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Posts Tagged ‘wife’

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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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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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)

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Posted by Dirck on 23 March, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 17 manuscript pages†

†I took Monday off work so my wife and I could have a nice St. Valentine’s Day lunch at one of our favourite local restaurants.  If the lateness of that observation troubles you (external forces at work; if we could have swung it, it would have been on or near the right date), then take it was our celebration of the arrival of the vernal equinox.  The part of the day I would have been writing in was otherwise engaged.

Also, today’s output was seven pages, despite yesterday afternoon’s tacit admission by the provincial government that they have indeed mismanaged the economy into a dark, glowing sulfurous hole, and thus will be eliminating as much as they can in the new budget of things that make life here tolerable (seriously; 100% reduction of funding for urban libraries).  That I didn’t just spend my whole lunch hour shrieking obscenities in the direction of the Legislature is a testament to my work ethic.

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Posted by Dirck on 20 October, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 17 October
  • 18 October
  • 19 October
  • 20 October
  • First draft of “Discoveries in the Wake of the Last Crusade.”
  • First draft plods along.
  • I’m gettin’ my Clarke on with it.
  • But not today; a task needed doing for my wife.*
  • Seven manuscript pages
  • Five pages
  • Six pages
  • Roughly 6 km driven
  • 50 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 40 min.
  • Enough to be a problem

* Lest you think nothing in the writing line transpired today: a story I sold has been published by they who bought it!  I expound upon this on the other front, but I am… rather pleased.

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Posted by Dirck on 13 October, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 10 October
  • 11 October
  • 12 October
  • 13 October
  • Flan de Café for Thanksgiving* at the wife’s parents.
  • Second draft of “Tale of the One-Handed Engineer.”
  • The exciting climax of “One-Handed Engineer.”
  • And the conclusion.  Done!
  • One recipe makes eight serving
  • 921 words typed.
  • 601 words.
  • Somewhat above 700 words, for a total of 3,240.
  • All day, if one includes presentation
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 50 min.

* Yes, we celebrate that in early October here.  Remember that it’s a harvest festival, not a saint’s day.

** The reason we use pens before selling them on– this one has needed several little tweaks to get the tine alignment just so, which little bits of scribbling hadn’t revealed.  Prolonged writing, however… well, I’d have been embarrassed to have sold it earlier.

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The End of the Growing Season

Posted by Dirck on 19 August, 2016

I believe I’ve mentioned that there is a fairly rural bent to the rhythms of my home province, which is generally a good way of remembering where food comes from, although there is a price to be paid in pick-up trucks and country music.  We hear much of crop projections (good year for wheat, you market speculators), and how well things have grown.

All of which is very, very tangential in its connection to this:

Happily, my wife is in favour of a fuzzy fella.

Today’s impeccably groomed pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s fur-free ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

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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!).

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How to be Content in Marriage: An Example

Posted by Dirck on 1 March, 2016

Last night, just after supper, I took my son’s boots to the basement to apply some commercial rubbery shoe sealant to them, because they were developing cracks between sole and upper, and it’s too damn late in the season to go and buy a new pair that absolutely won’t fit next October.  This is done in the basement, because the volatile compounds of the sealant agitate my wife’s asthma.  Since I make a trip into the basement each morning to do the day’s initial examination of the internet, it would be no big deal to bring the by-then stench-free boots up with me and set them, as will a good Japanese host, ready for my son to slip into and step out the door for his school day.

Unfortunately, I had Mr. Migraine yelling in my ears (or, in truth, eyes) this morning, and forgot all about that plan until about five and a half hours after son’s school departure time.

At this point, I called to apologize to my wife.  She dismissed this as unnecessary.  She had, shortly before departure time, found a thing that needed to be taken downstairs and put right beside the place the boots sat; there was no real effect on the course of her day from my error, and she told me as much.

And there’s your happy marriage in action.  Mistakes admitted and dismissed as trivial.  I think I’ve mentioned in the past that the extent of our “fights” is generally along the lines of “No, you take the remote.  I don’t want it,” and today’s event is a branch of the same root that produces those set-tos.  We do not strive for mastery over the other.  We each treat the other as an equal partner in the household.

What I find amazing is that this strikes some people as remarkable.

Today’s pen: Parker 51
Today’s ink: Diamine Marine (which is really the wife’s ink, but she doesn’t mind it I use some)

PS– since I’m making noise now, I won’t wait until the Thursday progress report to mention that there’s a new story on the fiction front.  My wife, who is somewhat biased, says it’s her favourite thing there thus far.

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If Not Comfort, Then at Least Joy

Posted by Dirck on 24 December, 2015

Well, here we are at Scrooge Startling Day, hopefully all glowing with the anticipation of a happy tomorrow spent in the bosom of a family of however much extension one can manage.  I certainly am; for the past ten years, there have been three generations at my parent’s place, and for the past seven the same has been true at my in-laws, and we are as non-strife-seeking a pair of families as can well be imagined.

This year, there is a confusion in our plans, because in an act of what should be unnecessary charity, we will be bringing an outsider into the proceedings at both grand-parental abodes.  It’s the sort of thing that ought to get Dickens’s various haunts stirring their stumps, too, because the reason we are doing this is rather scandalous.

Our friend has had what I can only call a dismal year.  The financial problems which I occasionally touch on in my own case are the proverbial copes of lead in her case.  Single, she is not eligible for any of the provincial low income supplement programs; these are limited to low income families (I’ll mention that I am technically able to apply for at least one of these, but due to the gross household income being enough the adults present to be above the poverty line, it would be about $30/month at a cost of many hours/month of dealing with bureaucracy; it’s not exactly an open-handed set of programs).  She is working several part-time jobs in keeping with the current notions of employment, the combined income of which almost covers her rent… in a good month.  Because of the increased workload at the one retail job she has, the main and most regular employment, she finds her hours cut to a maximum of two hours per week, to make room for a load of temporary minimum-wage workers– rise up, o rise, you Dickensian spectres!

We add to this litany of financial woe her mother tipping into full dementia.  This landed her in a public care home (the lickpenny provincial government has not quite unwound the socialist works of the 1950s through 1970s so far as to do away with these institutions), where she may if in a state of relative coherence receive brief visits.  Thus, the friend’s traditional Christmas of spending the day with mom becomes impossible.  Her father, long estranged from mom, and his family live about 2,500 kilometres away, a distance she cannot pay to travel even if she were disinclined to spend whatever of tomorrow as she can with mom.

The most deeply scandalous element of this: there is other family here, diverse maternal aunts and uncles and their progeny.  Many of these people have money in excess of basic need, and a couple we might even call well-off.  They have decided to get together for Christmas… elsewhere.  Only a few hours drive away.  Friend was not invited.  I don’t know, and can’t gather the heart to ask, whether this is a stems from her being born as the result of a fling and never legitimized, if it’s just because she’s from the poor wing of the family and we don’t want their kind at our quasi-posh gathering, or if it is down to her father being black and they not.  I suppose one could imagine a smorgasbord of -isms at work and allow all of the above reasons to have some influence in the affair, life being the rich tapestry that it is.  She can’t just turn up where they are and see if they stand by the exclusion, because she’s too poor to have a car; this would otherwise be what I would urge, because then they’d have to actively tell her to go away rather than just passively neglect her, and that might actually activate some consciences.

Thus, my own Christmas travels grow some curlicues, which I italicize in this roster of waypoints:

  • Take wife and son to her parents’ house;
  • After collecting friend;
  • Enjoy a morning at the in-laws (an unironic phrase);
  • Deposit friend at the care home;
  • Enjoy afternoon at my parents’ place;
  • Then collect friend from care home, unless her visit extends beyond…;
  • The devouring of the traditional Christmas Roast Beast;
  • Which would then see friend collected to be fed left-overs;
  • …and home for my merry little family to settle gifts in the house* and loll in post-prandial torpor;
  • …possibly with friend who would then need to be taken home later.

The selfish brute in me grumbles at the inconvenience of all this to-and-fro.  However, I quell that beast with a mental image of friend stuck in her over-priced apartment, casting glances alternately at the snowy terrain beyond the window, a picture of her and mom in a better time, and the cat toys she hasn’t cleared away after the death of her pet at the end of spring (a hard year indeed).  If she didn’t get suicidal from that, I would from imagining it, and my parents’ new digs offer a fifteenth floor balcony as a temptation to the despondent.

Grim jesting aside, how could one avoid the torments of the Spirit of Christmas Past for all the years to come if one left someone in a lurch like that?  Whatever one’s faith, this season is about enhancing the quantum of joy and human fellowship, and happily all the families involved agree with this sentiment*.  So, as you sit down to your own Christmas dinner, be it Roast Beast or Who Hash, spare a moment of reflection about your power to enhance the lives of others.  It is, really, the whole point of being here.

Now, if that hasn’t put you in too blue a mood, and you’re interested in the old English tradition of being gently frightened at Christmas**, here’s Annie Lennox out caroling:

…and to finish with a grin– the same tune, slightly altered.

Today’s pen: Parker 75 (I indulge myself– tomorrow it’s the OMAS Arte Italiana)
Today’s ink: Quink Black (to balance the indulgence)

* My father, who as I have mentioned before spent his formative years in an only intermittently exciting zone of one of the most destructive wars in the whole of history, suggested about a month ago that money that might be spent on adult gifts be given instead to the organizations smoothing the arrival of Syrian refugees in this country.  Gifts for the kids remain, because their lives are among the ones we all mean to enhance, but we are carrying the principle of mankind as our business unusually far this year.

** In a similar vein– here’s the latest on the fiction side of things, that wee flash I mentioned a couple of progress reports back.

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