Summer Reads

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Summer is such a great time for reading. I like all kinds of books, but off-beat fiction is what I really like to get lost in. I usually have a few going at a time – a book for the gym, one by the bath tub, another on my side of the bed – each with their pages dog-earred and stained with some ubiquitous liquid. Mila cat is my reading buddy. She usually finds me and cuddles up, snoring big fat snores into the crease of my elbow. I’m not sure there’s much better than a sweet kitty laying next to you in the late-evening summer sun with a book. Here are a few of the good ones I’ve read lately:

You’ll Grow Out Of It
Jesse Klein
After listening to Terri Gross’ interview with comic Jesse Klein about her book on NPR, I knew I had to read it. And boy did it deliver. Klein, who is currently the head writer/exec producer of “Inside Amy Schumer”, shares 24 humorous short stories from her life in this book…everything from growing up, to dating and “failing at” the rites of womanhood. She opens the book by introducing herself as a “tom man”, a term she coined for when a tomboy just never grows out of it. It’s been my favorite read so far this summer.

The Girls
Emma Cline
I couldn’t put this one down. The story takes place in the late 1960s and follows a young girl who encounters a group of free-spirited girls in the park and is drawn to them. Soon she is becoming a part of the group, which we later learn is a cult led by a charismatic leader. It reminded me of The Virgin Suicides during some parts, which I loved….mixed with a little psychological thrill.

Me, Earl, And The Dying Girl
Jesse Andrews
I am such a fan of the way Jesse Andrews writes. It’s so refreshingly honest and funny. This is his debut novel, although he’s been a screenwriter for years. He tells a coming of age story that follows a teenage guy as he navigates high school and adolescence, and how an unlikely relationship with a girl in his class with leukemia ends up being the closest thing he has to a friend. I loved how unconventional the story is and how it’s full of both light-hearted and deep moments. The film adaptation is really great too!

Modern Lovers
Emma Straub
I haven’t finished this one, but it’s been a good read so far. The story is about two couples who have been friends for a long time and live on the same block in Brooklyn with their teenage children. It’s the perfect book if you have ever wondered what happens to hipsters when they get older.

One Simple Trick

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Life with Dogs
Tip #11: Using a distinct whistle.

When I was a kid, my brother and I used to spend all summer outside. Just before it got dark every evening, my dad would stand on the edge of the porch and whistle for us to come in. That whistle would carry through the trees and across the pasture, down to the creek, and straight into our ears. Whenever we heard the whistle, we knew it was time to make our way back home.

I’ve found this not only works for two scraggly kids roaming through the woods (ha!), it also works with dogs. By choosing a sound and using it when you want their attention, over time it will become distinct and memorable to them. Most of us do it already without really noticing.

When I’m on trails in the woods, I like to give the dogs space to wander. It’s a trust we have with one another – they can roam freely as long as they come back when I whistle for them. I like letting them be dogs and giving them the freedom to sniff and investigate. The two of them stick together most of the time. Keep stays right at Jack’s heels, or vice versa. When they get too far from me, I whistle for them and they run back by my side. There are times, of course, when they forget or ignore me because they are too interested in what they are doing, and that’s ok. I just whistle a few more times and wait for them.

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A good way to train your dog to come to your distinct whistle is to start in the house or at the dog park with a ball or toy. Throw the ball or toy and whistle for them to bring it back instead of saying anything. Over time, they will make the association that your whistle means to come back. This will also get them familiar with the sound of the whistle you’ve chosen.

My go-tos are: a high-pitched whistle or a sharp kiss-like sound I used to use with horses growing up. Both are effective, and I like that even in a crowd of dogs I can get their individual attention. Do you guys have a special whistle or call that gets your dog’s attention? I want to know!

A Magical Day

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A few weekends ago our friend and wedding photographer Phil Chester was in town shooting a wedding not too far from us and stopped over to spend the day hanging with us. It was so much fun laughing and exploring parts of the coastline we hadn’t been to before with him.

We hung out at home for a little bit drinking bloody mary’s and chatting, then got some tacos and headed north up to Point Reyes. It was foggy and windy and everything a summery northern California day on the coast should be. We drove past cows and rolling hills and walked along the cliffs just above the water. Then, like clockwork Lola decided to break down and we played games until a tow truck came to bail us out. These photos are so special to us since we never got around to having engagement photos taken (hehe). It was so rad to hang out and have him capture us in our natural element. I can’t wait to get some printed to hang around our place!

 

Santa Cruz with Stanley

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This past weekend we went down to Santa Cruz to check out some skate/bmx spots. We stopped by Blue Bottle coffee first to fill up our Stanley vacuum mug with coffee. Then we headed south in search of an empty pool Trey found on Google Earth. Empty pools are a dream to ride if you’re into skating or bmx. Or just want a rad place to hang out.

We pulled off on this back road just off the highway, woods on both sides.  There’s never any signs or arrows leading to the good spots. They’re hidden like gems you really have to seek out. The pool has been there since the 1970s and is somewhat of an icon for the Santa Cruz skating scene. Technically it’s private property, but locals say it’s ok to use as long as the woods are kept clean. We finally found a trail that led up a hill and through the brush. After walking for a little bit, we came to a clearing to find a totally empty, abandoned pool to ourselves.

It was hot, really hot. I’m glad the dogs were at home staying cool. Especially Keeper, she gets so hot with all her fur. When we were packing up to leave for the day and she saw Trey’s bike being wheeled out, she howled because she wanted to come with so bad. Next time, girl. I love her so much. Anyway, we switched from coffee to ice water with the Stanley insulated growler. Trey rode around, grinding on the side of the pool and getting some air out of the deep end. I got a tan in the sun. It was awesome just to be out in nature with each other.

We’re always happy to bring Stanley products along with us on our adventures.  We have so many of their products around the house. Every morning Trey makes coffee and takes it with him in the vacuum mug on the train in the morning. He skates with it in his bag since it stays sealed. Every night we use the Stanley insulated pints for ice water. The growler is great too. We fill it up with ice water and keep it with us in the truck for the dogs, but you can also fill it up for beer and bring it camping too (which we’ll be doing soon). The options are endless. If you’re looking for a gift for Father’s Day, Stanley is a classic choice that’s perfect for outdoorsy guys. I can confirm that dog dads appreciate them too, ha!

 

This post was sponsored by Stanley. All views expressed are my own. Thank you for supporting those who support Wildlandia.

 

Around Here

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This weekend was a lot of fun. We spent it hanging out with friends, watching the Warriors playoff games, then heading down to Santa Cruz to hang out at an empty/abandoned pool in the middle of the woods. The dogs have had to stay behind a lot lately since it’s been so hot out (80s and 90s!) and the air conditioner in Lola is on the fritz. Life has been go go go lately. Steph, Trey’s sister, is coming to San Francisco with her boyfriend to spend a couple weeks here and we are so excited! Then after that we’re heading to NYC to visit some friends and Wes (our best friend/brother…Trey’s next door neighbor growing up…yep…we all witnessed each other as snot faced teenagers. He’s kind of my favorite person ever). Then we’re hoping to squeeze in a few camping trips with friends and dogs soon too. Summer is always a busy time around here, but I love it. Here are a few photos from around here lately.

1./ My sweet boy, I love him so. His birthday is soon! / 2. Sun lover / 3. Browsing pretty things at Esqueleto / 4. Skating empty pools / 5. Keeper girl in the morning / 6. The sky from the Bay Bridge / 7. Forever on the hunt for vintage jeans / 8. This toy cracks me up and Keeper is obsessed (thanks Zippypaws!) / 9. Sunday morning hangs

Bad Intentions

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There was a time in college when Trey and I had just started dating again when this guy in my environmental science class invited me to a party he was throwing at his house. “Nah, it’s not like that“, I told Jess, my best friend over coffee that morning. “He’s just a friend“. Later that night I rode my bike to Trey’s and found him sitting around with a bunch of his friends watching bmx videos. My friend had made me this dress from leftover fabric she found in the design hall at school. I paired it with awful chunky Doc Marten boots. “Want to come?”, I asked him. “Theme parties aren’t really my thing”, he told me with his eyes on the television. Trey’s always been like that, laid back. Doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do. He’s never been the type to follow my every move.

So I went and danced with a bunch of new people until we were all sweaty and feeling good. Around 4 in the morning when the kegs were up, I dug my bike out of the pile in the front yard and started to ride home. I looked down to see my tire was flat. “Hey! Where are you going?”, my new friends called from the deck. The guy from my class came over to me. “You could just stay here”, he said with eyes that said a lot more, his fingers lightly grazing my arm. I sat on the curb outside and texted Steven, Trey’s room mate and my good friend, figuring if anyone was up, it would be him. No answer. “F*ck it”, I thought, wheeling my bike down the street ready to walk it home. A few minutes later headlights came from behind me. The sound of his old volkswagen rattling up next to me. I knew it was him before looking. He hung his head out the car window, pulling up beside me. “You know, you really shouldn’t be walking in the dark at this time of night, someone with bad intentions might try to pick you up”. One of the guys from the house threw a rock at Trey’s car, angry that their friend’s mating conquests had been thwarted. They started to chase his car down. Trey got out to confront them. “Hey, get f*cked!”, he yelled. “Lets just go”, I told him. “Sorry…”, I said quietly from the passenger’s seat as we drove away. “Don’t be”, he said calmly.

What are you, my hero? Look I just had a flat”, I said oddly defensive after a few minutes, abruptly breaking the silence. I’ve never been that girl who needed some guy to ride up on a white stallion for her. We listened to The Smiths as he drove me home to the bottom floor apartment I shared with a girl who painted her room black and spelled her name with a K even though you knew it was a C on her birth certificate. “Hey…thanks. You really didn’t have to do that”, I told him, looking more like a train wreck than potential girlfriend material. He leaned in and kissed me. Then he was gone. 

Life with Dogs / 10

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Tip # 10: On dealing with “good samaritans”.

When we raise dogs, it means we swear an imaginary oath to care for them. Over time, our dogs grow and become our best friends. And when someone assumes we are breaking that oath we’ve made to our best friend, it makes us go bat-shit. Personally, I think dealing with rude people should be seen as an art form.

I remember the deer-in-the-headlight days when I used to just stand there and listen while people would tell me my dogs needed water/food/were tired/hot/whatever in order to keep the peace. Living in a really liberal area where everyone likes to share their opinions (this is a good and bad thing) means dealing with situations like this frequently. But you know what? I take care of my dogs. They don’t need water because they just had some. They aren’t hungry because they’ve been fed. They aren’t hot because I would never leave them in the car on a hot day. I got tired of people thinking they could say whatever they wanted to me, so now I talk back.

The other day, while driving back from Lagunitas, we stopped to get some juice at this natural grocery store. The truck was parked but running. I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat and the dogs are in the back, all the windows are down. They’ve just been swimming in cold creek water for the last few hours, and Keeper was shivering. Trey has ran inside to get the drinks.

Middle-aged woman: (walks over to our truck, says to me) “I think your dogs are hot”.
Me: (ignoring middle age woman who has walked over to my truck to tell me how to take care of my dogs).
Middle-aged woman: : “Hellooooo (peers into the driver’s seat window), I said I think your dogs are hot.”
Me: (Starts to explain creek, cold water, swimming… aborts idea, decides to tell her to get the fu*k out of here instead).
Me: No they aren’t, and I don’t need you to tell me how to care for my dogs…
Middle-aged woman: (cutting me off) “You’re ignorant and don’t deserve to have dogs!” (walks back to her silver Prius thinking she has done her civic duty for the day).
Me: Ohgetthafuckouttahere (suddenly, a Boston accent emerges).
Middle-aged woman: (turns around and says) “You’re a bitch. I have your license plate”.
Me: That’s great lady, shove it up your ass (makes dramatic ass shoving gesture with arm).
Me: (sits in passenger’s seat, mulling over what just happened. gets pissed on behalf of all good dog owners everywhere. gets out of passenger’s seat and walks over to woman).
Me: HEY!
Middle-aged woman: (gets into Prius quickly).
Me: (knocks on her window loudly) IT’S ME, FROM OVER THERE (points flamboyantly to the truck).
Middle-aged woman: (locks doors).
Me: Yeah, TOTALLY intrusive when someone comes over to your car, right? While I’m here, don’t EVER tell me how to care for my dogs or assume you know what I or anyone else needs to be doing.
Middle-aged bitch: (puts car in reverse).
Me: (Follows car, flicking off rearview mirror with both hands until Prius leaves the parking lot. Turns to see people eating lunch outside of store. Snarls for added effect).

You might be thinking “wow Nicole, you really went there“. I did. I’d do it again. They can go tell all their friends what happened so every one of them thinks twice about approaching someone random and thinking they know more about their dogs than they do.

If throwing the wild card isn’t your thing, here’s a less in-your-face approach:

Turn the conversation. Ask them this instead:
Do you feed this dog every morning and night?
Do you pick up this dog’s poop 3 times a day?
Did this dog sleep in the bed with you last night?
Do you take this dog to the dog park every day?
Does this dog go hiking, swimming, and on a million road trips with you?

No? Well then don’t tell me how to take care of my dog.

Lastly (and somewhat effective, yet least satisfying): ignore them. Engaging with strangers is always a gamble and you never know who is waiting around the corner. I usually listen long enough to hear what they have to say, and if the person obviously has no clue what’s going on, it’s better to just treat them as if they are crazy for even approaching you. A good death stare works wonders. I tend to go all bulge-y eyed in these situations because I have a lot of repressed childhood anger. I’m just kidding. Kind of.

Hopefully this provides a few entertaining options for your next encounter with a “good samaritan”. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Got any good stories of someone telling you you’re not taking proper care of your dog? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear!

Getting waffles with Mohinders


This post really has nothing to do with waffles, except for the fact that it was what I was doing on the morning when I decided to make this video. Sometimes when blogging, it can all start to seem kind of disingenuous if you let it (this scene from Wayne’s World reflects my sentiments) so, you have to do really normal things in order to really get back to your OG vibe. And the reality was, I woke up wanting a waffle from the restaurant across the street and needed to put shoes on to go and get it. So I wore my Mohinders, the shoes I’ve been living in ever since being given a pair to wear around the Philippines, and decided it would be a good time to share about them. Here’s an island dog on the beach in Palawan checking them out:

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Mohinders are a new favorite of mine for a lot of reasons. For one, their founder is a really nice guy that’s local to the San Francisco Bay area and believes in doing good. Another reason is their leather shoes are ethically sourced and made by an artisan collaborative in rural Karnataka, India. This means they believe in preserving the cultural practice of shoemaking in India as well as helping the artisans break-free from the “cycle of poverty” that commonly comes with products mass-produced outside of the US. Workers are paid a fair wage for the work they do. What’s also great about these shoes is that the entire product is natural and made from the earth. The leather is vegetable-tanned by hand in small batches using vegetable tannins extracted from the myrobalan nut and the bark of babul trees. The result is a casually cool, stylish shoe that will last through walks across sandy beaches, motor bike rides through foreign towns, and walking down the street to get waffles in your ‘hood.

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This post somewhat sponsored by Mohinders. Sometimes I exchange my marginal photography and writing skills for really well-crafted goods that I care about. And then make waffle videos about it. But thanks for reading the italics, you’re really great.

Lagunitas, CA

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It was beautiful all weekend here. The temperatures were in the high 70s and 80s both days so we practically lived outside. On Saturday we went on a bike ride around Berkeley and Oakland, then on Sunday we went to a swimming hole up north.

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