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10 posts from October 2011

Occupy OaklandOctober 31, 2011

You already know I love my town. But I hella heart Oakland even harder this week.


It's not a movement for "hippies," although hippies are proudly involved. It's not a movement by slackers or the homeless (although the Occupy Wall Street camps are becoming known for medically treating and feeding those who need it).

This is important. It is about YOU.

I'm going to tell you what I'm planning on doing, right after I share what Thomas Friedman said in the New York Times yesterday.

Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust. [emphasis mine]

This is just one news story in a long list of wrongdoings that need to be addressed, solved, and changed. This is immoral. And wrong. And worth thinking about.

If you need a quick one-minute explanation of what this is all about, watch this. (Also, it's funny.)


I've been a union member for more years than I haven't been in my professional life, and I believe in the way they work. (Sometimes they don't work, but that's for another day and a different discussion.) So far, the SEIU, ILWU, Carpenters, Longshore, and AFSCME unions are supporting the General Strike. The Teamsters are providing food for the day. The Oakland Education association is endorsing the strike. The Oakland Teacher's Union has unanimously endorsed it.

So this Wednesday, for the General Strike, this is how I'm protesting: I'm going to Patelco, a local credit union, and I'm opening a joint household account with Lala, and a business account for myself. Then we'll go to Bank of America and have them wire all our funds to our new accounts. Then we'll go to Wells Fargo and do the same. 

I'd been loath to do this for a long time. Why? Because I was the slacker. I've been with Bank of America for more than fifteen years. All my bills are paid with a few clicks. It was too much hassle, I always said. I'd have to spend time setting up the bill pay at a new bank. We'd have to change our direct deposits. We'd have to change every auto-payment we have online. Moan, groan, grumble, moan.

Then I realized this: credit unions are locally owned, non-profit co-ops.

It was as if the light bulb blinked on. Who do I want to support with my really hard-earned dollars? Wall Street? Or my local non-profit? It'll be a couple of hours of hassle. Big deal. And it will actually affect the outcome of all of this. (There's a good article here on a credit-union convert.)

(I have to admit, there's a small part of me that's concerned that I'll lose readers because I'm posting this. Not YOU, darling. Of course not you. But what about the people who have just read one of my books? The ones who pop by to see what I'm all about? And they find this? Clicking the Publish button is something that is difficult for me. It's a fear I have trouble letting go of. And I suppose it just comes down to this: I'm letting go of it. Right now. It's okay if the 1% don't like me. This is more important.)

The Best Article I've Read So Far

If you read one thing, read this. This is why the author Lili Loofbourow didn't buy into all of this uproar at first but eventually she "Got Off My Computer and Onto The Street At Occupy Oakland." She says (God, I could have written every one of these bullet points):

• I do not believe the police are evil.
• I do not believe in utopian societies.
• I distrust extremists of whatever stripe.
• I believe inflammatory rhetoric shuts down rational thought.
• I was (and remain) afraid of nighttime Oakland—the desperate Oakland that Occupy Oakland insisted on caring for and actually living with.
• I am lazy, prone to migraines, and unwilling to be cold, wet, uncomfortable and in constant danger of arrest.

In short, I'm a moderate: small, fearful, skeptical, selfish, with privilege aplenty...I have an iPhone, for heaven's sake. I am, moreover, a liberal with a lifelong habit of opting out of the political conversation—and out of most kinds of activism—because I find its language dishonest, combative and unjust.

But she changed her mind. The rest of her article, and what she found, is here. It's beautiful.

Follow the Occupy movement on Twitter by using the hashtag #ows for Occupy Wall Street or #occupyoakland for OccupyOakland. It moves fast; it's the best place to keep up.

Do not confuse the complexity of the issue with chaos.


(PS - Any kneejerk or rude comments will be deleted (and I'll make an extra donation to Occupy Wall Street in your honor). My blog, my rules. All kind, polite opinions of any variety, however, are welcomed and appreciated!)

Project 333 updateOctober 28, 2011

I'm into joining things. You might already know that (let's do a marathon after never having run a mile! Let's write a novel in November!). But then I'm into modifying the rules as I see fit (if possible -- it's quite easy to modify NaNo to suit a person, less easy to run a marathon with anything but 26.2 miles).

Project 333 is just up my alley, and easily (too easily?) modified. The goal is simple: for three months, wear only 33 items. That includes shoes, jewelry and accessories (excludes jewelry you never take off, underwear, inhome loungewear, and workout clothes used solely for workouts).

I was drowning in clothes I didn't like. I'm not a big shopper and rarely buy new clothes, but I love a good thrift store run. I can come home with bags of things that, because I didn't try them on, end up fitting badly or not at all. And thrift stores also inspire in me that surety that I can become a new person (like a person who wears overalls! Usually a bad idea!). I'm much more critical when it comes to new clothes, which are usually restricted to jeans, undies, and dresses. If I'm paying $25 for one item? It had better look good. (Yes, I'm cheap, except for certain weaknesses. Fluevogs, I'm looking at you.)

So I had a closet full of bad ideas. I was ready for 333.

I separated my clothes (and shoes) into piles:

1. Junk - 2 trash bags. It was astonishing, really, the amount of clothing I had that needed to be thrown away. Jeans ripped through the crotch. Old tee-shirts with so many holes at the belly-button that the breeze blew through. Broken flip flops. Why was I saving these? Just in case? In case of what? (And yes, I know I could have recycled these items, cut them up for rags or repurposed them somehow. I didn't, though. I barely carved out time for this project -- I had to remain realistic.)

2. Donate - 9 trash bags. This was the bulk of my clothing. If I didn't love it (and I mean LOVE it -- I had to be convinced I would practically die if I got rid of it), even if it still fit and was in good repair, I put it in the donate pile. (My sister Bethany came over that night and made out like a BANDIT, which was nice, since she just got a swank new job and needed new clothes anyway.)

3. Love - large stack. I didn't presort them into the 33 pile, I just piled the love (and treasured sentimental) items.


Then, once the majority of the bags were in the hallway, I started going through the Love items, trying to cull them down to 33. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT WAS? I had no idea it would be so hard, and I immediately started cheating. Using my cheats, I finally got the items to 33. You see that pink bin up there? It's larger than it looks in the photo. Everything that I loved that didn't make the 33 cut went in that bin and got stored in the top of my closet. In January, I'll donate what I haven't worn in my 33 pile (I'll bet there will be something) and then open the bin and decide if I want to cycle things in/out.

Oh, you want to know my cheats? Okay.

Rachael's Cheats:

Handknits - no WAY do those count, but it's true these are more frequently culled than anything else I own.

Uniform - This felt more like the allowed workout clothing of the project. I have to wear it one place, and one place only.

Jewelry - I don't have much, and it's all costume, but I'm trying to remember to wear it more. I did go through and get rid of a lot of it, everything I didn't love.

Belts - I only have four, but... okay, I have no excuse. I just don't count them.

Bags - I've gone down to carrying only two bags -- a large green shoulder bag when I'm working or writing (the laptop fits in it) and my poppy Queen Bee purse when I need something smaller.

Handmade things made AFTER the project began - The night after I did the culling, I needed to make a skirt from a Hawaiian shirt for my dad's wedding, so I'm enjoying that as a freebie.


Also, from all my wild thrift store purchases, I couldn't quite get rid of this.


Can't you just FEEL the velvety, shiny nap of that astonishingly ugly shirt? Yes, it's actually shiny in real life. It's amazing, right? I actually put the shirt in the bag to donate, thinking I'd never get around to repurposing it, but Bethany made me keep it (the only thing she made me keep) and she was right. It made the cutest skirt.


So this, shown below, is just about what I'm left with. (Two pair of jeans -- that fit -- are to the right of the folded skirts.)


For the extra curious (I always am), a list of everything I kept for the 33 is below in my own cryptic clothing shorthand.

Overall Findings So Far:

I am SO happy with this challenge. It's so enjoyable to go to the closet and love everything in it, to feel good in everything. Everything fits. Everything flatters. And I've been finding this surprising thing: I'm out of my perpetual day-off uniform -- sweatpants and torn tee-shirt. I still own those sweats and a few of the non-holey tees (inhome lounge wear! Honest!) but instead of wearing them around the house, I'm wearing real clothes. When I decide to run to the grocery store, I just grab my wallet and keys, instead of looking down at myself and saying, "Dang. Can't go out like this."

My mother trained me well: when you get home, change into play clothes so you don't ruin the good clothes. I'm 39 and have done this my whole life. But where did that leave me? With a bunch of nice clothes I didn't like and a lot of tee shirts with holes in them.

I should wear what I like, even if the items get covered with pet hair. And eventually (this is hard for me to admit, truly), the things I like will wear out and I will have to buy new things. And that's okay. That's just fine. That's what happens.

So yay. Thumbs up. I'll keep you posted.


Shoes Red cowboy boots
  Red Danskos
  Fluevog pumps
  Ruffle black heels
  Low Aerosole black mary jane
Tops Gray scoop short sleeve cowl
  Purpe scoop short sleeve cowl
  Blue scoop short sleeve cowl
  Red Vee Ruched thin tee shirt
  Slouchy black thin blouse
  B/W thin pattern tee
  Polka dot b/w tank
  Ruffle black tank
Blouses Plaid
  Safari blouse
  Grn/whi polka dot blouse
  Blue denim ruffle blouse
Skirts Martini skirt
  Eddie Bauer plaid gray skirt
  Green/gray polkadot skirt
  simple black skirt
Hoody Lexington
Pants Jeans blue
  Jeans black
Overwear Black thin shrug acrylic
  Gray sweater vest
  Black slouchy thing
  Grn plaid wool jacket
Dresses Navy blue fancy
  Black dress
  Red/black dress
  JLo black dress
  b/w slouchy dress
Not Included: Handknits
  Underwear, belts
  Tanks, tees used in working out
  Sweatpants (lounge)
Made things Hawaiian skirt
  skirt/cape - remake into skirt
  gold skirt

WinnersOctober 24, 2011

The randomly-drawn winners of Lisa's book (alerted via email) are: Connie, Helen, MaddyG, Cheryl, and RoseK. Huzzah! Thank you for commenting!

Me: Had a great time at Dad and Lola's wedding. She did all the catering and it was THE BEST FOOD I've ever had at a wedding. It was real, island food, and I'm still dying over the memory of that pork. And that lau-lau. Oh, lordy.

I haven't gotten permission yet to post photos of people, so please just believe me when I say that everyone was gorgeous in their Hawaiian garb, and the (cup)cake was amazing:


And Bethany gave me permission to post a couple of her pictures:



I look a wee bit confused, don't I? That's because I was! But so fun, it is SO much fun to play that thing. All in all, an awesome, happy time, and our biggest congrats to the new couple!

WhirlwindOctober 21, 2011

Whew! That was soooo fun! My little book tour is over, and I had the best time last night at Bookshop West Portal. PEOPLE CAME! Lovely, fun, wonderful people, and I soon as I saw that they were there, instead of relaxing, I got even MORE nervous, because wouldn't you want to impress a crowd like this?


My sister Bethany is making a face, so it's her own fault it gets posted like this--this cracked me UP. (Also, the Herrons, especially sister C, are MASTERS of the crazy-photo face).

I was beyond excited. Bookshop West Portal is where I gave my first reading, and it remains my favorite, because it always becomes a party. I bring wine and cookies, people nosh and gab and hang out and hug and I LOVE IT. It would do to remember this when I spend a whole afternoon sick with dread that no one will come.

(Apropos of nothing, if you find it hard to read the font on this new page, don't forget for all webpages you can hit Ctrl+ to make the font bigger, or on a Mac, Command+.)

So this: I hope you will read either/both of my new books. I will stop pushing them now, because really, I'm more comfortable pushing other books, and LOOK! Here's one now!


KwloveShe has a new book out, Knit With Love, and she's DARLING, with the biggest grin you've ever seen. I got the chance to ask her a few questions about her book.

1. Out of everything you've ever knitted, what's your favorite, and why? (I know it's like asking a reader what her favorite book is, but give it a shot.)
    Gee, you start with the tough questions. This is going to take some thought. (Insert dramatic pause.) Okay. I’ve got it.
    When I was pregnant with my son I went through a nesting fit like most moms do. At the time I worked in a little needlework shop that featured needlepoint and knitting. There was a great knit group meeting on Tuesday mornings but I never joined in, I was a needlepointer then. I had stitched my baby-to-be a lovely needlepoint sampler and was just waiting for the name and date to finish it. But what I really wanted was something I could actually use when the baby was born. Barbara came to my rescue.
    Barbara was the knit guru of the Tuesday morning group. She insisted that I could knit a sweater for my baby. I hadn’t knit in years, in fact I had to be reminded how to cast on. But Barbara helped me pick out a pattern for a tiny cardigan. Then she patiently helped me with each phase of the sweater. I was so surprised as the little sweater grew on my needles. The how-to of knitting was still within me. It was exciting to have this skill reborn just as my son was about to be born.
    I finished the tiny cardigan. It’s (one of) my favorite knitted objects. I look at it and remember how scared I was to change colors, to set in the sleeves, and to make the buttonholes. I still marvel that it turned out so well. (It took me years before I knit myself an adult size sweater.) I love his little sweater. It reminds me of how knitting returned to my life, of my friend Barbara and of when my son was tiny. It also reminds me to be brave in my knitting, to take on a challenge.

2. What gave you the idea for your collection of essays?
    I had read Betty Christiansen’s book Knitting for Peace and I was fascinated by all stories behind different knitting charities. I started out looking for local stories like that. What I found were a lot of knitters very passionate about their craft. Not everyone knits for charity but it seems that every knitter has a big heart and is willing to share her time and wool with the world in some way. The stories that emerged were a collection of knitters caring for each other in so many many ways. It’s my hope that these tales will help knitters celebrate their joy in the craft as well as inspire them to share their labors with others, in whatever form that takes. And some of the stories were just too fun not to pass on.

3. What's your favorite kind of fiber?
    I like the fiber of the moment. I am more frequently drawn to the color of yarn than the fiber content. I love Pagewood Farms Denali, a cashmere sock yarn. Decadent. But this summer I knit a sweater and a skirt from cotton and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Cotton has this reputation for being difficult, stretching out and not having any give. And while those things can be true I had success knitting with it. My fiber of the moment right now is alpaca. I’m making an afghan for my son. He’s a freshman at Boston University and my California boy needs some warmth. I’m using Drops Alpaca in 15 different colors, my idea of fiber color bliss.

4. How long have you been writing?
    I’m one of those girls who wrote angst filled poetry as a teen. I kept journals and poured out every minute thought on the page. But just as my knitting was reborn with my son, so was my writing.
We lived a time zone away from family when my son was born. And I longed for the grandmas, aunts and uncles to see him grow up, but geography was keeping us apart. So I started writing down all the little things that were going on in our world. I documented his first steps. I wrote about his adorable adventures in the park. I told them all the silly things that happened. This was in the days before we were all connected online so I actually sent letters to all my relatives. The first seven years of my son’s life are chronicled in detail. (He’ll die someday when I show a girlfriend or fiancée. teehee.)


In exciting news, Lisa's publisher has let me have FIVE of these books to give away, so leave a comment to enter.

(And now I'm off to my dad's luau wedding. Looking forward to the festivities! Aloha!)

The Final Reading! October 18, 2011

And the first!

This is the final stop on my little book tour, but it's the actual official first reading for Wishes & Stitches. I love Bookshop West Portal, and they've been so kind to me, and I'd love you to come on Thursday night at 7pm if you're local. I'll bring wine and a gift or two to give away.

Bookshop West Portal
80 West Portal, San Francisco, CA
October 20th, 7pm

Then I'll be done telling you how nervous I get about these things and how I have dreams that I will show up with various important parts of my clothing missing and/or in disarray. (I've dreamed I've showed up in an ACRYLIC STOREBOUGHT SWEATER. Can you imagine? I'll give every person who attends ten dollars if that ever happens. I swear.)

Project 333October 13, 2011

Project 333: I'm thinking about doing it. I know people who have (I'm looking at you, PoMoGolightly), and have loved it.

It goes like this: You clean out your closet, trashing the trashed clothes, donating the ones that don't fit you or your style, keeping only the things that you LOVE. From those, you winnow them down into 33 things (including shoes, purse, jewelry) to wear for the next three months. Three months later, you can reevaluate, going through your LOVE box, pulling out, tossing, putting away.

In this, I wouldn't (couldn't) include my uniform clothes, and you also don't include things like underwear, sleepwear, workout clothes. As a Knitter, I will aslo exclude knitted items that I have no intention of getting rid of, which will open it up a bit. (I make the rules! Yes, I do!) What you're looking at is your everyday wardrobe. Wouldn't it be freeing to have limited choices, all of which you love? My closet is impossibly small (I mean TINY) and I'm constantly irritated by how much I have to fight to keep the clothes corralled.

Oooh, I like this article on Living in the Land of Enough - Space.

This could be interesting. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I'm off to the store to buy jeans that fit, because I've been complaining about my one pair of jeans for EONS (they're too big, have always been too big, and I hate wearing them, but wear them I do). 

Also: Just got a very nice review in the New York Journal of Books -  "Wishes and Stitches delivers a heroine with enough issues to be convincingly difficult to love, a hero who’s immensely likeable, several steamy love scenes, and a comfortably familiar small town setting. All in all, a pleasant read for a fall afternoon."

I like that the reviewer found Naomi difficult to love. That was the trickiest part of writing her, and this is my prediction: extroverted people (Jasmin!) will find her difficult to understand and shy people (Gigi!) will empathize with her problems. Tell me what you think!

Wishes & StitchesOctober 11, 2011

Wishesstitches3 It's here!

It's my new book! The third novel in the Cypress Hollow Yarn series!

And honestly, as I just admitted in my newsletter (go HERE to sign up in case you're not on the list), I love it best of all my novels (I know I'm not supposed to admit that, but I can't help it. It's just true). It's about what happens when a misunderstood shy doctor (Naomi) meets a guy with true bedside manner (Rig).

You'll get to see Cade and Abigail again, as well as Lucy and Owen. Eliza has a few words of wisdom, and I'm happy to say Toots walks through again, too.

But if you haven't read the previous two books, this is a great spot from which to jump into Cypress Hollow. I hope you enjoy it -- I sure loved writing it.

I miss it. I miss all my books when I'm done, but I really miss this one.

Available at your favorite indie bookseller and here:

Barnes & Noble

There's a little excerpt over here, too, iffen you're interested. Enjoy. And let me know what you think.

*  Edited to add: The audiobook of Wishes & Stitches is out today, too! Yay! Link here.

LarchLarch Knitalong!

 Also, in fun news, we're doing a Larch cardie knitalong, courtesy of the lovely KnittedWit -- here's a Ravelry link to the pattern, and here is where her gorgeous yarn is (click on the size, and then there are pictures of the different colors, or more color pics here -- I'm doing mine in Naomi green). Ravely group here.

This Sunday! October 6, 2011

You know what I love about Books, Inc. in Alameda?

1. It's in Alameda, a city I worked in/for a LOT of years.I know all the streets. I know many stories of many things that have happened there and can drive around and recite facts that are interesting to probably no one but me.

2. It's big and bright and carries really good books.

3. The very, very, very first time I ever saw my first book in a Real Live Bookstore, it was there. The PensFatales and I had gone out book hunting and I never actually thought there would be a copy there, but there it was! Really, truly on the shelf!


4. I'll be reading and signing there this Sunday! I promise to be funny. Or at least funny-looking. Please come if you can -- 6pm. (PSSST - I'll have one or two ARCs of the next book, Wishes & Stitches, which, if you won one, you could read two days early!)

We Are Doing It AgainOctober 5, 2011

My sister Bethany and I are committing to the insanity that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). We're going to write another novel in the moth of November. We'll head full tilt down that crazy hill and not stop till we get to the bottom, even if we trip and fall and roll the last few feet.

The best thing about NaNo? You write a novel in a month. 1667 words a day, that's all! (Usually I like to write 2k/day so I have a little cushion on the days I cannot get it together. This year I'll try to write 4k/day because I'm completely insane.)

The worst thing about NaNo? You write a novel in a month. All the words in your head come out your fingertips and hit the keyboard, and you know what's left over for talking to other people? Nothing. Your wife says, "What do you want for dinner?" and you say, "Are you tapas bar? Cry on leftist bank of saints and inchworms! Jessh!"

It can be (well) argued that 50,000 words does not an entire novel make. That's true. Most YA novels are bigger than that nowadays. You know what I say to that argument? Write the WHOLE book then! (Watch the arguer backpedal: No, no, 50,000 is a lot of words, I'll be fine with that....) Me, I'm going to try to write a whole book. All 100,000 words. Stop it. I am. (Eeek!)

Um. I suppose I should come up with a plot. Soon. (You can preplan, but not prewrite.) Sigh. Can I borrow one from somebody? (I'm just kidding. YOU write your story! Do it! Do it! I wanna hear about THAT!)

NOWDSo I'm committing to raising money for the Night of Writing Dangerously, NaNoWriMo's fundraiser for their Young Writers Program (more than 2000 classrooms will be writing along in November for NaNo!). Usually it's Bethany's pledge page and then she lets me tag along, but this year, I beat her to the punch! But she'll be my guest if we raise $350.

Bethany and I both want to say this, humbly:

Dear Fairy Godmother, We know the economy is hard and even though you've sent us to this for the last few years, you do NOT HAVE TO send us again. Really. We love you, no matter what!

Everyone else, We know the economy is hard and even $5 makes a difference to this program. It's something we really, really, really believe in. Words are magic, and they are giving the gift of the belief in words to kids. That's amazing.


*Edited to add:
CARTWHEELS. She did it again. Writes our darling FG: Dear Rachael and Bethany, It wouldn't be Nanowrimo if I didn't know you were at the Night of Writing Dangerously. Have a great time! Your Fairy Godmother

We are so happy and so grateful. We will make you proud.

Welcome to the New Digs! October 3, 2011

Hiya! What do you think? I'm just settling in, unpacking the furniture and hanging the pictures. Darling Carrieoke did this on top of my old, kludged [Technical Term] site. I'm really pleased with the Books page.

What's doing over here: I've been sitting at the dining room table for hours, working on entering line edits (taking a first draft from embarrassing to readable). The first rain of the season has started, and I've been so happy, eating my seaweed snacks (addicted!), listening to it come down outside. An hour ago, I poured myself a glass of wine.

I've just realized that I'm exhausted (perhaps the wine helped me realize this?). I'm going to go lie on the couch with a book and do nothing but read. Oh, and I'll see how many animals I can get on the couch with me*. A coup is six. Almost unheard of is seven (since Clara takes her jobs very seriously, and sitting with us on the couch is NOT one of them). I made her get up once, and all nine of us were on the couch for just one brief second, long enough to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

Aside - did you know that a group of cats is a clowder? I love that. It's right up there with a murder of crows and Lala's new term, a shame of exes.

*Sometimes we really do look around and wonder out loud, "How did this happen to us?" Today I was talking with a coworker who has four kids under the age of five and he says he and his wife say the same thing.