Friday, January 27, 2012

What are you writing with/on/about?


I've barely touched my fountain pens since October.  For writing at work and at home, with few exceptions, it has been graphite all the way: either my assortment of woodcase pencils, or my new favorite mechanical pencil, the Graphgear 1000, which I love for its pocket friendly retractable mechanism and its solid feel.  It goes everywhere with me.

At some point in the future, I'll almost certainly snap out of this phase, get annoyed with the way graphite smears or the lack of contrast compared to a strongly colored ink, but at the moment, pencils are where it's at.  No messy liquid ink, no delicate nibs to worry about, no gizmos to wear out or break, no surprises.  Scrape the point on a page, it makes a mark.  If the point gets dull, put it through a few turns of the sharpener.  Doesn't get much simpler than that.  Current favorites: the Musgrave Test Scoring 100 (may have more complete thoughts to post regarding that one in the next week or so), General's Semi-Hex, California Republic Golden Bears, Palomino HBs, and (perhaps surprisingly) Ticonderogas--though I still feel a major difference between the Mexican made ones and the Chinese made.  The Chinese ones are way better.  As for paper, I'm still stuck on a combination of composition books and loose-leaf.

I admit, what with my current music obsession, I've mostly slacked off on all writing save my journal.  But this week, the itch is back.  I've started scribbling notes and ideas again.  This weekend, I plan to read back through my NaNoWriMo story--such as it is, what there is of it--and think about continuing.  And I'm about done editing a short story.

I also should really write some letters.  I am the typosphere's worst correspondent, bar none.  The competition isn't even *close*.

I haven't been using the typewriters much, for whatever reason.  I'm sure that pendulum will swing back eventually.

So...what are *you* working on?  And what are you writing with: a particular pen/pencil/typewriter/program?  What are you writing on: scrap paper/favorite notebook/fancy journal/large stones?  And what have you been writing about?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Well...that was interesting. Ice storm!

Lazy photo post today, because I'm still in recovery.  We had a beautiful snow storm on Wednesday, and I was stuck at home, but it was kinda pleasant: I had electricity and heat and all, and I baked bread and read and played music and watched the snow fall.

Snowy backyard
Pretty snow...

Wednesday night, it was supposedly going to warm up rather rapidly overnight as the snow turned to freezing rain and then plain rain.  The roads were predicted to be bad early in the day, but then everything would thaw out and be just messy and wet.  Yeah.  Right.  Instead, we got ice, and lots and lots of it.  By the time I woke up on Thursday morning, the power had been out for several hours, and the temperature in the house was beginning to drop.

Icy trees and cables
Icy trees and cables

By the middle of the day, you could stand outside and hear a constant cracking, popping, thumping sound from the woods all the way around, as one tree after another lost its battle with the thickening ice.  It was eerie, really.  One of the trees in my backyard fell, one trunk at a time, about making jump out of my skin each time.  That was loud!  Fortunately the dog was in the house when it fell, and it didn't take anything out with it.  Some houses and yards weren't so lucky.

Fallen tree in my backyard
What a mess!

Between all the fallen trees and the heavy ice hanging on cables themselves, it's no wonder there were so many outages...
Icicled cables!

I played mandolin quite a bit on Thursday, before the house cooled down to the point where it was too cold to play much.  Wrote this tune, which remains untitled, more or less...or maybe I'll leave the temporary title in place in memory of this week:

Power remained out until last night, and it got down into the low forties in the house and stayed there.  Cold enough to see your breath.  I hung out with neighbors on Friday, though slept here--with a sleeping bag and a bunch of blankets, it was OK, except I kept dreaming of power trucks coming and fixing the lines.  And yesterday, I was *finally* able to get my car out of the snow and ice and out of the drive.  The wreckage out there is humbling: trees down everywhere, and you can imagine just how many were over the roads before work started.  I spent much of yesterday hanging out at coffee houses and grocery stores, reading and just savoring warmth.  My Kindle really helped keep me sane in all this, I gotta say.

But it was soooooo awesome to get home last night and finally find the power on.  Hot showers, real coffee, the ability to do *laundry*!  I missed them so much!

The wind is really picking up out there as another smaller storm comes through.  Crossing my fingers that it won't be enough to break things all over again...

Couple more ice pictures, just because...

Icy bush

Bush by the porch

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friends and Nemeses (and Emma)

I could mention that I did *try* to do a typecast version of the index card note, since you're likely getting sick of trying to decipher my handwriting, but my typewriters don't care much for these cards and after a certain amount of arguing with them, I gave up.

OK, some of you asked for mandolin samples.  This will teach you to be careful what you ask for.  Here are a coupla tunes:

1. Emma's Waltz, with a friend playing chords.  It's a little too slow.  Also, because I'm petrified, there are no dynamics or variations or that.  I do love this tune, though.  It's purty.

2. Lark in the Morning.  This second tune is one I've been fighting with tooth and nail: a four part Irish jig they play at the local Irish session pretty much every week.  I took an instant dislike to it and it became a nemesis of sorts: every time I tried to learn it, my brain put up an instant barrier.  "Uh-uh.  Not letting THAT THING in here.  No sir!"  But this past weekend I decided to put aside past differences and try to make friends with it.  It's rather growing on me now, though there may be a certain amount of Stockholm Syndrome coming into play.  This is an imperfect take, but it was also about take fifteen.  Good 'nough, I guess.  You get the idea.  Keep in mind that at a session, I'd be just one of a dozen instruments playing it...kinda boring with just mando, and you hear every stinkin' flaw.

I've gotten to practice a bit today, since I'm currently snowed in, and could potentially be so again tomorrow.  Pretty stuff, though!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Dead Yet

Reason #1 I haven't been blogging: I've been obsessively practicing mandolin and learning new tunes.  Tunes I've learned since the beginning of November:

OK, I confess, I'd played Banish Misfortune before, but not memorized it, so maybe that one's a lie.  Still, not bad all told, if I do say so myself.  And most of them, I know well enough to play at the local Irish session, without toooo many stumbles.  However, the list of commonly played tunes they gave me when I first started attending is sixty tunes long, and it seems like people toss out new ones every week, so this list is a drop in the bucket.  I still have a lot of work cut out for me.  Fun work, though, for the most part, with the exception of Lark in the Morning Jig.  Don't ask me why, but I developed an instant antipathy for that tune.  Maybe I'm not as much of a morning person as I thought I was.  But I'll beat the Lark yet.

Reason #2 I haven't been blogging: I've been sucked down the e-reader rabbit hole.

Quite a number of family members have obtained Kindles over the past few months and all have been raving about them.  And these days, you can borrow library books on them, which knocks down one of the mental barriers I'd set up against them.  The selection of library e-books isn't great, but it's growing.  And Kindles have come down a lot in price.  A few years ago, they were what, $350?  Now, they're under a hundred. 

I got to play with my sister-in-law's new Kindle Touch for awhile over Christmas, and then when I was at Target on New Year's Eve, they had a returned one marked down to $69.  Plus I had a Target gift card.  Plus I am weak.  It came home with me.  Ended up having a bad USB cable, but my phone uses the same cable so I could charge it straight off, and Amazon customer service was happy to send a replacement for the original.  Good deal.

I have to say, I'm smitten.  There is much to be said for the ability to carry many, many large, heavy books in one bitty package, and the ability to request any classic (and a lot of other stuff) for free at the touch of a coupla buttons, without even getting off the couch.  Also, it's lighter and more comfortable to hold than a lot of big books, lays flat, and I can lazily turn pages with one hand whilst eating lunch or what have you.  I haven't bought much yet, aside from Mr. Speegle's short story collection, and Life of Pi, which I've been wanting to read for awhile and which I got for a dollar as one of the "special offers."  But I've gone through half a dozen library books with more in the queue, plus have a bunch of classics and out-of-print goodies waiting in the wings. (First up, some lighter reading: lotsa PG Wodehouse and a smattering of Mary Roberts Rinehart mysteries.)

It doesn't replace real books by any means.  There are still an awful lot of things not available for Kindle, for one thing, and I'm still likely to drag home large stacks of cheap used books, which isn't an option for e-books.  Still, I'm seriously pleased with the little thing.

Anyhow, between reading and music, I've barely had time for things like, oh, bathing, let alone blogging.  What did I miss?  Are we there yet?