Monthly Archives: August 2019

Okay, There’s One Downside to Fountain Pens…

Why not end the summer with a small disaster, right?

I was quietly working away at my desk, handwriting a story I’ve been wanting to write for months.  I didn’t have any upcoming deadlines with my freelance work, the kids were all occupied, and everything was perfect.

Then my pen ran out of ink.  That’s not really a problem, since I keep several bottles of fountain pen ink on hand (and I’d love to have many, many more, like this one).  But just as I set my bottle of Noodler’s North African Violet on my desk and turned to the shelf to grab a secondary pen to fill, the cat jumped on my desk.

Taken during a much more peaceful time…

Now I should say here that I’ve let him on my desk before.  But I’ve tried to stop this habit, since Elwood has very little concern for what he might knock out of the way to make himself comfortable.  He oozes out over the surface of the desk, pushing aside my computer and my notebooks, sending my planner slipping down between the cracks of the furniture, and has even once spilled an entire (and rather large) cup of water in my desk drawer.  Then, of course, there are the necessary deposits of fluffy orange hair he leaves behind.

This time, the ink was the victim.  It crashed to the floor, cracking the cap and sending purple ink splattering all over the vintage hardwood.  The thin finish had no chance of keeping that dark liquid from seeping into all the tiny cracks.  My kids came rushing in when they heard the commotion and readily volunteered to help.  They brought paper towels and rags as we assessed the damage, discovering that North African Violet had splattered onto the rug and splashed onto the sofa.  We scrubbed drops of purple from the bottom of my desk chair and our feet and the fireplace hearth.

That was enough of a catastrophe, but amaranthine streaks on the kitchen floor (three rooms away) indicated that the mess had become mobile.  Two of my dogs, who’d been so faithfully resting under my desk at the time of the incident, now looked like they’d tried to steal an expensive coat at Macy’s.

Not my dog, but I was a little too preoccupied to take a picture…

Is there an upside to any of this, you may be asking?  Well, yes.  The dogs needed baths, anyway, and the ink came out of their fur better than it came out of anything else.  The rug is heavily patterned, so the hundreds of little purple spots aren’t all that visible.  And it’s always an excuse to buy more ink, right?

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under Fountain Pens and Ink

How We Stopped Using Paper Towels (Mostly): Minimalism, Environmentalism, and Marie Kondo

Several months ago, I did what a lot of other people were doing and watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  I was excited for this.  I’ve found great inspiration from cleaning shows before (like the ladies on How Clean is Your House?), and I was eager for some fantastic tips to keep my home pristine.

While I wish there had been more specific tips than the basic mantra of getting rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” it definitely inspired a wave of decluttering and organizing in my home.  Unlike the people on the show, I didn’t do it all in one week!  I’m still working on it, little by little.  It’s more of a lifestyle change than a one-time spring cleaning.  I attack a drawer or a shelf as I have the time, and I’m loving the results.  The areas I’ve Kondo’d are much easier to keep clean, and I never thought I’d be so happy to open my sock drawer every morning.

A month or two later, I happened to watch a documentary simply entitled Minimalism (check out the book that goes along with it here).  I might never have watched it except that I was on a documentary kick at the time.  It only strengthened my urge to get rid of all the extra stuff.  Why keep socks I don’t wear?  Why buy another knickknack to gather dust?  If I buy this thing I think I want, where am I going to put it?  The documentary really spoke to my need for less clutter (both physically and mentally) and more time for the important things in life.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going too crazy with this stuff.  You won’t find me living in a “tiny house” or traveling across the U.S. with nothing but a toothbrush.

What really hit me while watching Minimalism was the idea (from one of the numerous people interviewed) that often the cheapest way to live is also the best for the environment.  I believe he was referring to having a smaller living space that’s cheaper on climate control and building materials (and therefore more environmentally friendly), but this really struck a chord with me.  I’m all about saving money and saving the planet, and it’s even better to do both at the same time!

I couldn’t say why, exactly, but the first thing I attacked was our paper towel usage.  With a family of five, we go through quite a few of them.  Just for the paper towels we use for napkins with meals, at $0.0139 per sheet, times five people, times three meals a day, times 365 days a year, we’re saving over $75 a year.  And that doesn’t even include paper towels used for cleaning!  Sure, we still buy paper towels for those times when they’re just the perfect solution for a problem, but our output is greatly reduced.  If the 315.41 million Americans who use paper towels (as of 2017) were to stop using them just for napkins at meals, it would save them over 4.8 BILLION dollars.  That’s a lot of cash, people.

For the environmental concerns, I’ll let you read this amazing article with all the details.

Okay, that was a long story to let you know we use cloth napkins and cleaning rags now, but it might not’ve happened otherwise.  Paper towels are just an everyday thing we don’t think about.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am that we’re creating less waste and saving money, and these napkins truly do spark joy in me every time I grab one.  This idea has led to several other small changes in our lives, which I’ll outline for you soon.

What are your feelings on minimalism, purging, and saving the planet?  I’d love to know, so feel free to comment!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.

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Filed under Environment, Finances

Book Review: Island by Alistair MacLeod

As yet another selection from my bookshelf cleanout, I picked up Island by Alistair MacLeod.  It’s a collection of short stories (not my typical thing to read) that completely blew me away.

From the Cover:

The sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master. Quietly, precisely, he has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.

What I Loved:

Island is gritty, somber, and muted.  The stories are positively dripping with the tiny details of life, from the way a small boy remembers his father’s sweater to the grim details of a corpse found at sea.  Many of the stories carry themes of death and family relationships.  They revolve around occupations and how they form entire lives and even whole towns.  Island is all about small towns, the love (and burden) of family, coming of age, leaving home, and returning.

There’s only one reason you’ll want to put this book down, and that is to write.  It’s incredibly inspiring from a writer’s perspective, with stories that are poignant, moving, and excellently written.

“The Lost Salt Gift of Blood” was definitely one of my favorites.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:

As I’m sure you can guess, I have very little to say here!  Sometimes the stories were a bit too heavy, but that’s part of what makes them so amazing.

Rating and Recommendation:

If you enjoy short stories, if you want to feel all the feels, or if you want to be inspired to improve your own writing game, then I highly recommend Island.  5 stars.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Note:  I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.

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Filed under Book Reviews