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Meet my stuff


This is one of my favorite objects in the whole wild world (no, no…not the dime. Well, yes, actually…mercury dimes are nice, too).

In the late seventies, my mother bought a piece of property way back in the woods. There was a wobbly old barn and the foundation of an even older house. As she stepped onto the foundation the first time, her foot kicked loose this tiny pocket knife.

Possibly you must hold this thing in your hand to grok how cool it is. It was made with the most basic hand tools — there are clear file scrapes and hammer marks — apparently out of scraps of waste metal. The lack of polish and the hesitation around some of the cut marks suggests its creator was an amateur. The handle is horse hoof, I think. It looks, in short, like it was beaten together out of found junk.

It is, however, beautifully conceived and beautifully made. The lines are perfect. The mechanism is simple — that metal tab lifts and slips into a notch in the spine, lifting the backstrap and unlocking the blade — but it’s smooth and sure, even now. It is crude and it is amazingly elegant.

The two brass bands are an ornamental touch not repeated on the other side. Did he decide he didn’t like the look? Was he interrupted before he finished? How old is it, anyway? It is a puzzling artifact. I want to hold it in my hands and shout at it. “Cough it up! Tell me the story, goddamn you!”

I ran across it again today rummaging around for a stamp. This is a humbling object. It was, in all likelihood, hammered together out of crap by an ignorant farm hand in his spare time.

I can’t shake the feeling he’s worth three of me.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 23, 2007, 5:05 pm

Me and my stupid code. I think I broke the back of that project today, anyway.

Growing up around country people was often humbling. On the one hand…yeah, they were usually amazingly ignorant about just about everything in the world I considered important. On the other hand, they had mastered stuff. They could make things and build things and plant things and cook things…all day long without getting tired, and everything they did worked. Made my lazy, pasty, book-reading, incompetent ass feel like a complete waste of human skin sometimes.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 23, 2007, 5:09 pm

The sad part is I doubt there’s many people around who could even try to make something like that these days.

Comment from Alissa
Time: March 23, 2007, 8:39 pm

That’s pretty freakin cool… the object, yeah. The writing *yeah*.

But I also want to be told stories about the mercury dime. Not to be demanding.
And if you have a pastrami sandwich lying around, that would be great, too…
maybe a Sprite to go with it.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: March 23, 2007, 9:30 pm

Hey, very cool! I love knives too. The style of your knife reminded me somewhat of french laguiole knives. This thing may be older than you suspect.

The problem with making things like that is that you likely don’t have many of the tools needed to do so. Here’s an idea – you should take a ceramics class! You get to make neat stuff by hand – stuff you can use! I have a couple mugs & plates, several bowls and a bunch of pots I use all the time.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: March 23, 2007, 10:24 pm

I know exactly what you mean about ‘country-dumb’ folks and their amazing penchant for doing really non-dumb productive stuff that’s cooler’n shit. I’m retired and am moving (roughly next month!) into precisely that rural environment (where I have country relatives). I’m hoping some of that dumb will rub off onto me. I can’t wait. I’ve had enough of this urban-smart crap.

When your mom kicked the knife, did it hurt her toe?

I want that knife. Send it to me. If you don’t, I’ll compliment your writing again. :>

Comment from gloomferret
Time: March 24, 2007, 4:37 am

I came for the weekend weasel…where is it? Sometimes I just sit and look at its cute little face for hours…

Instead I find some rambling about a knife…WTF? Give us the weasel picture!

Comment from Pupster
Time: March 24, 2007, 9:59 am

Very cool. I love pocket knives of all kinds, but I have an uncanny knack for losing them far afield.

I guess it’s kind of the circle of life deal, if Jedidiah hadn’t lost it, Weasel wouldn’t have it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 24, 2007, 11:41 am

Damn you, Enas Yorl! Now you’ve got me knife shopping.

Check out his link…French knives, made when you place your order (but we are French, we do not make ze products in August). Not as expensive as you might think (except for the ones with Damascus steel blades).

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: March 24, 2007, 1:44 pm

Hahaha! Here’s some more knives from Una Alla Volta I have one of those Pilgrim’s knives – the Classic in Corsican Pepperwood. When you smell the handle it really does smell like pepper. Unfortunately, you can’t order them from here anymore. Beautiful knife though. I got it for Christmas a couple years back. You can still look and order their laguiole knives though.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 24, 2007, 4:28 pm

Well, I bought one. They have a monthly special, so I got that one. Looked as good as any other. I have a birthday coming up, so what the heck.

I can never have too many knives. I don’t know why I can never have too many knives, but there you go.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: March 24, 2007, 10:31 pm

Nice! I hope you enjoy it. That’s a pretty reasonable price actually. I LOVE the look of those damascus steel ones don’t you? One of these days I WILL have a damascus steel blade. You’re right though – it’s impossible to have too many knives. Currently I have my eye on a pair of stilettos.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: March 24, 2007, 10:32 pm

I think my last comment got swallowed by the spam filter.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 25, 2007, 6:11 am

Yeah, I kicked it lose. Weird. I guess it was the link, but it usually takes two or more before it autoflags as spam.

The all-steel stiletto is especially evil looking. (Triangular blade! So wounds won’t close!).

Damascus steel is beautiful to look at. It’s like you can see down into it. That reminds me…there’s a weapons museum fairly near me I’ve always meant to visit. Now that I’ve got a more reliable car, I really should go.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: March 25, 2007, 11:20 pm

You peeps seem so manly! Weapons and knives and all! I’m beginning to feel like a woman around y’all. So not masculine am I. *sniff*

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