Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mongol 482, April’s Calendar and Cookbook Wednesdays

Today’s musing is an amalgamation of a little bit of this and that. So grab a cookie and some milk and let’s get started:)

Let’s begin with a question. Do you know what day today is? Why it’s National Pencil Day; that’s what! There’s a reason why we celebrate National Pencil Day today. Here it is!

"Be it known that I, HYMEN L. LIPMAN, of Philadelphia, in the county of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania, have invented a new and useful Lead Pencil and Eraser; and I do hereby declare the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawing and to the letters of reference marked thereon.

I make a lead-pencil in the usual manner, reserving about one fourth of the length, in which I make a groove of suitable size, A, and insert in this groove a piece of prepared indian rubber, (or other abrasive substance,) secured to said pencil by being glued at one edge. The pencil is then finished in the usual manner, so that on cutting one end thereof you have the lead B, and on cutting at the other end you expose a small piece of indian-rubber, C, ready for use, and particularly valuable for removing or erasing lines, figures, etc., and not subject to be soiled or mislaid on the table or desk". (patent)

Yes siree, it was on this day in 1858 that Mr. Hymen L. Lipman forever altered our lives by “allowing” us to change our lines, words, errors and thoughts by the mere inclusion of an eraser to a pencil, which by most accounts has been mass produced, first in Nuremberg Germany, since around 1662.

Hold your applause. Mr. Lipman’s patent was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. However, not only does the patent still exist and get the recognition it rightly deserves, Mr. Lipman had sold the patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000 long before the court case was ever heard. Whew! Now, I wonder, why are writing pencils usually yellow?

Why Are Pencils Yellow?

Thanks to the folks at the California Cedar Products Company and their website pencils.com, we learn the answer.

During the 1800s, the best graphite in the world came from China. American pencil makers wanted a special way to tell people that their pencils contained Chinese graphite.

In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty and respect. American pencil manufacturers began painting their pencils bright yellow to communicate this “regal” feeling and association with China. However, according to Henry Petroski’s history of the pencil, the European producer Koh-I-Noor was the first to introduce a yellow pencil.

Are you a Famous Pencil User? I think I’ll share this post with my grandson Noah. He may just have the makings of being a future Famous Pencil Use. He penciled this eye for me just a few months ago. Personally, I think it's pretty darn terrific! Noah is eleven:)

Before we venture on, I’d like to share part of an essay by Leonard Read first published in the December 1958 issue of The Freeman. The title of the piece is "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read.” It is said Mr. Read visited an Eberhard Faber pencil factory in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania while researching the essay. I, Pencil is written in the first person from the point of view of a pencil. (official name Mongol 482.) Enjoy:)

I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U. S. A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill's power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation from California to Wilkes-Barre…continue...
“To keep our past failures ever before us would cause us to continue to fail, so take out your pencil, rub out the mark and start over again.”
Rev. Silas Delmar Conger (Who Made That Built-In Eraser?)

It would seem in this day and age of digital everything, the lonely pencil would join the ever growing list of tools of the past. However, global pencil sales are expected to reach $2.6 billion this year. Whoops, now that I type that, it doesn’t seem like very many. Uh oh, what’s a pencil loving girl to do? Succumb to hand entering each and every recipe of interest through the impersonal keyboard? I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a pencil between my fingers rather than have my fingertips jumping all over a mostly unfriendly keyboard. Not to mention the touch feely comfort I get of actually holding that pencil written recipe in hand.

How To Make a Pencil

April’s Food Calendar

The first thing you may notice about this month’s food calendar is the blank dates. I can explain:) You see, there were just to many variations as to whether some food “holidays” were actually “real.” I didn’t just want to fill in the blanks so the calendar looked stuffed so, I chose to simply highlight those days I thought would be of interest to us all. I do hope you all agree:)

The next thing you might notice is April 4th which spells out Square Root Day and the Opening Day of baseball season. It just so happens that this year Square Root Day coincides with Baseball’s opening day. That dear readers does not happen often. As a matter of fact, Square Root Day only happens nine times in a century! (The last Square Root Day of the century will be on September 9, 2081.) And, according to my research, this is the very first time that Opening Day and Square Root Day happen together!!! (if I’m wrong, please let me know:)

Square Root Day is an unofficial holiday that occurs when the month and day are square roots of the last two digits of the year.

Some people will celebrate Square Root Day by preparing foods in the shape of the square root symbol. Others may simple cut root vegetables into squares. (square carrots, parsnips, yams and turnips; maybe, I’m not too sure about kohlrabi and ginger though) If anyone does celebrate Square Root Day by cubing their root vegetables, or in any other novel way, please share:) I guess creative bakers out there could also bake up some square baseballs cupcakes:) As much as I know my grandson Noah would LOVE them, I think I’ll be leaving that task to his baseball coach who just happens to be his Mom:)

Cookbook Wednesdays

Beginning next Wednesday, April 6th, Cookbook Wednesdays will once again be a day for all of you to share some of your favorite cookbooks. We’ll be using the Linky Tool again so everyone can link up:) There aren't rules "per se" to participate in Cookbook Wednesday. Just dig out one of your favorite cookbooks and post about it on your blog. You can share a recipe, tell us why you like it or simply post a picture for all to see:) What? You don’t have any cookbooks! Oh my, we’ll have to do something about that in the near future:) In the mean time, start that wish list, lol…If you would like to grab the logo I made to include in your post, that would be wonderful! If not, that’s fine too:) Either way, please do link back to this post or any Cookbook Wednesday you participate in. I’m looking forward to seeing all your cookbooks. “See” you next week, Louise:)

Cookbook Wednesday Logo
"If it thunders on All Fool's Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay"
Topsy Turvy and a Humpty Dumpty Cake:)


  1. Who knew the humble pencil had such a colourful history? And the colour yellow meaning royalty! Something about that makes me chuckle. I'm sure our Western world is no longer viewed with such fondness bahahaha. 100,000 doesn't seem like a lot of money does it, then again back in those days it probably works out to a few million. Still doesn't seem like much. And neither do the estimated sales. I'm actually surprised it's expected to make that much though. I feel like we're losing the art of handwriting to computers far too passively!

    I hope you and the family had a lovely Easter. I wanted to mention that I actually was so inspired by your last Angel Food cake post I ended up making some for Easter. I tried to get creative with it by turning it into a slice and adding raspberries and a raspberry glaze and sadly I ruined it lol. Everyone else was pleased with it though, I think they were trying to be nice!

    1. I agree, Sonia, the art of hand written words is slowly slipping to the wayside. We must rescue it!

      We had a quiet Easter which was just wonderful:) I am soooooo thrilled to hear you made the Angel Food Cake and for Easter too! I'm sure your creativity was just fine. I've been gathering you tend to be just a wee bit hard on yourself:)

      Thank you so much for dropping by...

  2. I never knew there was so much to know about pencils! And now, thanks to you, I know it all. Particularly interesting how they become yellow. Great new calendar, and I totally support not including those holidays that aren't strictly "official." Love all the special days, but some are over-the-top! Fun post -- thanks.

    1. I had to stop myself from posting so much information about pencils John. I spent so much time reading all the info that I was almost late in posting, lol...I was soooo nervous posting the calendar lacking days but, I just couldn't bring myself to "fill in the blanks."

      Thanks for stopping by John...

  3. Hi Louise, I hope you had a wonderful Easter celebration; ours was quiet, and very little with just us in the family, (my daughter and family) I miss my sister terribly, so used to have her around the holidays, either them coming here or us going there (now it's not the same) I love the pencil written old recipes, who knew what important day really is, with the ever so love simple pencil that's been around forever! As always, your posts bring a smile to my face, and this time a little 'melancholy' with those treasure pencil written recipes, that I also have quite a few of them from family members, including my sister's! Have a wonderful week ahead! xo

    1. I'm so glad this post brought a smile, Elisabeth. It makes my day!!! Stay strong, dear Elisabeth...

  4. Hi Louse ,
    What a wonderful post about the lonely pencil , so much I never knew , I will be sure to let my kids read it . How wonderful to bring back Cookbooks Wednesday . I will hopefully be back in time to participate this year , I grabbed the Logo .
    Love the calendar , you put so much thought and work into it KUDOS .
    Noah is very talented , that kid is going places . Say hello to Marion and both of you keep wiggling those toes . Thanks for sharing , Nee ;-)

    1. Oh goodies, Nee, I was hoping the kids would be able to see it. Kids LOVE pencils!!!

      I'm so glad to hear you might make it for Cookbook Wednesday; I hope, I hope:)

      Marion says Hi back. She told me to tell you she's awiggling:)

  5. I use pencils a lot! I have them stashed next to every telephone (along with paper) so I can jot down any necessary notes; I also use them for working the crossword in the paper! Noah's eye sketch is amazing; that proves my contention that art classes in school don't really teach kids anything. Either they have talent or they don't, and Noah does. I think chalk pastels and a nice drawing pad would be an outstanding birthday present for him!

    And I'm working on my Cookbook Wednesday post for next week. Maybe I'll show how I use that yellow pencil to correct one of my favored cookbooks?

    1. I do too, Marjie. I have pencils all over the house especially on the cookbook shelves.

      Noah has quite a stash of art supplies, I'll have to check about the chalk pastels. I think he did a wonderful job. I was so amazed when he sent it to me, pretty amazing!!!

      So glad to hear you're already getting your post ready. I haven't even chosen a book yet, lol...Do show us:)

  6. My dear Louise, I had no idea there was so much to know about pencils! What an interesting post! In Italy, pencils aren't used as much as in the USA. I remember using pencils at school for just about every subject, especially for Math. Here in Italy, you can't use a pencil for your math test...you have to use a pen! Weird isn't it? It was one of the strangest things for me when I started studying in Italian schools. Noah is very talented, I think he is a wonderful artist! I hope you and Marion are doing well my friend...My very best wishes and a big hug, Mary

    1. Using a pen for Math test? That is strange Mary. We are doing fine Mary, thank you. I will tell Noah that you like his picture. His face will trun red with glee:)

      Thank you so much for visiting, Mary:)

  7. Oh do you know I have learned so many things from your blog? Yes and I did not know there was a national pencil day. Interesting. Really lovely your April calendar. Spring is here at last! xx

    1. Thank you Alida. I'm delighted you like it:)

  8. Lovely new calendar! I'll look forward to Grilled Cheese Day followed by Scrabble Day. :-)

    I'm really looking forward to the return of Cookbook Wednesdays, too.

    1. Thanks Poppy:)
      I'll be looking forward to see how you celebrate Grilled Cheese Day Poppy. I bet it will be a doozy, lol...

  9. Hi Louise,
    What a fabulous post and a fun one too..You are so amazing, who knew about the pencil..now I know about the color, such interesting info. Your grandson Noah, is a very talented young man. My son is a Tattoo artist, and he always tells me that eyes and hands are so hard to draw...I hope he goes far in his drawing skills. Love all of the recipes and the calendar looks like a fun month. So glad to hear that cookbook Wednesday will be back. I was recently at a goodwill store and I just purchased 4 new cookbooks. Will have to find a fabulous recipe and post it on my blog when I am ready...Looking forward to all the cookbooks that people have a delicious recipes. Thanks for sharing your fun post.
    Hugs and love Dottie :)

  10. Hi Louise,
    Noah's eye is both impressive and expressive.

    I love your hand-penciled recipe notebooks and cards. My next planned blog post includes some of my old note cards that I keep despite having converted them to e-recipes; however, I always wrote them in ball point pen. I used to be fanatic about pencils with good erasers to use for crossword puzzles, but that to went electronic and now, I have to admit, I've switched to sudoku, much less challenging.

    Looking forward to the return of cookbook Wednesday!
    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  11. Hi Louise, thank you so much for reminding me the story of pencil and explaining about the color. Your grandson is really talented. I remember when I was in high school a friend of mine drew my eye and I was amazed. I am not talented at all when it comes to drawing. What a full month is April and can't wait for your other posts! Have a great weekend ahead of you!

  12. I used a lot of pencils during my childhood days but not anymore cause we have mechanical pencil now. >o< Anyway, April filled with pretty lot of special days. Hopefully, I can make one of them! Enjoy & have a great day darling.
    Blessings, Kristy

  13. happy pencil day - I don't used pencils much but E does so I sometimes use his and I can see the comfort - I think kids in our schools still use them until they get their "pen licence". Love all the pencil titbits and Noah's drawing - have a great April - keep meaning to join in a cookbook wed so maybe april will give me a bit of time for it

  14. Hi, Louise!
    Hope you, Marion and your family and friends - and my fellow nibblers - had a great Easter!
    Goodness, April already…
    What a fascinating article on pencils! Now I really appreciate them.
    Good job, Noah! And thank you, Louise, for the recipes. They look like they became family favourites.

    About writing - a friend posted that we seniors could use cursive writing as a secret code. The youngsters would never be able to figure out what we’re saying ;-)

  15. Hi Louise, I really liked this post. I too would rather be writing with a pencil that typing on a keyboard. It looks like you have a talented grandson, Noah drawing is very nice! Have a great weekend!!

  16. I should have planned ahead for Chocolate Mousse Day! Love seeing the calendar this month. I have many recipe cards written in pencil in my mom's handwriting---such treasures!

  17. Yo conservo recetas de mi madre escritas a lápiz grafito nadie le da la importancia que merece, pero tú publicación y explicación es extraordinaria muy educativa,abrazos Louise.

    1. recetas escritas a mano son para ser apreciado, Rosita :) Estoy muy contenta de que haya disfrutado de este post. Muchísimas gracias por su visita...

  18. Hi Louise, Loved this post! I also have many recipes written in pencil by my mom and aunts. As I read your post, I mentioned to my husband that my mom had gorgeous handwriting. Those were the days when you actually learned how to form your letters, and handwriting was an art.
    You have a very talented grandson. His drawing is absolutely lovely!
    Happy Weekend!

  19. the handwriting on that recipe card for oatmeal cookies looks like it could've been my grandma's! i feel like i hardly ever use pencils anymore, not even for crossword puzzles... :)

  20. I am a pen person, Louise ;-), though I do treasure those old handwritten recipes! On your calendar, I should have enough carrots and parsnips left to cut some into squares today. Alas I don't think this has quite the appeal that Pi Day does!

  21. Pencils have certainly quite a mark in our lives, don't they? I'm still using them, a must-have in our home! xoxo

  22. Dear Louise, I love old recipe cards. They hold the best recipes!
    The handwriting is beautiful. I remember penmanship in school. I don't really think young people learn penmanship any longer. It is a lost art.
    The recipes on the cards sound wonderful. Especially the Devil's Food Cake!
    Have a wonderful day to you and Marion. xoxo Catherine

  23. Hi Louise. Dropping in to see how are you doing.
    Never knew there's a pencil day. I guess it's been taken for granted and we don't really bother to find out the creation of pencils. I saw how pencil is made when I was in Germany during my family vacation end of 2014. It's amazing.
    Thanks for sharing!

  24. Hi Louise,
    Hope you had enjoyed Easter!
    What an interesting article on pencils. Never knew the existence of Pencil Day.
    When I was in high school, I loved to draw with pencils. At times didn't pay attention in class and sketching or drawing on papers camouflage with text books was a common thing. Now I hardly write with pencil or pen due to the convenience of keyboard and smart phones. My handwriting is horrible now :(
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. ... will pick up a pencil to do some drawings :)

  25. I didn't know there was National Pencil Day! I have nominated you for the Leibster award. You can see the details here: www.summerdaisy.net/2016/04/08/leibster/


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise