Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Just Stuff

I'm working on the notated manuscript of Knitting Bones. That means the book is finished, except for a few changes suggested by my editor. I really like my editor, Jackie Cantor; her suggestions are excellent and will make it a better book. The only problem is, I'm finishing this book and starting the next, Thai Die – and so have very little time right now for STITCHING, which is the whole purpose of my series: to explain and celebrate needlework. Oh, well, Thursday afternoon I'm going to take a couple of hours and go meet with some fellow knitters and expand my knowledge of mitered knitting. I love to knit; it relaxes me, keeps my fingers nimble, and the result is useful.

In Knitting Bones Betsy is asked by another character to harbor a crippled crow "just for a few days." The crow is a messy, mean, thieving creature who delights in biting anyone who comes within reach, and of course Betsy is stuck with it for longer than the promised time. I'm writing from reality, because I was once asked to take care of a crippled crow – though my house guest departed on time, taking his bad manners with him. Still, I ended up admiring the creature despite his many flaws, and am now a fan of crows. They are among the smartest birds, courageous, loyal to their kind, and owning a wicked sense of humor. They have a kind of language, and I've been researching that. They have warning calls, angry calls, calls for help, even a "please give me a bite of that" begging calls – two of which I use in the book. We're a funny species, humans. We love it when a rescued animal is grateful, but we sometimes find it refreshing when we find one who isn't. A healthy crow thinks it is the equal of any other creature, including humans, and a crippled crow does not believe it is handicapped.

Julie Fasciana, from my writers' group, told me about a shop in Minneapolis called Regift, at which you can buy crafty things made of recycled materials. She said they had bracelets made of old typewriter keys – I have wanted one of those made into a watchband for a long time – having seen them at craft fairs but finding them overpriced. You see, the term "typewriter" used to refer to the person operating the machine. And in that sense, I am a typewriter. So on Friday I went over there with a (different) friend, and there they were. One had black keys with white letters, the other had black letters on off-white keys. The price was reasonable, and the shop owner offered to replace my expansion watch band while I waited. And my friend, who came along because she wanted to show me a quilt shop in the same neighborhood, ended up buying a single key to wear as a pendant. Was it her initial? No, it said Margin Release. I think it's a subtle clue to her personality, but you have to know what the key did on the old typewriters. Some of you out there might remember manual typewriters, the kind you have to strike the keys hard on, especially if you're making carbon copies – for you youngsters, carbon paper was tissue-thin paper with a kind of dark wax coating on one side that, sandwiched between two sheets of paper, would copy the type from the original onto the second. The "cc" you still sometimes see at the bottom of a letter stands for "carbon copy," meaning a copy of the letter is being sent to the person whose name comes after the cc – though nowadays the copy is made on a copier machine. Later models of electric typewriters offered "wrap-around" typing, in which the carriage returned all by itself – wait a second, do all of you know what "carriage return" is? Or even just a "carriage?" (It's the cylindrical object that holds the paper you are typing on.) Anyway, margins were "hard," the typewriter keys stopped working when you reached the margin on the right, and you had to push the lever and move the carriage back and down to the next line. But if you had just a couple more letters to finish the word you were typing, you could punch Margin Release and it would let you type up to five more letters. So Margin Release means you will go a little beyond your limits to finish something. But not too far.
But I've bored you quite enough with the ancient history of typewriters.

Oh, and the quilt shop was great! I found some fabric . . . But that's another story. Instead, how about a needlework joke:

One Sunday after church, a mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about. The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt." Needless to say, the mom was perplexed. Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the mom asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about. He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."


Deb Baker said...

LOL. Love the joke.
I worked at a wildlife center where they had a resident crow. He hated me, would wait at the door until I entered then peck my ankles until they bled. Nasty guy.

Ellen said...

Don't give me that. You admired crows even before you had that one in to visit, and jumped at the chance!

Monica Ferris said...

Well, all right, Ellen, I confess that I have always had a sneaking admiration for crows. But my "house guest" did his best to discourage that admiration, without success!

Mary Monica

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Okay, Monica--I have to know where to buy a bracelet like that! It's tooooo cool. Especially for those of us who spend all day with our fingers on keyboards.


Monica Ferris said...

Joanna, you can find them at craft fairs, usually with a watch already part of the bracelet. This one was at a shop called Regift, which is at 1832 E. 42nd Street in Minneapolis. Phone 612-276-0105 -- I should get a commission. The artist who makes them is in Indiana, I think. The cost is sixty dollars, plus tax.