Hobonichi Techo 2016

ht cover

So this is my first year with the coveted Hobonichi Techo planner, and I love it. Technically I was able to start using it halfway through December, but you only get half pages until New Year’s Day. On January 1st it goes to the full page-per-day format, one of the things users love so much about this particular planner. My only complaint is the quotes at the bottom of every page, I don’t have much use for them and I’d rather have the space to write in.

ht day

The pen I chose to go with it is my Sailor Lecoule, partly because of the color and partly because it’s one of my few F nibs, allowing me to write small and still have it be legible. It’s filled with Iroshizuku Ku-jaku (Peacock), and I’m planning on using the same pen/ink throughout the year. Some people use different pens to color-code their planners, but I like to write on the go, so I’ll probably just stick with one.

HT month
(not my photo)

One of the great things about the Techo (besides than the ultra-thin but fountain pen-friendly Tomoe River paper) is that it’s sort of two things in one. At the beginning of the planner you have the small box-per-day monthly layout, and the page-per-day format after that. (Also some blank dot-grid pages at the back.) I’m not a particularly busy person, so I like to use this section for more traditional planner-type writings. I use the big pages for short journal entries, lists, and photos. (In fact, just before Christmas I dusted off my Polaroid and bought 10 10-packs of the 2×3″ Zink paper that goes in it.)

Some people get really artistic with the large pages, sketching a visual diary, or making miniature scrapbook pages. Except for photographs, I’ve always been more of a words journaler. Howver, I did buy some stickers and small post-its, and last night I ordered these stamps from Amazon:

stamps

In the course of Googling around to see what other people do with their Techos, stamps seem to be a popular option. (Also with Filofaxes, which have apparently morphed from the yuppie must-have accessory I knew it as during my ’80s childhood into something more fun and youthful.) I looked at a lot of stamp sets and most of them just had too many stamps I would never use. These are Korean (a lot of the sets I saw were Korean or Japanese), but most of them have symbols that make their meaning obvious. I might never use a couple of these, but most of them I could see using a few times a year, and some of them a few times a month. I especially like the little + and – change purse ones; using those in the monthly pages could help give you a good idea of your finances for the week or month at a glance. The 40-stamp set was $8.85 (free shipping with Amazon Prime) and they come in a little wooden box.

(My first choice for stamps was Pilot Frixion, because they are both self-inking and erasable, and I did buy a couple of them from JetPens just before New Year’s. But no American retailer seems to carry more than a few of the designs, if I wanted all of them I’d have to buy them from Etsy or eBay and pay a huge mark-up.)

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Nook is dead, long live Kindle Fire

After 3 1/2 years, my trusty Nook Tablet died on Saturday. *pours one out* It had been charging slowly lately (I was on my 3rd charger, the first one having been left in a hotel room in New Orleans and the 2nd one having just up and died) and losing power faster–if I wanted to stream anything, it had to be plugged in, because that would burn through the battery by the first commercial break. And over the weekend it just up and died; my mother has the same model and I even tried using her charger, thinking it was just the charger again, but nope. Nothing.

3 1/2 years really doesn’t seem like a long time; at the risk of being all WHEN I WAS A KID, the first television I ever bought lasted 10 years, and I used to fall asleep with it on and even have it playing without sound when I read–I found the movement soothing, even when I wasn’t looking directly at it. But I suppose the more complicated something is (that first television was an old cathode ray tube set, which today seems as obsolete as a biplane), the easier it dies. And I did use it pretty much all the time, probably more than my cell phone. It was one of the first e-readers to challenge the iPad and have apps and wi-fi and stuff. I read books on it, used the internet on it (before I bought my laptop last year, almost exclusively; I only used the old desktop if I needed to print something), watched most of my television shows and streamed movies on it.

So anyway, I’ve had Amazon Prime for a while now, I think since 2008, when I started doing nearly all of my shopping online and it started to seem worth it for free 2-day shipping. Which is all Prime was for a long time, so it wasn’t really a factor when I first decided to get an e-reader. But with all the extras you get with Prime now (access to a huge free library of movies and books, the ability to pre-order one new release a month for $1.99), getting a Kindle Fire HD this time around was really a no-brainer, especially since I found out you can access books in your Nook library with a 3rd party app on your Fire. Finding out how to “sideload” a 3rd party app was a funky adventure that makes me dread the day I need to ask some random 20-year-old for tech help, but I got there eventually. I have like 200 books on my Nook, so I’m glad to still have access to them.

I went with the 6″ HD, which is only $99, although I paid another $20 to double the memory from 8 GB to 16. The 7″ is $139, and one inch doesn’t seem worth another $40 to me. I’m kind of wishing I paid the extra $15 to have the ad-free version; basically whenever you wake the device up, there’s an ad for something on Amazon that you have to side-swipe to get rid of. It’s not like you spend all day staring at the wake-up screen, but it’s ugly and crass and I’m finding it far more annoying than I thought I would. I wonder if you can upgrade to ad-free on a device you’ve already bought? I’m going to look into that.

Too bad the Nook didn’t go kerblooey a week earlier, maybe I could have picked up a Kindle Fire for cheap on Prime Day. Although maybe not; I heard all the good stuff sold out literally within seconds, and then it was just an Amazon Garage Sale for the rest of the day.

I now own another weird, random thing I’ve always wanted, for some reason: sea urchin light

sea urchin light

What I’m obsessed with this month: Victorian mourning hair jewelry

This is something I discovered a few years ago and have been hunting for a piece to own ever since. Mourning hair jewelry was made from the hair of a deceased loved one; the idea’s been around for centuries but it was most popular during the Victorian era. Christ, those Victorians were a morbid bunch–although the argument can also be made that it’s healthier to deal with death directly, rather than sweep it under the carpet the way we try to nowadays. Anyway, they say it’s because Queen Victoria went off the deep end when Prince Albert died, that she never stopped mourning (based on how many children they produced in the time they were married, they must have REALLY been in love, know what I’m saying, all that “Close your eyes and think of England” stuff aside) and she was such a strong influence on western culture that everyone kind of  followed her over the cliff.

There are two different styles of mourning jewelry: one where necklaces, bracelets, and watch fobs are woven from the hair; and one where the hair is encased in a brooch or necklace pendant. The latter is my favored style, it can be as simple as just a lock of hair curled inside, sometimes with a portrait of the loved one. But jewelers sometimes got really elaborate with it and made intricately woven/braided patterns or curls or even actual tiny pictures with the hair (weeping willows, pansies, tombstones).

There are a couple of local antique stores with a pretty good stash of mourning jewelry, one in Lafayette and one in Breaux Bridge, but (based on my research) I’ve found it all overpriced for the condition it’s in. And when did antique dealers become so opposed to haggling? Used to be you could make them a counter-offer and if it wasn’t insulting they’d likely take it, because that item could sit gathering dust for another decade before anyone else expressed interest in it. Nowadays you offer $85 for something priced at $100, and they act like you offered to trade them a dead skunk for it.

So I took to Etsy, and last night I found the perfect, and I mean it’s EXACTLY what I’m looking for AND it’s in excellent condition, piece:

mourning hair

Those three curls are a style that was called “Prince of Wales”. The gold threads symbolized true love and the seed pearls the tears of the person who wore the piece. It’s reversible: the pin you see sticking out of the right side lifts up, the center swivels, and you put the pin back to lock it in place. The other side is currently empty, I’m guessing it held a photo that was removed by the last family member who owned the piece before the estate sale. The gold is probably only 9 or 10 k; gold wasn’t really the point of these pieces and they usually had a low content. There are initials and the date 1869 scratched into the back.

The seller was offering this at a price that is more than fair, I’ve seen less elaborate pieces in worse shape go for $100 more than what she’s selling this for. Even better, she offered layaway in the listing, so I don’t have to pay the whole price at once. We worked out a deal, I’m going to pay her $100 a week (I get paid every Friday) until it’s paid for, then she’ll ship it.

The next thing I’m going to hunt down is a lachrymatory, which was a glass vial that mourners (almost always women) used to catch their tears; when it was full they sprinkled them on the grave of the loved one. It dates back to the Romans, but again, it was the Victorians who really made it into an art form. One day I’d love to have a cabinet of curiosities, where I can have all my weird stuff in one place–although that locket is going in my jewelry box, because you better believe I’m going to wear it.

your reminder that some man-hating feminazis (TM) love make-up

One of the weirdest yet most creative and awesome things to emerge from the Hannibal fandom is the series of Aromaleigh mineral eyeshadows, “This Is My Design”. They released 2 or 3 a week while the 2nd season was airing, and finished the collection out with 30.

I recently purchased all 3 Urban Decay Naked palettes, and I figured that would be the stuff I wore from now until the heat death of the universe. I mean, it hits me right in my sweet spot–colorful enough to be interesting but still neutral, a wide range of shades from barely-there highlights to almost-blacks, and sparkly-shimmery. (The palettes contain matte shades, and I used to wear matte eyeshadow, but at some point in my mid-30s matte eyeshadows started to look really awful on my skin, like I had slapped mud onto my eyelids. So I stick to the sparkles now.)

But being a brown-eyed brunette with fair skin, I love warm gold-toned eyeshadows. And the Naked palettes only contain one, Half Baked, although it is in 2 of the 3 palettes. So I decided I couldn’t live without the TIMD shade Apiary one minute longer:

apiary

Inspired by Amanda Plummer’s sun room and jars of honey (the honey is people), it’s got enough brown/olive in it to keep it from being obnoxious.

So Aromaleigh hooked me with one shade, and then of course it just snowballed from there:

woofveneersurviveperceptionchrysalisbone arenaantler velvet

Basically I bought anything that was described as “greige”, had copper highlights, or looked like an interesting enough brown (which was all of the browns, so I had a hard time narrowing it down). Survive, Veneer, and Woof! are going to look amazing worn together, I think. Bone Arena and Chrysalis will both make great highlight colors. (The name Bone Arena comes from the pilot when Hannibal says to Will “No forts in the bone arena of your skull for the things you love”, which I love for its sheer baroqueness–it makes perfect sense in context, but it’s such a weird way to express the sentiment.) And Perception and Antler Velvet will make good lid and crease colors that will pair with a lot of things.

They’re on sale right now so I could justify buying 8. I think I will eventually also need these colors:

lure cygnus persuasion

Honorable mention:

craquelure

My green eyeshadow-wearing days are behind me but HOLY SHIT I LOVE THIS COLOR. I wish there was some way to turn it into nail polish. (My green nail polish-wearing days are NOT behind me, although I rarely wear polish of any color nowadays.)

Capitalism, gluttony, & slavery: MURICA FUCK YEAH

Welp, we don’t get too many 3-day weekends at the job, and I have to say I feel like I did not waste this one.

Friday I drove to the Tanger Outlets in Gonzales, which is about 20 miles east of Baton Rouge and just under a 2-hour drive from Abbeville. I’ve been wanting to go to the Coach outlet there since the first year I lived in Louisiana but just never got around to it. Yelp reviews said that the prices weren’t much below full retail, unless you went on a holiday, so I figured the 4th was my best bet. I confess myself a tad disappointed on finding out that it wasn’t an outlet so much as a factory store. I was hoping for like, last season’s bags at a reduced price, but instead it was a secondary line Coach makes for outlets and mid-range department stores like Macy’s. Everything was “trimmed in real leather” but nothing was MADE from real leather. I’m not even sure Coach sells old bags or factory seconds/mistakes; I think they might destroy old stock like Chanel does.

But a non-leather Coach bag is still a Coach bag, which is to say it’s made by hand and will last for years if you take care of it. They were having 50% off the entire store and I drove almost 2 hours to get there, so I was not leaving without a damn Coach bag.

coach bag

I knew right away this was the shape that I wanted but dithered for a while on the color. I eventually settled on this khaki/tangerine combo, which is colorful enough to be interesting but neutral enough to go with most outfits that are predominantly earth-toned. It’s just large enough to hold all my stuff, but not so large that I feel like I’m hauling around luggage. And I like that clamshell shape, so I don’t care if it goes out of style. (When have I ever cared about being IN style, anyway?)

There must have been some secret discount on top of the 50%, because the price tag was $358 and I paid $108, and that was with the tax. That’s only about $20 more than I paid for my London Fog, and I’ve had that for several years. It’s funny, as much as I like shoes and always have over a dozen pairs, I don’t care about quality. I’ll wear any old cheap $20 pair if I think they’re cute, and toss them without a second thought when they start to fall apart. Handbags though, I’m willing to spend more on. It’s not that I care about the name Coach so much, but since I was a teenager leafing through the September issue of Vogue I’ve always seen Coach as the best handbag there is, and I’ve just always wanted one. One, shit, there were women in the line with 6 or 7 hanging off their shoulders, and clutching fistfuls of wallets. I felt positively restrained, just buying one.

I got home early enough to do some cleaning, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend, then ate a grilled rib-eye and a baked potato for supper. I don’t know what vegetarians eat on Independence Day and I don’t care.

Saturday was my photography group’s meetup, and in the interests of not having anyone need to be treated for heatstroke, including and especially myself, I’ve moved to indoor shots until Louisiana stops feeling like the mouth of hell is belching on us. Nottoway Plantation in Iberville Parish is one of the few I haven’t seen. It’s the largest surviving antebellum home in the state, and architecturally it’s pretty interesting, asymmetrical with some Italianate elements—those rich planters loved their square Greek Revivals, for the most part. More to the point, it’s a popular event center/hotel these days, which means air-conditioning.

I was pleasantly surprised to be told that photography was allowed inside the house, provided we not use a flash. Most of those old plantations don’t allow photography at all; they say it’s to protect the interiors/original furnishings, but it’s really because they want you to have to buy their gift shop books. This was my first real photo shoot with my new camera phone, and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s going to replace my film cameras or anything, but it’s always good to have a digital back-up. Plus I firmly believe that everyone should always have a camera at all times. What if you see injustice that needs to be documented? Or aliens? Or aliens committing injustice?!

white ballroom

This is the most famous room in the house, the White Ballroom. The tastes of the filthy rich haven’t changed much in the last 165 years, have they?

I also got some shots of the grounds, it actually wasn’t too dreadful if you stayed in the shade. I went home along the River Road as far as Plaquemines before hopping onto I-10, and took some more photos along the way.

I got home around 6:00, stuffed my baked potato skins from the previous night with cheese and had that for supper, then spent the evening making some novena candles.

novena candles

Sunday was a generally lazy day, although I did get the car washed and do some grocery shopping. The bulk of the afternoon was spent writing letters, drinking Summer Shandy (beer and lemonade), and watching Oz—between watching this show for the first time (I just finished season 4) and binge-watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black, my visual entertainment has been quite prison-themed lately. Then I made meatballs for supper and read The Soul of a New Machine until bedtime. One of the writers for Halt & Catch Fire must have read that book, because I recognize certain things, mostly use of the term “kludge” and an obsession with the early text-based computer game Adventure.

Louisiana opal

I’ve been splurging on myself a bit since I got the raise at work, but I figure I’m allowed after more than a year of being unemployed. (I like to say I was self-employed, because I was selling the occasional print or vintage camera through my Etsy shop, but who am I kidding, that wasn’t enough to live on.)

louisiana opal

This is a Louisiana opal pendant that I bought last night from an Etsy seller who lives up in Leesville. I found out about Louisiana opals a couple of years ago and have been wanting one ever since. Wire wrapping is how most of them are set; I chose this one because I like the unusual shape of the cabochon, the fact that the wires don’t cover much of the surface area of the stone, and the bottom twists that remind me of a letter S.

Louisiana opals occur when the opal matrix forms inside of quartz sandstone. They are considerably harder and less brittle than fire opals or black opals, and so can be cut in large cabochons and set without a protective backing. They are less gaudy than other kinds of opals, appearing to be merely a piece of polished beige-grey sandstone–until you turn them, and green, blue, purple, teal, gold, and aqua flashes out at you. There was only ever one commercial mine for them, the Hidden Fire Opal Mine in Vernon Parish. It was operated on land owned by Boise Cascade, which shut it down after just four years because they figured the timber was worth more than the opals.

So Louisiana opals are quite rare and most existing ones are today in the hands of private gem collectors. But because they aren’t as colorful as other kinds of opals they’re seen as not as desirable and thus are pretty affordable. This is a 24-carat opal (!!), but even set it was under $200. Because they’re so large, set opals are usually sold as necklace pendants or pins, rather than rings. I might eventually also get an unset stone and see what a local jeweler can do with it, but that will probably be expensive so for now I’m content with this one piece.

I just really love these opals. In addition to being a literal piece of the state that is both my ancestral home and the place I’ve chosen to live, I appreciate the subtlety of the stone. I like regular opals, too–I wear an opal ring that my (biological) father gave to my mother almost every day, but they show their colors without prompting. There’s something special about the hidden fire of a Louisiana opal.

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