The Day the Stationery Store Came to Me

Last Saturday afternoon, after spending a couple of hours writing a letter at our local bookstore, I came home to find a large and heavy box on our front porch. The thought bubble over my head read “?????” I’m successfully sticking to my “No Buy” pledge so I knew it wasn’t anything I’d ordered. Upon closer inspection, I noted that the return address belonged to one of my pen friends, but this piece of information just added to the mystery. What the heck could it be???

I didn’t even take off my coat before slashing open the carton. Sweet anticipation. Flipping open the carton’s cardboard flaps revealed a sight to behold. A treasure trove. The mother lode. Inkapalooza 2023!!

The carton revealed 25 carefully wrapped and labeled bundles, the meaning of which was revealed in the enclosed note:

“I read about your self-imposed stationery purchasing ban. I thought I could ease your pain a little with the contents of this box. There is no week 52 since I expect you will be placing an Anderson Pens order that week. All the best, Paul.

Now the thought bubble over my head was filled with “!!!!!!!” as puzzlement shifted to joy. Pure ink joy.

Paul, once an avid ink reviewer, has trimmed his personal collection down to twelve favorite inks, and is now pursuing other interests that benefit both himself and his young family, like cooking and furniture-making. Thus his divestment of this abundance of inky riches.

After a flash of desire to unwrap everything right then and there, my first-born rule-follower tendencies kicked in and I knew I’d get the most fun from following the directions of Paul’s letter to a tee. Since the shipment arrived on February 25th, I HAD TO unwrap the first few bundles to play catch up. <twist my arm> Here’s what Santa Paul sent my way for weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8:

Week #2Lamy Tipo (Coffee) and a Noodler’s Dixie #10 in Methuselah Ebonite

Week #4—Pelikan Brilliant Brown, Parker Quink (blue), and Waterman Serenity Blue

Week #6—Cult Pen’s Diamine “Deep Dark” Brown, Orange, Red, Blue, Green, and Purple

Week #8—J. Herbin’s Lie De Thé, Ambre De Birmanie, and Poussiére De Lune

Amazingly, these are all “new to me” pens and inks—there’s not a repeat of anything in my own collection so far. I’ve been using the Lamy Tipo all week, and am journaling with Waterman Serenity Blue, Pelikan Brilliant Brown, and Diamine Deep Dark Blue and Brown. So many more to try.

Today’s morning pages were written with Diamine Deep Dark Brown

Obviously there’s A LOT of ink here, so as the time progresses I’ll come up with some ways to share this windfall, to spread the joy around. Being on the receiving end of such generosity has also inspired me to look at my own stationery stashes with a critical eye and to brainstorm ways to share some accumulated treasures. What a fun little project to contemplate.

But for now, I’m having a blast unwrapping, savoring, using, and anticipating using, this unexpected gold mine of ink. (Ink mine?!) Even though the March weather plods on in in its grey and gloomy mood, my pens and journals are alive with color and cheerfulness.

Thank you, Paul, for this stationery store in a box. I promise to pay your kindness forward.

With gratitude,

No-Buy Follow-Up

No, I’m not backing out of the challenge I set for myself, but a couple of questions came up after I published last week’s post so here’s a bit of follow-up to address those.

Question #1: Does this mean you won’t be going to any pen shows?

It does not. That’s the ONE out I’ve given myself which I didn’t note in my original post. I may consider going to a pen show this year, and if I do, I’ll allow myself a pen (or two). But it needs to be unique in some way—not just another iteration of something that I already own. And you know what? It’s also possible that I’ll go to a pen show and NOT buy a pen. So much about a pen show is the people. Old friends. New friends. Steeping in that stew of passionate pen people. There’s really nothing like it. Purchases aren’t required to have a great time, though, of course the temptation is hard to resist when you’re surrounded by so many pretty things. The key is discernment. What do I really want? Maybe something. Maybe nothing.

Highlights from the 2018 Atlanta Pen Show:

Myself and my pen pal, Beth. A little reunion for both of us!

Question #2: What about stationery gifts?

I did think that maybe I gave the wrong impression—that gifts of stationery aren’t welcome because I have so much. So when my cousin asked this question, I knew I wanted to address it here.

Rest assured, I’m thrilled with stationery gifts and never squirrel these away for later use. They’re always enjoyed and put into action as quickly as I can unwrap them because doing so reminds me of the people who gave them to me. Again, it’s about having someone “get you,” which is such a special feeling. So it’s not just a gift of pencils. It’s a gift of pencils + years of friendship. It’s not just a gift of ink. It’s a gift of ink from someone who knows you well enough to pick out just the right color. These gifts mean so much more to me than the pencils and ink that I buy for myself. They are used, and used with love.

Some recent Christmas and birthday gifts! All currently in use:

In summary, people are > pens.

That said, I’m resisting (but just barely) the newly-released TWSBI ECO-T in Saffron. GREAT color! Very reasonably priced! But a vow is a vow.

<Takes deep breaths>

Stretching Those Gratitude Muscles

For the past three Fridays, I’ve been taking a “full-body barre” class that my niece is teaching, via Zoom, at my workplace. Woof…it’s TOUGH! Fifty minutes of isometric holds, (allegedly) controlled movements, and core exercises that leave me sore and muttering about the uncooperative state of my 62-year old body. I walk a lot, but this is different. These movements push my muscles to the max and leave them shaking with fatigue. Yet I keep going back for more because I know that stretching these oh-so-tight muscles is good for me—that eventually I’ll get stronger and maybe a little more flexible. And, to be honest, once I get started, I enjoy pushing through physical and mental resistance.

This week, as part of a Lifestyle and Movement Challenge at work, we were asked to try a different type of exercise—to begin or end our day by listing twenty-five things we’re grateful for. “TWENTY-FIVE?!” my brain screamed. I’m used to jotting down a few things every now and then, but twenty-five?! Every day?! This would definitely stretch my gratitude muscles—muscles that I haven’t been flexing strongly enough lately.

On Monday, I squeezed out a random list of things for which I’m grateful. A quick little workout. That felt good and my day went better than your typical Monday. I walked into the work week feeling better prepared to handle whatever the day threw my way. Less like a raw nerve.

On Tuesday, I did the same, and found myself straining a little harder. “Coffee” showed up again. Maybe that’s cheating.

By Wednesday, I decided to try another strategy. Instead of mentally flailing around, I picked a daily theme for my gratitude list. Over the course of the next few days, I focused on journaling about the following:

  • The people for whom I’m grateful. How fortunate I am in this regard.
  • Special places, some of which appear to be quite ordinary at first glance—the wooded trails at work, a local museum, this desk, a warm bed.
  • Difficult experiences that turned out to carry positive gems inside of them. This took some doing—like trying to perform those pretzel-like movements in exercise class.

Whether it’s exercise or some other lifestyle practice, I almost always find myself initially resisting—prone to contemplating the easy way out. I’d rather take an easy walk than do planks. I’d rather read a book than do lunges. I’d rather drink coffee than water. But once I push through that resistance, I feel a little bit stronger, a little bit healthier. And in the case of this week-long, pumped-up gratitude exercise, much more fortunate and hopeful.

It’s never a mistake to flex your muscles—to push beyond what’s comfortable—in both physical exercise and gratitude. It’s been a good week with an abundance of things, people, places, and experiences to be thankful for. (Without this exercise, would I have appreciated them?) I’m glad I dug a little deeper. I’m glad I stretched those gratitude muscles.

Now to keep going. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

And, hey, if you have some ideas for more gratitude themes, send them my way!


Pens and inks used in this post:

  • Pink: Esterbrook Estie (medium nib) with Organic Studio’s Emily Dickinson
  • Blue: Waterman Phileas (“L” nib) with Monteverde Sapphire
  • Caramel: Diplomat Aero (broad nib) with Monteverde Fireopal

Dear Everyone

Dear Everyone,

As I was getting out of the car after work on Friday, Fred said, “There’s a package from Brad for you on the kitchen counter.” Really? Cool.

As I started cutting it open, I figured that maybe he’d sent along some of the new Nock Co. notebooks. The box seemed a little big for notebooks, but what else could it be? Then there was another box inside that box, and yet another inside that one. All the while I was unpacking the contents I was saying out loud, “What the…?!”

As I reached the inner box, my “What the…??” mantra got louder and faster. This was not computing.

As I caught my first glimpse of the inner wooden box, I stopped breathing. And things got a little buzzy around the edges.

WHAT?! A Nakaya?!

Surely there was some sort of shipping error. I even messaged Brad to say, “Is this mine?!”

Then I saw Brad’s handwritten note—in his perfect printing—that let me know this WAS for me. From all of you.

Brad's note

Tears. Smiles. Lack of breathing. I felt ALL THE FEELS. I’m STILL feeling all the feels.

Nakaya Blue Rose Raden

The pen is a work of art—gorgeously understated, with inlaid raden in the shape of a blue rose with gently falling petals. (I’ll do a better job of photographing and reviewing the pen another time. I swear.) The medium nib writes like a dream. I filled it with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo and write with it every day. Doodling, letters, journal entries, notes. This is a pen that will always be inked, always be used, always be cherished.

Nakaya medium nib

For everyone who made this happen, I thank you. I thank you ad infinitum. (How inadequate those words sound.) Thank you, too, to everyone who has thought good thoughts, posted thoughtful blog comments, sent cards and letters, texted encouraging texts, listened to me vent, walked with me, hugged me, sent their own precious gifts, offered up encouragement and commiseration. All of that is as precious to me as this pen.

Nakaya Naka-ai Blue Rose Raden

Though the strange sensations in my legs have been turned up a notch or two this week, my smile and my grateful heart are off the charts.

I’m stunned. I’m speechless. I’m completely blown away.

I love you.