chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

my father’s workshop…6

my father's workshop

I’ve written before about my father’s workshop and I thought that was the direction I was going this morning, examining this photo of the other wall of his shop, which delights me with its careful array of tools: rasps and pliers, levels and ratchets, saws and vice grips, rolling pin and toothbrush. There are some mystery objects as well — for example, what looks like a piece of wood with the words LONG SLOPE printed in my father’s neat caps. It was these strange, unidentifiable tools that brought the hanger to mind.

hanger by LRKMy father was always solving problems. His solutions were simple, sometimes elegant, cobbled together from the materials at hand to accomplish a repeated task. After he died, when it came time to disassemble his workshop, I found scores of these little tools — a dowel with a cup hook glued to one end, a bolt outfitted with a handgrip — that seemed the very essence of who he was — thoughtful, inventive, resourceful, engineer.

The hanger may not have been one of his best inventions, but before the marketplace was flooded with plastic, it was his solution to the dual needs of tidiness and suitcase weight reduction. It has always amused me, with its almost-symmetry, its slightly splintery holes. Not exactly light — for this, one might actually forego the pants hanger altogether — it is, perhaps, a draft. An idea tested, tried out on a trip to Greece or Italy, but never given the full attention, the careful sanding, the re-varnished wood, that would signal his satisfaction with a tool well made.

More than a tool, it’s a cartoon…hod carrier…homunculus…flightless bird…and it reminds me that behind his serious, scholarly demeanor, my father was a person of tremendous warmth, love and humor.

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