Naughty or Nice? Clamps, but no Vise!

Santa's workshop must be a place of furious industry and creativity this time of year. I love the idea of making gifts while keeping the endeavor a surprise. While I never caught sight of any elves in the basement, I loved "working" with my dad on his "projects" as a preschooler.

The folks who make scents, candles, and potpourri for the Christmas season are missing the smells for Santa's basement workshop:



Old, dried-out newspaper


Dryer lint


Dial Soap bars

Varnish and shellac


Aging corrugated cardboard

"Gunk" orange hand-cleaner

Several of my little students are ready to learn blended consonant sounds. "Clamp" is a strange vocabulary word for them, so I took every clamp I could find in junk drawers, tool boxes, and art supplies to school. We added day-glo bright squeeze mini-clamps, some plywood and masonite scraps, and a plastic construction worker hat to create a very popular classroom work center. Maybe I'm not the only kid who thinks C-clamps are C-cool! The kids are knocking each other out of the way like Tonya Harding's goons for the chance to twirl the gizmo on the C-clamp!

Not brave enough to do preschool sawing at a mitre box next, but Dad's workshop vise and mitre box empowered my outlook on life. Dad let me pound nails into a bar of Dial soap "to build a better mousetrap" on our evenings in the basement. My mom must have been washing dishes and caring for my younger siblings while Dad and I spent quality time sorting nuts and bolts. Perhaps my favorite mystery was the long row of Gerber baby food jars hanging by their lids from a shelf on the workshop pegboard.

"If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbour," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "tho' he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door." And where is Waldo now?

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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