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5 posts from December 2010

2010 Year in ReviewDecember 31, 2010

 2010 will be known as the Year I Wrote More Than I Ever Thought I Could.

Seriously, I didn't see this one coming, and if someone would have told me I would write three books in 2010 while holding down a more-than-full-time day job, I would have smacked him right upside his crazy-ass head. But I did, essentially. At the beginning of the year, I rewrote a novel from the ground up, a revision that was, essentially, a new novel (and one that I'm pretty proud of). Then I wrote not only the third book of the series (yay! and less revising!), but a collection of essays (why am I so reluctant to call it a memoir? I'm not OLD enough for a memoir, but that's really what it is).

It's also the year I learned a little about balance. And how I don't haz it. I had to really think about making time for family and friends, and at some point, I realized I'd left myself out of the equation altogether, so I'm working on that, too.

In many ways, for many people, 2010 has been a crap year, one that we won't miss. But it will always, always be the year my first book came out. The book that I *still* get a thrill from finding on bookstore shelves. And therefore, a very, VERY good year.

This year wouldn't have been half as awesome without you, dearest readers. I mean it. When How to Knit a Love Song came out, YOUR response was the most important. Your tweets/FBs/emails telling me you'd found it on a shelf, that you'd finished reading it, and better, that you'd liked it, kept me afloat. They kept me writing. They kept me believing. And if I haven't told you before, THANK YOU. With all my heart.

January: We met Dad's girlfriend Lola, who impressed us with her happy smile, big laugh, and her love for our father. And we also met the newest member of our family: CLEMENTINE!

(Hint: Clemmy is the one on the right.) Our rescued  beagle-pit mix is wonderful, and loves all things except my sister's dog Boonie. Clementine cuddles happily with cats and Miss Idaho (practically a cat) but doesn't want anything more than to be in a person's lap, any person's lap, for approximately all the minutes in today and she'd like a loan on tomorrow's minutes, too, thanks.

February: Stitches West! I handed out one bajillion excerpts for the book and got REALLY excited about it. And we went to Disneyland, where I discovered I loved the Tower of Terror and I learned that Lala will never, ever, ever, ever go on it again.


March: How to Knit a Love Song hit the shelves. I expired of happiness.


It looks like I'm at a roulette table, huh? (Hey, you might have something there!)

(Psst - Save the date: Book Launch Party for the next book, How to Knit a Heart Back Home, will be at Bookshop West Portal on 3/3/11, with drinks and fun to follow. I want you there. Please?)

April:I took a zipline and got an iPad (because I love adventure, in every sense of the word. Except when that word is bugs, and then I'm not very adventurous at all). And I went to Stitches South where the yarn was good and the Key Lime pie was AMAZING.


May: I went to Columbus, where I ate at Jeni's ice cream every day, sometimes twice a day. I had three signings. I was, generally, overwhelmed, but in a good way.

June: My garden went crazy from neglect.


July: I gave up rebound medicines, and that really helped with the migraines (except for the monthly ones, which I'm still getting WITHOUT FAIL -- I'm getting Botox in the back of my neck as my next line of attack. And OH BOY my nape will look wrinkle-free! Bonus!). (None of the other diet changes I made all year made any difference, so I'm back to drinking coffee and eating sugar. I'd like to give up the sugar again though....) I gave up overdying my silver hair, and I did a sensory deprivation float which made me think I was DYING before I decided it was cool.  I wrote a hell of a lot. I was on the midnight shift at work, so I saw no one and I was quite a grumpy bear. And Digit was caught snuggling:


August:I went to RWA National in Orlando, which was like visiting the surface of the sun on a rainy day and having to keep your hair nice while doing so. I loved the conference, but I was stunned by the climate and ended up whimpering every time outside air hit my skin. I wrote a LOT. I went to the beach to get away from the Bay Area heat (which is nothing like Orlando, thank GOD). I wrote a lot.

September: We went to the Strawberry Music Festival, where I actually relaxed. And I got into wolf facepaint and performed Hungry Like the Wolf (a truly unflattering although funny pic is here as your reward for getting this far). I wrote a lot.

October: I finished the memoir:


I went to New York alone, then to Rhinebeck very happily not alone. I <3 NY.

November:I played the ukulele! I ran once! (BOY, 2011 has to be the Year Of Getting Back In Shape. Dude. I can barely run a bath right now, let alone 3 miles.) I knitted a lot as the writing slowed, and I made a shawl and two sweaters (I haven't even posted pics of those two sweaters here or on Ravelry. I keep forgetting. Whoops). And I relaxed more than I had in a while. 

[Aside - Hey, anyone up for Runagogo again? 100 miles in the first three months? There's already a group on Ravelry for it (which I don't moderate, but I'm proud to say it started here), and maybe if you all were in it with me, I might get it done.]

December: I started things: I started the revision of Book Three (a much smaller job than that of reworking Book Two from the first word). I started a weekly routine of sending a handwritten thank-you note to someone, somewhere. Oooh, and I started Alice Starmore's Irish Moss, sleeve seen here:


I'm modifying it to be knitted in the round (no idea what I'll do at the shoulder -- probably a raglan-to-saddle, a la EZ). I'm in love with the yarn: DROPS extrafine merino in color 6. I'm knitting it on US size 1s. Le Sigh. It'll take a good long while to knit this bad boy. The pattern is GORGEOUS. I received a promo copy of Aran Knitting from the publisher and pretty much read it cover to cover, and I've come to the same conclusion: that I don't necessarily need AS at my hot tub party, but DAMN, she's good.


So, from Chez Yarnagogo-Smartyboots (aka Chez Hehu), it comes down to this: Happy New Year, all of you.

May 2011 kick ass.

Lucky Bath BombDecember 27, 2010

In this post of two years ago, I wrote about traveling with my mother in Italy, followed by a violet scent so strong it sometimes made our eyes water. I loved violet before that trip, but I love it even more now.

And I found a violet bath bomb at Lush a while ago and I'm using it tonight (I can't find it now on the site, but I see a violet shampoo that I must get). I feel a bit off, rundown, as if I'm fighting something off. I've been very good at battling away the crud that everyone else has, and I got my flu shot a few weeks ago, and I'll be fine tomorrow, but tonight I'm just not feeling as well as I'd like. So I just ran a bath and held the bomb under the running water (feeling it fizz apart in your hands is one of the best parts about a Lush bath -- I got a bag'o'products from Lala for Christmas, so tonight instead of chopping the bomb in half as my cheap ass usually does, I used the whole violet wonderful thing). I'm going to take my new Kindle (also from Lala, and I LOVE IT -- so fast! so light!) with me in its fancy bath-cover (also known as a gallon zip-lock bag) and soak away this cruddy feeling.

We're heading for 2011, and it's going to be good, as most things involving anything with eleven are. It's my favorite number, and I can't wait for an amazing year. But tonight I'm going to sink into bubbles and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist.

(And this post, as so many do, reminds me how lucky I am: I am able to relax, to run hot water, to rest, in a place where I am at home. That is incredibly lucky, really.)

Suddenly, I feel just fine.

New CoverDecember 22, 2010

Well, hello! Do you want to see the new cover of my next book? I briefly showed you the first prototype, the one with my sweaters on the cover. Well, as happens in publishing, that one didn't fly -- store buyers were looking for something a little bit different, so they redid the cover, and while I was nervous, I can honestly say I love this one. I think it's lovely and just right. This will be out in three months! March 1st! I can't WAIT. 


(If you want to, it's available for preorder now at Amazon, Indiebound, and in Canada, Indigo. The book is blurbed here, if you want a sneak peek at the plot.)

In other news, I went to my dad's house for Christmas (wait, you don't celebrate on the 19th?) with the sisters, and we had a marvellous time. It's really good to see my dad happy again, and his girlfriend Lola is a peach. We arrived Sunday night to find the house filled with friends who are like family, and we had a rip-roaring good time (although I was fighting a migraine, so I was chock-full of meds that made me rather tongue-tied. I stared at my knitting a lot).

I brought Clara so Lala would have one less furry thing to worry about (which was a good thing, since as soon as I left, she came down with a bad cold), and Clara had a great time too:


Yesterday before we got on the road, we took Clara and Bethany's dog Boonie to a local park to run, and I forgot how it is in the country: Leash laws? They do not apply if the park in question is completely, utterly empty. Oh, yeah.



Bethany, shooting away while Dad smokes his pipe.


And last night, when we got home, Clara was so tired that she fell asleep with her mouth open, something I've never seen her do before:


Now Christmas is mostly done since I go back to work tomorrow. I'll still get to see the sisters to do presents with them on Friday, and then I'll give Lala her gift WHICH IS SO COOL. Hee.

I have always enjoyed finishing things early: tests, house-cleaning, manuscripts. That enjoyment also applies to the holidays, apparently. Merry/Happy Whatever You Celebrate, to YOU. MWAH.

Random Acts of GratitudeDecember 18, 2010

Hey! I have a wacky idea! Want to play? Check this out: Random Acts of Gratitude.

I am really bad at writing thank you notes. I forget, I put it off, and then I forget totally. My friend Sophie Littlefield is the MASTER of them. If a stranger gives uup his seat to her on BART, he can expect a hand-written note within two days even if they never exchanged a word. I want to be more like that.

As with everything, though, I think I would get better at writing thank you notes with more practice. So here's how I'm going to work on them: I'm going to give them to people who don't expect them. And I'll do it once a week, for a year. (Seriously, this sounds so fun it makes me bounce in my seat.)

My first target:

Every day when I drive to and from home, I pass a house that I just love. It's almost hidden by the garden in front it, and the only word I can find to describe the garden is raucous. The fruit trees are overgrown, and the roses explode into bloom at the same time, and even in its exuberance, the care that is shown the garden is evident. It's loud, joyous landscaping, and it's wonderful. At Christmas, they string colored lights in a way that makes me heart-happy to my toes: It's as if they just go outside and throw the strings as high as they can, draping a million lights and colors in the tangles of the trees and vines.

A large family owns the house, and they park several similar trucks out on the street -- all the vehicles advertise their landscaping company (which, if I needed landscaping, I would use in a heartbeat). Last year, during that very important vote, they made a huge painted plywood billboard that read NO ON 8, and I fell in love with them even more.

It makes me so happy that they live in my neighborhood, and for years now I've been watching as I drive past to see if I can see anyone hanging out by the pickups -- I've had a vague goal of pulling over and thanking them for being AWESOME. But they're usually in their garden behind the fence, and it seems awkward and a little silly.

So I'm going to write a thank you note. I'll just sign my first name, and it'll say what I think when we pass their house, and then early one morning on my way to work this week, I'll tuck it under the windshield of one of their cars. Wouldn't that be nice? To get a card thanking you for making a stranger happy? I would love that if I were them, so I'm gonna do it.

Do you want to play? Do you want to leave a thank you note for someone who's not expecting it this week? Maybe for your postal carrier who never leaves packages in the rain, or for the guy at the coffee shop who knows your order without asking and makes the best lattes ever. And when you do it, will you leave me a comment telling me what you did? I'll pick a random winner and send that person a little gift (while none of us needs bribes to do something good, it's also fun to be part of a community of people doing something good together, isn't it?). (And even more fun for me to give a little present!)  

I like this. Keep me posted, okay?

PS: Happy holidays, whichever of them you like to celebrate.

Sisters, Union Square

Quick DinnerDecember 10, 2010

Last night when I got home, I was craving a quick easy salad that would be gentle on my stomach (on work nights I don't have more than an hour at home awake before I'm getting ready for bed, and a heavy dinner doesn't sit that well. You know how it is).

I think I've found my favorite quick meal salad, 7 minutes from fridge to plate. Chop a couple of cloves of garlic and throw it in olive oil in a large pan on med-high heat. After a minute or two of sizzling, add a bag of spinach (yes, the full bag -- it cooks down to practically nothing). While that's cooking (stir it around every once in a while), chop two or three pre-cooked beets (TJ's to the rescue). Put the spinach on a plate, top it with the beets, and then top THAT with a chunk of crumbled chevre, and a glug of balsamic vinegar.

Best thing ever. And now I'm dying to know, what's your insta-dinner?


    Dogs in the sun.