I finally finished the afghan I've been knitting for 2 months. it's wasn't hard, just large...and because it is large, I couldn't  take it on trips. Somtimes I knit on planes, but not this time.

Afghan 2

Day after tomorrow I head to Germany, flying to Luxembourg through Zurich...long trip, always, but a treat to see my granddaughter and her family there.  I'll be carrying a suitcase full of Christmas gifts.  No homemade afghans!  Too bulky!

I was impressed this weeknd by Gail Godwin's essay in the NY Times Book Review: "Working on the Ending"..  She is, it appears, just my age—73—and begins paragraphs in this essay with statements like, "Inevitable for the old writer is the slowdown of word retrieval.".....to which I can relate (and so can anyone who has heard me tell an anecdote dotted with pauses and: "What's the word I'm looking for?") ...but she follows it with the reassuring "...a consolation prize of word delay has been an increased intolerance for the threadbare phrase."  It's true. When you work more slowly, looking for words, you no longer toss off the easy overworn phrases.

She also says—and this made me chuckle—"Now I do a lot of lying around."  I can relate to that, too, and to her observation that the lying-around time is not simple sloth but is actually productive  (as is a long shower, incdentally) ...a period when the brain is actually at work, though the legs and hands and mouth may be taking some time off.

No snow here yet, in Boston. But I called a friend three nights ago in St. Paul and she said the blizzardy snow was horizonal against her windows. Another friend in Chicago emailed me that the wind was howling and the snow flying...but she was just preparing herself for the Bears' loss against New England. Tom Brady played as if it were a bright October afternoon.

We will return from Germany next week and head to Maine for Christmas with some kids and grandkids. Today I went to UPS and mailed off my last package, in the process making myself appear to be a moron, as so often happens.  A UPS guy showed me how to use the computer—this is new, the individual computers—to print a label. Carefully I typed in my name and address, and the name and address of my duaghter in San Francisco; then I came to the section that said, "Describe your package." I looked at my package, which was not an ordinary one---it was quite long and thin (in fact when I entered the facility, a UPS guy said jokingly, "Mailing a shotgun?")--and so I began typing in, "long—maybe 4 feet long—and thin cardboard box, taped with brown package-wrapping tape..."   UPS Guy looked over my shoulder and said, "Ah, they are asking what's IN it."   Duh.

What was IN it was very hard to describe and required a slow process of word retrieval but I think it would have been true for anyone, not just an "old writer" as Gail Godein  calls herself (and me).

I'm working at the moment...and want to send it off before I leave for Germany...on an introduction to a new edition of Number the Stars.  Twenty one years since its publication! And I still get letters and e-mails about it every day. Sometimes I hear from moms who remember it from their school days and are now reading it with their children. I love that kind of continuity with a book. For me it was The Secret Garden —my mother (born in 1906) read it as a child, then read it to—and with—me (born in 1937), and then later my daughters (born in 1958 and 1961) read it with enjoyment as well. But it stopped with that generation, in my family. My only granddaughter grew up in Germany and at the Secret Garden age—for me and my daughters, probably 10—reading English was still hard for her.

Oh! One other thing. I've been getting emails from friends who have seen a new indie movie called "Tiny Furniture."  It's like the time I was a NYT crossword puzzle clue, or the time I was a clue on Jeopardy—this time I am mentioned in an obscure movie!  Sic transit gloria. (I bet my granddaughter can translate that, even if she never read The Secret Garden—she studies Latin)