John Steinbeck on writing

I received a brief telephone call in 1964 from a stranger.  I thought I might meet the caller, the Nobel & Pulitzer prize writer, John Steinbeck, but all he wanted from me was information about the whereabouts of a mutual friend.  Pity, it probably would have been a memorable experience.  I never learned how he got my telephone number or why he selected me from a large number of friends to call.

John Steinbeck, The Guardian ©
Brainpickings seem to have printed Mr. Steinbeck's advice on writing, part of a larger series of a vast number of other writers.


Korea moves into competition in the world of art: Shinhan markers

One of my stop overs driving from Pittsburgh to the Catskills includes coffee or lunch in Lewisburg and a visit to Brushstrokes, something that is now a part of my ideal itinerary.   They always have the latest art supplies, are as pleasant as any shopkeepers I've met, very accommodating and both Randy & Kathy are extremely knowledgeable as is their staff.   Important, too, is that the shop is competitive even against some of the larger art supply shops.

ShinHan markers

Two or three visits ago I bought one ShinHan marker. 

I liked it.

When I returned months later, I bought six, all dark colours.  

ShinHan is a Korean art supplier and/or manufacturer who appears to carry a great number of art supplies, but thus far I've only seen their markers.

They compare favourably to Copic markers, have a slightly less potent smell and best of all they are less expensive, and lighter weight, making them easier to carry.


I am water resistant, and I love to draw

It is the Urban Sketchers that often lead me to a product, and so I discovered the Artline pens quite awhile ago.  Blick's carries them, and I believe they are available now at other art supply shops.

The Ohto I bought at Jet Pens, and also got the hi-five from an Urban Sketcher.

I took the three traditionally packed sizes, 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 and lined them up on White Lines paper.

These two differ somewhat in line width, but both are water resistant and work very well with wet media.

The caps on the Ohto pop off quickly.  The Artlines are snug. 

The Ohto line is thicker in all 3 sizes.

A set of three Artline is $4.99, a bargain.   They can also be purchased individually.

A set of six Ohto Graphic Liners is $15.00.  Individual pens are also available.

The Artline's may be a tad more resistant to a large swipe of a wet brush.

Everyone has their own taste and preference, but I may prefer the Artline in the long run.

To the rescue: Independent Booksellers

What a pleasantly surprising revelation in today's New York Times that James Patterson will be providing funds to several independent booksellers across the country with funds to enable their survival.

8th Street Bookstore (1947-1979) New York City

Powell's Bookstore, Portland, Oregon

Strand Bookstore, New York City

I'm not a real fountain pen, but I sure write swell!

I don't always reach for a fountain pen, often not with paying bills.  While some of the inks work just fine I've noticed that the banks I use are going cheaper & cheaper and the quality of the paper makes it harder & harder to use fountain pens & fountain pen ink.

So in come those swell pens that aren't so grumpy.

Top to bottom:  Tradio Black; Rotring Tikky & Pilot V-Ball [closed]

Top to bottom: Tradio Black; Rotring Tikky & Pilot V Ball (F) (open)

Take the Tradio (can be refilled with several colours) purchased at Jet Pens.   It is quite a nice pen to hold and is consistent.  It is normally in my writing pack, but I popped it out today for some reason and used it on those inexpensive envelops I was using.

Or if you like a slightly more expensive looking model, with trim and a big name, I can recommend the Rotring Tikky, also available at Jet Pens.   I really enjoy using this pen and she is always as reliable as a BMW.

Quick writing sample on Rhodia pad

I've been experimenting with various pens for different projects and  thinking about why one pen suits better than another and use them accordingly. 

Take the old style Pilot V Ball in extra fine.   I bought about two dozen of those years ago when Gwen Diehn recommended them, and they are still running on their own fuel.   However, they are discontiued and replaced with a less reliable substitute.

Note:  The ink in these pens are not water resistant! 


A Hemingway Hamburger

I must say at the outset I am not a fan of Hemingway.  He was just not my kind of writer.   However, I find it fascinating that he put together a favourite hamburger recipe:

via BBC News
It is also most interesting to say the "historical" least that the Kennedy Library is the repository of Hemingway's work and that John F. Kennedy with Fidel Castro permitted or organised the papers to be returned after retrieval from Cuba to Mary Hemingway.

Endangered Species: The Pub...and the Cafe

This piece in the New York Times of the endangered species, the British pub, harshly reminds me of all the changes in free-time occupations I once thought were normal.

In New York City, I had my favourite spots to lunch, brunch, drink coffee or have the occasional drink.  Many are gone.   But they were often my life savers.  I could stop after work or perhaps during a long lunch hour somewhere, sit a wee bit and stop the brain from churning and burning.

New York City

I even had a favourite "crying bench" on Astor Place opposite one of the agencies I frequently visited, an organisation I always had to fuss with and about and even occasionally shed tears over.

Northampton, MA Main Street

In Western Massachusetts, I had several stops, one just a set of stairs leading to a candy shop that sold excellent coffee, and had small tins that I fancied.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands Cafe-Pub

In Amsterdam, I generally went to the Stedelijk Museum for coffee with friends.

Here in the Upper Delaware, there are too few cafes and I only go when passing them on the highway or when I am desperate for a total change of environment.

I miss the cafe, and the pubs.  I miss them because they were congenial, and most of all I miss them because it is where I did my best writing.


This is how I feel.....more snow!

Alphonse Mucha 1897

Alphonse Mucha 1896

Mornings and early evening are the worst.  Temperatures are so low in the morning, I creep out from under my two quilts, and race to the warmest room in the house.   I put one foot after another into the warmest trousers I own, over long-janes and grab those socks.  Even in the house I am wearing boots.

Will it never end?

I try to remember other winters that seemed so cold, so long, so treacherous for the front wheel drive automobile.   I know they existed. 

Was it the winter I commuted, first by car, then by bus, from Providence to Boston?   I remember one night arriving at the bus terminal to find my car, literally buried.  After digging her out, it seemed I was the single driver on the roads of the City.

Was it the winter of my first wedding anniversary when the snow was so high we walked rather than rode downtown in the road because it was the safest, and was absent of cars?

Or was it the year I was four and have a photograph of snow up to my waist, enjoying it!


Trapped but can Waite

With more than one foot of snow, and snow still coming down, I am trapped until I can slowly dig myself out.  I did try around half past six, but suddenly as my shovel hit the packed mounds, more snow came and I came back inside.

Facing the first road from my house ©

Shovel laying idle and still more than 40 feet from car ©

But yesterday, no internet, and not boredom but that trapped feeling I watched some old "Bones" episodes and who should appear but Ralph Waite as FBI Agent Booth's grandfather.   My watching came directly on the heels of reading that he had died on Thursday (February 13, 2014) at age 85.

Ralph Waite

I was not a frequent viewer, but definitely watched Ralph Waite in his landmark television program, The Waltons.

I am, however, a frequent NCIS viewer and always found some strange tingle that Mr. Waite was Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) aging, but lovely father.   The casts that shared Ralph Waite with younger television audiences honored him together.   The obituary in the New York Times appears to be the most complete.


Pelikan Ink - Circa 1990s

I suspect I bought this ink in Providence (RI) on College Hill at Morrison's when I bought my Pelikan M200.  It cost $3.50 plus tax.

I filled a Waterman Phileas with it today, 20 years later, and it seems just fine.

For is too late!

This trove of artwork in the hands of Cornelius Gurlitt is a great find, but for most of those who left behind their artwork, and all those whose lives were lost, this revelation is painful.

Lugano (Switzerland)

I had friends who spent most of the post War years living in Lugano so that they could overlook Germany.  Neither stepped foot in their country of birth again.  They were among the affluent and fortunate to have escaped with their lives and with a consideration portion of their wealth but not their art collection.  I visited them in 1967 and although this part of Switzerland is breathtaking, it was also heart stopping to realize the pain that Tamara & Gerald felt in their retirement years.

Gurlitt house

I also know a little of the Hanau family story and it remains clear that no restitution is possible for a family who had a town named after them but did not fully survive the war.  The father escaped Franfort with some cash, leaving his wife and two children behind believing they were safe.  Safe is a relevant term and his wife and two children suffered greatly with their mixed religious status, hiding and then leaving for Israel.  The father was caught in southern France, interned, concentrated and exterminated.

Work by Otto Dix of Glazer Family

The Hanau family had a large art collection, but no relatives with knowledge of the art work are alive to claim them. 

Who will directly or indirectly benefit from the collection 70 years later, 70 years I consider too late.


Yo te quiero mucho, Valentine's Day and e.e. cummings

In 2009, I made a promise to myself that I would do a series of collage entitled, "yo te quiero mucho."  It has taken me all this time to establish a routine to keep this personal commitment.

Thus far, I've completed six of 19.  I had hoped to call the project "finished" by the end of January but numerous technical problems kept interfering with that deadline: acrylics too old or too cold, no local shop to photocopy images, bad weather, and my own slow process in a not very ideal work environment.

TB, Zurich, Switzerland, 1967 © Z. Hecht

I've left three of the collages for last of the those people who had the most profound influence on my love life, something in line with e.e. cummings poem:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
The poem remains under copyright to the e.e.cummings estate


After the Safari, Why not be Metropolitan

All the disappointment with the Hero 359 is all but forgotten when compared to the Pilot Metropolitan, an equally inexpensive fountain pen  which I bought at Goulet Pens.

Although I bought it with reservations and hesitated to push buy in July, I now find it in my hand and on my person often.  It is smooth to the touch, easy in the hand, neither heavy nor light, and a respectable shape.

It has a satisfactory converter which in my opinion can be a make or break for a pen and is an essential in any c&c fountain pen.

Pilot Metropolitan Closed ©

Pilot Metropolitan Open ©

It's single draw-back, the pen appears to only come with a medium nib.


Vanishing Landmarks, erasing my past

This month alone I've learned the fate of the Folk Museum on 53rd Street, the library on the opposite side of the street, and today about Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th Street.  Yes, it takes me that long to read the Sunday Book Section!

Rizzoli Bookstore, 57th Street, NYC

Why does New York City have so little respect for an historical perspective on its buildings?

Sixth Avenue became the Avenue of the Americas and one long corridor of glass.

Coney Island was torn down and replaced with rubble.

The East and West Villages have lost much of their charm with the University's enroaching grab at one building after another.

The list is endless and mind boggling.

And Rizzoli is where I bought my first over-sized art book on Rodin more than 40 years ago .


The Dangers of Certainty

It is unimaginable to think I may have to give up reading on line when a piece like this hits my daily inbox.

It is never too late to listen to a man like Dr. Jacob Bronowski, and really pay attention to his sensitive gestures and his words.

"The Ascent of Man," was available in the United States.  I believe i saw all 13 episodes when it was released here, but I was a different person then.  I feel certain that working in science I often made the error of thinking I knew when really I was just learning.

And today, too few recognize the difference between the act and the result.

Romanian Orphans

It is likely that I was attracted to this story because my own paternal grandmother came to the United States from Romania at the end of the 19th century.   She spoke English, but more often than not spoke to me in her native tongue.

Izidor Ruckel

This young man, features in a short video at the Washington Post, wants to portray, with grace and sensitivity, the plight of the thousands of Romanian orphans that face dire choices.


Have you seen one? Snowy Owl

It is surprising, but the most exhilarating feeling when you do see a species oft talked about but rarely seen.

Several years ago I spotted a White on route 191 North between Wayne & Sullivan Counties (PA/NYS) and was excited.  Unfortunately, with just a point and shot one can't capture a bird, or an animal at such a distance.

But folks are spotting the Owl everywhere these days, and not where they normally roam according to this piece in the New York Times.