Blackwing releases seasonal editions of their pencils quarterly, and their latest one, Volume 10001, is one of my favourites. As my stationery cupboard creaks and groans with each passing year (I unearthed many, many treasures when we packed up for the move), I’m realizing I need to be a bit more judicious in what I need extra supply of, but this one is definitely a keeper.
This Volume is known as the Puzzle Pencil, inspired by Tetsuya Miyamoto, a mathematics teacher, and his creation of KenKen and logic or math based puzzles. There are all sorts of interesting details – 10001 is a numeral palindrome in Kanji as well as in Arabic numerals, the barrel is an “adzuki” or red-bean stain finish, a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes.
However, Caleb “graduated” from preschool last week, and I think my favourite detail of this pencil is the pentagonal “Gōkaku pencil” shape – “Gokaku” being a phrase written on charms or stationery to wish good luck for passing exams, as well as Gokaku pencils being given out to students upon passing Miyamoto’s math classes. There are so many layers in this one edition to why we love pencils, and how we use them, and how we should treasure them, and what they mean for us as symbolically as a culture, but of course, most of all, that we should use them to stretch our minds.
I also love that as more and more of these Volumes are being released, Blackwing continues to find inspiration outside of North America and a western demographic or geography, especially as there’s such a rich culture of stationery and pencil usage outside of the US, along with all of the legendary American pencilers.
These pencils have a firm core, like the 602, which is just the right one for filling out Sudokus or crosswords or figuring out your taxes.
Caleb has his own small collection of pencils, and it’s always exciting to open a box of pencils with him. For him, the surprise is truly real, as he hasn’t seen pictures online or heard any spoilers about the release, and I love this age of wonder and delight. Perhaps a sign he should stay off the internet forever?? Some editions are more difficult to explain than others – Guy Clark? film photography? – but this one is a pleasure: to celebrate math and teachers and using pencils to solve puzzles.
He gets one of each special edition, and he wields them with wild abandon, scribbling, drawing, using to poke things or fling about randomly – no babying these bad boys – which is a philosophy I’m starting to adopt.* Everyone asks if we’re going to send Caleb to school with Blackwings, and the answer is ‘probably not to Kindergarten?’ I’m thinking of starting him off with some jumbos, and we’ll have to see how it goes from there. I still remember as a child being very specific about my pencil case at school, an obvious hierarchy of eraser quality, the dreaded graphite dusting over the inside of the case, etc., and my greatest dream as a stationer is to have my firstborn treasure and appreciate his pencil case’s riches as he embarks upon his education.
These last few days we’ve been surviving a heat wave. The wood deck on our terrace was just about too hot to tread upon barefoot, and the animals, after having begged and whined to go out, would be back at the door, on the other side, pink tongues hanging out, within minutes. I took the babies to a local park with a splash pad, thinking how nice it would be for Caleb to splash in and out of the cool water, and I was sitting on our blanket, in the shade, just slowly melting. To add to the excitement, Caleb decided he wanted to explore Riverdale Farm (yet again) to see if the pigs were awake (they were not). While it was hot, sunny and farm fragrant, there was a horse demonstration to a group of kids in the middle of the farm. Unfortunately we were kicked out from watching from behind the fence, so we had to leave, much to Caleb’s disappointment.
He’s gotten over his disappointment by appointing Super as his horse, and this new promotion has lasted several days in our household, with no signs of slowing down. Caleb has been bringing Super upstairs and downstairs and everywhere on his leash, promising “special treats” when they “go back into the barn,” and brushing him while giving explanations to the viewing public (sometimes the cat, usually the baby) on the proper way to take care of a horse. Caleb has been enforcing Jon and I referring to Super as “Horse,” which has resulted in Jon sometimes yelling out “HORSE! HORSE!” when we hear Super jumping up on the table to steal food, and Super completely ignoring him. It would be funnier if Caleb wasn’t so vigilant about censoring us.
In any case, we all survived and we’re back to normal now. We’re also settling into a new routine, as Caleb is done preschool, and he’s back with me all day. At the main shop, Jon recently installed this hose, which he got primarily to hose off the patio in front of the shop, but which is also perfect for watering the plants outside. Of course Caleb has been all over this task. He’s a great helper, but what could be more fun than something that sprays water.
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Currently drinking: iced coffee
Currently eating: mangoes for days
Next analogue project: sorting through my washi tape supply and gifting off the extra, a la Marie Kondo
Summer plans: heading to the cottage and paddling out on the lake, possibly with some mangoes
*I mean, within reason.