I love this shot (click for big), even though Clara's eyes are glowing weirdly. It's a new trail I found this week with her while exploring the Chabot Regional Park. This was a gorgeous one: In the picture above, the hills lift high overhead, covered with oak and redwood and eucalyptus, and to the left, a cliff plunges far, far, down. If Clara turned there and looked over the cliff, she'd see treetops below. The Cascade trail clings to the middle of the hillside like this, and goes for about two miles before joining the bigger trails.
I have this new romantic idea of myself. In the vision, I write all morning, and then go tromp around the hills, just me and my trusty dog. We sit in a shaded glen, and I chew on a crusty baguette and cheese, drinking sparking water from my hip flask. Perhaps we take a short nap. Then my collie and I trek back through the hills to get me to my desk in time for a little more work before dinner with Lala.
But in reality, I don't want to carry a backpack, and I don't want to nap on the ground. Ticks worry me and there's poison oak everywhere. And usually there are other things on a day off that occupy me, things like laundry and shopping for cat food and mowing the lawn. But I like to dream about my romantic writer's day, even if I don't get it very often.
I made the BEST salad last night for dinner, and I'm putting it down here so I don't forget how I made it.
Asparagus, chopped on the bias into inch-long pieces Green beans
Boil the above the three minutes, then drain.
Then add: Can of rinsed kidney beans Two chopped avocados Diced shallot Chopped tomato Diced kalamata olives Good handful or two of pine nuts (toasted would have been nice, but the kitchen was too hot)
Glug on your favorite dressing (Green Goddess) and YUM. Served three people, and I have leftovers for today.
I realized this week that I'm a moron. We live five minutes away from an entrance to the Lake Chabot Regional Park. It's gorgeous, immense, and it's legal off leash space for dogs. We do walk up there sometimes, but I always seem to forget about it.
And there's this one point that I've passed many times on one of the trails where a sign points to Lake Chabot. I thought that the lake itself was miles and miles away, that it would be a four hour hike or something. I always planned to pack a picnic someday and hike it.
Then this week I mapped it out on gmap pedometer (you know about that site, right?).
It's a MILE AND A HALF AWAY. The lake is almost right there, and I'd never hiked to it. Lame-o.
So today I set about repairing that. After a good morning's worth of writing, I headed off with Clara for our adventure. It was warm but there was a good breeze. There were flowers.
You know everything (I know you do), so what are these?
Aren't they wonderful? There were so many of them, clouds of them. They look like a cross between an orchid and a lupine, but they had no scent.
Clara runs ahead:
And then, you know what?
WE GOT LOST. Not very lost. It wasn't like I didn't know how to get back — I remembered every turn I took (and I had my cell phone). But I couldn't find the damn lake. I saw it in front of us once, but I couldn't get us to it. Blast it all. After about forty-five minutes of looking for it, I had to turn us around because I'd only planned on hiking about an hour, with water for Clara at the trailhead at the beginning and end, so I hadn't carried any water. (I won't make that mistake again. I didn't like worrying about her. She was fine, but I was stressed.) With the sun and her dark fur, I didn't feel like messing around with overheating her, so we headed back. It was a bit frustrating.
But it makes it better for next time. We're SO gonna find it.
The whole story is funny, actually. Megan, a dispatcher in San Leandro and old pal, heard the plate her coworker was running and thought, Oh, that has to be Rachael. (YARNAGO) So she emailed me and called me and told me to get over to San Leandro because the car looked drivable.
I met the officer there. The suspect had parked it in a random stall (the person who normally parked there called to complain her spot was occupied). They'd forced the lock and tumblers, so the car had been left with the radio on, so the battery was dead, but that just took a jump. I managed to re-tumble the tumblers (I know that's not right but that's what it felt like) so instead of just being able to fit the tip of my key in, it all went all the way in, and the ignition now appears fine.
Funniest part? Oh, there are so many.
1. There is more gas in it than I left. 2. They only changed one radio preset. They didn't appreciate NPR, I guess. 3. They only stole my parking change. 4. They left behind: a. A really nice Humvee brand pair of binoculars. b. Thirty Watchtower magazines c. A Blackberry car charger (WHICH I HAVE BEEN NEEDING! Dude!) d. Nice iPod headphones (although until I douse with rubbing alcohol, I am too skeeved out to use)
And everything that I normally leave in the car is still there, those little things that don't matter much but you miss when they're gone: My only pair of sunglasses, the throwing thing that tosses Clara's tennis balls, my Thomas guide (archaic now that we have google maps on our phones but I still love mine), my pens, my lip balm.
I am so relieved. It was only worth about $2,000, and I knew we weren't going to be able to find anything reliable for that price.
My tummy hurts! Again! But it hurts less than it did earlier this week, and so far I haven't had any cars stolen today, so everything's looking up.(Nope, car not back yet. Dang it. Snazzy Mazda rental, though. Do I have to give it back?)
Nothing to see here, folks. Deep in a revision land right now. I like what I'm doing, and I feel like I have a handle on the beast, but I'm dealing with Conflict, which always winds me up into a tizzy so you should go see me over at PensFatales where I am much more interesting than I am here.
I have hair dye on my head, and I'm seven minutes from being done. I will type fast and hard to say hello to you.
Those of you who follow me in either Twitter or Facebook know that I had a craptastic couple of days.
It all started with a fierce belly-ache that, as the hours went on, turned to something sicker. I was completely miserable, and didn't go to work. I stayed in bed, in pain, trying not to think about the fact that it was the first deathiversary of my little mama. At about ten o'clock in the morning, Lala came in the bedroom to ask where I'd parked, because she couldn't find my car.
Yep. The car was stolen. And it had been there when our neighbor went to work, so rather than thinking to myself OH GOD if only I hadn't been sick I would still have my car, I choose to think that by staying in bed I possibly missed running into the auto burglars deep in the throes of stealing my sexy, sexy station-wagon. (Who steals a station wagon? Dude! They also messed with neighbor Sam's classic truck, but he had the battery disconnected. The thieves were obviously not from my neighborhood. Nobody fucks with Sam.)
Good news: I have comprehensive insurance which also covered a rental car. In my weakened still-in-pain state I went to Hertz because the branch I needed to go to wasn't open the next day. Bad news: It took two hours. With a bad belly. Oh, sadness.
Worse news: Finally driving the Hyundai, I discovered that it was infested with ants.
And the next day after another hour line to exchange it, I left my house key on the ring when I turned it in, so after finally getting home with a nice little Mazda, I had to turn around and go back to the airport and start the workers searching the lot for the gold Hyundai (which we finally found, in the to-rent lot, ready to be rented out again, STILL FULL OF ANTS). But I got my key back.
After all that, there was only one direction to go, and Lala and I headed in that direction:
Loards, Alameda, fudge-ana sundae.
That, and an amazing RWA meeting where some friends and I steered my course for the next edit of Book Two, fixed everything, and today I feel just fine. With soon-to-be red hair. Yee-haw! (Got the blog done in time! Will check later for spelling errors!)
Well, now. That wasn't bad, not bad at all. I actually liked being home at Dad's, which I didn't expect. I thought it might be too painful. Or confusing. Or both.
But it wasn't. I'm here to tell you that a year later, you can really start to remember the good stuff. You can paw through the cabinets while making bread and pull out the beat-up bread pan without your heart breaking into ten tiny pieces and clattering onto the floor. You can eat at her favorite restaurant and not cry (very much) in public. You can marvel that your dad still writes his grocery list in the same notebook she used: a continuity both unexpected and lovely.
And last night I was lucky enough to hang out with some of my writing pals from the old days. At Cal Poly, Al Landwehr was the best creative writing teacher there was. A posse of six of us glommed on to each other and called ourselves Al's Gals, stopping just short of posing with him as Charlie's Angels. We wrote, we cheered each other on, we critiqued. Five out of the six of us finalled in the college's end-of-year writing competition, and five out of the six of us are still writing (Wendy Conti: where are you?). We were TIGHT.
Twelve years later, three of us met up last night at Al's house, and it was like no time had passed at all. With the three of us and Al and his lovely wife Lynne, there were five story-tellers at the table, all of us equipped with huge laughs and a sense of comedic timing. There were cocktails in the garden, next to the fountain. At the dinner table, there was fresh bread and the first tomatoes of the year, along with pasta alfredo and ceviche and rhubarb pie. The talk ranged from publishing to motherhood to hospitals and back to editing. It was the nicest evening in recent memory, and I've had some damn good nights lately.
Now I'm home, and I'm getting reacquainted with the fish and the cats and the dogs and the wife. Lala and I have a date planned tonight: Neko Case at the Warfield. There will be a burrito found along the way, I'm sure. All is well.