Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Gift!

Three days ago was my fathers birthday. He would have been 73 years old.

Damn. That's old.

I can be notoriously difficult to buy for for Christmas. Just, quite frankly, there isn't a lot I want at any given time. Occasionally I will have years where there is something I'm interested in. But most of the time, I operate with the mentality that I have everything I need.

I do have my hobby of building and painting little miniature figures, and I can always use new models. Because,

Q: What's better than a unit of 20 soldiers on the battlefield?

A: A unit of 50.

But right now I have more models than I have time to build. Tiny monsters given to me in December will generally hit my workbench by June. It took me nearly 18 months to get around to using the gift card I received in 2009. So, while I always want new models, if one didn't want to buy me models the options are severely limited.

My wife however, is not a woman to be daunted by difficult gift giving. Probably because her father is the most difficult person to buy for on the face of the planet (because he doesn't even paint miniature models). Kasey is doggedly single-minded in her pursuit of that perfect unique gift. So much so that it often surprises me. On more than on occasion upon opening a package from her, my initial reaction is "What the Eff is this?". Those gifts that at first seem silly and useless, eventually turn into all consuming passions. Miniature models for example: Kasey. Darts: Kasey. Cast Iron skillet: Kasey. And so on and so forth. The last few years her presents have even eclipsed that of my bottle 18 year old Scotch I received for my 25th birthday. The gifts keep getting better and better. So much so that I feel the slightest bit guilty at having things which I love so much.

This year my present held extra meaning for me. In a way that was unexpected and welcomed. Kasey and I had been talking about painting and how so many activities have been replaced with quicker, less interesting versions of themselves. Things like shaving. I had just read an article about shaving which outlines the age old practice of shaving with a straight razor. And Christmas morning what do I find in my stocking?

Straight Razors are known as "Cut-throat" razors.
Can you guess why?

That is a Thiers-Issard "Evide Sonnant Extra" 6/8 fully hollow singing razor. (it's called a "singing" razor because it hums when you shave with it.) To accompany my instrument of death, I also received a brush and some Truefitt & Hill 1805 genuine lather shaving cream. Christmas Day I held a piece of steel to my face that is sharper than surgeons scalpel. Despite shaving from a full, untrimmed beard, the razor took it right down to the skin without taking off said skin. It is an experience I will never forget. I learned, later that day, my father used to shave with a straight razor.

Which doesn't surprise me in the least.

Ultimately I am turning into a man who does thing because they are in themselves worth doing. Now, I shave with a straight razor. Not because I need a clean-shaven face, but because it is worth taking the extra time to use a straight razor. Shaving reminds me that I am like my father and my grandfather. The act, in itself, has value. Similarly, I paint not because I need paintings to hang on my wall, or because I need to sell paintings to eat. I paint because, intrinsically, painting is worth doing.

And anything worth doing, is worth taking the time to do it well.

Speaking of well, I have a new tromp l'oeil on the easel which should be finished by the end of next week. I'll post again when I have it finished. See you in January and may the New Year bring you the discovery of things worth doing.



  1. This is wonderful. Didn't know I could love you more.

  2. Awesome! I love the primitive technology! You guys are too cute! :)

  3. Said as your father would have said. But said with a touch of humor and irony.

  4. This was unexpected. I laughed and teared up at the same time. I kind of wished I grew hair on my face.... well not so much. I love your writing.