A Morning of Simple Pleasures

Have you ever had a day where so many tiny magical things happen that you can’t help but smile? This morning started out like any other Monday morning. I drove to my appointment with the podiatrist, dreading The Needle (if you’ve ever had a cortisone shot in your foot, you know what I’m talking about). As I waited in the examining room, I heard faint music coming from the speaker in the wall. It was hauntingly familiar and took me a moment to place it. When I did, a chill ran up my spine. When I was working on my second novel, Lovers and Strangers, (twenty years ago!) I created a character, David, who loved opera. They say you should write about things you know, but I don’t think that’s a necessity. I think you should write about things you want to know, and I wanted to learn about opera so I made David an opera lover. I bought a few CDs of arias and duets and fell crazy in love with one of the duets, “Au Fond du Temple Saint” from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. I was a little stunned when I realized the two men singing were in love with the same woman–the plot of my story. The song even made it into the book as a couple of the characters sing it as they float down the Amazon at night in a dugout canoe. (side note: Lovers and Strangers is, to me, the oddest of my books. I have no idea if it’s good or bad. I hate the title, given to it by my then-editor. The cover was silly. Does this look like a book set in the Amazon Jungle?? Silk blouse and pearls? I think not! The protagonist commits adultery, which didn’t go over well at all with the fans I’d won with my first RITA award-winning novel, Private Relations. Lovers and Strangers was waaay over-researched, and the research showed. Yes, it was about a primatologist in the Amazon, but that didn’t mean my readers needed to know every imaginable behavior of my fictional species of marmosets. I needed an editor with a much stronger hand. At least my editor persuaded me to leave the dung beetles out of the story. However, I will say that I learned a lot about pacing and revelations by writing that book.)

Back to the point of this blog post!

I practically held my breath as I listened to this beautiful duet in the examining room. The music was so soft and I didn’t want to lose it. Finally it ended and I was literally hugging myself with a sense of wonder that after all these years, that song had come back to me. Suddenly, another piece of music began and I actually gasped. You’re kidding! The oboe solo from the soundtrack of the old movie, The Mission. Composer Ennio Morricone, my absolute favorite. I listen to this soundtrack often as I write and this oboe solo is only a snippet of a chillingly beautiful piece of music. When it was over, Au Fond du Temple Saints started up again. It was as though I had my own personal little mix tape playing in the wall behind the speaker.

Then the doc came in. He’s very nice and cute–a Brad Pitt look-alike. Guess what? No shot! This was definitely my lucky day. When I went out to my car, I turned on NPR and instantly recognized the voice of the woman being interviewed: my good friend and fellow writer, Katy Munger, who was saying something very Katy-ish that made me laugh. I was already pretty giddy. Then I remembered I was practically around the corner from Snoopy’s Hot Dogs! Evil, I know, but I was so close. Snoopy’s is great, although I intentionally avoid looking at the placard on the wall with the grade from the Health Department because I just don’t want to know. I bought my chili dog and ate it in the car so I could listen to the radio and feel as though I was hanging out with Katy.

Now I’m home, sharing my morning with you. When’s the last time you had a few hours of simple pleasures?


  1. Margo on November 29, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I love your story, Diane. It was definitely a day made just for you!…and doesn’t it make your day better and brighter! I take a few hours for myself every Sun afternoon and it just seems to give me an extra zest of happiness before starting another work week.
    I plan on listening to ‘The Mission’ tonite…Have not heard of it so I’m really excited that you are sharing this with us.

  2. Cindy H. on November 29, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I love this. It gave me chills too. It is amazing what music can bring back to you. I especially enjoyed your own ‘review’ of Lovers and Strangers. Working in a software company, where I draw up interfaces, I look at my old designs and think “what in the world was I doing? i know so much more now.” But in two years, maybe even two months, I’ll look at my designs now and think the same thing. I guess the creative ‘genuises’ in us are such critics.

    But I actually had a great day yesterday. After the long holiday weekend, I was actually adrenalized for work and had a zillion to-do things in my head…actual items that could be tackled.

  3. Diane Chamberlain on November 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Margo, I hope you enjoy it. Cindy, we’re definitely our own harshest critics!

  4. Debbie Hearne on November 30, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Diane, I really enjoyed this blog. I’m racking my brain trying to remember when I last experienced a few hours of simple pleasures……hmmmm that should tell me something. Every thing has been so rushed and scheduled lately. I need to set a goal to have a few hours of simple pleasures! Wait……..I’m trying to schedule it in. Well, the simple pleasures will just have to find me then.

  5. Virginia on November 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    This past Sunday, actually, the baby was down for a nap and I went outside while my oldest son (4) played in his “muddy mud pits.” He was happily covering up his dinosaurs with mud, burying them and then “digging” them up. While he was working, I was in a chair next to him, with the most beautiful warm breeze blowing on me. It was incredible weather for November. I was reading a book and just enjoying the air and the peace wtih my first little man, and I felt so thankful and happy with all the blessings in my life.

    It is times like those when you can unwind from the craziness of everyday life that really count.

  6. Virginia on November 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Oh, and Diane, I would love to have a chance one day to read Lovers and Strangers! It is your only book I haven’t read because of the high price on Amazon.com

    I have LOVED all your books, but the CeeCee book & Secret Lives have really touched me!! Though they are all awesome, I was actually sad when my reading spree of yours ended last year! My first book I’ve read of yours was “Summer’s Child” that picked up at Kroger and read during a long road trip, it was a life saver!

  7. Diane Chamberlain on November 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Virginia, thank you for the kind words. And I hope you have many more of those special moments with your son. Debbie, we need to find you some simple pleasure!

  8. JoAnne McCrone-Ephraim on November 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Actually, a few hours ago I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Andrea Bocelli, which was totally unexpected and most enjoyable. After I finally posted my Story Weekend offering I decided it was time to treat myself to The Pearl Fishers Duet. No one was around so I darkened the room to set the tone. When it ended I was compelled to watch another of his videos, then another and another and another, completely immersed in listening to his magnificent voice.

    During one of his songs my eyes welled up with tears, as if I was in attendance at one of his performances instead of viewing via laptop. Truly technology at its finest! Sharing your morning of simple pleasures evolved into a delicious evening with Andrea Bocelli and I thank you!!!

    • Diane Chamberlain on December 1, 2011 at 9:38 am

      Makes me happy I could turn you on to Bocelli, JoAnne.

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