#7 of 53: Change, Lamy Pens and Mothers

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Did you miss me?

You can thank my sister for this post. I have been feeling dramatically uninspired of late, hence the radio silence. And then my sister sent me a lovely email, which included a link to one of my blog posts from 4 years ago, about her trip to Iceland. And somehow it’s inspired me.

There’s alot of change afoot in the stationery/fountain pen world. Wonderpens have closed one shop and opened another; I so love their blog I felt I was saying goodbye too, even though I’ve never set foot in any of their stores to date. Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit on YouTube has ended his run as fountain pen/ink reviewer extraordinaire. Believe me, I can relate. I seriously considered shutting this whole thing down. Even Mary at From the Pen Cup took a long breather between posts. I’ve set myself the challenge of 53 posts this year, which may or may not happen. And I’ve decided to be at peace with that.

So inspired by my sister I’m going to review the Lamy Al-Star Pacific 2017 Limited Edition fountain pen she gave me for my birthday last year.

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It’s my third Lamy; I’ve written about the Safari and my other Al-Star previously. The Safari was one of my first purchases after starting the blog, back in 2012. And the Al-Star was a Christmas present in 2014. This Lamy Al-Star is a gorgeous turquoise blue, called the Pacific, for the colour resembles tropical seas.

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I also received a bottle of Lamy Turquoise. It was released with the special edition pen but as far as I can tell it’s the same colour as the old Lamy Turquoise. Either way it’s a glorious colour.

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The nib is fine and very smooth. Since last September I’ve had it inked up with the Lamy Turquoise, and it always starts writing the instant the cap comes off, with no skipping or hard starts. The cap posts securely although I would advise caution with posting, as my purple Al-Star is showing signs of wear on the barrel.

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The distinctive triangular section, unique to Lamy, creates a strong grip for long writing sessions.

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The Al-Star usually retails for just under $40 US. The 2017 special edition is no longer available on Goulet Pens; indeed it has been replaced by the 2018 special edition in Vibrant Pink. I’m told the Al-Star Blue Green is very close in tone to the Pacific. But I did manage to find two on offer on Amazon as used. I highly recommend the Lamy Al-Star, for beginners and pros alike. These special editions are a fun way to expand your Lamy collection – such colours!

And finally today (in North America) is the day we honour our mothers. Today marks my 18th Mother’s Day without mine. I wish I could say it gets easier. But some years are better than others. I have a wonderful mother-in-law who receives our well wishes via video call. And now that I’m back in Nova Scotia I can visit my grandmother’s grave, and honour her memory along with her daughter’s.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

#6 of 53: Here We Jinhao All Over Again

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On the whole I’ve had very good luck with the Jinhao pens I’ve purchased, either on eBay or from Goulet Pens. From the 126 to the 159 and the 599a I’ve been impressed with how reliable they are, both in writing immediately after being uncapped, and in the uninterrupted flow of ink. They are great writers at very reasonable prices. So when I saw this review of the 992 I had to order myself one. I went on ebay and ended up with six! At $15 Cdn for six I couldn’t say no.

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They came with the white tray. Try to ignore the red ink on the side of the tray – that was me, allowing an uncapped red Optiflow to rest for a few hours against it. It looks like a rather alarming blood stain; perhaps I should let the Optiflow loose on it again, transforming the whole tray.

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The pens are plastic but it’s thick plastic so the pen feels very sturdy, like a TWSBI or Monteverde. The model is available in 12 colours, half of which are translucent; the solid colours are very nice too. The caps screw on and post very securely. The filling system is cartridge converter, which came with the pens. They also come with a plastic o-ring between the barrel and section. There is a round ball at the end of the pen and it looks like it would be completely sealed, which makes the pen an excellent candidate for making into an eyedropper. I still haven’t made any of my pens into eyedroppers, but with six of these I can afford to take the chance.

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The nib is advertised as fine but writes like a wet fine or medium. Very smooth nib with no issues starting or skipping, and moves across the paper with little to no tooth. You can see the famous Jinhao chariot on the nib. All of the writing samples in my last post, #5 of 53, were written with these pens.

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Jinhaos all in a row! They certainly do not look like they are all from the same brand. From left: 992, X450, 599a, X750 and 159. In weight and appearance it most closely resembles the 599a.  I’m missing the 126 from the photo as I can’t find one at the moment.

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And to give you an idea of its size in relation to other brands. From left: Jinhao 992, TWSBI Vac 700, Lamy Al Star, Waterman Kultur, Pilot Metropolitan, Delta Journal, Monteverde Prima and Parker Urban.

I really enjoy these pens. While the 159 remains my absolute favourite of the Jinhaos, the 992s are a welcome addition and will not disappoint.

Happy journaling.

#5 of 53 File Index Sneak Peek and A Carousel of Ink

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I’ve been thinking for some time about changing the way I record the details of my pens and inks, as discussed in this post. I love having lots of room to write about each pen or ink, but inevitably I found the binder too large and heavy to be practical and portable. So I’ve made the move to index cards.

pen and ink catalogue

I’ve made a list of all the pens I have, as well as a list of all the inks. I’ve noted down the colour of pen, the size of bottle, where each was purchased and when. Then each pen and each ink has it’s own index card under the corresponding letter (J for Jinhao and D for Diamine). It’s compact and alphabetical. It’s still a work in progress as I haven’t found a proper file drawer for it; I would love to purchase a real library file drawer (with the steel rod and everything!!) but my budget doesn’t allow it at this time. I plan on doing a full post on it when it is finished.

But in working on transferring the contents of the binder to the cards I have found gaps in my inventory, and one such obvious gap is a set of inks I bought after the binder was set up but still packed away: 8 of the Diamine 150 Anniversary Inks. To mark the 150th anniversary of its brand, Diamine released 16 40 ml bottles in a unique triangular shape that, when arranged, form a beautiful carousel of ink.

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There are 16 colours in the anniversary line:

  1. Burgundy Royale
  2. Carnival
  3. Blood Orange
  4. Golden Honey
  5. Safari
  6. Tropical Green
  7. Dark Forest
  8. Blue Velvet
  9. Tudor Blue
  10. Lilac Night
  11. Regency Blue
  12. Purple Dream
  13. Terracotta
  14. Espresso
  15. Silver Fox
  16. 1864 Blue Black

I have eight of these, and I actually didn’t realize there were eight more until I did the research for this post. I bought the set from WonderPens.ca and they gave me a deal because I bought a set of eight. Now that I know there are eight more, I might ask them if they would offer me the deal again! When I have a few pennies to spare maybe. You can buy them on the Wonderpens site for $15 each.

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The labels are very distinctive, with the swirly 150 and the vintage feel. And the inks themselves, as with all Diamine inks, are bright and eye catching.

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Here is the Blue Velvet. The blue handwriting in the photo above is from my journal, made with a Jinhao 992 pen inked with Blue Velvet.

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Here is Carnival, which is more of a true red than what is coming through in the photo.

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Here the red writing is in Carnival.

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Here is the 1864 Blue Black above with a writing sample below.

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Above is the Safari green, with a writing sample below.

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The next four inks.

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Here is the Tropical Green with a writing sample below. Love this green.

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Here is the Regency Blue followed by a writing sample. I like all three but this is my favourite of the blue inks in this set.

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Here is the Silver Fox with a writing sample following. This is my least favourite of this set. I have never come across a grey ink that I like; they all seem to be too light. You can barely read this one.

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And finally here is the Terracotta, with the writing sample following.

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That’s it for the Diamine 150 inks, or at least half of them.

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I also came across a few more new inks that need to be reviewed but this post is certainly long enough so I won’t inflict them on you. Yet.

Happy journaling.

 

#4 of 53: Molly and Rex, Zibaldone and Brinded Cats

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Hello! I’ve been working steadily moving my pictures over to Flickr. It is a long and boring process but I am so grateful to have found a way to keep my posts while reducing my media usage. Apologies for missing last Sunday. I’m hoping to double up at some point to get back on track.

It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a notebook and I must say I’ve been enjoying my Sunday morning taking photos and inking pens. Today’s notebook review is the Anything is Possible softcover notebook from Molly & Rex. The balloon and whale on the cover is slightly raised. I think the cover treatment is called linen embossed.

Anything front cover

A good friend gave it to me as a going away present when I left Alberta for the Nova Scotia adventure. The cover reminds me of her as she and I worked together and would often be the first ones in the office. We would often watch the sunrise together from our lofty perch on the fifth floor of our office building. She would educate me on what kinds of clouds we could see. There was even a scary (but exciting!) afternoon when we watched the path of a funnel cloud (that ultimately came nowhere near us). She knew of my passion for notebooks and chose this beauty for me.

Anything back cover

The back cover mirrors the front.

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The inside covers. I love the whimsy. Wouldn’t this be fantastic as wallpaper in a child’s room?

Anything cloud writing

One of 4 spreads, and I think my least favorite.

Anything baloon edges

This is definitely my favourite!

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These journals are produced by Molly & Rex.

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These beautiful journals are available on Amazon and Chapters, and from the company directly. And their website! Beautiful stationery. They love animals, penmanship and illustration and their products definitely show that. Michaels also carries some of their items. Love the stickers!

I tried a number of pens and the paper is definitely fountain pen friendly.

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The fountain pen ink did not feather. All of the pens were very smooth on the paper. This notebook is not in my current rotation but I look forward to it when it’s time comes.

In other news I was tickled to learn a new word this week: zibaldone. In the Italian vernacular it refers to a commonplace book, and in translation means “a heap of things” or “miscellany”. Of course this is what we do in our journals. I really enjoyed this article, detailing the history of the form, and in particular a young poet named Giacomo Leopardi, who created a 2,000 page “zibaldone di pensieri” with his sketches, lists and frustrations. It’s good to know we are in good company and keeping such a long tradition of authors and scientists. Lots of good stuff to be copied into my journal.

And finally on to reading news. I’ve been getting into e-books from my local library and just finished Alan Bradley’s Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d. His books follow the adventures of the precocious twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce, amateur sleuth and chemist extraordinaire. I’ve read all of the Flavia books and I was thrilled with this one, number eight and not just because the title is from my favourite Shakespeare play. All of the books have been set in a delightful English village, Bishop’s Lacey, with the exception of number seven, which was set in Toronto after Flavia is sent (or in her words, banished) to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy (As Chimney Sweeps Come To Dust). It was not as satisfying as the others, and Thrice is a wonderful return to the tried and true. Number nine in the series has just been published (The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place) and I hope the library gets a copy soon.

Next up is Sue Gee’s Trio, a novel set in 1937 England in which a young man lives in a remote moorland village and mourns the loss of his young wife to illness. He takes up with a small band of musicians and starts to fall under their spell. As war approaches a decision is made that will call all of their lives into question. It was recommended by one of the booktubers I’ve been following. Hopefully I enjoy it as much as they did.

Happy journaling.

 

 

#3 of 52: Flickr, Handwriting and Lost Letters

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Hello there. Sorry this is late; after uploading last week’s post I got a message saying no more posts until I freed up some space. Hopefully this one will upload.

I am making headway on the space issue, and thanks are due for that to Paul Godden, who commented on last week’s post and pointed me in the direction of Flickr. I’m now hosting my photos there and linking to them from here. Genius! And they have a LOT of space at Flickr. Thanks again Paul. The photos are slowly being moved.

I wanted to write today because it is National Handwriting Day! Today we celebrate the practice of handwriting with a pen or pencil, on John Hancock’s birthday. And on the 41st anniversary it looks like the US congress is supporting their efforts. Let’s hope this signals a shift in thinking in regards to bringing back the teaching of cursive in schools. Goulet Pens is giving away a Lamy 2000 gift set to celebrate. Fun stuff!

More along the handwriting vein: a review of Kyo Maclear’s book The Letter Opener by Liz over at the Wonder Pens blog. My local library does not have a copy but I have flagged it on Goodreads as one I want to read. It is 1989 and Naiko is working in the Undeliverable Mail Office, looking through the contents of letters and parcels for clues as to the address to which the items belong. When her friend and coworker vanishes Naiko tries to piece together what might have happened. There actually is such an office at Canada Post; I was contacted by them many years ago when a box of personal items was undeliverable. When opened there were quite a few letters bearing my name and address. They belonged to a dear friend of mine. When they phoned I was deeply touched he had kept them and equally sorry I could not help them find him, as we had lost touch many years before. I offered to take the items off their hands and do further research but they, rightly, rejected that idea. The box was not mine to claim. I hope somehow the box found its way back to him, along with my letters.

I hope you wrote something by hand today, and that you enjoyed the pen, the paper and the fluid joy of it. I know I did.

#2 of 52: Space, Spells, Sisters and Systems

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So I’m running out of space on this website. In fact, my dashboard tells me I have already done so. I don’t have a premium package anymore, as I downgraded my services last year when I really wasn’t sure what would happen to this blog. That means no new pictures until I can delete some old posts, which I am slowly doing. I’d like to keep the posts I actually wrote, and delete the links to books I enjoyed, or the Friday cartoons. Re-read them if you want, because some posts from June of 2012 will be disappearing soon.

I promised I would talk about notebooks this week, but before I do that I want to talk about a beautiful book my sister sent me for Christmas: The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris. This heavy and huge book is a picture book, a self-proclaimed spell book, of magical words that have vanished from the language of children. Essentially it is a collection of poems about certain words, like acorn, heather, raven, and wren, to name a few. The poems are glorious and definitely meant to be read aloud. But the real wonder of this book are the illustrations. Jackie Morris brings the natural world to life , interspersed with beautiful floating alphabets in whimsical fonts. I hadn’t heard about it at all but my sister is much more in tune with new titles and the latest publishing marvels. So it was the perfect surprise on Christmas day. It is very special, as is the sister who gave it to me. She continues to surprise and delight and support me, and I only hope I do the same for her.

Okay so let’s talk about notebooks! It’s pretty much the same system, with a planner and a journal or three. 🙂

My most used journal is the Eccolo World Traveller discussed in this post. It is almost filled up and I have loved writing in it and pasting things into it. I will probably start another one when it is filled (there are three blank ones on my shelf!)

I am also using one of my custom Bookblock Original notebooks to organize my blog posts. I jot down ideas for each week as I think of them, with my overall aim to have some sort of coherent plan for the year.

As for my planner, I have HUGE news!!! In December of 2016 you may recall I wrote a blog post about my plans for 2017, to use a Leuchtturm 1917 Jottbook as a bullet journal planner. And I used it all through 2017! And I’m still using it! I can’t believe I actually stuck with a planner for over a year. Very proud of myself. I don’t have a lot of appointments/tasks to keep track of, but it works for me. Who knew the simplest system would work the best? I still love my Filofax binders but just can’t bear to carry them around with me. My bullet journal weighs nothing and I don’t feel bad if I don’t look at it for a couple of days, because there are no wasted pages. Ryder Carroll is a brilliant man. I’ve heard he has introduced a Bullet Journal app to support the analog journal but I haven’t tried it out yet.

And here’s another piece of huge news (lowercase huge): I have added a log book to my journal system. I got the idea from Austin Kleon from his post On Keeping a Logbook. My writing is long-winded (bless you reader if you’ve made it this far!) and often I find myself running out of time for my long journal pieces. Right now I’m still trying to write a coherent journal entry about Christmas – the joys of getting together with friends and family, tempered by the power being unable to stay on – and then something amazing will happen in my day that I just have to write about (saw David Letterman’s new show for NetFlix, My Next Guest. The guest was Barack Obama and what he said about voter apathy really got my cylinders firing). In the past I would tear into a new journal or have two, three or four journals on the go. But I may have solved this with a logbook: I can at least write down a brief description of what I want to write about later. This has the obvious benefit of prompting me to remember it and empties my brain so I can focus on other things. I love Austin Kleon’s newsletter; I almost always have something to copy into my journal, or to send to David, as Austin has an eclectic taste in music. If you haven’t already done so, check him out. Oh I almost forgot – the notebook I am using as my logbook is the Colouring Notebook. Today is January 14 and I haven’t missed a day. They say it takes two weeks to form a habit so this bodes well!

Hope you all had a great week. Happy journaling.

 

#1 of 52: Detachment, Gratitude and Light

First let me say this is not the blog post I thought I was going to write. I had planned on writing about the notebooks I’m using now, some pens and inks I’ve discovered, and a new way of journaling I’m trying. I’ll save that for next Sunday’s post because a) I’m exhausted by the week’s events and b) every writer knows that what comes out when the fingers start typing is usually better than what one planned anyway.

I find myself thinking about generators and propane of late, as we’ve had two power outages in the last two weeks, once on Christmas Day and once on Jan 4. Both outages lasted 24 hours and even though we were much better prepared for the second one, there is still that feeling of detachment, of disconnect, that being “off the grid” creates. The modern world is so dependent on electricity – and it is good to be reminded to be grateful for it. So many do not have it, or only have it for a few hours a week. First world problems to be sure, but it is frightening all the same. One comes to rely on one’s friends during such times, and we have amazing people around us, who sent messages to check on us and welcomed us into their home, cats and all, when we didn’t know when the power might come back on and in the face of plummeting temperatures. Hats off to the amazing ground crews of NS Power, who got the power restored for 130,000 customers in less than ideal conditions.

Thursday night the 140 km/h winds kept me up until 5 am, when I was finally sure the roof was going to stay on. I held our cat Halley to try to calm her down, and listened to the wind batter the house. The windows rattled with each gust. I could just make out the tops of the trees, against the backdrop of stars and moonlight, in their furious dance. We spent Friday night with friends and it was the perfect antidote to the stress of the night before, a kind of peace that comes with old friends, good, simple food, and laughter.

We believe the power came back on Friday night, and we were back at home early on Saturday afternoon, just in time to prepare for some friends coming over that evening. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, that the lights were on, my oven worked and my tap responded with fresh, clear water when I turned it. Little things that are so easily taken for granted, until they can’t be.

So here’s to friendship, neighbours, and sharing food and drink; and here’s to light in the darkness, may it always find us.

Happy journaling.

Hello

I wasn’t sure this was going up tonight but here we are. It’s been almost a year since my last post and I’ve been wanting to get writing again for a while now. What better time than the first day of a brand new year?

2017 was a hard, frustrating but ultimately magical year for me. I’m happy to report that my health is vastly improved and my new life in Nova Scotia is settling down wonderfully. I don’t know for how much longer I will be able to get away with being “new”; in May it will be two years since we moved here. I think the “new” is wearing thin. But that’s ok because with each passing day I feel more and more connected to my present space in the universe. And more and more thankful for the opportunity to shine.

My plan for the blog is simple: 52 posts for 2018, one for each Sunday in the calendar. I am still in love with journals and stationery and fountain pens; I still have something to say about them. But when I was blogging somewhat regularly in 2016 I found myself buying items not because I loved them but because I was running out of things to talk about on the blog. I have beautiful pens and notebooks that I’ve used for years; I want to celebrate them. So the new items may be few and far between. I can’t tell you more than that what the new format will look like because I’m still figuring that out. Hopefully it will be of interest for those of you who still visit this space; thank you for sticking with me.

I hope 2018 is a great year for all of us. I’m looking forward to journaling my way through it.

My Last Post….For Now

So first let me apologize for my extended absence. Over the Christmas holidays there were two trips to the emergency room, and one phone call for an ambulance. Not to be alarmist or dramatic, but my health has taken a turn and my energy levels are most definitely not what they once were. I received a beautiful fountain pen from my sister for Christmas and I have not even inked it up yet. I also received some beautiful journals from family and friends and they have not been opened. I have not been able to write in my journal for more than 10 minutes at a time.

My life right now is about pain management stemming from my scoliosis. I have not been sleeping very well and I find it difficult to concentrate. I took three weeks off work and probably went back too soon. Even writing this has taken far longer than I anticipated.

But…I will get better. I have a medical program I am following and every day I see improvement. I have incredible people in my life who help me and foster positive energy. I am slowly getting my life back to normal but I can’t give this blog the attention it deserves. I’ve been feeling terrible about the radio silence but at least now you know.

Thank you so much for supporting this blog and for all of your kind words. This is not the end but a hiatus to allow me to get back to fighting form. I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver so I will not put a time frame on how long I will be away. Know that I truly miss this blog and writing in my journal with my beautiful pens. I can’t imagine I will be able to stay away forever.

Thanks for listening and happy journalling.