in the past -- the first run is great. It's the second one that hurts.)

2. Eat sliced turkey luncheon meat and four of those little red wrapped cheeses (you know the ones) for dinner because it's eight at night now and you've been up since four in the morning, and you can't wait for food even long enough to heat up pasta water.

3. Bake brownies for next-door neighbor Sam (with the grill the size of a Buick bumper and a heart even bigger) who's having a party for his 29th birthday. Embrace the if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em philosophy, and take the shot of Patron you're offered.

Lord have mercy. I'm dying today. I have to work, though; we're short-staffed and I have no sick time left over from being with Mom. Wearing sunglasses at work is terrifying when you walk in the bathroom and don't recognize the person looking at you in the mirror. Ow.

Office SpaceAugust 18, 2008

My office is just about done. Even before I was given the surprise desk, I spent a full day cleaning out the yarn/writing room. I wanted more writing, less yarn. After hours and hours of crawling around and swearing, I got rid of four garbage bags of trash. Not even donate-able stuff, just junk. Where did it come from? I was ruthless this time, throwing out broken-down memorabilia and ugly picture frames. I even got rid of the love letters. I'd always saved them, thinking, awwww, it'll be nice to reread these someday. Nope. Not so much. I glanced at some and got all wooodgy and squirmy about it. Fifty years from now, I bet I'd feel the way. I'm not in those relationships for good reasons, and while love is a great thing to find and have, once it's gone, there's no reason to revisit it, except in memory. And if I personally didn't write it down, I won't remember it. Someone else's writing, even directed to me, doesn't prompt anything in my memory, I've found.

[Speaking of memory-lapses: I argued with Lala last night. She said I'd been to Yoshi's for dinner. I said I hadn't, not ever, but I wanted to go. She said I was just plain wrong. I stuck to my guns until she called my sister-in-law, who was at this alleged dinner. She agreed with Lala! She said I was there! I gave up and ate my ice cream in sullen defeat, but I still wonder if they're just thinking of someone who looked like me.]

During the cleaning-spree, I went through paperwork. Now, people. I haven't filed in two and a half years, not since before we moved to this house. I'd just been stacking paper horizontally in boxes. And I had a very full filing cabinet that moved along with me that hadn't even been looked at for more years than I care to remember. So I cleaned it all out, only saving the important stuff, the taxes, house paperwork, and the like. I'm down to one small filing box from Ikea which is only half-full. Oh, the feeling of power!

I shredded a garbage bag full of paper (which creates a LOT of shredded paper, I tell ya). That was fun. I like to shred things, especially papers from the 90s. Found a three-dollar BART card. Whoopee!

This paper dilemma won't happen again, and I actually mean this (I'm really pretty darn sure. Mostly). I've had great success this year with a new filing system. I know I read about it on a GTD site somewhere: I got an expandable file folder (like THIS one), with 13 pockets. I labeled each pocket with a month, and I have one pocket for miscellaneous stuff that needs to be dealt with soon, but not immediately. Once I pay a bill or process something, it goes into the relevant month's pocket.

So far so good, right? The REALLY fun part happens when you've been using this system for a year (I'm almost there! Come on, October!). Then you pull out everything in that pocket from last year and get rid of almost all of it. Shred it all. Keep tax stuff and health stuff, obviously. Anything you might actually need again. But a year later, you're probably never going to need to reference your water bill again. You know? I can't wait for that part. Then you perma-file the long-term stuff, and keep on rolling along. This actually gives me a thrill to think about.

This all might be really boring if you're not one of THOSE people. But I'm one of those people. I can read for days about what pen people think is best. Me, I'm a Pilot G-2 .5 kind of girl, to the point that I carry my pen to work and take it home with me at night.

Oh, and by the way, I AM NEVER ALLOWED TO BUY FIBER AGAIN. Yarn, maybe. But no fiber, until I spin at least half of the obscene amount I now have tucked away in the bedroom closet (tucked away sounds so cute. Like I just popped it in there and closed the door, instead of the truth: that I forced it all into an enormous contractor bag and then used all my strength to push it in and then shut the door by dint of sheer brute force). Must spin more. And must read more. Really, I have no need to buy any more yarn/fiber/books for a very long time. While I'm sure I'll forget this (and quickly), it makes me feel good to know. When the revolution comes, I'll have enough to read and knit and spin.

SaturdayAugust 16, 2008

Lala is making bacon and eggs in the kitchen. She's wearing her pink flannel pajama bottoms with the horseshoes on them and a Boudin sourdough tee-shirt. I'm in my nightgown with yoga pants underneath. Hott.

I've been writing in my room. Trying to, anyway, around the myriad animals who keep lolloping through the room.

Clara just ate a stick of butter. Paper still on.

I have a new desk that beloved friends ganged up to buy for me. (Actually, they just gave me the money and ordered me to go get something good, something solid. A real desk.)

Dscn22341

Isn't is GORGEOUS? It's solid oak, and will last forever. The kind of desk you want to get under in an earthquake. That left drawer is actually a slide-out keyboard tray, and I have a new wireless Mac keyboard and mouse (SO GREAT) also paid for by my friends, so I'm mostly ergo! At home! Unreal. I have a real office now. I look out at the pink house across the street, and I hear the next-door neighbor kids helping their dad Sam build a skate-board ramp. A very good start to the day.

Except for the missing butter.

Kindling! August 12, 2008

Did I tell you I got an Amazon Kindle? I don't think I did. I can tell you without reservation that I love it. I worried -- I thought it would be too bulky (it's not), or too first-generation (I don't think so). I know that's it's too expensive, but it was my post-fire overtime-money splurge, and at no other time would we have been able to afford it, so I got one. I'm an early adopter, you know. Love to adopt early and often.

For those three of you who don't know what a Kindle is -- it's an electronic reader. What I love about it is this: say you're flipping through People magazine (Yes, People. If you read People and The New Yorker every week, you can speak to anyone at any party. And People's book reviews are better than TNY, I swear), and say you see a book you want to read. You can either roll to your computer and send it to your Kindle and be reading it around thirty seconds, or you can go online wirelessly (for no charge) to search for and buy the book. That's the kind of instant gratification I've been looking for for YEARS. You can even use it to go online, for free, no internet charge of any kind. But honestly, I haven't really used it for that. It's dial-up slow and black and white. What I love about it is always having a choice of reading in my purse. I'm a five book at a time kinda gal, and that gets heavy.

I've read four or five books now on the Kindle, and it's awesome, particularly for knitters. No pages to fly open! Prop it up on your knee or make the font bigger and prop it a little further away, on the table, and you've got knitting nirvana. Sure, you have to punch the button to turn the page, but you'd have to turn the page anyway, right? It's easy to read, low-glare, and I adore it. Seems somehow easier to read in bed (I lie on my side), also.

Reading now: The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry (link to right). Lovely book so far. Echoes of Alice Hoffman, with an earthier feel. It's feather-light on the romance -- I'm enjoying watching which direction it will go. Also, the lace references are just made for us fiber-folk.

Read last: Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen. Oh, TRES Alice Hoffman. I'll have to watch my own writing to keep magical-realism that I've been absorbing at bay. This is the younger, frothier, frappuccino niece of Practical Magic. Sister witches, a run from a bad man, finally using the power for good. But for all I raised my eyebrows at the similarities and its silliness, I kept reading, and I ended up liking it. I bought into the apple tree that threw its apples at people. Light and sweet.

Reading next: Who knows? Could be anything! (But will probably be Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Love his writing, and REALLY need to get back into running.)

WhoopsAugust 11, 2008

My old email (and a group of associated addresses) turned off a while ago when we switched providers, and because it worked for so long AFTER I turned if off, I never thought to tell everyone to update their address book. I hear that I've missed some emails. (Actually, I didn't really care much until I found out that I missed one from beloved Janine, and lord knows I don't want to miss one from her.) And of course I can't get into that old email inbox, so I can't send the appropriate notification. So if I haven't responded to something you've sent, will you resend? To yarnagogo at gmail dot com? Thanks!

ETA - Lala and just discussed whose blog is more boring today. She thought hers was until I told her the content of mine. I win!

A Lot of ClaraAugust 10, 2008

A lot of Clara running and doing her patented floating-rump bump, and some of Miss Idaho leaping, and not enough (never enough) of Harriet being short and CUTE! (And me backing up like a crazy person to make Miss Idaho dance.) Thanks to Lala for her mad video editing skillz.

Writing HackAugust 9, 2008

From Merlin Mann's twitter:

Looking for the real "Ultimate Writing Productivity Resource?" Here you go: "Go write. Now. Then do it again tomorrow." There's your "hack."

Nice.

Seriously? August 8, 2008

John Edwards. You let me down, man. What were you THINKING?

I mean, come on. Let's just say he'd won in the primaries. Let's just imagine that he was campaigning right now against McCain. Edward's admitted affair and alleged love-child would have been made public now. And he would have HANDED THE COUNTRY over to McCain. Just like that.

Me, I don't care who sleeps with whom. Knock yourself out. Knock someone else up. Ain't my business if you do. And it's never been my style to make morality judgments, because in all honesty, I just don't care. But dude, keep it in your pants! How difficult can that be, really?

Because even though I don't care who he sleeps with, a whole hell of a lot of the country does. And he would have lost the election over it. Easy.

His wife's illness is not at issue here, and again, not my business, but ew. Just ew.

Bonus gripe! Two for the price of one!  The ABC headline is Democrats Move Quick to Lessen Damage of John Edwards Affair. Really, if your headline is already that long, it's QUICKLY. Democrats move quickly.

Or not at all. Sheesh.

FinallyAugust 7, 2008

After three months. Back to real life.

First there was family tragedy that I didn't write about.
Then there was Mom being sick. Then she died. You know all about that.
Then I was really sad.
Then I went up north for a few weeks to work the fire siege.
Then I came home and went right on working.
Then my first weekend was FULL of four days of Romance Writers of America conference.
Then I worked another week.

Today, I have off. All the way off.

I'm at the cafe. I've done my work for the day. It feels so good, so right, to be back here, surrounded by the same faces. The coffee guy remembered my single latte in a double bowl with one raw sugar order without being told, even though I haven't seen him in more than three months. I got the last pumpkin carrot muffin of the day. It's foggy outside. I've decided that Rufus Wainwright is the best writing music in the whole world.

Now I'm going to pack up and take the dogs for a much-needed walk. Maybe I'll go look at desk chairs: mine is a piece of crap diner chair that I'm finally sick of. Maybe I'll take a nap.

Maybe I'll lie around near the microwave like this:

Williesplays
    Willie's arms never fit.

I feel like I'm finally home.

BIG NewsAugust 4, 2008

You remember when you were in school and you liked someone and you tried to play it cool and then s/he asked you out (or you did the asking) and that person said yes? And you were all, "Cool. That's cool. See you Saturday. Yeah," while you scuffed the sidewalk with your generic Ked? But really you were cartwheeling inside?

Cartwheel:
I HAVE AN AGENT!

I do. I have an agent. I have literary representation.

She knows about the blog, so I should roll easy. I should write, "I have an agent. Isn't that nice?" But hi. You know me. I'm so excited. My agent is Susanna Einstein, with LJK Literary Management. I couldn't be happier. Strangely, being represented by her has NOTHING to do with RWA or the conference I attended this week, but it just feels right. My god, I vow my allegiance to Romance and to the Republic for which it stands, and the next day I get a call from her! Certainly auspicious.

I will now be cool. I will now be collected.

(I think it might be a little late for that.)

RomanceAugust 3, 2008

I have had a revelation. I have had a revelation that I might have had in part before, but I didn't GET it until this weekend. This amazing weekend.

People, I am a romance writer. And that is a fine, good thing to be. I am no longer semi-quasi-just-a-little-bit ashamed of that.

Isn't it awful that I was a little bit ashamed before? I'm embarrassed and a little ashamed NOW, thinking of how I went into the Romance Writers of America conference. I was excited about it, yes, but there was a small, cheap part of myself that reserved the right to mock. I wondered how many gold puff-paint tee-shirts I'd see. How many sweatshirts covered in applique animals. I'd heard about the Ritas/Golden Hearts awards night, and I wanted to see housewives dressed up in ball gowns. I reserved the right to send mockalicious text messages to friends.

If I'm totally, completely honest (and this isn't pretty, my darling readers, be patient with me), there was a small part of me that looked down on these women, and that same part looked down on myself for attending. (Not a big part: I WAS really excited to attend.) But in my head I thought, romance, schmomance, what about literary ideals? Had the attendees checked all literary tradition at the door? Was I going to have to do that?

What a jackass.

My mind was blown at the conference. BLOWN. I met a gajillion really, really, really smart women. Beautiful women. Together women. Women who had already worked all of this out and were kind enough to talk to me and help me while I struggled to overcome my prejudice. They were patient and sweet and SO SMART. (Hello, Ravelry sockgirl Sara -- thank you for explaining to me what urban fantasy was!)

I have an analogy for all of this. When a lesbian first comes out, generally, she's very stupidly excited. Picture a young woman moving to San Francisco and finding out that IT'S OKAY TO LIKE GIRLS! Oh, my god, YOU DO, TOO! ISN'T THIS GREAT? DID YOU KNOW THAT WOMEN ARE GREAT? THERE ARE BOOKS, DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE BOOKS? I CAN WEAR THIS? I'M SO EXCITED!!! There are a lot of capital letters and excited hoorays, and the lesbians who already get it smile and nod and support that new gal as she finds out that it's all good, the water's just fine out here, and no one is doing anything wrong: in fact, they're all doing it just right.

I think I was that person this weekend, the MFA writer coming from a strictly literary tradition finding out that there is so much more to the romance writing industry than I ever knew. You could see it in their faces, the women I spoke to, here's another one. Isn't she cute? She's a new kid, be nice to her.

There was no gold puff-paint or appliqued animals. Just frighteningly smart, nicely dressed, very together women who were sharp as hell. Many of the woman I met had an advanced degree. Or two. And this wasn't because I was actively seeking them out: I just happened to stand next to them in the Starbucks line, sat next to them in seminars, stood in line with them in the bathroom.

Yeah. They'd already figured this out. Romance scholarship is not new, but it's gaining popularity. There's an amazing blog that provides a good jumping-off point called Teach Me Tonight.

But it's more than just that the fact that there is now increased academic interest in the study of romance fiction -- that's not what legitimized romance for me. The women I met legitimized it for me. I want to be one of them. Someday, I want to be on that stage on Saturday night. And I didn't see dowdy women dressed in ballgowns last night, I saw writers who reveled in their deserved spotlight who looked absolutely gorgeous. The inner geek in me arrived early to the hallway where people gathered before the ceremony. I curled up, mostly hidden, in an armchair where I had a direct view of the fountain of women cascading down the escalators. I didn't even knit or try to pretend I wasn't sitting there gawking. I just gawked. They were all writers, anyway. They knew what I was doing. Probably knew it was my first time. Probably could see MFA branded on my forehead as they smiled kindly at me. The inner geek also loved that many of the women with beautiful hair and gorgeous gowns also wore glasses. HOW COOL IS THAT? A geeky, romantic Oscars ceremony!

Best thing ever. I am so proud to be a romance writer. Bring it on!