Books!

Whenever I start a new hobby, I buy books. Lots of books. Enormous piles of books. And then I keep buying them. I’ve been cooking for a few years. This cabinet holds about 1/2 of my cookbooks…

I have whole libraries for writing books (17 books), breastfeeding (12 books)… let’s just say that I have lots of books.

So when I started knitting, I bought some books. Of course, the problem with just ‘buying books’ at the start of a new hobby is that you end up with some serious bowsers. On the other hand, I did manage to stumble across some books I ended up liking very much. Here’s my current ‘good knitting’ book stash.

I’ve been trying very very hard to be frugal with my book purchasing, but it’s been *2 months* that I’ve been knitting and my pile looks a little sparse to me. I checked at all the local yarn sales in the vain hope of finding the books I wanted, but alas, it was not to be. All of their general knitting books were sold out from the holidays and I was tired of waiting to own them! So I bought a few books today. At least this time I did some research first so I’m sure I’ll be happy with the books…

  • The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancy Wiseman</p>
    • Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book

      I’m looking forward to getting the books – I need to get started on some socks very soon! Today I’ll get my knitting shopping fix in with a quick trip to pick up one more skein of the pink stria for my friend’s scarf.

      Update

      News flash: I am the Queen of Self Control! Look how well I did when I went to buy “just one more skein of Stria”. See how well I did? I even remembered to get the one thing I actually intended to buy. I’m so proud. Or maybe embarrassed. But it’s really good stuff.

      If you have any interest in reading a rough draft of one of the chapters of my romance novel, go ahead and click on that ‘more’ link.

      Diana glanced absentmindedly at her watch, and then quickly looked back at the computer screen as she realized with a start how late it had gotten. She was 20 minutes late meeting her roommate for dinner at their favorite café – Amber’s standard tactic for getting Diana out of the house. She was generally understanding when Diana was late, but it happened far too often and Amber had become significantly less patient recently. Diana had sworn to herself that she would become a more reliable friend, but apparently tonight wasn’t going to be the night.

      She scowled briefly at the screen, then closed her computer and slid it into her bag. She could finish up at the café after dinner. She slipped on some sandals, grabbed her keys and headed for the door.

      She raced outside into a very chilly evening, in startling contrast to the warm morning she had enjoyed when she ran out to grab a bagel for breakfast. Cursing the changeable Monterey weather, she considered turning back to grab a coat, glanced again at her watch, and decided to just tough it out. The café was only three blocks away, and perhaps Amber would be more forgiving if Diana was freezing when she arrived. About halfway there, she amended that thought to ‘freezing and drenched’ as it started pouring. She almost laughed out loud at the picture she must make, racing awkwardly down the street in a white poet’s shirt, light khaki pants, and strappy sandals, clutching her computer bag as if it contained the cure to cancer, the strands of her wispy blond hair whipping about her shoulders in the wind. She was so grateful to finally arrive that she forgot to rehearse her apologies in advance.

      Bursting into the warmth of the busy café, she scanned the room, trying to locate her friend. The spicy cinnamon and rich chocolate aromas inspired her stomach to growl, reminding her just how long it had been since breakfast. She spied her friend sitting at a table near the roaring fireplace, her wavy red hair reflecting the flickering flames as she read her book. She looked a little overdressed for dinner at the cafe, wearing a powder blue silk shirt and her favorite black wool pants. Diana tucked a stray hair behind her ear, steeled herself and hustled over, doing her best to look penitent.

      Amber glanced up with a reproachful glare, clearly about to start ranting until she actually got a good look at her friend. She struggled to maintain her stern expression and failed, dissolving into helpless giggles at the sight of this apparition, shivering and dripping and clearly miserable. Regaining her composure, she grinned, her bright blue eyes sparkling as she reached out to take the bag. “Why don’t you let me take that so you can go get cleaned up.” Diana smiled wanly and grabbed a brush before she relinquished her computer bag and headed off toward the ladies room. She wondered how bad she must look for her friend to have forgiven her so readily.

      Once in the restroom she grinned in comprehension when she saw her reflection. Somehow she’d managed to acquire a streak of mud across her face and down onto her white gauze shirt, and her hair looked… well, it looked as if she’d decided to try sky diving in a hurricane. The total picture went way beyond pitiful, much closer to disastrous. She set to work cleaning her face and shirt and teasing the tangles from her hair. The end result was barely acceptable, something of a ‘wet t-shirt contest meets drowned rat’ presentation, but without new clothes or a shower it was going to have to suffice. Her round emerald eyes peered back at her as she leaned closer to inspect her fair skin for any remaining smudges. Under the fluorescent lights her pale round face and vibrant green eyes made her look even more like a porcelain doll than usual. She pulled a scrunchy off the end of the brush and pulled her hair back into a ponytail, took one last look in the mirror and headed back into the cafe.

      Amber looked up as her friend returned. “Much better. Well, somewhat better, in any case.” She raised an eyebrow at Diana’s outfit, adding with an affectionate grin, “Didn’t you realize that it had gotten dark?” She leaned over and grabbed a fuzzy blue blanket from the chair next to hers. “I thought you might be cold. Good thing they know you so well here – they were only too happy to help when I told them you got caught in the rain. I ordered some hot chocolate for you, should be here in a minute.”

      Diana sank into the overstuffed cloth chair, kicked her sandals off, and pulled her icy feet up underneath her. She wrapped the fleecy blanket around her, tucking the corners under her legs. Her normally strong soprano was unusually subdued. “Thank you so much. And thanks for not tearing into me. I’m really sorry to be so late. I…”

      Amber rolled her eyes as she interrupted sarcastically, “Don’t even bother. I know what you’re going to say. You were working on something totally critical to life as we know it. You lost track of time. Just once I’d love to hear you say that you’re half an hour late because a handsome man swept you off your feet.” She laughed as Diana raised an eyebrow. “Don’t worry, sweetie, I’m not holding my breath.”

      Diana smiled gratefully as the waitress set her drink down onto the table. She wrapped her icy hands around the steaming mug, breathed in the rich aroma, and sipped the warm, chocolaty beverage. She’d been pushing herself so hard to get this new website up and she was totally exhausted. But she didn’t want to break her promise… she sunk more deeply down into the cushions of the chair and forced herself to stop thinking about the daunting task. She opened her eyes to find Amber watching her curiously. She shifted a bit in her seat and sat up, “What is it? Did I miss a spot or something?”

      Amber shook her head. “No, it’s just… Look, I know we were going to have dinner here, just the two of us… But Kevin’s friend is in town for the evening and I said we could have dinner with them. He’s really cute. I’m sure you’d really like him. I would have called to ask, but I figured we could just go from here…” It was clear her heart wasn’t really in the request.

      “No way.” Diana was definitely not up for a blind date with one of Kevin’s macho stud-muffin friends, who were always nice on the eyes but generally quite dim. “Not tonight, I’m way too tired. Plus, look at me. I’m a mess.” Also, she had some more work to do before she could call it a night, but there was no way she’d tell Amber that. “You go on and have fun, I’ll just grab something here and head back home.”

      Surprisingly, Amber gave up with a shrug “Well, you do look awfully tired tonight. I was just hoping to have a fun evening with you. It’s been way too long.”

      “I know. We’ll do it soon.” Diana replied gratefully.

      “I hope so.” She brightened suddenly. “Hey, did you see the paper this morning? There was an article about the café… they talked about you and your pictures – there was even a photo of you in front of the wall over there.” She gestured toward the door, where several of Diana’s photos were displayed.

      Diana’s eyes widened. “Really? I had no idea they’d actually use that picture for anything. I thought it would just end up collecting dust in the back room.”

      Amber nodded. “The picture turned out great – you look totally intense. Maybe it’ll help lure a few guys to subscribe!” Her voice softened a bit before she added “You know, really am proud of you.”

      “Well, enough sappiness. I’ve got to meet the guys in 10 minutes.” The lanky redhead unfolded herself from her chair and reached over to give her friend a hug. She stood back up and looked down, her voice full of concern. “You really do need to get some rest. I don’t know why you can’t just work normal hours like the rest of us. Take it easy, ok?”

      “Ok, I will. See you in the morning.”

      Amber smiled. “You bet. Really, take care of yourself, honey. Have some dinner and then straight home to bed. How am I going to help you find Mr. Right if you insist on working yourself to death?”

      She rested her hand on Diana’s shoulder affectionately for a moment before gliding toward the door, pulling her bright teal duster on with a smooth, practiced motion before heading outside. Diana shook her head ruefully. As always, she was mystified by her best friend’s ability to look totally together, no matter what. It was a challenge to stay optimistic about finding someone to love her when her roommate looked like Miss America the second she rolled out of bed.

      Diana flagged one of the waitresses to order her usual, a mozzarella and pesto sandwich on rosemary potato bread and a dark fudge brownie. She reached over to slide her Powerbook out of the bag and onto her lap. She started her browser up again and waited for the site to load, her green eyes scanning the room. The café was bustling as usual, filled with a nice mix of tourists and locals. It was her favorite place to hang out, and the wireless internet connection made it all the more compelling. She glanced through the window and noted with some relief that the rain had stopped as suddenly as it had started.

      She looked back down and sighed. Her slender fingers raced across the keyboard as she reworked the troublesome section. Her dinner arrived just as she finished, so she paid for the food, then checked her work while she munched on her sandwich. The food was delicious, as it always was, and she reminded herself yet again that she needed to remember to eat, even when she was up against a deadline. After several more minutes, she sank back into the cushions with an accomplished smile. It was done, good enough to present. Finally.

      She relaxed back against the soft cushions, stretched her feet out onto the other chair and closed her eyes as she reveled in the moment. The web project had been a big commitment, but she was hopeful that it would give her a better chance at a staff position… and then she could start getting caught up on her bills. She sipped her cocoa and closed her eyes, allowing the weariness in her body to take over for a moment. She listened to the crackle of the fireplace superimposed over the murmur of conversation surrounding her and realized that she was no longer cold. In a couple of minutes she would head back to her apartment and get some sleep, but right now she just wanted to sit here and relax.

      A deep, soft voice startled her out of her reverie. “Excuse me, miss?” She opened her eyes, startled, and realized that a man was standing next to her table. Not just any man. Wow. She became acutely aware of his piercing grey eyes as he awaited her reply. Between those eyes, his short chestnut hair, the chiseled features on his roman face, and the dark blue suit he was wearing he presented quite a sight. She didn’t realize she was staring dumbly until he repeated gently “Excuse me?”

      Diana felt a blush rising to her cheeks. She cleared her throat and replied “Um, yes?”

      “I was wondering if anyone’s sitting there,” he asked politely, gesturing at the chair currently occupied by her bare feet. “I’m sorry to bother you, but there aren’t any other chairs available.”

      “Oh!” She pulled her feet off of the chair abruptly, almost knocking her computer off her lap. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize. Of course you can sit there.” Great, she was babbling. An excellent way to make a lasting impression.

      He set his coffee mug and folded newspaper on the table and settled down into the chair next to hers. She couldn’t stop staring at him – the muscular build revealed under his dress shirt and the tantalizing citric tang of his after shave only increased his appeal. She focused her attention on her computer, hoping to obscure her interest before he looked her way. Painfully aware of her current unkempt state, she pushed a stray hair back behind her ear nervously.

      “I see you’ve got an aquarium sticker on your computer. I’m new to the town and was hoping to visit this week, but I don’t think I’ll be able to. Are you a member?” She looked back up somewhat reluctantly to see him watching her, a slight smile playing about his lips.

      Diana’s voice was a bit shaky, betraying her nervousness. “Yes. Actually, I work there. I mean, as a volunteer. Mostly I help the researchers with their work, tagging the animals and helping track them. I’ve even written some programs to help them with their work.” Wonderful. More babbling. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. “It’s an amazing place. Why won’t you be able to visit?”

      “Oh, I’m stuck in a conference and they’ve got us chained to our chairs pretty much all day, every day.” He told her. “Kind of ironic. I move here, to one of the prettiest places on earth, and can’t spend any time enjoying it.” He smiled warmly at her and her heart skipped a beat. He extended his hand toward her, “I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Robert. Robert Knight.” He chuckled nervously before adding “I’m a lawyer.”

      She reached out and felt a tingling of excitement as his flesh met hers in a warm clasp. Unwilling to break the contact, she looked up and almost gasped at the intensity in those incredible grey eyes. He finally released her hand and Diana forced herself to speak. “I’m Diana. Um, Arlington.”

      There was an almost imperceptible pause before he responded. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Diana.” The rich timbre of his voice sent shivers through her body. “Maybe you could tell me more about the aquarium, since I won’t get to see it myself.”

      She cleared her throat nervously, gazing into those compelling eyes as she heard herself say, “You know, if you really want to see the aquarium, I could give you a tour after hours.” Nice. Now she sounded like a total tramp. She looked back down at the table, cheeks burning, and tried to think of something else to talk about.

      His voice sounded slightly amused. “That sounds like fun.” She felt a surge of relief when he changed the topic for her. “Where do you work? That is, when you’re not at the aquarium…”

      Ah, a nice safe subject. Diana gave him the quick answer. “I work here at the café part time… I’d really like to get a permanent position at the aquarium but it just hasn’t happened yet. I did just finish working on a new website for the volunteers… and I’m an amateur photographer.”

      He raised an eyebrow. “What do you photograph?”

      She pursed her lips thoughtfully before responding “Mostly nature – I love the ocean, and the shorelines around here are indescribably beautiful. Of course I’ve also got tons of pictures of marine life. There’s a small exhibit of my photos over there…” she pointed toward the door, then smiled shyly “But of course that’s just a few of them.” She realized she was staring at her chocolate, and looked up to see him looking uncomfortably back at her.

      “Diana… I…” He took a deep breath. “I actually came here looking for you. I saw your picture in the paper and hoped I might find you here.”

      She looked suspiciously back at him. “Why? Why were you looking for me?”

      “I need to talk to you about your grandfather’s land.”

      Her back stiffened. “How do you know about that?”

      “Our company needs that land for a project we’re working on. City Hall said that you were the only one who could make it happen.”

      She stood up and slammed her computer into its bag. When she responded, her voice was cold and hard. “Forget it. My grandfather deeded that land to me to make sure no one would ever build on it. I’m not betraying his memory now… not for you, not for anyone.”

      Avoiding eye contact, she grabbed her computer case and hurried toward the door. “Diana, wait! I just wanted to –“ she heard his voice trailing after her as she raced out into the icy night. She wiped burning tears angrily from her face, cursing her inability to control her emotions.

      After arriving home she drew herself a bath. She relaxed in the warm, silky water, her thoughts clearing as her resolve deepened. She wasn’t going to betray her grandfather, no matter how tempting it might be. After her bath she slid, exhausted, between her flannel sheets and willed her mind to quiet. Just before she finally succumbed to sleep, Robert’s face drifted unbidden into her thoughts. Why couldn’t she ever meet someone like that… without any strings…

Dialogue & Discussion