Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Glamorous Life of a Writer, Even When Paid

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

What did I do Monday?

6:00 a.m.: Wake up. Turn up the heat. Pull covers back over head for another forty winks while bedroom warms up.

7:45 a.m.: Bedroom is still on the chilly side, but further sleep is impossible. Enjoy lovely view of patchy snow, at least until thinking about what needs to be done today becomes unavoidable. Temperature is in the low twenties, Fahrenheit, well below freezing.

8:15 a.m.: Call local lurker who has sometimes offered use of Internet on Monday. Wait for reply. Local lurker's Internet is not available. Possibly this is because you are not making actual money on the Internet every day, so local lurker is not interested in studying your strategy any more. The only payment you've received for the previous week's online activity is a Michaels giftcard. You started receiving those about the time you lost the only sponsor you've ever had who actually liked going to Michaels with you, the painter who finally died at the age of 89.

9:30 a.m.: Call less-local lurker who has more than once mentioned shopping trip to Kingsport, since if Michaels giftcard is in the mail, which it should be, this trip may be worth the trouble. Wait for reply. Less-local lurker doesn't want to bother coming through Gate City in time to do this on a Monday.

10:00 a.m.: Air temperature remains around 25 degrees Fahrenheit, though ground temperature isn't all that cold and snow is beginning to melt in sun. Put on thick sweater underneath heavy-blanket-weight shawl. Go to post office. Collect Michaels giftcard. Decide to walk, as shawl is adequate for this weather. Reflect on all the cold-weather situations in which this shawl has served you well: sitting in warehouse market space in refrigerator-cold weather, actively working open-air markets in freezing-cold weather, 20-mile walk in 20-degree chill during blizzard...Give thanks to the Creator who made you a knitter. Say a blessing for Deborah Newton, whose quick and easy pattern inspired you to string together a lot of leftover ends of yarn to make this, your very first hand-knitted shawl, which didn't cost you a penny and has been worth its weight in gold.

There's a new paperback edition of this book; hurrah! Not many patterns, and the patterns are sort of odd, but lots of information and inspiration. I've had the hardcover book for almost twenty years and am not about to sell mine.

(Newton's original shawl was knitted with just one strand of yarn on thick needles, and is lacy and pretty. Mine was knitted with one scrap of wool or mohair and one of acrylic in almost every stitch, and is literally a blanket and a half--it forms an L-shape, but if I lie down I can curl up under two-thirds of it and throw the other third over my head. It looks more like a Mexican poncho than like a Shetland shawl.)

10:30 a.m.: Old man parked outside gas station, in position that suggests he's waiting while his wife uses the convenience store, steps out of vehicle to speak to you. Does not identify himself, but rushes to show that his vision is much, much worse than yours by blurting out, "Our church has a blanket ministry! Could you use this blanket?"

I am not making this up.

Here I am, wrapped up in a blanket and a half. I am the grandmother of blanketry, the wellspring of blankets. And this idjit is shoving a tacky little summer-weight blanket, made in a sweatshop in China, toward me. That cheap little thing might make a cute coverlet on a hospital bed, but for sure it would not turn snow--which my blanket shawl does.

Somebody has made the terrible mistake of teaching this old amadan things to say to a homeless person in the unlikely event that he ever sees one--my town has never had a homeless population--and he's so locked into his script that he has no idea to whom he's even parroting it.

(Amadan is Irish; it's traditionally translated by "fool," but without the connotation of hate that "fool" acquired from being used to translate the Greek word more in Matthew 5:22.)

I say gently, "Can you see what I have?"

I'm not sure that he can. As his face comes into focus for my astigmatic eyes, it appears to me that his baggy-lidded blue eyes are looking at me but not necessarily seeing details like the shawl. He continues to spout his little spiel, "I was just trying to help you."

"If you want to help me, I have some handcrafts you can buy!"

He backs hastily back to his vehicle. "I don't need to buy anything!"

At least the pleasure of reading his obituary isn't likely to be far away.

Walking away, hoping his wife is driving, find a good deal of free money on the way to Kingsport. Three handfuls of pop-tops (the cans are still there, if any local lurkers need a few dollars). Enough actual coins to buy a snack at Michaels, if all that hungry. Lots of miscellaneous metal. Somebody's even left a few scraps of men's clothing, deliberately cut into pieces, a pair of boots, three pairs of shoes, and one extra boot and one extra shoe, on a street corner; leave that where it is, in case the original owner is looking for it.

2 p.m.: There's a reason why breakfast and lunch have not been mentioned in this timetable. All the same, the prices on snacks at Michaels--double their price at Krogers, which is only three long blocks away--motivate me to stick to yarn and knitting magazines first. Michaels does not have Knitter's or Interweave Knits but has filled up its rack with random news magazines. Michaels is not trying to cater to the serious crafters who are its original clientele. The yarn department has shrunk to less than half its original size and replaced most of my favorite yarn brands with store brands, ick. Well, it makes sense that Michaels isn't trying to compete with Wal-Mart on anything Wal-Mart might stock, but...lose those store brands and silly half-inch-thick broomstick-"knitting" yarns, please! Nevertheless it doesn't take long to find a clearance sale on just the right amount of Bernat yarn to knit a Sally Melville sweater from the "knit when the right yarn goes on sale" list, and also use up my giftcard quite nicely. (And, as always, I find half a dozen other yarns that make me think "I want to come back when this is on sale.")

Bernat Small Acrylic Baby Co-Ordinates Ball of Yarn, Buddy Blue/Multi-Colour by Bernat
Warning: if the store near you has already sold the last of this novelty yarn, the seller offering it on Amazon intends to exploit its scarcity. Novelty yarns are sold for one season only. This season's shades-of-blue sportweight boucle acrylic yarn from Bernat is more of a denim blue, and will make stripes rather than flecks.

This collection of Sally Melville designs was not intended to flatter top-heavy women...but I've already sold some of the sweaters to women who weren't top-heavy. What I plan to make with the blue fleck yarn is the hoodie, which is less specifically for bottom-heavy women than the sweaters on the front of the hardcover book.

There's a new paperback edition, and even a Kindle edition...any body can wear some of the sweaters in this book.

4:00 p.m.: Ooohhh, the frustration. Kroger is running sales on everything you like to buy when you're there. Want to buy about $50 worth of groceries. Have $9. 

4:05 p.m.: Break down and send text message to that less-local lurker, who has reached Gate City by now. Rationalize that this person will want to stock up on groceries at Kroger, too, when person sees these sale prices. Realize that on Mondays, after weekends upstate, this person really wants to settle back into person's Gate City house and not drive any more, and also this person qualifies for senior discounts on Tuesdays, and you are shamelessly exploiting the person's protective parental feelings, fear of cold weather, and tendency to say "Oh I can buy that for you"--which is inexcusable, when (a) it's not senior discount day and (b) you're not prepared to reimburse the person via Paypal for who knows how many more weeks.

4:07 p.m.: Meet another person who lives further into Virginia than you do, and will be driving through Gate City, right there at Kroger. 

4:08 p.m. Send another message to the less-local lurker before that person wastes any gas. 

5:30 p.m.: Eat most of your $9 worth of bargain-price groceries.

6:30 p.m.: Give thanks that your cat, although a Listening Pet, does not actually understand enough English that you need to bother trying to explain while, when trying to pick out just $9 worth of bargains at Kroger, you completely forgot about kibble. Anyway you're still feeding only two cats, and you bought human food the cats can share, so the cats consider their share of your meal plus the last bits of kibble in the bag to be a good dinner. Purr. Purr. 

7 p.m.: You should be writing book reviews. You are not. Your mind really wants to come up with a strategy that will persuade the churches that "have a blanket ministry" to pay American women to knit snowproof, useful blankets, instead of buying cheap garbage from China. You think of some, too, but unfortunately they all depend on the persuasive power of rich and famous people. In order to accomplish this or any other good thing you really need to focus on getting better funding for your online bookstore.

The following chunk of text will show up here until it has met its monthly subscription goal, or until I've given up eating altogether, whichever comes first:

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