Is this thing on?

Egad. Do I even remember how to write a blog post? Let’s see.

So I DID go to the Atlanta Pen Show and HAD A BLAST, and I want to write about that—my experience, my purchases, all of the thoughts running through my head as I browsed and shopped and met other pen friends. And I will (promise), but time is short.

So here’s a quick post—sort of an appetizer—about a refill that I learned about at the show, thanks to a chance conversation with Ana Reinert.

Ana was passing around Studio Neat’s Mark One Kickstarter pen (very cool) so I scribbled with it and asked her about the refill. She had swapped in a Premec 0.4 mm G2 (Parker style G2, not to be confused with a Pilot G2 refill) gel refill, and it wrote great—fine, crisp, and smooth.

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As we talked, it dawned on me that this might finally be the solution to my desire for a fine point refill for my Retro 51s (of which I have…ahem…a few).

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The tip of the iceberg

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Clearly these are a thing

The standard Retro 51 refill (P8127) is a little too broad for my taste so I typically swap in the slightly finer P8126 refill which is 0.6 mm vs 0.7 mm. Those numbers are a little misleading because the refills contain liquid ink and lay down wetter/broader lines than their gel and ballpoint counterparts. As great as their pens are, I wish Retro 51 offered them with different refill sizes right out of the gate, or made the 0.6 mm refill the standard offering. But obviously this little quibble hasn’t stopped me from acquiring Tornados on a steady basis.

I’ve been on a quest for a FINE GEL refill for the Retros, and found my answer at the Atlanta Pen Show, thanks to Ana the refill expert.

The Premec 0.4 mm gel refill is great quality and fits perfectly in the Retro 51 Tornados. I swapped one into my Mission to Mars Tornado and have been using it regularly in my personal and work pocket notebooks. Very fine, in more ways than one.

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A glimpse inside my Sunday

I ordered a handful of these from Passion4Pens at the fair price of $2.55 each. Along with black, they’re available in blue, red, and green.

I do enjoy the 0.7 (P8127) and 0.6 mm (P8126) Retro 51 refills for their smooth bold lines, but when I want something significantly finer in a gel ink, these Premec refills fill that need perfectly.

Many thanks to Ana for the tip! (Yes…pun intended.)

Did you miss me?!

More good news: This refill also works in the Baron Fig Squire (twist version). I just tested it myself. 

 

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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?

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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