Happy Galentine’s Day, Fountain Pen Friends

Today is devoted to two celebrations: a belated Galentine’s Day, plus Valentine’s Day.

And all involving pen stuff. Not because I’m a total loser. Not just because I’m a total loser. But also because it’s a blog about pen things.

What is Galentine’s Day? Only the most awesome holiday ever. Galentine’s Day started on a television show, Parks and Recreation, when Amy Poehler’s character decided the day before Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate female friendship, over brunch. Thus Galentine’s Day.

This should totally be a thing. So I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world: Happy Galentine’s Day.

Except, we need to add a few wrinkles. First, we’re a day late, because it’s me. Second, we’re on the internet, and I’m not a morning person, so that brunch thing isn’t happening. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee, or open a package of cookies or a bottle of wine. I toast you, virtually.

The biggest change is that our Galentine’s Day is open to all, whether a real gal or an honorary gal. If you’re a guy — and you are still reading — then hopefully you’re happy to be one of the gals. Make yourself at home. It’s my internet-only, fake-brunch, day-late, Galentine’s Day, and all are welcome.

I’m not going to shy away from gal-palling here. But I’m also going to assume that honorary gals will be interested, too, if only to see the other side.

Here are some pretty pens that seem fitting for this Galentine’s Day.

Pelikan M600 Pink and Pelikan M605 White Transparent

These are the Pelikan M600 Pink and the Pelikan M605 White Transparent, and they are the nicest Galentine’s pens ever.

But you know, gals do not just like pink things. In fact, some gals don’t like pink at all. And that is okay. Galentine’s Day is for all. Here’s a green pen I like.

Sheaffer PFM I green

And here are some pens that aren’t very colorful.

assorted fountain pens

Those pens are sober enough even for those guys who don’t qualify as honorary gals.

But you know what? I hate to say it, but, they aren’t really fun enough for our celebration. For today, let’s forget those. They can come back on, say, tax day. A guy day if ever there was one.

Instead, I will grab some fountain pens that are more fun and Galentine’s-appropriate.

assorted fountain pens

One of those is even black, and that one is also owned by a guy I know.

See! Galentine’s Day is all about celebrating your friends, and mine are pretty great.

Now, some might say that my friends have great taste. But that’s not for me to say. Because if I say that, it would be sort of complimenting myself, because of the implication that they also have great taste in friends (me). So I can’t really say that, and still be modest. Apparently. So I’ll just leave it to you gals and guys to say that. Right there, in the comments. Below. At the bottom there.

Okay, have we all left fawning compliments? Good work. So here are some other writing instruments that would work for this special day.

Lamy Safari pencil and ballpoint pen

These are the Lamy Safari Pink ballpoint and mechanical pencil. These live on the top of my desk, where my husband can use them. Because they are pink, if he walks away with them, I will track them down, and he’ll have to sheepishly return them to my desk.

This makes a happy contrast with, say, my phone charger.

And speaking of people who are your family but use that to walk off with your things, here’s a small sample of things found today in my daughters’ rooms.

Field Notes

Those are Galentine’s Day-appropriate Field Notes. You’ve been reading me long enough to know that they once were mine. No more. I now buy at least two packs of anything gal-like, for this reason.

I guess that makes every day a Galentine’s Day, and that’s a nice thing. But looking at that photo, I want to suggest, bitterly, that Jailentine’s Day might be more appropriate. That one on the right is fly.

Ah well. I will console myself.

Lamy Safaris

Those are some Safaris I have. I am pretty sure that Fred Astaire was thinking of these in Swing Time when he sang, “Some day, when I’m awfully low / When the world is cold / I will feel a glow just thinking of you / And the way you look tonight.”

And there’s a second verse. So here is a drawer of Al-Stars, too.

Lamy Al-Stars

This year’s Vibrant Pink will slot in there, too. Some day, when my pen arrives ….

Ah what a pretty picture. I am so glad we could share this Galentine’s Day in pens together.



Bits and Pieces and Lamys and Pilots

So how are we all doing? All good? I hope so. I’m good, too, just super busy doing other things. As a result, I feel like I’ve been more inattentive than usual to my fountain pen blogger responsibilities.

Except, of course, the whole reason I took the job of fountain pen blogger in the first place is that it comes with absolutely no responsibilities. Excellent!

Except the pay? Same.

Still, I do like to check in with everyone, at least every once in a while, if for no other reason than to signal that I’m not dead or anything. So here’s what’s going on here, in pens and other follies.

1. Pilot Kakuno.

Last Sunday someone showed me a Pilot Kakuno in clear plastic. I was taken by it. It seems like a nice starter pen: it’s small but not tiny, with a comfortable grip. And I love a clear pen. Yes, it’s for children. But I don’t hold that against pens. I’m a Safari fan (like all right-thinking people).

2. Almost mine.

I liked the Kakuno in clear plastic so much that I actually put one, with a converter, into my Jetpens cart. Come for washi tape, leave with a pen. It’s that $25-free-shipping offer. It gets me every time.

In the end, though, I didn’t get it. As nice as the Kakuno is, I realized I wouldn’t use it beyond the first “Isn’t this fun!” stage.

3. Great news, Lamy.

You may remember that at the Ohio Pen Show someone took off with my beloved Lamy Pico in Laser Orange. That was a bummer. But this week Fontoplumo announced that Lamy is adding the Laser Orange as a regular Pico color.

The Laser Orange Pico was possibly my favorite pen purchase of 2016, and I’ll buy another for sure.

(There are some other new Lamy colors, too, including a very nice purple Lamy Nexx, for purple fans.)

4. Lamy, Lamy, Lamy.

Speaking of new Lamy colors, it hasn’t been officially announced, but it has been reliably rumored that the new 2018 Safari is going to be a textured black color.

Honestly, my first thought was “blah.” A textured black would be the third not-fun Safari in a row. Is this one necessary? There are three Safari or Al-Star pens in black or charcoal in the regular line already. In fact, a Charcoal Safari is the one pen I always keep inked.

But the idea has grown on me. It may be Stockholm Syndrome, but if the not-fun Safari is going to remain Lamy’s thing, they could do worse than textured black. I like black; probably everyone likes black.

Plus, well, I don’t know how to say this, but … I’d never really looked closely at the Charcoal, despite using it daily. And, now that I have, I think Lamy may have a point. The Charcoal is kind of an odd shade of gray. A textured black Safari might be more appealing.

So I’m mildly looking forward to this new not-fun Safari. Add that to the Laser Orange Pico and the 2018 Vibrant Pink Al-Star. That’s three Lamy purchases on the horizon for me, and I’m feeling positive about all three. Good vibes, Lamy.

5. The Best Lamy.

My favorite Lamy is on its way back to me as we speak — the Dialog 3. Thanks to the intervention of a good pen dealer (the Nibsmith), my pen is in the mail, with its clip apparently all fixed.

And just in the nick of time, too. I missed that pen so much I was debating between nailing Christmas lights to the wall to try to communicate with it, or firing up the shrine to Jobu and sacrificing a Platinum Preppy.

I think the lesson here is that having a good pen dealer is important.

6. Better than Lamy.

Virginia Woolf’s birthday was this past week. We are not worthy. Looking for a reading suggestion? Pick up Mrs Dalloway, or To The Lighthouse, available at fine bookstores and libraries everywhere. I’m going to pick up my copy of The Waves again, and this time, I swear, I’ll finish.

7. Actually.

Actually I have a Virginia Woolf pen. It’s beautiful.

I mean, it’s not Virginia Woolf’s pen. Of course. Fun fact: fountain pens were a new-fangled invention to her. I seem to remember a passage in her letters or diary where she totally dragged this buggy new technology. Yet to us, fountain pens are old-fashioned. I find that delightful. Also a little trippy.

Ms. Fountain Pen Manners: How to Respond to Someone’s Vile New Pen You Absolutely Hate, And More

It being Black Friday weekend, and the kickoff of the holiday buying season, there are a lot of new pens floating around social media. Pen makers and dealers are posting them, your friends are posting them, and every Instagram account or fountain pen forum has people posting them.

As this time is upon us, I shall now put on my “Ms. Fountain Pen Manners” hat. This is how a person with good manners responds to someone’s vile new pen they absolutely hate, or someone’s attractive new pen that comes in a box they don’t like, or whatever tricky situation arises.

1. A new pen arrives in dealers’ hands and hits Instagram. The color repels you; the material is garish. It’s awful. But your friends go gaga for it.

You want to say, “What’s wrong with you?! Are you high? That is molten aqua/orange/violet nightmare-fuel.”

Readers, that’s probably a tad harsh. Instead, try to dial it back, with the non-committal “Wow.” Or, the honest “Colorful!” Or, the trying-to-be-positive “I love the rhodium trim.” Or, if you think you can get away with it, “Bless its heart.” The latter is a favorite of Ms. Fountain Pen Manners, because Ms Fountain Pen Manners delights in throwing shade.

2. A company issues a pink pen, in a tacky box, targeted at women. You, being a person who hates pink, is of obviously superior intelligence and thus has appointed herself the Queen of What Every Other Person Should Like, object to the pink pen’s existence.

You feel you have to say, “This pen demeans and insults women. Why do companies think women like pink? It’s an outrage.”

Readers, this situation is one step more difficult. Because, first, you have to get your head out of your ass. Only then can you trot out the “Wow.” Or, “Colorful!” Or even, “Bless its heart.” Or, if you absolutely must register your objection to a pen that is pink, try something honest but respectful, like, “I’m not a fan of pink, myself, but it’s nice to see something different.”

See how easy that is.

3. Someone you know, perhaps Ms. Fountain Pen Manners herself, has bought two gorgeous pens, but both are white.

You want to say, “What’s wrong with you? You know they make pens in colors now, right? Why two white pens? Do you have two favorite white inks?”

Readers, this appears challenging, but it’s actually pretty easy. No, you can’t go with “wow” or “colorful” here. But try, “How refreshing.” Or, “You don’t see that every day.” Or, “So useful: that would work with any ink color.” Turn a negative into a positive; that’s the essence of good fountain pen manners.

4. Everyone you know hates the Lamy Safari, and loves saying so, over and over. Online, in blog comments, in personal emails, in texts, and right to your face in personal conversations.

You just want to say, “Oh shove it up your patootey.”

Well, readers, I’ve considered that fully, over the course of many long years. And I have finally reached a ruling. It is okay, in this one situation. Alternatively, you could go with, “You are wrong, and your taste is bad.” Either would be perfectly appropriate.

A Thanksgiving Story

Gather round, folks, for a Thanksgiving story. It does not involve Pilgrims, or Native Americans or Abraham Lincoln. Nor does it directly involve fountain pens. But it relates to the latter, in a roundabout way. Also, it’s vegetarian, which is unusual for Thanksgiving.

I warn you, however: this is a dull story. But there is a wedding, some pie, and a happy ending. So I’d only need to tweak a few things to have a great screenplay. And if you soldier on to the end, I will play a completely unrelated song I like.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I’ve been planning and cooking much of the week, because there’s a lot of food to make, and it’s more enjoyable this way.  Also necessary. For instance, I happen to have a pie crust recipe that is fantastic but which takes two days to reach perfect flakiness. (While I am instantly flaky. Puzzling that a pie crust is more work than a person.)

As I was doing Thanksgiving things, I was reminded of last Thanksgiving. When a little plastic piece popped off my Cuisinart food processor, right in the midst of apple-slicing or cranberry chopping or some other crucial task. This was a little plastic tab that held the cover on the bowl of the Cuisinart. Without it, the Cuisinart would not work. So this was a dramatic development.

Daughter of pioneers that I am, I duct-taped that sucker together and sped onward to culinary triumph and gustatory delight. But after Thanksgiving, I had to figure out what to do.

Our Cuisinart was a classic. Literally: the Cuisinart Classic. It was a much-appreciated wedding present, and has proved itself a stalwart machine and faithful kitchen helper. We’d named it (“the Cuisi”). And it never cut off anyone’s fingers. Last Thanksgiving was the first problem we’d had with it in more than 23 years.

My attachment to the Cuisi is, therefore, equal parts practical and sentimental. It didn’t cut off my fingers, and it had been a wedding present. We’d used it a lot. We’d moved with it into three homes. It was older than our kids. We’d grown accustomed to its face.

Also, I have the typical old person’s conviction that anything from my time is just better than anything available today. (Rationally, this is irrational. But it’s something everyone comes to believe.) “Sure this PS4 is snazzy, but back when I was a kid, we had Pong and then Atari, and those were really something. We didn’t need fancy graphics. We used our imaginations.”

Still, even putting delusions of the good old days aside, this was an objectively excellent food processor, and I did not want to replace it. So I looked at the Cuisinart website for a replacement bowl. I wasn’t sure what would fit. I wasn’t sure if I could get by with just the bowl or needed to spring for the whole bowl-cover-sleeve setup, at which point, maybe it would be cheaper to just buy a new Cuisinart. So I called Cuisinart to ask.

And first, how great for a company, in this day and age, to have a customer service number you can call, with people on staff to answer questions?

I talked to a very nice person who understood exactly what had happened to the little tab. She told me they did have a new bowl that would fit, but she added, “But your current cover and pusher sleeve won’t fit on that, because we’ve redesigned the whole thing for safety.”

Ugh. I began to silently rue my fate: safety always means expense. But I didn’t even have time to venture anything like, “I can make do. I’m not that attached to my hands.” No, she continued, it was okay. They would send me the new cover and pusher sleeve for free. It was Cuisinart that had redesigned these parts, so that was their policy.

And how great is that?

She took my order for the bowl, added the cover and pusher sleeve, and had it mailed to me immediately. At which point I had a mostly new Cuisi for Christmas cooking and all the days of our lives, once again. Which I remember happily every time I use the Cuisi. Including right now, as I cook Thanksgiving and carefully watch my fingers — which I don’t even need to worry about any more, probably, because of the enhanced safety of that excellent new bowl.

And ever since, when I have had to buy a new small appliance, I buy a Cuisinart. New coffee maker. New hand blender slash new-finger-chopper. All Cuisinart. And I will continue. Not just because they make very good machines. But because you can call a person, get help, and buy replacement parts — even for a machine that’s more than two decades old. Because they provide excellent customer service. Because they build things to last.

And that’s where fountain pens come in, in a roundabout way.

We are all different, with different budgets and needs, and we all occasionally succumb to impulse purchases. But I’ll tell you an adage we old people have learned the hard way: buy quality, buy once; buy cheap, buy twice. In the long run, that’s good for your budget and probably for the planet.

So along those lines, here is my personal opinions of four pen brands that in my experience have excellent quality, but also have provided me with the very best service and response if there’s ever been an issue with a pen. Edison, Lamy, Montblanc and Pelikan.

Now, thank you for listening to my Thanksgiving story, and for reading this entire year. Happy Thanksgiving, America. Here is something good:

Department of “No, Just No”


Gah. (Not the project, which I’m sure is fun. Just the abysmal name. The hackery, the butchery. The base assault on the language of Shakespeare, Milton and Austen, of Dylan and Ishiguro, too. Of far humbler wordsmiths who still take the time to write and rewrite, to find the perfect word, to hew the soundest sentence.)

Sure, at first I just ignored it. As one does. As when your brother-in-law talks politics at Christmas. But after only a few days, it’s un-ignorable. The merchants have seen this opportunity, and cannily jumped in. Instagram has been infected at levels last seen in the movie Contagion. And October is 31 days long.

So sure it’s going to be hell, but at least it’s an extra long month. Gah.

What I’m Doing on my Summer Vacation

I’ve been taking some time away from the blog. Because it’s summer.  Here are some things I’ve been doing instead.

1. Anything but pens. I haven’t picked up a fountain pen for more than a scribble in weeks. I’m just not feeling it. No inspiration to write. No real interest in pens, either. I’m recharging. I might start a different writing project.

2. Pen Show. Actually, I have been doing pen things, just that they all relate to the Chicago Pen Show. That’s of course the 2018 show, which sadly isn’t until next May. We’ve got some fun things in the works, though. Everyone should come.

3. Gardening. I’ve been gardening a lot. But not genteel or picturesque gardening. Rambo gardening. While redoing one of the borders, I scratched up both arms muscling a Zebra Grass on a day that was so hot I couldn’t wear long sleeves. Teaching me that there is no day in the garden so hot that I shouldn’t wear long sleeves. But that wasn’t the best part of the Zebra Grass Battle. The best part was when I realized one large clump of Zebra Grass was actually too firmly rooted for me to divide it with a spade. Even standing on the top of the blade didn’t provide enough oomph. It was so hot, too. I considered just lying down on the lawn and expiring from weakness, right there. The dogs would have found my remains. And everyone would have felt badly. “Why didn’t we think to bring her an iced tea? Or help out? We’re monsters!” That would have been good.

4. Bunnies. Nothing makes you realize, “I’ve lost the innocent bloom of youth,” like coming to see Mr. McGregor in a completely different way, not as the villain of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but as the everyman hero. Because no matter how cute bunnies seem when you’re little, when you grow up and begin to till your own small square of earth, you realize rabbits are voracious eaters and rapid breeders, and the enemy of all plant life. If not all life on earth. So every summer, I battle to humanely protect the plants they target. And every summer, I lose. Plus, our younger dog, Gus, is an avid hunter, and not humane, so every year I’m also battling to keep him away from the baby bunnies. This year has been especially grisly on the Gus front. But there’s a little baby bunny out there now, who’s somehow survived. He’s an adorable little sprite who just hopped out and obliviously began munching on our back lawn the other day. Right in front of our french doors. While on the inside, my dogs howl at the tiny, blithe provocateur and hurl themselves murderously against the glass. I know, one way or another, this is going to end badly.

5. Movies. We’ve been watching a lot of movies. There is no hockey in the summer. This is the only bad thing about summer.

6. Books. I’ve been reading actual books. All the way through. Yeah. Next step, world domination.

7. Cursing Photobucket. Without warning, or even after-the-fact notice, @$&*%$# Photobucket cut off all photo-links, unless you want to pay some blackmailishly high annual fee. As a result, many photos on this blog were disappeared, and I have to try to figure out which ones, then try to find them on my computer, then put them back. Great use of anyone’s spare time. Photobucket can be rhymed with some pretty bad words, let me tell you.

Icco Nico Washi Tapes: Calendar and To-Do

Icco Nico washi tape

Icco Nico Washi Tape. These just arrived from Japan: washi tapes for calendar and to-do lists made by icco nico, a small online stationery and accessory company in Nara-shi, Japan.

Icco nico is run by Mari Sakamoto. I found out about her and icco nico when I stumbled across a tweet a few months ago of washi tape she’d designed to make any notebook into a calendar. I use a bullet journal, and Field Notes memo books, so I loved this idea.

Icco nico’s initial calendar tapes were in Japanese only, so I waited for an English version. And here it is, from the icconico etsy shop. Happy Saturday to me.

I bought the vertical calendar set in English, which are the two washi tapes on the left and middle, and the roll of to-do tape on the right.

Icco Nico washi tape calendar and to-do

The to-do tape comes in two colorways, pencil and crayon. Pencil seems to have only one size: 3mm. Crayon has three sizes (3, 3.7 and 5mm), which weren’t all in stock when I ordered. Choosing between the smallest and largest sizes, I went for the largest: crayon in 5mm. This is the 5mm to-do tape in a Field Notes memo book.

Icco Nico washi tape to-do

The larger size to-do list lets you write longer items and add information like phone numbers or addresses, which I find helpful. It also would work well if you’re writing your list with a broad point. But the 3mm or 3.7mm would have let me cram more “to-do’s” per page.

On the other hand, I don’t really want long to-do lists. I kind of feel oppressed by to-do lists already. (Because my to-do lists only contain unpleasant things that I actually don’t want to do. Duh. That’s why I wrote them down instead of just doing them.)

Hey! Instead of listing things like “dentist appointment,” what if I sprinkle in some items that say, “you are awesome”? Or, “stop working, call a friend for coffee.” Then I’d love to-do lists. Genius. Until then, however, I’ll let these pretty crayon colors carry me through.

Icco Nico washi tape calendar and to-do

That’s a quick shot of the two sets in the Field Notes memo book, each page of which is only 5 ½ by 3 ½ inches.The pen is a Lamy Safari, for additional size reference. I’m actually going to use the two calendar tapes in my bullet journal, which is larger. One full month of the vertical calendar runs just over 7 inches, so it fits nicely on a single page of an A5 notebook or journal.

The calendar tapes have Saturday in blue and Sunday in red, a great touch. The tapes adhere well, with just the right amount of adhesive to let you stick and unstick a few times till you find the best spot.

Icco Nico washi tape calendar and to-do

I like both sets. Icco nico also makes some other organizational washi tapes, and I’m really glad I found it.


This Cracked Me Up

Sometimes you’re reading a book, and a sentence strikes you.

I was reading a mystery the other day by Josephine Tey called A Shilling for Candles. At one point, the head detective travels by boat to interview a witness. During the crossing, he’s reading hostile news stories and thinking about the complexities of the case. At journey’s end, preparing to disembark, he watches a sailor working.

Papier Plume Lake Michigan Summer quote


The ink is Papier Plume Lake Michigan Summer. Maybe I could make the wax seals on their ink bottles for a day or two, as a little break.

Papier Plume Ivy 108 and Lake Michigan Summer: Ink Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! Gerry G was selected as the winner of Papier Plume Ivy 108 and claudia barcellos was selected as the winner of Papier Plume Lake Michigan Summer. Please contact me through the link on the blog with your name and address by April 25 to claim the prize. (Or let me know if you’re coming to the Chicago Pen Show, and can pick it up there. I will add some extra swag.)

Thanks to everyone who participated. The remaining bottles will be for sale at the Chicago Pen Show, May 4-7. Most importantly, Go Cubs.

Here’s the Ivy 108 list.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 8.20.45 AM

And here is the Lake Michigan Summer list.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 8.24.16 AM