Newsletter 047 – September 22, 2023
About the Image Above: A few things I’ll cover in this newsletter (top to bottom — charging my Chevy Bolt, one of our new faucets, and a few of Minay’s quilts suspended on our new back fence).
Disclaimer: This newsletter is spliced between the sixth and the seventh “Rambling” newsletters I’ve been sending you. As you know, I’ve been trying to work on my novella, Flood and Fire and its sequel, Jagged Man, but it hasn’t been easy. This is what’s been happening.
You might recall from the other In-Betweener newsletter I sent you back in mid-July that I had to pause my writing to handle some storm damage and a plumbing issue, and also told you (back in April) about the demise of my 2007 Prius. Those darned Interruptions reared their ugly heads once more, but (I hope) they have finally been handled. I’ll take them one at a time.
My 2007 Prius, Sexy Sadie, was a good car for sixteen years, but eventually was costing more in repairs than she was worth. After I sold Sadie to a salvage yard in mid-April, we shared Tabitha Blue (Tibby for short), Minay’s 2015 Prius (a small Prius c model), until the end of August. I don’t fit in Tibby very well, I’m a bit too tall. We also worried about not having a second car for emergencies, Houston isn’t a place designed to do mass transit well (too spread out). So, eventually I started looking for a possible addition to our automotive family. Over the years we had gradually moved away from internal combustion vehicles to hybrids, so the next logical step for us was either a plug-in hybrid (a PHEV) or an all-electric car (an EV). I wanted to make the jump to an EV, but they typically cost more. The least expensive EV I could find that had really good mileage on a single charge was the Chevy Bolt, but they are pausing production of it for a couple of years. Around 2026 they will come out with a completely redesigned Bolt, but now it’s hard to find 2023 models. I *could* have ordered one from the factory now but I wouldn’t get it for fifteen months. I did want to drive one, though, to see if Minay and I both fit in it well enough. The dealer had zero 2023 models on the lot, but their used car department had a 2021 Chevy Bolt, and they wanted about $10,000 less than a new 2023 would cost. The car was in great shape, one owner, low mileage, great safety and maintenance record. How could we pass that up?
Financing it was an issue for us, though. Buying a car, now that I’m retired and on a fixed income, is considerably different than it was while I was working. Our previous cars were all bought on credit, and we’ve tried to avoid doing that in recent years. Typically, we don’t buy anything on credit if we can’t pay for it when the next bill comes due.
Novelists, in case you haven’t guessed, don’t make a whole lot of money from their books (we’re not all Stephen King).
I had an idea, though. We had enough money in savings to keep the bank from charging us monthly fees or other charges. I checked with them, and they assured me that, even if we reduced the amount in our savings by the cost of the car, we would still have enough deposited that they wouldn’t start charging us. Since the interest on our savings only amounts to a few dollars a month, and the interest they or the dealer’s credit company would have charged us to finance the car would be way (way) above that, we decided to just pay cash for the car, and gradually build our savings back up.
Here she is in our driveway. Since she’s an EV, I’m thinking of calling her Evie Black (Minay came up with the name). I had a company install a Level Two charging station in our garage the other day. Our electric company (Green Mountain) generates all of our electricity with wind and solar, and they charge us a lower rate between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am, so that’s when I’ll top off Evie’s batteries.
I won’t say too much about the plumbing and the fencing since I already covered them in Newsletter 42, except to note that neither job went as smoothly as I would have hoped. Lots of time was spent searching for, vetting, and hiring people to install the plumbing and replace the fence. And neither of those things were cheap. We had to ding our savings for both jobs before I even started looking for the car. Below are pictures of the faucet style we got, and a picture of part of our new back fence (I’ll have something to say about the quilts on the fence below the picture).
I have a couple of side jobs that bring in a little cash occasionally. One is to create t-shirt designs and sell them on CafePress. I haven’t done any new designs for some time, but I still get royalties from them occasionally. Also, Black Cat Creations, the company that publishes Minay’s quilt patterns, hires me to take pictures of new quilts and straighten the images into perfect rectangles for them to use on their pattern covers. I always do Minay’s right away, and do pictures of quilts by other quilters when Black Cat delivers those to me. These, on our new back fence (to take advantage of the natural light), are four of Minay’s quilted table runners that Black Cat has published all in one pattern (L to R, they are: Just a Twisted Runner, Charming Twist, Icicle, and Holiday Runner). As a unit they are sold under the name Only a LITTLE Twisted. A few of the runners have versions that are full-sized quilts, and will be published as separate patterns. Just below you can see the straightened-out image of her full-sized quilt called Double Twist, which uses the same fabrics as Just a Twisted Runner above, but has an extra twist in it.
The image editing for these doesn’t take up tremendous amounts of my time, it’s just one more of those little Interruptions that I can’t schedule for, like fences blowing down, and faucets leaking, and buying cars, and hiring electricians (so I can keep the car charged up), etc.
The one Interruption I haven’t mentioned has to do with the Chevy Bolt. A couple of days after I drove her home, I noticed a crack forming in the windshield. It grew from about three-inches long to nearly a foot in a couple of days. I’m sure it didn’t happen at the dealership. I blame it on the 104° heat we were having on a regular basis. Since she’s a black car and likely to build more heat anyway, I’m planning to keep her in the garage from now on, but I need to get the windshield replaced. I added the car to our insurance policy as soon as I bought the car, so this was covered (minus our deductible), but I’ve been wrestling with various divisions of our insurance company and glass repair businesses for fourteen days now, trying to get it approved. I’ve been on the phone daily, sometimes for hours each day, but today I received word that the insurance has sent a check to the glass place and I will soon be able to schedule the replacement. Yay!
[Update (9-28-2023): The windshield is fixed now. Evie is all set to take me wherever I need to go.]
After all of this stuff, and the time it has consumed, it’s looking less likely that I will finish Flood and Fire as soon as I had hoped, but I like what I’ve done on it so far. That means that the final publication date for it and Jagged Man might get pushed off a bit longer. I have no idea how much longer, but I’ll be reassessing my To Do list soon, and will keep you apprised of any revised dates. Something like very-late autumn for the novella and late-December or first-of-next-year for Jagged Man seems likely.
We’ll be back to Rambling in the next newsletter.
See you then,
[Sometimes I feel like the
Who tried to use the telephant —
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone.”
Laura Elizabeth Richards,
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