For the love of flowers

An interesting way to use a hankerchief and display your cut flowers here.

Dutch Pensions threatened!

I remember when a Dutch friend shared the details of his pension with me, I felt the rippling tide of envy run through my spine.

He received 90% of his income; I received 10%.

It appears pensions are at serious risk there and everywhere.

Card of the Day: The Hanged Man

The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, Robert Place ©


Annika Elizabeth Arrives

After a long labour, Annika Elizabeth was born on 23-February 2009, at 7:53am.

She was 7lbs.1oz--smaller than her cousins, but 21inches, longer than some.


Downsizing all my fountain pen inks

I really liked the way one of the FPn members charted his ink colours.

I have mine in a Composition book, one ink per page, and flip around to see comparisons. After doing this for awhile, I am determined to downsize my ink collection. I flip and mark, sell, keep, compare and sold, sample only, etc.

Last night I cut down some watercolour paper from a block, the quality of which leaves much to be desired for painting, and I hope to do a similar set of strips of all the colours I like and want to keep, hole punch the tops of the strips and keep them together. I might even laminate them as I seem to have an abundance of laminate sheets.

I think I have more than 20-odd colours that I will try to sell as they either don't suit me anymore or seem too close in colour to others I prefer.

It's a pity but the only way to know is to try, and to try one must buy the inks or at least buy samples at Pear Tree Pens.

James is a saint for this offering.
Sailor Jentle Ink, Blue Black

One of my recent purchases, Sailor Blue Black is truly a pleasure to write with, and I am so enjoying the Pilot Iroshizukus, the J. Herbins, the Caran d'aches, a Dupont Blue, and several others.

An American Hydrid that tops Toyota

Here's something worth noting: An American-made Hybrid Ford that tops Toyota.

I have owned about a dozen cars in 25 years, only one of which was American-made. I've selected cars by price, colour, mileage, gas capacity and miles per gallon and reputation.

I have never bought a brand-new car.

Nissan Pathfinder 1994

My current truck barely fits any of my categories of "must have" but it was the only car I could get in Santa Fe, quickly and within my budget and I rushed into it. It's hard to give up because of the amount of money I've put into him--a new clutch, a new transmission and newly installed plate glass windows.

But at nearly 177,000 miles on the clock, and its fair performance, I would love to get another car.

But what?

This is a community of "America first" and one rarely sees anything but American branded cars for sale, new or used. They are also about 25-50% more expensive than anywhere I have lived--New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

I am considering a drive up to New England, come Spring, and checking out local dealers I am familiar with to see if I can get a slightly newer, smaller car, with better mileage, fewer miles on the odometer and excellent traction.

The Saab 900, Silver grey, was my second Saab and probably my last. It was the most difficult to repair, and died on me one day in the worst neighbourhood in Brooklyn. What I did love about her was the traction; it felt like a tank, and stays on the road come hell or hi-water.

I picked up a Honda Accord in 1997 for $500 from a local mechanic I trusted. It lasted all of one year but was reliable during its life with me.

My favourite car, a Honda Civic Wagon, 1986 model. I took this car across country with nary a peep of trouble. My only incident after driving 14,752 miles on the road was the loss of two tires: one in Bozeman, MT, and another in San Francisco, CA. It was my pride and joy but I sold it when I returned to New York City. A big mistake.

My first grown up car was a 1978 BMW 320i. I bought it for cash from a Newport, Rhode Island Club owner. He replaced the clutch, gave me a case of wine, and I was a happy camper on the road with this car for about five years. I sold it in '89 for $500.

Card of the Day: 4 of Wands

My god-daughter is in labour.

Contractions coming regularly.

This could be the day for celebrating her first child!

Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is loving and giving.
Thursday's child works hard for a living,
Friday's child is full of woe.
Saturday's child has far to go.
But the child that is born on Sabbath-day
Is bonny and happy and wise and gay.


The Right Way to Write

Are fountain pens now the fashionable topic of the day?

It appears Newsweek thinks they are and credits Mont Blanc.

I credit my life-long habit of writing with one!

Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Buda Ink

This bouquet of Burgundy Callas reminds me of the beautiful Pilot Iroshizuku Yama buda ink.

Since I received the ink a few weeks ago it has been in one of two fountain pens without fail until today.

I decided to give Parker Penman Sapphire a chance in both a wide and narrow nib and see what the fuss has been about this ink. It's too early to make a judgment but I will be doing a side-by-side comparison with several other blues in my cupboard.

Thus far I'd say, beautiful, but on Penman, and beautiful and for Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Buda.

Card of the Day: 7 of Cups

Bohemian Gothic ©

Osho ©
Willac ©

Somewhere in Time

I just discovered Playlist.

While searching around for music, I realized that in addition to how a person looks, how they smell, the size and shape of their hands, the colour of their eyes, I often associate a piece of music with a friend--not always, but often.

And listening to the songs and scores this morning brought all those folks into a frame that even a movie camera couldn't.

Sullivan County (NY) History

One of the local historical groups put out a call for photographs, past, for a Sullivan County Historical Photography book, and guess what, I found one of me at 4-years old.

Cambridge Verses

If you've ever been to Cambridge, that is in Massachusetts, you'll understand how it appears to be a self-contained community with small houses, lots of shops, and plenty of thoughts.

Well, poet Peter Payack has versed up another strategy for taking the poem out of the book and pronouncing it environmentally friendly.

Just named Poet Populist by all, it's yet another occasion when I wish I had wings and could fly rather than drive up to my old haunts.

Marker Paper, Utrecht

This paper sounds interesting and very useful for those using markers. I have dozens and wouldn't mind trying this paper. However, I will wait it out until I am next near one of their stores, probably Pittsburgh or New York rather than splurge on a single product.

What is Fascism?

I caught this piece at the Bibliophile bullpen and it got me thinking. Dangerous!

I was arrested in the 60s for following candidate, John V. Lindsay in Bryant Park, but only for a few minutes. I was a teenager and he was just so delicious to look at, I wanted to keep looking. The NYPD didn't agree but they ultimately understood I wasn't a risk.

I was threatened with arrest in Washington Square Park, on numerous occasions, and all of them bogus. I lived across the Street, but one night in particular, a warm summer eve, my friend, colleague and neighbour and I were just sitting on a bench catching the breeze having returned from a film, when the bull-horns screamed, "Out, out," and "Curfew."

I don't take well to shouting and resisted. My friend, a native of occasionally fascist Brasil, grabbed my hand and tried to pull me up and out, but I resisted that, too. I couldn't then and can't now accept curfews in public (repeat public) spaces and especially parks.

The NYPD officer was rather belligerent, but I told him to take his attitude to his superiors. He wasn't happy with me, at all, but gave in to my insistence that public property wasn't in his jurisdiction, asked me more politely to leave and with my friend quaking and anxious at the perimeter of my vision, I knew I probably should and did. But I would have accepted a wee gaol sentence to see that one out to its conclusion.

This curfew issue was taken up by some citizens groups in the East and West Villages and I was interviewed for one of the local television stations. If I remember correctly I was chided by the Dean for inappropriate behavior for appearing (listen to me laughing).

I was also detained in the 60s at the huge 14th Street subway station, underground, for about 2 hours because I looked like someone. I never found out who, and the officers apologised, and let me go. It was, however, fascinating to discover that all those underground passages, offices and cameras existed in New York City.

But the only time I was detained about photography was at Tel Aviv Airport. I had a few extra camera lens in my pockets, a SLR Nikon, and the authorities thought I was a German terrorist. Nothing I said, and the upturning of my luggage and the minute examination of my camera equipment, would convince them I wasn't a member of the defunct Baader-Meinhof Group. At the time, more than 20 years ago, I vaguely resembled Gudrun Ensslin.

All I could do was laugh!

Hours later they released me, my equipment but kept my name on file and seemed to be following me for a day or three.

The most recent detention was at the United States-Canadian border in May 2007, and the nightmare left me exhausted and disenchanted with Canada until today.

Right White Ink Pen?

I so want a white gel that really works. The American Craft Galaxy Markers run out of their juice even when stored properly, and the two Ranger Ink Essentials I purchased on line are an abysmal disappointment.

Some other suggestions from near and far come up on a search but the pen that seems to come the closet to what I want, the Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153, is now out of stock at Jet Pens.


Card of the Day: 7 of Swords

Mystic Dreamer

Not an ordinary war: Camembert Cheese War

Quote from the article in Spiegel,

"Camembert de Normandie" The companies were responsible for 10,000 of the 13,000 tons of Camembert produced in France each year, or 42 million of 52 million boxes of cheese. And now they were saying, after more than 100 years of tradition, that it was all over, that Camembert made with raw milk presented an imminent danger and was a health hazard. It was a declaration of war."

The subject of cheese always captures my attention:

I love it, eat it, and have even made it,
but I often find that the regular cheese consuming public in the States is not as concerned with its production as it is in countries that rely heavily on its production and consumption--unless of course it, too, is a cheese producing region.

When I lived in Amsterdam, kaas (cheese) was always in the house and more often than not on the table for breakfast and lunch, and always for snacks and guest appearances.

Some of the best cheeses were local, and my favourite then was "boerenkaas" which is translated as farmer's cheese, and is made from unpasteurized cow's milk. Occasionally a cheese-specific shop in a large urban area will carry an imported boerenkaas and make me salivate and offer me the fond memories of the daily, fresh cheese I took for granted.

We do have one local dairy in my community that makes cheese but their prices exceed their charm. Why? Cheese here is not a daily fare but a luxury item and luxury items cost more money.

Living in the country yet few, if any CSAs

Country road, 1/2 mile from home ©

One of the essential advantages of living in the country should be home-grown food. Unfortunately, in the barren soil of the Upper Delaware Valley, nothing seems to grow.

I am surrounded not by the plentiful lush green farms I once lived amidst in the Pioneer Valley, but among struggling dairy farmers.

When I read about CSAs I get so jealous and so hungry.

Books: A Hidden Life

The Upstairs Room, Johanna Reiss (earlier work)

Nothing in life is explicable. And nothing about war or the Holocaust can be sensibly explained.

And nothing seems to render the memories of those caught in its throes to lessen, lighten or disappear.

Have you ever had a room-mate?

I certainly did, and one such room-mate, born in Indonesia 7 years before the war, was shell shocked well into adulthood. Each night she had nightmares the Japanese were coming to get her from under the table where she had hidden when her multi-lingual officer father was taken prisoner, leaving the family devastated. Even with moves to the Netherlands, and later the United States, never again did she sleep in peace.

Another friend kept a revolver in a recess in the ceiling of his office space. Always alert for danger, every noise turned a normally genial man into a trapped animal.

A third, and intimate friend had and continues to have such migraines from the bombing noises in his head that he can't maintain a relationship because of his need for solitude and isolation during these attacks.

This shortened list of those I know who ache with post-traumatic stress disorder, only recently coined, are among the survivors.

And I can image the difficulty Johanna Reiss faced in trying to understand her husband's suicide but never finding an answer. She appears to try in " A Hidden Life: A Memoir of August 1969 " her most recent book.

After all, she survived. Why didn't he?

A terrific talk with Elizabeth Gilbert on...creativity


Card of the Day: 4 of Pentacles (Coins)

Hello Kitty Hi Tec-C

With fountain pens my primary focus for writing , and living in the countryside far from the maddening crowd, I've had little to no access to the world of suppliers.

I have become one of the ignorant and behind the times of what is au courant in the writing instrument world and newly in the shops. So, until last week I hadn't heard of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C gel pens and hadn't a clue what to expect when I received a Hello Kitty Hi-Tec-C, Black 0.4mm from our friends, the Jetters, at Jet Pens to test.

I immediately did a google search to see if I could find more about them, and discovered that the Pen Addict had reviewed these pens here and here, Moleskinerie had a promotion spot on the pens by the Jetters. And more recently bloggers, Mind Most Peculiar and Penguingirl reviewed versions of the pen.

In addition to the 0.4mm I have, the pens come in .25mm, 0.3mm and 0.5mm and in a variety of colors including black, green, pink, aqua blue, orange, clear blue, baby pink, apricot orange and red.

Pilot appears to have melded their Hello Kitty look with their Hi-Tec-C writer. It took me awhile (I am old and slow) to figure out how, but the Hello Kitty figurines are removal and can be alternated one kitty to another, treasured and become a keepsake or used on another Hi-Tec-C pen.

While I find Hello Kitty "cute" it is the pen itself that floored me.

It is terrific. It is dynamite. It is fabulous?


When I opened the package, in the late afternoon with very little light, and started to write, I was confused. I had to turn on the lamp to verify that what I was using was a pen and not a fine mechanical pencil. Yes, the point is that fine and that sharp and that clean.

So, instead of writing with the Hi-Tec-H, I decided to doodle, and doodle I did.

Doodles of Isis Bird (self symbols) ©

And I kept on doodling.

Doodle, applying some water for smudging and shading ©

And kept on doodling, adding water, writing with the pen onto a crescent board layered with paint, tossed some watercolour over one of my symbolic doodles, and then put the pen down--sated and satisfied that I had received one good drawing pen.

No, it is not waterproof. No it isn't the best pen to use with watercolour, but it can be used that way judiciously. Yes it can write over paint and that is something I do often.

So, Hello Kitty, I welcome the Hi-Tec-C as my new favourite of all gel pens.

Thank you Jet Pens for making me the proud owner of a cool and truly useful gel.

What I need is Spring

White Freesia in Bloom

Daffodils in Bloom

Pilot Nib Sizes

I nearly bought, but missed, a Pilot pen that looked like a good companion to the Sailors, but as I searched for clarification on nib sizes, I lost it.

Just as well, I say, as my purse seems rather empty.

But I did manage to discover the sizes of the nibs:


Card of the Day: 7 of Wands

Ted Kennedy, Looking Back

The Boston Globe, a newspaper I read nearly every day, has done a marvelous job at looking at Senator Kennedy, not just as a statesman, but as a brother, a friend, a neighbour and as a fragile but strong human being.

It is Kennedy's human qualities that have always impressed me. None of us is perfect, all of us imperfect in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, but when we can and do rise not above, but with the storm driven waves of the pounding sea, and seek life, we have succeeded.

Senator Ted Kennedy, in my eyes, in his imperfection is perfect and I wish him a peaceful journey, hoping that in his heart he knows he did his best, and that some of us recognize and appreciate him and his efforts.

Ted Kennedy, I salute you as a former neighbour and constituent.

New York City Shadows


Card of the Day: Queen of Wands

Touchstone , Kat Black ©

Tarot of Dreams, Ciro Marchetti ©


Card of the Day: Death XIII

Mystic Tarot- XII Death by ~Neko-no-Nagareboshi on deviantART

Books: Somewhere near the end

I am certain there is something for me, personally, to learn from Diana Athill's book as I often think about the end, about what I'd like to accomplish before the end and what will be left for my children and grandchildren.

I suspect from the reviews that Ms. Athill is more of an optimist than I am.

How to ship a pen

I hope that all the pens, pencils, ink, etc. I ship have been received safely.

I bought some PVC before my last big sale but because I don't have the proper saw I had to ask a neighbour to cut it and it arrived days after I packed and used various containers, paper, boxes, and marked each parcel "fragile."

I do think I may buy a few of these telescoping plastic containers, even if I just use them to house my own pens.

And these, slightly more expensive, also appear quite useful.

And when I think of packing, shipping and using confirmation, civility is too often absent from the sales unless something goes wrong.

100 years old: Mies Giep

Mies Giep is celebrating her 100th birthday and not accepting interviews, according to the Anne Frank Museum.


Mayhem & Conflict, a typical 5 day

Well, I have been having intermittent difficulty getting the airport in my Mac to respond and all those flashing green lights were not blinking on my modem. Finally called the internet provider when an hour had elapsed and all I had was dead airtime.

They said, "you are getting service." And repeated this more times than I care to recount so I said, "thank you very much, I'll call Apple."

And indeed it was my Airport. It had changed colour magically over the last few days, and I was unaware of its orange warning signal as I have so many wires tucked around it was invisible.

After a polite and productive quarter hour with David at Apple Care, it is now green, I have my own network, a password and the cows can't coast for free anymore because this password protects the airport signal from floating around to all and sundry.

My neighbours will undoubtedly be surprised at the change.

But I did have time to examine the 3 Esterbrooks I found at the Callicoon Garage Sale on Friday.

They have soaked over night and it appears the dried ink in the nibs and the body are nearly clean and now possible for me to figure out what I got.

It is unlikely I'll keep these pens as I am just not able to accept lever fillers, but it was a very nice surprise to see some vintage-like fountain pens in my neighbourhood.

Card of the Day: 5 of Wands

Artists Inner Vision, Mark Jetton ©

Maninni ii, tarot-L Collaborative 1999 ©

5 of Wands, Holly Volley, Manini ii, 1999 ©

Mystic Dreamer, Heidi Darras & Barbara Moore ©