May 5, 2005

I quite like old things.

And no, this is not going to turn into a MILF post, nor anything involving octgenarians.

My wife called into the office last night to ask what I was doing. I told her "Making notes for tomorrow's post." When asked what I was writing about, I told her, and she mentioned rather arily that I had written about that before. In my defense I told her that this entry is framed in a different manner, in a different voice (almost) and develops one of the hundreds of small points that I have touched on before in this forum. At this time, however, she was deeply involved in "Hotel Ruwanda" again, so I went back to making notes.

I guess I was raised not to dispose of things before their time, and that has developed into a love of old things. Not so much antiques, that has been tempered out of me by living in an area where everything has to be antiques, but honestly when you live in a country whose entire history goes back a few hundred years, and you look across The Pond at a country where most of the buildings can be traced back to pre-Roman times, a big ole rambling plantation house sort of loses it's flair.

Let me try and rephrase--I like things that aren't disposable, and most new things are just that.

That's a little better. I was sitting at work yesterday and found that my pen (that I've had for a little over three years now) was running out of ink. Did I toss it in the trash and grab another? Nope. Did I get a refill out of the package and throw the old one away? Nope. I dug down into my drawer, got out my bottle of Parker Quink, opened it, opened my pen, ran the piston down into the almost-empty reservoir, submerged the nib, and reversed the piston, drawing up a load of sleek black ink. Then I reassembled the pen, dried the extra ink off the nib, capped the ink bottle and put it away, and went back to writing.

Yes, I use a fountain pen. I love them, their elegance, their character, and their longevity. I plan on having that little $35 pen for a very very long time. I've had that bottle of ink for over three years now, and it's only about half full. I don't plan on spending another $7 on a fresh bottle for another few years yet. I like having to take a few quiet minutes out of my busy schedule to take time to refill my pen, in much the same way my grandfather likely did when he was young.

I drove my truck to work yesterday, because it was threatening rain. As usual I had to take a little extra distance to stop her, and slow down a little more than other people in turns, and I even had the window cranked down. You see, not having power steering, power brakes nor air conditioner makes me have to take certain things into consideration, like stopping times and turning space. Heck, I don't even have a radio, which I sometimes miss, but that's neither here nor there. But, and like I laughingly tell the boss when his new Ford truck was having trouble starting, I can do most anything mechanical to that truck using a single crescent wrench. No computer hookups, no electronic ignition to fail, no black box to ponder over. My brother has a brand new Honda Ridgeline. Beautiful truck, but when you pop the hood all you see is a few Crayola Crayon-coloured tops of bottles that you can fill (wiper fluid, radiator overflow and the like.) The engine is simply not visible. You can't even see the belts. It looks like it should have a huge sticker on the top of this plastic engine cover: "No user-servicable parts inside." Kinda sad, really.

Sitting here making my notes, I find myself wreathed in smoke. Smoking my pipe, you see. (And if you're curious, it's a Rinaldo Lythos YYY, rusticated Bulldog, and I'm smoking McClelland's Frog Morton.) It's a newer one, only about six years old, but I've got pipes that have been with me for almost two decades now. Don't get me wrong, I like smoking cigars too, occasionally, but they turn me away most times because of their sheer disposability. With a cigar you smoke it, perhaps save the brightly-coloured band for your cigar journal or to glue to something, but when you're down to the chewed-up end, you simply toss it away. A pipe requires dedication. You don't toss it away when you're done smoking. You have to clean it, usually before AND after smoking, and you have to keep at least one tool around to use it properly (a tamp to pack the tobacco, not to mention fire.) I like smoking, and I like having to take the time to do it. It makes smoking more of a conscious decision, rather than something I could pull out of a pack, smoke to the filter and toss away before I even realised I had smoked it. I like the effort you have to put into a pipe.

For the same reason I refuse to use an electric razor, though I confess I do use disposable blades. I use each one about four or five times before I dispose of it, but still, they're disposable. I'd use a straight razor if I thought I could master keeping it sharp and not cutting my throat with it, but I know how my hands can betray sometime, so I'm going to stick with my Mach 3. There's no need to be on the cutting edge (pun intended) of shaving when a hand-held razor does just as good, and costs a heck of a lot less.

I have to wind not only my pocket watch (not a wristwatch, a pocket-watch, because wearing and checking the time on a pocket watch is much more graceful) but my long-case clock in the den, with it's beautiful brass pendulum. The watch is an every-morning ritual, in it's small way. Out of the drawer, chain clipped to my waistband, and the eight or nine quietly clicking winds to tighten it's main spring. The long-case clock is an every three-to-five day ritual, because I've never actually let it wind all the way down to see just how many days it really takes. Once a day is far too often, because not only are the springs very large and tight toward the end of their windings but to wind it also involves opening the face door, getting the steel key from off it's little holder nail, and winding not one but two main springs, one clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. I like having my machines dependent on me. *lol*

And yes, I do realise that I'm doing all this on a computer, and an almost cutting-edge one at that. I'm writing by the light of my electric lamp, listening to Beethoven on my Windows MP3 player. In the living room I've got quite a nice surround sound system. I'm not a Luddite, I simply like to slow down sometime, to take a look around me and actually experience things, rather than tearing headlong through the day, then suddenly glancing around to say "Where did it all go?" My shop is full of power tools, and I don't see myself suddenly tossing it all in favor of a spoke shave and a handful of chisels. I like convenience just as much as the next guy, just not a whole lot of it.

I quite like my fountain pen. I really do. I like people who dare use fountain pens in a world of disposable Bic Stiks. We may not be obvious, but we're there, slowly working away at the world of the disposable.

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