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The analog joy of a Traveler's Notebook meetup.

Stack of Traveler's Notebooks

Today I attended a Traveler’s Notebook meetup at Oblation Papers and Press, Portland’s premiere paper boutique and letterpress studio, and one of my favorite places on Earth.

I bought my first Traveler’s Notebook in May 2010. The first words I wrote in it were, “I know, I know – a new notebook, really?” Yes, really, self. And look at me, eight years later, meeting other people who probably wrote similar sentences in their own similar notebooks.

The future, despite the decidedly dystopian trajectory, can still contain glorious moments of geekery.

A certain giddiness engulfs the soul when surrounded by people who express their creativity with the same tools. I get this feeling in a posse of writers and I got the same feeling today. Our host, Kelly, exuded delight as she remarked on the fascinating ways in which each of us had customized our notebooks. I brought some journaling supplies to share and inked some fountain pens too, but I needn’t have over-prepared because Oblation provided inks to try with dip pens, stamps and ink pads, washi tape, stickers, and goodie bags containing paper samples and other ephemera.

And so our version of a group photo contains zero people. Or does it? Here we are: our notebooks as our avatars, blank canvases turned into journals, into sketchbooks, into planners, into endless possibilities.

Day 363 of Project 365: Turning the page.

Tonight I turned the page to peek at 2017. It looks so clean and new from here. I am sure 2016 looked much the same, last December 28th. Is it foolish to look forward to a symbolic fresh start? Are these merely the first few hours of our darker days?

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: Carrie Fisher being interviewed in 1977 about “Star Wars”. In French. She really was awesome.

 

Day 362 of Project 365: Fireblue.

Here is my first Kaweco, a Liliput Fireblue, which is one of the smallest fountain pens – less than four inches long when capped! Each pen is hand-torched by Kaweco CEO Michael Gutberlet to give it the distinctively mottled steel finish. I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces in future ink tests!

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Day 334 of Project 365: Refilling the tank.

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Some people unwind after a long workday with a martini. I refill fountain pens.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the rain.

Day 299 of Project 365: Tea without sugar.

I’ve introduced FunkyPlaid to “Detectorists” and I’m enjoying it even more the second time around.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: that great theme song again.

https://open.spotify.com/track/0jp1YFgWn67BtAVDZRaSqM

Day 277 of Project 365: Journal flourishes.

I’m experimenting with some additions to my Bullet Journal, some functional and some just for fun. Clockwise from the upper left: a rubber stamp to add some flair in a boring corner; a weekly list that I tipped in with washi tape; and a sticker from an ephemera set I found at Flax Art & Design many years ago.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the whir of the laptop fan.

Day 271 of Project 365: Book Darts.

As part of an ongoing attempt to wrangle my ever-growing task list, I have been searching for a simple way to earmark important tasks that may get buried in the Bullet Journal format. Then I remembered Book Darts, little pieces of paper-thin metal that slide onto the edge of a page.

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Every morning, I slip a Book Dart next to each of the day’s three Most Important Tasks. Book Darts slide on easily and don’t budge, even on thin Tomoe River paper, until I slide them off again. Simple, reusable, and elegant.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Reunite” by Isbells.

https://open.spotify.com/track/3FZp9Dzst1a9cnVJuxxtvH

Day 263 of Project 365: Stormy grey.

I’m embracing the season-appropriate inks today. J. Herbin’s Stormy Grey – their 1670 Anniversary Ink from 2014 – is a lovely deep grey with gold flecks.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the pilot episode of “iZombie”.

Day 252 of Project 365: Analog vs. digital.

I love my notebook, but on days like today I worry that my analog to-do list isn’t capable of handling everything I throw at it. Occasionally I flirt with a digital task manager …

And then I think of all of the ink I’d be missing out on.

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Writing from: my study in Portland. Listening to: FunkyPlaid watching NFL.

Day 245 of Project 365: Hand-lettering.

I managed a little hand-lettering practice before bed tonight. Cristina Vanko’s “Hand-Lettering for Everyone” is great stuff, especially for the typography basics.

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  • Ink: Diamine Ancient Copper
  • Pen: Conklin All-American (1.1mm italic nib)
  • Paper: Bloc Rhodia No. 16

Writing from: my study in Portland. Listening to: the freight trains.

Day 231 of Project 365: Notebook time.

Every Thursday, I share a productivity tip with my work team. Today I shared the Bullet Journal system in honor of its third birthday. And I had Goulet Pens’ refills for my own Bullet Journal waiting for me when I got home tonight. Time to play with my notebook!

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Writing from: my sticky study. Listening to: the crickets just outside.

Day 67 of Project 365: Noodler's Apache Sunset.

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It was a long, dark time with only one bottle of ink, but I now have another one that brightens things up considerably: Noodler’s Apache Sunset. I’ve been interested in this ink for a while, and after seeing it perform in Brian Goulet’s review of his top seven shading inks I decided I’d shove myself out of my comfort zone enough to try an orange ink.

Apache Sunset does not disappoint. It has a crazy amount of shading, even with a fine nib, from pale gold to vermilion. And this is on a Rhodia No. 16 6 x 8 1⁄4″ Spiral Dot Grid notepad. Things get even wackier on Tomoe River paper, but that will have to wait for a proper ink review.

Writing from: a quiet room in Marin. Listening to: the rattle of a floor register. (Zen guards the heat greedily.)  

Day 65 of Project 365: Notebook bits and bobs.

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In the film adaptation of my life, my jaunty sidekick would be my notebook. It has always been my notebook, ever since I knew how to write in one. When I was still young and wanted to grow up to be a librarian / private investigator / Indiana Jones hybrid, I would catalog seemingly random details of the world around me in a spiral reporter’s notebook.

These days I write in a Midori Traveler’s Notebook, which was a gift from FunkyPlaid a few years ago. Currently the Traveler’s Notebook (or MTN, or Midori, for short) has a significant cult following, but I didn’t know about that when I first saw one in a Japanese stationery store in downtown San Francisco. I remember being entranced by the rugged yet classic cover that ages with use. (It looked like something a librarian / private investigator / Indiana Jones hybrid would carry!) The notebook is easy to personalize, too, because it takes its own brand of refills as well as any other brands in the general 8” x 5” size. And then there are the accessories. I decided to photograph some of mine today. Hamilton fans will recognize the stickers, which were terrific gifts from my friend Sharks. The monkey-knot elastic closure and the monkey-knot bookmark are both Etsy finds, and the little amber and silver charm is a token from Mr Wood’s Fossils in Edinburgh.

All of this adds up to a pleasant writing experience that makes me feel a little like a librarian / private investigator / Indiana Jones hybrid. Which is important to me because that is still my dream job.

Writing from: a quiet room in Marin. Listening to: so much rain!

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.