What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

What’s All the Hub-bub About the Hub, Bub?

Posted by Dirck on 16 July, 2018

Hey, I’m back!  And I’m making noise now rather than on Thursday because Thursday is only three days before the end of the extended deadline for Pelikan Hub sign-up! Pelikan, perhaps concerned with the small turn-out in Bremen, announced that they were keeping registrations open until the 22nd, so if you haven’t and you want to, go sign up! I notice that it still says the 16th on the site, but press on.

While i’m here making noise, I’ll mention what I got up to on the vacation apart from lavishing time and attention on my son. First, I had a chance to work on a Waterman sleeve-filler:

It’s not… necessarily… the oldest pen I’ve worked on, but it is definitely in the running, and it’s the first time I was in the same room as this mechanism.

Also, if you cast your minds back to the winter of 2014-15, you’ll remember that I was scraping away at a choose-your-own-cosmic-horror game. I have been working on a lot of other stuff since, mainly because it’s something I can’t work at anywhere except home, and home is full of other demands upon my time.  Well, I managed to get about 8,000 words of second draft bashed out on it in two sessions last week.  This means, judging by the stacks of paper in the done and waiting piles, that I’m about 30% finished that project. I’m thinking of giving up on sleep recovery on the weekends for a while, in hopes of actually getting it into a beta-reader shape at least. It has sat fallow long enough.

I also cleaned out a pen with a mold problem so bad that air couldn’t pass through the feed.  Ug. This pen, I hasten to point out, is not mine, but lest that sound judgemental I will also point out that ink contamination may come into all our lives, regardless of how cleanly our habits.

Today’s hygienic pen: TWSBI Classic
Today’s (as yet) unsullied ink: Diamine Marine Blue


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Vacation Time!

Posted by Dirck on 29 June, 2018

I’m doing this backwards– holiday pictures at the START of the holidays.  Such is life.  And also not entirely true, because I’m looking back at last year’s vacation, first.  The Regular Job is, contrary to my grumbles, not without some perquisites, and one of them is travel vouchers at five-yearly intervals.  Last year’s paid for us to spend a few days at Fort Edmonton, which I documented last year.  However, since I’m not able to return (this year) I would like to support the place by showing enticing moving pictures of it to the Internet.

This year, we’re only getting a little bit of travel in under our belts, but I found this video which allows all of you to come along with us.  And not have to drive through that sort of landscape for an hour to get there, and then the same to get home.  And not spend a whole hour on the train, which is nice but… well, I’m not as enthusiastic as Son, for whom these trips are a birthday present.

That’s probably the last you’ll hear from me for at least the next two weeks.  I expect much of my time will be devoted to the ongoing struggle to prevent entropy from sinking the house, and I do have some pens (not of my own) that need fixing.  I hope you’ll all be well in my absence.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant Tuckaway (yes, twice in one week; I’m not starting a new pen now)
Today’s in: Quink Washable Blue (vintage)

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Posted by Dirck on 28 June, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 18 June
  • 19 June
  • 20 June
  • 21 June
  • Second draft of “Prolonging the Inevitable” (nee “Quest for El Dorado).
  • Third draft of “No Easy Way Out.”
  • Second draft of “Until Regrets Take the Place of Dreams”
  • A fine polish, and a title!
  • Paragraphs moved about! Words reconsidered!
  • 2,233 words typed.


(Good heavens, the spectators gasp, can there be anything more in such a jam-packed week?)

…I got a positive swarm of story submissions out.  This is important for a couple of reasons:

  1. Unsubmitted stories are unpublished stories;
  2. Novel writing is, apparently, a big distraction from submitting.

I got a little out of the habit.  It’s one I should nurture, so I’m glad to have been at it so vigorously this week.

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An Old Saying About Mohammed

Posted by Dirck on 25 June, 2018

I bet I get in trouble with search engines for that title. I invert the old saying, though.  The mountain had been made to come to me.

The mountain is Montblanc, and those who looked at the progress report last week will be unsurprised to hear that I now have a Montblanc pen.  Here, let me show it to you:

I do, I’ll admit freely, think this is a splendid colour for a pen.

That is, during the 1960s, very nearly the cheapest thing Montblanc made. I suspect it is the lingering effects of this historic fact which made it possible for the residue of payment for my biggest fiction sale to date to bring this pen to my hand, along with the seller admitting that there is a tiny dent on the tail, barely perceptible to human vision.  Pen collectors are a funny bunch.

So, here I am, Montblanc Owner. I have had a couple of weeks now to enjoy it, to appreciate its transcendent pen-ness, to revel in the supernal perfection that is a Montblanc pen.

Oddly, my response is… muted.  “S’nice, I guess,” is about as hard as it hits me.  While I don’t think it’s a substantially worse pen than the 149s which I have handled, for all that it is a much more humble member of the family, this only means that my previous and equally muted opinion of the company’s flagship is confirmed.  Pretty nice.  Not a transcendent supernal &ct experience.

Some of this is the effect of expectations, I should think.  When the company suggests that there should be a celestial chorus humming in the background when its products are even mentioned, never mind used, the real thing is hardly going to live up to expectations (unless it’s coated in some transdermal Sched. 1 chemicals, and I doubt that’s a marketing campaign with legs).

There’s also, probably, some element of broad experience at play.  I’ve used a lot of pens; some I own, some are just passing through my hands while getting a new sac or some similar procedure.  Some of them, a very few, do get close to the sort or eyes rolled back, feet dangling clear of the floor, borne aloft by a pillar of light experience words like “supernal” are properly applied to.  The little Tuckaway I also started carrying last week is a good example.  It came to me as a trade in lieu of payment for work on another pen, and I really like the oblique stub on it.

Yes, a mid-century Sheaffer triumph point stub. I’ll bet right now a few of you who know are feeling a little giddy at the prospect.  And it’s obliquity is very small, too.

The point is, I know what a very nice pen feels like. We should admit subjective preference into this as well, because one of the things I look for in very nice pen is “does not weigh too much” and there are many who take comfort in having their hand pinned to the desk by a massive pen.  They are tragically mistaken I can’t insist that I’m right and they’re not, and the same goes in matters of point stiffness, barrel width, and a host of other variables.  In the case of Montblancs, or at least the ones I’ve encountered to date, I find that the confluence of my likes, my expectations, and their attributes produces no particular passion.

Unlike the Pelikan P1 which is also currently in rotation. It’s dreeeeammmmmy, and I can offer no quantifiable advantage it has over the Montblanc to establish this superiority. Having had to do with the competition has apparently not turned my head from my true soul-mate.

Today’s pen: The self-same Montblanc 32
Today’s ink: Montblanc Racing Green

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Excellent for Clogged Drains

Posted by Dirck on 22 June, 2018

I’m returning to a source I recently used for today’s diversion, and it is again a mere voice rather than a set of moving images.  I think I’m right in saying that this could, with the right application of talent, be a pretty amazing film.

And now that you’ve listened, the title of this entry makes some sense. For some reason, when I was listening to it, I was struck by what a giant leap of the imagination the concept of interplanetary travel was when this was made; this was a time, after all, when there was no such thing as an extra-atmospheric launch, and the broader popular conception of rockets turned either toward fireworks or that skater in the newsreels who set his pants on fire.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant Tuckaway
Today’s in: Quink Washable Blue (vintage)

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Posted by Dirck on 21 June, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 18 June
  • 19 June
  • 20 June
  • 21 June
  • First draft of “Quest for El Dorado” (which I must settle on the true name of, as it’s just shy of done).
  • 1,801 typed words.

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Time to Go

Posted by Dirck on 15 June, 2018

The latter part of Friday at the doorway to official summer– whose thoughts might not turn to getting away from it all?

My wife and I have different opinions on this. I quite like it for the telling. She is put off by the story. Thus do we prove we are not just one person.

Today’s pen: Wing Sung 601
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Posted by Dirck on 14 June, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 11 June
  • 12 June
  • 13 June
  • 7 June
  • First draft of “Quest for El Dorado” (working title)†
  • 2350 typed words‡

† The working title is because this story is not my own idea. I’m pursuing the Owl Creek Press Short Story Hackathon, which provides opening and closing paragraphs, and I don’t produce titles without a long gestation.  Since this thing has a deadline of 1 July, I’d better sort it out sooner than later.

‡ In the interest of brisk production, I’m stepping outside my usual policy of a hand-written first draft. So far, the deadline is providing sufficient forward momentum that the change isn’t too jarring; one of the reasons for the policy is the prevention of endless fiddling with one troublesome paragraph at the cost of never finishing the damn story. I have a sound historical basis for this policy.

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Convention? Coven? Who Can Tell?

Posted by Dirck on 8 June, 2018

In my best Professor Farnsworth voice: Good news, everyone!

The wand mentioned two entries back has been waved, and there will a Pelikan Hub in what many people would call the middle of nowhere.  We who live here know better, though.  We’re slightly north-east of the geographical centre of North American nowhere.

ANYWAY, for today’s film, I’m just providing a link to an item our national broadcasting service, CBC, aired last week, which gives a sense of the sort of thing that goes one went you get a sufficient quantity of pen-fanciers hemmed into a closed space. No video, and you’ll have to scroll down a little to find the button that launches the audio.

It’s nice. But then, so are we generally (both Canadians and pen-folks).

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Sovereign II
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Myosotis

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Posted by Dirck on 7 June, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 4 June
  • 5 June
  • 6 June
  • 7 June
  • First draft of “Until Regrets Take the Place of Dreams”
  • 27 manuscript pages.

Have you read the entry I made earlier today? You should. It’s far more interesting, and contains time-sensitive material.

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