It occurred to me yesterday that I must be getting older when my grandson brought me a plastic box filled with a rainbow of coloured pencils. The leads were worn down to a nub. I hunted through the junk box to find a small green plastic sharpener which, of course, was missing. So we used the electric one in my writing room. He was delighted with grinding and noisy swallowing of shavings into the machine’s belly.
The aging part came when I remembered HB pencils for homework deftly sharpened with my father’s penknife. He had a small-bladed, ivory handled pocket knife handy for jobs like that. It was something a kid could count on a father for, like helping you make the first snowman of the winter, watching Hockey Night in Canada or taking you out to find night crawlers on a summer evening when he was going to go fishing the next morning.
That little knife had other uses too. My father scraped the bowl of his pipe with it, after digging out all the black soot, and then he’d tap it against his favourite ashtray which was really the brass casing from an artillery shell. We kids would standing around gagging when he took pipe cleaners and reamed out all the yellow brown guck from the stem. Despite it all, I loved the smell of his pipes (he had a corncob, and Indian chief, and several smooth-bowled ones of indeterminate origin). In fact, outside an office building not long ago, I smelled pipe tobacco and actually turned on the street to find the smoker. He seemed pleased when I commented that one whiff took me back a few years.
The tiny blade of that knife was used for prying lids, screwing screws, sharpening sticks for roasting hotdogs, slicing cardboard for making homework projects, cutting blossoms from lilac trees, the hooks from the mouths of fish and the string on mailing packages. It was never used for slicing apples, buttering bread, or halving chocolates.
I suspect there is a perfect tool for all those jobs nowadays. Not many people smoke pipes now because everyone says they’re bad for you. I’ve seen Exacto knives, pliers, and tiny folding scissors and screwdrivers with a half dozen heads. Men’s pockets are filled with change, a comb, a plastic lighter and maybe a paper tissue or two. I secretly hope that penknives have not disappeared in the way of cloth handkerchiefs, and paper matches.
But, suppose I had pulled out a penknife to sharpen the pencil crayons. I bet my grandchildren would be right there breaking the pencil shavings into little pieces with just as much enthusiasm as they dump the contents of the electric sharpener into the garbage can and with just as much mess as I once made. Now that I think of it, kids don’t really change that much, its our desire for comfort and convenience that has expanded. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to give up my microwave or electric kettle, but there is something about the personal effort required to do things slowly and with care, like sharpening the stub of a pencil to a fine point. That is something we all could use a little more of these days.
I am a story in progress! In addition to my roles as wife, mother, grandmother, secretary, short story writer, poet, workshop guide and facilitator, I am a great cook, an avid reader, a people watcher and I adore the outdoors, especially the ocean and the forest. I love dogs, cherish my friends, and appreciate good photography. Though I’m curious and adventuresome and really enjoy travel, my home is my sanctuary.
- Beyond these roles, I am a reflective, spiritual person who seeks truth, love and wholeness.
- I respect all life, and strive to be aware and conscious.
- I believe every human being has a story, but that we are more than our story.
- My goal is to continue to shed my ego’s stories and embrace my true and authentic self.
- I am a soul diver whose creativity is filled with images and experiential detail that represent my truest self.
- I love word craft and the power of connotation and meaning.
- I am a lifelong learner who strives to find the gifts in my experience.
- I am a steadfast and compassionate friend, a good listener and cheerleader.
- I appreciate our common need for connection and belonging.