Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Teh suck

The pixie is sick.  Again.  With yet another head cold, which is clogging her ears and making her throat sore.  Sore to the point of making her cry...which exacerbates the problem.

The imp has it, too.  Just not with the ears.

I can feel a sore throat coming on myself. 

Damn it.  When is it going to fucking stop???

Monday, March 30, 2015

Because I was curious...

I can't tell what four of the pens that arrived in the lot of seven are.  Two of them have no unique feature, other than a previous owner's name etched and gold leafed into the side of the pen.  One is the yellow hermaphrodite.  The fourth is the little, three and a half inch long pen with the ring on top instead of a clip on the cap.  I think I got a good picture of that one--it's the fourth picture down on the post from last Friday.  It's absolutely adorable, even if the barrel of the pen is bent, and because I couldn't identify it, I wasn't planning on selling it.  I'm still not, since the barrel of the pen is bent, and there's a tiny crack in the pen body at the top of the lever.  But the not knowing was bugging the ever living hell out of me.

I typed the description of one of my pens' unique feature into a search engine--a laurel wreath engraved on a teensy medallion on the end of the lever.  Turns out, that was the identifying feature: the pen is a lady's pendant Eclipse, made between 1928 and 1932.

I found some pictures, and yep: that's my pen. 

Mystery solved.

I'm not dead yet...

...but life is holding the club at the ready to bash me in the head. 

It's been a long weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Got my pens, and found out that one had had the sac replaced, and someone had done it really, really badly: instead of letting the rubber cement dry before putting the pen back together, they ended up gluing the nib section to the  sac to the bar to the pen barrel.  Which cracked when I tried pulling the pen apart with my fingers. 

And it was a rather neat pen, too--the feed is transparent, and the nib looks to be in excellent shape.

I got two unidentified pens that came without a cap, and one extra cap. (And yes, that is my hand.)

 There's a yellow hermaphrodite* pen with a bent nib.  The cap doesn't fit the rest of the pen...which is what bent the nib. 

 I got an unidentified lever pen with a ring on the top of the cap rather than a clip, and a missing nib and broken feed.  The lever has some really pretty engravings, so bent or not, I'm going to replace the nib and feed and ink sac, and keep it.  If I can straighten the barrel, I'll consider selling it.

 I got an Eberhardt Faber Permapoint with some of the cap decorations (a ring at the bottom) missing, a nib bent away from the feed, and no ink sac.

And I got a Parker 21.  Probably a first generation, made in 1948, with a fine nib.  Yes, that's my handwriting. 

Nothing is  particularly worth a lot of money--the Parker is worth the most, and it might cover the cost of this lot  of pens. 

*The pen is both fountain pen and mechanical pencil...which works and has a blue lead in it.


I just checked the tracking on my fountain pens coming in for refurbishing...and they're out for delivery!!!!  I get to dismantle and inspect very old pens today!!!  Looks like I've got one (bent) hard rubber fountain pen (of indeterminate brand until I get a chance to get a REALLY GOOD LOOK at it) that will need a LOT of work, since it's actually missing a nib and feed as well as needing to be heated and straightened...but all of the rest look usable with just a new feed sac.  Which I will need to measure each pen for. 

If it seems like I'm excited, it's because I am.  I like fixing things, and tinkering.  I don't have the tools or capabilities to do that with my guns, but pens?  Pens I can do.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Busting my ass.

I got the pixie situated with a coloring book and Sleeping Beauty this morning...and then went and cleared the stuff out from between the end of the bed and Odysseus's dresser.  Then, I put on the new Tinkerbell movie that the pixie bought with her own money.  And got books shelved.  And put up a new set of plastic shelves on top of the dresser.  Put the pixie down for a nap...and got the sewing table mostly cleared off so that we can put it up on risers, and make it a more comfortable desk for Odysseus to use here at home. 

I still have quite a bit to do back in the master bedroom today.  I should go get back on that before my energy level drops into the negatives. 

I'm hoping the increased peace of mind from not living in the middle of a huge mess helps my writing output. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015



Damn it, I'm WAITING on the rest of my pens, and beginning to be VERY UNHAPPY with the postal service.*

*More so than usual, at least.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


In soaking the nib and feed* to be able to pull them from the section holding them for a good cleaning, I discovered that the feed was broken.  The only thing holding it together was dried ink.

And, given the time period when the pen was manufactured, finding a feed that fits could be a pain in the ass.

Current tally: I need a new feed, and an ink sac.  The presser bar is in sparklingly perfect shape.

*I'm assuming this isn't needed, but just in case: the feed is the plastic thing just behind the metal nib that brings the ink to the pen tip.


My Waltham pen has arrived!  I actually got the nib and feed section pulled out of the body with no problems...and promptly dumped out the ossified and shattered ink sac.  I've got the inside of the pen barrel cleaned, and the nib seems to be in good shape.  I do, however, need to get some clear, non-sudsing ammonia to clean the nib and feed.  I can see dried ink stains, but can't get them cleared out.

Long couple days

So.  Our washer, a 32 year old almond colored Maytag, is dead.  The parts aren't even made anymore.  The repair guy can't work any more miracles.  Doesn't even need it for parts, because all of its generation are dead or dying.  Were it a car, it'd probably have somewhere around a million miles on it.  Or more.  As 'tis, the last time being overloaded was the last time.

Time to get a new washer. 

We already know what we're going to get to replace it.  It's got a feature I can't resist, despite it being a hundred, hundred fifty more than my second choice: a cycle for extra heavily soiled clothes (read: small boy playing outside). 

In the meantime, we'll either be taking all of the clothes to a laundromat to get them all done at once (three baskets full--it might be the best option) or borrowing a friend or family member's machine. 

This happened last week.  Thursday or so.  I noticed it on Friday, and called the repair guy on Saturday.  He promised he'd call and come by yesterday.

And so, Sunday, I cleaned half my house.  The living room and the kitchen--the biggest mess in the house, due to small children helping make the mess.  It took almost all day, and I managed to do most of the work.  With zero energy.  I just...kept moving. 

I paid for it yesterday.  My feet still hurt. 

And today, I get to start on the bedrooms.  Once I get the cat butt off my arm and can get up, at least.  Most of that will be done (today, at least) sitting on the floor.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

random ramblings

The kids have been home all week.  Home and a little bored.  We've gone through several coloring books. The pixie has been using a kindergarten curriculum workbook as a coloring book (completely ignoring all instructions and expecting praise for a job well done).   And the imp has done a good number of worksheets in a grade 1 workbook--which is about where he is in school.  I think he'll probably be well into, if not finished with, the stuff in the book long before the end of the school year, since they have a full quarter left. 

Yeah, and he's been working through the worksheets on his own.  He just needed help with figuring out the word search and the crossword puzzles.  I'm hopeful that, with this latest leap forward in maturity, he'll be ready for first grade by the end of the year.  If he's not, he's not--I don't want to push him past his capacity--but I think he will be.

The pixie is finally recovered from her latest round of nasty.  She's done with her antibiotics for her ear infection, and she's not hacking and stopped up (which I'm not sure if that was a virus or allergies--I'll be starting her on Claritin tabs before school just like I do with the imp).  Last night, she came to me whining that she needed help blowing her nose.  So, I helped her, and she got rid of the last of the problems: a wad of nasty about twice as big as a jellybean.  Since then, she's been fine. 

The cats have had a new version of entertainment, this week.  The birds have well and truly returned, and seem to really love the maple trees out in front of the house.  Shadow really, desperately wants a birdie.  She'll sit on my end table, staring out the window, chin quivering, and tail sweeping everything off the table.  Never makes a sound, though.

Cricket, on the other hand...yeah.  She talks constantly, and when she's in the window, talking, with the same chin quiver as Shadow has, she sounds ridiculous.

Odysseus and I have been on Spring Break this week, too.  We've gotten some things done, but not a whole lot.  Mostly because he managed to overload and overheat our washer in doing laundry.  It never finished a spin cycle, and now, it won't.  I'm not sure if it's dead, or if there's just a belt slipped half off.  We've called the repair guy, and he'll be out sometime Monday to look at it. 

I suppose in the meantime, I'll just focus on the kitchen.

I found out, this week, that I can't really focus on writing a whole lot after the kids go to bed.  I'm usually too fried from watching them--even when they're watching TV, they're often poking at one another to start fights.  I won't have any grading next week, so my office hours should suffice for some writing, at least.

I've not given up, people.  I promise.  It's just taking a lot more time than I'd figured on.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just jumped.

I was given a bit of cash for my birthday, and I had an idea I've been wanting to try for a while.  So, I took my birthday money to Walmart, and bought a prepaid Visa.  And then, I went on ebay and used it to buy a few vintage fountain pens in need of repair. 

I have one that I want for me--it's a lever-filled Waltham, an almost tortoise shell brown/gold marble celluloid pen that was made in the '40s by a company that went under when the owners were nailed for tax evasion and war profiteering.  It probably cost about $0.35 new, and the nib looked in good shape from the pictures.  The sac will need replaced, and I'll have to see about the presser bar (it might be fine, it might be rusted).  The clip is gone, but...I may be able to fix that, too.  It's a lovely pen, from the picture, and has a history I can only wonder at.

It looks, in coloring and pattern, a bit like one I'd put in my Amazon wish list.  That one would have cost $25.  And not had the interesting company history.  This one was actually made in the U.S., and cost $10.

The rest were a lot.  About seven pens in various brands, including at least one Parker. 

That one is going to wait until I'm sure I can do the restoration by practicing on the other pens.  Because I want to make sure I don't screw up on a pen that could bring in a few hundred dollars when I resell it.

I'll post pictures when I get the pens, and when I get them refurbished. 

I'm a little bit excited, here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Awesome video.

Had this one on my mind for a while, so I thought I'd share it here.  It's not the song, it's the video.  And it's Christopher freakin' Walken.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Random ramblings

So, the imp went back to school, last week.  He did fairly well, from what I can tell.  Four days blue with only one green.  He got 8/10 on his spelling test, and from what I gathered, got everything he was supposed to do done in class, during the time set to do it. 

We're pretty proud of him.  Everything's continuing to improve. 

The pixie went to class on Monday, and popped a pretty significant fever on Tuesday.  She spent Tuesday and Wednesday sick and lethargic, and we took her to the doctor on Thursday.  Turns out the fever was being caused by an ear infection (as was the nausea and other tummy troubles--which she'd been having for about a week).  We've got some antibiotics for it, and she's been perking right up.  Today is her third of five days of antibiotics. 

Hopefully, we'll get her respiratory crap under control, too, since she's got this next week to recover. 

Speaking of, this week is Spring Break for the kids, and for us.  I have a week off where I can work on the housework, and work on finally getting enough rest and maybe get to feeling human.  The pixie has a full week where she's not around the other little snot-gobbling germ factories.  And the imp will have a break from the expectations of school.

I'm sure the cats will be happy to have the kids home.  Shadow has been desperately wanting the imp, in particular--she tries to sleep near him in the afternoons and evenings, and tries to claw her way into his room to sleep on him at night.  Needless to say, that gets her tossed in the laundry room with the door closed.

I begin to be tempted to toss Cricket when the pixie is sleeping.  When I go use the hall bathroom and close the door, Cricket is instantly there, clawing and yowling for me to let her in (the pixie's bedroom door is about four or five feet from the bathroom door), which makes me afraid that the dumb, codependent cat with severe separation anxiety will wake the pixie.  I do love the cat, but I swear she's got less than a third of the smarts of a normal cat.  She's three years old, and still plays like she's six months old (and is as clumsy as a small kitten), and talks to her toys the whole time she's playing with them--sometimes up to two hours at a time. 

As I mentioned, I finished grading papers and got midterms turned in...just before the pixie and my other half took sick.  The pixie's was an ear infection--Odysseus's seemed to be a mild flu.  I'd been planning to go out to eat Wednesday night, but...yeah.  We went today for lunch, instead. 

Odysseus is finishing up the last bits of class work due before his Spring Break officially starts.  And I've got projects lined up for myself, and I think he's got a couple lined up, too.  Not sure what (beyond a couple of requests on the housecleaning front). 

Part of my intended projects for Spring Break is another 18,000 words written on Detritus.  I've got a bit over 17,000 words done, and I think this is going to be a longer book than I've been writing.  I think 18K more words might get me to the halfway point.  Might.  It might only be about a third of the way done, at that point.  It's kind of slow.  More character than plot driven. 

Another project is to finish the cover art and get "Bar Tabs" Kindle published. 

I still don't know when my cover artist will have art ready for Fire and Forge.  I've been feeling like I'm taking advantage of her, since all I'd been paying her with up to now is a hard copy of the book her work appears on.  I'm hoping she'll give me something I can do for her to pay her for this art. 

Any case...I should have some time (and maybe some mental energy) this week, so I'm going to see what I can get done on the fronts that teaching school has pushed to last place in my priorities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Midterm grades turned in...

...I can breathe for a few weeks.  Next week is Spring Break (for all of us), and then paper 4 isn't due until 4/1. 

Time to buckle down and focus on something else.

Monday, March 9, 2015


I did it.  I graded half a class's worth of papers in two hours.  With the exception of one extension granted, I'll be ready to turn in midterm grades as of tomorrow night.

My head hurts.  I'm going to read and decompress for a little bit, then go to bed.

Ah. Time to settle in with yet more grading.

I'm planning to bust my ass tonight so I can finish everything (including turning in midterm grades) by tomorrow at the latest, and hand it back on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

And now, for something completely different...

I'll be spending the next three evenings grading papers! 

(okay, I'll stop being sarcastic, now.)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

random ramblings

The kids have spent the week sick, which has been hell to juggle between my schedule and Odysseus's.  They're finally getting better, just as I've come down with a head cold (which is now moving from my head to my chest.  Damn it).  They're feeling good enough to start fighting, so they're feeling good enough to be confined to their rooms since I'm not feeling good enough to intervene every two minutes. 

I wish I felt good enough to start working with the imp on last week's spelling words and bible verse.  It might keep the little twerp too occupied to fight with his sister...even if it did have the side effect of making him as miserable as I am.

The cats have been...cats.  Cricket has been co-dependent and is back to drooling and slinging drool everywhere.  Shadow has been clingy--she's taken to walking up on my chest and flinging her legs out from under her.  I have to catch her to keep her from landing on my laptop keyboard...at which point, she lays her head on my shoulder and exhales a loud purr.

I have been sick so very much this year--and we're only at the beginning of March--that I'm beginning to wonder if I've been carrying too much stress, trying to keep too many balls in the air between taking care of the kids, and keeping up with my classes and grading.  I cannot let the classes lapse, since that's where most of our income comes from, and I will not let the kids suffer, either.  I can't wait until summer.  And I'm afraid that something's gonna give before then, even though there's not more than about eight weeks of my semester left.

And I'm already dreading the start of Fall semester.

I can tell you one thing that has been dropped, for the most part, since I can't keep up with everything else: my writing.  I've only written something like about 3,000 words since the beginning of the year.  And I do not have the time, or the energy (physical or mental) to do better than what I've been doing.  It just isn't happening, and won't be happening.  I'll be working on getting the things I have done published, and then that will be it until summer, at least.  I'm not giving up, but I'm barely treading water.

Friday, March 6, 2015

When I said...

...that I'd rather be sick than have my kids be sick, I meant with what they've got, not some random head cold that comes out of nowhere!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It never rains...

...but it pours.  The pixie started throwing up last night, and is running a fever this morning. 

At least the imp is getting better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cold and nasty.

So, schools in our area have been cancelled.  Many of them after the kids were bussed in.  Snow is coming down pretty darn quick--at times, blizzard quick.  And that, on top of frozen rain and sleet.

The university was one of the last to cancel classes. 

I am so damn sick of all the snow and ice that I could scream. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Yet another fountain pen repaired.

Back when I got my Jinhao 250 set (four pens, all quite nice, varying in nib size from fine through medium fine to true medium), I was very much a fountain pen newby.  I made the newby mistake of thinking that bottled ink was bottled ink, and nearly ruined three pens using India ink, which contains shellac. 

One didn't get as much abuse as the others, and Odysseus has been using it (the medium fine nib in the silver pen body).  One was worse than the others, and had major issues with drying out and skipping...and I will admit I lost my patience with it a bit, and when the cap cracked on one of my favorite pen barrels, I switched the bad nib into that pen body and said to hell with it.  I'd just about decided to leave it un-inked, once I got the ink used up out of the converter. 

Yesterday, I decided to use the ink up.  I found it a lot worse than I remembered, and utterly lost what patience I had with it.  I pulled the nib and feed...and found chunks of the India ink clogging bits of the feed almost totally.  It was bad enough that it took a toothbrush and some elbow grease to get the chunks cleaned up.  And time.  It took enough effort that I was about ready to set it down and go get my gun cleaning picks. 

I also taped the cracked cap on the inside of the cap. 

The pen writes beautifully, now.  My only complaint is that it really is a true medium on the nib, and very generous with laying down the ink--traits I don't particularly care for.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sick kid.

No, not the pixie.  The imp.  Started throwing up Friday night, threw up every half hour or so all night, then all day Saturday.  Finally got him to stop around 10:30 Saturday night.  He's still down, because he just doesn't feel up to eating much.  He refused anything at all until around 6:30 Sunday afternoon--nearly two full days without eating.  No, he didn't go to school.

Well, let me revise that.  The pixie is also sick.  Hers is respiratory...like usual.  I am really, really beginning to regret my decision to go ahead and follow their preferences to put them in school.  I love my kids, and I hate disappointing them, but  I should have remembered that school = getting sick constantly.

I'm frazzled, fried, and feeling like a massive failure as a parent...not because they got sick, but because I'm really, really losing patience with the sibling who's sicker competition, and the constant, miserable whining.  Supervising my classes' peer editing today was a huge relief.

Right now, they're down for a nap, so I've got a short break.  I'm trying to get some writing done while they're down.  Failing that, I'll do some of the backed up housework (but I'm not feeling that great myself, and would rather put it off until I'm not feeling mildly flu-ish).