Monday, December 23, 2013

Hand made nut scratchers; It's what's for Christmas.

As much as I like to think I'm getting to be the grouchy old curmudgeon, a few of my peers are making strides to unseat me. My grandpa on my mother's side was my roll model of grouchy old man-ness. I have waited literally my whole life to become like him.  As my general health and well-being continue to improve so do my spirits in general. The shit for brains guy that is my liaison at the company I work with not withstanding I have been somewhat, (dare I say it?) cheerful. I got to a point where, should it continue on to performances, the improv lessons I've been taking have sparked a renaissance of my own imagination. The best times of my life were when creativity was a part of my daily functioning.

Every December, for at least the last couple of decades, the people I did theatre with in college and others we gained along the way go out for Basque dinner and Christmas party after. The only churchyness in the group is one couple that mentions going to mass on Christmas. Otherwise it's secular group all the way. We do have a tradition of exchanging gifts. Nothing so organized as secret Santa or any of that. Small stuff maybe home made jam or small things. Myself and some of the craftier guys have made wooden and other things. This practice has been on the decline as the others have begun being grouchy old curmudgeons. Like I said I have been more creative lately and just couldn't find anything I wanted to buy them. As it turns out the idea for the gift they got is not original or even that new but it did take some ingenuity to pull it off in time for the big dinner.

I was looking through a specialty catalog and spotted it there. Online they go for $6 up to $15 for the deluxe one. After tax and shipping a hillbilly nut scratcher can be a $20 item. "Balls" I say. I can do it for less. Walnuts were easy enough to come by. The crucial element is the bamboo backscratcher to use as a base.

The week before Christmas I spent going from one 99¢ type store to the next. I went all over town with no luck. Then it occurred to me to go to the crappy little mom'n'pop $1+ stores. Bingo!

One thing was still missing. The ladies of the group. The wives, girlfriends etc. Bingo again.

If "Nut Scratchers" are for the gentlemen then the ladies would need "Clam Scratchers". It only makes sense. It also makes sense that since nuts come in pairs so should the nuts of the scratchers. It has been a while but I have been known to stick my face in a ladies clam, if memory serves it is a wondrous structure in 2 halves. The clam shells I got did come with both halves. I didn't really have to make ClamzScratchers to go with the NutzScratchers but the smaller shells looked kind of sad by themselves. Some got 2. What was I going to do with left over clam shells?

I got all of the pieces laid out on my work surface.

I used my little moto tool to sand off a patch of varnish from each bamboo scratcher so the glue would stick. then use it to sand a flat spot on one side of each walnut and clam shell. I sanded deep enough so that it made a hole that would fill with glue and become solid. I couldn't even think of a place to get clam shells in my landlocked town. Even with 2 day shipping a dozen shiny colorful clams were like $10.

Then it was just a matter of mixing up some epoxy and letting them be undisturbed long enough for it all to set. I did wait till 2 hours before the big dinner to do the final assembly. By the time we got to the after dinner party they were rock solid and ready to be gifts.

Of course as time progresses the big Basque dinner that used to fill 2 of the long tables now is an even dozen hearty souls at one table. This means that I have a few left over for the 2 other Christmas events this week.

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