Monteverde’s One Touch Stylus 9 Function Inkball Tool Pen

IMG_2559

I think I’ll just cut to the chase. I love this pen. The end.

Kidding.

There’s a little more to the story and the pen.

On a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast, during an ad for Pen Chalet, Myke and Brad mentioned that Ron was running a great deal on the Monteverde Tool pens. Since I was listening in my car, I made mental note to check out the sale once I got home. And, wow, were they right…the price was awesome ($20-something, down from a regular retail price of $45). BUT—do I need another pen?

Honestly, no.

I’ve curtailed my pen buying this year as I have so much that I enjoy using already. Saying “no” has become easier and easier the more I do it. (The same restraint does not hold true for inks. Or paper.)

As I scrolled through the Tool pen models, my thinking went something like this…

“Ballpoint. Nope…I’ve got plenty.”

“Pencil. Nah.”

“Fountain. All set there.”

“What??!! Inkball?? Hmmmmm….”

The Monteverde Inkball Tool Pen is not a conventional rollerball pen, though that’s what the tip looks and acts like. This version of the Tool Pen takes international short cartridges—the kind you’d normally use in a fountain pen—rather than your typical rollerball refill. NOW I was intrigued as this little twist brought something new to the pen table. (Pen table?)

IMG_2571

There are plenty of great color options, but the orange and black one called my name, as orange and black often does. Two days later, I had the pen in hand.

I had an empty short international cartridge on hand, so I immediately filled it with Robert Oster’s Fire & Ice, a current favorite.

And then I couldn’t figure out how to install the cartridge. Or how to get the included cartridge out of the barrel. I’d unscrewed the front black section, the writing tip, but the opening in the barrel was too small to get the included cartridge out or my newly filled cartridge in. What the…?!

Baffled, I emailed Ron to ask him what I was doing wrong. Then headed out to run some errands and to grab lunch.

IMG_2583

As I sat in Applebee’s waiting for my lunch, I suddenly remembered the video overview on Pen Chalet’s page and watched that again. Ohhhhhhhhh, THAT’S what I was doing wrong! Instead of unscrewing the black section holding the tip, you have to grab that section and yank it straight out of the pen. Now the barrel opening was large enough for the included cartridge to be removed from the barrel, and I was able to install my refilled cartridge. Back in business. (A side note: Ron answered my email right around the time I discovered my error. Much appreciated.) As they say, when all else fails, follow directions.

IMG_2585

With that “user error” dilemma conquered, I put pen to paper—Tomoe River Paper, to be exact. Oh, my. What a smooth and lovely writing experience.

IMG_2576

I spent the afternoon hunkered down in our Barnes & Noble café writing letters with this pen, rarely looking up. Immersed, is what I was. Immersed and impressed.

IMG_2574

The tip runs fairly broad, but is perfect on Tomoe River Paper—like a good medium. The performance is excellent. Smooth and skip-free. I love the way the rollerball feels, and I like seeing my favorite ink flowing out of a rollerball-style tip. The barrel is enameled brass, which gives the pen a nice weight (37 grams). As a point of reference, a Lamy Safari weighs about 16 grams, and a Lamy AL-Star weighs 21 grams, so this pen runs about twice as heavy. Despite that, I’ve never experienced hand-fatigue, but maybe that’s because I lift weights on a regular basis and I’m strong like bull (I wish).

IMG_2577

But, wait…there’s more!

The Monteverde Tool Pen includes a number of additional features. The barrel, as you can see, contains a 4-inch ruler as well as three metric scale rulers—1:100, 1:200, and 1:300. Those are pretty obvious.

IMG_2586

The Tool Pen’s endcap is a stylus that works well on my iPhone and Kindle. Unscrew the stylus to reveal a tiny flathead screwdriver. This screwdriver insert can be removed and flipped around to access the Phillips head screwdriver.

IMG_2560

Should you need to repair a teeny-tiny thing, you’re all set.

IMG_2590

Along with the rulers, the barrel also contains a level, so you can verify that your café table is indeed perfectly level.

The one downside to the pen is the fact that the small black cap that covers the writing tip cannot be posted. When you’re using the pen, you have to keep track of this piece. So far, that hasn’t been an issue, but if you’re prone to losing things, keep this in mind.

You might call this a “novelty” pen, and I’d have to, for the most part, agree. Will I ever use the screwdrivers or the level? Probably not, though you never know. The rulers may come in handy now and then. (Edited to add: If it had a little shovel, this pen would’ve come in very handy the past two days as I’ve been trapped in the house by three feet of snow, while Fred was literally stuck at work.) Despite what may seem like gimmicks, this is a pen that delivers a really cool writing experience coupled with an interesting look and potentially useful tools. And let’s not forget that you can use any fountain pen ink as long as you have an empty international short cartridge to refill. (I don’t believe that a conventional converter will fit, though I haven’t confirmed this.)

IMG_2595

I really do love this pen. The end. For real, this time.

This One Touch Stylus 9 Function Tool Pen was purchased with my own funds. The sale at Pen Chalet appears to be over, but you can still find this pen (as well as the other models/colors) at a good price at Pen Chalet. I was in no way compensated for this review. In fact, it’ll come as a surprise to Ron. If you’re a listener of the Pen Addict podcast, you already know that Pen Chalet often sponsors the show and provides codes for listener-only discounts and special sales. If you’re not a listener of the podcast, what’re you waiting for?

The Inaugural GNYPIG Meet-Up

I spend a lot of time being jealous around pen matters. Not so much about the pens that others own, though, of course, that green monster does rear its ugly little head every now and then (Murex!). 99% of my jealousy comes from seeing, via Instagram, the various gatherings of pen people at shows and regional meet-ups. As a veteran of the DC Pen Show, I know how much fun it is to gather with “your people” for few hours or a few days. I’d take these times over Christmas or my birthday or winning the lottery. (Yeah, no, that last little bit is a lie. I’ll take a Powerball win, oh lottery gods. Because, you know, more pens.)

img_2477

Anyway, this Saturday morning I was up bright and early, tingling with anticipation for the  inaugural meeting of the Greater New York Pen and Ink Group—GNYPIG—pronounced “guinea pig.” This newly formed group—the brainchild of Phil Olin and Dave Rea—was gathering in Pittsford, NY for the first time, and I couldn’t have been any more excited.

I do have a good friend at work who’s acquiring a nice selection of pens and inks, so we’re able to nerd out about that, and Phil lives nearby so we get together now and then, but for the most part, I don’t know of many pen people in my region—the centrally located Mohawk Valley. GNYPIG was established to bring together pen enthusiasts from all over upstate New York—from Albany to Buffalo and everywhere in between.

img_2481

I’d been out for the evening the night before, and I’d neglected to get things together earlier in the week, so Saturday morning found me randomly stuffing pen cases and ink bottles into a cardboard box to make the road trip with me. Next time I hope to organize my pens and my thoughts a little better. I tagged along with Phil, his wife Ashley, and their friend Jake, to make the two hour drive to Pittsford, NY.

We arrived at the meeting place— The Mile Post School, a charming building that used to be a one-room schoolhouse—just before 2 pm. [insert the picture I neglected to take] Dave and his wife Kelly were already there setting up snacks and pen party supplies. As more folks arrived from points east, west, and south, we shoved tables together, opened up our pen cases, and dove in. It didn’t take long for a wonderful chaos to tumble onto the tables as we fell into happy chats and inky fun.

img_2488

img_2486

img_2485

img_2483

I was so excited that I neglected to take enough pictures. (Sorry.) I also should’ve jotted down everyone’s name and contact information. (Next time.) The three hours sped by in a blur, like a cartoon clock with hands that spin through hours in just a few seconds. Suddenly it was time to pack up, head out for dinner, and hit the road for the drive home.

There’s nothing like time spent with pen people to boost your spirits. We’re wonderfully alike while also being fantastically different. It’s so cool to meet people in real life who you know only as a Twitter handle or an Instagram avatar. Friendship comes easily, even for an introvert like myself.

The current plan is to meet on a quarterly basis, and to move the meetings around. Are you located in upstate New York and a lover of pens? Please check out the GNYPIG website and #gnypig on Instagram, and plan to join us next time.

I. CAN’T. WAIT.

Please Write! Confessions of a Lousy Pen Pal

If I were to grade myself as a pen pal, I’d give myself a C-. Honestly, that’s being generous. I have such good intentions. I cherish each letter I receive, pore over it, then dutifully log it into my dedicated Circa notebook. Weeks, or even months, pass before I sit down to pen my reply. What the hell?!

Part of the problem is that I feel like I have to, or should, write long newsy letters because that’s what I receive. If I don’t have time to do that, I write nothing. Dumb. Surely a nice card or a short note would do in a pinch. But my all-or-nothing brain thinks that it’s better to hold out until I can get a handful of pages written. Even if that means waiting. And waiting.

It’s no wonder, given my issues, that I was immediately drawn to the vintage postcards I came upon at a recent antique show. One vendor had so many postcards…literally thousands of them…that I had no idea what to hone in on. Cats? My hometown? New York State attractions? Owls? Then my eyes fell on the “Please Write” section. BINGO.

img_2447

Some postcards feature polite verse, while others get straight to the point. “WRITE! I’m tired waiting for you to write.” Both provide a much needed nudge to slow-poke letter writers like myself. “It’s not how you write, but the words you indite…” (Is “indite” a word?) “Makes me anxious your writing to see.” Forget about writing the perfect letter. Just write. A few pages. A few paragraphs. A few sentences.

img_2448

I found and purchased a couple more gems, as reminders to myself. The vintage rhymes not so subtly admonish the recipient to sit down and write. Now. Tonight. They pull no punches.

img_2451

On the back of the 1916 Dutch girl postcard is a handwritten message that made me laugh. In case you can’t quite make it out, I’ll transcribe it here…

Lost! Strayed! or Stolen! Mabel Kritzmacher. Any information regarding her whereabouts will gladly be received by her friend Florence E. Senn, 32 First St, Newark, NJ 

Then…

Hello! Mabel. Thought I’d remind you that I’m still living. Why don’t you come over or write? Write soon. F.E.S.

I love Florence for her comical and direct approach. Florence wants a return response and Mabel is dragging her heels. This postcard is 101 years old but the plea penciled here never goes out of date. We crave mail, and we want it now. Real mail lights up a day more than any text or Facebook post or email. Real mail is a treasure.

img_2456

I’m using InCoWriMo—International Correspondence Writing Month— and the kick in the pants from these postcards, to break my letter writing procrastination—this belief that I need a large block of letter writing time and the perfect setting. Yesterday’s mail brought me two postcards and one note from three InCoWriMo participants, which thrilled me. As our chicken dinner roasted, I sat at my desk and wrote my replies, rather than getting sucked into CNN or falling down a Twitter rabbit hole. I don’t want anyone thinking I’ve been “Lost! Strayed! or Stolen!”

How will I improve my letter writing turnaround time? If a day or week looks particularly busy, I’ll turn some of my morning journaling time into letter writing time. I’ll make letter writing appointments with myself in my Hobonichi planner as I tend to honor the commitments I’ve written down. I’ll use random pockets of time to write postcards or quick notes. I’ll back away from social media and the news a bit (better for my mental health, anyway). Sending and receiving handwritten mail is important to me. It’s about time that I made it more of a priority. I owe that much to my loyal pen pals and to the new ones I’m meeting through InCoWriMo. I owe that to myself.

img_2458

Postcards look very different these days. I bought these stunning “Afghan Girl” notes and postcards after going to Steve McCurry’s photography exhibit at our local art museum and love using them. It takes just a little time to dash off some thoughts or a couple of paragraphs. There’s something satisfying about dropping a few pieces of mail into the mailbox on the way to work—forging a connection with a new acquaintance, or strengthening the ties to friends you’ve known for years.

And so I will write. This very, very night.

Added later: I did it!

Pens In Real Life: The Sabbath

I’m fascinated with the idea of the Sabbath…of having a day that’s more meaningful and less frantic. Typically, I find myself spending Sunday cramming in all of the stuff that I should have done earlier in the weekend. I do my GTD Weekly Review—and update my personal and work Action/Waiting/Maybe lists—every weekend, but sometimes this gets pushed to the bitter end, and that’s not a happy scenario. In 2017, I want to rethink and revamp my Sundays so that they’re slower paced and thoughtful, not just another day on the hamster wheel of life.

Westminster window

One of the Tiffany windows in our sanctuary. Those blues! (Of course, the colors make me think of ink.)

For me, part of what helps to set the stage for the rest of the day, as well as the rest of the week, is attending church. Sometimes we’d rather sleep late and eat a leisurely breakfast of homemade waffles, but we usually fight this urge and get to church on a fairly regular basis.

We attend a mainstream, downtown church with gorgeous Tiffany windows and an expansive sanctuary. The congregation isn’t large in numbers, but there is love and kindness and a desire to make the world a better place. Sunday morning is both restorative (in a way that waffles aren’t), and inspirational. I often walk away thinking, “This was exactly what I needed to hear.”

img_2414

Field Notes in a Doane Paper Horween Leather cover with my Tactile Turn Glider

One problem, though. My mind wanders. During a scripture reading or the sermon, suddenly I realize that my mind has strayed to my to-do list or a nagging problem or anxiety. I miss chunks of the message as my mind tunes in and out, like a bad AM radio station. GAH!

Recently, I decided to fix that problem by taking notes. Smack in the middle of my “personal” notebook and to-do lists, you’ll now find my church notes. I know…this is a stupidly obvious solution, especially considering how often I jot down things for other aspects of my life. Oddly, it just hadn’t occurred to me to do the same in church.

img_2415

“Be vulnerable and risk ourselves to work for a better world.”

By sitting still with pen and paper, I find myself riveted to the words and the message. The mere act of writing down the main points means that I absorb them better at the time, and that they stick even after I walk out of the sanctuary. I thought about using a dedicated “church” notebook, but I’m glad I went this route. As I’m flipping through the pages during the week, I sometimes come upon the words I wrote down the Sunday before, often just when I need them most. A dedicated notebook would probably only be carried to and from church, not with me every day, as inspiration and lessons should be.

img_2351

Words to remember and live by.

There is work to be done in this world. There is work to be done with my life. I’m hoping that 2017 is a year where I can move the needle in the right direction for both the world and myself—where I slow down every so often to reset my priorities and energies. Using Sunday more as a day of rest (and visiting, and writing), rather than just another day to frantically tick off to-dos, feels like a step in the right direction. Having the words of inspiration and guidance with me every day is already making a difference.

I’m writing things down to remember them now, and to remember them later. I’m writing them down so that I do, indeed, remember to uphold compassion, joy, peace, patience, and mercy.

Here’s to 2017. Here’s to love.

Stationery In Real Life: The Postcard Project

Box of Postcards

I’ve had this Friends of Type Keep Fresh Stay Rad giant box o’ postcards for awhile, and have slowly been using them to send quick notes to friends and family when there isn’t time for a full-blown letter. (I tend to make a federal case out of letter-writing, something I plan to work on and improve in 2017. A quick letter is better than NO letter, right?!) Even though I am using these postcards, it became apparent that it’d take me awhile to go through the whole box, and I’m trying to get better about using things up.

That issue was in my head when I read this article. (Go read it…it’s inspiring.) Too many postcards + the Seattle woman giving away postcards = my solution.

Postcard Project

I work at a college in upstate New York, managing the stockroom in the college’s Science Center. The stockroom has what I call “the pizza window” because it looks like a window that you’d walk up to to order pizza or ice cream or burgers. Students regularly come to the window, not for pizza but for chemicals and lab supplies—the perfect venue for offering free stamped postcards.

Some are inspiring.

Win the World!

Some are artfully profane, but a good reminder during stressful times, like final exams.

Chill the fuck out.

The students have been amused by the giveaway, and have politely asked, “Can I really take these?” Yes…absolutely! “That’s so cool!” they say as they smile and slide a carefully selected postcard into their lab coat pocket.

I like picturing the surprised recipients who probably don’t get much handwritten mail from their BUSY child/grandchild/sibling/friend. It really doesn’t take much time to lift someone’s day. A couple of minutes. A few words. A happy recipient.

Peace and Joy and Cake

Here’s to peace and joy (and cake) in the new year! Let’s stay in touch.

Shaking the Fear Of Art

The summer I was 10 or so, my parents signed me up for a kids’ art class at the local art school/museum. One of our first projects was to stand at an easel (cool!) to paint fireworks. I covered my paper with dark colors for the night sky, then painstakingly got to work painting the fine details of the fireworks display I’d seen the night before. I love the ones that look like chrysanthemums…huge and bursting with fine streaks of color and light. The instructor made his way around the class, and when he got to me, he took a wide brush in his hand, dipped it in paint, and painted RIGHT OVER my finely detailed work with his own wild and broad strokes. “THIS is how fireworks look!” he blared as he painted. I remember feeling like I was painting “wrong” and wanting to go home.

I was 10 then. I’m 57 now. I should just get over this. But the nagging idea that got into my head that day—that art is something with right and wrong answers, like trigonometry—never left me. Even then I knew, as he was ruining my painting and my psyche, that I was entitled to my own interpretation of fireworks—but that criticism somehow crippled me. I shy away from art—though I ADORE art supplies—because I don’t want to get it wrong.

I need to shake this.

I faithfully listen to Ana Reinert’s and Heather Rivard’s “Art Supply Posse” podcast and this has been the just the thing to nudge me in the right direction. When I drive to and from out-of-town doctor’s appointments, I devour the episodes and the advice. They leave me saying “I can do this.” I want to do this. I WILL do this.

At the DC Pen Show, Ana recommended that I check out books by Danny Gregory. As with all things art, I characteristically dragged my feet, but this week I finally picked up a copy of his Art Before Breakfast. Merry Christmas to me!

img_2379

I haven’t had time to do much more then leaf through the pages, but I’m already excited. I’m going to make art. Bad art. Good art. Right art. Wrong art. Quick art. Slow art. Art.

About a year ago, a friend sent me a copy of Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal. She bought a copy for herself and the plan was for us to wreck our journals simultaneously, then mail them to each other to see who was the most destructive. We have similar personalities and the idea of wrecking something, especially a book, does not come easily. My book remains pristine, and, last time I checked, hers was in the same condition.

Wreck This Journal

Ah, perfectionism. What a cruel master.

2017 is the year to let loose. I will wreck this book. I will mail it to Teresa in all of its destroyed glory. I will.

Lest anyone think that my perfectionism means that our house is in pristine order, I say, “HAHAHAHA!”

That stationery corner

Our dining room is in relatively good shape, except for this piece of real estate. Ouch. You can tell by the boxes that I’ve tried to get a grip on things, but then the going gets tough and my will to continue dries up. I’m vowing, publicly, to sort, organize, and store all of the pens, pencils, and notebooks you see here. I also vow to use them.

There is much work to be done, but it’s fun work. Making art, letting loose, organizing and using my stationery treasures.

It’s about damn time.

—————-

A footnote about the art school experience: Decades after that unfortunate summer class, I returned to the Adult Community Art Classes to take a bookmaking/printmaking class and had the time of my life. Even though I was the “scientist” in a class full of artists, I had a blast making books because there is measuring and right angles. The professor, who remains a good friend, never told me that I was doing things wrong. She let me be as precise as I wanted to be while encouraging me to let loose. She was everything that summer instructor was not. I love you, Lisa.

img_2386

A few of my handmade books

You know you’ve gone off the deep end when…

your pens match your socks.

Bombs Socks and ACME Crayon Pens

So off the deep end I go. I also have a pink pair of the same socks and a pink pen, but that pair is in the wash so you’ll just have to imagine how great they look together. This was not a planned thing, but rather one of those fun surprises that can pop up in a day. An ad for Bombas (“Bee better”) recently popped up in my Facebook feed, and rather than zipping right by, I gave the ad a look and wound up ordering a 4-pack of socks. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bombas, they’re a company with a mission. The ad notes that “Socks are the  number one most requested item at homeless shelters.” You can read the full story here. Minutes after reading their ad and browsing their website, I ordered a 4-pack of the Bright socks right from my phone, before even getting out of bed. For every pair purchased, another pair is donated to a homeless shelter. What a great mission, and, I hoped, good socks.

Now I’m normally all about muted colors, with a wardrobe full of taupe, but as I browsed their site, I knew I had to order the Brights because THEY WOULD MATCH MY ACME CRAYON PENS. Because pens matching socks is a thing, right? Oh, it isn’t?!

The socks arrived last week and I’m super happy with them. They’re nicely cushioned, the colors are great, and I feel good about helping someone in need get their own pair of fresh new socks. I’m already planning to order some of the Merino wool socks (taupe!) for work and sport socks for the gym.

I’ve always been someone who likes matching their fountain pen ink to their pen. (I recently put some Sailor Waka Uguisu…a mossy looking green…into an orange pen and that almost gave me hives.) But who knew that I’d become someone who enjoys matching their socks to their pens.

There is, it seems, no end to the madness.

There are no affiliate links in this post, and I have not been compensated in any way for my endorsement of Bombas. I do, though, hope you’ll check them out, and maybe order a pair or two. Or four. Read more about them here.