What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Posts Tagged ‘son’

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!

Advertisements

Posted in General Blather, Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Wages of Immortality

Posted by Dirck on 1 May, 2017

I don’t believe I’m being original when I say that we are effectively immortal in the eyes of our pets, so long as we stick to relatively pedestrian companions.  A household Galapagos tortoise or even an African Grey parrot will have a different perspective.  As immortals, we change only slowly while the pet passes from one end of life to the other.  They experience continuity, barring horrible accidents.  We experience grief.

This is Cleopatra Harris, named because we are silly about connecting ancient Egypt and cats, and because her hair was reminiscent of Ron Glass’s in Firefly but Cleopatra Book didn’t have the right flow.  This morning she ceased to be, having passed from a kittenhood of nicotine addiction (not her choice, and not ours; she joined her litter mates at our house after a brief stay with someone else who had a SERIOUSLY rough patch in their life which eventually developed to “I can’t look after this poor cat, please take her”) to a seniority of incontinence and eventual diabetes.

Actually, the incontinence was a long-term thing.  This is the cat who, if you read back through the years when interesting things happened on this blog, I frequently swore at.  Part of the expense of owning her for the past couple of years has been buying puppy training pads in job lots, because she decided litter boxes should occupy half the floor-space of the house, and we had to very nearly carpet the place and largely upholster all our furniture with disposable absorbents… which she mostly didn’t miss.  She is the cat who, if I may be frank, was making a very good case for “let’s not have any more cats in the house” in the head of a guy who has loved cats since age 5.

Over the weekend, it became clear that her life had at last become even more a burden to her than it was to me.  This estimation was made by my wife, who was not as oppressed by the cat-based squalor as I, finding in her heart an adamantine core of affection which the misbehavior could not damage or even discolour (it’s not like the cat was actively trying to kill our son, after all), and her decision was based on that affection.  We thus prepared son for the impending loss as well as we could, gave Cleo one last taste of the great outdoors during which the above picture was taken, and committed the act of medically-assisted euthanasia this morning.  She may not look ill in the picture, but she was essentially nothing but a lot of hair around a collection of extremely sore joints.

And yes, I wept throughout the time in the vet’s office.  She was a filthy destroyer of the fabric of our house, a vast and constant drain on our scant finances, and occasionally bite-y.  But she was also beautiful, extremely willing to let son practice the humane treatment of animals upon her, and (when not actively ruining a carpet) a cuddly, loving beast who sought the affection her infirmities did so much to alienate.  I will not miss the messes, but I will miss the cat, because we all contain multitudes and there was good in her even I can appreciate, and what was bad was bad without intent.

We are, once a thorough cleaning has been undertaken, likely get yet another young cat that we can outlive and mourn.  If classical mythology teaches us anything, it’s that immortals are gluttons for self-inflicted punishment.  It’s the patches of delight between the bouts of grief that keep us going.

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène
Today’s ink: Quink washable blue (vintage)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ventriloquism!

Posted by Dirck on 29 July, 2016

That’s what it’s called when a dummy speaks, right?

I thought, in lieu of the usual Friday Film Feature, I’d recount a tale by way of making up some of the entertainment-of-visitors deficit I’ve run up on this blog.  A tale of a lost pen.

A humorous tale of a lost pen, I should say; let the smelling salts stand where they are.

I had intended to use today’s pen on Tuesday, but it was not where I expected to find it.  This was slightly distressing, because one of the few habits I have that is reliable is returning a pen to the in-battery facility; a small correspondence box with a drawer for a half-dozen pens in its base, which itself rests in a profoundly rustic Welsh dresser which came to me through my parents’ protracted move.  Since this pen doesn’t sit comfortably in the drawer, it gets to sit on top of the inks which take up the space one is meant to stick letters in the box.

I didn’t even have to open the glass doors on the top of the dresser to establish that the pen wasn’t where it should have been.  But of course, one does, and roots around.  Did it get in behind? No.  Down the side?  Nope.  And that was it for the easy possibilities.  We then start the unhappy game of I put it down somewhere foolish.

Our house is… cluttered.  My son builds railways on all horizontal surfaces.  We haven’t yet finished the integration of crap from the parents’ house with our pre-existing crap.  We have to use plastic containers full of Lego, roughly shoe-box size, to keep the insane diabetic cat off items of furniture we don’t want her to mistake for a litter box (if we’re not sitting on it, then it’s a litter box).  Setting down a pen without attending to where one sets it, even a relatively large pen, makes for problems.

So, when not attending The Regular Job and not otherwise engaged in cooking, washing, or cleaning up after the flippin’ cat, I was peering under things and into corners, all to no avail.  I was becoming resigned to the idea that the pen would not be found until the slow campaign of making the house a place for living in (insane diabetic cats already with 14 birthdays on the clock can’t last forever…) removed whatever it was hidden by.  This wasn’t a devastating blow by any means, as (i) I’ve got plenty of other pens to fall back on and (ii) this one cost less than burger at McKing&W.  I wasn’t happy, as I’d hardly had any use out of the thing since its recent arrival, but I could cope.

Coping only had to struggle on until this morning, as it turned out.  It turns out that it was in the pocket of a shirt worn on Sunday.  Not much worn* either, which is why it got hung up rather that chucked in the laundry… unlike the shirt from Saturday, which I had roused out of the hamper and given a pat down, because my search was wide-ranging if unscientific.  Hooray!

Some minutes of pointless self-castigation then followed.

There was something to learn from this incident.  Not that I have all too human failings in the areas of retention and looking after my stuff– that has, alas, been well-known for a long time.  It is the simple and happy discovery that the cap seap on this pen is very good indeed; almost a week standing point-up, but not a moment of hesitation when I opened it up to start writing this morning.  Not bad for a pen that costs the same as a ride on a city bus.

Today’s inexpensive, elusive pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

*”Not much worn” meaning duration of contact with me since last washing.  It is, in all honesty, profoundly worn and is a “Weekend when I don’t expect to interact with others” item of clothing.

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How’d It Go?

Posted by Dirck on 4 July, 2016

Pretty well, for a vacation only from work.  Let’s get that checklist from the last entry:

  1. Throwing out stuff I should have thrown out when clearing out the parents’ house instead of letting Nostalgia shove me around;
  2. Throwing out stuff so my son won’t have to do item (1) in 35 years;
  3. Committing small acts of home repair as a proof of good intention to the house;
  4. Small acts of sympathetic magic in hopes of convincing wealth to shower upon my household (already begun, as you may note from the roster of “Rich Man’s Pens” that are showing up in my rotation);
  5. Getting my son as much locomotive time as possible in celebration of his birthday– there’s a steam engine and an archaic diesel within reach;
  6. Submitting more stories to more markets;
  7. Please, please, please some writing, because the boy’s at school still for almost the whole period that I’m not and I should have time even with the previous chores standing in my way.

On items (1) and (2), about a bag from each column.  This was balanced out by the importation of yet more track and rolling stock for my son’s toy train empire (his birthday, after all), which I should not complain about.  He also got books about actual locomotives, which pleased him at least as much as the toys, and that makes for a happy pappy.

(3) was… well, nothing new broke.  Status quo is a win in that department.  Item (4) has a similar result, and since I’m aware that there is indeed plenty of “how much worse can it be?” in the realm of household economy, I’ll not complain aloud.

That steam engine referred to in (5) is apparently laid up for the season, but…

OgLoco OgStation

…there was some fun had, even if things were a little overcast.

I will admit failure on point (6), mainly through distraction on the other points AND some repairs done for local clients, but as far as (7) goes I will offer the threatened large and oddly formatted progress report:

Writing Attempted Amount Written Pens Used (no particular order, and not just on the writing) Inks Used (likewise)
  • First Draft of “Swimmer’s Build”
  • First Draft of “Final Girl”
  • Second Draft of Choose Your Own Hideous Fate project
  • 12 pages and done.
  • 22 pages, also done.
  • about 3,000 words

That’s actually less time spent on writing than I hoped, but an encouraging outlook as far as being able to get anything like that done at all when I’m (sort of) in command of my own schedule.  Hooray!

Speaking of writing things– there’s some pens there without links, aren’t there?  I’d best get down to business on that….

Posted in General Blather, Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Summer Heat and Warm Thoughts

Posted by Dirck on 17 June, 2016

I’m about to embark on my summer vacation, which takes me away from the Regular Job entirely and the internet to as great a degree as I can manage (because it turns from a welcome distraction into a vexatious distraction).  I’ll be using the time in the following ways:

  1. Throwing out stuff I should have thrown out when clearing out the parents’ house instead of letting Nostalgia shove me around;
  2. Throwing out stuff so my son won’t have to do item (1) in 35 years;
  3. Committing small acts of home repair as a proof of good intention to the house;
  4. Small acts of sympathetic magic in hopes of convincing wealth to shower upon my household (already begun, as you may note from the roster of “Rich Man’s Pens” that are showing up in my rotation);
  5. Getting my son as much locomotive time as possible in celebration of his birthday– there’s a steam engine and an archaic diesel within reach;
  6. Submitting more stories to more markets;
  7. Please, please, please some writing, because the boy’s at school still for almost the whole period that I’m not and I should have time even with the previous chores standing in my way.

I may also, if something particularly interesting lurches up in front of me, stick my head in here, but don’t count on any more than a large and oddly formatted progress report in early July.

And now, because it’s Friday, let’s have some films.  First, something sizzling hot pen action!

Seriously, folks– don’t get your old pens near an ignition source.

To balance all that horror, here’s something I’d actually like to be present for:

…and may one day, should my efforts at conjuring bear fruit.  Have a nice solstice, everyone, and I’ll see you next month.

Today’s pen: Parker 75

Today’s ink: Lamy Black (more old cartridge tidying underway, see point (2) above as well as last week’s complaint)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Dirck on 26 May, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 23 May
  • 24 May
  • 25 May
  • 26 May
  • Second draft of the Choose Your Own DOOM project.
  • Second draft of “Late Retirement.”
  • First draft of “Inside Voice”.
  • Mundane errands (insert threatening grumble here).
  • Um… about 1,000 words.*
  • 1,120 typed words, for a total of 2,267.
  • 993 typed words (flash fiction doesn’t get the handwritten treatment).
  • Less than should have been accomplished in the time.
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 60 min.

This week brought another rejection which encourages– it’s amazing how some kind, non-pro forma words cushion such blows.

* I’m slowly working this into shape thanks to discovery a couple of months ago of Twine as a means of formatting that sort of a story (as with most discoveries, it was there long before I found it).  It’s still a back-burner exercise, the thing I do on weekends (or Victoria Days, as in the instant case) when I have a little free time and I don’t have the current front-burner story at hand.  I also don’t keep careful track of how much gets done at a sitting  At the current pace, and with the estimated 60,000 words the whole thing runs to, I should be done it by 2019.

** 23 May was also my anniversary, so I was treating myself.  I treated my wife to a pleasant sushi restaurant excursion, where we enjoyed raw fish like the freaks we are, and we were both given a subsidiary gift of our son’s willingness to cram salmon nigiri into his head without hesitation.  He’s not not picky, but he’s kind of specific in his pickiness, and we’re quite proud to be the European-descended parents of a kid born only 500km from the geographical centre of North America who took willingly to various sorts of Asian cuisine (and peas!).

Posted in General Blather, Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »