• Lisa

I survived the pen show. Or it survived me. Whichever.

Actually, I survived to get to the pen show. Aunt Peggy didn’t have a fever with her bout of illness, which was the main reason we concluded it was food poisoning. But while I was writing that blog post last Thursday talking such a good game about that, I was feeling progressively sicker and sicker, nauseous and with ominous rumblings in my lower segment. I barely got it posted before I had to run to the bathroom. Don’t worry, I’m not going TMI; just suffice it to say if the words ‘sick as a dog’ mean anything to you, that applied to me in spades.

Fortunately, aunt was still resting, and I could sneak to the Imodium and the nausea medication her daughter had brought over. To further complicate matters, though, I had a fever! That was going to be a deal-breaker. I hated the thought of missing the show, and almost worse the thought of having to cancel my hotel room on Friday morning and lose my money. (Yeah, I’m cheap, remember?) but I wasn't about to drag myself into the car, drive 3 hours, and spread germs to a sizable portion of the US fountain pen community. So I threw myself wholeheartedly into my usual regimen for getting rid of a fever: drink lots of water and pee a lot. I did a little dance around supper, since nothing sounded good in the least and everything I could imagine eating almost made me barf just at the thought; but I fixed aunt some chicken soup, and got the rest down with some crackers later.

It stayed down! No more rushing to the bathroom, after the initial spell! Fever going down, so whatever it was I had, I shouldn’t be infectious. I didn’t sleep well, though, and was pretty ragged when I hauled myself out of bed Friday morning. The fever was completely gone, though, and I wondered if it had been more from mild dehydration than from some contagious disease. I was excited all over again! Takes so little to make some people happy; just a little road trip with snacks and water, bumpin’ tunes, and my boy tiny Tony riding shotgun. (what? He never complains about driver choosing music. Besides, a friend wanted to see him.)

Off to the ATL I went! I checked into my room, registered for the show, took a turn around to locate people and booths I knew, and texted my friend about supper. Then, I made an executive decision that I needed some more rest. I washed off my makeup and did something I literally haven’t done in years, I think. I crawled up into the big soft king sized bed, and NAPPED. Falling asleep usually takes me a while, but almost as soon as my head hit the pillow (an accomplishment in itself, since I’m really picky about pillows, so much so that when I drive on a trip I often throw my own in the back seat) I was out like the proverbial light.

Two hours later, that proved to be just the thing, for me to really enjoy meeting my old friend and going for supper at a lovely place by the river.

After a wonderful evening (waves to Tammy), TEN hours more sleep, and a good Waffle House breakfast (first time in days food actually smelled good to me), I was fit to go! This was when I really started to check things out at the show. I had given myself permission to buy maybe one semi-pricey thing, plus some gifts for other people. I will not post pictures of anything I may have bought for somebody else, nor will I discuss them, because spoilers. LOL. Just thought I’d get that out there, so y’all don’t think I was 100% selfish, based on the fact that I will only be

posting about things I got for myself (with one exception which I’ll get to).

Anyway! Lisa Vanness from Arkansas was there, and with her my Ravelry pal Ana. I chatted with them and their friends, and ended up buying a little pen I’d been considering for a while. The Kaweco Sport is a small thing (compare the size to the drink coaster it's lying next to in the pic), pocket sized, but opens up to a full-size writer that works very nicely. Originally they just came in a few boring colors, but as they became more popular the range expanded. This year, they started being made in a line of frosted colors. At the Vanness booth Lisa had most of those, and we joked about naming them; they look like ice cream to me, so we started calling them things like Key Lime, Lemon Sorbet and so forth.

This one we called Orange Dreamsicle, and it came home with me. I got some of the small standard-fit cartridges of ink for it, since the converter costs extra and holds very little ink (I mean, tiny pen, tiny converter, what is the point?) in a color called Fire Opal. Eager to try it, but need to use up the ink in the pens I already have in rotation. The little bottle is Blackstone ink from Australia, in a color called Barrier Reef Blue which is AMAZING.

As usual, I eyed and fondled everything, and bought some gifts (see above for disclaimer). I did see several pricier things I liked, mostly things that had been on my wish list for a long time. Benu, a Russian pen company, makes these gorgeous sparkly numbers, and I got to write with some at the show for the first time (slightly scratchy though, so dropped down my list. A nibmeister can fix that, but it’s kind of a pain, I figure). The Parker Vacumatic, a vintage thing whose body looks like a skyscraper lit up at night, has been a dream pen of mine for as long as I have been into pens. And the beautiful handmade things by makers like Newton and Carolina Pens are just jaw-dropping. Then there’s the Sailor pens, especially their flagship 1911 in a limited color called Fresca Blue. It’s almost the shade of the classic Tiffany jeweler’s box, and writes impossibly smooth.

Despite finding good deals on Vacumatics, and admiring the others, I managed to behave myself. Then I saw this.

The Parker 51 is a legend in the field of vintage pens. It originally came out around 1940 and is one of the most beloved pieces ever—it’s classy looking and tough as nails. Like many older pens, the basic colors are kind of boring, to my eye (navy and black, you know the drill) but it also comes in rarer and prettier colors. The one called cocoa brown has been a favorite of mine since the first time I saw one, but never been something I could see myself splurging on. Here, though, was a set, the fountain pen and mechanical pencil, in the original box, in cocoa brown!

I chatted with the seller, somebody I’d seen there before, then went on my way. Every time I passed his tables on Saturday, I’d pause to look at those pretties, and handle them and sigh. I guess he got tired of my pining, because he started taking stuff off; first it was ‘I won’t charge sales tax’, then it was ‘I’ll take x dollars off’. Finally, maybe he got fed up with my broke ass, or just wanted to make a sale, he whacked the price down to slightly more than half the original. That made the set cost less than what some other sellers were asking for the pen alone—aaaand I folded like a card table. (I bragged about it a bit, to other folks I ran into the rest of the show, and without exception the reaction was some variation of 'gurrrl, you made out like a bandit'.)

Experts suggest you be careful about what inks you use in vintage pens (remember the story I told about the gal whose pen’s insides got literally eaten by a sketchy ink blend?) and I don’t want to risk this baby at all! So I made one more splurge and bought a bottle of old-school Sheaffer ink to save and use in it. Again, using up the pens I already have filled, and then I get to play with my new friend.

The podcast recording Saturday night was packed, as usual, and great fun, as usual (though how in heaven’s name every person on the front row won a door prize is beyond me. Seriously, and there’s no way I can figure out that it could be rigged, even if I thought the hosts would, which, remember, I know one of them, and they wouldn’t! I told them to get a mathematician for a future episode to figure the odds, lol). Pizza and hanging out and swapping stories and pens afterwards, and then home on Sunday feeling much better than the trip down.

Oh, and since I cannot make a trip without doing some extraneous shopping, I went across the street to CVS to pick up some Aleve, and came back with a pair of socks featuring alpacas wearing onesies. Can't imagine why. hehe

Also, the Stipula Speed pen I got last fall at the meetup is still gorgeous but doesn’t always want to write as it should, so I thought I might ask a nibmeister for some advice, if I caught one when they weren’t busy. As it happened, a guy the podcasters know, who is very good at what he does, was free on Sunday morning before I left, and ended up tuning it perfectly. All he asked in return was some photos of my bag (yeah, the Iron Man cross-stitched one. It was the hit of the show. Total strangers came up to ask about it. Makes me happy.) I did end up with one hand on the phone much of the time, but it wasn't nearly the tension-laden thing it was last year with mom's care all up in the air. I was worried about aunt Peggy though, and checked in with her periodically to be sure she was feeling okay, until she told me to leave her alone and go have a good time. Who am I to argue?

In other news, I landed the freelance gig! I guess now I can admit, the sample paper I submitted was based almost entirely on notes for my current fanfic project. (Honest, it was. I just shifted the focus of the government oversight from superheroes to AIs. Ain’t no shame in my game!) The hiring director said they really liked my point of view, thought I had mad skills, and wanted me on their team, so I’m spending this afternoon starting training modules!

Still trying to get a good pic of the Bandit to share with y’all. The cemetery called yesterday, and mom’s marker has come in and been placed (I was going to call them today, actually, so the timing was just about what I expected). It’s raining the next couple of days, so I’ll go have a look next week once things dry out. The only good thing about that freaky-ass bout of illness was, I came home from Atlanta having lost a few pounds, which has motivated me to keep working on it—I’m getting back to my regular yoga, for sure, and working other stuff in as I can.

This Sunday I’m going to the local Geek Girls brunch—should be fun. Report to come!

#fountainpens #family #writing #caregiver #travel #selfcare

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