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Category: Photography

10 Weeks Quarantine

As of this writing, the Wife and I have been quarantined for 10 weeks, and Switzerland has been virtually shut down for nearly a month. It hasn’t been easy for either of us, and I know my emotions have been up and down since the beginning.

For those that don’t know, I have depression and anxiety, and last year around this time I had a really bad anxiety and depression spike. I’ve since gotten help, and medication, which has improved things quite a bit. The quarantine, though, has really tested my new coping strategies. I did have an anxiety attack a couple of weeks ago from watching too much covid-19 things via TikTok. (I have since taken the app off my phone.) I’m kind of surprised that it’s been the only one I’ve had. Not knockin’ it though…one is plenty.

Facebook is also hard to read now, especially anything coming out of the US. Looking at what’s happening in the US from the outside is incredibly scary and worrying. Not just about what Trump is doing, but seeing people I know (who should know better) trying to pass off Covid-19 as “not that bad” or “it’s just a bad flu” or worse: “people die all the time!” Seeing clergy and Fundamentalist Christians flouting stay at home orders thinking they’ll be immune because of Jesus is just appalling. Then there’s the people suing the government because of the lockdown orders. The lack of compassion for fellow human beings is stunning. But, sadly, not surprising. I fear for the US, and for the people I love there. 

In Switzerland, while some people have been griping about staying home, most people are following the rules. I’m lucky to be here with a government that is taking the Covid-19 situation very seriously. It will be awhile before things go back to a semblance of normality (although, things won’t be really going back to how they were, will they?), but at least I can count on the Swiss government to be rational about it all. 

What hurts, though, is when people don’t seem to believe me about covid-19, especially people I know. I’m a former biochemist (worked in biotech for 13 years) and I live in one of the covid-19 hot zones. I’m not lying to anyone about this. (This has slowed down in the last couple of weeks as things have gotten worse, but still, it hurt.) 

Life here, though, has settled into quarantine-normal. It’s hard not going out of the house, but the weather has warmed up enough that going out on the porch is now a regular part of our routine. The Wife and I have taken to playing cards (usually Skip-Bo) on the porch either around lunch time, or in the evening. I’ve also put a bird feeder out on our porch, since we have been kind of adopted by the local mourning doves and magpies. (Eh, witches, right?)

This is a short video of one of the mourning doves that have adopted our porch as it’s territory. They do have to fight with the magpies once in awhile.

The candle in my office window.

I’ve been keeping a lit candle in my office in the window facing the street. It’s my prayers for healing from covid-19, prayers for the healthcare workers, and prayers for the dead. I’ll keep a candle in my window until theirs either a medication that can help with the severity of the disease (most likely) or until there’s a vaccine (not as likely as coronaviruses are hard to make vaccines for). 

I’m surviving, and that’s the best I can do right now, you know? 

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Word count as of today: still 101,765 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)
    • Haven’t really worked on this since January, but I’m starting to get the urge again. Hopefully, I’ll be writing again soon. 
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Started final edit pass for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
  • Poetry For Lent
    • Finished! Deciding if I want to publish any of them on the blog. 

Fiber Arts:

My altar with the altar rug I made.

About 2 weeks ago I started a new weaving project using the last of my red churro wool. This wool was gifted to me by a friend, and is wool from red churro sheep raised in the Navajo Nation. It was a very special gift, so I made an altar rug out of it. I really liked doing the rug weaving, so I’ll be making one for our house altar, too. (I had to order more wool to spin, though. The horror! lolz)

Fountain Pens:

I haven’t gotten new fountain pens for awhile, but I have heard that people are spending money on stamps in the US to help the Post Office. So, if anyone would like a penpal from Switzerland, send me an email and I’ll send you my address. I did order some fancy paper, though, to write my letters on!

Cooking:

I’ve been doing lots of food experiments lately, and the one that I really wanted to do was make a sourdough starter and make a successful loaf. I managed to achieve that yesterday by converting my French bread recipe to use sourdough instead of yeast. (If you want to know how that works click here.) I’m mostly happy with the results, although, my recipe calls for 10g of salt, and with the dry yeast you usually don’t notice it. Interestingly, you do when you use the sourdough starter. So the next batch I’ll use only 5g of salt and see how that goes. But it’s still mighty tasty, though!

Sourdough French Bread

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Staying Home (COVID-19)

Been working from our porch.

I’m going to be real with you all, especially folks in the US: this shit is real. Right now, as I type this, Switzerland is pretty much closed up. People are only going out if they have to. There will be a press conference from the Bundesrat (Federal Government) soon, and we’re expecting them to probably place a curfew, and maybe close the borders.  Italy is pretty much closed. Germany has closed its borders. France just instituted a curfew. 

Take it from someone living in a hot zone: It’s not “overreacting” or “hype” leading to these restrictions. In fact, even if we are “overreacting” I’d rather we do that than have more dead people than we should. I fear for you all in the US. 

Haven’t done much writing work lately because, emotionally, it’s been hard to go there. I think I might start doing more work on it, though, since it’ll give me a bit of an escape. 

It’s been really hard, though, and I pray that science will find something to make it a less dangerous infection or come up with a vaccine. Either way, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. 🙁

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Word count as of today: still 101,765 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Started final edit pass for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
  • Poetry For Lent
    • Started writing poems for Lent. Not sure if I’m going to make a book out of them, yet.

Travel:

All travel postponed for the time being.

Fiber Arts:

Finally finished a weaving project I had on the loom for a year and a half. Unfortunately, it came out too short for what I had wanted to do with it originally. Instead, I bought some fabric to make a sewn version of said thing. The fabric I did make, though, I’ll make into a glasses case, and probably some other little bags. I’m deciding whether to start another weaving project, or just stick with my crochet projects for now. I have the Bacon Scarf (made with bacon colored yarn) and a Van Gogh scarf (with a set of yarn from A Hundred Ravens). Both of these projects have been on the go since before I left the US, so…

Photography:

Finally finished processing my pics from Florida and Schilthorn. Both of which are on Facebook.

Sunrise at Piz Gloria

Fountain Pens:

I ended up buying a Lamy Dialog 3 off of Ebay, and I kind of wish I had bought it new. It’s a cool pen, though, although, I’m not sure if I like it any better than the Pilot Vanishing Point. This one has a medium nib, and writes really wet. The pen I got is also a bit fiddly when closing it up, so I’m not sure if that’s the design of the pen itself, or the fact I got it off of ebay. A little disappointing, but new pen!

Swimming:

Swimming is also on hold for the time being. Figures when I try to get back into it….bleh.

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Back to the Schilthorn

February has been a busy month, but it’s been a good one for the most part. The recent highlight was that the Wife and I took a much needed trip back to Mürren. It’s definitely one of our favorite places to go. So peaceful and incredibly beautiful! I took some pictures (which I haven’t processed at the time of this blog post, of course), but mostly I just enjoyed the beauty and the peace. We did do the James Bond Brunch again, because, well, why not? Sarah took a great picture of me taking pictures at the Birg station.

Gina taking pics at Schilthorn
picture by Sarah Thompson

The Schilthorn is quite something in the winter, and it was really crowded with skiers! I was rather impressed that there were so many people going right up to the top to ski down it! There were even little kids (some in the 4 or 5 year old range) and older folks (some looking in their 90s!) skiing from the top! My cousin let me know that Schilthorn, and pretty much all of the Alps, are kind of bucket list places for skiers. Skiing isn’t my thing, but holy moly, that was impressive!

(Nerdy side note: Do you like my Aunt Hildy hat? The Wife and I decided we’re the Aunties in “The Thrilling Adventures of Sabrina.” I am totally Hildy.)

The other big news is that our business is now legally formalized in Switzerland! We’re now working on getting the bank sorted, and other particulars. It’s been interesting to find that all those years working in biotech, particularly small biotech companies, is coming in really handy!

Novel writing has been slow since I got back from Flordia between jetlag, business, and other stuff. It’ll come back, I know, and my mom gave me some really good plot bunnies to chase after.

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Word count as of today: still 101,765 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
  • Poetry For Lent
    • New devotional project starting on Ash Wednesday.

Travel:

  • Belgium: Short weekend road trip for business. Probably in the next 2-4 weeks.
  • 10th Anniversary Getaway: Most likely to Mürren around May 1.
  • Crazy Trip to the Northern Most Point in Europe: Summer 2020?
  • Rome/Vatican: TBD (Maybe Fall/Winter 2020?)

Fiber Arts:

Not made much headway with any fiber stuff at the moment. Still working on the cotton. Will probably take my loom off it’s stand and bring it into the living room so I can weave while watching TV. I really should get the current weaving project done.

Photography:

Need to process pics from Florida and Schilthorn. Am planning to take my camera to Belgium when I go. New country! woot!

Fountain Pens:

Ok, I have to say it: I think Noodler’s pens and ink are crap. The pens are cheap construction for the price. Basically, I inked them up and they barely worked again. The Wife didn’t like them either. The ink was even worse. Feathered on just about any paper we used, even paper that we’ve used with other fountain pens and inks with no problems whatsoever. On top of all that we learned that the owner is one of those Libertarians and a big Trump supporter. Never buying from them again! Needless to say, we’ve since tossed both pens and inks.

Swimming:

Yes, I am back swimming again. Zürich is quite awesome for swimming, actually, and right now I’m going to one of the city run indoor pools. 50 meters of lap swimming awesomeness! The Apple watch workout app works pretty well, and it has both pool swim and open water swim functionality. Rather nice! Swim.com’s app wasn’t all that great, but it just filched the data from the Apple app, so I went back to the Apple one. My last swim I did was 600 meters, which is pretty darn good since I haven’t done much swimming in about 2 years. The Wife pointed out that I’m much more fit from all the walking I’ve done, and she makes a good point.

One thing I have learned is that my sinusitis is annoying enough, that it’s making breathing for Freestyle difficult. The last swim I did, though, I breathed through my mouth instead of my nose, and it felt better. I think I’m going to use a nose clip during my next swim and see how it goes.

In May (until middle of September), I’ll be able to use the outdoor pool near our house. It’s literally about 2 blocks from our front door. That, too, is also a 50 meter lap pool, along with some general swimming areas, a kiddie water playground, and, of all things, a water slide!! I love this city. Seriously!

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Sunshine Adventure

This month’s post is a bit late due to the fact that I went to Florida to visit my parents and celebrate my birthday with them. I swam a lot, got very tan, and even saw an alligator!

The trip there was a bit of an adventure, since the day I left there was a computer snafu with Aer Lingus. When I was finally able to check in, it was so late they actually had to hold the plane for me! It was the first time in my life that I’d ever been that close to missing a plane. The rest of the trip there was fine, except that they lost my bags. I did get them four days later, but it resulted in me having to borrow and buy clothes. Thankfully, my mom was planning to give me some clothes that no longer fit her, so I didn’t have to go too crazy.

One thing I ended up buying, which was a bit of a unintended and slightly self-shocking purchase was a bright pink bikini! Shocking because I never would have really thought of getting a bikini even a few years ago, and unintended because I didn’t expect Target to have plus size bikinis!

I have to admit, though, I really rock that thing!

I got some really great pictures, too, especially this one of my Mom and Dad. Aren’t they cute?

Thankfully, the flights home weren’t as nerve wracking at the gates, but jetlag, yo. Still not quite feeling myself yet…

I did get quite a bit of writing done (I’m above 100K!) and some plot planning, thanks to my Mom! It’s interesting that when I was writing my second main character’s story, it seemed pretty straight forward, especially looking back at it now that I’m writing the third character’s story. This character even has a completely new playlist! They’re more cerebral, and their story has more intrigue and political chess.

I did read a really interesting book as research for this character, though: “Deep Undercover” by Jack Barsky. Well worth the read if you’re a spy buff or cold war nerd!

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Word count as of today: 101,765!!! (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.) And I’m still not done!
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
  • Poetry For Lent
    • New devotional project starting on Ash Wednesday.

Travel:

  • Belgium: Short road trip for business. Not sure exactly when.
  • Crazy Trip to the Northern Most Point in Europe: Summer 2020?
  • Rome/Vatican: TBD (Maybe Fall/Winter 2020?)

Fiber Arts:

Finally started spinning this cotton fiber that I’ve had sitting around for awhile. The espinner makes spinning cotton really easy! I’ve got the hang of it now, and the thread looks good.

Brought a crochet project with me to work on during the Florida trip and never touched it. Oh well. I also still have a project on the loom which needs finishing.

Photography:

Took a good number of pictures in Florida, and am still enjoying my camera. For some reason, though, the focus assist stopped working, and I have to figure out how to get it back on. I think it’ll be some dedicated time to just do some Googling to figure it out.

Pirate Ship in the bay in Clearwater

Fountain Pens:

Recently bought a couple of Noodler’s Creeper Flex Nib pens, and they’re interesting pens. Certainly does make one’s writing look rather fancy. I also bought two Noodler’s Inks: British Blue Waves and Massachusetts 54th. I like the colors of the inks, but they do tend to feather on paper that’s even made for fountain pen use. Using these inks in the flex nib pen makes things a bit weird, so I might try some of my other inks to see if it makes any difference.

Noodler’s Creeper Pens and Noodler’s Ink

If you’re wondering, I traveled with my Parker Sonnet and my Pilot Vanishing Point. I have cartridges in both of those pens, and I find that cartridges are less likely to be messy after air travel. I might try bringing one of the TWSBIs on the plane next time to see how it fares. The Wife’s brought her TWSBIs on the plane before and has had no issues. I will say, though, the Parker long cartridges last quite awhile, even with the medium nib!

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Rutsch guet übere!

It was a good holiday season here in Switzerland. The Wife and I went to London at the beginning of December and had a lovely time with our friend Bat. Our hotel was pretty swank, too, and I splurged on a mani-pedi at the hotel spa!

The Emirates Tower in Portsmouth

We also went to Portsmouth to visit a friend and potential business partner. It was lovely there, even though it was cold and rainy (go figure). I had proper fish and chips there, finally! OMG! Soooo good!

Christmas is serious business in Zurich, and Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets) are awesome. I went with a group that I volunteer with to the Einseideln Market which is in a plaza in front of an abbey cathedral that has a shrine to the Black Madonna inside. (Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the church.) I had a bit of Stendhal Syndrome going on in the cathedral. It was beautiful only like European cathedrals can be.

Mother Mary at Einsiedeln in the abbey plaza.

I also bought some beautiful beeswax candles, some spinning fiber, and cheese (OMG!). Then we stopped for sausage and some apple fritters with a vanilla custard sauce.

Have I mentioned that food here is amazing?

Our Yule and Christmas were pretty chill and New Year’s is looking pretty much the same, with the exception that New Year’s Eve (Silvester) will have loads of fireworks. Because Swiss (who love fireworks when they can set them off!).

The title of this post means, basically, “Have a good slide into the new year!” There’s many theories as to why this is said here, but I kind of dig the sentiment. Hope you all have had a good holiday season and a good slide into the New Year!

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard/thriller sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan.
    • Finished Draft Part 1 (Chapters 1-17!)
    • Finished the first half of Part 2 (2nd Main Character’s story)! Now starting the 3rd Main Character’s story.
    • Word count as of today: 94318 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.

Travel:

  • Belgium: Short road trip for business. Not sure exactly when.
  • Florida: Going from January 7-22, 2020 to visit my parents. If anyone lives near the Largo/Tampa area and wants to do coffee, let me know.
  • Crazy Trip to the Northern Most Point in Europe: Summer 2020?
  • Rome/Vatican: TBD (Maybe Fall/Winter 2020?)

Fiber Arts:

Finished spinning a bunch of bamboo fiber for a special project. Found out that with the speed of the electric wheel, I need to be careful plying the finer fibers. I ended up with paper-cut-like cuts behind my knuckles from the friction. So, when I did the next round of plying, I used plasters on my fingers (aka BandAids) and that worked like a charm!

Still have another special project on my loom and two crochet projects on the go. Since I have some long flights coming up, I’ll have some time to work on them.

Photography:

Took pics in Portsmouth and at the Einsiedeln Abbey. I’ll be bringing my camera to Florida, so will have more pictures then!

Statue in Portsmouth

Fountain Pens:

OMG! The Wife got me a Parker Sonnet pen for Yule, and I adore this pen! It’s my first British pen (my other pens are either Japanese or German). The coolest thing about it is that the cap is engraved to look like a topographic map! It writes like a dream, too! Then again, gold tips are really nice that way.

Just look at this pen! Look at it! OMG!

I also bought a new Leuchtturm1917 dated daily journal. My grandmother used to keep a journal, and I figure why not continue the family tradition? Leuchtturm1917 really make some of the best notebooks to work for fountain pens, too.

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Does it count as a fail if it got me writing?

I had every intention of completing NaNoWriMo when I set myself up at the end of October. I didn’t.

But in the first week I got a pretty nasty cold that took me about a week to get over. Feeling like crap is definitely not conducive to getting any writing done, no matter how much the brain says that “Hey, you’re home doing nothing, we can get some writing done!” Your body just ends up telling your brain to f–k off, and you go back to bed.

Then it took a lot to get back into the novel because I was at an in-between part (you know, the parts that you have to write to set other stuff up, but that aren’t overly exciting, and you’re reminding yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint), but then I finally got to the Big Plot Bits and now it’s taking over the brain. So much so that there was one night I stayed up till about 3:30 in the morning to write it because my brain wouldn’t leave me alone about it.

So, technically a NaNoWriMo fail, but also a win. The writer’s life, I tell ya.

Left Side Piercings
Right Side Piercings

I did end up going to St. Gallen for a writing weekend. Nothing formal or anything, just me in a hotel for 3 days banging out words. I did stop to get new ear piercings (3rd earlobe holes in each ear, and a cartilage piercing at the top of my left ear). Thanks to Jamming Piercing in St. Gallen for the awesome job! (Highly recommend them!)

St. Gallen itself is really beautiful. I did take a break to walk around the city even though the weather was gross and rainy. I wish I could have gone into the old library (which is a UNESCO historic site), but it was a Sunday, and well, Switzerland closes on Sundays. The buildings in the old part of St. Gallen sort of reminded me of some of London as it was all large old buildings and canyon like. I’d like to go again, though and enjoy the area when it’s not raining.

UNESCO Library at St. Gallen

I did manage to get a good deal of writing done while I was there, and thankfully, it helped me get through the slower spots! Hooray!

A group of Samichaluses at the tram stop! They even have a pope and a synod!

When I came back from St. Gallen, I could see that Christmas was starting to emerge in Zurich. Christmas here is serious business, and all the Christmas Markets are now open. I’ve had plenty of roasted chestnuts and I’ve even seen Samichlaus already! (Many of them, in fact!) I also saw the Maerli Tram (a tram that goes around Zurich for kids that is driven by Samichlaus and they get candy and stories from the Christmas Angel) but wasn’t able to get a pic yet. I wish they had adult Maerli Tram times. I’d totally sign up for that!

It’s interesting to feel like we’ve finally settled in in Zurich now. We’ve actually had people over to the house for dinners and a Samhain ritual! Thanks to all our new friends here for being awesome people!

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard/thriller sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. Two of the main characters are a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan.
    • Finished Draft Part 1 (Chapters 1-17!)
    • On chapter 9 of Part 2
    • Word count as of today: 78774 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)
    • Finally settled on “Unity” as the title.
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.

Travel:

  • London: Going to London for a friend’s birthday (yay!) on Dec. 6 and possibly an additional side trip.
  • Belgium: Short road trip also in December.
  • Florida: Going from January 7-21, 2020 to visit my parents.
  • Crazy Trip to the Northern Most Point in Europe: Summer 2020?
  • Rome/Vatican: TBD (Maybe Fall/Winter 2020?)

Fiber Arts:

The electric wheel is still awesome and I’m still doing a whole bunch of spinning. Have a couple of secret projects for weaving that I’m working on. One is still on the loom and the other I’m still making yarn for. It’s a bit of a small learning curve with the electric wheel, and I did mess up the break band for it and had to order new parts. Thankfully it wasn’t a major thing, and I was back up and running in about a week.

I made a crochet case for my new bluetooth travel keyboard. I’ve also learned how to sew in a lining for my woven purse (the first finished object that I made when I first got my rigid heddle loom) and how to sew a zipper on it. Had to get more needles for my sewing machine, though, as I’ve broken several of them getting used to this machine. *sigh* At least I’m getting time in for all my fiber stuff these days. Even did some basic tailoring of some pants I bought that were too long for me. One of these days I’ll get the courage to actually make clothes.

Photography:

The Fuji A-X3 is still awesome, but I haven’t been out with it in a bit because of NaNo. I’ll bring it on my trips, though. I need to take pics of the Christmas Markets, too. Definitely more pics coming!

Fountain Pens:

I have lots of them and they are awesome. Here’s the list of the favorites of what I have at the moment:

  • Lamy 2000: Classic Bauhaus design from Lamy and writes like a dream!
  • Pilot Vanishing Point: This is the pen that Neil Gaiman uses when he travels. (Yes, that was a writing brain hack there…)
  • Omas Sailor: This pen was the first expensive pen I bought, and I bought it for my birthday last year. It’s really beautiful and the celluloid case looks like opal (which is part of why I bought it). I got it for half price at a fancy pen store here in Zurich, which was awesome. I found out later that the company is no longer in business and that material that the pen is made out of isn’t widely used much anymore because it’s kind of hazardous to manufacture. It’s a lovely pen, and what a find!
  • TWSBI Pens: These are underrated pens in my opinion. They write like a dream, and always start! The other advantage of these pens is that they whole a LOT of ink, which is great.
    • Eco T: Clear (demonstrator pen) that is one of their first pens. It just works.
    • Diamond 580: Also a demonstrator, but a bit more expensive than the EcoT. It’s a bit heavier than the Eco, but it feels really nice.
    • Vac700R: this is such a cool pen with a vacuum fill mechanism. It holds so much ink, is weighty, and writes so nice!

I also have a lot of inks for the pens, but one of my newest favorites is an ink by Organics Studios called “Henry David Thoreau- Walden Pond Blue.” It’s such a beautiful ink! It’s a dark blue-green ink with a red sheen on it. I also have a “Jane Austen Violet” by the same company, which is also quite lovely. Yeah, I’m a nerd like that.

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New Art Stuff!

The new camera!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a new camera. It’s a Fuji X-A3, and I love it! I have 12, 28, and 50 mm lenses for it. While I really liked The Wife’s Nikon Df, this camera is about half the size (and weight) of the Df, and I think it works pretty similarly, except that it’s mirrorless (aka doesn’t have a view finder). I’ve been doing a lot of going around town, but I did get a lot of pictures when Kat and I went to the Schilthorn a couple weeks ago.

Here are the pictures I took near the Zuerich Opera House. When I first got the camera, I took a lot of pictures at Sihlcity. There’s also the set I took at Buerkliplatz, which is across from the Zuerich Opera House. (The picture of the old man on the bench is one of my favorites.) And of course, the Schilthorn pictures.

I’m still learning the lenses and the camera at the moment, but I’m getting a lot of pictures I like. It’s a lot of fun, too, and is a good excuse to go out and explore more of the city.

Ashford E-Spinner 3

On the fiber art front, I decided to start doing spinning and weaving again, now that the weather is cooler. The problem was that I liked to sit and spin while watching TV with The Wife, but the way our living room is here, I couldn’t use my Louet Victoria (manual travel wheel) to do that. I remembered that there was such a thing as electric wheels, and decided to do some research and get one. I ended up with an Ashford E-spinner 3, which is quite lovely and works a treat. What’s really surprising me is that it can spin up so much yarn in such a short period of time. It’s also really nice to only have to focus on drafting! Part of me wonders why I didn’t get one sooner!

I also sold my tapestry loom to a nice person in the States through Ravelry. I realized that tapestry weaving, while really interesting, is not entirely my thing. It was more frustrating to me than relaxing, which is a lot of why I do spinning and weaving in the first place. Hopefully, it’s new owner will have a good time with it, and I can go back to finishing the project on my rigid heddle loom. (Which, I’m sad to say, has been sitting there for months.)

Art is good, and I always thank my mom for making sure I did some sort of art. Hooray for sanity preservation! 🙂

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Yes, I know. It’s been awhile.

To be honest, it’s been a good, but hard (writing-wise) couple of months. August was hot, and I was trying to get some writing in, (I did manage some writing), but not the same momentum I had before my depression crash in May. I did get a lot of doctor appointments done, though, and it appears I’m in good physical health (although the usual fatphobic medicine stuff made it rough going, even with the overall great Swiss medical care).

In September we did a lot of travelling, which was great fun! The Wife bought a Porsche 911 Turbo, which is quite the sexy car (very fitting for her!) and we went road trippin’. We took our first spin up to the Schilthorn, which is where, if you didn’t know, the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed. Of course, we had to go to the James Bond Brunch at the 360 Restaurant! The weather wasn’t cooperating with the view from the top, but that didn’t stop the trip from being amazing!

The Wife made a little video of the trip:

Yes, that was our view out of our hotel room. It was glorious! We’re definitely going to go back again for another weekend!

UN Building in Geneva

The week after the Schilthorn, we took a massive road trip to show off the car to my Father-In-Law in Mallorca, Spain. We first went to Geneva, where I finally got to see the UN Building there. I’ve now been to all three major sites for the UN (NYC, San Francisco, and Geneva). I know, a strange kind of goal, but I’m a history nerd, what can I say?

After a couple of days in Geneva, we drove to Perpignan, France. The drive was really nice, and the French countryside, even from the highway, was really beautiful! The only not-so-great place was a rest area restaurant where there was cafeteria style food that was completely unattended and looked extremely unappetizing. Weird for France, I know! We left there pretty quickly, and just decided to go to our hotel, where, even though it was a really basic hotel, the little restaurant made up for the nasty rest area!

The Tabby that Figured Out Who the Witches Were

We also had a couple of kitties come and join us for dinner. They were super cute, and pretty smart. The waitresses tried to shoo them away, but there were many of us diners who snuck them some chicken or sausage. This tabby seemed pretty fond of us, even before we got our food. Probably figured us for the witches we are!

The funniest thing to see was all of the men have their brains explode a little when they saw us get out of the Porsche. When we pulled into the hotel parking lot at Perpignan, there were a lot of construction contract workers in the parking lot. They all turned their heads to check out the car (of course, right?), but you should have seen their jaws drop when we got out. This happened a lot during the trip, and I can’t lie, I got a certain bit of satisfaction watching it happen. 😉

The Ferry to Mallorca

The next day, we drove to Barcelona. Finding where we were supposed to be was rough going, but after several roundabout circuits, we finally managed to figure out where the ticket office was. There was even a part where The Wife had to play “dumb tourists” to a cop because we were so turned around. (No worries. I think he basically said the equivalent of “friggin’ tourists!” in Spanish and let us go on our way.) We finally made it to the parking area to wait to get on the ferry, and eventually onto the ship itself. I’d never been on a ferry like that before, and while it was a good experience, we both decided that we’ll stick to flying for future trips.

Porsche 911 baby! It’s so pretty!

We had a lovely time in Mallorca, very chill, with lots of good food. We even saw some hot air balloons on our way back to Palma for the trip back to Barcelona!

Hot Air Balloons in Mallorca

After surviving Barcelona traffic and a night at a hotel after the return ferry, we went back through France. This time we stopped in Grenoble. The hotel was just outside the city, but it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. We had a great dinner and breakfast, and I also whipped out the camera to take pictures of the beautiful scenery just outside our window!

An Old Abbey we could see from our hotel room in Grenoble, France

After that we made it back to Zuerich, and we were quite happy to do so. It was an awesome trip, but it’s always good to come home again. We’re planning many more road trips for the future.

This month, so far, I’ve been planning for Samhain, taking our friend Kat up to the Schilthorn, and recovering from the road trip. I’ll post pictures from the Schilthorn trip in another post, as I need to brag about my new camera!

But right this second, I’m trying to clear the decks in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I hope to either completely finish my novel, or at least get this next part of the novel done. If you’re also doing NaNo, come friend me over there!

Writing:

  • Unity Space Corps: This is a military hard sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. The main character is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan.
    • Finished Draft Part 1 (Chapters 1-17!)
    • Started Chapter 3 of Part 2
    • Word count as of today: 63077
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zuerich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
    • Edits will happen after NaNo

Travel:

  • Next Introvert Trip: Maybe back up to the mountains, or Lugano? Maybe in November.
  • Florida Trip: Going to Florida from January 7-21, 2020 to visit my parents.
  • Possible Road Trips to Various European Places: Still deciding
  • Rome/Vatican: Will definitely be going, but still need to plan.

Fiber Arts:

Now that Fall is settling in and it’s getting closer to Winter, I’m starting to pick up my fiber stuff again. I decided to sell my tapestry loom, since, while I like it, I don’t love it like I do rigid heddle weaving or the inkle loom. I’ve sold it to a nice person in Iowa, and I hope they get a lot of great use out of it!

I’ve also decided to get an electric wheel. I love my Louet Victoria, don’t get me wrong, but the way we have things arranged in our apartment, it’s not as practical for me to spin with the Victoria while watching TV anymore. An electric spinner is going to solve that problem quite nicely. I’m going to get the Ashford E-spinner 3, which comes with the spinner, foot pedal, 3 bobbins, Lazy Kate, and a bag to carry it all in. There’s a local Swiss fiber place where I can order it, too! (Yay! No VAT!)

I’ve also started crocheting again, and at the moment have picked back up the Bacon Scarf I’ve been making for Sarah. (I am actually using a bacon colored yarn, and it sort of looks like bacon. Pics coming later!) I also have a project that is months overdue on the loom, but I think I’ll get back on that horse, too. Winter is a really good time for it!

Photography:

I’ve been really getting into photography in the last few months. I’d been borrowing Sarah’s Nikon Df for awhile, and I love the camera, but we both realized it was time for me to get my own camera and lenses. After much discussion, I decided on a Fuji X-A3 and three lenses. I’ll write more nerdy details about it in another post, but I’m really enjoying it so far. Still learning the tech stuff, but it’s been really fun!

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Priorities, Man, Priorities…

Yes, I’m still around. I’ve just been neglectful of this poor blog because, well, I’ve been writing.

I had an epiphany about a month or so ago, and I wasn’t giving my writing the proper priority in my life. I was treating my writing as a hobby, but if I wanted to get somewhere with it, I needed to start treating it as my job. Something clicked for me about this shift in priority, and now I’m five chapters into a novel that is just, well….getting written!

Go figure, right?

It’s been awesome, and I’m loving it, but today I really had to re-think my projects and scheduling. In the end, and with help from the Wife, I decided to switch to a monthly service schedule for Between the Worlds Church. This will start in June, and more information will be posted on the church website.

But, as far as this site goes, I’ll be updating kind of randomly about my progress, travel, and other things. You can sign up via email here, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep updated.

All the Projects!

Writing:

  • Unity Space Corps: This is a military hard sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. The main character is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan. (1st Draft, up to chapter 5.)
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back. (Beta reading/ 3rd draft — looking to self-publish in June)
  • Between the Worlds Church Sermons 2018: Collected sermons from my live services in 2018 for Between the Worlds Church. (Collated, editing 2nd draft — looking to self-publish in August)

Travel:

  • Geneva: The Wife and I are going to Geneva in early June for a belated anniversary trip! I’m really excited to see the UN Building and taking some great pictures! (I think I’ll take both the Df and the Polaroid…)
  • Germany: Mid June we’re going to Bochum, Germany to see Dead Can Dance!!!!!!!!! Soooooo excited!!
  • UK: Possibly a somewhat long trip to the UK over the summer. (Nothing really definite or planned yet.)
  • Rome/Vatican: Thinking about a trip to the Vatican and Rome in late Fall

Fiber Arts:

Nothing really happening with fiber stuff because writing.

German:

We’re about halfway through our A1 coursebook at this point, and finally starting to learn Dativ and Past Perfect tense. Makes a huge difference. We’re also still watching Star Trek TOS with the German dub for listening practice, and I believe we will moving on to Enterprise next (or maybe re-watching Discovery).

Not really a cauldron, but close enough. 🙂 Thanks to Eel and Otter Press!

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