Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wow. It's been almost a month.

Hi everyone. 

My apologies for disappearing again.  Life has dished out one tough year for me.  I won't be sorry to see 2011 hit the road, that's for sure!

Well, to summarize it, my personal challenges are mostly over.  "Clean up" is all that remains and there is no hurry to do any of that.  I've also been backing off from the external chaos in order to quietly listen more to myself and rediscover the wisdom I've carried but haven't tapped into.  (Special thanks to Sue Meyn for leading a great online journaling class from Phoenix College!)

Okay, so I'm not going to make any promises for posting in the New Year.  I'm going to be selfish and concentrate only on the core issues in order to restore my strength - mentally, physically, and most importantly spiritually.

Thanks for sticking with me. 

Here's wishing you and yours the warmest of holidays and blessings for a bright New Year!

Joni

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oh MY!


I’ve been chosen to receive the Versatile Bloggers Award! Thanks to Julie Okami at In Pursuit of a Hidden Artist blog. I’ve been watching her skills as an artist go from start to wow! over the past few months. Julie has another blog that I follow called Pens Paper Inks…Whatever! If you are picky about your writing tools head on over and read some excellent product reviews.

So. Now down to business.

Rules for The Versatile Bloggers Award

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog.

2. Share seven facts about yourself.

3. Send the award on to fifteen other bloggers whose blogs you appreciate and let them know that they have been given the award. You are not allowed to give the award to any of the blogs that are awarded together with you.
About me:

1. I’m a professional meeting planner for medical specialty societies.
2. I am owned by two cats and a dog.
3. I have a spectacular daughter who just turned 21.
4. Autumn is my spring.
5. I don’t watch television but do watch some shows on Hulu.
6. I drive a manual transmission pickup truck.
7. My favorite sound is a thunderstorm.
15 Blogs that I have recently discovered or follow regularly and would like to nominate for a Versatile Blogger Award.

1. Comfortable Shoes Studio  
2. Dion Dior & More
3. Double Decker Days 
4. Icy’s Blunt Pencil
5. Things My Kids Won’t Know
6. Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
7. Unhalfbricking 
8. When I Walk in the Door
9. Journal Magic
10. Wyrdsmiths 
11. Carla Sonheim: Snowball Journals
12. Lovely Listing – Odd Finds in Real Estate Listings 
13. Moleskine Exchange 
14. The Kandahar Kronicles
15. Neil Gaiman’s Journal  (yes, I’m a fan girl) 
Okay, so I'm hearing the orchestra start to play me off, so I'd better wrap this up and say, "You like me!  You really like me!"  **grins**

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some New Art Journal Pics

I haven't been idle completely in my art journals (yes, I have 4 of them going at once) in these last few weeks.  Here are some of the things I did:
Dia de Muertos

Dreaming is Key

Vanity Via Zentangles

Mandala (watercolor pastels and Platinum Black ink)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Surprises!

Whew!  I've sure been busy these past few weeks.  Cleaning out old stuff and making way for a less cluttered house is hard work indeed.  I've found a range of items that I can not believe we put away.  Old crumpled Christmas paper, lots of old photographs, half-done art projects, pencil stubs, greeting cards - new and received, and so on.  Most of it went into trash or recycling.  I also found

Dust!  Lots and lots of dust!

And, a huge surprise.

Let me backtrack a bit.  In 2007 or 2008 we had an arson fire that took out part of our back fence and a storage shed.  We couldn't remember everything we had in that shed but we put together a list for the insurance company based upon the melted and burnt remains that we found as we sifted through the charred mess.  I found a portion of an old photograph from my childhood.  I knew that my photo albums and high school yearbooks and all that memorabilia of mine was gone.  It has been hard to get passed that angst.

Until today.

In cleaning out a closet in the laundry room I found that box of photo albums and my yearbooks and my high school diploma and my certificate for participating in the Minnesota State Speech Competition and all that wonderful stuff! 

Waahooo!

Beth W, if you are reading this, I won't need those photocopied pages from the yearbook anymore!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Peculiar Human Emotion: Homesickness

This post is a copy of a writing asignment in a class I am currently taking online.
I regularly read a blog written by a young woman who currently lives in in Europe. She recently wrote a post that not only resonated with me, but also reminded me of a recent journaling exercise that followed in a similar vein.

The young lady grew up in one country but when she was ready to attend University she eagerly left it and emigrated to England. There she found her “soul” home (as well as a husband). Unfortunately there are laws on emigration that must be obeyed and visa expired, she was forced to move back to to her home country. In one of her her posts she wrote about all the places in England that she had hopes of visiting. She wrote of the beauty she encountered and of the things that she once had but has no longer. I felt great sympathy for her when I read her post on being homesick for England. I, too have a “soul” home that I cannot return to.

My father grew up on a farm in south central Minnesota just outside of a small town called St. James. It sat on 80 acres. That is quite small by today’s standards, yet it provided a good income for the family “in the day.” When my grandfather died and my grandmother went into assisted living, the farm contents were auctioned off, the land sold; the buildings and the old-growth grove of trees surrounding the buildings were torn down and then plowed under. There is no trace left of that magical place.

Like that young lady, I visit again and again in my mind. For me, I remember certain things: the smell of fresh cut alfalfa, the dusty light in the barn at feeding time, the taste of homegrown produce filling the table at mealtime, the sound of the yellow rose bush scratching at the dining room windows and the crackly stiffness of corn cob leaves just before harvest.

I remember Grandpa hunched over the kitchen radio trying to listen to the Twins game between lightning-caused static cracks. I remember Grandma sitting on the kitchen counter eavesdropping on phone conversations over the party line. I remember the huge lavender-colored lilac blooms on a tall bush that decorated the middle of the chicken yard. I remember the red box elder bugs that Grandma would sweep off the living room walls into a dustpan and shake them out over the chicken yard fence as a treat for the birds. I remember picking eggs out of the hens’ nests and carefully placing them in wire baskets for washing and storage in the coolness of the root cellar where they sat until the egg-man came to pick them up. I remember shoveling silage down out of the silo and breaking apart the bales of alfalfa for the cows at feeding time. I remember the grunts and squeals of the pigs as they bumped each other out of the way to be the first at the trough.

We would walk half a mile up a gravel road to collect the mail from the grouping of mailboxes at the junction. Sometimes Grandpa would use the tractor to go get the mail. He’d let us stand alongside his seat and we would laugh when the bugs would hit our cheeks as we barreled down the road leaving a plume of dust rising in the air behind us.

In spring when the ditches were full of water, we would find long sticks to tie strings onto so that we could try fishing in them. (No one spoiled our fun by telling us there were no fish in the ditches.) We built forts in the grove to the north of the house and we played "Wagon Train" all over the farm yard. Grandma would fill our canteens with orange Kool-aid and pack some candy bars in our lunch boxes.

When I grew old enough to learn to drive, it was Grandpa who put me behind the wheel in the middle of a freshly mowed alfalfa field. He directed me in circles and figure eights until he knew I could handle the car, and then together we set off down the gravel roads.

In time that young lady in Europe could find her way back to England to visit her special places or even live there permanently. I sincerely hope, not only that she does, but that she writes about it as well. While I won’t be as fortunate, now that the farm no longer exists, I will honor and cherish those memories and more.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yard Work - Fun or Foe?

I just sat down from working out in my front yard.  I'm exhausted.  There's no one to blame but me for the 23 lawn & leaf bags I hauled to the alley.  Whew!  So, the front yard is pretty pathetic even after I raked all the leaves, sticks, and pods into those bags. 

Water rates have gone up here in the Valley of the Sun and with good reason.  We are in a major drought.  The City feels the best way to get people's attention on how much water they use is to raise the rates.  Of course this only works for people like me who are already struggling to pay the bills.  We stop watering our yards.

Needless to say then that I haven't been watering my front yard and I've slowed down on my back yard.  I've lost two and perhaps three trees back there because of it.  Ah well.  I'll pick out more drought tolerant varieties and try again.

Which brings me back to the front.  Yard, that is.  My neighbor (who has a putting green worthy front yard) walks over to me while I am wheezing over the rake and wiping sweat out of my eyes and compliments my yard.  Yeah. 

"I think it looks bald now," I said.  "Maybe I'll let what grass remains grow really really long and then do a comb-over like a bald guy's head."

He frowned and walked back to his house.  Okay, so maybe not.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Have I mentioned this before?

I love watching TED talks (http://www.ted.com/) and I ran across this one that makes me smile biggly.  (That's short for "really really big".)

For all of you who like to doodle while on the phone or during meetings, IT'S OKAY

Yay! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Notebook Stories has another Giveaway!

Nifty brings another great giveaway on her site.  Check out Review and Giveaway: Some Rhodia and Clairefontaine Goodies, then follow her instructions to enter the contest.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Just Touching Base Here

Greetings all!

I'm smack in the middle of "Meetin' Season" and I'm barely keeping up on the rest of the world.  I'm also buried under with an online college course.  What a dash of cold water there!  Because they can't see you face to face, the work is piled on heavier and the check-ins are tremendous.  I originally decided to try the online class so I could fit it into my schedule.  Well, think again.  **smile**

On personal issues, one biggie down and another just beginning.  I've decided to keep all that "junk" off the blog and not subject you to any more whining than you already get from our Tea Party candidates.  **grins**  (The glorious news that Palin won't be running is keeping me from gagging over Bachmann and Perry.  (Perry actually thinks Viagra is for a health issue but birth control is not.  Uh huh.) )

The weather has finally turned cooler.  I am loving it!  I just wish I could take some time off to enjoy it.

This morning I'm heading off to the Cave Creek/Carefree area to enjoy thrift store shopping and girl talk with my daughter and a good friend.  Much laughter expected - which I dearly need.  Thrift store shopping is such a grand adventure for me as well as being less of a consumer.  Reusing and re-purposing instead of filling up the landfill is what I'm after.

Dang - I'm getting way too preachy this morning.   My apologies.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful day/weekend/workweek!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Long Years Ago

I remember. 
It was early in the morning here in Phoenix and I was getting the household ready for the workday.  Sipping my first cup of coffee, I hunted down the TV remote.  At that time in my life I listened more than watched Good Morning America as I prepared lunches, woke my daughter, changed into my work clothes, etc.  And then I "tuned in" to what they were talking about.  A plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. 
 I woke my husband.  When I got him awake enough to understand what was happening, he popped out of bed and we stood, not sat, but stood in front of the TV set and watched.  The TV anchors were talking about possible terrorist activity and referred back some years to the fire bomb in the parking lot under the Towers. 

Then the screen filled with the sight of the second plane.  I screamed.
Thank you to all of those who responded to that hell on earth.  We won't forget you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry! It's Carnival Time!

Grab that cotton candy and other food-on-a-stick and head on over to A Penchant for Paper to take a gander at the Carnival!

Wheee! 

Oh my! 

What the heck is it? 

Wow! 

Would you look at that! 

Gee wilikers, Grandpa, how do they do that?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hello Again!

My apologies for not posting for awhile. Life has once more called my attention away so I've had to prioritize my time accordingly.

After being officially declared the hottest August on record for Phoenix, we gratefully tore off the calendar page and are looking at September's promise of cooler temperatures. So far the edge has been blunted somewhat and the light has a definite gold cast in it that tells me we've turned that corner. Autumn is on its way. And that is my all-time favorite time of year. To me, autumn, not spring, is the time to begin anew. I think it relates to the school year.

And since it is the beginning of a new school year and to deal with all the "stuff" going on in my life, I signed up for an online class with Sue Meyn, M.C. This particular class is hosted through Phoenix College, but Sue also has online classes of her own. (Check out Journal Magic for more information.) 

I have discovered that online classes are NOT the breeze I thought they would be. Oh, my heavens, no. They take a lot more time than face-to-face classes. Not only is there the homework, but you have to go into a class discussion area to "chat" with the other students. Then there are certain assignments that you post on the class blog. (I'll re-post them here, too, as they are a review of an article on writing and a book on writing.)

It turns out that my sister is also taking some classes right now, too. Becky lives in a small town outside of Houston, Texas. After raising her family and continually dealing with health problems from nearly every member of her family, she listened to her inner wisdom and at the age most women think of retiring, is working hard to earn a degree in nursing. I cannot be more proud of her. She is awesome! (I'll have to tell you about the resistance she faces from the faculty in another post. Seems they don't think an "old lady" can successfully complete the program. They don't know my sister!)

And the transition from marriage to singleness continues. Such a comedy of errors, let me tell you! Nothing is simple and if we don't laugh at it, we'd be squeezing our fingers into each other's throat. (We're laughing, by the way.) After 20+ years of living in this house we have accumulated an amazing amount of STUFF. So it is quite the task of sorting through all this stuff.

Since there is no way on earth the future ex-hubby can take all of his stuff with him when he moves out, we need to store it somewhere. Fortunately, we are blessed with an out building of considerable size. My hubby used it as his ceramics studio for years. Well, if you've ever been around ceramics you know it is lots and lots of dust. Due to the extreme daytime heat, we decided it is best to work on cleaning out the workshop at night. But the dust has clogged the light switches and we cannot turn them on.

So, I trooped over to the closest big box hardware store and made a bee-line for the electrical department. I find the light switches all right. Make note I said switches. Plural. There are at least 25 different switches on display. I am so lucky that a store employee strolled by and asked if I needed help. Yep, I sure did! Thanks to his incredible timing, I was out of the store and on my way home in about 10 minutes.

So that's where we are this morning. My list includes changing the light switches on the workshop, clipping a bunch of coupons and getting some groceries, sorting the mountain range of laundry, and working on some homework.

I am grateful that I have tomorrow off.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

BookJournals by Ex Libris Anonymous: A Review

One of my favorite ways to unwind from a busy day at work is to sit down with a glass of red wine and read blog posts on topics of personal interest.  I love fountain pens, inks, paper, notebooks, writing - both fiction and non-fiction, and a smattering of other topics.  I follow a great many more blogs on Google Reader than are shown on my blog roll, but you get the main idea.

Not long ago I read a review that sparked my interest.  Julie (Okami) from Whatever had a review of a handmade journal that was, well, brilliant!  Her review is here.

An appropriately designed business
card accompanied the order.

BookJournals are made from old books.  Plain and simple, yet as I said, brilliant.  I ordered two that very day.  Not only are they unique - no two are alike - but they are very reasonably priced.  I paid $13 (USD) per journal.  They were shipped quickly and I had them in about a week.  Jacob Deatherage even followed up with a personal email to keep me posted on the shipping status.  Fantastic customer service.

So, let's take a look at what I received, shall we?

First up is a children's book "The Ghost on Saturday Night" by Sid Fleischman.  Or it used to be anyway.

Cover
This book is  8.75 by 5.5 inches and a bit more than half an inch thick.  Inside there are a few pages from the book but mostly filled with blank paper for you to write on.

I chose this one because I'm a believer in ghosts.  I saw one once and it comforted me to know this proof of some sort of afterlife with no religious dogma attached. 

That and the cover is cute.


Backside of "Ghost"


Inside pages

BookJournal details
 
The second journal I received was made from a 1934 DIY cabin building book.  I must confess that the major reason I chose this one is because books from the 1920s through the mid-1940s is "my era."  No, I was born much later(hem, hem) but I feel an affinity for that particular era. 

So, how does the paper do?  I tried out several fountain pens filled with different inks on this very smooth, very white paper.  They performed exceedingly well, I must say.  Not much feathering to speak of.  (I was having trouble with a couple of the pens writing on the dry side but since I experienced the same issue on other paper, I knew it was the pen/ink and not this paper.)  There was no shadowing on the backside either, so I can write on both sides with ease.
  
Tiny, tiny bits of bleeding

I did not try a Sharpie pen here for two reasons.  First, we all know that they bleed through every paper there is.  Second, I don't own any for that reason.  The only bleed through I had was from several spots on the Spirit of Bamboo ink test.  This is a wet writer and I deliberately held the nib to the paper in a wee pause during writing. 

All in all, I give these journals a big, hearty thumbs up recommendation to anyone who would like something out of the ordinary and performs very well.  Please head on over to BookJournals and check out their selection.

Update: I changed "no feathering" to "not much feathering" because I didn't see it until I enlarged the picture after publishing.  And please forgive the horrible formatting.  Blogger was VERY hard to work with this morning!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons...

If you recall, I wrote about our water lines being moved from the gravel covered alley to the asphalt covered streets in front of our houses. The city then patched the cracks with tar. About a month or so ago the street was repaved with a fresh coat of deep black asphalt. It looked like they had taken a brush of black gesso and painted the streets.

They remained pristine for approximately 19 hours.

Sometime in the wee hours, a driver used our sidewalk to add some turning room to their U-turn. This left some deep black tire tracks on the sidewalk in front of our house and torn up dents in the street where the tires turned sharply. **sigh**

But I digress. I want to describe the difference in moving the water lines from the graveled alley to the black asphalt-covered streets.

Yep, you are ahead of me. For everyone else, think summer in Phoenix, Arizona.

I burned myself on the cold water during that first morning’s shower. Fortunately it eventually “cooled” a bit and I was able to finish in somewhat more comfortable temperatures. After I was done with the less than lady-like language, and during the first lather (rinse and repeat) of shampoo, I started to smile.

Dang! I can save some natural gas and turn down the temperature on the water heater. Might as well use the solar power to benefit my checkbook, eh?

Whoot!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pure Brilliance

A good friend sent me this link.  Rather than try to summarize the whole thing, head on over to read yourself.  A very good video is included there.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

THE WORLD WITHOUT US

A favorite feature on one of the (too?) many blogs I read is the book reviews done over at Scriblets. I don’t know Bleets personally, but I can tell from his subject selections and thoughtful reviews that I would like to meet him one day. Although I cannot hope to emulate his style, I am compelled to tell you about a book I am reading right now.

It is rare that a non-fiction book will grab my throat as this one has. Okay, I’m a “greenie” anyway, but Alan Weisman comes at ecology from a whole different angle. The World Without Us looks at how the earth will react should humans just disappear.

If you’ve ever noticed the tiny plants that are growing in the asphalt cracks or plastic bags blocking a storm drain grate during a heavy rain (or like we see in Phoenix – floating high above the traffic on heat currents and exhaust) or the sad crumbling of abandoned buildings surrounded by tall weeds, you will understand immediately what Weisman is trying to tell you.

A quote from the book:
"'If you want to destroy a barn,’ a farmer once told me, ‘cut an eighteen-inch-square hole in the roof. Then stand back.’”
--- architect Chris Riddle, Amherst, Massachusetts
Beginning with a look at a typical human home through lightning flashes of time, Weisman zooms out to the world as a whole. With a segue into the far distant past that began without humans, we are led step by step into where we are today. Then, with the stories from individual leading scientists and fellow human beings, we begin to see example after example of how humans are affecting the planet and what would happen after we are gone.
From the book jacket

This can get rather frightening to think about and frankly, some of it is scaring me silly.  Yet, while the book reveals the horrible impact we are having right now and indicates the lingering poisons we will leave behind, I can’t help but notice the feeling of peace and, yes, hope that surrounds me. After the humans are gone and even allowing for the crap left behind us, the earth WILL survive and hopefuly, thrive.

BUT, the trick is in the timing. We need to take a serious look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. It’s time to straighten up our acts right now.

I picked up my copy from the public library. The Copyright is 2007 so I’m willing to bet you can find this book almost anywhere and I heartily encourage you to do so!

Updated 7-27-11: Corrected formatting error on book title.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A File Sharing Tool I Actually Use

Several times in the last year or so, I would run across an article here and there on the topics of backing up your work, file sharing, online storage of documents, etc. Each article would list several methods such as emailing documents to yourself or Google Docs or other stuff.

I’ve been emailing myself for years. (I rarely answer me, though. **snort**) However, it isn’t fool proof. A couple of weeks ago, I emailed in to the office that I wasn’t feeling well and was taking the day off. That email was never delivered. A coworker finally called me to find out if I was okay.

Lately I’ve been working with Google Docs for file sharing with one of my client groups. Let me say right out that I love Google. iGoogle is my home page. I use Blogger for this blog’s platform. (I finally forgave them for messing up the Google News format.) I use Google Scholar for tons of work research. I use Gmail for everything non-work related. BUT. I hate Google Docs.

Google Docs reformats everything you upload. You have to download the document to work on it or update it and if you don’t remember to upload it again, it isn’t there for the other people to use. And the same goes for the other users. So needless to say, there I was in a tight situation last week looking for a specific document only to find it GONE. And searching for something in that environment is touch and go, too. Major pain in the tuchis.

Along comes Dropbox. 9 out of 10 articles I read in the past year or so mentioned this unique program. It is a file sharing program for yourself and/or whoever else you’d like to share with. Download the program on every device you have – in my case it is my home laptop and my work laptop – and put your documents in there. It syncs automatically so no special equipment required. Nothing is reformatted. I can use my home Office 2007 with my work Office 2003 (hey, I work for a non-profit corporation) and it is the same document. I can work on it inside Dropbox just as if it was in a file on my hard drive. And it stays there. You can even find your stuff from any computer – just remember your log-in information. 

Last week I had a coworker walk up to me and thank me for cluing her into Dropbox.  She's a Girl Scout Leader who had tons (literally!) of cookies to account for and this program makes it much easier to keep the documents updated.

Go take a look. Watch the virtual tour thingy. The first 2 gigs are free!

Note: I have no affliation to Dropbox.  Just another very satisfied customer here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

That Twangy Country Song...

Okay, I've been tossing around ideas on how to update you with my "situation" and pouring it all out like one of those horrible twangy country songs just is not me.  I'm a metal head after all!

So.  The shock and awe part is over and I'm recovering (and doing rather well with it too, I must say).  I'm very VERY lucky to have so many great friends who have shown their love and support for me.  It is the key reason that I'm able to write to you all now.

First.  I'm another one of those "victims" of the economy.  I'm in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.  I could name names (Capital One and Bank of America) but I'll take the high road here and just say that I am so wonderfully glad to be living in the USA in 2011 where we do not have debtor's prison and there is a way to start over again.

Second.  After the bankruptcy discharges, my hubby and I will start divorce proceedings.  That was the punch in the stomach.  23 years of wedded "meh" finally took its toll on both of us.  After I was able to breathe again I discovered that he was right!  We DO need to part company! 

Third.  (I don't have one yet.  These things happen in three's so that will just be a place holder.  Ha-ha!)

Thanks to these one-two punches I actually have some hope in my life.  I really and truly get to start over.

Yay for me!  [cue up Steppenwolf here]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pentel Handy-line S: A Review

Included in Pentel's goody bag were 3 different items in the Handy-line S category.  A dry marker in black, a highlighter in orange, and a permanent marker in dark blue.
 They all share the same basic barrel and retractable features which is really nice to have.  No more dropped caps that manage to roll way under your desk leaving you to crawl under there in your best slacks or worse, a skirt just as an important client enters your office causing you to bump your head as you scramble back up to your chair.  (Yeah, an old trope but since it happens in real life, accurate.)

First up, since I have a scanned writing sample, the permanent marker.  From the Pentel website:

Small size, big impact. Permanent marker Handy-line S features a retractable bullet tip that is conveniently compact. Made of 55% post-consumer material by weight. Easy twist, pull, and replace refill system.
Front
Reverse side.  Come on now, we all KNEW there would be bleed through - even on Rhodia.

Nothing to write home about.  It's a marker.  The odor is still there and it writes just as deep and dark as you need it to be.

Next up, the highlighter.  From Pentel's website:

Small size, big impact. Retractable and refillable highlighter Handy-line S. Made of 54% post-consumer material by weight. Chisel tip. Advanced seal technology to maintain tip freshness. Pocket-safe clip self-retracts when clipped on. Easy twist, pull, and replace refill system.

Again, just a highlighter. Bright, flame orange and it works just as it should.



Finally, the dry erase marker.  From the website:
 
Small size with a big impact! Handy-line S Dry Erase Markers are new to the Pentel Recycology line. Made of 55% post-consumer recycled plastic, this retractable bullet tip whiteboard marker features a advanced seal technology to prevent drying out. The amazing low odor is ideal for use in any indoor or outdoor environment. The pocket safe clip will automatically retract tip. Smooth, compact and eco-friendly, this marker truly makes a statement! Available in three bold colors: black, red, and blue.
And it too performs just as it should. Since the line this marker makes is narrow, yet dark, this would be more for your personal whiteboard as opposed to one in the classroom or meeting room where you need a bolder line to be seen from a distance.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “meh” and 5 being “awesome”, I’d have to give the Handy-line S products a 3.5.  Points for being retractable, made from recycled materials, and according to their labels, refillable.  Points away for being just like everyone else at the end.

Updated to re-order the text that was shuffled when this post went "live."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pentel Slicci 0.25: A Review

The Pentel Slicci is marketed as an art pen.  While it writes beautifully narrow lines and can give the most delicate detail to your drawing, it can easily function as a regular writing pen provided you stick to the darker colors.

Pentel sent me the black and the pink pens.  From their website:

 
Journal and draw in fine detail with ease thanks to the smooth-flowing gel ink and precise metal tip. Personalize paper, cardstock, labels, tags, chipboards, and die-cuts. 0.25mm, extra-fine precision tip. Available in black, red, blue, green, orange, pink, baby blue, and violet colors. 1 pack or 8 pack assorted colors.
This image has been enhanced so you can read the pink paragraph.
As you can see, the line of ink is NARROW yet the pen writes very well.  As I wrote in the copy above, I have to slide on a cushion for the grip on this pen and the pink is a drawer-dweller for being too faint to read. 

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being "meh" and 5 being "awesome", I'd have to give the Slicci line a 2.  Points for being a good writing pen and points away for being too thin, pale ink, and nonrefillable.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pentel HyperG 0.7: A Review

I’m almost in love. The color of the blue HyperG pen is that tropical blue that sends you into dreams of white sand beaches, palm trees, drinks in coconuts, hot sun and seductive breezes. **ahem** Sorry ‘bout that.

From Pentel’s website:

Ultra Smooth, Triple Safe Ink: - People Safe (AP non-toxic, acid-free, quick drying) - Check Safe (permanent, archival, quality ink) - Earth Safe (Part of our Recycology line and made from 57% recycled content). 0.5mm fine line delivers ultra smooth writing performance with durable metal tip. Sophisticated sleek diamond cut design with silver barrel accents. Comfortable, latex-free grip provides added comfort and control. Conveniently retractable and refillable with Pentel KLR5 refills.


Anyway, these pens are mostly fantastic. They feel good in my hand for short writing bursts but I must confess that the grip and that raised ridge on the front of the tip are a problem. The rubbery part is too far up the barrel for my grip and my index finger is not happy with the ridge. This might be an excellent pen to steal the innards out of and hack it into a more comfortable barrel, for it is the ink that makes this pen.

I’m not a “pink” gal due to an overload of Barbie in my childhood and later my daughter’s. But this pink isn’t Barbie by any means. It is intense and I wouldn’t use it for pages of writing but I would write a book with that blue!

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “meh” and 5 being “awesome”, I’d have to give the HyperG 0.7 a 3.95. Points for the great ink, made with recycled material and refillable and points away for being uncomfortable for my particular grip style.

Update 07/24/2011:  I purchased a dozen blue HyperG 0.7 pens from the online office supply store, Quill.  I did not get the tropical blue pen like I had in the review but a standard blue pen.  While it writes just as beautifully smooth as the pens in the review, the blue color is darker and, well, just blue.  **sigh**

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pentel Rolling Writer: A Review

The Rolling Writer has been around for a long time. That’s a clue right there that this is a good pen. Pentel sent a purple pen in the first batch and a green one in the second.

From Pentel’s website:

The original and best-known roller ball pen! 0.8mm Cushion Ball Tip™ adjusts to user's writing style and produces 0.4mm medium lines at any angle without skipping or smearing. Smooth, expressive ink is ideal for notes and general writing. Barrel color indicates ink color. Nonrefillable. Stationary tip and fixed sleeve.

I must admit that when I tried the purple pen I was hugely disappointed. It required effort to write with it – even on the Rhodia paper. That’s not good for people like me with carpal tunnel issues. I knew that this pen would be tossed in the drawer and forgotten. But, when I tried the green pen, my faith was restored. THIS is the pen that I remember. It glides like silk across the paper. I guess the purple is just one of those flukes that happen now and then.

The Rolling Writer is not on the Pentel Recycology list nor is it refillable. For that reason alone, when these pens are used up I won’t be buying any more. However, since the green pen writes so beautifully, I will be rationing its use to try make it last as long as I can.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “meh” and 5 being “awesome”, I’d have to give the Rolling Writers a 2.5. Points for being easy to write with and points away for being made out of new materials and nonrefillable.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pentel EnerGel 0.5 and 0.7: A Review

The good folks over at Pentel must have read my post mentioning how my family absconded with my Whatever blog giveaway winnings and took pity on me. They sent me a second batch. When I found them in the mailbox I checked that no one was watching, then stuffed the package in my purse before going into the house. Behind my closed bedroom door, I opened it. A squeal of delight betrayed my booty. A quick snarl of “keep your paws off this batch or you’ll be doing your own laundry for a month” kept them at bay.

My reviews of these pens, markers, highlighter and automatic (mechanical) pencils will be based on no scientific analysis whatsoever. I’ll call ‘em like I see ‘em. All written reviews are done on Rhodia paper, cropped and somewhat enhanced for clarity. (I think my scanner is starting to hit the old dusty trail of no return.) Also, please note, while the writing samples are scanned, the pen images are pirated from Pentel’s website because my daughter cannot find her camera charger. **sigh**

First up, Pentel’s EnerGel pens. I scrounged up the original pen and lined it up with the newest arrival. From Pentel’s website:
EnerGel 0.7: Sleek and stylish barrel design for the ultimate writing experience. 0.7mm metal tip produces smooth, medium lines. Part of the Pentel Recycology line of products and made with 54% recycled material. Capped Barrel. Nonrefillable.

EnerGel 0.5: Sleek and stylish barrel design for the ultimate writing experience. 0.5mm needle tip produces smooth, fine lines. Part of the Pentel Recycology line of products and made with 54% recycled material. Capped barrel. Nonrefillable.

Both pens are solid and retro-futuristic in design. They remind me of the old Jetsons cartoon. They both write smoothly and effortlessly and feel comfortable in my hand. Both are made of 54% recycled material but since they are nonrefillable I probably won’t buy them on my own.

The black ink is nicely dark and the red isn’t too glaringly red but I’d only use it when making notes on articles and reports that I read. I tested the red 0.7 for smearing but neglected to test the 0.5. Smearing doesn’t matter much to me unless it takes longer than 10 or 15 seconds to dry. As long as I’m aware that it smears I can work around that.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “meh” and 5 being “awesome”, I’d have to give the EnerGels a 3. Points for being easy to write with and points away for being nonrefillable.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some more art journal pages

Here are just a few pages from my art journal.  These are mostly experiments with different media: gel pens, liquid ink pens, markers, and watercolors.

Until recently, I haven't worked with anything art since early grade school, it's been a childlike experience to "mess around" without guilt. 


Cheap gel pens and cheaper watercolors.

Cheap gel pens and Unibal Signo on black paper - enhanced with software.

Cheap gel pens and Unibal Signo on black paper.  This is what it really looks like.



This is Uniball Signo gel pen, no name liquid ink pen, Prismacolor marker, and Dollar Store watercolors.
  I know it all looks crappy and childish but I'm having fun.  I've never had the gift of art, but I'm making it mine from now on!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

When I Won the Contest at "Whatever"

Julie (Okami) at Whatever had a contest not too long ago and I was one of the lucky winners.  Pentel, the sponsor of the contest, sent me a package of their pens to try out.  I had the package open maybe only 2 or 3 minutes before my family started helping themselves.  I was left with only the Slicci and the HyperG2.

Jackie Flaherty at Letters & Journals was the other winner.  She has a post up today that shows an almost identical haul from Pentel.  Head on over there to see it!  She promises some reviews soon, too.

A big thank you to Julie (Okami) and Pentel!  Pentel rocks!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Just Keep Breathing

Hi.  You probably have noticed that I've been away for a few weeks.  And I have been "away".   Not so much physically - although I was in Flagstaff last weekend working at a conference - I've also been away mentally and spiritually.

While dealing with one major stressing event in my life, I was sucker-punched with another.  That took the wind right out of me.  I won't go into these events because it would start to sound like a country western song.  I hate country western songs.  I really, really hate them.

My journaling stopped for a few days, too.  I had to stand still and deliberately force myself to breathe (in the metaphorical sense).  Then, slowly, haltingly, I picked up the pen.  It took time but eventually I was able to let go and let fly.  It's all splattered, blotched and bleeding all over the page.  And that's the best place I know to leave it.

The very physical act of pushing your thoughts out of your head, down your arm, through your hand, out through the pen and onto the page is one of pure magic.  Best drug I've ever taken, too. 

I also realize how incredibly lucky I am to live in such a safe environment that will allow me to do this drug.  (My brother-in-law once grabbed his daughter's diary and read it aloud in front of the family when he was on one of his Bible-thumping head trips.  I do not socialize with him.)

I guess what I really want to say here is that I may still be winking in and out of Daydreamers Welcome for a while.  I need more time and some space to work through this junk.  Fortunately for me, I have my freshly inked fountain pens and a stack of Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebooks waiting to help me along.

Peace.

Joni

Sunday, May 1, 2011

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: A Review of Sorts

Yesterday I finally got to go to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park in Waddell, Arizona. I’d been wanting to visit for a while after I picked up a brochure on the parks that are located within an hour’s drive of where I live. There are quite a few, I’m happy to report.

The White Tanks are so easy to get to. All I had to do was wake my hubby up early and drive 3 miles north to Dunlap Avenue and then head west until Dunlap became Olive Avenue and then kept heading west until the road ended in the park.

The drive was one of my favorite parts. We drove through the neighboring cities of Glendale, Peoria, Sun City, and finally Waddell. The only indication of changing jurisdictions in this metropolitan area are the signs posted welcoming you to their city.

After Sun City and on the way to Waddell the countryside was beautiful. Farm country with tall old trees surrounding their homes, county roads with four-way stop signs, a rail road track on the right and an irrigation ditch full of fast moving water on the left. Even on this Saturday, the fields had workers in the middle of them. There are no weekends off for farmers.

Both my hubby and I breathed in the clean air and felt nostalgia for our childhoods wrapping itself around us. I grew up in farm country and when he was young, Glendale was still new and building up around the open farm fields. Today it is full of concrete and asphalt, the farms just a memory.

Waddell is a farming community that is suffering modern housing developments now, too. It won’t be long and Waddell will be another Glendale. But until then, I hope to enjoy many drives over to the park.

The entrance to the park is overlooked by the newest county library building in Maricopa. The fee for entering the park with a motorized vehicle is $6.00 and you use the honor system of paying until someone can get to the little shack to give you the human touch.

We drove into the park and were met with a beautiful, immaculate, and well laid out facility. Having printed a map of the park before we left, I knew that our destination, Black Rock Trail started from Ramada #4. We pulled into the large parking lot, used the very clean restrooms, then stepped out onto the groomed trail.
Along the easy path were stone benches that had bronze plaques dedicated to the memory of someone. Some were simple, others had lines of poetry, but all were read by us.

Also located by the benches were wooden stands that held information about the plants and animals that live in the park. They came in handy when Hubby and I had a mild disagreement on one particular cactus. We were both wrong!

When the trail ended we sat at one of the picnic tables enjoying some fruit that we brought with us and watching the hawks circle in the near distance. The vista was magnificent. I could see for miles across open desert to a blue mountain range on the horizon. It was yet again one of those times when I wish I could paint.

On the way out of the park we turned into the library’s driveway and after a too brief perusal of the art show and nature center, we headed out. Duties awaited our attention at home.

I encourage anyone who lives in my area to make at least one visit to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. You won’t be sorry. Just remember to bring your camera, binoculars, or a sketch pad!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm Still Here... Somewhere.

Hi everyone!  I'm still here but buried under LIFE: friends, family, and work issues abound.

Stay tuned and things should settle down soon and I can then resume posting at regular intervals.

In the meantime, here's some of my journal pages that I've done lately. 

Earth Hour 2011

Still in Progress: Hand-off!

Pure Nonsense with Markers

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Carl Sandburg Meets Zuko

FOG

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over the harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

---Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967)

I wonder what this poem would have been like had Mr. Sandburg encountered our new cat, Zuko. He may have “little cat feet” but he uses them like a water buffalo.

Minerva is grace personified. She has the silent haunches and moves like a ninja warrior. Zuko is so different. He doesn’t run – he gallumps, if you know what I mean. He meows over anything and purrs like a 12 cylinder Jaguar – constantly. And we love him.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April's Started Rather Foolishly

Okay, had to make some sort of reference to April Fools.  The Fools were those of us who live in the lower part of Arizona.  Friday, April 1st saw the first 100 degree day for the year. 
That sent me up on our roof yesterday morning. Armed with WD40 and a butter knife (the fin comb I bought was useless), I spent the better part of two hours trying to straighten the heat disapating fins on our air conditioner that were mangled in last October's hail storm. It isn't perfect, but the a/c repairman I talked to said I only needed 70% fixed to let the unit work.  I'm not sure I got that 70% done but I did as much as I could without dropping off the side of the house from heat exhaustion.

Yes, I could have put in an insurance claim like everyone else in my neighborhood did, but since we've had several claims already in the last 10 years, I am terrified that we would find ourselves with a cancelled policy. (An old lady down the block had hers cancelled earlier this year.)  So, we will tough it out and try fix things for ourselves.

This is going to be a long summer.  **sigh**  At least the next 10 days are forcast a bit cooler.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Hour at Home

Short post here.  My family observed Earth Hour last night sitting around our patio table set with candles and we talked and laughed together as the rest of Phoenix continued as normal.  There were no Earth Hour events here - something that makes me feel sad.  The best I could find was a mention of it on a tourist calendar.  Ah well. 

I was pleased to see the rest of the world participate.  In particular, the Girl Scouts held several events across the United States and Scotland became the first country to get 100% support across all municipal councils across the nation.  Way cool.

The best statement I saw while surfing the 'net last week was found on a picture of a young lady holding a sign that said, "There is no Planet B."  'Nuf said in my book.

Anyway, I'm taking it easy today.  What I thought was an allergy-induced cough has become bronchitis.  (A  work acquaintance in Tucson said it is running rampant down there.  Great.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Join Me!

On Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. for


We CAN make a difference!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World Wildlife Fund) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Earth Hour was conceived by WWF and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights. Following Sydney's lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008. Earth Hour 2011 will take place on March 26, 2011 from 8:30p.m. to 9:30p.m., at participants' respective local time.
For more information Click Here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring

The Northern Hemisphere begins the Vernal Equinox today, March 20, 2011, at 7:21 pm EDT and that makes it 4:21 pm in Phoenix – Mountain Standard Time as we (hem, hem) don’t do Daylight Savings Time. This means that at the start of spring (spring equinox) day and night are approximately 12 hours long (at the equatorial plane) and the Sun is at the midpoint of the sky.

For me personally, it means that the oven has been turned on and we are preheating for a long scorching summer. I really wish I could move to the cooler high country but life has chained me here to the concrete and asphalt of the city.

Interestingly enough however, there was an article in the Arizona Republic on March 10th that encourages me to hang in there.

“Tree experts envision the return of Phoenix's oasis of green”

In the early 1900s, the Valley was an oasis of green with lush trees sprouting tall along wide canal banks that crisscrossed Phoenix and its suburbs.

Cottonwoods, among the more common of the area's trees, dug in, drinking water that seeped from the dirt-lined canals.

By the 1950s, as families flocked to the Valley in post-World War II bliss to create a modern community, the oasis withered.
It seems that the people in charge finally figured out the heat island effect and are going to work on planting some shade trees. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they are real shade trees and aren’t like the thin wimpy sticks that get planted in parking lot makeovers only to be broken off in the first high wind that blows through. There is no shade under those puppies, let me assure you and most of the broken ones are never replaced.

Yes, this will be a conflict with the water usage sensitive among us. But eliminating or at least greatly reducing the heat island effect will allow more rain to fall on us. Plus, the temperatures, while high at mid-day, won’t STAY high as long. Natural landscaping sheds the heat faster. All in all, we will be better off having more trees in this concrete jungle.

And this writer will be a much happier person.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In my thoughts...


And in my heart.  I send my good vibes out to those hurting from this horrible tragedy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

But some nights I want to close the drapes

They say dreams are the windows of the soul--take a peek and you can see the inner workings, the nuts and bolts.


-- Henry Bromel, Northern Exposure, The Big Kiss, 1991

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Busy Weekend - Satisfying Weekend

It's been a wonderful weekend here at Daydreamers Welcome Headquarters and it isn't over yet.

Friday, being the first Friday of the month, was First Friday in Phoenix when the arts are featured for free.  Hubby and I took the Light Rail train down to the Phoenix Art Museum.  The feature exhibit was one on fashion with a particular emphasis on Ann Taylor.  Meh.  I'm not into clothes, so we covered that one pretty darn quick.

An impulse led us up to the Norton Photograph Gallery.  There is a special exhibit of two photographers: Brett Weston and Sonya Noskowiak.  One photograph blew me away.  I found a very small copy of it online but it had a security block on it to prevent copying it.  It was entitled "Natural Gas Tanks" 1939. 

The black and white photo was of two massive shiny tanks rising up in a small neighborhood, their size dwarfing the old buildings in the foreground.  The old brick apartments with the turn of the century "gingerbread" trim, led to older brick buildings, then down to wooden houses with laundry strung out behind, and in the foreground were old wooden shacks that were collapsing under the weight of time.  This description doesn't do justice to photograph.  It was almost as if Sonya Noskowiak saw how big oil would grow and shove aside anyone in their way. 

This morning.  VERY early this morning.  3:30 A.M. in fact.  My alarm goes off.  My daughter and I hit the road at 4 A.M. to get in line at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to have the latest member of the household neutered.  Poor Zuko, a black long haired tomcat wanted to be a house kitty but since he sprayed everything he could outside, he had to be "fixed" first.
We missed the lineup for the "Neuter Scooter" mobile unit a few weeks ago at a mall because we weren't there early enough.  Taking no chances this time, we set out 3 hours early to take advantage of their SNAP (Spay/Neuter Assistance Program) clinic for cats.  First come, first served, and they were only taking 15 cats today.

We arrived at 4:30am only to find about 5 people already there.  They had actually camped overnight to get in line.  Long story short, a lovely gentleman who befriended us in line, made sure that some line budgers did not benefit from their boorish behavior and we were the last cat accepted today.

Zuko is home and sleeping it off in an undisclosed location.  He is a very good kitty and will be a welcome addition to our family. 

Kudos to the wonderful staff at Maricopa County Animal Care & Control!  These are people who love animals and took great care of their charges.  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One of my favorites


What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream? Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?


-- Woody Allen (1935 - ), "Without Feathers"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meetings and Star Stuff



"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff." 
               — Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, folks. Our “Meeting Season” has begun. While these events are labor intensive to pull together and to clean up afterwards, they are way cool fun to watch unfold. I’m always blown away by the quality of our speakers and the distance that some people travel.

President’s Day weekend was our largest conference. It was there that I met two wonderful ladies from Toronto. (Just ignore all those SCTV scenes that are flashing through your head right now. Okay?) One lady came to the conference to learn and her friend came along because she had never seen oranges or grapefruit still on the tree before. I choked up a bit at that one.

Now it is just a steady stream of board meetings, dinner meetings, and a weekend conference here and there. We slow down in mid-summer, crank it up again in the fall and then we inch along through the winter holidays only to begin earnestly again in February.

What does all this have to do with “star stuff”? Not a thing - except that for some weird reason, I woke up this morning with that quote on my lips. All day I’ve been thinking about it. Any ideas out there?

Well, time to hit the old haystack.  Good night, sweet dreams, and may the blessings of the Cosmos be yours.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Well, I'm in!

Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.


-- William Dement, in Newsweek, 1959

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Negative Space: White on Black

After destroying two squares from my Zentangle Kit (a gift from Okami) by trying to tangle inside the heart, I decided to try it the other way around.  Working the negative space proved to be the ticket.
Valentine's Tangle for my hubby

For a change-up I painted a page in my Strathmore art journal with black gesso and using the pens mentioned below, I created another negative piece.  I'm not sure I like it as well, however, because you can see the strokes made with the pen more than you can with the black pen on white paper. 
Uniball Signo and Uniball Signo Angelic on black gesso
It was fun trying it out, though!  I have a couple more pages fully gesso'd and will be playing some more.  Then I think I'll borrow BiffyBean's technique of painting with black gesso on colored paper and then using the white gel pens over that.  See what I mean here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tidbit for you

It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn't match what you dreamed it would be.  -- Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 09-07-04

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Arizona!


Arizona turns 99 years old today!


Happy Birthday!
 And Happy Valentine's Day, too!