Weekly Update: Remission and Apple Watch

Long time and no update, not so much because things haven’t been going on, but mostly because I’m still having trouble typing as my chemo induced neuropathy gets worse with the cold, and it’s been pretty cold here.

Health

So my post-treatment PET-CT results came in and I’m officially in remission. That is great news – it means that there’s no active disease that can be detected in scans. Now we wait and see if it really is gone for good (it’s a 5 year wait, but the first two years and the first year in particular are crucial), and deal with the side effects and damage the cancer and treatment left behind. It’s a lot of work, basically another full time job building back my body and mind to a place where they aren’t what they used to be (that’s just not going to happen) but where they are as healthy as they can be.

To that end, I “broke down” and purchased an Apple Watch two weeks ago. I really like analogue watches, which is why I’ve avoided buying a smart watch until now, but at the recommendation of several health professionals I decided to give it a try. As my phone is an iPhone, I went with the Apple Watch series 7 GPS, and as I use the Nike running and training apps (NRC and NTC – highly recommended and free to use), I went with the black Nike version of the watch.

Timex Peanuts watch on the left, Apple Watch series 7 Nike edition on the right.

So far it has been a great purchase. I’ve been using it to track my runs and training, my heart rate, breathing and blood oxygen levels, and for bio-feedback based meditation. I’ve also been using it to track my sleep, which is pretty abysmal and the moment due to the residual effect of drugs that I had to take during chemo and are still in my system (and will remain there for a few months yet).

As for the analogue watches that I love wearing, I gave up on them for a few days, and then decided to just do as a local celebrity does and wear more than one watch at a time. So I have an Apple Watch on my left hand and an analogue watch on my right hand, and though it may seem excessive or eccentric it makes me happy (and I still like checking the time on analogue watches better).

Reading

I finished reading Percival Everett’s “The Trees” and it was excellent. A brilliant, funny, dark and timely novel that proves that contemporary satire can still be written. This kind of novel is why I read the books on “The Tournament of Books” list, as otherwise I never would have heard of it, let alone read it. Highly recommended.

I then read Dr. Jennifer Gunter’s “Menopause Manifesto”. It is a must read: expertly written, chock full of information that I would have had trouble finding elsewhere, interesting and kind. Even if you think that your menopause is years away, or if you’re someone who won’t experience menopause this is still a book that you should read, and sooner rather than later.

I’m now reading Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World, Where Are You” for the Tournament of Books and not enjoying it much. I really didn’t like “Normal People” and I wouldn’t have tried another Rooney novel if it wasn’t on the ToB list. I know a lot of people like Rooney’s writing, and she’s won several awards for it, but I find it whiny, boring and self indulgent, and so far “Beautiful World” is worse than “Normal People” in that aspect. I’m trying to be open minded and patient, so I’m not giving up on it yet. Hopefully it will improve with time.

Currently Inked

As the weather has been cold my neuropathy has been too painful for me to journal regularly. My fingers feel like someone has taken a set of pliers to them, or else someone has lit a lighter under them. It will be warming up a bit next week, and so I’ve set aside a few pens that I intend to write with. I’m down to 18 pens (!) currently inked, and if I do get to journal as much as I expect this week then I’ll probably write 2-3 more pens dry. Not many of my Diamine Inkvent 2021 pens remain inked, but I’m not going to be able to write them all dry by the end of the month. As March will be a warmer month and more time will have passed from my treatments I’m hoping that my neuropathy will improve and I’ll be able to write more, and maybe even get back to regular sketching.

By the way, in April Diamine will be issuing the Diamine Inkvent 2021 inks in “Red Edition” glass bottles, just like the original Inkvent “Blue Edition” bottles. These make for great gifts as the inks are very good and the bottles are stunning. I still haven’t finalized the list of inks that I intend to buy, but for now it includes Brandy Snap, Night Shade, Ash, Harmony and Thunderbolt or Ruby Blues.

From top to bottom: Platinum 3776, Visconti Van Gogh, Kanilea, Lamy Safari, Pilot Falcon, Lamy Studio, Diplomat Aero

Other

The Pen Addict podcast celebrated 10 years (!) and 500 episodes in an epic and fun episode where Brad and Myke read the listeners’ favourite stationery items. This one is well worth a listen, and is sure to make you smile.

I finished watching “The Book of Bobba Fett” on Disney+ and generally liked it. It would have been nice to have more Bobba and Fennec and have the flashbacks more integrated into the later story line. I didn’t like the cyborgs much, and I wish that it wasn’t so much a “Mandalorian 2.5” season but its own thing. I think that Bobba and Fennec’s storyline suffered because of the tie to “The Mandalorian,” fun as it was. Hopefully they get a second season where they’re allowed to stand on their own for a while.

If you aren’t listening to the “Maintenance Phase” podcast, please do. This week’s episode was about “Super Size Me” and boy did I learn a lot from it.

Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes are hosting the One Week 100 People challenge again this year on 7-11 March 2022, and hopefully I’ll be able to join it again, hands be willing. It’s a really fun challenge, especially if you don’t feel confident drawing people. There’s a bonus challenge for people who want to sketch from life, but if I’ll participate it will likely be by drawing from Flickr photos as Covid is still raging out there, and I’m still vulnerable to it.

Today’s Fountain Pen

Today’s fountain pen is also my first fountain pen, the wonderful Waterman Phileas. It’s filled with Diamine Ruby Blues from the Diamine Inkvent 2021 calendar.

My hands have been an utter nightmare this week and I’m only now starting to feel a slight improvement in my neuropathy. This is the most that I’ve been able to draw and type all week.

Diamine Inkvent 2021: Summary

What a fun and wild ride was Diamine’s 2021 Inkvent calendar. It was tough posting a review of an ink every day for the past 25 days, in particular since my hands weren’t my best friends during many of those days (and even now) because of chemo induced neuropathy.
When comparing the 2019 Inkvent calendar to the 2021 version, I personally like the 2021 version much more. There are more inks that I could see myself regularly using, the inks were more interesting, and there was a better spread of colours.
Here’s a look at the Col-o-Ring swatches of all 25 inks in the Inkvent 2021 calendar, grouped more or less by hue:

A lot of blue for a red calendar.

Blue and blue green dominate this calendar, although there’s a good selection of pinks and purples. There are fewer brown inks this year, which I don’t think will disappoint many people, particularly since the two brown inks that have been included (Winter Spice and Brandy Snap) are interesting and unique.

I expect Diamine to issue full bottles of these samples, like they did with their Diamine Blue edition. These are the inks that I’ll likely be buying once that edition comes out:

Diamine Ash, Harmony, Night Shade, Thunderbolt, Yuletide, Black Ivy, Brandy Snap

I like shading inks more than shimmering or sheening ones, and all these inks have interesting shading properties or a unique shade that I happen to like and not have in my ink collection. Will I be buying 7 new bottles of ink? Maybe, but probably not. I have over 25 fountain pens filled with ink now (the most that I’ve ever had), so my plan is to write them dry and see after a few weeks of use which ones stick and which ones don’t.

An added bonus to the decision to ink up a pen for each sample is that I’ve inked many pens that I haven’t used in months or years. It’s been a lot of fun playing with the Sailor Cross Emperor nib again, or remembering why I liked this pen or the other. If you’re looking for a way to cheer yourself up, allow me to recommend pulling out a few pens that you haven’t used in a while and jotting something down with them or just doodling. I’m pretty sure it will make you smile.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 25

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 25’s door.

Day 25’s ink, the 30ml bottle, is Diamine All the Best. It’s a deep red/burgundy ink with purple shimmer and a golden sheen.

Diamine All the Best.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine All the Best. The colour fits with the red colour of the calendar, and the ink is festive, saturated, shimmery and shiny. Everything you’d expect from a Christmas ink.

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used a TWSBI Go with a 1.1 stub nib to test out Diamine All the Best, and I kind of regret the choice of pen, but more on that later.

TWSBI Go and Col-o-Ring swab.

I sketched a Christmas tree with presents and a hearth with stockings to test out this ink when the TWSBI GO decided to burp ink on the page and then lay down a ton of ink. You can see the mess on the hearth. My guess is that the feed needs reseating, but I can’t deal with it now with the state of my hands.

Diamine All the Best on Tomoe River paper.

You can see the sheen and some shimmer here:

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

As you can see, there was another unfortunate burp right at the start of the page. The nib also lay down a ton of ink, which is good for showing the properties of the ink, but it makes writing with it quite a risk.

Close up on some sheen and shimmer.

Diamine All the Best is the perfect ink to end the Inkvent 2021 Advent calendar. It fits the theme, fits the calendar colour, has a rich base colour and all the fun extra properties a fountain pen ink can have (shading, shimmering, sheen). If you’re looking for an ink to write Christmas cards with, Diamine All the Best is for you.
I’ll be writing a wrap-up post about the Inkvent 2021 experience and which inks I plan on purchasing. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 24

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 24’s door.

Day 24’s ink is Diamine Yuletide. It’s a teal coloured ink that is supposed to be standard ink but has a lot of shading and a good amount of red sheen. I have no idea why it wasn’t marked as a sheening ink.

Diamine Yuletide.

A standard ink? No. Despite it being marked as such Diamine Yuletide sheens.

A standard ink? I don’t think so.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Yuletide. The base shade of this ink is lovely, with a ton of shading and some red sheen – it’s one of the more attractive Inkvent inks, and that’s saying a lot.

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used an original Visconti Van Gogh Ocean with a medium 14k gold nib to test Diamine Yuletide out. It took a while to prime the nib after filling it through the converted (the grip and nib section are too big to fill directly from the tiny sample bottle), which is why you can see evidence of hard starts on this Col-o-Ring card.

Visconti Van Gogh and Col-o-Ring swab.

I drew a snowy scene with fir trees, which is about as much as I can draw with my hands being in the state that they are. The shading with Diamine Yuletide is wonderful, and the red sheen comes out as almost a halo.

Diamine Yuletide on Tomoe River paper.

Sorry about the blurry photo, but it does capture the red sheen.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

A close up on the shading. My camera is de-emphasizing the sheen for some reason, but it’s there, in almost every letter.

After the lackluster Diamine Wonderland it was nice to get an ink like Diamine Yuletide. The base teal shade is wonderful, the ink offers some lovely shading, and the red sheen is a nice added bonus. Diamine Yuletide is definitely a contender for the full bottle purchase later on.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 23

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 23’s door.

Day 23’s ink is Diamine Wonderland. It’s a standard orange ink that is bright and cheerful, but doesn’t really evoke wonderland or anything particularly Christmas themed in my opinion.

Diamine Wonderland.

It’s a standard ink, which is a bit peculiar. I was expecting it to be a shimmer ink.

A standard ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Wonderland. It’s a classic orange, with a bit of shading. Nothing wild going on:

Col-o-Ring Swab.

I used a Platinum 3776 with a fine nib to test Diamine Wonderland out. A wider nib would have shown a bit more shading, but even so, there is a bit of shading to be seen with this ink. Nothing like the shading in Diamine Candle Light or Diamine Peach Punch.

Platinum 3776 and Col-o-Ring Swab.

Even though Diamine Wonderland isn’t a yellow ink, I was in the mood to sketch daffodils, and so daffodils it is:

Drawing on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

I admit that I find Diamine Wonderland a bit of a let down. It’s such an uninspired ink colour – a standard orange with a bit of shading and nothing interesting or unique going on. There are much better orange ink shades in the market, even from Diamine itself, so I don’t really see room for an ink like Diamine Wonderland, especially not in a Christmas themed calendar and with a name like that.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 22

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 22’s door.

Day 22’s ink is Diamine Black Ivy, and it’s another surprising choice for this calendar. It’s a dark green/green black ink with a red sheen. Practically synonymous with Christmas, right? 😉

Diamine Black Ivy.

There’s plenty of red sheen going on with this ink, as advertised:

A sheening ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine 

Col-o-Ring swab.

Check out the sheen:

I used a Sailor Pro Gear Slim with a zoom nib to test out Diamine Black Ivy:

Sailor Pro Gear Slim and Col-o-Ring swab.

I drew some ivy with Diamine Black Ivy to test it out on Tomoe River paper. It’s so saturated and full of sheen there’s hardly any colour variation, even on Tomoe River paper:

Diamine Black Ivy on Tomoe River paper.

Here’s a closer look at the sheen:

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

I was really surprised to find Diamine Black Ivy included in this year’s Inkvent. It’s not a very holiday themed ink, but it is a pretty interesting one. It’s dark enough to be used as a “serious” ink, but it’s also unusual in colour and has a lot of character because of its sheen. I’m not sure if I want a full bottle of this, but it’s definitely an ink that I will consider buying later on.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 21

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 21’s door.

Day 21’s ink is Diamine Brandy Snap, and it’s a rich caramel brown with plenty of shading.

Diamine Brandy Snap.

A standard ink, but with a lot of shading:

A standard ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Brandy Snap. You can see the shading here.

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used a Platinum 3776 with a music nib to test out Diamine Brandy Snap, and the nib really allows the ink’s shading to show:

Platinum 3776 and Col-o-Ring swab.

I wasn’t up to drawing today, so an uninspired bottle of brandy and pile of brandy snaps is all I could bring myself to draw. You can see the shading in the text below:

Diamine Brandy Snap on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

I really like the shading in Diamine Brandy Snap, and its warm, relatively bright colour. Even if you’re not a fan of brown inks, I think that you might like Diamine Brandy Snap, and fans of shading ink will love it.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 20

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 20’s door.

Day 20’s ink is Diamine Pink Ice, and it’s a bright pink ink with pink sparkles – as Elle Woods as an ink can get.

Diamine Pink Ice.

A shimmer ink, with a lot of pink glitter and very little shading:

A fabulous shimmer ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Pink Ice. You can see just how much shimmer is going on:

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used a Lamy Studio Terracotta with a fine nib to test out Diamine Pink Ice. Even with a fine nib you can see the shimmer:

Lamy Studio and Col-o-Ring swab.

I decided to draw a quick icy landscape to test Diamine Pink Ice on Tomoe River paper. There’s very little shading with this ink, and a lot of glitter. A significant amount of glorious pink glitter:

Diamine Pink Ice on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

Would I buy a bottle of Diamine Pink Ice? No, it’s a bit much for me. It is, however, a bright and cheerful ink with a lot of glitter and a lot of potential to make you smile as you’re using it. I’m glad that it was included in a calendar that has had a bit of a tendency towards the dark and muted side of colour.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 19

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 19’s door.

Day 19’s ink is Diamine Festive Joy, a saturated purple ink with a hint of sheen and some shading.

Diamine Festive Joy.

It’s a standard ink but there is a bit of a sheen to it, likely because the ink is so saturated.

A standard ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Festive Joy. You can see a hint of the sheen and some of the shading possible with this ink:

Col-o-Ring Swab.

I used a Sailor Pro Gear with a Naginata Togi Cross Emperor nib to test out Diamine Festive Joy. It’s an expressive nib that lays down a lot of ink.

Sailor Pro Gear and Diamine Festive Joy Col-o-Ring swab.

I drew a Christmas tree with ornaments and a few presents to test out this ink on Tomoe River paper:

Diamine Festive Joy on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

Diamine Festive Joy is a joyful ink in a lovely, rich shade of purple. If you’re in the market for a standard purple ink, Diamine Festive Joy would be a good choice (once it’s available in a full bottle, like the Blue Edition bottles of the Inkvent 2019 inks). In any case, it’s nice to have a bright pop of colour in an Inkvent calendar that has so far leaned heavily on dark or muted inks.