268/365 – Tools of the trade, part 3

DSCN3020Manila folders — how could civilization exist without them?  “I have a file on that,” is one of my common statements.  Sometimes, I find I have two (or more).

Years ago, I found a great way to recycle my folders.  I mark the tabs in pencil, then erase them using a wonderful art supply — the kneaded eraser (the grey lump). It’s basically pure rubber, very soft, and it lifts the graphite off , rather than rubbing away part of the folder.  And you can squish it and stretch it if you need to work off some tension.

Also pictured is another graphic-design tool I wouldn’t be without, the Xacto knife.  I’m not cutting stencils or matboard with it, mostly knicking open my daily banana, but every now and then a real use shows up.  And I like the memories associated with this tool, my art direction road-not-taken.

267/365 – Tools of the trade – part 2


Ah the lowly pencil. So neglected in this digital age. Yet what’s more basic to writing and editing and noting and underlining?  And how can you pencil someone in for an appointment without a pencil?

I really like the SharpWriter by Paper Mate because it has the look and feel of an old-fashioned pencil.  Nice eraser, too.  And you can feed the lead out in sukoshi* bits as needed. Always sharp.

Pencils bring to mind pencil sharpeners, how messy those were, how you often needed permission; breaking the lead (which wasn’t really lead, but graphite, so it wouldn’t poison you); drafting; sketching; something to chew on. Oh, and a grade-school prank where you could wiggle the eraser out, imbed a straight pin through it, then re-insert the eraser with the pin sticking out, and throw it like a weapon, often to dangle like a bullfighter’s banderillas from a winter coat.

*(Japanese for “small”)

266/365 – Tools of the trade, part 1


To be a writer, you need something to write with, and something to write on.  My two choices in that regard are pictured here. 

The pen: Bic Clic Stic medium (black ink).  Absolutely the smooothest, non-clogging champ of pens, and cheap, too.  They’re not easy to find, though, and I tend to order them in bulk.  If you don’t mind someone’s ad on your pen, most give-aways like at the dentist, vet, or hair salon, are Bic Clics.  [Language note:  I see that stylo is the current French generic for “pen,” with “ball-point” being either of: stylo-bille, stylo à bille, or bic.  That last one is like calling a running shoe a “nike.”  Read the fascinating story of the Bic pen company here.]

Meanwhile, the writing pad must be white, wide-ruled, no margin line, glued at the top (not those unpredictable perforated messes), letter size (US 8-1/2 by 11 inches).  Held by a clipboard, of which I prefer the newer ones with plastic backs because they slip into a shoulder bag better.

Now if I’d only write something!

265/365 – Baby, the rain must fall

DSCN3015Ordinarily, rain would not warrant much comment.  But its relative absence around here (Madison, Wis., USA) has been notable, not that I have any crops in need, other than a lawn.  Notable for all the pleasant patio evenings, mosquitoless.  Notable for the dry air and cool nights.  Now we’re paying it back, and my repair project on a basement window well is being put to the test.  Wish I had finished with the plastic and rocks!

264/365 – My bad

We’ve had – still have – an illness in the house, and I’m ashamed to say it put a strain on me.  I grew impatient, frustrated, and started competing for attention.  What a little kid!  Dearest and I finally talked it out, and I’m suitably chagrined, somewhat wiser, and will be a better man going forward.  Still, it’s hard to admit I yielded to my inner brat.