Hefty, Hefty, Hefty: The Rite In the Rain Mechanical Clicker Pencil

I ordered a few of these Rite In the Rain Mechanical Clicker pencils during a pre-Christmas sale as gifts for others—mostly as companions to the Rite In The Rain Golf Notebook for the golfers in the family. When the package arrived, I tore it open, and said, “Oh, wow!” (Like, out loud.) The pencils were much more substantial than I’d expected. So much so that I quickly decided to keep one for myself. (I did immediately order a replacement pencil, along with extra erasers and leads, something I’d failed to do with my first order.)

I have plenty of mechanical pencils but what makes this one different is its sturdiness. The knurled grip and clip are metal and the barrel is made of thick ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene—I googled it), all of which give this pencil a heft that’s uncommon in mechanical pencils. As a low gripper, I hold the pencil right on the edge of the the knurling so I’m not taking full advantage of that feature, but it looks cool and adds good weight to the front of the pencil.

And the lead? Also beefy (1.3 mm). And dark (2B). And smooth. This is my first 1.3 mm lead pencil and I have to say that it’s made a convert out of me. I’m forever snapping those fragile 0.5 and 0.7 mm leads because I tend to bear down like I’m using a pen even when I’m using a pencil. This thick lead handles my heavy-handedness without an issue. I’ve had absolutely no breakage in all the time I’ve been using the pencil. As the name implies, the lead is advanced by clicking the eraser end of the pencil.

Because the thick 2B lead is so broad and dark and smooth, writing with it almost feels like writing with a broad-nibbed fountain pen or a 0.7 mm gel pen. High praise, indeed. I don’t typically use pencil to write notes to friends or to write out my daily to-do lists, but I sometimes do now. It’s a very pen-like pencil, if that makes sense.

The dark-grey eraser really is “low-residue”(as described by Rite In the Rain, which means no eraser “crumbs” on your page) and erases quite cleanly, considering the darkness of the lead. You can see a “ghost” of the word I erased in the photo above where I wrote “Grip” on the wrong line. The eraser feels smooth and <grasping for words here> pliable(??). There’s not the stiffness of your typical eraser. Rubbery, I guess, is the best way to describe it.

I ordered an orange pencil to replace the yellow one I kept and now I want that one, too. But I am resisting!

I’m rarely (never?) writing in the rain or marking up lumber so I really don’t NEED a “rugged” pencil that can withstand tough work conditions or extreme weather. I just want one.

ONE, Mary. One is enough.

What I Love About Stationery: An Incomplete List

I really enjoyed this week’s “Pen Addict” podcast episode where Brad and Myke discussed what they love about stationery. Which made me brainstorm my own list. Which made me write out that list in my journal to share here, copycat that I am.

Morning pages

Mood journaling (new for 2023)

Sheening inks

Birmingham Pen Co. Quantum Teal
Birmingham Pen Co. Emerald Fusion

Broad nibs

TWSBI Draco <B>

Letters and postcards


A collection I’ve created
A collection I’ve purchased

Pocket notebooks

Filled and filed

Double-ended pens

Analog calendars/planners

Disc-bound notebooks

Circa by Levenger (stickered by Mary)

Products that make me laugh

Titanium nibs

Cards and notes

Killing the winter doldrums with color and good wishes! (Never underestimate the power of a card/note/letter/postcard.)

Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg, an admittedly incomplete list. I haven’t mentioned pencils (wooden and mechanical), machined pens, Ultem pens, colored pencils, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

And pen pals, pen friends, and pen shows.

You all are THE BEST—even better than the sheeniest ink.

In a nutshell…

A Clean(ish) Slate

The urge to hit January 1st with a completely clean slate is a strong one. We step into the new year with new planners full of blank space and the potential for well-planned and productive days. We aspire to be the kind of person whose laundry is neatly folded and immediately put away, whose kitchen counters are full of emptiness instead of catalogs and junk mail on their way to someplace else, whose refrigerators are devoid of expired condiments.

So it makes sense why I saw so many late December Instagram posts of pen people slaving over a bathroom or kitchen sink cleaning ALL OF THE PENS in one fell swoop in order to hit the first day of the new year with everything flushed, dried, and ready for MINDFUL re-inking.

It’s funny how quickly the number of inked pens sneaks up on you. A new ink, a new pen, the hankering to use a beloved ink and pen combo, the urge for a wider nib or a thinner one or a stubbier one—all result in overstuffed pen cases, seemingly overnight. Which leads to a kind of pen overwhelm. “Which ink is in this TWSBI?!” No clue, other than it’s pink(ish).

True confession: Just as the kitchen counter was not in particularly good shape on New Year’s Day, my pen situation was also out of hand. Oy.

Inked pens seemed to be multiplying on their own and playfully stowing themselves in every pen case I own. But rather than look at January 1st as a deadline, I decided to regain control slowly, by cleaning a pen or two per day versus spending hours at the sink. Turtle versus hare.

Pen cleaning is now as much a part of my evening ritual as brushing my teeth is. Pick a pen, flush the converter (if there is one), and toss the nib section into the sonicator I bought in Aldi’s “weird aisle” ages ago. Granted, I’m approaching the middle of January and still have a few pens to go, but watching the “crop” of clean pens grow has been oddly satisfying. My pen cases are breathing a sigh of relief and visions of carefully chosen pen and ink combinations dance in my head. I have, so far, resisted the urge to ink things up all willy-nilly. A feat.

So I’m getting there one day at a time, one pen at a time. New year, clean(ish) slate.

Now about the kitchen counter and that expired mustard.

A word of caution: Casually tossing the toilet paper you’ve used to blot pens into the toilet, then waiting to flush because there’s more cleaning to be done, can result in alarmed family members who mistake Diamine Blood Orange for something intestinally problematic. I’ve even scared myself this way.

The Best Day: The Poet and a Pencil

This road trip to Amherst, Massachusetts was a long time coming. A friend and I had been wanting to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum and Homestead since early 2020. We made a vow that winter to hit the road in the spring of 2020, but the world had other plans. Covid hit and we were all stopped in our tracks. “Well, we’ll go in the summer,” we naively thought.

A White Oak, reportedly planted by Emily’s grandfather, still stands on the property.

The pandemic dragged on, the Homestead remained closed, and our plans for that road trip gathered more dust. Our hopes soared when restrictions eased (“Hope is the thing with feathers…”), but then an extensive renovation project on the home began in February 2021 and lasted for about 18 months. A worthy endeavor, to be sure, but yet another lesson in patience.

The museum reopened in August 2022 and on October 22nd, we finally hit the road for Amherst, MA. What an absolutely gorgeous fall day it was—surprisingly warm and sunny and ablaze in autumnal colors. A real stunner of a day.

We arrived well before our 12 pm tour reservation so we took the opportunity to walk the grounds, guided by a self-paced audio tour. This selection from the audio tour talks about the well-worn path between the Homestead and The Evergreens, the home of Emily’s brother, Austin, and his wife and Emily’s dear friend, Sue Gilbert Dickinson:

The path between the Homestead and The Evergreens was a physical connection for the family. Emily once described it as “just wide enough for two who love.” It was flanked by trim lawn and carefully placed trees for shade and floral interest. 

To see her brother and “Sister Sue,” as she called her sister-in-law, Emily didn’t need to go out onto the street. Her niece remembered her grandfather walking over with a lantern to guide Aunt Emily home after dark. When Emily arrived back at the Homestead, she set a light in her west bedroom window that was answered by one from Sue’s on the east side of the Evergreens.

Over this path, too, went poems. Emily shared many of her poems with the family next door, especially Susan. 

Then—Noon! The tour! At last!!

A few glimpses…

Emily’s conservatory
In the study
Prop books and documents from “Dickinson,” the Apple TV+ series

Finally, finally, finally, we stepped into the room I’ve been wanting to see for almost three years—Emily’s bedroom.

Replicas of Emily dress and diminutive desk
The actual bed in which Emily slept and died

I don’t really recall details of the tour guide’s spiel. I just stood there and absorbed the energy of the space—imagining the days when both the fireplace and Emily’s brain were ablaze. A perfectly ordinary yet very sacred space—I could feel that in my heart.

A short walk from the Homestead is The West Cemetery, where Emily, her sister Lavinia, and parents lie.

“Called back” at 56.

Before we left the graveyard, I placed the stub of my Musgrave 600 News pencil (a very simple pencil that’s become a favorite) on top of Emily’s gravestone.

A pencil left in gratitude—for the poems that remain a mystery and the ones I’ve grown to love.

Nature assigns the Sun —

That — is Astronomy

Nature cannot enact a Friend

That — is Astrology

This was the best day. Time away with a friend. Plenty of iced coffee and conversation. Problems temporarily forgotten. A pilgrimage. A poet.

At last.