This is a "chocolate muddler".
[Artist Unknown, England, c. 1760 (during the Frindian/Seven Years War)--click pic to enlarge.]
It's for stirring up hot chocolate.
Now that's a battle I can get behind--the battle of humanity throughout the centuries to keep the chocolate from sinking to the bottom of our drinks.
And its name...! Doesn't it sound like something out of Harry Potter?
I was at the Art Institute Sunday afternoon, taking Momo's advice to go look at their colonial-era pewter and silver. Many humor- and perspective-restoring items are on display there: candlesticks, cake plates, beer jugs...
Worried I might forget this item's name (seems unlikely, but things do slip my mind), I asked a man who was taking notes in the otherwise empty gallery if I could borrow his pen.
He looked a bit startled but handed it over as I explained I just wanted to write down "chocolate muddler" (on a blank page of the paperback I was carrying).
I asked if he'd ever heard of such a thing.
No, he hadn't, he answered in a German accent.
Perhaps he was a visiting art historian from abroad?
I like to imagine that back in his hotel room that evening, he might have e-mailed home that he'd encountered a scruffy American all excited about a chocolate muddler...
If I were a fiction writer, I'd write a story based on such a random encounter... something that changes both people's lives, maybe in some mirror-image way, but neither ever knows it.
But I'm not (a fiction writer).
Anyway, I felt much better afterward, though the weather has turned disgusting (heading toward 90°F, and me with no a/c)--not hot-chocolate weather, so I went home and had a G&T on the back porch. To protect against malaria, you know.
My ms is due on June 1, so this is the home stretch.
Thankgod, my next assignment is cheerful---something about the history of communication.
Hm. For that, I must go look at the Bakken Museum of Electricity, where I've always meant to visit but never have.