SO excited for…

the Atlanta Pen Show!!

My flight is booked, and I’m looking forward to sharing a room with a pen pal and friend I have yet to meet in person.

The pen community is full of wonderful people and I can’t wait to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I don’t really need any more pens, but I can always use another friend. So that’s what this trip is really about—pen people, hugs, laughter, and sharing.

April can’t get here soon enough.

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The perfect travel journal, no?

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Chicago Gets An Upgrade!

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What a view! What a city! Chicago—full of energy, museums, parks, great food, and art. I’ve only visited twice but always return home longing to go back. The trip, via Amtrak, from here to there is about 13 hours, most of it overnight. We leave Utica at 9 am and arrive in Chicago around 10 am. Usually with stiff legs and a crick in my back from sleeping on the train, but that soreness evaporates as soon as we leave the station and hit the streets.

Once we check into the Palmer House (an exceptionally well run hotel), we’re off and running. Literally. It’s easy to rack up 10 miles or more just walking to and through museums, to the various sight-seeing towers, and up and down Michigan Avenue with its high-end shops and stores.

Cities usually wear me down but Chicago has the opposite effect. It lights me up.

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Van Gogh’s The Bedroom//Art Institute of Chicago

So, in summary. Chicago is great.

And now it’s greater.

BECAUSE…

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Anderson Pens is adding a second location! In Chicago! On the ground floor of The Palmer House!

I’m absolutely thrilled for them, and, selfishly, for myself, too. I don’t get to Chicago often, but when I do, Anderson Pens will be there, right in my hotel.

This summer, thanks to the incredible kindness of Brian and Lisa, I was able to visit their Appleton, WI store when I was relatively nearby in Green Bay for a conference. During a block of free time on a Sunday afternoon, Brian drove me there and back (which was no small time investment on his part) in his beloved Corvette so that I could browse and shop in the pen and ink mecca that is Anderson Pens. Even though the store was closed. Even though they had a ton of packing to do for the DC Pen Show the following weekend.

The store was a lot like I had pictured it, except that there was more of everything than I had envisioned. More notebooks…

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more ink…

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and more pens…

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So much pen, ink, and paper goodness that it was hard to take it all in.

While I browsed and drooled and shopped, Brian and Lisa were the most gracious of hosts, telling me all about the store, their employees, and the quirky guy next door, while pulling orders for shipment, and letting me try whatever I wanted to try. They needed me like a hole in the head, but were 100% welcoming, patient, and entertaining.

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When it was time to return to Green Bay, purchases in hand, I’d checked off a bucket list item—visit Anderson Pens.

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My Sailor 1911 Standard//Fresca Blue (MF nib)

How wonderful for Brian and Lisa that they’re now getting ready to open Anderson Pens Chicago in Spring 2018. And how wonderful for Chicago.

All of the details of this exciting announcement are HERE.

Congratulations, Brian and Lisa!! Chicago just got an upgrade! Much happiness and success to you!

Oh, how you deserve it.

 

 

 

 

I Drew An Avocado With a Cat

As you do.

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You, too, can draw an avocado with your own cat. Or owl. Or heart. All made of densely-bound artist-grade graphite.

My graphite cat was a birthday gift from my cousin, and is as wonderful and unique as she is. I think this is the coolest thing, and even though I’m no artist (see avocado above as evidence), I love doing rough (really rough) sketches using the cat’s nose or ear or front paw.

From the Batle Studio website: “Each Curio Object is handmade in San Francisco by artist Agelio Batle using an innovative method he invented. Any part writes, while it resists staining your hands. Approximately 2″ long, this graphite Cat is individually packaged in an elegant box with a window revealing the graphite object inside.”

There are also:

“I drew an avocado with a cat” is not a sentence you hear every day. Until now.

 

Dear Hobonichi Techo

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When I met you in 2016, I wasn’t sure that you were my type, that I’d be able to commit. But here we are in 2018 and I’m more in love with you than ever. You’re where I share my secrets and the mundane details of my days. Always with me—a true companion—you inspire me to record the small joys found in ordinary days and are the keeper of the quotes that touch my heart.

If anything ever happened to you, I’d be lost. You mean that much to me.

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You’re my journal, appointment book, to-do list, mood-lifter, and philosopher. You’re the archive of my simple and quiet life.

I love you—now and always.

Mary

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Truth. The quote, not the pancakes. Well, maybe the pancakes.

 

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Resolved: Use it up!

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This is not one of those perfect Instagram photos where everything is perfectly curated and arranged. Maybe some folks live like that all the time (my goal!), but—true confession—things here are not that neat. Flat surfaces have a way of getting cluttered all on their own, and there are way too many books. I definitely have a case of too-much-stuff-itis.

Here’s a little (well, medium) basket of stationery reality that’s been tucked under my desk for awhile and rarely used. When I write letters, I use Tomoe River paper almost exclusively, so I’m not dipping into my collection of notecards and other papers like I should.

On a somewhat related note, while my early morning ritual of writing morning pages, meditating, and stretching is well-established and working (okay, thrown off a little bit by our new kittens, but still), the search for a similarly satisfying evening ritual has been elusive. I could just repeat what I do in the morning, but that seems lame, and takes more time than I typically have at the end of the day.

Resolved: 2018 will be the year I solve both of those problems.

I will send someone a note or card every single day of 2018. Yup, that’s the plan—to use a few minutes every evening to let someone know I’m thinking of them. If I’m short on time, the note may be a very brief one, but I expect that most days I’ll be able to pen a paragraph or two. I’ll find the time. I’ll make the time.

My friends and family are the glue that hold my life together. They make the tough times easier and the good times better. I should tell them that more often. In writing.

Resolved.

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We’ll take periodic looks at this basket as the year progresses, okay?

 

 

 

 

New Additions: Edison & TWSBI

Christmas came a little early this year. New pens? Nope. Something better.

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Formerly Abbott and Costello

Meet our newly adopted 10-week old brothers.

My last cat, Smokey Lonesome, died in late October at the age of fourteen. I’ve had a cat (or cats) almost continuously since 1980, so being catless felt very strange. But I didn’t want to rush into anything and figured that finding some new cats would be a good post-Christmas project. (December is such a hectic month, in case you haven’t noticed.)

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Briefly caged for a photo-op. Note the ears of displeasure.

Then fate intervened. I had dinner with some high school friends last Saturday night and when the conversation turned to pets, I mentioned how I was thinking about getting a pair of kittens…eventually. That casual remark triggered the woman on my right to excitedly scroll through a local rescue’s photos until she found the first photo in this post. Little Abbott and Costello, bonded brothers rescued from a barn as tiny kittens, were up for adoption.

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I called the rescue on Sunday, put in an application over the phone, and by Monday morning I’d been approved. Monday evening we brought our new little boys home. It all happened so fast that I had to do a lot of kitten name brainstorming very quickly. I thought about naming them after foods (Honey and Waffles), or Christmas movies (Ralphie and Flick, Clarence and George), OR fountain pens. After intense deliberation, Abbott and Costello became Edison and TWSBI. I think their names suit them, don’t you?  (TWSBI should confound the vets. A little pen/pet humor!)

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A rare quiet moment.

Edison is the brains of the operation—the one who leads the way. TWSBI is more of a follower, up for adventure as long as Edison does it first. I can’t for the life of me get anything but a blurry photo of TWSBI, but what’s adorable is that he has little gray markings on his toes—like he dipped them in some Montblanc Oyster Gray ink.

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Edison approves of the newly assembled cat tree.

They’re sweet little monkeys who clearly love each other, and they love us, too. The feeling is mutual.

Welcome home, Edison and TWSBI.

 

 

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Follow-up: Jittery Scribblings Ink Tests

Remember this journal? The “very Mary” journal?

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Back when I wrote my review, I admitted that I hadn’t written in the journal. Frankly, I love the cover so much that I didn’t really care how the paper performed. But a recent comment by a reader requested a follow-up report on this aspect of the “Jittery Scribblings” notebook. That’s a fair request, so here goes…

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I hit the dot-grid, 120 gsm, off-white paper with some of the pens, inks, and pencils that I’ve been using lately. A range of nib sizes are represented, from an extra-fine steel nib in my Fisher of Pens Hydra to the wet 14K medium found at the other end of that same pen. You’ll note that the medium Architect-grind steel nib on my Fisher of Pens Ares, coupled with Montblanc’s Unicef Turquoise ink showed very little feathering, despite the broadness of that nib.

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This is no Tomoe River Paper, but the paper handled most of my pen and ink combinations quite well, with very slight feathering seen mostly with wetter pens, like the Lamy Aion. The 14K medium nib on that Hydra fared the worst as you can see below.

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But still, performance is not that bad, given the wetness of that nib. The paper works very well with gel and ballpoint inks, as well as pencil. No issues there.

The back of the same page reveals a slight amount of bleed through, again, mostly related to the broader/wetter nib and ink combinations like that 14K Hydra nib.

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I’d grade this paper a B or B+ based on my limited tests. As I fully admit, I adore this notebook, as well as their other journal options. I’d buy it regardless, but am pleased with the quality, performance, smoothness of the paper. If you choose your nib and ink with a little thought, you won’t have an issue.

The “Jittery Scribblings” notebook is back in stock as of this writing…AND on a bit of a sale. There’s also, currently, free shipping site-wide on orders over $25. I have my eye on several items, not just the journals, as potential gifts. I love the off-beat humor and quirkiness of all of their offerings, and I think my off-beat and quirky friends will, too.

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So that’s the “rest of the story.” Perfect timing, eh?

The Jittery Scribblings notebook was purchased with my own funds and there are no affiliate links in this post. I was not compensated in any way, nor was my arm twisted to write this follow-up post. In fact, The Frantic Meerkat would undoubtedly say, “Mary who?!”