Closing Down 2020

From New Mexico, a little seasonal joy:

Nearly everyone I know wishes good riddance to 2020. It’s been a helluva year, indeed, with COVID-19 crashing an already strange and difficult party.

The new year will bring changes in the weather and the slow lengthening of our days. Resolutions will come and go, as they always do. What will change? There’s no going back to what “was.”

Of course, we hope the pandemic will up ease with the distribution of newly developed vaccines. Many of us in the U.S. also hope we’ll begin the long, hard work to dig America out of chaos and despair. A new administration is not a panacea, but we hope a lifeline to preserve our Democracy.  

Yes, I know, I know, it’s the Democratic Republic. Democracy meaning no autocracy, fascism, White Supremacy gone amuck. Is that too much to ask?

What is hope, though? It’s not simply wishful thinking for something better. Hope is keeping on despite failure, despite the odds, despite outcomes. Personally, I’ll keep hoping and persevering for Democracy. It’s messy and beautiful.

Even if you’re fortunate to be in a comfortable situation, our country is in dire straights. My heart is with my neighbors who—many for the first time—are sitting in long lines at food banks. When we take our midday walk with our dog, we can’t help but see neighbors waiting for the daily school bus to arrive with lunches for those families who need them. Every time a house goes up for sale, we hope it’s not because the bank has taken over someone’s home.

It’s important to continue to look outside our bubbles and find ways to reach out to each other. Some of us need a great deal. Some of us need very little. Everyone needs love and care.

Don’t miss reading this article from Kat Vellos’s blog: “Why I’m not asking ‘How are you?’ anymore,” from 2020-Oct-19. Kat has so much wisdom. Her newsletter’s an email highlight when it arrives in the inbox.

People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do. —Dorothy Day

Some News

No, the novel’s not done yet. I’ve given up guessing when it’ll be ready to query. Maybe we could start a “when will she finish?” pool.

Meanwhile, I’ve been stepping out here and there with shorter stories.

Welter Journal published my flash fiction story, “Descanso.” Quite an honor for moi. For 55 years, the Welter Journal has been the University of Baltimore’s literary magazine. My story is part of Welter’s foray into an online presence.

You can find Welter Journal Online here and my story here.

Please consider subscribing to my newsletter to keep up-to-date on my writing escapades. The newsletter will be sent out every month… or two.

Pens

In the last post, I promised to write about two fountain pens. Here are my thoughts about one of them—the TWSI Eco. Yeah, just one of the pens for now. Trying to keep this post, uh, short.

TWSBI Eco Sapphire inked with PMF “Olive Oil”

The Eco came to me because eBay gave me a coupon celebrating my membership. The coupon was enough to buy a TWSBI Eco in Sapphire. The transaction introduced me to a fountain pen company run by a bunch of (mostly?) young people in Greenville, South Carolina, Truphae. They’re not just an eBay company but a real brick and mortar store.

The Eco is a slimmed-down TWSBI with a smaller nib (#4). Reportedly, the nib is not removable. You can try, of course, but you risk breaking the plastic feed’s fragile fins. TWSBI has priced this pen low enough (USD 30) that if you need other nibs, you might just buy another Eco. I’ve seen folks collecting Ecos as if they are potato chips (aka vintage Esterbrooks).

I requested the 1.1mm stub nib, a little worried because I haven’t had great success with steel stub nibs. The nib’s sweet and smooth! You can see the nice line variation here on the far right:

TWSBI Eco 1.1mm stub nib (old Staples Bagasse notepad, Platinum Mix Free “Olive Oil”)

I was surprised to see such variation in a tiny stub.

Plus, of course, the piston filler and transparent acrylic material are fun. The pen holds approximately 1.75mm of ink. That’s a lot!  TWSBI provides a tiny pot of silicone grease for the piston, if you need it, as well as a wrench if you want to remove the piston for cleaning.

But leave the nib in place unless you’re willing to risk breakage and have money to burn. I don’t know. Just leave the nib alone. If you’re lucky in pulling out the nib and feed, beware that over time, with multiple pulls, you may develop cracks in the acrylic. It’s not always about taking things apart, ay? Even if you can. Pens are about writing and the longevity of the tool. IMHO.

I was very impressed by the Eco. It’s a quality pen. TWSBI released the Eco in 2014. People recommend it as a “starter” or beginner fountain pen. I guess because the price is around $30. Don’t let the price fool you. It’s a fountain pen for everyone, beginner or old-time penner.

Having satisfied my curiosity about the Eco and still determined to keep my pen collection to a writer’s dozen, the beautiful TWSBI Eco was gifted to a young writer friend. Hope she likes it as much as I did.

TWSBI Eco holding its own next to a Pilot Decimo and an Aurora 88 Minerali

Goodbye 2020

Well, dear friends, I’m thinking of you, hoping for your safety, wellness, and some type of good cheer. I hope your holiday season gives you some beauty and joy. 

Thanks for reading! I’m sending much love your way. 

Continue to hang tough and tender, and stay kind and curious. See you in 2021.

Julie