Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for. (Merriam-Webster).

It’s one of my favorite words–and one of my favorite things. It’s just such an amazing thing when the planets unexpectedly align in your favor and the universe hands you a surprise gift.

Perhaps my best serendipitous event happened when my dean sent me an email with this subject line: Do you have a valid passport? As someone who adores travel, that certainly got my attention! It turns out that she had some funds that had to be spent on something international-related by the end of the semester–which was in three weeks (they’d been earmarked for something else that was cancelled). She’d done a Fulbright in Zagreb not too long before, during which she’d met a criminologist at the university. She thought maybe my department and the Croatian professor’s might be able to work out some research partnerships.

So, a couple weeks later, I was on a plane to Zagreb! I’d never really given Croatia much thought, although my grandfather was born about 200 km from Zagreb, in Trieste. Well, I landed, and within a day I was thinking, I could live here. I don’t know why, but Zagreb just fit me.

I spent a week there during that visit. Not long after returning home, I applied for a Fulbright myself–and got it. I lived there for a semester, and it was amazing. Later I did another, shorter Fulbright. I’ve visited several other times as well. I have done research with Croatian colleagues and made friends there. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.

All because my dean had to spend money fast.


Once upon a time, I used to do a lot of crafts. I was especially fond of knitting, and because I’m a wee bit obsessive, I accumulated an impressive yarn stash.

And then things happened. I had one kid and then another. Work got busier. I traveled more. I started writing–first fanfic, then original fiction. And something had to go. Sadly, that something was crafting, including knitting. My yarn and other supplies languished, gathering dust in the guest room.

Well, now my kids are grown. And I recently had a hankering (see what I did there?) to pick up my needles again. Also, the guest room was a minor disaster, especially the Closet of Doom. So I’ve spent the past couple of weeks gradually tackling that disaster, which means getting rid of a LOT of stuff I finally admitted I’ll never use. It also means organizing the yarn I want to keep. Here are the results.

Nice, huh? Sorted by weight and type (second from the top left is sock yarn. I have a lot of sock yarn). I also have four hanks of yarn spun from the shed fur of my now long-since departed Saint Bernards. It knits up like angora.

Unfortunately, I’ve now been through the entire room and can’t find my yarn ball winder or–far worse–the handsewn case that contains all of my double-point needles as well as my nicest single-points. I can’t find those things anywhere. I’ve asked my kids, who claim ignorance. I’m starting to fear those items may somehow have exited the house when my younger kid did a Great Purge of her bedroom last summer before leaving for college. The very thought makes me want to cry.

There is a small silver lining. Today I spent a good bit of time hand-winding yarn (I did find my swift, which helps a lot). And it turns out that my Apple Watch counts that as steps, so I gained an extra mile and half today. Woohoo!

I think this week I’ll attempt to begin a scarf–if Niki the cat allows me.


I was supposed to be on a cruise ship in Central America right now. I’m not. I’m in my kitchen, catching up on work for the day job and feeling cranky about it even though I know millions of other people have suffered much, much worse during the pandemic.

Travel used to be a huge part of my life. In 2019, I went somewhere literally at least once a month. Then there was the trauma of multiple cancellations in 2020, beginning with a trip to France scuttled in mid-March, a couple of days before I was supposed to leave. And although I was lucky enough to do some road trips in 2020, the cancellations still aren’t, well, canceled.

I’m still hoping, however. My dreams this year include Paris, Lisbon, Zagreb, and Port Townsend. And a replacement cruise. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Being around the house more has had me noticing how cluttered it is. We’ve lived here for almost 20 years and there’s lots of… stuff. Today I was working on the closet in our guest room/craft room, and I came across this historical artifact. Makes me wonder what else I’m going to find!

Did you miss me?

It’s been just over a year since I last blogged.

I made the decision to give it up for a year mainly as a way of trying to reserve limited time and energy. Like everyone else on the planet, I’ve been going through an emotionally exhausting time, and the day job in particular has been a time and energy vampire. So some conservation made sense.

I used the time well. In 2021, I wrote 4 novels, 3 novellas, and 2 short stories, making it my most productive year ever. One of those novels, Farview, won the BookLife Prize for Fiction, which is still astounding me a month after the announcement was made. Another novel, Potential Energy, was from a plot bunny that had been haunting me for almost a decade. That one releases in April.

I did other stuff too. There were several audiobooks, a fair bit of action on social media, and my monthly blog at Love Bytes.

And there were personal changes. My husband retired. My younger daughter graduated high school and moved to Oregon for college, while my older daughter graduated college and moved back home from Oregon (a different school than her sister) to attend grad school and work at a grad assistantship. I worked entirely from home (which is, in theory, about to change).

I was able to take several great road trips, including one with my younger daughter where we visited 10 states in the SW and MW and drove 3500 miles. Other trips were cancelled (again), including the Caribbean cruise I was supposed to be on right now.

I have a lot of hopes for 2022. More books–Dracula in 1950s LA, anyone? Or how about Bureau book 9?–and more audiobooks. More travel, maybe even to Europe. Maybe. A peaceful, smooth, healthy transition back to doing the day job in person. And yes, I do hope to blog on a reasonably frequent basis.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my hopes and yours, and wishing all of you the very best for this year!