Sunday, December 28, 2014

Inking to the new year!

Each year, just about the time when I change from the usual jazz/classical/old rock and roll to holiday jazz/classical/old rock and roll music, I get out the red and green inks. I typically get into the spirit by filling my red Levenger “Rocket Pen” and green Aurora Tu green resin pen. I’ve relied on Fireball Red (bottled), Always Greener (bottled) and Gemstone Green (cartridges) from Levenger (Note: both Always Greener and Fireball Red are now discontinued). This year I decided to branch out. I ordered bottles of Forest Green and Pomegranate from Levenger, and some simply labeled “green” cartridges for my Pilot pens and some “red” from Monteverde. I pulled out other shades of wine red from my shelf and filled up every pen!

There were some surprises—apparently ink colors do not necessarily come across accurately when looking at them online. The variation is subtle between the shades of green.

Pomegranate was browner than I expected, almost indistinguishable from the Levenger Claret. The Diamine Claret cartridges were more on the wine-y side. The Pilot green cartrdges are slightly teal. I’ve enjoyed the variety of holiday colors, whether for Christmas cards and letters or the mundane grocery lists and work notes. Of the shades I tried, my favorite is Forest, which I’ll continue to use all year.

Now as we shift out of Christmas and into thoughts of the coming year, I am drawn to blue inks. Blue is synonymous with sadness, and perhaps when thinking about the new year we do have a bit of nostalgia for time gone by. 

But for me
the color blue signifies openness and clarity. Perhaps it is because the Colorado skies are so brilliantly blue at this time of year, so deeply beautiful in these short days of winter.

To launch the new year I’ve tried a few blue inks. I recently acquired a bottle of “Mysterious Blue” from Waterman and some Pelikan Edelstein Blue Topaz cartridges. They are both misty blue-blacks, even though the Topaz description is purple blue. Skies of Blue from Levenger is a bit deeper in tone than it appears on the company’s website.  Diamine’s Blue Sapphire and Pilot’s standard ink in Blue are straight-up bright blue. Blue Bahama from Levenger is clear-water aqua-- setting off dreams of the beach.

So many inks, so many pens, I have no excuse for not fulfilling my New Year’s Resolution to write and draw more! Happy 2015 everyone!

All on Levenger paper.
Gemstone: Aurora Tu, medium nib
Forest Green: Pilot Prera, fine nib
Always Greener: Padrino, medium nib
Pilot Green" Pilot Plumix
Monteverde Red: Online calligraphy pen
Levenger Fireball: Levenger Rocket Pen, fine nib
Levenger Claret: Levenger True Writer, fine nib
Levenger Pomegranate; Waterford, fine nib
Diamine Claret: Monteverde, medium nib
Levenger Skies of Blue: Levenger True Writer
Pelikan Blue Topaz: Pelikan Souveran, medium nib
Levenger Blue Bahama: Anthony Ruscitto Pen, medium nib
Pilot Standard Ink Blue: Pilot Knight, medium nib

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Guest post: The Written Gift

See my post "The Written Gift," as a guest contributor to the Twelve Days of Fountain Bloggers at On Fountain Pens.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New US-Cuba relations reminds me of a book...

Hearing the news about the new warming of relations between the United States and Cuba reminded me that I left a book off the list below: Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana. I really enjoyed this book! Isadora Tattlin gives us an inside view of life in Castro's Cuba-- from her children's schools, getting medical care, to exploring a wide range of local arts.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Interesting, the way a relationship with a book, a writer, can be a bit like real life relationships with friends."
                        -- Penelope Lively, from How it All Began. 

When I started seeing the end-of-year best book lists I was struck by the fact that nothing I'd read was mentioned. Of course I primarily read library books so I don't always access the newest releases.
This year I made some new friends and visited with some I've known a long time. A new discovery was Helen Garner; her True Stories included reflections on her life as a writer resonated with me. Similarly, Ann Patchett's collection included some interesting accounts of how she not only came to be a writer but also how she built her career. I don't write fiction, but still, their essays made me think about my own development as a writer. 

Linn Ullman's book caught my attention when scrolling through the library's e-book shelves, even though I don't typically read mysteries. Again, a main character is a writer who is desperately trying to finish a book...hmmm, wonder why that one pulled me into the story?

Jonathan Evison is another new discovery-- his quirky book was fun but also connected with some of my own experiences and struggles with caregiving. Since those experiences have centered around the elderly, Lively's book about her life from the vantage point of age 80 offered food for thought about aging-- and priorities.

Once I made acquaintance with Tessa Bradley I was happy to learn that she has written a number of novels and collections of short stories. Mary Gordon was a re-acquaintance-- and I am glad I found Love of My Youth. I loved that book! Edna O'Brian was another re-acquaintance-- I loved her Country Girls books about growing up in Ireland. Light of Evening traces a powerful and poignant mother-daughter story.  Looking back on life, relationships, choices, circumstances, social history: common threads between Gordon's, O'Brian's and Bradley's books. Now that I look at my list, this quality of reflection, whether real or fictional, is a common theme! 

Here are some of my favorites from a year of enjoyable reading, with links to reviews if you'd like to learn more:
 Short Stories 


Memoirs and Essays

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Fountain Pens Under $50

Information overload is everyone's complaint now that text messages and emails are inescapable, following you from computer to tablet to the smartphone in your pocket. How can you break through the inbox and catch someone's attention when you want to convey a meaningful message? With a hand-written note, of course! Write something beautiful with a fountain pen!

Owning a beautiful, usable fountain pen does not mean you must make a major investment! Read my review of five fountain pens under $50. as a guest on the JetPens blog.

Beyond the Throw-Away -- Pens with a Refillable Life

You carry your groceries in a canvas bag, and your water in a re-usable bottle. You use compact fluorescent bulbs and dutifully separate paper and glass from trash for the recycling pick-up. But what is that in your pocket? A disposable pen? Why throw away the entire pen, when you could refill the ink?

Be a green, eco-friendly writer! Read my review of refillable pens 
as a guest on the JetPens blog!