Thursday, December 31, 2009

365 Day Challenge for 2010

I know now what my 365 Day Challenge will be for 2010.  I will keep a Gratitude Journal.  Every night I will write 5 things that I am grateful for.  I can just list them or I can go into detail on them.  Whatever. 

I have a notebook and pen sitting by the bed.  Who will join me?

Welcome 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

bloodshot intercession

Special nod once more to EasyStreet Prompts for tonight's post.

Blue moons come around more often than you think.
Life can be funny that way.
Other times it is just plain hurtful but your
Ordinary days bring a sense of comfort.
Did you decide which socks match your
Sandals or does it even matter anymore?
Health issues consume the day when you grow
Older and closer to death.
Thanks for nothing, I say. Then,

Inspiration sneaks in on those pessimistic thoughts
Nudging out the curmudgeon, the crone.
The sunrise is too beautiful to comprehend and its
Energy rays push through the clouds of your negativity,
Reaching down into the real, true, honest
Center of YOU.
Enigmas now seem entertaining,
Smiles fling off the frown, and so
Simple things that frustrated yesterday or were
Ignored for something trivial now
Open their petals once more and welcome a
Newness of spirit inside.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Pen Review: JML Classic Pen Set (As Seen on TV!)

(Disclaimer: I'm still getting use to taking digital photos, so these are by no means great pictures.)

I was bored and needed to get out of the house yesterday, so while the rest of the fam went to see a movie that I didn’t care to, I went over to my local Walgreens. I was looking for a cheap sketchbook to use in my latest urge to “do something different.” When I get around office supplies or any sort of pens, paper, and whathaveyou, I don’t rush, I peruse. This drives anyone who is with me totally bonkers.

Stuck haphazardly in the junky looking clearance bin-ish thingy was this rectangular black box. I pulled it out from under the stuff that will eventually be written off and trashed. This is what I found:
“JML Classic Pen Set” (As Seen on TV!) (Virtually Indestructible Nib!) My eyes immediately stuck on the fountain pen picture. (Don’t you love the little one of it sticking out of a dartboard? How literary of them!) I read the label and then made my way over to a cashier for a price check: $19.99. While it was obviously one of those items that Walgreens gets only for clueless Christmas shoppers, it was not on sale. Since I have impulsive shopping tendencies, I purchased it with the thought that the fountain pen alone was worth $20!

A handsome presentation. (I think I can reuse the tray & box to store my other fountain pens.)

I tested all the pens out. (From left to right.) There was a micro ball pen (ballpoint for the normal person). Blue ink. Writes very nice. The propelling pencil (come on now, it’s a mechanical pencil, for pete’s sake) worked okay. The eraser, tinier than a Good & Plenty licorice piece, is under the plunger. The multi-pen doesn’t work. Only one tip comes out, but it writes very nice, too. I figure I can just use the one and when it runs out, switch the cartridges and keep on going. The ball pen (ballpoint) writes beautifully in blue ink. The roller pen writes with smooth black ink. And, finally on the right, the fountain pen.

I used a red ink cartridge for the test. It went in with a bit of difficulty. You have to push kind of hard on it to seat it and the instructions (yes, they provided instructions for all the pens) said to give the cartridge a squeeze to start the ink flow. Okay.
I used the fountain pen for my journal page today. I am using a Miquelrius notebook and so far, fine/Xfine-nibbed fountain pens do really well on the paper. This fountain pen has a medium nib and with the red ink it writes wet. The ink is a nice shade of red, I must say. The pen writes smoothly and feels fairly good in the hand but as you can see from the picture, medium nibs are not compatible with my handwriting.
There was significant show through on the back of the paper, as you can see. Being one of those weird people who hate to waste paper, I don’t care for that so much.

So, all in all, on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “ick” and 5 being “bliss”, I give this pen a 2.5. It earns points just for being a fountain pen, writes well, looks good. It loses points for being too wet, medium nibbed, tiny cartridges (I used half of the ink for one page in my journal).

I think I may try to convert it to an eyedropper and use a drier ink. Does anyone have any suggestions on which ink would work here?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Whew! That was pretty darn nice.

The day with my brother's family turned out to be a good one.  We talked of old times and family financial planning regarding my mother.  My nephew is so TALL and very funny.  And my sister-in-law is just plain wonderful.  It's been two years since we were all together and whatever was wrong back then has passed by and it is all cool.

Still, I am glad it is over and I'm once more at home.

By the way, I had some very nice words from Julie at Whatever.  (Thank you!)  Stop by and check out her blog.  You'll then know why she's one of the regulars I visit.

Can someone tell me how to imbed (embed?) a link in here so I don't have to paste the whole darn thing?

12/28/09 Update:  Thanks to Julie at Whatever, I know how to link.  It's the button labeled "link" on the Blogger Dashboard.  Duh.  Thank you Julie! 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Hey.  I'm back.  It's Christmas Eve.  I worked today for the half of my job that I don't like.  I'm not in a good mood.  Holiday stress has led to a couple of spats with hubby.  I find myself retreating internally.  Not good.

We met hubby's side of the family at a local Chinese restaurant for dinner.  Very pleasant people but the first part of dinner was strained thanks to the above mentioned spats and our inability to shed them at the door.  I take responsibility for that.  But we managed to loosen up and feel the love that filled the room.  Good bye hugs brought tears to my eyes.

Upon arriving home, we brought out the meager gifts we purchased for each other.  The cat isn't sure about her gift and would rather play in the paper shopping bag.  The dog tore into her wrapped toy and then left it on the bed surrounded by shredded paper.

Tomorrow is Christmas with my side of the family.  It will be difficult.  My brother and his family come from an ultra conservative part of the US and my family tends to be on the liberal side.  My mother gave me orders to not respond to his hurtful remarks or political rants.  I doubt that she requested the same from him.  Ah well, I am overweight so I'll go out for a walk when it gets too much.  (Note to self: bring a heavy coat and wear walking shoes.)

I will honestly be so relieved when tomorrow is over.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Confession

Hi.  My name is JoniB and I am not a Christian.

There.  It’s public.  Whew!

I used to be a “born again” Bible-thumping idiot in high school.  I had religious stickers all over my notebooks, I wore religious pins on my work uniform, I had the supplemental books, music, and etc.  I was pretty damned icky in those days.  But, cutting myself some slack, I was in high school and wanted to belong.  Amazingly, I had some really cool friends who stood by me anyway.

Flash forward 25 years.  I’m sitting at a bus stop in the Phoenix summer heat trying to talk to my daughter.  A younger man, who I’ll affectionately call “Bible-Bob” walks up and hands out Christian propaganda to everyone.  I refuse it saying that I’m already there.  Mistake.  He wants to “share.”  I politely but curtly answer and turn back to my daughter.  Several times this happens.  Finally, he gets so frustrated that I – a woman – am not giving him – a man – the attention he deserves, so he tells me that I’m not a true believer because I’m wearing men’s clothes.  (As usual, I think of my snappy comeback YEARS later.  Dammit.)  Anyway, it degenerates into a yelling match.  He wins because he got me angry. 

Flash forward 10 years – today.  After that incident, blended with researching and observing other religions (click here), I see three main points:  they are all man-made theologies, they are led by men who want money, and they show their fear of women by using their religious dogma to keep them under control.  Bible-Bob wants women in skirts & dresses.  If Bobby had done any thinking for himself, he’d know that I was wearing jeans for the same reason he was not wearing robes.  Fashion and function.  Men started wearing pants in the 1500’s (pockets were invented in 1540).  Women were kept in dresses for easy access to sex.  (They didn’t wear underwear.) 

Look at the Orthodox Jews.  Women have to keep their hair covered or wear that ugly wig.  They also have to keep their elbows and knees covered – but still wear skirts.  What is that all about?  The Taliban and other Middle Eastern beliefs have women enveloped in sheets.  Men blame women for having sexual thoughts.  Hello?  Isn't that the old primal "survival of the species" urge?  (I won’t even go into where I believe some men store their brains.)

Okay, so where do I go from here?  What is it that I DO believe?  I honestly don’t know yet.  When I walk to work in the pre-dawn darkness, I still feel the need to pray.  I just don’t know who is on the other end of the phone.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

By Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Check out the link above.  It's a jaw dropper in the writer's world.  Neil Gaiman (love his work!) is using the new social technology to write stories.  Twitter, in this case.

This leads me to my personal dilemma.  All this new social media is whirling around me so fast I feel queasy.  I am not a user of Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any other application.  I don't have time for it.  Neil is a full-time writer, so I guess he has time.  (How this is possible, given the schedule he keeps, I haven't a clue.  It could be the old "man vs woman" and their "responsibilities" crap that persists even into the 21st Century.  I won't go further.)

My point, and I think I may have one lying around here somewhere, is that with the print media melting into the past, e-book readers and other digital media on the rise, where does this leave me?  I still love the feel of paper in my hands.  I can't read long articles on the monitor and have to print them out.  I love the smell of a new book.  (Yes, I smell books.)  I also keep my journal by hand and do a fair amount of my creative writing by hand.  The whole ambiance of a fountain pen and delicious paper is my idea of heaven.  Am I, if I want to see my words in print, going to have to chuck all that for FaceBook?

I think this dog may be too old.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

EasyStreet Prompts - Random Words

skate . impounded . indestructible neanderthal .

bivouac , serviceable tidbit . agitated .

contemporary cockfight . ghost . lumbago .

delegation . dissuaded . 
tragically hip

“So, what do you want to do?  Do you want to go skate?”
“Nah.  Mine were impounded after that fight with Dean.” 
“Man, he’s an indestructible neanderthal.  What started that, by the way?”
“Aw, hell.  We were on bivouac--”
“The scouts?”
“Yeah.  It was my last one before the Eagle ceremony, right?”
“He dumps his breakfast all over my sleeping bag.”
“On purpose?”
“I don’t know.”
“He has an inner ear infection, Mom said.”
“Thanks for that serviceable tidbit.  Late, but thanks.  Anyway, so I calmly walk up to him and ask him why the fuck he did that and he gets a bit agitated.”
“Okay, and then what?”
“Well, we mix it up, a mild contemporary cockfight thing, you know, with the punching and biting.”
“Then Dean stops in mid-punch.  He’s frozen like he’s seen a ghost with lumbago.  So I stop and look around.  Here comes Franklin with a delegation of the other scout masters.”
“Uh oh.  I can see what’s coming.”
“No you can’t.  Dean straightens up and starts talking a mile a minute.  He points out the sleeping bag and the weather and this and that and before you know it, he’s dissuaded the scoutmasters from disciplining either of us!”
“Dean?  Dean did that?”
“Yep.  Then Franklin--”
“Who is so tragically hip that it makes me want to hurl.”
“Yeah.  Franklin turns maroon, spins around, and stalks off.  Turns out he told my mom and she’s taken most of my sport stuff away for the month.”
“Bummer, man.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hi. I'm Still Here. I Think.

Hi everyone.  I am so sorry I haven't posted for a while.  Things "out there" have been, well, crazy.  I hope to be able to stop, breathe, and get some writing done this weekend.

I have a question for you.  Does this sound like you:  Everyone I have around me and everyone I encounter has demands on me in various degrees.  I have demands on many others, again in various degrees.  It's like our realities clash and clang and bounce around like bumper cars.  And we all think our reality is more important than anyone else's.  I feel alternately entitled and guilty in rapid succession and even at the same time.  It's a wonder I don't "lose it."  I can't help but feel that we are genetically NOT structured for this.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More Random Words

(Thanks again to EasyStreet Prompts!)
     “Okay, so he’s not royalty,” she said as she punched down the dough in the bowl.  Turning back to the counter, she sprinkled flour on it and then dusted her hands with the rest.  “And he’s rather innocuous when you get right down to it.  But his delivery of the presentation was unprofessional and, to be honest, almost flippant!”
     Her friend put the coffee pot back onto the warmer and took a sip from the steaming mug as she pulled out a chair.  “So in my girlish translation, you think he’s gay.”
     “Yeah, but what if he is?  It doesn’t matter one bit.  It’s just that he’s so in your face with his latest ideas.  Last week it was fasting.  Sure, lots of people do it for many reasons.  He pulled it into every conversation we had.”  She dumped the dough onto the floured counter and punched it so hard that a puff of flour made her sneeze. 
     “Okay, I know what you mean on that.  Plus he is always talking about his career.  To me it smacks of indecisiveness and a sort of patchy retirement.”
     “Uh huh.”  She leaned hard into the dough, turned it, and leaned hard again.  The muscles in her shoulders gave up the tension that held them tight and sore.
     Running a finger around the rim of her mug, her friend let the silence stretch a moment longer, and then said, “Another thing is his excesses with color.  Every week or so, his office completely changes.  That cannot be good for the operating budget.”
     “That’s a good point.  I’ll have to ask some innocent questions here and there.  Hand me those two loaf pans, will you?”
     “Here.  You know, maybe we feel threatened.”
     “Threatened?  By what?”
     “His backhanded mojo.”
     She laughed.  “You’ll need to add a concordance to that book you’re writing.  That’s a mighty weird phrase.”  She put the loaf pans in a sunny windowsill and covered them with a tea towel.  “But I get what you mean.  There, that ought to do it.”
     “How long do they sit there?”
     “Another hour or so.  They have to stay warm for the final rising.”
     “Bread baking is stupefying.”
     “It’s not that bad.  Just pull up your bootstraps and dig in.”
     “You are such an oversimplified mommy.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Give away at Notebook Stories!

If you haven't heard or read anything about Moleskine planners, check out the Review on the Color A Month 2010 planners at Notebook Stories.  I'm hooked on Nifty's blog.  So many notebooks, so little ink!