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Posts Tagged ‘son’

(No) Planes, Trains (Hopefully) and Automobiles

Posted by Dirck on 28 June, 2019

I am trembling on the very precipice of my summer vacation, even as I type. Since I schedule it to coincide with Son’s birthday, I hope the weather will allow us to ride a relatively nearby steam engine; it can run in the rain, but won’t because not everyone is as dedicated as the lad when it comes to this kind of fun. There was a time, though, that catching a train was considered to be worth all kinds of effort…

As is usual for my time off, I’ll likely neglect matters here pretty vigorously. There will be a new story appearing next week on my place for that kind of thing, but that’s likely to be the extent of my attention to my online presence. Domestic bliss and domestic shoveling, some writing, and a whole lot of not Regular Job. There’s apt to be the odd gin and tonic, too.

Today’s pen: Lamy 2000

Today’s ink: Edelstein Olivine

BONUS SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! Regina is over the minimum number of participants for Pelikan Hubs 2019, so there will be one here! Something to look forward to! In fact, looking at the map, Saskatoon will be in on the fun as well this year, and every province except Nova Scotia and Newfoundland-Labrador have a mark, which makes me feel all cosmopolitan and citizen-of-the-world-ish.

 

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Posted by Dirck on 11 October, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 8 October
  • 9 October
  • 10 October
  • 11 October
  • First draft of “Johnson’s Folly.”
  • 17 manuscript pages.

Contrary to usual policy, I’m being specific about what was done on the holiday Monday, which was Thanksgiving here in Canada and thus an actual lounging-around type of day. It’s… possible… that the installment of the writing was done on Sunday, while sitting in the stands at son’s gymnastics class (which, now that I think on it, is where the initial work of my “serious phase” of writing began).

Alas, I lost a day this week to a variety of family health issues– running the cat into the vet, and taking over as the Collector of Son from School office which my mother-in-law has been filling while we wait for my wife’s leg to be see to… because my father-in-law was told to come to a neighbouring city to get a new kidney. Alas, kidney proved non-viable when it and he got into the same place, so it was an excursion to no benefit.

The cat, because I know everyone is vitally interested, has been experiencing Horner’s Syndrome thanks to an ear infection. The ear infection is cleared up, but the eye is still somewhat occluded (doesn’t worry the vet) and his balance is off (worries the vet); we may, if we’re interested, spend half a month’s income on having his head scanned. I’m hoping he’ll improve without imagine, so this decision is being extemporized. We’ve already spent vast sums this month on plumbing and other unexpected unavoidables.

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The Curse of George Bailey

Posted by Dirck on 25 September, 2018

Yes, I know it’s only Tuesday. All will be explained presently.

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 24 September
  • 25 September
  • Second draft of “Kick a Cat…”
  • This thing you’re reading now.
  • 702 typed words.
  • Also roughly 700 words.

Before I explain, I will mention that the Pelikan Hub was a gas, for those who dig on fountain pens, and I strongly plan to attend next year; this means I will also be yelling at people from this pulpit and others to sign up in about ten months. I now have a lot of Pelikans with ink in them, but happily I really like Pelikans.

Now, on with the heart of the matter. On 9 September, while having the regular Sunday dinner with my parents, they asked if I would like to accompany my father to a reunion of his siblings; my mother usually rides shotgun for him, but some minor side-effects of the aging process disincline her to face the demands of travel.

I was slightly hesitant because apart from The Regular Job’s current state…

Yes, I do indeed like this GIF, and will use it too much. It’s evocative.

…I’m the only driver in the house; my wife doesn’t, by choice, and my son is still too young to be legally allowed in the front seat. But wife agreed, having her parents and my mother to rely on for transport and food deliveries, so I explained the situation to my masters at Regular Job, and was granted the necessary week’s leave.

Part of the reason I got asked to attend is because my brother has been to… a couple… of these family get-togethers in the current millenium, while I have not done such a thing since 1996. Why? Because there’s always some damn thing that crops up to prevent me going. It’s usually been work related (not so much a tyrannical denial as fearing starvation for lack of pay upon return), but not always. I have said aloud that I feel somewhat like George Bailey, the put-upon protagonist of It’s a Wonderful Life, who is forever being thwarted in his plans to have travel anywhere for any reason.

In so much as this thought even occurred to me at the time, I put it aside on the grounds that it’s not really a vacation. I saw my role as assistant and chauffeur as well as companion, and that’s sort of like work.

Apparently this view was not shared by the mysterious powers that run the universe.

I got home from work on 10 September to find that my wife was in gasping agony, she thought from an unusually pernicious cramp in her leg. This persisted the way a cramp does not, for days, and she got off to the doctor to get some insight. Consultation, x-rays, and eventually we get the news– through arthritic changes, my wife no longer has any cartilage in her knee, and her hip is looking rather suspect too. We await contact from the rheumatologist her doctor is calling in to advise (while not as bad as US politicians make out, there are some delays in the functioning of Canadian health-care; since I pay naught for it but a small yearly income tax, this inconvenience is balanced out).

So now I’m pinched between duties. I may be departing for thriving, populous Ontario tomorrow morning at about 5:00am, if my wife feels she will be able to look after our son and cats without my assistance in the evenings, and I will spend the following week in mild fit of worry.  The alternative is a week of sick guilt while my father is on his tod in a distant province full of traffic and maple trees, plus the lasting sensation of having caused the waste of money in the form of unused air fare. Unless my father decides he’s not going for want of a companion, in which case the guilt will derive more from knowing that he’s one of the youngest of his siblings, and he may be missing a last encounter with at least one of them.

We do not have any bridges I can offer to pitch myself off of, hopeful of inducing a cherubim in a hobo disguise to intervene.  Even if we did, Clarence’s assistance was more in the line of a feverish acid trip than a proper miracle, and to be honest a miraculous cure of my wife’s ailment is exactly what’s needed.

In any event, I’m incommunicado for the next week; either very far away and busy, or using that time off of work to attend to my wife as fully as I wish I had been doing the past two weeks. I’ll let you know how it came out at the regular progress report time in the first week of October.

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Posted by Dirck on 2 August, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 30 July
  • 31 July
  • 1 August
  • 2 August
  • First draft of “A Legion of Candles”
  • Second draft of the same†
  • 19 manuscript pages.
  • 2,016 words typed.

 

While we’re here– did anyone go out for a gander at Mars on Tuesday when it was at its closest approach? Back when I got my camera, I also got a reasonably good telescope which son and I took out after sundown on that auspicious night.

It was… underwhelming.  The lad peered in, said, “That orange dot is Mars?” and sighed a little when I confirmed it.  It was not a complete loss, though. We got to see the tiny specks of four Jovian moons (and I’m convinced I made out the banding of the planet) and Saturn was showing off his rings excellently.  Also, there was an owl hooting in a nearby tree, which pleased us both.

† I did not actually finish the first draft. I had one of those moments of realization as sleep takes hold, which makes the receiver sit up with a gasp in a flourish of bedclothes. In this particular case, I realized (once again) that the point of view was not the right one for the story I was telling– an observer more than a participant, and I could certainly look through a participant. Rather than trudge along to the end of the draft, I called it quits and embarked immediately on the adjusted version. Since the utility of the first draft is, for me, mainly to get the narrative outside my head, I was far enough along that I’m content with the shift from edit-resistant hand-written work to banging away on a keyboard where, if not careful, I’ll spend ten minutes swapping “which” and “that” out of a single sentence.

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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 29 March, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 1,481 words typed.

Say, that wasn’t much of a week, was it? Oh, but it was busy. You see, this fellow…

The darling Hercule

…has been going increasingly mad from loneliness since the death of his closest and final chum, Oberon.  It’s not that we humans neglect him, but we do not speak his language well. Last weekend, we finally found him some companions.  We had been looking for either siblings or a cat that was very friendly to other cats.  We ended up finding two of the latter:

Names TBA. We’ve just met them. Also, someone else took this picture.

They are, as far as anyone knows, not related.  But they clearly get on well with other cats.  They were, in fact, required to be adopted together by the rescue group whence we got them.  The older one is great with cats, but shy with people, and thus was hard to adopt.  After he had provided support to the younger during a phase of convalescence from the illness which took his mother and litter-mates (which sounds like Victorian melodrama, but is all too true), the idea of separating them seemed monstrous.

Of course, when brought into our house, they vanished like a dew.  I spent part of Sunday convinced that the little fellow had been killed by some unknown hazard in our basement.  By last night, though, they were both at least visible, and the big guy has apparently convinced Hercule that no one is going to get eaten by anyone else.  Progress toward a happy household.

However… none of this has a lot of bearing on the low word-count.  What brings that about is the fact that one of the words typed this week was END, all by itself at the bottom of a page.  Very nearly 90,000 words, which is a great deal more than I thought the manuscript ran to and a pretty good number for a novel.

This years-ago version of my son is SO PROUD of his dad’s persistence!

This doesn’t mean I’m done, alas.  There’s a little polishing of the whole before it gets put in the hands of feedback providers, then reacting to that feedback, then hiring a professional editor to do some horrible things to my ego… at the end of which I will start sending query letters out.  If this seems a timid and over-baked approach… well, yeah, but since it’s the first novel (bar the ones I never even tried to publish) I’d like it as shiny as possible before pestering gate-keepers with it.

It is done enough that I can get on with some other projects, though.  Hoorah, hoorah!

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Posted by Dirck on 8 February, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  2,691 words typed.

As a small indication of the sort of time I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks; I only just now noticed that the thing I had meant to post last Friday… isn’t. Isn’t up. Isn’t around. Isn’t available. I put the effort into writing one, but there is no trace of it whatsoever. This gives me a slight headstart on tomorrow, since I have a memory of what it was, but to not have noticed at all AND to have it vanish is disconcerting.

I will not put this down to the Mandela effect, as much fun as side-slipping through the multiverse might be, but simply to my own stress-cracked brain. To address this issue, I’m taking next week off from The Regular Job. This may see a dose of writing done, since my son will be in school and he’s the main impediment to writing at home (I love him, and he loves me; his manifests as “you must watch this Annoying Orange video with me again” and mine manifests as submission to that insistence).  However, I may also just sleep for 127 hours without a break, too.  We’ll see how that works out.

One of the minor positive elements to not having sold the novel to anyone yet, nor secured an agent; no deadline.

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A Bowling Ball Named Homer

Posted by Dirck on 25 October, 2017

A quick story about today’s pen:

A recent windfall put me in a position to buy a new pen… and by windfall, I mean I had $50 I could part with without feeling I was stealing food out of my son’s mouth.  The very day this happened, Goulet Pens announced a restocking of the this-year-only colour of the TWSBI Classic.

A cheap pen of which I don’t have one.

However, my wife’s birthday is impending (it is, in fact, the very next Saturday we encounter).  And she rather likes the colour chosen as the one specific to this year.

And suddenly I feel like Homer Simpson, proudly producing for Marge a bowling ball with his name on it.  So she would always remember who gave it to her.  You may not recall it; it’s from the first season.

There are a couple of important differences between me and Homer, aside from skin tone and lifetime radiation exposure.  I learn from the bad example of others, and I learn from my own mistakes.  I also pay attention to stuff my wife says.  Something which has come up more than once in the nearly-twenty years that we have been a couple is that she does not like surprises.  Even when the outcome is good (“Here’s a cheque for twenty million dollars!”) she is put out of countenance by the unexpected.  She admits that this is a bit of a failing, a want of flexibility in the face of an inherently unpredictable world… but it’s certainly a foible I can make adjustments for.

So, when the pen arrived a few weeks ago, I showed it to her, explained that I thought she might like it and that it was hers if she wanted it, only if she actually wanted it, and that she could ponder the matter until her birthday.

She declined, preferring to stick to her swarm of NoNonsenses.  So I now have a new bowling ball pen, although I have also made clear that she can have it back at a word.  I’m trying not to get too attached to it on account of this; how can she resist the retro yumminess of this?

Say hello to little Homer.

This does not mean, by the way, that she gets nothing for her birthday. While I still have a lot of credit to ride on thanks to one surprise she has enjoyed, I’m not riding on that– I listen to stuff she says, and have bought a couple of things based upon this skill.  And I’m not going to say here what they are.  It would ruin the surprise.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Classic
Today’s ink: Diamine Oxford Blue

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Unexpected Role Models

Posted by Dirck on 21 August, 2017

Today, I wasted my lunch period; rather than return the flayed flap of skin on the front of my face to the proverbial grindstone, I raced home to share the Great Eclipse(!!!) with my son.

That is pretty much the peak of totality where I was standing.

Wait a minute… by “wasted” I mean “utilized in the best possible manner,” because while eclipses happen regularly enough, they don’t happen here a great deal; the last one like this was in 1979.  But this is all digression, really, because it is writing I will eventually touch upon.

Today at The Regular Job has been very quiet, so much so that I have tacit dispensation to do whatever I liked so long as I was handy to the telephone; thus, I have done a little tidying of the back room of my site, soon (I hope) to appear with a shiny HTTPS in its address and prevent Google from blacklisting me.  In the course of this, I found some backtracks from this very blog hiding among the apprehended spam, and entertained myself with a bit of reading– because, once upon a time, I actually produced content on this thing, some of which was vaguely amusing.

One of the items of past glory I examined was a slightly meta examination of my own writing style, which I’ll synopsize here so you don’t actually have to click that link.  I had found a place which claimed to analyse the style of any text pasted into it, and discovered that the writing of this screed as it existed then was like David Foster Wallace, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Cory Docotorow, and (shudder) Dan Brown.

All of which was somewhat interesting to the current version of me.  Then-Me was about a year away from getting nearly serious about fiction writing, and somewhat further away from getting as serious about it as I am now (which some might say is still “insufficiently so” but I work with what I’ve got).  What, Current-Me wondered, would be the effect of feeding some of my fiction into that purported analysis engine.  Indeed, did it still exist?

Why, yes, it did!  And here’s me with idle hands!

The results are… interesting to me.  Certainly satisfactory, although in a head-scratching way which I’ll explain presently.  As with the last attempt, I gave thing ten samples in an effort to see if there was any consistency in it.  Whole stories, too, not just snippets.  I was told with one of them that it was stylistically like the work of Arthur C. Clarke.  That story, the only one of the bunch that has yet been shown publicly, was aiming for more of an M.R. James flavour, but I will never decline to be likened to Clarke.  Two others came up with Anne Rice as the style-mirror for me, and seven of them produced Agatha Christie.

And here I became bemused.  I understand the presence of Clarke in these estimates.  Rice and Christie confuse me.  This is not a fragile male ego baulking at being compared to women, because really, honestly, that’s not the way I roll.  The source of the confusion lies in what I know about my own reading.  I have read loads of Clarke.  His influence creeping into my own work?  Sure.  However, my reading of Anne Rice is limited to Interview with The Vampire, once, in… I think 1990.  I have read Christie more recently, but rather less of her; a single story, about two years ago.  I have watched the entire run of Poirot Mysteries, but that’s hardly like reading the books upon which they are based.  The similarity of style is unlikely to be a result of emulation, however unconscious.

Bemused, then, but not exactly put out.  No reference to Dan Brown, which pleases me greatly, however commercial his work might be.  “Commercial” is a word one might apply to any of the three this recent sampling produced; not only are they all considered good writers in the literary art sense of the word (none without debate, of course– that’s art critics for you) but they have been widely published.  I am very content to be compared to people who got publication galore.

…of course, one also say “widely published” of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, for a particular period.  Ulp.

Today’s pen: Parker Senior Duofold
Today’s ink: Waterman blue (vintage)

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And Now For Something Only Slightly Different…

Posted by Dirck on 21 July, 2017

I’m not posting a film here this week because, after a couple of weeks of utter silence, I want to put the final nail in the edifice of boredom I’ve been erecting here.  Yes, it’s pictures of the vacation.  Those who are still coming here for the pens will want to stick around for a little bit of flesh-creeping horror, too.

This year’s vacation was an unusual extravaganza, funded by a long-service award handed out by Regular Job (I complain, but I know I could be in a much worse place).  The same sort of thing ran to a trip to Disney World the last time I got one, but politics and inflation took that destination off the menu.  What we did, then, was travel to exotic… Edmonton, Alberta.

OK, it’s not much more than my own home town writ large, but it has a couple of things which rendered it attractive.  There are the Alberta Railway Museum and Edmonton Radial Railway Society to pander to my son’s love of such things, which persists undiminished, and in the same vein there is Fort Edmonton Park, in which previous centuries’ modes of transit run all day long and you can ride them for free after entering the park. Another feature of the park is a hotel which costs no more than any other decent hotel in the city, and booking a room includes park admission.  Thus, we essentially spent our vacation in a very comfortable bit of 1922 (with free wifi, even if there isn’t a TV in the room).

My wife and I got, perhaps, less out of it than the lad.  What we got, though, was freedom from housework, the spectacle of a very happy son, and a trip to Stylus (where a Pilot Elite 95S was almost able to convince me that the profligate spending of a vacation could be expanded to encompass its cost; alas, reason prevailed); so, relaxation, happiness and a couple of bottles of ink.  That’s pretty good, really.

Here’s a quick tour of the trip, with a hair-raising conclusion:

The start of the trip, in which I attempt to bring a degree of civilization to the modern air-travel experience. It worked pretty well, too.

 

A brief spatiotemporal anomaly saw us taking in the sights of Melbourne in 1958. This only lasted about a half-hour (subjectively).

Our hotel. Since I wasn’t paying, so we got the extravagant top corner suite.

 

He For Whom All Was Done, surveying the view out the window, because…

 

…the view out it regularly included a trolley.

 

There’s part of the reason for the trip.

 

And here’s the PRIMARY reason for the trip. Son also enjoyed the Ferris wheel, and was less disappointed by the ride operator’s refusal to let him toot the whistle.

 

This sort of reaction was gratifyingly frequent. Son loves his rail-borne transportation systems.

 

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not an advert one would have seen in a trolley in 1922.

 

Son contemplating the departed spirits of those who travelled across our vast nation in a sleeper Pullman, at the Railway Museum.

 

A little way down the street from our hotel was the Capitol theatre. The building was shared by a jeweler’s, who bafflingly carried no pens whatsoever.

 

Not shown within; the shop-girls who cannot possibly be paid enough to dish out ice cream to hordes of tourists in a building which was, the day we visited, the same temperature as a healthy human liver.

 

Next to the confectionery… say, I got my first fountain pen in a drug store. Let’s have a look in there!

 

AH-HAH! There’s stationery in the drug store!

 

A close-up of the packaging, for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

 

There you go, pen-lovers. Your quiver of dismay.

Dismay? Well, apart from the missing lever in one of those pens and the amazing degree of tarnish on the pencil at the right, they’re all just sitting there in the light of day, slowly discolouring and not getting used for their true purpose. Sic transit gloria mundi, alas!

To end on a high note, I think I should plug Fort Edmonton again.  It’s delightful, one of the better living history parks I’ve been in; my wife said of the people who populate it in period outfits, “It’s like Disney World niceness, with a frosting of Canadian polite.”  I can hardly improve on that.

Todays pen: Parker Senior Duofold
Today’s ink: Waterman blue (vintage, but a little newer than that seen above)

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