Friday, April 3, 2015

hard labor

Back in my youth, I was strong for a girl.  It might be that having only brothers to play with, and being a bit competitive by nature, and maybe in part just because of the things I liked to do in my free time, I was always the strongest girl in my grade based on annual physical fitness tests we were given at school (up through 8th grade).  We were made to run, jump, throw a softball, do chin-ups on a bar, do push-ups, and do sit-ups.  We were scored and unfortunately a score sheet was posted for everyone in the school to see.  Not unfortunate for me as much as unfortunate for the sorry kids near the bottom, most of whom were overweight or frail.  Some of the boys made fun of me calling me the dykiest girl, but it was probably true and I didn’t really care.  Besides, I was nearly always the first girl picked for teams in gym class when it was boys picking the teams.

Brothers and me in the sand pile

One of the boys always near the bottom of the list every year was a skinny kid named Bernie.  Bernie was always picked on, but he was nice to me so I appreciated that.  I even went out with him on a date once when we were 15; that was my first date ever – pizza and a movie.  It was a very big deal for me, and I went even though my girlfriends told me not to do it because he was too geeky.  I didn’t care what they thought of him.  I had fun, and I think he did too.  He asked me out one other time, but I had to decline because of my job.  He never asked again so maybe he found somebody else to date.  Anyway, little skinny Bernie grew tall sometime after high school and began lifting weights.  He became a state patrolman and went on to join the marines.   Even now, when most military men at our age are retired, Bernie is fighting terrorists in Africa.
Yesterday evening, it really hit home that I’m no longer the spring chicken I used to be.  We had some trees cut in our yard last year.  It’s been on my task list to split and stack the logs.  It’s hard work!  I know what hard work it is because I use to do a lot of wood carrying and stacking when I was a kid.  Also, my first husband and I heated our house with wood and coal, so we were always going out to cut wood.  We would start early (just at daybreak), to cut, split, load, and unload a pickup truckload of wood at least one Saturday a month, and it was a very long, hard day of work.  Sometimes we didn’t get the truck unloaded until the next day…it was that much work for two people. 

I completely underestimated the task of splitting and stacking these logs in the yard, and overestimated my ability and patience to do such hard work.  The logs are more seasoned now than when they were first cut, so they should be easier to split now.  They are a tad easier to split.  Even so, I only did five logs last night before I was completely worn out.  At that rate, this chore may well take years to finish. 

In truth, an axe would be the best tool for this job.  I’m using a wedge (well, two wedges for larger logs) and a sledge hammer.  We have an axe, but I haven’t mustered enough balls courage to consider using it myself.  Once when cutting kindling wood with a hatchet, I cut my leg.  It was scary and unfortunate, simple carelessness and inexperience on my part, and I’m damn lucky it wasn’t worse than it was.  I haven’t forcefully chopped anything with a sharp tool since that day.  It’s probably time to try again, especially if I want our logs finished up this year. 

This shows about 25% of the logs waiting to be split.

Hardest part is getting the wedge started into the log.

Progress, Log is starting to split.

Drat!  Wedge is stuck in the log - now I use the other wedge to finish the job.  

By the way, the good news is that it looks like the crack in the big maple tree has just about closed up.  Taking the weight off really made a difference.  When the weather warms and stays warm, I’ll drag the hammock out…of course, cutting logs will be less likely to happen then.          


Mrs Twaddle said...

We have two fireplaces in our house which have never been used. We have ducted heating so it just never crosses my mind to use a fireplace. They are both in bedrooms anyway. It would be different if in our main living room.

In the houses we do at work nearly everyone has installed a very fancy fireplace but nobody would chop would in a million years. They buy it in delivered and stack in neatly in a purpose built firewood holder. It's so urbanised in the inner city.

Just keep chopping away and you will be fitter in no time at all.

I was never picked to do sport at school. Just the last one standing.

Interestingly, when I went to a school reunion ten years ago all the ones who had been fit at school were the opposite and the many of the ones bad at sport had taken it up in later years.

KYLady said...

We have two fireplaces in our house but have only used them rarely. It’s just very inefficient – the smoke goes up the chimney and the draft sucks the heat out of the house. Someday I’ll buy a fireplace insert so that we can enjoy a fire without raising the electric bill. But also, the girls have allergies and that’s another reason we don’t have fires in the house. I like to have wood for when we go camping or want a little fire outside to sit around.

I bet you would get picked early now if teams were being chosen. All those exercise classes you do have most likely made a huge difference. I confess my gym membership expired last month and I still haven’t committed to renewing. I should…