Life’s little surprises

I love unexpected pleasures.  Some hit me in the face, others are more subtle.  But each is a joy.

Take this blog.  I set out today to give an early December update of I write, I knit, I live.  And then, tucked into each paragraph, came a little surprise, turning what might have been just another blog into something really fun.

First, I write.  I’m at page 92 of SWEET SALT AIR. The opening pages are always the hardest, since they involve establishing the characters from scratch, so reaching this point is good.  It means I’m on track to finish in June.  But it also means I’m far enough along to have one of those surprise author moments – I mean, when something happens in the story that I didn’t plan.  In this case, it’s Bear.  Bear, being slightly scary but totally heart-wrenching, brings something to the plot that I hadn’t planned.  Want to know more?  Sorry.  My lips are sealed.

Second, I knit.  Quickly.  Of ten hats to make for little heads, I’ve finished six and am at various stages of the remaining four.

Yeah, all four at once.  I find it easier to do ribbing on each, then the body on each, then crown decreases on each.  That way, there’s less checking the pattern to see how long the ribbing should be or where the decreases come.  My surprise knitting moment?  The pink-green-purple one above.  It’s kettle-dyed Malabrigo, and the colors are so vibrant and the yarn so rich in my hands that I went back to the store for an extra skein.  What’ll I make?  I don’t know.  But … honestly?  This little elf is getting itchy to do something beside hats.  You knitters out there, how about you?  What’s your New Year’s dream?  Me, maybe I’ll make myself a pair of mittens with that extra skein.  Then again, the December sock club shipment comes from Cookie A within the week.  I’m counting on a super pattern, because I’d love to start 2012 knitting a new pair of socks.

I live.  Do I ever.  DH and I made our annual pilgrimage to Newbury Street yesterday.  For those of you unfamiliar with Boston, Newbury Street is one of the prettiest shopping spots in the city – blocks of stores, lots of restaurants, tons of people.  At the very top of the street are the Public Gardens and the Boston Common, both lit for the holidays, though we thought the best lights were on the tree at Trinity Church in Copley Square.  We walked for several hours, and the surprise here?  Street-corner musicians.  We’ve never seen them on Newbury Street before, but there were easily half a dozen groups.  I don’t know whether it’s the economy that brings them out this year, the mild weather, or the sheer proliferation of amazing musicians in Boston.  Whatever, they were great.

There you have it.  I’m back to writing tomorrow morning.  And knitting tomorrow night.  With only three weeks left before the holidays, there’s lots to do on both scores.  How about you?  What’s at the top of your list of to-dos before 2011 ends?

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  1. Lisa on December 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Never learned to knit…don’t have your kind of patience to write…but I do live! Kids are 20 (in college) and 17 (nearing the end of high school) and looking forward to a few years when the kids are out on their own and my husband of 22 years and I can enjoy our time together. Maybe then I’ll learn to knit and maybe write that book in my heart 🙂

  2. Judy Beatty on December 5, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I so agree with your take on life. Little things keep popping up and while they weren’t in the original plans, we’ll adjust the schedule and include and enjoy them. Thinking a nice pair of fingerless gloves might be good for that yummy yarn…you know, so you can keep working on things when it gets really cold! Would love to see Boston in the Christmas festivities. My mom and dad were married there some 68 years ago, and I’ve never been!!

  3. Eileen Burkhardt on December 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I make Native American regalia, and do so for more than myself. I broke my wrist around this time last December and couldn’t knit, bead, or handsew anything. So this year I’d like to finish some beadwork I started last year: A beaded ornament that was to be a gift for my Mother, who passed this July – If I finish it by Christmas, I can hang it on my tree and think of her; the moccasins I was making for my daughter – got all finished and they had stretched so had to take all the beadwork off around the toe, recut the leather – now to resew and rebead (I hate do overs, don’t you?); and some beaded hairties for myself to match my new Southern T-dress ensemble, which so far has been 2 years in the making. Maybe for Christmas, I’ll treat myself to some really nice sock yarn and do some socks for myself – it has been a long time since I knitted or crocheted for myself and the kids really have all the hats, mittens and scarves they can use!

  4. Paula on December 5, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I love to knit. I don’t take the time to sit down each day to do it, though. I wish I did because it brings me a quietness that comes from the soul.

    I also love Boston and all it’s history. I am Canadian, with a sister who lives just outside Boston, so we do get there a couple of times each year. We encountered live music on many path corners throughout Boston Commons this summer. It was fantastic! Live music is also very good for the soul!

  5. Donna Parks on December 5, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Barbara…I am in the middle of reading your new book “Escape” and I can hardly put it down. I don’t not the least bit creative. However I have a 22 year old grandson, Michael, that died tragically Oct. 2010. He was almost ready for college graduation and had to take a non fiction creative writing course his last semester. He didn’t want to do it. But he ended up loving the course and his professor and realized that he had a “gift” for writing. She…his Prof. tried to talk him in to publishing one of his papers. She wrote a beautiful story about him after he died for an online journal..”Earth is the Place for Love.” The journal is “Talking Writing.” The title of her paper came from a poem that his Mom read at his funeral. His death has brought us all to our knees. He and I were so very close. He has three brothers so we have to remain strong for them. It has been hard for me to concentrate on anything but Michael for this past year so your book is a welcome friend. My husband and I have been married for ten years. We are 68 years old. We were high school sweethearts in the late 50’s early 60’s and reconnected after not seeing each other for 40 years and two marriages. The third is a charm. We are so blessed and so happy. There must be a book inside me somewhere…..Keep on writing. I have read many of your books. Donna

  6. Randi on December 5, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Read escape, waiting for your newest. I use to knit when I was young when my kids were little. Have been thinking about starting again but need to refresh my memory, it’s been 20 years. Up until six months ago, I was working out four times a week until I found out that I Sjogren’s Syndrome and Psoriatic Arthritis. Two weeks ago had a tumor removed from my Parotid Gland but it was benign!!! As soon as, I am feeling better I am going to start working out again and maybe even get to the knitting store to start that again. But I do live, with three kids 29 years, 26 years and 14 years old we live and love life and withstand every test put in my path. My husband is a testicular cancer survivor and I too will get past this. We’ve been to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Paris, London, what could be better. I have been wanting to write for years but never seem to find the time or courage to try it, maybe one day. I’m finishing up the last touches of holiday decorations in the house and then still more shopping. Love the holidays because it’s fun. Oh well, hope this didn’t come off like a “Debbie Downer” certainly didn’t mean that at all. Can’t wait for your new book have a wonderful holiday.

  7. Leslie on December 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Barbara,
    I just finished school (my second round at 60 years old) and have started an organic rose care business in southern California. Since the roses are resting, I am enjoying the holiday season with hot chocolate and a good book.
    Merry Christmas!

  8. Audrey on December 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Love your books. I learned to knit and crochet when I was 12 or 13, took o
    ff with crochet. Now after 40 years am trying knitting too. I’m learning new yarns too. Love bamboo and just croched a scarf with a yarn made of sugar cane!!!! Loved it. I live in a small town and got used to what I could get local. Went on a trip and stumbled in to a yarn store. Its like Wizard of Oz black and white to color moment. Now am searching internet for new things.

  9. Susan on December 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I just finished “Family Tree” and I am very impressed with the delicacy of working through the feelings of the various characters. Nothing’s easy, but each becomes more aware of him/herself and the others as they work through revelation after revelation. Really well done…
    Several years ago, I read “For My Daughters”. Since I had a difficult relationship with my mother, I was curious about how the mother in this story would be. My mother’s story was nothing like it – I could wish that it had been, that she had had a love like the mother in the story. Her daughters all had to work through her revelations and the awarenesses of themselves that arose during the story. I loved the old men on the street corner, sitting on the bench – just loved them! Thanks for wonderful stories, and have a great holiday season.

  10. b on December 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Donna-congrats on successful marriage-meeting after so many years… Congrats to Leslie–school again…I did that also…(the school)…never too late…

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