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« February 2009 | Main | April 2009 »

11 posts from March 2009

FAVORITE SWEATER EVERMarch 28, 2009

Seriously. Love. This. Sweater. 

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Meet Colette.  My new girlfriend.

SPECS:
Pattern: Joan McGowan Michael's Colette
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport, one and a half skeins, bought at Stitches
Needles: US6
Size: 44


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Fits like a dream.
 
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When I was making it, I pictured it as a goin'-to-yoga wrap, you know, wearing it over a tank top and yoga pants. I thought I'd like it more like this, closed.

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But I really dig the way it hangs open. A LOT.


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I love this sweater. Easy, FAST, highly recommended. Plus, you know Joan, she makes this sweater in your size, guaranteed.

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LOVE.

A Novel AttemptMarch 26, 2009

Today I found what I think might be my second attempt at writing a novel. The first is lost, but I wrote and illustrated it in first grade, and it was about a brownie (the fairy kind, not the chocolate kind, although I may have conflated the two: the protagonist had a suspiciously dessert-like shape).

What might be my second attempt is in a journal I found today when I was cleaning out my closet. I have an old rattan suitcase which houses all my old journals, and this was in it:

-1

Yep. corduroy and flowers, acquired in 1981, when I was nine. The very first thing written in it is a poem that my sister Christy copied onto the first page (How do you like to go up in the air, up in the air so blue?). Then Dad added a poem, as did my best friend Evelyn Bailey, and Mrs. Ross (oh, how I loved my pretty teacher Mrs. Ross). Mom wrote, "Happiness was born a twin" (Byron, "All who joy would win must share it").

Then I wrote a poem about drought which I won't share here. You're welcome.

THEN: My novel.

PARALIZED [sic]: 3 Mile Marathon

There is an acknowledgment page and a table of contents. And then the story starts!

"Hurry up, we'll be late!" Sarah called to Tony. Tony was a well built young man who helped Sarah run.

Note how I'm already a sucker for the leading man in a romance novel?

Sarah ran for half-an-hour every day so she could be in the 3 mile marathon in one month. It would be what she had been going for since she was 7. She was 14 now.

WTF? I was writing about running? A freaking marathon? I was the most unathletic kid in my school, no lie. However, if one is going to write about running and knows nothing about it, I suppose three miles sounds like a good long way to go. Then I had to go and run a real marathon when I grew up.

Back to our story. They get to the beach. Tony is her timer. Heh. She has a timing-boy.

She jogged in place for 20 minutes and THEN she did 20 push-ups and only THEN could she start jogging down the beach.

The emphasis is all nine-year-old mine. And I love my method of working my character out. Running in place for twenty minutes on the beach? I'm dying here.

But moving on. Sarah runs. I think I imagined some Chariots of Fire action here. But when she goes home, she finds a note that her mother is in the hospital. She calls Tony (natch) and meets him there.

"Hello. What room is Laurie Redenbaum in?" Sarah asked.
"Little girl, I would tell you, but your mother -- I think that's who she is -- is not fit to be seen right now," said a nurse.
"Well then could you tell me what kind of accident she's been in?"
"Yes. She walked out in front of a car and was hit."
"Well, was she hurt?" Sarah demanded.

Dude! You're at the hospital! Your mom walked in front of a car! She's hurt!

"Yes. She has a fractured skull, a broken leg, and a broken arm."
"How much will it cost to get her back to normal?"

That's Sarah's first thought? Poor worried little thing.

"With all the expenses, I'd say about $20,000."

Where did I get that? I have no idea.

"Oh, no! The only place I can think of that gives that kind of money would be the marathon! Hmmm. The marathon...."

Yeah. Because mini-marathons give out forty grand (she is stoked about that, because if she wins the race, she'll have twenty grand left over). Again, whiskey tango foxtrot?

And then the accident happened. I know, another one? Chapter Four is titled, surprisingly, The Accident.

Sarah was riding her bike with Tony when a car going very fast came around the corner. It didn't look alarming but then they saw that the driver was unconscience [sic]! It was coming straight at Sarah. Tony yelled at her but she just sat there on her bike, staring at the oncoming car. Right when the car was about to hit her, she jumped, but it was too late.

OKAY, HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, PAL. YOU'RE FREAKING ME OUT. Insert what my thirty-six-year-old self wrote YESTERDAY:

   From behind her, a car approached, its motor revving. Lucy was in the bike lane already, but she moved in closer to the curb. Stupid tourist going too fast.
   She looked over her shoulder. The car was too close. Way too close. Jerking the bicycle to the right, Lucy rode off the asphalt. 
   But the car kept coming, turning to follow her, its tires spitting dirt. With a shout, Lucy hurled herself off the bicycle. She landed hard in the sand of a low dune. She watched in horror as the vehicle smashed her bike, running over it without pausing, then kept going. Part of a handlebar dangled from the rear bumper of the car as it caroomed away.

So at age nine, I wrote about girls throwing themselves off bikes out of the paths of moving vehicles, and twenty-seven years later I ain't got nothing better than that?

I mock myself, but the find was rather delightful, I have to admit. Tragically, as soon as the doctor pronounces her paralyzed, the book ends with a ripped out page. What on earth was on that page? Why did I rip it out? Why didn't I finish it? I had goal, motivation, conflict. I was good to GO. (Also, maybe if I knew the ending, I could plagiarize myself some more.)

And another nice thing found in this journal is the page titled LOVE. Apparently, at age nine, I loved: Dad, Mom, Christy, Beth, Reading, Knitting, Romeo (my rat), Darby (our horse), Piano and Clarinet.

That's a nice LOVE page.

But the best part is the page titled HATE is blank.

Yep. But oh, god. Please don't ever make me read again through the journals kept during my teens and early twenties. I was a mess, yo. All jangled angst and bargain basement worn-out self-confidence. Looking back, I don't feel it was that bad. But my journals beg to differ. I hope it's just that I only really journal when I'm working shit out, because otherwise, I really was a mess back then. 

Which makes the chair I'm sitting in right now a really lovely place to be.

xo

o hai recessionMarch 24, 2009

We has it.

Lala got laid off yesterday. Bleah. Her company blamed it on the economy. I blame it on them not realizing what they had right in front of them. Of course, I'm the wife, and I'm ready to scrap and fight for her, but there's not much to do now. At least she'll get a good reference -- her immediate boss knows how versatile and talented she is. The Corporate Weasels, well, they don't and it's a good thing they're not in the same room with ME, that's all I'm saying.

We will make do, of course, and I am lucky enough to work in an industry that usually has overtime to spare. I'll be picking up OT and oncall pay, which will be good. Beans, rice, and cheap wine. We have all the yarn/books/instruments/video games anyone could ever want, and now that Lala can rip vinyl to her computer, we're set for YEARS of music at a quarter an album.

But hey, if anyone in the Bay Area has a paying gig they'd like to talk to Lala about, she can be reached at lala at smartyboots dot net. Wait! You need her resume! Here it is:

  • Lala is good at doing everything on the computer. Specifically, she is what they call a Web Developer. She is also very good at web design and is not a crazy person, as I believe lots of web designers are.
  • She does other very computery-sounding computery things. I kid you not.
  • She makes any website look good.
  • She makes any CHAIR look good. If you have an ugly chair you need to cheer up, put Lala in it. That's what I do.
  • She wears clothes exceedingly well, especially western gear, although now that she is into jazz (don't tell her I told you!), she is going to have to start wearing more polyester.
  • She is a good knitter. Although she doesn't do it anymore.
  • She would be probably be good at papier mache, although I have no real evidence to back this up.
  • She can make the BART train leave. It is her superpower and awesome to behold. Harness that whatever way you can.*
  • She can play any instrument set in front of her. Really.
  • She can drink the HELL out of a cup of a coffee.
  • She is the best.

Hey! She doesn't need a job! She needs to stay home and be my house-boy! Hooray! I've always wanted one!(Or perhaps she would prefer that you read her real resume. It hasn't been updated yet, so I suspect it's out of date, but there you go. Not as much fun as mine.)

* My superpower, on the other hand, is to make BART arrive. So when we take BART together, we split the difference and usually end up waiting only a few minutes. (Have I told you this a million times already? I have? Sorry.)

EXTREMELY RELEVANT LINK. Lala just sent me THIS. She thought it was a joke. HA!

Early GalleyMarch 20, 2009

I don't feel that great, impending migraine and tummy issues to boot.  No fun, since I had big plans for today. I was gonna get up and write my little fingers off. Then yoga. Then I was going to go out and do something fun, go out into either wilderness or San Francisco. Same thing, whatever.

Instead, I slept in until 8:30am. No yoga. Futzed time away online (o hai!). I still have a yen to go to the City, taking my new Acer Aspire (LOVE) with me in my purse to work, but I have to admit, the only thing really luring me there is I've decided that while I'm still doing the no sugar thing, I'll occasionally allow myself the salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite, and TODAY WOULD BE A GOOD DAY FOR THAT. I would seriously brave the hour trek there just for ice cream. With a headache and all. That's kind of pathetic, but true.

OTHER NEWS

You know what's really flipping exciting? I'm working on getting author blurbs for the book, and my incredible editor just up and sent me pre-copy-edit galleys for me to mail off. So two days ago, I came home to find Mrs. UPS had thrown a VERY exciting envelope into the bushes for me (I *have* to remember to check those bushes more often).

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I found a bottle of almost empty prosecco in the refrigerator. I went and changed my shirt, in preparation (okay, I was home from work and was getting out of my uniform. But I chose the shirt specifically. Sometimes I can't believe at age 36 I'm still changing into my play clothes when I get home).

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Check it OUT! Book! (Okay, galley, which is basically 8.5x11 paper cut in half and bound, but, dude, I didn't print it. Someone else was paid to do so. That's crazy.) OMG! (No cover art, no title yet. Believe me, you'll be the second to know).

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Schematic of the pattern-with-book! Mine! Woot!

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Then I had a sip. Yes, from the bottle. (Then I poured it out, because prosecco with no bubbles, well, where's the fun in that? But symbolically, it was good.)

My shirt? Oh? You want to know? "My literary agent can beat up your literary agent." HA! It's actually from a cafepress store of Lara Zielin, another client of my agent, Susanna Einstein. I love this shirt.

So. Excitement.

BONUS

Also, for the animal lovers (THANK YOU for the comments on the last post. Harriet is sleeping at my feet right now, as usual. She loves you back), here is a Kitten Status Report:

Remember when Waylon and Willie were small? Earring-sized, as seen here:

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They are bigger now:

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This felt (and was) dangerous.

A better view of the size, here's Wilile:

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Not to be all weird or anything, but when I just took this, Willie's belly smelled like talcum powder, sweet and flowery. Isn't that odd? And nice?

That is all. Bed now, I think. Until this headache abates, at least.

HarrietMarch 18, 2009

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    Harriet and her blanket (knitted by Lala for her -- how CUTE is that?)

Lately my favorite part of the day is early in the morning. (Super early. We won't even say how early, but it might start with a three. We can't really think about it.)

I go out in the living room, start the coffee, feed the cats, and then go to the couch and pick up 18-year old Harriet. She can't hear that much anymore, but I think she feels the vibration of my feet puttering around, and she's usually poking her nose up, waiting for me, by the time I get to her.

I carry her like a baby (something she used to hate), and take her outside, across the back porch, down the steps, and set her down on the concrete. She wobbles a bit, and I hold her back end up, scritching at the same time. She thinks about it for a while, and then pees. If I'm not right there, she wanders off and gets lost under the porch, so I stand and wait while she gets it done.

Then she follows me slowly up the stairs and into the kitchen. She walks with me through the house, but usually ends up on her cushion or back on the couch for another nap while I write and shower.

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    Lala and Harriet (sweater made by me)

At least a couple of times a week, we think she's dead. Does this sound callous? Like I don't care? I do. We do. We care SO much, but while we're not ready for her to go, we're very conscious of the time we have. And when you find her on the couch, completely still, no rising or falling of the chest, you wonder.

The other morning I actually thought it had happened. I touched her. She was stiff. No motion. She felt cold. I started to well up.  Then she puffed and snuffled up her head and I sat back on my ass in happy surprise.

It's the sweetest time right now. While time is running out (what time isn't?), it's nice to know that she's healthy, and happy (when she's not grumpy), and in no pain. And everything she does is the cutest thing we've ever seen. Today when I got home, she ran around like the house like a maniac and grinned from ear to ear when I got out her food. IT WAS THE CUTEST THING. I was so sad I hadn't videoed it, and it was just running around.

Harriet is the dog of Lala's heart, but having lived with her for more than three years now, I can honestly say my step-dog Harriet is the best dog ever (don't tell Clara or Miss Idaho, who are obviously close runners-up). It's good to have this time (WHICH COULD GO ON A LOT LONGER, YOU HEAR THAT, UNIVERSE?) to appreciate her.

Now, go give an animal a pet. I have to take Ol' Groany outside again.

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    I can see you, you know.

Saturday Picture RoundupMarch 14, 2009

Photos, for I am too tired from a very long week for anything more (click for biggety-ness):

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A ferry, hiding in the flowers. You know how they are.

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A gorgeous day, seen from the cable car (two rides in two weeks!).

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Windy.

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Alcatraz.

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The central cable car hub, which is also the cable car museum. Free, AWESOME. It also figures into the screenplay that I just finished (no more than that to say, but crossed fingers!), so it was awesome to visit it. The noise of that place, the smell of the machinery.... Highly recommended.

Okay. I'm off to the couch to sit and stare blankly. I worked a lot this week, weird hours, and I rock-climbed twice and did yoga once, as well as finishing the screenplay and the final edits on Book 1. Wait a minute. Hey! No wonder I feel completely exhausted.

Knitting will be my balm. (I'm working on White Lies Colette, which I picked up at Stitches and am loving. Just enough easy lace for my brain to flirt with, but miles of stockinette, also. Can't you just picture it with jeans and a tank top? Or a dress?)

Gee. Ay. Why. Es. Eee. Ex.March 11, 2009

As a 911 dispatcher of more than ten years (what? Wow!) and as a soon-to-be published Real Live Writer who had a nightmare the other night about cover art (what if it has a bright metallic glow-in-the-dark pink albino Robin Hood on it?), THIS was the funniest thing I've read in forever.

The WrestlerMarch 10, 2009

The Wrestler made me sick. I twittered it, but I must say it again (what? You don't twitter? You should! If you're in an RSS reader, jump over to my site, grab my twitter feed, and follow along!).

It made me actually, physically ill. I've NEVER had that happen to me before in a movie, and I think perhaps in my head I thought people who said they got motion-sick in movies were just A Little Sensitive. But my god. It was like I was on a ship -- no, wait, I don't get seasick. It was like I was riding in a car on a winding road up to Yosemite, trying to read a dictionary (oh, the very thought.... I DO get carsick).

Of course, I didn't know that's what was going on, and I just thought, oh, no! I'm getting the stomach flu! And hoo-EEE, it's comin' on fast. Ninety minutes into the hundred and five minute movie, I left. I have NEVER left a movie before, no matter how bad (which is odd, given the ease with which I jettison books I'm not enjoying).

But the movie was unpleasant and violent (duh) and sad, and even though the characters were wonderful and believable and sympathetic, it was wounding my soul to watch it. Plus, I had the stomach flu.

Then I left, and the flu went away. The vertigo disappeared. My brain stopped spinning, and my stomach stopped heaving.

I find it completely fascinating that film footage (shaky, handheld)  can do that to a person. I'm rather glad I went, just for the experience.  Did you see it? Reactions?

Treasure Hunt! March 8, 2009

Oh, what a weekend! It was one of those perfect combination weekends, where I got stuff done and also did a ton of great things (the Cable Car Museum, rock-climbing, breakfast at Brown Sugar, yoga).

I tell you one thing, a grown-up scavenger hunt is HELLA FUN. It was Bethany's birthday party. We all grouped up in cars, and drove all over the East Bay, looking for clues. When we were counting the party horns in a box we found by a bridge, pairing the number of them with a numbered coin glued onto a nearby concrete map on a bench, figuring out what the coin directed us to? Dudes, it was like being on the Amazing Race, only I got to sleep in my own bed that night.

It was AWESOME. I swear, it was as fun as any scavenger hunt I participated in as a child -- no, it was BETTER. The first clue was written in Italian, and when roughly translated by the four or five us who could fake a little Italian, it spoke of a good sandwich she'd once had, so we went to the Italian deli where she'd had it. The note referenced Naples and its warmth, as opposed to the colder north, so we completely believed the clue would be hidden in the ice cream freezers (perhaps by the Neapolitan ice cream?). Um, no. It wasn't. But we sure looked funny looking for it, moving every ice cream container around.... Turns out the clue was in a big, birthday-paper wrapped box on the shelves near the Nutella. We totally missed it.

Another one of the good clues pointed us toward a handsome chocolatier on Millionaire's row. Using the power of technology on our cell phones, we decided we were looking for Ghiradelli's grave in the Mountain View Cemetery in Piedmont. When we got there, the cemetery was just closing, so we had no map, but Bethany found the coordinates online of a nearby gravestone, and plugged it into her GPS device and we all tromped up the hills in search of the tomb, following her as if she held a divining rod. And then we found the tomb! And the clue! It was SO exciting!

Unfortunately, with the time change and all, Lala and I had to leave everyone standing in a park in Chinatown trying to figure out the clue (tiny bottles of booze and a compass pointing East, found in a tree). So I didn't find out the ending. I ended up getting only a couple of hours of sleep, since I'd lost my mind earlier in the afternoon and had a cup of coffee, which kept me up almost all night. So today, I'm exhausted. But happy. I can't wait to go on another one (or plan one! I want SO BADLY  to plan one!).

I'd totally put a clue in a yarn store. A knitter's clue. A knitting scavenger hunt! Ooooh. Don't get me started. Who's in?

Harper is Not Dead. March 4, 2009

I keep thinking my fish Harper is gone for good. The first occurrence of his death happened while Michelle was staying in my office. I went in to feed him, stepping over the queen-sized airbed that took up the ENTIRE floor space, and he was gone.

No, really. All the way gone. There was no fish in the tank. At all.

I told myself that I was just being silly, so I pulled out the tank. I looked behind the fake plant. Then behind the ship's wheel resting on the rocks (I just typoed ship as sheep three times). No fish. That only left the little treasure chest. Oh, god. Had he swum inside and the lid (which has a hinge) closed on him? Would I lift the lid to release my dead fish? I stuck my hand in the water and opened the chest.

Nothing. No fish. I let the lid drift down and searched the bowl again. Still no sign of life. I got Lala to help me with the search. And I have to admit, the thought flitted through my mind: What did Michelle DO with my fish? Did she pack it up as a San Francisco souvenir for Scout? Midnight sushi?

La pointed out that I might want to pick UP the treasure chest. I did. And Harper swam out. Oh, god! Had he been trapped? For how long? Was it a close call? Oh, what a bad fish mom! But Lala argued that he'd swum under it -- he could get out. (Marbles line the bottom of the tank, and it's uneven -- I think she's right about that.)

Since then, I've found him hiding under the chest a couple of times, and twice the whole thing has been overturned and sitting upside down. I don't think I'm imagining that he's playing with it. Do fish really play? He has this habit of swimming down to the chest and then lying across it, like a chanteuse on a piano. He rests for a bit, pokes at the lid, swims up, then down again, draping himself sexily along the purple plastic. I didn't even know fish KNEW about gravity, but he does.

I love my fish.

Edited to add: I forgot, I was going to take this class, but now I can't, but that means you can! The peerless Kira will be teaching a shirt-making class at knit-one-one. I totally wanted to take it so I can learn how to make a button-down shirt for MY size. Details here.

Back to RealityMarch 2, 2009

Today was one of those days when all my fur stood up and I had wild eyes and difficulty retracting my claws. You know that feeling? I honestly think it's a reaction to an overdose of fun. Michelle visiting! Rock climbing! Stitches! Editing! Tonga Room! SO MANY ANIMALS! All very good, wonderful things.

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    Me and Michelle, post Tonga Room, pre Naan'n'Curry.

But now I'm fitting back into my life. I'm remembering where I stored a normal day and dusting that off. I'm breathing, in and out. I came home from work and did yoga in my office with Harper's fish-tank bubbling and Sigur Ros playing. Then I had a piece of chicken with Lala. A glass of wine. The end of last night's Amazing Race. Now I'm off to bed, and that will fit, too. Tonight, the nerves are soothed and I'm relaxing into the place I live.