Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blog Award?

Well, I have been on Blogger for about 3 months and Aga sent me this award. But it has strings attached! Here are the strings:
1. Be sure to thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Pass the award to other bloggers who you think deserve it
4. Be sure to let the bloggers know you chose them to receive the award

So here it is!
1. I am a Christian - I call it being a practicing Christian because I haven't gotten it right yet.
2. I have not been to a barber shop in over 5 years - no I don't have hair down to my butt, I just got disgusted that instead of getting a quanity discount, I was always charged full price for a search and destroy haircut!
3. I play the guitar badly and sing off-key, but I do it joyfully!
4. I eat meat, wear leather and am proud of it.
5. I have never received a traffic ticket of any kind in over 30 years of driving!
6. The most important person in my life is Carla.
7. I am proud of my sons.

I nominate Rachel B at ecosmartteen for this prestigious award.

Traveling Notebook idea

I have often wondered about the idea of a "traveling" notebook. The general concept is that a group of people send a notebook back and forth and just put random stuff in it and then send it to someone else. When the notebook is filled up, it goes back to the person who first sent it. Roberta is starting one in Italy and I thought I might start one here. The photo above is the type of notebook I have available. Alas, the paper is not fountain pen friendly, but it could still be a fun little project.

Who wants to jump in and join the adventure?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Protocol for uncancelled stamps?

Ok my blog friends, what is the protocol for using uncancelled stamps? If they are US stamps, I try to use them. But what if they are from another country? The reason I ask is that I received a letter from Ottawa today and neither stamp was cancelled. I couldn't easily peel them off, but I think I could cut then off. I thought about including them in the reply letter. What would you do?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hammered by letters and Christmas

I simply got hammered with letters in the last 3 days and have not had time to write back. We are leaving for a week to spend Christmas in Arkansas. So, any of my penpals or friends reading this should expect nothing more than a postcard from the road this week. I will write back to all of you the week after Christmas.

With an 850 mile drive, we should pass through plenty of places to get postcards! Plus, I will go to the P.O. to pick up a package in the morning and will buy a fresh roll of postcard stamps!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Desperation (or why I don't read Stephen King)

I started reading Desperation by Stephen King. Within a few pages, I was reminded of why I had stopped reading his books. Why would I want to fill my mind with such ugliness? I understand that depravity sells, but come on!

I first read King when I was a teenager. I read everything he published. I even plunked down money for hardback copies! However, at some point in my life, likely when I became a father, I realized that I was tiring of his same old stuff. I eventually found myself repulsed with his material. I would compare the beauty and peace of my life with Carla and the boys and try to match that with the dark ugliness his writing invoked and it just didn't work.

I explored other genres and began to enjoy mysteries. Authors like James Patterson, J.A. Jance were enjoyable for a while, but they slipped into depravity as well, so I had to move on. Frank Peretti and John Grisham were able to explore the darker side of human nature without sinking to the dark depths of debasement. McMurtry and Hillerman kept me entertained, played around with conflicts, but didn't glorify the nastiness.

Lately, I have sought fiction refuge in some of the classics - Zane Grey, John Steinbeck, O. Henry and in teen books, even Harry Potter and Twilight. All can and do take on the darker and uglier side, without becoming decadent and celebrating the bad.

Unfortunately, Stephen King has to write what sells. It is a commentary on our society that the perversions he writes of are what people buy. I need a break from modern fiction. Bring on Riders of the Purple Sage!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Review - Blood Trail

My school is putting an intensive focus on fiction reading next year - 2011. I thought I would start putting up some reviews of books I have read. Generally I will try to review books available in our public library, but with that said, I also might review e-books I purchase or download for free. I have books on my desk, in my backpack, by the bed, on my netbook and on my ipod. Most of the ebooks I read are public domain that I download for free from There are almost 30,000 free ebooks in a variety of formats there.

Regarding Blood Trail. This book is set in Wyoming during the current day. An elk hunter's body is found hanging, eviscerated, and decapitated. Joe Pickett, a game warden, is tasked by the Governor to lead the investigation. The book switches between the story and the POV of the killer. Interesting.

This mystery has a host of characters, from the heroic game warden, to the weasel-like bureaucrat, Hollywood anti-hunting activists and wrongly imprisoned trackers. Each character receives adequate development so you can understand what makes them react the way they do - even if this is the 8th book in the Joe Pickett series.

The tale has a predictably unpredictable twist in the resolution. You knew it was coming, but couldn't tell how it would resolve until right at the end. The suspense kept me reading until 11 last night. The twist came about fully developed and was plausible, like an Agatha Christie story, not unexpected and thrown in as a lazy writer might do like Higgly Piggly Clark does.

Rating - totally subjective - 4 out of 5 dead hunters.

For other reviews, check out Goodreads

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No pictures, but fun writing nonetheless

I have received several Postcrossing cards this week. My camera is MIA, so no pictures, but cards arrived from Illinois and Krakow, Poland. I sent cards to the Ukraine, California and Finland this week. I dutifully copied the Ukrainian address - in Ukranian instead of English - we'll see if it gets there or not. I fear I might have sent it so some unknown person in some unknown province of the Ukraine!

I also want to shout out about Goulet Pens big giveaway tomorrow. Visit their blog and see the details after midnight tomorrow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas for Soldier's Families

It is so hard to take indoor pictures with a cellphone, but I left my memory card at home.
Yesterday, I took 6 of my FFA member/ag students to Fort Carson to help the All American Beef Battalion feed over 800 soldiers and primarily their families for the 3rd Brigade Christmas party. Most of the soldiers from the 3rd Brigade are deployed so helping out with Christmas is the very least we can do to show our appreciation.

To date, the All American Beef Battalion - an all volunteer group - has served over 50,000 steak meals to soldiers and their families over the past 2 years. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to help.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


A new penpal, Rosie, decorates all of her envelopes. Today her letter made me feel like going sailing! Thanks

The Sweetest letters!

I received this nice fat envelope from my sister-in-law and my nieces. I love receiving mail from family!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Noodler's Baystate Blue!



I was being brave. I thought that Noodler's Baystate Blue would look good in the clear barrel of a Platinum Preppy eyedropper pen. So I grabbed the ink, found a worthless bulb syringe, put a little water in the barrel to tame the beast and proceeded to get ink all over my fingers! I do believe that Baystate Blue can be seen from space.

BTW, I received the pen with a bottle of Noodler's X-Feather I purchased from Goulet Pens.

Amateur Christmas Calligraphy

Inspired by a post in the penmanship forum of the Fountain Pen Network, I humbly offer this work in progress.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leather Notebook Cover

I purchased this leather notepad cover from Jack and Kelly Gully about a month ago. I realized that it would hold an A5 notebook with just a little modification. So I pulled out the 5X8 notepad, cut off the pencil loop and front business card holder and popped in a Clairefontaine clothbound notebook. It works very well and keeps the pages of the notebook from getting knocked around in my briefcase. Not bad for $35.

I just realized that I need to select my pictures in reverse order,so they will be in the proper order on the post!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Noodler's Nib Creaper

Here are all the pictures from the Noodler's Nib Creaper mini review

Noodler's Nib Creaper - Mini Review

This is my first attempt at a review on this blog. My photography skills are questionable, my writing skills are feeble, but I have a passion for handwriting and fountain pens, so here goes!

I decided to try out a couple of pens to consider as a possibility for Christmas gifts. Brian at the Goulet Pen Company was gracious enough to etalk me through some considerations for inexpensive pens. He reviews several of them on his blog . Much buzz has been astir about the $14.00 Noodler's Nib Creaper fountain pen, a piston filled inexpensive pen. I thought I would check it out.

My first impression about this Noodler's Ink pen was it was fun to see the internal mechanism. My second thought was a question as to what ink I would "deflower this virgin" with. I set my eyes upon Noodler's Navy. Filling the pen is dead simple. You remove the blind cap on the barrel of the pen, run the piston down to the end of the barrel, place the nib and part of the feed section into the ink and cycle the piston twice. That's it. Pull the pen out, wipe off the nib and feed, replace the blind cap and get down to writing.

The Nib Creaper holds an impressive amount of ink. It appears to be at least twice as much as is held by a Lamy, Waterman or Cross converter and about twice as much as a Reform 1745 German school pen with a similar filling mechanism. I expect it also holds about twice as much as vintage Sheaffer lever fill pen. This could be a problem if you tire of a color quickly and would rather not write it completely out, but it should be very simple to dump the ink back in the jar and flush and fill again with your next choice.

The nib is a steel nib in a F or perhaps M size. The nib says Noodler's Ink. In writing, it is smooth and leaves a consistent line. I have not written with it enough to determine if it will have any type of shading or line variation. But for my use, smooth and ease of use is important.

If I compare this pen to any type of rollerball, ultimately it will be much more economical. The pen cost $14 and a 3 ounce bottle of Noodler's ink costs $12.50. So I have $26.50 invested. I expect I will be able to fill this pen 40 times at a minimum per bottle of ink so my cost per fill is around $1.16. I think each bottle will last much longer than that, getting my cost per fill down to about a quarter. Tell me you can find any rollerball pen that costs that little and will provide as much ease of writing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Writing with a 1.5 mm Lamy Italic Nib

This is a quick cell phone picture on some writing I did with a Lamy Italic 1.5 mm nib.

Writing with a 1.1 mm italic nib on a Lamy Safari

This is some handriting I did with a new nib on my Lamy Safari. The nib is a 1.1mm italic

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homemade cookies and envelopes!

I write letters and send postcards. I am not creative. I don't do mail art. However, this week, I had two penpals send me homemade envelopes! Art of a Letter and Leaving a Paper Trail both sent homemade envelopes. I will return a reply to each, in the envelope they have provided.

Just to get in the spirit of homemade, I went to the store, bought some cookie dough and individually placed each cookie puck on a cookie sheet and whipped up 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies - NOW MADE WITH REAL HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE CHIPS!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Postcard from Netherlands

I receive a postcard from the Netherlands and mailed out postcards to Latvia, Lithuania and a letter to Virginia.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To my wife

I wanted to write you a letter,
But life got in the way.
I wanted to pen a few little words
How you take my breath away.

I wanted to write you a letter,
To tell you now what I see
You don't really take my breath away,
Your love is what brings it to me.

Butterfly in the Fall

Here is a fun envelope from Rosie. It appears to be hand drawn and colored! Wilson loved it! He grabbed it out of the day's mail and said, "Dad, LOOK WHAT YOU GOT!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

More letters out, 1 postcard in

i received a postcard from Miami. I sent a postcard to Germany and letters to California and Alabama. If I will get on the computer when it is still light, I will take some photos and post them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Postcard in, letters out

I received a postcard from Moscow today. I mailed letters to Ontario, Alabama and South Carolina

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Elm Trees!

I know that the tree favored by the settlers of the Great Plains was the elm tree. I know that it is easy to grow and maintain for quite a few years and makes for a nice looking large tree. We have two in our back yard that are at least 3 feet in diameter.

But I hate them. The foliage is nothing special. The leaves are small and take forever to emerge. Throughout the summer, you must spend time picking up broken branches, every day. In the fall, the leaves do not turn colors other than greenish brown. The leaves will not fall off the tree until after you have raked up all of the other pretty leaves and cleaned your yard. Then, in about 18 minutes those suckers all drop. Too small to rake and they don't even make good compost/leaf mold.

If you are lucky enough to have one die in your yard, you get to spend a great deal of time, in the summer, cutting that sucker up, splitting the wood and feeling wonderful that you laid in a great deal of firewood for the upcoming winter. But, the only way that crap will keep you warm is the sweat you work up hauling wood in and carrying ashes out. My Grandma Shannon used to say, "Elmwood new or elmwood old, elmwood's heat is mighty cold!"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Strips AND a flamingo!

I received this letter from my new penpal R . She apparently has some fun with stickers and what not and doesn't give up on the adhesive backing from the sticker sheets. What a fun letter! And she included some photos of a trip to Ireland. She is a good penpal. In fact, I am writing back, right now!


I received postcards from Finland and Portugal today. How much fun is Postcrossing? I have 5 cards traveling and 5 postcards received by people. My received total is now 3.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rocky Mountains sent from South Carolina

Here is a Colorado Postcard sent from South Carolina! Looks like it might have gotten stuck in the postage machine in the upper right corner.

Postcard from Belarus

Here is my first postcard to receive from Post Crossings It arrived from Minsk, Belarus. It traveled 8500 km in 10 days to get here!

Another new Penpal

I received a letter from a Going Postal member I wrote last week. Wow, he packed a lot of information onto a couple of pages of paper. So I wrote back to him using a new Daiso mini fountain pen that I received from a Fountain Pen Network friend. It is tiny, but fun to write with.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I just finished writing a letter to my nephew, Shane. He is a Marine. He is currently deployed near Asia. I know that he needs a letter from family.

I am sure you know a service member. Write them a letter.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting Scared

Getting Scared
Getting scared is sort of fun
It makes me grin and grimace
I always think my heart will stop
When spooks begin to surface
When bogies sit upon the fence
And spread their reign of terror
My fertile mind will then commence
To turn the tame to error
That swishing sound, what can it be
A vampire or an old hag
A closer look will then reveal
A fence-stuck plastic bag
But lo what is that flashing light
Some mortifying specter?
Nah turns out to be the neighbor kids
and flashlights out to pester
A fraidy cat old neighbor man
Who doesn't like the darkness
Whose mind will trick him into seeing
Halloween-y spooks in August!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I sent a couple of sendsomething letters this morning. The great news is, I received a latter from Ross!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This is the back of the envelope that I sent to kaustic! Please see the previous post


I just received a letter from my penpal Kaustic He is my favorite penpal. His letters are always well written and he uses a fountain pen! Thanks Steven! OBTW - I penned a letter back and had a little fun on the envelope.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I received a letter from a new pen-pal! Becky in Pennsylvania sent me a letter. So I wrote to her and sent it "tomorrow." I hope my penmanship was passable.

I also wrote letters to my students who went on the National FFA Convention trip. They should have it in hand on Wednesday when they come to school. I hope they are inspired to do great things.

I have about a dozen thank you letters to write. Maybe tomorrow...


I ended my trip with 7 Illinois, Indiana and Alaska postcards. My youngest, age 7, looked them over and declared that I should fill them out and mail them to him! "You know, put that Dear Wilson on them and write something to me!" So, I guess I might do that! He likes getting mail. As do I. As do you!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Here is the Colorful Colorado cap I earned after being accosted by 3 exuberant senior citizens at the Julesburg, Colorado Welcome Center. I filled out a junk mail form, swallowed some tepid, weak coffee and tried to explain that I live less than 30 miles from the welcome center, but alas and alack, they insisted that I am deserving of a cap! Who am I to argue with senior citizens?

Friday, October 22, 2010

24 more hours!

By this time tomorrow (Saturday) we will be on our way back to Colorado! It has been a nice trip and I hope the kids have been getting some good out of it. The drama of teenagers does wear thin!

While on this trip, I sent 5 postcrossings cards, 3 to each of my sons, 2 to my wife and 1 to my parents. It has been fun to confine my writing to an old fashioned "tweet" of limited space. I will try to purchase a few more cards from the road so I will be stocked up to mail a few cards around.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We have arrived at Indianapolis. Now the task of feeding 40 teenagers!


Here is a dew covered flower-day lilly?- at the LaQuinta in at Moline, Illinois. Pretty way to start the day. Thank you /od for making flowers!


This postcard s being mailed to Wilson. I found it at a truckstop in Nebraska.
I just finished up my 1st set of postcrossing cards. Now to find a mailbox.

Monday, October 18, 2010

We just crossed the Mississippi River at Davenport, Iowa. It is dark.
I have my first postcard ready to go for Wilson.
Iowa=corn fields and field terraces on steroids. Pretty nice to look at.

Electricity and Electronics

I packed my bags for the trip to Indianapolis. I was stunned by the amount of electronica and electric chargers I am taking to be wireless! Ipod and charger, digital camera, GPS and charger; netbook and charger, blackberry and charger.

I spent a few minutes looking around our house. Our world is dominated by electricity. Sure we have a natural gas stove and furnace, but neither of them will work without electricity! If it is not directly plugged it, it requires batteries. Thankfully, my acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo don't need electricity, although I do have a battery powered electronic tuner!

Woe to our society if electricity disappears.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strategy for the next few days...

I intend to purchase postcards from whatever truckstop our FFA bus stops at or from anywhere I can find postcards and fill and send them out from the next stop our group makes. I will also purchase any postcards I can find from Indianapolis and send them to all of my people and a few to random addresses.


I wonder how much time is wasted watching professional sports? I know it is entertainment. I have 2 fantasy football teams that I manage. I watch hockey whenever I get the chance despite the fact that I don't know how to skate. Today my heart was ripped up into my throat and then dropped into my bowels by the Denver Broncos. Why do I watch them?

Pens at the ready!

I have gathered the pens I am taking with me to Indianapolis this week. I have a journal book ready to write in. My ipod is charged, my netbook has several books to read and I have a variety of charging type accouterments to carry along. Sure makes life easy, this portable electronic stuff! ;) I intend to mail several postcards from along the way and have a bit of fun.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Today I sent out 7 letters written over the past week. First to carlee, steven, shona and elle. I also sent one to Rio de Janero and texas via I responded to a postcard I received from West Virginia via I sent a letter to Rick in SC from

New Blog, new Day

Hi me, I expect I will be the one to read this blog. But I intend to keep track of the letters and postcards I send out. A blending of old (handwriting) and new (blog) Multi-tasking on the frontier!!