mowerNothing makes me feel more accomplished than when I do yard work.  Sweat of my brow, biceps pumpin, and legs aching.  Whether Aaron lets me have the mower (that’s right he’s very attached), trimming the landscaping, or like today, lopping off tree branches in the front yard, there is something about working outside.  It’s the perfect escape from the noise of every day life.  Growing up, my dad wouldn’t let me touch a lawn mower or any other yard tool for that matter.  Aaron’s mom taught me how to use a lawn mower four days after my gall bladder surgery in 1998.  I remember it well.  What a sweat, it felt so good to be outside smelling the fresh mown grass after being a couch potato for several days.  It’s hard to believe I didn’t touch a lawn mower until I was in my late twenties.  It wasn’t that I led a sheltered life, it’s just that my dad and brothers did all the outside work and I took care of the inside of the house.  Well, I took a break to expand on my morning activities, back to the wheelbarrow and my branches while Aaron slaves away on the bench.  It’s a good day!


welcome-matAs most of you know, our Pentiques office is in our home.   A home that includes 2 children on summer vacation, an iPhone with a husband app, and our Boxer, Money.  The latter being named after Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn’s movie Swingers.  “You’re Money, and don’t even know it!”  Stephen, thank you for producing such a great movie!  Anyway, I’ve mentioned when you come to Pentiques you never know what you will encounter.  Yesterday morning I was taking care of the usual, cleaned up the house, showered, finishing up the pot of coffee (Svabiks run on Dunkin!),  I just put on a robe when, Money starts barking and the kids scream “someone’s here”  I’m thinking mailman.  Safe bet right?  He’s seen me in a robe in the morning hours.  To my surprise, a gent at the door with bags full of vintage fountain pens.  Yes, that’s right, I looked at his pens first:)  He had quite a few in tow.  Then I realized I was making a terrific first impression on a Pentiques client.  I laughed it off, he walked in, and Aaron escorted him to the office like many before him.  We have many friends, clients, professionals, take their day off to come visit us for part swaps, check out the new inventory, or just play pens.  It’s like Disney Land for pen lovers.  Pen & Tique (the Oscars in the 55 gallon tank) keep a watchful eye like junk yard dogs.  Soon after initial meetings, it’s not a surprise to find people sitting on the office floor surrounded with feeds, barrels, caps, jewels, nibs, prototypes, completing their pieces while being welcomed properly by Money.  Right Jan?!?!  Our doors are open to the pen community … don’t be strangers.

buffer1I’ve always known I’m married to quite the man. I’ve been caught calling him Midas because anything he touches does turn to gold. Not literally, of course, but significantly enough for everyone around him to notice he is quite the wiz. I won’t go on and on about how wonderful, intelligent, sexy, etc. my husband is .. but I will tell you he did it again! As I was doing my regular mommy duties, cleaning up the house, emptying the last of the coffee into my cup, and preparing for my day, off in the distance was alot of power tool racket. By off in the distance, I mean in the office. Of course I was wondering what Aaron was up to now, but he’s always up to something, so I didn’t think of it again until he came into the kitchen with a successful all be it gloating grin on his face.  He asked me to check out his newest masterpiece. All I saw was what is in the picture to your left.  That piece of machinery is Aaron’s buffer sitting on the work bench among his other tools (off to the right), and beautiful Lady Liberty collection.  Up to this point, the buffer’s cloth wheels, when spinning, fling debris in all directions.   The only way to prevent the mess was to rig up a contraption to catch the muslin cloth pieces.  This is how he did it.  See the small white pvc pipe coming off the buffer on the left.  It is attached in two places to the hoods on the buffer.  The hoods don’t completely prevent the scatter of debris, so Midas (aka Aaron) attached an old upright vacuum cleaner that is located in the cupboard to the left to the pvc pipe.  He proudly gave Andrew (8), Joshua (3), and myself a quick demo of how his masterful contraption works.  Turn on the vacuum in the closet, buff pens, & NO MESS!!!  Pretty amazing!  You can see why I had to share.  Who knows what he’ll come up with this afternoon.

ysuI posted on my Facebook status that I just applied for a position at Youngstown State University.   It just so happens to be where Aaron and I met (US History II), got married (beautiful church on campus), and participated in various other activities (no comment).  I’m sure you’re wondering what first attracted me to him.  Here goes, his KNEES.  Yes, I said it.  His knees.  I know it sounds crazy but I knew when I looked at them the first time they were the joints of a well crafted man.  Go ahead and laugh, out loud I’m sure.  Back to the story, we graduated June of 1995. I remember driving to commencement with the windows down, Boys 2 Men on the radio, and admiring the gold watch Aaron had just given me.   Aaron graduated with honors with a BS in Criminal Justice Admin and I with a BA in Speech Communication – imagine that!  To return to our Alma Mater, YSU as a professional would be a journey full circle.   I must say, the waiting is very difficult.  I tend to be a tad impatient, just ask Aaron and the kids.   I want things done NOW!  The lawn, shrubs, garage, etc.  You see where I’m going with this.  So you can imagine how frustrating a little bit of waiting on a phone call for an interview can be.  We’ve all been there,  find the perfect position, get excited about it, have the credentials to snag it, but the red tape takes a while.  I find myself thinking about the job like a young girl thinks about the boy next to her in class.  I’m ready for this, I’ve been home for eight years now, it’s time to unleash “The Kim” once again!

silly olympicsYes!!!  We did it, there was an Aaron sighting outside of the Pentiques/Svabik Pen Co. headquarters.  Today was the anual Silly Olympics at Andrew’s elementary school.  I brought our youngest to participate in events like dunk tank (dunking teachers and the principal), football toss, hoola hoop race,etc. with Andrew’s class.  We had a great time, but the best part of the day was having Aaron join us.  He is so focused on all the jobs at hand, his days fly by without realizing it.  Andrew was so proud to have his dad with him.  It’s all he talked about before bed time, it was so important to him that dad be there.   This is  quite a short entry, but the point is .. A dad’s quality time with their children is so very important.  So, all you fathers, dads, and stepdads, be there for your children, they don’t forget it.

Svabik Pen Co.It has finally happened!  We have designed our own pen and established Svabik Pen Co debuting our first Ltd Edition piece, the Confluence.  My favorite part of this pen would be the clip.  This beauty was designed by our graphic artist, Jim Vakalopolous.  It’s like nothing else we have seen.  Six designs had the chance to become our first, but it was the two winding rivers blending to a point that jumped off the screen.  Every time I looked at the designs, the choice was obvious.  The clip makes a bold statement, just like we have in the Pen Community.  When thinking of a desciption of Aaron and “The Kim” subtle or understated does not cross ones mind.  Who else would sing Mama Mia with Dutch stewardess in L.A., welcome you into our shop with live web feeds, and supply you a few chuckles courtesy of pen show videos.   I get quite sentimental when I see the Confluence on our web page, it provokes alot of feeling.  I can hear the ring of antique store doors welcoming their guests and  smell the dust of undiscovered treasure.  The mottled ebonite of years gone by with a few surprises for a modern beautiful pen.  The Confluence has it all. This is my blog, I can say that.  It went over very well at the Chicago show among the collectors we have revered for many years.  One gent admitted our name looks really good on a pen and he is careful with his compliments.  It is our first, but certainly not the last.  There have been many milestones in the evolution of as a business.  Little did I know my1st anniversary gift to Aaron would cause us to alter our life’s journey.  I guess I’m that good:)  All kidding aside,  I thought Aaron was nuts buying boxes of fountain pens, scanning ebay, and not passing up an antique mall within a 100 mile radius.  Every day of the week Aaron saddled up his Sahara, packed up our dogs, Parker (Weimerauner) and Winslow (Dalmation) to hit the antique trail in search of the Holy Grail.  He was told a Parker Snake was found at church bazarre and he was always feeling lucky.  While I worked a 40+ hour week, he was busy winning over area antique dealers.  His goal, to be the first call when a box of unassuming fountain pens hit their shelves.  In the 90’s, there was much competition.  I especially remember a collector I called the Mad Hatter, we had to get there before he did.  Aaron would have us at antique shows at 5am (before the pretty people).  Thanks for the compliment.  When the well coiffed started to show up we were headed home.  Not that I couldn’t be well coiffed, just not at 5am.  There were many times I was a ball and chain complaining about being tired, hot, annoyed, hungry, bored, what a whiner huh?  When did it end?  Aaron was unemployed for a short time so he got busy buying, selling, and learning how to restore pens.  It was a magical day when he took me to the mall to pick out my first Coach purse.  I guess vanity won out.  This could work I thought, we could actually make money doing this.  The whining stopped when I realized this obsession is here to stay.  I stopped fighting and joined in going to pen shows, making pen friends, and supporting his pen habit.  Now, twelve years later, here it is our very own Svabik Pen Co. not to mention I’m the face of the Pen Collectors of America.  Talk about joining him.  I dove in without looking back.  Life it too short to say I wonder if …..

haagen-dazsAll the flavors stared me in the face.  Eight pints of lovely icecream to get me back on my feet.  What a brilliant gift idea for my recovery.  Certificates came to the door with heart felt “Get Well” wishes from my PCA (Pen Collectors of America) family.  I quickly sprang into action, American Idol final performances from my favorite Kris Alllen and velvety Haagen-Dazs.  Oh What a night.  I searched for my pints of cool creamy goodness at three different destinations, then jackpot!  There, staying at me in the freezer case were every imaginable flavor.  I quickly piled eight pints into my basket with a big grin.  Minutes later flavors like, Green Tea, Honey with Granola,  Chocolate Peanutbutter, Passion Fruit, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, and Mint graced my countertop.  I quickly procured a spoon and sampled each one without a bowl, taboo in Aaron’s book, but he made an exception and joined in .. how could he resist?  Only after he took a picture of my indulgence for all of the FaceBook community.  I am not ashamed!  Popsicles for 2 weeks and barely able to get morsels of food down my gullet till a couple of days ago.  I planned on enjoying every minute of my night with Haagen Dazs.  Andrew, our oldest, enjoyed the taste test as well. His mature comment like a veteran icecream connoisseur, in regard to the Green Tea flavor, “They tried too hard.”  I knew exactly what he meant at 8 years, he nailed it.  As I sat down with all my lovelies in separate baby dishes (cannot mix those flavors) and  watched my boy, Kris Allen, sing his heart out, a contented grin and palate showed my appreciation for thosewho care about my well being (especially the ones who send icecream:)

DSC_0231The Chicago show planned months ahead of time, packed, excited, looking forward to all the people that we would see … then an unsuspecting sore throat pops up on Wednesday night before we leave.  Driving on Thursday, the pain intensifies and I sleep and don’t speak the whole way.  Nice quiet trip for Aaron .. to the tune of seven and half hours.  I thought, I’ll rest, no big deal, better in a couple of days.  Thursday night we joined Brian and Andrea Gray of Edison Pens and late comer Roger Cromwell of Penopoly for dinner at Giordano’s for a piece of lead, I mean pizza.  I could barely swallow my pizza and by the middle of the meal Andrea offered to walk me back to the Westin.  What a doll she was, walked me to my room, put me in bed, made me tea, and poured my Nyquil.   Sweat out the fever, sleep, and I’d be as good as new.   NOPE!   The pain in my throat continued.  Friday, Dr. David Isaacson of Vacumania looked at me in the ballroom, a broad spectrum antibiotic was called in by my doc after his diagnosis. Again … on the road to recovery.  Friday night, no dinner out with newly made friend Shari Zeck, Aaron, and the Gray’s, I followed Dr’s orders and went to my room with soup, Nyquil, and my Penicillin.  Another painful sleepless night. Saturday, I awoke to more pain and I could feel my tonsil in my molars.  Normal????  No, but I’ve been through child birth to the tune of  8lb 9oz with an epidural at 8cm.  I could handle this.  I’m no wimp!!  Who cares if I can barely speak or open my jaw.  The penicillin hasn’t kicked in yet.  One more day, I can handle this.  I wasn’t myself, no doubt about it.  I got through Sat. doubled up on my pain meds.  800mg Motrin and 1000mg Acetaminophen (Tylenol – Extra Strength) dulled the pain every 4-6 hours so I could get through the day.  If I overdosed on meds we’d cross that bridge when we got to it.  Sat night, felt pretty chipper went out with the Sorgatz’s, Meyers, &  Greys.  Ate a piece of pizza.  Good thing.  Little did I know, It would be the last thing of substance I would eat to date.   Another sleepless night with meds and pain but I’m tough I can do this.  Sunday arrives.  I take my meds, drink my icees, and do my best to represent the PCA and myself without speaking very well.  Despite my challenges I still sold some memberships.  I smile thinking about it.  Then, Sunday afternoon a gent named Barry Abrams sat at my table and we started to chat.  He tells me he’s a pen turner, loves the show, and we discuss the PCA’s new website and I sell him a membership.   Then, the magic words.  He’s a physician in Chicago.  Being shy, I asked him to look in my throat because my pain was only getting worse and the penicillin wasn’t kicking in yet.  What did he think?  He was so cute, pulled a flashlight out of his pocket looked in my throat ( I could barely open my mouth) and said, “Honey, you are going to the ER right now.”  What?  What do you mean?  I have a sore throat right.  No.  I had a Peritonsular Abscess growing in my throat for two days.  He walked me over to Aaron’s table where David Isaacson met us concurring the ER was imminent.  As everyone knows, Sunday is a big day at a show.  I didn’t want Aaron to leave so once again, Andrea Gray took care of me.  Another collector named George (see him at every show) stepped up to take me to the hospital and Andrea and I were off.  Dr. Barry called ahead to a large teaching hospital in the area (Advocate Lutheran General) to let them know my diagnosis and ETA.  Due to Swine Flu fears in the Chicago area, it was a 3 hour wait for a bed in the ER.   Barry’s connections and diagnosis got me a bed in an hour and 15 minutes.  Andrea and I arrived at the hospital at 1:30pm and Aaron and I left at 10:30 leaving the pain of my ordeal behind.  IV’s of delotid, antibiotics, and steroids followed by CAT scans, and hours of waiting resulted in an ENT coming in to decide whether I would be admitted, operated on, or taken care of right there.  I now understand that what I had was not just a sore throat, this abscess was an emergency due to the complications it could/would cause if not treated ASAP.  The abscess is an infection that can spread to the heart and lungs or can swell so large it can choke one to death, both outcomes quite scarey.  Luckily, the plethora of drugs coursing through my veins made the ENT’s decision to drain the abscess right there easier.  The antibiotics, painkiller, and steroids shrunk, numbed, and treated the infection for the moment.  Talk about a fun experience.  Numbing spray in the back of my throat, a large needle to numb the pertonsular area, then a scalpel and surgical scissors to release the infection.  Big fun for everyone but me!  The staff at Lutheran General took wonderful care of me.  They were kind, courteous, knowledgeable, and good “stickers”.  The IV went in like butter.  The good news is, after all was said and done Aaron took a lump of Kim back to the Westin with milkshake and meds in hand.  The first night of sleep since Wednesday night and I had a voice when I came to.  The night was over, I was better, and we were home bound to celebrate our oldest’s birthday (or so I thought).  The ride home was full of phone calls recanting the ER tale and singing the praises of Barry Abrams.  Barry to me.  Dr. Abrams to everyone in the ER.  He went above and beyond the call of duty and still calls to check up on me.  By Monday night after eating a small dish of icecream and visiting with all our family my ear started to ache and by Tuesday morning, I was in pain to the point of crying.  Aaron took me to an ENT before noon, the abcess was back and I was headed to hospital not 24 hours later than the first stint.  Tuesday night Dr. Reed (old school ENT) removed my tonsils and all the abscesses localized in my throat.  The days that follow are a haze of doing the Charleston in Recovery, excruciating pain, whispers, vicadin, concerned friends & family, popsicles, yogurt (only certain kinds), no icecream, applesauce (little bit), motrin, and antibiotics, throat scabs, and more popsicles.  Popsicles upon waking, before bed, and all throughout the day.  I have to say, I have never been a popsicle person, but right now the relief they offer is priceless.  I’m eating one right now thinking bikini season should not be an issue this year:)The good news is I’m off the major pain meds until bed time and the house is much quieter these days.  Here’s to hoping DC is a better show:)  Thank you to everyone at the show who offered their help and concern.  We truly are a Pen Community.

kimchicagoHello all, so sorry to disappoint.  When the shows are getting close like Chicago this weekend, the Svabik household gets a bit crazy.  There are arrangements to be made for the kids, Money (our dog), what is going to be on the table, how many tables at the show, PCA duties, etc.  Aaron is busily getting all of our queue caught up so current clients won’t be affected by the influx of restorations brought in at the show.  Unfortunately, my blog has taken a back seat to all the excitement.  However, here is a glimpse of the days and  to come.  We will be featuring a Pen Widow’s Corner, for all those significant other’s who have lost their men to this sickness.  Living La Vida Loca (Life on the edge, including self checkouts at the grocery store), and show wrap ups from my point of view.  We can’t wait to see everyone and of course sleep in those Westin beds.  Especially looking forward to seeing Mario at the show.  I don’t have to wait until DC to get a big Italian hug.  Don’t miss all the details, can’t promise any singing stewardesses, but I won’t let you down.  Enjoy the photos from last years show.


Like I said, it’s always Christmas Morning.  Check out what just hit the door.

July 2018
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