For more than a decade, each trip I've made to False Bluff has included a visit with the Lopez family.
Mr. Julio and his son Mr. Julio Jr and a grandson create lovely and sometimes useful, sometimes just decorative, things out of wood and shell - coconut shells and various sea shells: jewelry and figurines and bowls and cups and walking canes.
Basically if I can think of it, someone in the Lopez family can make it. Stories about pieces of their work that have traveled from Bluefields (where they live) to Virginia (where I live) are woven throughout this blog. And I've seen some of the family's work on display in the Nicaraguan embassy in Washington, DC.
One of my favorite pieces is the horse part of a hobby horse carved of teak. The rockers never were added to the horse part because the piece overall didn't meet Mr. Julio's standards...but the horse part made the base of a nice low seat. It was dumped directly into the dirt where it became part of a bench - until I unearthed it, wrapped it up, and took it to Virginia where it hangs on a wall in my living room. A picture is somewhere on this site.
During my most recent trip I met with Mr. Julio Jr and asked him to make me five wooden spatulas. A spatula made of teak has been part of my kitchen arsenal for so long that its useful part had been worn in size to the point that the useful life was nearly over.
So I took a picture of what was left, with a tape measure beside it. When I showed the picture to him he said, "Sure. No problem." I kept one of the five that I brought home and am already using it...stirring stew and flipping grilled cheese sandwiches. The other four spatulas were gifts to family members: two to siblings, two to children.
These aren't teak. They're rosewood.
And all five of the spatulas I brought home were cut from the same chunk of wood, sliced like bread to become useful artifacts that may spend part of their useful lives not just having been sliced like bread but in contact with real bread.
But the really special thing about this kitchen utensil is that it ties, in a small way, all five of us immediate family members together. Each of us has one of these cut from the same piece of rosewood in Nicaragua.
What a strange connection.
Note: It's just over 12" long and about 1/4" thick not counting the taper at the more useful end. The rosewood was part of a tree in the Lopez back yard.