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.


Arrivals: shiny new friends of darkness

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.


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.


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.








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:



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.


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.




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.


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.



The Saga of Ol’ Krueger


Here he is right out of Animal Control on the way to his first vet visit – you can see his poor bones through his fur.

Krueger was a stray that I almost hit while driving to work one day. I called Animal Control to get him off the street safely, then got Savannah Sav-A-Life to sponsor me to get him out. He was about 3 years old but starved – weighed 45lbs and had a puppy collar tight on his throat at that weight. The logical assumption is that he’d had the collar as a puppy, then been chucked out into a back yard for the rest of his life. He had Stage 3 heartworms.

For a while, he went by the name Dog X. I’d just intended to rehab & foster him, since Eike was about 8 months old and whacko at the time. He went through confinement for heartworm treatment, getting weight on him, getting his poor muscles reconditioned, getting neutered (of course,) all that. And when he was healed up after a few months, it turned out that he was the perfect buddy for Eike: played with her enough to help her exercise, but was also really calm, which showed her that calm was an okay thing to be sometimes. 😊 So he got an official name, and stayed.

He is afraid of storms and lightning so cameras, which flash, usually make him flatten his ears. I snuck up on him in the sunshine once and got this great portrait though:


He’s the sweetest marshmallow that ever was, but part of that sweetness is because I think the malnutrition & heartworms may have damaged his brain some. He’s never been interested in toys, treats, anything. Never chased a ball. Never wagged his tail. Never barked. He’s not shy or scared, just incredibly passive. Even wild animals don’t see him as any kind of threat: we’ve had rabbits and possums just mosey on by, up close!, like he wasn’t even there. (He didn’t notice them, either.)

It was okay that he didn’t learn things; he just copied Eike, and she was a Good Girl, so it worked out. He saw her go into her crate for dinner, so he went into his, etc. When he did things she disapproved of, like approaching the Christmas tree, she steered him away. It was pretty great.

We – with great affection – call him our throw rug.

The only thing that visibly perks him up is the opportunity to sleep on something new.



He and Eike had their own couch. You can see why. No room for me!


Krueger’s now in the neighborhood of 16 years old. In the Spring/Summer of 2014 he developed Canine Cognitive Disorder/”doggie dementia,” which was terrible. It was like he had storm fear, but 24 hours a day. I was scared for him; not only was he suddenly incredibly destructive, flipping furniture over, etc, but he was so agitated that we couldn’t put calories into him as fast as his anxiety/activity was burning them.

We tried everything. We were about to put him on the last-ditch possibility, which is a human dementia medication – expensive and a pretty heavy pharmaceutical. Luckily a vitamin supplement (Cholodin) turned him around. His “brain pills” made him normal lazy Krueger again. I’m convinced it saved his life.

He’s very old and needs help getting around. He’s basically in hospice mode nowadays. But it looks pretty much the same as his “wild youth” – lots of sleeping on the couch, until it’s time for him to come into the bedroom at night and sleep on his bed there. (A habit we started when the dementia struck: he wouldn’t settle unless I was touching him. Slept for months with my arm hanging off the the bed, hand on his shoulder, until we found those vitamins.)

Now, with Bronte here, he sleeps on the couch with the coffee table moved up so she can’t jump all over him. He’d be fine with it, but no old man wants little’uns jumping on their heads or their bad hips. She occasionally checks in on him but is content to leave him be. He, having never cared about fun or toys or treats – hell, we don’t think he’s ever known his name – isn’t the least bit jealous of all of Bronte’s fun. Bronte doesn’t seem to be confused as to why there’s a whole ‘nother dog just sleeping all day, either. He gets treats anyway, and extra snuggles, because he deserves to be spoiled.

It may seem like it sometimes, but he’s not going to be here forever. In the mean time, he keeps the teapots safe.



In which I introduce Brontë

And so it came to pass that the cutest, smartest, snuggliest, bitiest of landsharks ate my heart: ’tis Brontë.

I lost my best bear Eike two years ago. It took a long time for me to recover, and then another long time for the stars to align, but everything worked out and a new pupper has come home. She joins our elderly rescue Krueger, who will have a big blog post of his own soon.

Brontë will be four months old in a couple of days. She was 8 weeks old when she arrived (ten weeks in the video above.) It’s amazing to see how much she’s grown already. One ear is still being a little stubborn and hasn’t come up yet, but they’re big damn ears. It’s no surprise they’re hard to hoist.

Incoming pupper meant I finally caved and got a smartphone. It was total junk, so I got another one. Now I can take way too many photos and use the GPS to find my way to dog-friendly places in town. We haven’t gone on any good jaunts yet because she’s not through with her shots, but we’ll be free to go a’gallivanting next week, right when bad winter weather hits. Hurray!

She’s smart as hell. I didn’t want to train her too much just yet, I just wanted to let her be a puppy, but it was just too easy. She’s at least as smart as Eike was – or maybe Eike gave me the practice I needed to help Brontë along. She catches on scary-fast; I have to be very conscious of my body language, tone of voice, etc to be sure I don’t accidentally train her to do weird things. Obedience class this Spring is going to be an absolute blast. And, if she’s this smart and attentive, it might be a disservice to her if I didn’t try competing with her for a title or three. We’ll just have to see.

We’re still getting to know each other, but I love her to absolute bits. I’m excited to see who she grows up to be.

I’m trying to get into the habit of posting most pictures on Instagram @mehitobel , mirrored on my site in this feed.


Some of the photos I kept on hand while writing the novella.: Ghosts of the Blue Alice

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