Tuesday, November 18, 2003
quote du jour:
"You must be very careful and think when you whittle or carve... Always remember that a knife is a tool, not a toy. Use it with care so that you don't hurt yourself or spoil what you are carving." -- "Knife Safety," Pack 114

know several holiday birthdays -- my dad's brother was born on Christmas Day, my brother's birthday always fell during our school's spring break and Jessie was born on All Hallow's Eve. Perhaps when you're born influences who you become to a degree. My uncle became a preacher. My brother has always been a laid back spring break sort of guy. And Jessie... well, she has no problem wearing Jack-O-Lantern socks in February.

One fall during college, I was MegaBroke (TM). I'm sure I ended up buying her something, but the highlight of my gifts to Jessie that year were a couple of computer wallpaper images that I made. The most notable listed all of the famous people born on October 31 -- she's in good company.

This year, I joked that I was once again too poor to buy her anything for her birthday. She's like my mom -- she told me that making her something would mean just as much. The funny thing is that I'd already planned on doing just that.

And now, the first-ever Deadline Pressure photo entry...

Martha Stewart meet The Fletch-O-Lantern.

1 No fancy carving kits here, kids. After all, the broke thing isn't just an excuse. I did find that a raid of my mom's knife drawer would yield everything I needed -- and more. As with any construction project, it is impossible to have many tools. However, remember that safety is important. You will want to maintain the proper amount of fingers.



It had been years since I'd last carved a pumpkin... and I was carving this one without any supervision. So, I was a little worried when it took me several cycles of cuts before the top finally popped off. When I finally scalped it, I learned that all of my cuts hadn't been at the same angle. Obviously, that's a problem when you're carving the world's thickest pumpkin.


3 I am an emergency medical technician. This means that, during the course of my job, I occasionally see, smell & touch nasty things. You might think that this alone would mean that I am brave beyond my years. Well, you would think wrong. I'm not ashamed to admit that I wore latex gloves for the gutting of the pumpkin. Pumpkins guts are much nastier than anything I might find hanging out of you. (Please God, don't prove me wrong next shift.)


4 I caught an episode of Ms. Stewart's show a few nights before carving my pumpkin. She demonstrated taping the stencil to the pumpkin and cutting through the stencil. Well, that was a failure -- so much so that there are no pictures of the effort. Martha is obviously better at getting good stock tips than she is at pumpkin carving. So, I drew the design directly on the pumpkin and began cutting. (I might add that this was no store-bought stencil... it was created on my own with a Bic pen & a sheet of copy paper.)


5 If you're a Scout, don't do this... you'll get a corner or two taken off your ol' Totin' Chip. If you do decide to take the blade of a sharp steak knife into your unprotected hand, be sure to hold a camera with your other hand and balance the pumpkin precariously on your knee to maximize the danger of the effort. It's not about safety here, it's about getting good art for the photo entry.


6 Ta-da. Here is the finished product still on the operating table (note the slightly chopped up stencil to Jack's left). Some might suggest that carving a pumpkin on your mom's dining room table isn't a good idea. I figure that if your mom once set said table on fire (as my mom did), then pumpkin carving is the least of her worries. As it turns out, I was right. She didn't object.


7 See... I'm not totally cheap. I actually spent money on gifts, including the appropriately dressed bear. I often worry about buying the obvious gifts... but, like I said earlier, Jessie wears Halloween socks year round. She likes the holiday. A jack-o-lantern bear worked nicely. Of course, I don't think I've ever given this much orange to anyone before. (Also, how great does that truck look?)


8 Jessie admitted that at first glance, she thought the design was a drum. Oops. However, she quickly came to her senses and saw that it was a birthday cake. (Maybe I should have explained that to you guys before now. I can hear you all now, "Oh, it's a cake? Ummm... okay... yeah... We can see it now... hmmm.) To paint a better picture, here's the jack-o-lantern at night.


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