Winter and My Discontent

It is my favourite sort of winter day, and this is saying a great deal, as it is well known that I am not a fan of winter. It is too cold, too damp, too windy (I especially hate the wind. Walking from Lettuce Knit the other night I could feel the wind push the cold in through the seams of my coat. The wind makes you a thousand times colder. I swear it.) too grey, and too sunless. After a couple of months of this I can feel it pulling the joy right out of me. I’m not depressed, I’m just surrounded by stuff I don’t like. I miss my garden. I miss my bike. I miss walks that aren’t physically painful. I miss stopping on the street to chat with my neighbours… I miss shopping for fruit and vegetables in the village and buying fresh baguettes that aren’t %^&*ing frozen when I get home. (That happened the other day. I bought a warm and lovely baguette…walked home and the thing was bread-sicle when I got here.) I hate the way your hair freezes if you go out too soon after washing it. I hate the way that snow is always melting on the floor by the front door. I hate worrying about the furnace. I hate chapped lips (and faces, and hands and legs.) and it totally pisses me off in my entirety that the little tub of Carmex I had in my coat pocket froze and now it’s weird and grainy. I really loathe the way that I get cold in October and don’t feel warm again until April. (When we were all walking and freezing the other night, Denny was the only one who was warm. She says the answer is alpaca. I’m going to get right on that.) I am essentially an optimist and a happy person though, so I work hard at staying chipper in the winter. Days like this help. (As does offering a daily offering of thanks to the universe that forces in my past never conspired to have me living in Edmonton or Yellowknife. I would die.)

Today there is a storm. The wind is fierce, the cold is trying to come in through any crack it can find in the house., but the mighty octopus furnace is fending it off. The snow is getting blown around so hard that it is sticking in the cracks of buildings and making them white. It’s terrible driving, worse walking, schools are closing, and much of the city has stayed home if they can.

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I was smart. Yesterday when I heard it was coming, I did all my out of the house chores. I went to the store, I took care of the green bin and recycling. I did everything I could think of so there is absolutely no reason at all why I would have to go outside. None, and that makes today one of my favourite sorts of winter days. The outside is terrible, and I am inside. Me, coffee, yarn, knitting.

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I am delighting myself. It can bluster all it wants to, and for today I have myself a wee victory over winter. (Now would not be a good time to point out that there are two months to go. ) Today I can sit and knit (assuming I get my work done) and I can make little lists of things I like about winter, just to get me over the hump.

- Soup. (Today is barley, leek & potato.)

- That heating up the house with baking is a good thing.

- Watching knitters get dressed to go out in the snow.

- How much it makes me like the summer.

- Shovelling.

- Storms that give you a day off.

- That it is dark enough to light candles before supper.

- The way that you feel like finishing your knitting is urgent.

I’m sure you have your own list. Feel free to share, I could use it. Today for sure I will finish the body of the Vintage socks, and that only leaves the leaf-o-rama to be done.

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There’s an “integrated i-cord bind off” that attaches a bunch of them, and at the risk of sounding even dorkier than usual… I’m extremely excited. I’ll take pictures for you. The minute my work is done today I’m for my warm chair, a shawl round my shoulders, pot of tea on the table, this quote in my mind.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.



-Hal Borland

(By the way? 945 ft.)

(By the way again? Go read Sara’s entry for today.)

and the sky is grey

Yeah, yeah, as the tremendously astute Rachel H. noted yesterday, I totally blew the deadline on these socks. They should have been done on Sunday, and on Sunday, I was still deep in the depths of book-work, only coming up for (as Inky called it in the comments…) “some fine looking OCD”. It’s ok though, because the recipient didn’t turn up on Sunday to collect them, so I was granted a reprieve and didn’t even have to beg for it. (I’ll admit, I’d like to see this last of the Christmas presents out the door before February, so I’m not slowing down.)

Sure, the leaves were sort of a fetish knitting item, and sure, I can see how many of you think it was nuttier than Aunt Mary’s walnut bars, and I know a lot of you are shaking your heads sadly my decline in to wee knitty maddness…and more still are wondering how you get 34 leaves on a single pair of socks and have that work out. (It’s going to be grand. Open your mind.)

I have to say though, from where I sit, those little leaves were a lot more interesting than the plain stockinette on the second foot of the socks they will adorn. I’m up to the embossed grape panel again, so things have picked up in interest, which is excellent, because all of this was really starting to get to me.

When I feel ennui with my knitting, whether because of project monogamy (not my natural state), a plain bit or a forced march, I try to suck it up. (Usually. Stop that laughing.) I keep knitting, I finish the thing, I carry on, and I will this time too…but when I’m done with something and it’s not done with me, I do a little something that makes me feel better. Something that speaks to the future. When I really can’t stand it anymore?

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I wind sock yarn.

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I don’t knit it, I just wind it.

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(C’mon. I bet you do it to. Just a little winding to take the edge off? You know you wanna….)

PS Finalists are up in the Canadian blog awards, and there I am, proud and pleased as punch. (I’m in Best blog, and Best Activities Blog. Vote your conscience (you don’t need to be Canadian), should it please you, and thanks a whole bunch if ya do. Deadline is tomorrow I think. )

PPS. Rick Mercer is up for Best Celebrity Blog. While I don’t know Rick personally (and frankly I think he could step it up in the blog department a little bit ) and we are not friends in our waking lives, while I sleep – Rick and I are apparently the best of friends. (Get your minds out of the gutter. It’s not like that between me and Rick.) There was the time that he rescued me when I got myself chained up in the coffee shop…. and then there was my most recent dream. Justin Trudeau and I were contestants on a reality television show, and we were going to live in this house that had been decorated just for us, and Rick Mercer was the host and he was going to live there too, and the three of us were standing around in this open concept nightmare of an architectural oddity, talking about how entirely transparent the decorating scheme was. There was roses and fleur de lis on the fabrics everywhere and we all just about bust a gut laughing because it was just such a transparent and stupid way to suck up to Justin, and then I woke up… and I realized that I totally need to watch less CBC and read less Can-lit, because dudes, isn’t that the most Canadian dream ever? Anyway. I figured that I should mention that Rick was up for a vote, because he must be good if he can even entertain my sleeping subconscious. Carry on.

Get along little doggies

Yee haw. I’m still in editing hades over here. (Now I’m onto the first edit of the calendar, so it’s way less stressful than the last edit on the book. ) I’m perfectly happy though. Perfectly. My hair could be on fire and I would be happy. Why?

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Done.

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All the leaves, all of them, even the one that needed to be inlaid into the toe of the second Vintage sock is done.

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Done, and done without incident. Nothing unravelled. Nothing mis-knit, no great honking errors, no wrong counting or gauge mistake, just 34 tiny little leaves for socks. All blocked. All just grand.

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Towards the end it was even sort of zen. It was only the leaves. Me and the leaves. Leaves and me. Finish one, cast on the next. As you can imagine, I had the pattern memorized by then so it was a seamless flow of one leaf to the next. I somehow got into a headspace where I didn’t even want to knit anything else. It was as though the leaves and I were one endless being. Leaves. Leaves. Leaves. It was so mind-bendingly surreal that the only reason I stopped was because I happened to mention to one of the kids (the answer to “So, Mum? How many leaves are you knitting?”) that I only had to make 34 (“only”….see how it gets to you?) and they counted and I was done. If they hadn’t have broken the spell I would likely still be knitting. Leaves.

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I’ve decided to leave them like that for a while. Just so I can look at them. My leaves. Yee haw.

(First person to mention how many ends there are to weave in gets their smart-ass self banned from the blog. I’m ignoring that, and I don’t want my bubble burst. )

Like cures like

You would think that the persnickityness of the proofs would have me knitting garter stitch washcloths, but nope. Leaves. Who knew? There’s a homeopathic principle that says “like cures like”, and it seems to be the case for me this time. Somehow, even though I’m still busy writing stuff like this on a manuscript:

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(Added later, when seeing some confusion in the comments: I wrote that note. The red marks are from the editor, who is trying to change a sentence so that it begins with a conjunction. The black note is from me, where I am “stetting” her. I thought it was extra funny that I was correcting her while simultaneously making two errors (the misspelling of “conjuntion” and “sentance”) but perhaps you have to be in my rather frayed frame of mind to find that rippingly amusing in a terrible but ironic way. Har-dee har-har. I may need a nap.)

I feel a real relief in the tiny, little, perfect leaves that are “just so”.

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The Deadline for getting this proof out of here is today, so I’m copping out on the real blog writing and answering questions from yesterdays comments.

Andrea

I am currently reading The Yarn Harlot’s Guide to the Land of Knitting, and I noticed that it’s “color” and not “colour”. I love seeing that extra u in words (I secretly wish I were Canadian), and I wonder where the decision to leave the u out comes from? Is that the author’s choice? the publisher’s? Does customs take the u out when the book comes over the border?

It’s definitely the publishers choice. They get my manuscript with Canadian spellings, but they are an American publisher, so my choices are changed to reflect standard American spelling. The very first time that I encountered this, my copy editor phoned and told me that the manuscript was very clean and they liked it and they were just “going to correct my spelling.”

“Correct my spelling?” I queried. (I am normally pretty careful about spelling. I have a multitude of flaws I freely admit, but a am a good speller.) “Are there lots of errors?”

“No, no” she backtracked “we’re just taking out your Briticisms.”

“Briticisms?” I said.

“Yeah, you know, added “u”s, extra Ls… Briticisms.”

“Hmmm…. ”

“You don’t call them Briticisms?”

“No.”

“What do Canadians call it then?”

” English.” I replied

Constantina

Okay, I’ll be the rude, impatient person and ask what we really all want to know. How soon can we expect you to haul yourself around the planet for signings? And when can we start clamoring (and bribing) for our favorite cities to be on the list?

It’s not rude to ask. I’ll be on the road for this book April 2nd. As far as I know, there are 20 cities booked, pretty much back to back. When I have details, you’ll have details. (…and for the record, I believe the publicity department to be fairly immune to bribes, or I would have had a seven day book signing in Fiji by now.)

Cedar

Why is it more expensive at amazon.ca rather than amazon.com…. is it an american publication ?

Yup, and all American books (and a lot of other American things) are more expensive in Canada. American books are distributed in Canada by (not surprisingly) Canadian distributors. The price rises to cover the distribution costs. A lot of people believe that it’s the exchange rate that causes the difference, but as many Canadians discovered this year when our dollar was at par (or above) the American dollar, it didn’t make the book prices on par.

Mea

How long (in general, I know all your books are different lengths)is the first manuscript in terms of word processed pages? I’m guessing it’s different than what is type-faced, justified, headed, and illustrated in the final version.

It depends. Manuscripts are managed by word count, but books are pages. (My books are usually between 25 000 and 50 000 words.) I would guess that I lose about 3-10% in the editing, but it’s pretty variable. Usually the publisher has an idea how long the book should be – or must be… have a look at a book from the side and you’ll see that there are “sections” of paper. When they print a book they can add one more of those, or one less, but not a part, and as an author, your work is trimmed to reflect that. For example, this new book needs to be 160 pages. After my work was typeset and made pretty, I was told that I was coming out at 8 pages too long. Part of this last part of the process is deciding what 8 pages should go. (I hates it – but I’m trying to be mature.)

Anne

One reads about authors getting huge advances to write books … is this true or does it depend on whether your name is, say, Stephen King or Joan Didion or Stephanie Pearl-McPhee?



One does read about that, and yeah. It does depend on your name and reputation. (Hint: my name is not Stephen King.) An advance is exactly that. It works like this: A publisher makes a guess about how many copies they think a book will sell. They offer the author that money “in advance”. The author writes the book, the book is published and (with a little luck) the book starts to sell. The author gets a portion of the book when it sells. That portion is called a “royalty” and it’s usually somewhere between 4 and 15% (depending on your name and publisher… think under 10% for “not Stephen King” types – the industry average for a paperback is 6%.) of the price. If a book is $10 the author will get a 60 cent royalty for every book sold – assuming the royalty is 6%, which – a lot of the time….it isn’t.

So the book sells, and the author waits, and every time someone buys a book, 60 cents goes into their account with the publisher…BUT, the author has to pay the publisher back the advance before they make any money. If you got a $10 000 advance, a book needs to sell more than 16 THOUSAND copies before the publisher owes the author any more money. Only once you have paid back the advance do you get any more, and if your book never sells 16 000 copies, you would never get any more. (Technically, without a clause in your contract that says otherwise if a publisher paid you $10 000, and your book only ever sells 2000 copies, they could ask for their money back, which is a black nightmare that haunts the dreams of all writers. I don’t think it ever happens though.)

In addition, an author is not paid for being on tour, or otherwise promoting their book. If you are lucky (and I am) being on tour doesn’t cost you any money and the publisher covers the costs. That’s not always the case though, and it’s difficult for many writers to lose that time to income earning. I remember when I started all this, and was boggled to learn that out of all the people involved in selling a book, the author earns the least per book. (Although I don’t really know a lot of rich publishers or booksellers either.) It explains why a lot of writers work so hard to keep the books coming. It’s the only way to earn a living at it….and it isn’t just the case for middle of the road writers like me. I was listening to Nino Ricci on the CBC a while ago and he said something to the effect that if he added up all the time he spent writing, revising, proofing and promoting, he would have earned more working at McDonalds – and he’s a bestselling, award winning novelist.

In short, yeah. Authors get advances. No, they are not usually huge, and I think you really have to love writing if you want to make it your day job.

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Although you do get to knit leaves at work.

A small word

There are lots of phases of a book. Authors are involved in some, and not the others. (It’s more complicated than I’m implying too, there’s galleys and other stuff, emails and conversations and probably whole long parts of it that I’m not involved in and thankfully know nothing about since they would probably only make me more anxious.) Also, there’s all the parts with contracts and agents and money. (If you’re interested in the money and author part, read this.) This is just a peek at what it looks like from here, there’s other stuff.

Phase One:

The writing, naturally, is an authors job. You propose what you would like to write, then they say yes or no (or negotiate) and then the writer sits down to do the deed. (The proposal may be really formal, or not. When I submitted my first proposal I used this book as a guide (it worked too) but now that the publisher is pretty sure I have good ideas, I can just tell the editor what I’m thinking.) As the writing phase passes, depending on the writer or the publishers policy, the author is babysat to varying degrees. Sometimes the publisher asks the writer to submit the writing in chunks (this is so they know that you’re really working and your book isn’t crap) and sometimes, if you have experience in actually handing in books on time that aren’t total crap, and your publisher is the type, they leave you entirely alone and you just hand it in on the deadline. (There may be one or two phone calls from your editor broached as kind enquiry about your well being, “just calling to see how you are, it’s been ages” sorts of phone calls, but these are really “I’m calling to get some sense that you’re actually working on a book and have not gone barking mad, become an alcoholic or are otherwise endangering the odds that I will get that manuscript” calls. When these calls happen, both the author and the editor pretend that they are 100% unconcerned about anything. They are both lying.) This is the last time that the author will have absolute control over any part of making a book. The finished work is called a manuscript, if you are the editor and publisher, and “My Precious”, if you are the author.

Phase Two:

The author sends the book to the editor. The editor reads it. The editor then makes decisions and forms opinions about the whole rest of the writers life and whether it is worth living. When they are ready to tell the author about these opinions and decisions, they call them. (The time that elapses before that phone call comes is so unbelievably awful that it makes the time that I fell asleep on a dock in Bala and got a sunburn so bad that I couldn’t wear clothes for four days seem like a spa day.) Once the editor has called the author (who cries, either from relief or shock) they begin the process of editing. The editor marks up the manuscript with words that rip your soul open like “unclear” or “wordy” or “will you ever, ever learn to pay attention to its and it’s, or are you stunned as a bat?” (Well. They don’t say that. They just underline it, but I know what they are implying with their red pen.) Then they send it back to the author and they have a couple of discussions about how it’s not wordy, those words are vital and if you take out even one of them the integrity of the whole thing washes down the toilet – which the editor endures politely until you are worn down and take the words out yourself.

Phase Three:

The publisher starts having meetings. Authors don’t really go to them, so I don’t know what gets said. They claim that this is when they make decisions about design, layout and title, but they might be just talking about what pains in the arse authors are. (That’s my theory.) At some publishing houses authors are “consulted” on this stuff, in others they are not. Generally speaking, publishers decide on the cover and the title, although they consider the feedback of the people in sales a great deal. Unless you are dealing with a special sort of publisher – authors are not going to win any debates at this point. I can’t speak for all authors, but I know that I find the lack of control at this point pretty much excruciating. At least twice before there is a final cover and title, I cry out of sheer helplessness…(and that’s saying something, because although I do tend to over-invest in things, I am not normally a crier.) The author will probably be shown several covers between now an publication, so it’s best not to flip out over the first couple. It’s changing anyway. (This doesn’t stop the bad and soon to change cover from being on Amazon.)

Phase Four:

While the publisher is thinking about the cover and the title and stuff like that, the manuscript has gone to a copy-editor. This person edits your work for the five C’s. (They make sure the work is clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent.) Sometimes at this point it comes back to the author, sometimes it just goes to the next step. Sometimes if the author sees it at this point they have a seizure for no reason.

Phase Five.

The work goes to the layout and design people, and they make it pretty. They make actual “pages” or “spreads” of how the book will look when it’s a real thing. Now the work is called ” A proof” or “The Pages” and these are proof-read (by a proof reader) and then sent to the author, who heaves a sigh of relief because they think that this part should be called The Proof because the author finally has fairly good proof that the publisher is actually going to go through with this. This stack of paper is the last time that the author will see their words. The last time that they can make changes (but not too many – or the publisher is unhappy). The last time they can check for mistakes. The last time before the publisher turns it into a real book.

That’s what I’m doing today.

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This is this book. (There it is. The cover that won’t be the cover, I think.) I can’t tell you how horrible I think it is that it is both on my coffee table and up on Amazon. It feels a little like a promise you aren’t sure you can keep. Like “Are you sure you want to sell something that isn’t even a book yet? Are you sure?”. I am painstakingly going over it with a fine tooth comb, checking for mistakes, thinking over the editing job one more time and deciding if it is ready to go into the world. This part makes me nauseous. Totally nauseous. If I make a mistake now (or if the editor, the copy editor or the proofreader made or missed a mistake that I don’t find) an error will be in the book forever that a whole bunch of you will email me about, probably for the rest of my life. 50 years from now there will be one beat up copy of this book in the Toronto Public Library and some knitter who hasn’t even been born yet will take it out, read it, and then send me an email about the dumbass mistake on page 7 and how I should have fixed it. (Excuse me. I just made myself dizzy with my own vision.) It’s a lot of pressure. Horrible actually, and although I love being a writer, I hate this part with a stinking and unholy passion. I have tried tempering it with sock knitting….

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But my mood is still bleak and worried. (Perhaps I should go back to leaf knitting. At least that was only endless, not scary.) The only comfort a writer has at this point (and who knows, perhaps there are writers who LOVE this part. If there are, and they are sober, I’d love to hear from them.) the only thing that is a glorious and shining revenge and compensation is the word

STET

Stet is a really fantastic latin word. It means “let it stand” and if you write it near a change an editor, copy editor or proofreader has made, it means “Put. It. Back“. I love it, for though it is a word of enormous import, power and dominion, it is very fast to write.

After all of the arguments a writer will lose during all of the phases of publication, after all of the negotiations, all of the compromises, all of the discussion and polite persuasion…. It is the authors final weapon, the last line of defence…..and I adore it with the full force of my being. Stet means “I wrote arse and I mean arse”. Stet means, “Yeah it’s a run on sentence, but maybe I like run on sentences”. Stet means “the serial comma is not a law, and you and your comma fetish can back right off.” Stet. It is a final, brief and dignified return of control to an author, and you should try writing or saying it to feel the real power in it. (Ever time I write it I cannot help but think of all the things I would STET if I could. Not just on a manuscript either. Curfews for a teenager? STET. The way I told you to pick up your socks? STET. What I said about that boy that you only think you like? STET.)

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Stet. Let it stand. The word that cannot be argued with. Damn straight.

(PS. I know that the fact that I wrote “Stet Please” diminishes my claim to the inherent strength of the word. I’m Canadian. I can’t help it.)

Four years of screwing up knitting

I was working this morning, writing, knitting, writing, knitting (taking short breaks to think about how much cleaner my house would be if I ever substituted “cleaning” for “knitting”, then having a little chuckle to myself about how unlikely that is) and then I had a very nice phone call with a friend I don’t talk to very often (and thinking about how much cleaner my house would be if I ever substituted “cleaning” for that sort of thing too.) and right thereafter I came to landmark place on the Vintage sock. Once the inlaid toe business was out of the way, this sock has flown. I knit the plain bit, then started the embossed bunch of grapes pattern, and was absolutely delighted to discover that this part was entirely, well. Delightful.

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The chart makes it a walk in the park, and there’s a pretty cool “make 4″ to start the bottom of each grape and an equally charming “decrease 4″ that rounds off the tops of them,

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and the whole thing was a pleasure. Now that I have knit it, I can smirk without fear of retribution about how easy and fun it is. (I refrained from blogging yesterday about how I was knitting it without difficulty. Considering my track record with this sock I think the thing would have been unable to resist the urge to spontaneously combust or burst into a million wee snips of yarn just to rub my face in it.) I knit half the grapes, knit the “inverted wine glass heel” (again, a pleasure. Not a single misplaced stitch.)

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and today I decided, that with the worst of it behind me I could blog about how truly beautiful it is, and how I’m having such a good time that I have almost forgotten that I still have about a billion leaves left to knit and a whole second sock…

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and with that I remembered that I have a deadline on these bad boys, and I went to the calendar to check and see how much time I have left. (Five days, but lets not dwell on that. It’s not the point.) While I was running my finger down the calendar and trying to sort out what day today might be (I have a loose relationship with the passage of time) I saw that my blogiversary was coming up. Then I sorted out what day it was and realized that TODAY is my blogiversary.

I’ve missed it in previous years, not being someone who’s big on dates in general (which is really good, since I never know the date) but having discovered it by accident today, I wanted to take a minute to mention it, and to convey to you my most sincere and heartfelt gratitude.

Thank you.

I had no idea what this blog might become when I started. No idea. Ken gave it to me as a Christmas present (probably thinking that it would be really great for me to have some sort of outlet for my knitting angst that didn’t involve his phone ringing) and it turns out to have been so much more than a way to find other people who worry about buttonholes at three in the morning. (Although, that’s really great too.) I feel like I really found a community with knitting in general, and this blog in specific, and as someone who has never really fit in very well, I can’t tell you how much that has meant to me. I’ve always struggled with the fact that I’m rather undeniably a dork (Don’t bother arguing. I direct you to locking myself out a hotel room, dropping a shoe out of a window, and an encounter with a turnstile as proof….this isn’t low self-esteem. It’s self knowledge.) and while that hasn’t changed…I appreciate with my whole dorky self that I’m welcome here in the big blog world. It’s like finally sitting with the cool kids in high school… and my gratefulness knows no bounds.

Time flies when you’re screwing up knitting.

The benefits of procrastination

It’s super cold out, and I have to walk to the bank. I love walking, but I hate the cold. If it falls lower than -10, you’re going to have to practically drag me from my house, and if it’s below -20 (which is where we are today, -23 with windchill) then the odds that I am leaving my home unless it’s on fire are just about zero. (Even then, fires are cozy.) I hates it, and today I have no choice but to go out because I’ve got to go to the bank or something terrible will happen…like running out of food, and when you have three teenagers, you don’t want to go there. We have never run out of food before, so I’m not sure what they might do, but the children run in packs, and Joe’s still away so I’m very badly outnumbered and have no muscle. Not a good day for experiments. Sum total, I’ll be outside for about an hour (it’s a bit of a walk)…and I know for a fact that if I had gone upstairs and put on my long underwear (don’t laugh. it’s that cold) and just got going, I’d have been back in the time I’ve spend avoiding it.

Still, I have been avoiding it, and so desperate have I been, that I actually fixed the leaf thing. Other than the horrendous upset of having hard work undone, it turns out not to have been that difficult to repair. Not hard…just fiddly, like everything else on this sock.

Step one.

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Identify lost stitches. Use crochet hook that Fibergal gave me at SOAR to ladder them back up and otherwise secure them. (I love this hook)

Step two.

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Make some sort of crazed guess about what the next step might be. Decide it is decreasing and do so.

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Step three.

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Begin to work crazy little attached i-cord without standing up, taking the sock from my lap nor…possibly…breathing.

Step four.

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Sew down stem end. Drop darning needle, take 14 months off life as I experience flashbacks.

Step five.

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Dance.

Now. I’m going to the bank. I deeply, deeply regret that I thought it was too cold to go to the bank on Saturday and put it off. It was way less cold. (Idiot.) This has got to be the planets way of making sure I learn some sort of lesson about procrastination. (Again.) I wonder if there’s some way I could do that later…

I have always said the cat was in on it

Hey!

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What ya doing? Taking a bath? I heard you tell Sam that you can’t ever get a minute alone and you were coming up here before you “Freaked the frak out”, so I thought that might be worth watching, you know? I don’t know why you say you can’t collect your thoughts because you’re constantly invaded by others. You don’t look that invaded. Sort of wet though. That your book?

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Any good? How’s the bath? Good too? Hello? Meow? C’mon. Don’t make me claw your leg. I’m just here to find out if you are enjoying your alone time. Water nice?

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That is nice. Warm and cozy on the tail. Tails are extremities….did you know that? Yup. Chilly house like this, gets sort of nippy on the tail. Feels great in the water though. Can I ask you a question? What exactly do you mean by “solitude”. Are we having solitude now? I think I like how that sounds. Yeah….me and you. Solitude together. You know, this was totally worth getting up off that grey sweater for.

Hey! That’s not nice. Do I tell you to “piss off”? No. No I don’t. Sure, I mean, I can’t talk, but even if I could I wouldn’t ……. Holy cow. I’m disappointed in you. That was not a very ladylike thing to say. You talk to your kittens with that mouth? Fine. Fine.

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Better? Now I’m sitting in the sink, just trying to watch you have your alone time. I AM out of the bath, just like you asked and now I’m just going to stare at you. For the record, I think it’s really nice of me to supervise this. Thank heaven I know how to open doors. Why do you close them? Aren’t you glad I’m here? …

Whoa. I think you have an anger problem. “Shoo” is a really rude thing to say to me, especially since I let you stay here in my house. You’re starting to really piss me off. I just came up here to watch you have your precious “alone time”, and you don’t even care that without me there would have been nobody with you. Seriously. How would that have been…eh? Eh? I swear that if I had opposable thumbs I would totally call PETA and get your non cat arse hauled out of my house. You’re seriously insensitive. Seriously.

Actually? I can’t even stand to look at you.

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(Note: No. I didn’t have my camera in the bath with me. Generally speaking, nothing bloggable happens in there, or ….at least nothing I would like to be bloggable. When the cat (Millie) got weird, I had Sam bring the camera up to me, thinking I’d get a cute picture of her peeking over the side. The rest was just crazy-dumb luck. That cat is odd as fish though.)

Totally weird

I got a message today that I had to call my bank, so I did, and when I did I got caught in one of those crazy “voice” systems, where you talk and the computer lady listens. (“If you would like to proceed in English, say English, now” )

and ten minutes later I was out of my mind because none of the options for things I could say were things that I wanted. (“To check your account balance, say account balance, now”)

I was starting to flip out, and the voice was saying things like “Sorry you’re having trouble” which is what the voice says right before they unceremoniously dump you with a saccharine “Goodbye” when I snapped, and said something that wasn’t one of the options. In a tone that I can only describe as hostile and sarcastic, when the voice said “Please tell me which option you would like” I said

“What I would like, is to talk to a real person.”

And the bank voice said…

“I think I heard you ask for a representative. Please hold”.

Seriously. I asked a machine for a real person, and I got one. Stunning, isn’t it? What this means (I think, naturally, not working for the bank I have no actual proof) is that the bank has taught the computer that the words “real person” mean “this person wants a representative or they will come off the rails”, which has to mean that I’m not the only person who’s said this. Very reassuring somehow, and totally weird. It gave me the disconcerting feeling that the bank computer was actually listening to me, which isn’t something that even the real people at the bank do. Freaky.

The weird wasn’t even over. When I got a representative? It was this guy who said his name was “Andy” (a likely story. If I needed a fake name for bank phone work that’s what I would choose), but I swear to all my wool with absolute certainty that it was David Reidy from Sticks and String podcast. I’d know that voice anywhere.

He denied it. Which was weird too…’cause he seems so nice on the podcast.

Nice try David. Great speaking with you, even if it was about my client card.