Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shadow of Life

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to try to finish at least two poems and one short story a month. I've pretty much broken all my resolutions already, and this one is liable to be no exception...but I did at least manage to finish this one poem: actually one I kind of started writing around Christmas, and rather on the cynically morose side. Still, at least it means I've completed one third of my resolution for the month!

Shadow of Life

Monday, January 28, 2013

Surefire Cure for the Monday Blues

Bach *and* chocolate?? Aw, Amazon, you shouldn't have...

(OK, so I *did* have to pay for the privilege. Still...)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kindred Spaces

(I'll get back to real blog posts eventually, I swear. I spent the early part of this week sick (curled up on the couch watching the first season of Downton Abbey through a semi-feverish haze), and I haven't had a chance to do much writing or picture taking or anything.)

I used to live on the other side of Olympia, WA. There's a coffee house there I really like--Mud Bay Coffee Roasters--with great, locally roasted coffee and an interesting mix of clientele. It wasn't really on my way to work, but not outrageously out of my way, and I spent many happy hours there drinking coffee and scribbling. Now, it's well out of my usual paths, and I've been coffee homeless for some time.

But(!!!) there's now a "Dancing Goats" across from the Transit Center in Lacey, WA! I got lost on the way to a gas station about a week ago (don't ask) and ended up driving by it, thus discovering it, and then stopped in last weekend to scope it out. The parking area is easy to get in and out of, the coffee shop itself is nice and open with big tables that don't wobble (oh, how I despise a wobbly table!), and while the prices are a little steeper than some, the coffee is very good, as are the baked goods.

I've made it by a few mornings to do a little reading and writing before work. This morning, it was a good thing I now know the right light at which to turn--it was so foggy all landmarks were completely obscured, and cars and buildings seemed to float in a strange, hushed unreality. It was a relief to pull safely into the parking lot.

I walked inside, into warm, coffee scented space, where the baristas were arguing whether the fog was more likely to bring zombie pirate ghosts or evil mutant spiders. In another corner, a group of guys were discussing my favorite bike trail. Over the table where I sat, there was a big, beautiful photo of a yellow rose--my favorite flower. Taken all together, it made me want to laugh out loud...because I do believe I've found my new early morning scribbling home.

And that's a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Glass Top Tables

OK, so this is an Update Just to Update (UJTU) in disguise...

But if I may say so, glass top coffee tables could have been designed with clumsy fountain pen users in mind. Especially those with an affinity for Noodler's ink, which comes in bottles that are filled to the absolute brim. Especially when the clumsy fountain pen user with an affinity for Noodler's Ink is still attempting to learn a new filling system--say, for example, someone who just got a TWSBI Vac 700 vacuum filling pen just after Christmas.

I like glass top coffee tables...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Three Good Things

Lamy Safaris
Brought to you in part by three good fountain pens...

Continuing my striving toward more positive thinking: this is a concept that I believe exists elsewhere (I think someone even mentioned it in response to a recent post of mine), but I first came to think about it via an on-going thread in the Chatter section of Fountain Pen Network which has long piqued my interest and admiration. The thread is called, quite simply, "Three Good Things From Your Day," and it invites just that: that you stop by and list three good things from your day, each day. The variance in responses is interesting: some people and some days may include Big Important Good Things like births and weddings and graduations and promotions--life dreams fulfilled. Other days, the good things mostly amount to, "Well, I made it through." Sometimes it can be a real struggle to excavate any tiny gems glittering in the muck and mire of a bad day, but I think the very exercise of seeking these reclusive gems helps us to see the positive in life, and just how blessed we really are.

I think I'm going to incorporate this idea into my journals: finish off each day's entry with a list of three good things from the day. I imagine I'll have my fair share of "made it through" items: today, for example, I could write that I remembered my coffee at the last second instead of leaving it on the counter at home. But it will also push me to notice and appreciate all the good little moments in my days. I'm looking forward to this. Maybe that in itself counts as one of my three good things for the day!

For today, on top of my remembering my coffee, I could also include:
- Received an e-mail from my grandmother
- My brother offered to send me the Goat Rodeo Sessions DVD (I'm a big fan of this project, and have the music album, but not the concert DVD!) Very cool.

What are three good things from your day?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Not Quite DIY, Semi-Premium, Semi-Custom Notebooks

Notebook cover
You'll have to pardon the cell phone photos...my camera wasn't available.

I believe I've previously mentioned my fondness for HP Premium Choice 32 lb. LaserJet paper (ain't that a mouthful?) for fountain pen use. It is lusciously silky smooth, but less slickery than some other nice papers. Inks spread a teensy bit more than they do on Clairefontaine, but I like the way inks look on this paper, and they dry within a reasonable time frame, too.

It's pricey stuff at about $18 a ream. Ouch! But awhile back, Office Depot had a seriously discounted special: eight dollars a ream. I snatched up two reams immediately, to add to the half a ream I still had on hand. That's a lot of paper. I use it mostly for general writing, letters (heavy though it is), and sometimes in my Circa / Staples Arc notebooks...though at this point I've come to use Circa most for temporary work notes, and for that, I prefer to use scrap paper...seems a shame to waste anything nicer. As for journals, I prefer more permanent binding solutions, but I have no bookbinding skills of my own.

So...I took two notebook-sized stacks of the paper (96 sheets each) to a local copy shop and had them coil bound. They aren't fancy, but I'm still quite pleased with the results.

Coil binding detail

From the research I did, the total cost for covers and binding is typically between $3.50 and $6.00 depending on where you go, with office supply stores being predictably more affordable than Kinko's. This makes these notebooks a far cry from 50 cent composition books. However, if I compare the total cost to something like Clairefontaine, they aren't too bad, *and* you get to pick your paper (cream or white or whatever, weight, texture) and your ruling, or lack thereof. This first batch of two notebooks is blank, but I may print lines or dot grids next time around. I've used this site in the past, and find it very useful. My normal handwriting is on the bold side, so I prefer something close to the wide ruling in comp books (slightly smaller is nice, but not much): the ruled versions of most Moleskine clones feel very cramped. Incompetech templates let you choose your exact druthers--very cool.

I've just started using the first journal. There are a few quirks: unlike many fancy hardbound journals, the corners aren't rounded off, and of course it doesn't have the same sleek feel in the hand. But oh, that paper is nice, and I like having letter size pages on which to stretch out.

The label on the front cover is just something I slapped on there primarily to give me a visual clue as to which way is up...the plain black cover didn't give any indication. But you could decorate as you saw fit. ;)

Just another option out there for us lovers of ink and paper things!

Opened notebook