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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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Our Moving Date is now set!

As of today, we will be leaving the US for Zurich, Switzerland on July 27th!

EEEEPPP!!!

The best bet for getting in touch with either of us after July 15 is to email, text, or Google Hangouts. (My regular phone number will work until I get a new sim card there.)

OMG!!

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Updates

So, we now know we need to be in Zurich for August 1, so that means we’ll be leaving at the end of July. We still have a lot of stuff to get rid of, but it looks like we might have an apartment already! It’s a lot smaller than here, of course, but it’s rather nice (very Swiss and modern).

We don’t have an exact flight date yet because we’re still waiting for my VISA stuff. But, it’s feeling much more real now.

I’ll also have another video out soon for As The Crow Flies about my trip to New Orleans! (It took awhile because I ended up with a bad cold right when I got back. Ugh.)

Also, been using a Polaroid camera a lot and I love it. 🙂 If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have seen some of the pics I’ve taken.

Now, it’s time to relax and get some editing done…

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Blessed Samhain!

Hail to the Ancestors!

Hail to the Beloved Dead!

May the next year be blessed!

(And on a side note: It’s a strange feeling to be celebrating Samhain again where it actually gets cold! Might have to break out my striped socks when I dress up later!)

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I got interviewed!

When I started to train for open water swimming again a couple of years ago, I decided it would be in my best interest to become a US Masters Swimming (USMS) member. This was mostly because a lot of open water events are only open to USMS members (for liability/insurance reasons), but there are a lot of perks that come with the membership that I like, especially the forums where I can ask other swimmers questions, training programs, and their magazine “Swimmer”.

Well, a few months ago, Swimmer Magazine had an excellent series of articles about diversity in swimming which mostly focused on race, but did mention other diversity issues, except body diversity.

So, I wrote a letter to the editor, Laura Hamel, and told her as much. I basically said that while I thought their articles on diversity were really awesome, they forgot to talk about size diversity. I mentioned how hard it is to get good training swimsuits. The major swim companies don’t carry suits past size 24 (maybe) and the places where you can get suits in my size have maybe one style of suit that is suitable for swimming laps. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cute swimsuits, but I’m not lounging by the pool when I go swimming, you know?) I also mentioned that I was nervous about going to a Masters training session because I wasn’t sure how I’d be received, or if they would take me seriously, or if they’d just assume I was there to lose weight.

The editor and I had a nice exchange of emails, and they published an edited version of my letter in the next issue. She was really awesome, and said that she hoped that any Masters event I went to that they would take me seriously and welcome me. (To be honest, I still haven’t gone to one yet.)

But color me surprised when a few months later I get an email from Laura about wanting to interview me! The journalist, Elaine, and I had a great discussion when she interviewed me on the phone, and a later I got pictures done with a very nice and body positive photographer named Mike Calabro in Lake Michigan (literally in!).

The online version came out a couple of weeks ago, but I finally got my initial hard copy a couple of days ago. I created a PDF of the article, which is below! The article belongs to Swimmer Magazine and US Masters Swimming, so, if you are going to share it anywhere online, please make sure to give the appropriate citations.

I’m still going “Holy cow! Someone thought I was interesting enough to interview!” but this is awesome!

[pdf-embedder url=”http://www.revginapond.net/wp-content/uploads/swimmerarticle.pdf”]

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