Sharp Pencils

Crank This Puppy Up

Crank This Puppy Up

We all have our quirks.  Some people are particular about how the toilet paper roll hangs.  Some people have to load the dishwasher just the right way.  Some people never use their turn signal.  I like sharp pencils.

I know a lot of people don’t even use pencils.  They yse pens, if they write things by hand at all.  It’s not like people tend to keep journals these days, or write letters.  Even the words I am writing now are not being written by hand, unless you count typing on a keyboard.  Pencils seem so elementary school.  But I love them.  If I start a grocery list, I reach for a pencil first.  Crossword puzzles?  Gotta be in pencil.

The thing is, I like sharp pencils.  A dull pencil is like a dull knife.  Sure, it can get the job done, but it isn’t fun and it isn’t easy.  A dull pencil makes for work.  A sharp pencil makes for pleasure.  A fine graphite tip scratching across paper–that is simply a joy.  And those mechanical jobbers won’t do.  A newly sharpened wooden pencil is a fine and incomparable thing.

I got a pencil sharpener from my grandmother a few years ago.  She moved out and so cleaned out and gave me one.  It hangs on the wall and has a hand crank.  It is one of the most used tools in our house.  I use it almost every day, in fact.  I attached it to a post next to our desk downstairs.  A few pencils sit in a bin above it.  When my pencils start to wear too much, I crank it and start writing again.

One thing of which I am not a fan is an electric pencil sharpener.  That seems like a waste of energy.  That seems like it was designed for sloth.  You can’t even wrap a couple of fingers around a little knob and make a few turns?  You need electricity to sharpen a pencil?  How lazy can you be?  I guess if you have to sharpen hundreds of pencils (SAT test administrator?) it would come in handy.  But otherwise, come on people.

We have been trying to weed through all of the random crap in our basement lately.  We have boxes with art supplies, kitchen supplies, office supplies, all of which are half unpacked.  I keep wondering how one couple could have gathered so many damn writing utensils?  We have hundreds of pens and hundreds of pencils.  I kid you not.  I have to keep changing the system for how we will store them to accommodate more.  We have a whole bin of pencils on the kitchen counter, tucked behind the telephone.  My sharpener has been busy.

This doesn’t count, of course, the pencils that my daughter brings home.  Apparently someone at the National Education Association convention recently announced that all teachers will be condemned as half-ass slackers if they do not provide dozens of pencils for each pupil to bring home each month.  And the National Halloween Federation must have passed a ruling that since candy is bad for you, the safe and smart alternative is to hand out pencils.  As a parent this isn’t all that bad–hey, less candy to rot my kid’s teeth.  But if I were a kid I’d be pissed–A pencil?  Do that again next year and I’ll poke your eye out.

In summary:

  • I like to write with pencils
  • I have scores of pencils, some of which are older than Thriller
  • I like sharp pencils
  • Electric pencil sharpeners are for lazy people
  • I sharpen my pencils with a tool that is older than Michael Jackson himself
  • I support, although I do not necessarily agree with, the idea that pencils are better than candy, even if they are sharp
  • If you happen to need a pencil when you stop by, and I’m not home, you can find them behind the telephone
  • Satellite television is the biggest ripoff ever

OK that last one has nothing to do with pencils.  Got a problem with that?  Write me a letter.  In pencil.

Stuff I’ve Noticed Recently

I hung up a bunch of old CD’s recently  over some garden beds, to keep out the birds.  This morning I looked out the window to see a robin pecking at the dirt at the edge of one of those beds.  Then it hopped right over the bed.  It nearly got clocked by the spinning disk.  It worked last time.

Our dishwasher has a whole slew of adjustable bars and rods, the better to efficiently stack all one’s dishware and cutlery.  One of them seemed to have lost its adjustability recently.  It flopped.  I removed it today to find that it had rusted right through.  The little rod was pointy, yet crumbly, with rust.  I took out one half and wrestled with the second for a while before deciding to leave it for tomorrow.  I figured a dishwasher is for lazy people anyway so I had good reason to be lazy with that task.

Our neighbors have a small pond, just over our property line.  What its intended use what I can’t say.  It doesn’t seem to get much human use at all–no swimming, no irrigation, no livestock watering.  It just sits there, leaking onto our side, home for ducks and frogs.  The bullfrogs are especially loud these days.  The groan and croak at all hours, but seem to especially like the hours just after dark.  All of us pretend to respond to them now and again.  Cracks us right up.

For Father’s Day I got a book of crossword puzzles.  I am pretty hooked on crossword puzzles and have been working my way through a book of 200 of them from the New York Times.  This new book is a little different.  One of the clues was this:  Royal mistake maker.  The answer?  Dumbshit.  Cracked me right up.

We have been watching old science fiction movies lately.  You know, the classics.  The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example.  Last night we watched the original 1950’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  It was pretty well done, eerie and even a little scary, but not gore-filled.  All of these movies have the year listed on the sleeve from Netflix.  Last night’s said 1956, but when the film opened it said 1955.  The other films have had this same one year discrpancy.  My guess is the the film posts the copyright date and Netflix notes the date the film actually was released.  I guess they used to do things a little slower back then.

We went up the road this afternoon to pick up our share of produce.  This was given to us as a gift again at Christmas.  Great gift.  As we walked out to the field to pick strawberries, the children found a mud puddle.  Well, maybe puddle isn’t quite right.  It was a mud puddle and had become a thick bowl of muddy paste.  The children were wearing mud boots so of course they slopped about in it until their footwear was gray and wet.  They had a blast.  Then they sat in their dirty boots and ate all the strawberries we picked while I picked some daisies to bring home.

The cucumber beetles are starting to hatch.  I have been slow to attend to them.  I hope to get some Neem and see what that does.  I have heard good things about it, that it makes the beetles go away.  I want them to go away.  I picked one off a pumpkin plant today and slayed it.  They are beautiful little bugs.  And I want them to live far away from here.  I want some cucumbers this year, dammit.