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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Moonbeam drawer, Pencil sharpener

The Pencil Sharpener and I

I love my pencil sharpener, the one that works. Three of them don't, or only halfheartedly. They leave dull tracks and the pencils that have suffered them sit on paper the way the circus fat lady settles into an easy chair. Lead spillage.

My pencil sharpener is bright and cheerful. It holds beautiful shavings of wood that I can see and smell. It rarely breaks lead tips. It was very cheap. It connects me to China, a place I love. And it brings my pencils straight to the point.

To the point

Computers are wonderful, but pencils are treasures. As they poise (never hover) over paper, for just a moment all our thoughts run down to that tip and are beautifully focused. What we are about to write will flow with a rich neatness and precision.

Pencils capture all our potential. We see it when we sharpen them and set them down in an uncluttered place. Stare at a pencil and everything you have ever wanted to write well stares back at you.

My father used to park his sharpened pencils in neat rows, ready for the hard work of an engineer who loved to arrange and rearrange numbers, as I thought at the time. He had elegant handwriting and took great pleasure in marching neat columns of small, slightly slanted numbers across bookkeepers' cream-white pages with pale green lines.

I liked to watch him work at his brown rolltop desk in the basement. I liked it best when he sharpened his pencils. The clean smell of sawdust mingled with the newly sharp dark tips. Each session was a rebirth. How proud I was when he allowed me to use the expensive, heavy metal sharpener he had attached to the wall, for in our house a sharpener was a tool of rare beauty.

My little sharpener is light and airy and modern, an improved version, although I doubt my father would have thought so. All things can be improved.

Except a point.

For an interesting ramble around the world of pencils, visit The Pencil Pages! of the Incense Cedar Institute, California.


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