04/10/17

Pen post!

I didn’t get these all at once, just haven’t taken brag shots of them yet.

collage (3)

Left to right:

Conklin Duragraph (Amber) with 1.1 stub nib. Inked with Diamine Shimmertastic Sparkling Shadows.

Noodler’s Ahab (Navajo) flex nib. Inked with diluted Diamine Sherwood Green.

Frankenparker: 1938 Parker Parkette with XF Wearever nib of similar vintage, inked with Private Reserve Sonic Blue.

My dad found the Parkette in an antique shop, along with a couple of Wearevers. I just deleted a bunch of boring details re: its problems. End result: cobbled together parts and now she writes. The extra-fine nib is a treat.

I have a Cracked Ice Duragraph w/a very wet Medium nib that I adore and am just as happy with this stub. The stub is a touch scratchy, which is to be expected as it’s untipped, plus I’m using a particulate/GLITTER! ink in it. Makes me happy though.

The Ahab is a pleasant surprise. I have been battling a loathed Nib Creaper Flex for two years, following every adjustment tutorial, heat-setting, replacing the nib and feed, etc and it’s just a piece of hateful, hateful junk. It therefore seemed masochistic to try the Ahab but I really wanted flex. I absolutely love it. I’d thought it looked like a gross, fat torpedo in pictures, but in person, it’s the perfect size for me. Colorway is pretty, too. But the real action is in the nib, which does what I’d hoped. So, happy days. It pretty much confirms that my craptown Creaper was just defective.

My pen/ink/paper wishlist is… healthy. I was afraid that might happen.

01/24/17

My Midori Traveler’s Notebook

I have at least 50 blank books. I’ve written in a few of them, but many are still blank, because I don’t want to screw them up. I’ve got unused books that I’ve been hauling around since I was a damn teenager.

When I worked at the art college, I bought a new pack of Franklin Covey planner inserts every year. Fifteen years. Wasted a lot of pages, skipped a lot of days.

As a youngun, I kept a personal diary full of Thoughts and Feelings – mainly because I was broke and bored and had nothing to read and needed something to occupy myself, something to keep my hands busy while I nursed the single cup of coffee I’d panned up enough to afford.

Reading about my 20-year-old self’s exploits horrified me; I was a terrible kid. Selfish, shallow, thoughtless. It was jarring, and I haven’t really been able to journal since then, because I don’t want to revisit my 40-year-old self on my deathbed and discover that I’ve been awful my whole life.

ANYway, I rely on bullet journaling, and I do love my fountain pens. I researched notebooks with good paper, and was an instant away from ordering a Hobonichi, before realizing that the structured approach wouldn’t work for me.

Enter the Traveler’s Notebook. There are lots of “fauxdoris” on the market, and they look great, but I got a Midori for a good price on Amazon. Wooooorth it: the leather is spectacular. (I did debate for probably 3 weeks as to whether to get brown or black. Opted in the end for brown simply because I keep the house dark and wanted to be able to more easily locate the book.)

If you’re not familiar with Traveler’s Notebooks, they are simple things: a cover, with elastic strung down the center. You slip notebooks under the elastic. You can have multiple books with different uses and types of paper. You can replace them when full, toss them if you screwed something up, pull one out and use it alone if bringing the full notebook isn’t convenient, etc.

The fauxdoris come in a million sizes and materials. The Midoris come in passport size and standard; a page in the standard is about 4.5×8″ , which seemed odd to me, but it turns out that I LOVE the size.

Making your own booklets is really easy. A Midori #13 insert is about $8, which isn’t a lot of money, but a $10 ream of Staples sugarcane paper makes a lot of booklets and is lovely for fountain pens.

Here’s how I set mine up:

3 booklets.

Bullet Journal: for daily logging. I printed a grid on Staples sugarcane paper.

Collections: traditionally would be in the same book as a Bullet Journal; I’ve just moved them to a separate sheaf of paper. I reference the page numbers in the bullet journal as usual. These are lists, notes, diagrams, measurements, project plans, etc. This is a Midori #13 Lightweight (Tomoe River) insert. I adore this paper.

Journal: Trying to do Thoughts and Feelings, but still pretty uptight about it. Instead I goof off and play with inks and script styles. Right now this is a booklet of half sugarcane, half Rhodia dot.

When the bullet/journal sections fill up, I replace them. The collections section will stay (and take a lot longer to fill up b/c the lightweight paper allows a ton of pages.)

I also sewed a zipper pocket/pen loop/card holder insert, just because I could. I’m not sure I’ll keep it, but whatever, I was excited.

The little silver charm is something I bought on Yahoo!Japan years ago.

So, if you love flexibility, and especially if you have anxiety about “messing up” a notebook, consider this approach. I LOVE IT SO MUCH YOU GUYS SO MUCH

(I’m trying to talk myself out of a second one, a black one to devote just to fiction-related notes. The whole POINT of the system is that you can stick new segments in & have the whole thing with you at once. I’d have to either carry them both – ugh – or carry just one, which defeats the purpose, but… blaaaack. In the mean time, I’m just flipping the book over and writing fiction-related stuff in the other direction. Topsy-turvy book.)

01/23/17

Arrivals

So much stuff has been going on, a lot of it really heavy and depressing – world stuff, and personal. I have been self-medicating with:

  • My first playthrough of Mass Effect; psyched for Andromeda now. May replay ME2 but unlikely to play the others again. Currently replaying Fallout 4 just because it soothes me.
  • Books, including Mary Sangiovanni’s Chills, K. C. Alexander’s Necrotech, Cherie Priest’s The Family Plot, Gleick’s Time Travel: A History, and Arnold’s Necropolis: London and its Dead.
  • Bourbon, tea, and thick socks

There are also a couple of new loves in the household. Both need caring for, which is good for everyone.

The Remy dog:

She is the sweetness. Enjoys Dirk Gently, milkbones, and nocturnes.

The Underwood #3: after lots of cleaning, tinkering, replacing rollers, etc, she’s up and running. All she needs are new decals and a single key top. Maaayyybe a bit more polishing, but hey, she works.

10/25/16

Incoming Beast Machine

Incoming Beast Machine

My parents live in rural South Carolina, same house where I grew up. There are lots of older folks out there, pack rat folks, and also a lot of families who are starting to inherit their old homesteads and clean out the attics/barns.

With that in mind, I sent out the alert to my dad: please keep an eye out for vintage typewriters and fountain pens. Affordable antique fountain pens are tough to find these days. Typewriters are even trickier, thanks to rise of keychoppers – artists who clean old typewriters off thrift store shelves and cut the keys off to make jewelry.

That means that the typewriters are getting a lot more rare, and that prices have skyrocketed: both to capitalize on the keychopping trend, and to protect nicer specimens for collectors.

Anyway. Let’s just say I’ve lost a lot of auctions. And I haven’t wanted to buy a typewriter online, anyway. I do dream of someday spending big money on a pristine Olympia SM3, which I’ll have to order from a pro, but for one of these that I want to spruce up myself, I need to mess with it first. Or to have my dad mess with it.

I was up past dawn playing Mass Effect. I’d just listened to Episode 4 of In The Dark – it’s outstanding – and had finally fallen asleep, when my dad started blowing up my phone.

At first, I panicked, because that’s just how I roll.

But he was sending photos, and then called to say he’d asked his consignment-shop-owning friend to keep an eye out. He asked if I wanted this typewriter for Christmas, and yes, I did and I do, and here’s a photo of it on his washing machine at home.

I called it a beast; Shawn took one look and called it a beast, so I figure that’ll be its name. Or Bess. I don’t often name things, but this machine just begs for a name.

I have the serial number: it’s a 1928 Underwood Model 3 with 11″ carriage, and I can not wait to get with the tinkering.

07/4/16

Hooboy, all the things

Okay, I’m posting this totally off the cuff, because my angst about perfect, interesting blog posts means I never write any.

For the past year, the elderly Kruegerdog needed a lot of care and attention. We finally said goodbye to him on March 31, and for the next week, I worked on learning how to sleep again. It takes time to get used to a new mode of life.

We didn’t have much time to get used to it, not as I’d expected: on April 8, two of my worst fears came true on the same day. Our landlord decided to end our month-to-month lease after 3 years and sell the house (it sold 3 days after we left) and I shattered a tooth. No home and no teeth (with no insurance?) Nightmare scenario.

Thus began some franticness. We theoretically had a month to move out, but Shawn travels for work, and he was leaving soon – so we had two weeks to find a place and move in. A place that took German Shepherds.

Now I’ll fast-forward: by May 1 my tooth was fixed, and we were in the new house. It’s a townhouse; at 1800sf, it creams the cute 700sf cottage we left. It’s a LOT safer here. Bronte has a huge privacy-fenced yard. I have an office, a deck, a garage, and live across the street from the library. We have about 5x as much kitchen as we did in the old house – I’ve lived in shitty studio apartments with more kitchen space than we’ve had for 3 years.

I’ve always preferred old houses – this is my first modern place, and damn if there isn’t something to be said for contemporary spaces. There are outlets everywhere! There are more closets in this house than there were *rooms* in my old house! The windows open AND close! I marvel.

Eventually I’ll finish unpacking. I packed a whole house in 2 days, but unpacking is slow going, and I don’t understand why. I haven’t even hung a single piece of artwork yet. There’s so much house

Meantime, I’ve been reading a lot (library! across the street!) and hanging out in my head with Mollie and Dinah quite a bit. I’ll be posting some neat stuff soon; not tonight, though. But I need to get to know them a little better because I want to get into the meat of their first novel. I want everyone to know them better, because they’re fabulous and fun and I love them.

I imagine it’s bad form to talk about all the other things I want to blog about, so I’ll just end here.

04/20/16

Why you haven’t seen me in a while: convention edition

I quit going to cons ages ago because it wasn’t worth the expense – financial and emotional. It’s one thing to be at a bar and shut down a harasser, but when at a con in a professional capacity, you have to react differently to annoying shit. Celebs in the Green Room, holding the nametag on my blazer to “get a better look at” my name in the most gropeful way possible. Random stranger saying “Hold my beer” and shoving it into my cleavage, then whining “Isn’t that why women come to horror cons?” when I suggest pain is imminent. Just too exhausting.

People talk about the back channel/whisper network of women warning each other to be on guard around various gross people. I’ve never been looped into that network, for whatever reason. I’m lucky, because all I’ve had to deal with was annoying/dehumanizing stuff. But just having to deal with it, over and over again, constantly, was too tiring. Not worth paying $ to spend 4 days telling strangers to knock that shit off.

I’m sure not going to cons meant I lost a lot of opportunities. I miss the hell out of the good parts of cons – the old friends, and making new ones. But spinning all of those plates: be professional, be approachable, be social, don’t dislocate that guy’s arm – it’s draining. And now I’m older, more broke, and more easily worn out, so I have to weigh all of that pretty heavily when deciding if I’m going to register for a con or not.

I always decide not to.

03/1/16

The Great Office Show-Off

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and today’s the day! I want to brag about my workspace, and answer a few questions people have had regarding software and equipment I love.

First and, uh, largest: The Desk. When I moved to Kentucky I couldn’t bring the dog-crate-straddling beast of a desk I’d built in Savannah, so I needed a new one. I looked for weeks at stores, online, etc. Everything in my broke-ass price range was flimsy, and when surrounded by giant dogs, flimsy is no good.

Enter Craigslist. Never used it before. Found this. I win everything.

mydesk

It’s solid cherry, and has leaded glass, a roll-top, cubbies, shelves, and marvelousness. Behold its glory.

I pull out the drawer in the front and cap it with a cutting board (that I turned into a spirit board) to hold my keyboard/tea and work. For play, I ditch the board, close the drawer, and pull up a recliner so I can kick back with fancy headphones and wander the Wastelands.

deskdoors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here it is opened up.

What do we have: some of my gargoyles on top. Lots of boxes and jars and things that contain other things. Tarot decks. Candles. Skulls. All of my unused blank books. Whatever BPAL stuff I’m into at the moment. Random e-juices. Reference books I’m not actively using. Box of kyphi, dish of sage, old ram sticks and hard drives for emergencies.

Deep in the guts of the desk – behind the skulls – are almost all the books in which I’ve been published. I put them there to keep them safe.

 

Instead of having the books displayed on a shelf to remind me that I Do Things, I have a bracelet with a charm for everything I’ve published. I’m still missing charms for Brisé and for Last Night at the Blue Alice. Headspace counts as workspace, so I’m including this:

bracelet

Onward!

This is my favorite pen and ink (and my commonplace book – basically a bullet journal with a bunch of other crap in there. I can’t keep diaries, they feel weird. See how much trouble I have blogging? Diaries are worse for me.) I need another one of these pens in Amber, and about seven hundred other inks, though Yama-Dori is glorious.

p2

The meat of the matter: my keyboard. Oh, how I love it. I love it so. People near me, not so much, because it’s loud. This is a Quickfire Rapid TKL (tenkeyless) mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches (ie, very clicky + tactile feedback.) The keycaps are Filco doubleshots – tall, spherical profile. They’re very dark brown, heavy, and feel like Bakelite. I used dampeners with my old Rosewill doubleshots but prefer these without.

desktop.jpg

Pros:

Heavy.

No freaking numpad – that’s what got me started looking at mechs in the first place, b/c I hated having to reach waaaay past stupid wasted numpad real estate to get to my mouse.

VAST reduction in wrist/finger fatigue.

Clickful, clackful. I love loud keyboards. I’m that dorktopus that installed typewriter-sound apps.

Beautiful.

Doubleshots, btw, mean that the letters are poured, then the rest of the key. The lettering is part of the plastic and will never wear off. Since I wear the screenprinted letters off keys in about a month, this is crucial.

Cons: none. Ok, too loud to use in public, like if I wanted to go write at the library or whatever, but I will never, ever do that, plus I knew going in that it would be loud.

Also, subsidiary workspace:

flipso_fx_fx.jpgThis is my flippedy notebook. Inspiron i3147 (thank you, Dell Scratch & Dent clearance.) I can stand it like this (its own keyboard facing down), plug in my keyboard, and basically have a touchscreen laptop with mechanical keyboard. And Scrivener. It’s so good.

(And if I ever get my hands on a 60% keyboard – a PokerII or backlit V60 – it would be even more compact.)

Is that everything? I think that’s everything. I’ll save the software post for another time, because I’m spent, and because dinner just got here.

Here’s Bronte as a treat for sitting through this ostentatious display.

foam_ears