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10 posts from November 2009

Google ThisNovember 30, 2009

I just noticed, using Google Analytics*, that someone came to my site searching for the term "how to unfelt a sweater."

Oh, poor thing. You unfelt felted sweaters the same way you darn your handmade socks when they get a hole (courtesy, of course, of the Yarn Harlot): You hold them over the trash can and then drop them in, saying, "Darn." (You can stretch them out a little, but a good felted sweater? It's toast. Or good for your eight-year old neighbor.) And we've ALL been there. (I hope you didn't knit it yourself. I hate it when I do that. And I've done it.)

We had a great Thanksgiving, with a surprise sit-down meal for ten (plus nephew Isaac, who at five months old didn't quite require a chair, but made that eleventh nicely) that no one really saw coming. I mean, we saw the food coming--cooking happened all day long. But somehow I thought we'd just roam the house, food in our fists, so when we actually put two tables together and rounded up enough chairs, it was really quite spectacular. And delightful.

And now, I have a few more days off to continue digesting. Thank god. And knitting continues. I like this time of year SO much.

*That Google Analytics, I like it. I am a Google Girl, that's for sure. All hail the Church of Google. Google Wave? I am not convinced I need it, but I'M GLAD I HAVE IT because it has Google in the title. That is all.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Trip (With Photos)November 25, 2009

I went to the coast for a couple of days, to be alone, to work on edits for my second book. I got the manuscript back from my editor, and I wanted to to have quiet, to just sit and think. I love editing. This was going to be great.

I thought it was a romantic idea. Go to a lighthouse hostel on the beach. Lala asked me if I was running away from home, and I said "No," but I was, really-- not from her certainly (LEAST of all from her), not from anything in particular -- just from life.

Then, when I was actually leaving, I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay home and watch TV and do ANYTHING to avoid work. I was having a blue day. I had no interest in being romantic or learning anything new about my manuscript, its plot, or its characters. I wanted to kick my heels on the floor and stay put.

But I went anyway. And it was amazing.


This was, literally, the view from my room at the Pigeon Point Hostel. Yes, it's a hostel, so my private room was small, without a desk (whoops, hadn't thought that one through), and I shared a bathroom with the male dorm (not bad, considering). My room was Dolphin 1, but it would be worth knowing that the dorms are not co-ed at this hostel, and in the Dolphin building, at least, the female dorm room has its own bathroom. The woman in that dorm had the whole 6-bed dorm to herself one night, with its own private bath, for cheaper than my private room with shared bath. Might be worth the risk....

And now to be completely self-indulgent in the photo department:


Me, at the end of the walkway, near the hot tub that overlooked the ocean (which I used one moonlit night with two very nice older ladies (because the hostel doesn't allow people in alone and the women took pity on me and let me come in with them during their time) who expressed surprise that I would even consider wearing a swimsuit -- they hadn't owned a swimsuit for years, darling).




View of the hostel from behind the pumpkin fields.


From the other direction, with iceplant.


My building, Dolphin.


The very nice common area, deserted during the day, perfect for doing work.


Nicely appointed kitchen. One night some women made chicken, which smelled divine.


My work, spread out. What's the view on the other side of that window, you ask? Oh, just this:


Can you IMAGINE?

And this was my favorite, VERY favorite part. Wait, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and then come back to the computer to type this out, because I'm going to enjoy telling you so much. 

Okay, I'm back. Last night (was it only last night? Wow), I noticed the sun was dropping quickly, and I was happy with the great progress I'd made on the manuscript, and I was ready to take a break. A brisk walk, I thought! Perfect! I left the hostel, and walked up the silent road along the shore.

A half-mile north of the hostel, I came upon a completely deserted beach.

Now, I'm a California girl who's lived in the islands. I've seen approximately eleventy bajillion sunsets over the oceans and various assorted seas. Each one is amazing and I love them all.

But this one was something else. I can't tell you how BIG it felt and how small I was, and how perfectly happy I was to be right there with that shore and sunset and surf. So please, click for embiggening if you'd like to, or just skip all the nature shots. They mean a lot to me, though. Silly cell-phone photos. God, I adore them.









And here's the sequence that gets me. Right as the sun was about to dip down for the last time, I decided to hole up and really watch. Really concentrate. I wanted to put the cell phone down and stop clicking photos and be present.

So I found a little sandstone indentation in the cliff wall, and nestled in. I looked right and this is what I saw:


I looked left to see this:


Looking forward, the sunset was right in front of me (and not captured well, but you get the gist):


Turning the camera back on myself:


Then I put my phone in my pocket and watched the SLOWEST sunset I've ever seen. It was unimpeded by any fog, or any cloud. In my (albeit terrible) memory, I don't remember a sunset like that, with nothing getting in the way on the horizon. Usually there's that little part at the end, where the sun is refracted into little bits and jumps around, and dives, and comes back up as it's mirrored by clouds and tricks of fog. But last night? It just sank, slowly, slowly, until it melted away, and it took forever to completely disappear. A line of pelicans flew over the last sliver of light, just before it was covered by the water, as if the birds were going to try to lift it back out. 

It was incredible.

Then I walked back to the hostel. Oh, best hostel.


Today, I did more tide-pooling before coming home:


I did not fall in. Thank god.




I also love olallieberry pie at Duarte's in Pescadero, just five minutes away from the hostel, and I love how it is only an hour from home. One hour. And wicked cheap. I'm thinking this should happen again when I need to get serious work done.

But I'm really looking forward to seeing Lala tonight.

Fascinator? I don't even know 'er! November 23, 2009

Sister Bethany and I had a great time at the NaNo Party last night, the Night of Writing Dangerously:


There should always be an excuse in one's life to wear one's fascinator, especially if that includes a writing party with an open bar and lots and lots of candy (I have to say, I did not overindulge in either vice. What was wrong with me?). 

It was held at the Julia Morgan ballroom, and it was GORGEOUS. There was a room for photos, and Bethany and I snuck in early and took our own with my cell phone. 

I love this one of her (it looks like a book jacket photo, doesn't it? for a mystery?):


And me:


And I passed the 50,000 words written in November mark! I passed it at the party, although I didn't make them toot the horn, because it didn't feel like a real win. Here's why:

17,000 of those words were written in one book, and 33,000 of those were for another book, the NaNo. Not exactly a Win. Yes, I'm calling it, for me, a win. I'm accepting my green winning bar over at the NaNo website, but I've decided I'm not going to upload the words and get the Official Purple Bar of Winningness (which happens after you upload your document and they verify the wordcount). That would mean cutting and pasting the two documents together, and I'm just not going to do that.

I wrote 50K words of new fiction this month. That is super-duper-awesome-terrific. Very proud of me. Yes.

But now I'm sailing off to revision-land, which is really where I prefer to live, and you know what? Woot! Right now, as soon as I post this, I'm running away from home. I'm driving down the coast, and checking myself into a hostel on the beach (a private room because I am old and do not want to share with the kids and their loud rock music and funny cigarettes) and I will look at the crashing waves and begin my edits.

I am so excited. I'm bringing music, books, MY BOOK, a pen, and LOTS of post-its. Oh, and wine.

Maybe I'll see a whale on the horizon.

Editing LetterNovember 21, 2009

I just got my marked-up Book Two manuscript back from my editor! Huzzah! It's exciting! Book Two is necessarily the one writers worry about. Book One is the one that's all polished and shiny and ready to go out into the world. Book Two is the one written on deadline, with the niggling worries in the back of the mind (was the first one a fluke? will I have to move to Borneo?). But my editor has great notes, great ideas, and I can't wait to get back into it.

(I've been having the most annoyingly obvious dreams about getting my editing letter though -- last night it was a waitressing dream. All the glasses of water I served were cloudy. The night before I dreamed I found a baby snowboarding down a snowy slope, but I knew he would find his way safely to the bottom of the hill. I'm so dang LITERAL.)

So it is, therefore, time again to watch Lara Zielin's Editing Letter video:

Lara wrote a great young adult book called Donut Days, which I recently read (and I loved it -- highly recommended). We share the same amazing agent

The other video that I can't seem to get enough of is Bad Romance, by Lady Gaga. This isn't really my style of music, or video, or anything, but something about it caught me and I just love it. 


Lentil-Rice HappinessNovember 17, 2009

I made the best... something in the slow-cooker last night, and I'm putting the recipe here so I don't forget it, and I thought you might like it, too. IT WAS SOOOO GOOD. It's a kind of stew/soup/dal, I think. Inspired by a recipe given to me by my friend Camilla, I just started throwing things in the pot, and then ran off to an Alcatraz night tour while it cooked. (It was the best tour ever by the way -- we made friends with the guy who was giving the tour who turned out to be a writer, WHO TOOK US BEHIND THE SCENES after his tour. Bethany and I got to up in the chapel! Into the gun gallery! Down into the dungeon of the original 1860s citadel to see the moat. We saw graffiti no one ever sees, left over from prisoners and from Indians. I got to turn the keys of Alcatraz. The real keys. We climbed ladders. It was freaking amazing.)


Rachael's Alcatraz Lentil Rice

1 cup lentils

1/2 cup brown jasmine rice

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

6 cups water

1 tbs crushed ginger (I had it in the jar, fresh would be better)

1 bag frozen spinach

1/2 bag frozen corn

any other veggies left lying around

1 tbs curry powder

1 tsp cayenne

1 tbs salt

dash to taste of cumin and turmeric

Throw all in the crock pot, turn to low, cook for 8ish hours, and YUM. It made a bunch, and it was so good. What's your favorite slow-cooker recipe? I just got this thing, and I'm loving it. 

New Sweater Photos and Napa FunNovember 13, 2009

Oh, my goodness. I'm useless today. I was a CHAMPION OF FUN yesterday. I wrote (FUN), and I adventured (FUN), and I went to hear music (FUN), and I slept (FUN).

Today, I'm plumb wore-out. All I want to do is screw around on teh intarwebs, doing absolutely nothing. And since I'm still on vacay, I might just do that. Although time and NaNo waits for no man, I've found. If I don't do my words, I'll regret it tomorrow. So I suppose I'll do that (FUN although I think I have a rock in my writing shoe. Shake it out, baby. Shake it out.).

I promised you new sweater shots. I LOVE THIS SWEATER.

BONNIE by Fiona Ellis, from Twist Collective


I modified it pretty heavily -- I made it in the round, for one. Size 44. And I did raglan sleeves, because I think they're flattering to all, especially me, with my rugby player shoulders (not that I play. But you'd never know that I didn't). I really hadn't liked the original version with the set-in sleeves that kind of looked rather haphazardly placed, so I chose to let the raglan eat up the stitches as we found them. Nom, stitches, nom.

And the neck. Well, we had words. But I was louder. I won.

I used Mission Fall 1824 Wool (superwash) in color 20. I used about 16 balls, on US3 needles (I know, I know). And you know what? This stuff is soft, soooo soft. And it's already pilling. I'm not sure I'd use it again. I don't trust it. But lord, it's soft and just the right weight, and I love the color.

Wanna see it again?


And I was trying to show its gorgeous color, but the light wasn't cooperating. But here's a Clara butt for you:


After I took these, I took off to explore Lake Berryessa, up in the Napa area. My NaNo takes place there, and since I'd never actually been there, it sounded like a good explore-y kind of thing to do. Which it was.

It was GORGEOUS, cool, but sunny, the grapes leaves turning. It should be a law that if one has a car and the means, one should be required to take a long drive at this time of year. Clears the head. (Click for embiggening.)


I love this one, so perfectly California:



Well, hello there! As someone pointed out when I put this up on Twitter (HELLO TWITTER, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS), my hair matches the vines:


And this won't mean much to anyone else, but this figures heavily in my silly little NaNo, so I place it here:


Oh, yeah. 

In other highlights of the day, I chased a bobcat off a cliff (he was as startled as I was -- no one was hurt -- we retreated to our corners), I did NOT buy yarn, I DID buy beer at Downtown Joe's, and I got my writing done, too. I wrapped it up by meeting Lala (whose rss feed is new, did you know that?), Camilla and Kirk Lombard (check out his great new blog, The Monkeyface News) at the Atlas to see the Shut-Ins play, which was awesome.


Freaking great day.

And today I'm a sloth. Must make up for yesterday somehow. I think I'll sit on the couch and think about starting something easy. Like a pair of socks. A nice, plain, non-threatening pair of socks.

This is a good life. I appreciate it. And yarn.

BREAKING NEWS! I am pill-free.November 11, 2009

OMG. So much excitement over here at Chez Hehu. I was on my way to bed for a nap (ON VACATION, PEOPLE!) when I was bothered by the state of pills on my favorite sweater. You know the one -- you probably have one like it. My writing sweater lately has been my old orange one, the one I'm always trying to replace with new sweaters, but I always go back to it. I don't even like to take the trash out while I'm wearing it, because the neighbors know I knit, and it would be embarrassing. It's THAT kind of sweater.

It doesn't even fit that well. It's a little short, and it rises in the front, and swings in the back, and it's COVERED with pills. Patons, man. Cheap and soft and all, but give a girl a break in the pill department already, right?

I'd already asked Santa for the TOP OF THE LINE pill shaver for Christmas (no, I don't know what that kind of shaver is, but that's what Amazon reviews are for, right?), but I couldn't stand it anymore, so I went to Ravelry to see what My People suggested. (Added to my state of panic was the fact that the sweater I'm about to finish is in Mission Falls 1824 Wool -- lovely and soft, but it is pilling while still on the needles -- urgh.)

Someone on Ravelry suggested a disposable razor.

Like the kind you shave your legs with.

It was magic. I have now shaved all the sweaters in the house. I have a mad gleam in my eye. Nothing is safe. I tried the back of the couch -- you should have seen the fur that rose up off it. I'm thinking that Digit might look good with a haircut.

In the meantime, I have nothing with which to shave my legs.

But my sweaters are PILL FREE.

I love stay-cations.

Beer EmergencyNovember 7, 2009

For the most part, in the abstract, I'm good with death (as good as anyone can be in the professional sense. Please to keep it far from my loved ones, thank you very much). I'm good at giving CPR instructions. I can give them all day long. But this week was just damn weird. Sad stories, long days, odd grief, audibly witnessed, and I find my compassion is pouring out of me to the ground, constantly, and it's refilling at a rate that I can absolutely keep up with, but my sleep is suffering. My eyes feel empty. Does that make any sense?

So I'm taking the next ten days off! The time was available on the books at work (and that never happens), and IT'S NOVEMBER, my favorite (writing) time of year, and Bethany just sent this to me, and after a really rough week at work, this made my day. It reminded me of the astonishing things that can happen on 911.

God bless that dispatcher.

(Aside: my coworker Janine just got a hairy-sounding call, so she was ready to go -- CPR? Baby drowning? No, it turned out to be just a guy having difficulty standing, but at the moment that his wife called, their dogs started chasing a rabbit. Result: Hilarious commotion. Heh.) 

You just never know, do you? I like that.

WOOT! November 6, 2009

Okay, it's no secret I'm a HYOOGE NaNoWriMo fangirl. You might be getting a little sick of hearing about it, perhaps. (Sorry!)

And maybe it's true that I have a tiny intellectual crush on its creator, Chris Baty. Okay, with a glass of cheap plonk in my hand, I might have admitted that to him at certain past parties, and then run away, blushing to my roots. (You buying that intellectual part? Lala totally buys it, but then again, I'm very patient with her crush on Kelly Hogan. We're good that way.)

So when he agreed to blog for us over at PensFatales? I'm bustin' with happiness, folks. Please come visit and drop a comment, will you?

Here We Go! November 1, 2009


Wishing all the writers well! This is my favorite time of year. Happy sigh.