What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

stale fountain pen ink

on January 7, 2014

Something new came into the house today: vinyl composition tile for the kitchen remodel. But since it will stay at this address, I’ve decided the “one in, two out” rule of shedding doesn’t apply. So I have to shed only one thing today …

Muffin and Blue say: "We shed every day!"

Muffin and Blue say: “We shed every day!”

… a bottle of fountain pen ink—of Levenger’s “Smokey,” to be precise.

I like Levenger’s inks. The bottle is classy and unlikely to leak, even in transit; the plastic well insert in the neck eases refilling; and the inks flow smoothly. Some of Levenger’s earliest colors are preternaturally bright. Nimue and I happily filled our pens for years with “Cobalt Blue,” “Gemstone Green,” “Cardinal Red,” and “Amethyst.”

Then we ordered a few bottles of the second-generation colors for variety’s sake, and our pleasure paled somewhat. “Regal” was okay, but seemed a muddy purple beside “Amethyst.” “Claret” laid on the page whereas “Cardinal Red” jumped off it. And “Smokey” was, well, just kinda grey. Or gray, depending on your preference. We like our cats grey, but our inks, not so much. Since we’d bought it, however, we determined to use it.

I write my journal and do most drafting by handwriting with fountain pens. The output amounts to several pages most days. Nevertheless, it takes me a year to empty a bottle of ink. (Sustainable and abundant-living tip: get a $30 fountain pen, converter, and bottle of ink; stop that stream of cheap, ugly pens and their packaging that are just landfill fodder the day they’re extruded!) I’ve found that, if I have several colors to pick from, the one I choose least often may reach the legal drinking age before I empty it. Long before our bottle of “Smokey” hit “E,” however, it began clogging my pens. Not upon first filling, but after a page or two, I’d lose descenders and ascenders, then whole words. I don’t blame Levenger; they don’t even sell “Smokey” anymore. Concoctions devolve over time. Entropy happens.

But in this bottle of ink’s case, until this morning, I didn’t accept that. I hate waste. So I tend to hang onto things that have stopped working for too long, hoping, I suppose, that they’ll revert to working again. (After all, I have a body of evidence that says they had worked, right?) It’s even harder for me to let go when something half-works. What’s “good enough?” How can you tell?

In just a few days of the What I shed today project, I’m finding “Do you know it to be useful?” a wonderfully clarifying question. On the clear ground of ordinary speech and everyday experience, no, an ink that won’t write for more than two pages without requiring a bunch of fiddling with my pen isn’t useful to me. I have ink that flows without fuss. I like it better, too. Shouldn’t I use it instead?

With relief, a sense of release, and no regrets, I poured the ink into some used kitty litter and dropped the bottle in a recycling bin.

smokey cat, smokey ink

smokey cat, smokey ink

shedding style: recycle
destination: community recycling stream

Comments welcome … what might you shed today?


2 responses to “stale fountain pen ink

  1. […] while I was writing my “morning pages” today. I shed a bottle of fountain pen ink on 7 January but spared a couple others in that purge, hoping to squeeze a few more fillings out of them. The […]

  2. […] loved “Cobalt Blue.” Though I posted about some problems with three Levenger inks here and here, I still think it’s a good product. One day I may order some again. But for now […]

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