The Post Where I Write About Dinosaurs (Teaser!)

Wow, the whole month is nearly gone! I almost forgot to post my monthly update! The biggest news it that I am now fully vaccinated! It’s almost surreal to realize I can now leave the house. I’ll still wear a mask because aerosols, and I’m not an idiot, but at least, with the vaccine I won’t die if I get COVID.

It’ll take time to really get used to being able to go out and about again. The Wife and I are going to take it slow, though. Short walks around the neighborhood, etc. Anxiety is real.

On a better note, I’ve been writing the last of the novels for my first series. It’s been a bit rough going, but I’m really liking this story a lot. My favorite characters are “The George” which are brontosaurus like creatures on a colony that is modeled after Switzerland. Here’s an excerpt:

I nodded. “We can do that later. Right now, I have an important appointment with my nephew. If you’d take a seat?” I pointed with my chin towards the benches against the porch railing. I could finally hear the stomping of the George through the forest undergrowth. “Can you hear them, Nicoli? They’re on their way!” Nico forgot his shyness with the strangers, sat up and started waving his George plushie.

“What is that?” asked Marcus with awe.

“Wait,” I said, and a minute later the first George appeared, walking slowly and chewing off tree leaves as it came out of the forest into the clearing. “Remember, quiet, Nicoli,” I said. The child nodded solemnly, but was still waving his George. The first George was taller than the cars that were parked in the driveway, with a long neck and tail, green, scaly skin, and large feet like an elephant. It looked like a smaller version of pictures I’d seen of the Earth dinosaur Brontosaurus. They were sweet animals and Nico was in love with them.

“Oh my,” whispered Marcus as more of the George came out of the forest. 

“What are they?” asked the woman. 

I smiled. “They’re the George, or Onerosus modestus if you want to be scientific about it. They’re the major fauna on this continent. Don’t worry, they’re herbivores.”

“Fascinating,” she said. “But why George?”

I chuckled quietly. “The head of the science team that first came on to Schwyz who discovered them had a four year old who saw them and immediately called them George. No matter what else they tried to call them, George always stuck. They’re a huge favorite with the kids, including Nico here.” Nico looked up at me and smiled, then went back to staring at the George.

More of the George came out of the forest and wandered through the fields, coming towards the house. There were several small George, and when Nico saw them, he whispered, “Un-ka Ya-na! Baby George!”

“I see them! There’s a lot of them this time, aren’t there!”

Nico nodded. I pressed my wristcom to call the others, and Yuna came out first with a large bowl of the local lettuce-type plant. She started at the strangers on the porch, but didn’t say anything. She carefully brought one of the chairs over and sat next to us, handing a large leaf to Nico. His eyes lit up, and with his free hand he held the leaf high. One of the George finally saw the humans and came lumbering over to the porch, and with a deep rumbling “Mmmmwahw,” gently nibbled the leaf from Nico’s hand. Yuna quickly gave him another leaf, the toddler held it up and the George took it. I heard the rest of the family come out of the house, moving slowly with their own bowls. The other George saw the new humans and came over to investigate, including the young ones. Lina went over to Marcus and the woman and handed them her bowl of leaves. Marcus looked dubious, but the woman pulled out a couple of leaves from the bowl and held them up. One of the other George came over, gave its own “Mmmmmwahw,” and nibbled her leaf. When it was done it looked curiously at her bright red hair, leaned over, sniffed, then wuffed at the hair trying to nibble it. I stifled my laugh as she went wide eyed and still. The George, finally figuring out it wasn’t a new kind of leaf, blew out another breath, then went for the bowl of leaves. Marcus took it and held it up for the George, and the George munched happily. 

Yuna leaned over and said to Nico, “You want to feed the babies?” Nico nodded enthusiastically, and Yuna picked him up and took him down the stairs of the porch with the bowl of leaves. The little George came over to investigate, and Yuna helped Nico hold out the leaves for them. They all started to go for the bowl, which set Nico into giggles, which made all of us smile, even Marcus and the woman. 

The woman smiled at me. “Hard to resist baby giggles,” she said, then jumped as another George came up and sniffed her. Marcus put his hand to his mouth as the large creature blew into her hair.

“They must think you’re some sort of weird flower or something, Jess,” said Marcus. 

Lina shook her head. “No, they’ve just never seen a red-headed human before,” she said, quietly. “They’re not afraid of us, really, but are easily startled. My colleagues think that they might think that we’re strangely shaped members of their herds. This is the time of year where the herds start migrating north to spend the summer under the shadow of the Scherbhorn. There’s about ten herds, and most of them come through our fields. We keep their way as clear as we can since they use the same paths each year. They don’t have any natural predators, you see. They’re very gentle herbivores and very curious about us.” As she said that, another of the adults gave out a “Mmmmwah!” and leaned over to get pets from Lina. Another put his head near me, and I reached up with my left hand to give it a scratch near its ear earholes. They gave a satisfied, “MmmmmmmmMM,” stayed for a moment, then continued on it’s way. 

Nico and Yuna came back up the steps, empty bowl in hand, with Nico’s eyes wide and happy. The George let out a chorus of “Mmmmmwah’s” and ambled away from the house. When they had moved out of sight, Nico said, “I fed babies, Un-ka!” 

“I know! I saw! You did a really good job!”

“Bye-bye George!” he yelled at the retreating George. 

“Bye-bye George!” I repeated.

So, obviously, I had to find a George, and I found one!

Insert gleeful giggles here.

I’ve also gained some new pens and ink! In the picture are three really cool bottles of Iron Gall ink from Tools to Liveby in Taiwan. The bottles are cool because you tip them upside down and it fills the top part of the bottle so you can fill your pen, then you put the cap on and press it a few times so the ink goes back into the bottom part of the bottle. So cool!

The really weird looking pen is a Rotring Core fountain pen, which is no longer made by Rotring. If you don’t know Rotring, they are a pen company that makes some of the best pens on the planet! Their fine tip pens are stellar. Well, true to form, this fountain pen is amazing, but weird looking, and writes incredibly well. The grip is odd, but it’s actually comfortable. The only issue I have with it is that you can’t post the cap, but over all, that’s not a big deal. The smaller green pen is a Chinese bladder fill pen, that came as a freebie with the Rotring pen! It also, surprisingly, writes really well. 

I don’t have a picture of them, but I’ve been getting a lot of new ink, too. I’ve got a lot of new Diamine inks, along with more of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks (which I’m really obsessed with for some reason). I’ve got two more new pens on their way, but I’ll show those off next month!

And, last, but by no means least, I also now have a Tardigrade plushie, who is named Paul (after Paul Stamets on Discovery). He, along with my George, are my writing buddies. 🙂

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US Link German Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (First Draft Complete –  142K words – with first readers)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major conspiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Edit Pass Complete – 137K words )

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she, Lulu and another agent realize that someone else was also behind the New Harmonists. (Writing – 72910 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (First Draft Complete – 143K words – with first readers)

Hello 2021 with Snow and The Four Keys Paperback Now Available!

This picture was taken about a hour or so ago, and it’s still snowing. I think this is the biggest snowstorm I’ve seen in Zurich so far! It’s so beautiful, and for once I don’t mind being stuck inside. Definitely a day for writing and napping, which is what I did. 

Like many of you, the terrorism/insurrection/coup attempt in DC rocked me. The Wife and I ended up staying up most of the night watching the live feeds. It’s one thing to have the thought that something like that might happen, but it’s another to see it playing out in reality. It wasn’t a surprise, and it amazes me that people were surprised that something like this was actually happening, but it was shocking.

I’m hoping that it shocked some people out of their complacency. 

Speaking of complacency, Switzerland is going into lockdown again on Monday, and I say it’s about time! I really don’t understand why so many people still insist on doing things that make matters worse instead of doing the sensible thing of staying home and wearing a mask when one goes out. They’re keeping the ski slopes open, which boggles my mind. The official line is “but it’s outdoors!” Well, yes, when you ski it’s outdoors, but you have to get up the mountain first, and the ones I’ve been up have gondolas where they pack you in like sardines. Even at half capacity, you can’t maintain 1.5 meter distance. *shaking my head* Then again, it’s been strange to watch just how many people in the west just don’t care about others. It makes me sad if I think about it too much.

We had a very quiet New Year, and I’ve been writing up a storm. I finally started a 4th novel, Colony, which I hadn’t been expecting to start already, but it seems my brain decided otherwise. I like how it’s starting, and one of the main characters is super fun to write because she has no fucks to give. It’s rather cathartic to write at the moment. 

One big thing of note: I’ve finally created a paperback version of The Four Keys! Click on the Amazon links below to order it. (It’s print-on-demand.)

This weekend is my birthday, and I’m going to make a cake. I’m still deciding between pound cake, or a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting. Tell me on Twitter what you think I should make!

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (Writing – 73569 words)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major consipiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – 16975 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 74972 words)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing: Jack (and Loki’s) List , Marsha’s List , Jenny’s List and Nigel’s List

It’s a Blog Post! Woo!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done a regular blog post here, but given what’s going on in the world right now, it’s been hard to update things. I suppose I’ve gotten to the point in quarantine where I’m accepting it until there’s some sort of treatment or vaccine. With cases on the rise again here in Switzerland, and people being careless about masking and social distancing, I am not going out any time soon unless I absolutely have to!

But even with all of the world’s mess, I seem to have found my writing mojo in the last month or so, and that has been really awesome. I suppose that if I can’t travel places, I can go places in my head, right?

Unity is coming along, and I have about two thirds written. This last part has been harder, as there’s more political intrigue, and I’ve had to do a little more research and a little more planning and thinking about how the plot will play out.

I’ve finally released The Four Keys to ebook, and I’m stoked that it’s finally out! It’s available through Amazon. (Although, if you don’t do Kindle, let me know, and I’ll sort you out.) The Wife did amazing cover art for the book, and eventually, we’ll be publishing an illustrated paper version with more of The Wife’s art in it! (That won’t be out for a while since the art will take a bit of time to do.)

I also put up a new Star Trek FanFic on AO3 called The Vulcan Harp. We’ve been watching Star Trek in chronological order with the German language audio (how else would a geek practice listening in German?), and I’ve been really amazed to see just how well the Discovery writers dug into canon. If you also want to watch it in chronological order, here’s a good list on how. It’s amazing how much more depth you get with Spock particularly, and the universe in general, when you watch it this way.

So, naturally, I wrote FanFic, as a geeky writer would, right? Keep an eye out for more FanFic, since I find doing FanFic breaks me out of writing slumps. 🙂

I am also doing NaNoWriMo this year, and hopefully that push will help me finish Unity! If you’re also doing NaNo, feel free to friend me on the NaNo site!

Stay safe everyone, and wear your masks. And if you’re in the US, please please vote on November 3!

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon. US LinkGerman Link
The Vulcan HarpRead on AO3

In Progress

Unity – 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 108,232 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)

Fiber Arts

Started a project on my inkle loom with one of my handspun bamboo yarns that I spun from fiber from The Fiber Lady. The colorway is called Chocolate Cherries, and it’s a mix of purple, pink, and a chocolate brown. This came about because I managed to get inserts for my Apple Watch so that I can use Nato bands for instead of the regular watch bands. And I was like, hey! I could weave my own! So I am!

I’m still working on an altar rug for our large altar, but that’s been a bit on hold for now. I’m also going to go back to spinning soon, especially since I just received some beautiful fiber from Mosshollow Hill in CA!

Fountain Pens

My newest fountain pens have been a TWSBI Classic Fountain Pen in Burgundy, and a Sailor LeCoule in Rose Quartz. You really can’t go wrong with Japanese pens. They just work. (Not that I don’t like my European pens, but still…)

Cooking

I’ve been starting to make all the winter foods now. Made my first beer beef stew of the season about a week ago, and it was awesome. The other thing is that I’ve discovered mashed cauliflower, and OMG! Here we’re thinking we can’t have any potato recipes ever again, and along comes mashed cauliflower (and romanesco, that fractal one). I made a shepherd’s pie with mashed romanesco the other night, and it was glorious!

I’ve also been LOVING my new 8L Instant Pot Duo Crisp and Air Fryer (#notsponsored). Holy crap, I love this thing! Who knew that chicken nuggets and fish sticks can be crispy? Or that you can cook a roast in the air fryer and not make your kitchen into a sauna? And, seriously, air fried brussel sprouts, man! Super yummy! This Instant Pot also does sous vide, so it’s been nice being able to make sous vide stuff again (mmmmm….sous vide steaks!). 20/10 would recommend!

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

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.