Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

"You're right, no human being would stack books like this." - Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters

Cutting all the wood you see above took about thirty minutes. And you thought your hobby was boring . . .

We were working like a well-oiled machine – all four of us in concert. I was cutting through the lengths of wood with a chainsaw. The Mrs. was picking up the now stove-sized pieces and stacking them. The Boy was wandering around in the snow cavorting with animals like Charlie Sheen in search of a party. The New Boy was sleeping, like Charlie Sheen after a party, though he was sleeping alone, which I hear would be unlike Charlie Sheen.

If you get the picture, that means that The Mrs. and I were doing all the work, but The Band of Brothers wasn’t impeding us, which was enough this day.

There’s a bit of harmony in using the chainsaw. One of the things I’ve noticed is that while you’re planning to cut wood, you’re not cutting wood. I know this seems intuitively obvious to the casual observer, but I keep looking to be efficient while I do the work. I try to think if this cut will make that cut easier. This efficiency urge is in my nature, and in knocking trees down it makes sense not to go willy-nilly felling them, since one of them might end up falling on your truck. By my calculations, if a five hundred pound tree accelerates at 32 ft/s² (9.81 m/s² for those living in communist countries) through a distance of 21 feet, it will achieve a terminal velocity that is a big whump. This may void the manufacturer’s warranty on the truck, not to mention the patience of your significant other. But, I wasn’t cutting trees down; I was just blocking eight-foot long logs to the smaller two-foot size that will actually fit in the stove.

For this task, I just have to go with the Zen of cutting the wood – just cut it, don’t worry too much about the next cut, just do this one. Strangely, I find that when I’m not thinking about how I cut the wood, I end up cutting a lot more wood. The other thing about Zen is it seems to require the plentiful use of italics.

I could see that The Mrs. was in the Zen mode, too. She was stacking wood like a kung fu master, and it flew from her hands like those pointy little ninja things into Chuck Norris.

Me, I don’t care so much if it’s stacked, it should just be out of the way. My job is to cut wood. I can’t cut wood if the wood I’ve just cut is in the way. The Mrs. decided to stack it, since she’s also the type of person who alphabetizes CDs and DVDs after she’s categorized them through a system more complex, yet more intuitive, than the Dewey Decimal System. I could work with just a pile, but since The Mrs. brings the bulk of the wood to the house, well, I’ll indulge her and let her stack wood to her heart’s content.

My chainsaw ran out of gas-oil mix, and thus ended my wood cutting day. I jumped off the logs I was standing on and started helping The Mrs. stack the wood. I gathered up an armful and carried it the fifteen or so feet to the stack. I was pleased with how big the stack had gotten while I’d been cutting.

The Mrs. and I were still in the Zen, I would gather wood about the time she’d drop it off. That’s when the trouble began.

“You’re stacking it wrong.”

Now, I’ve spent years stacking, splitting, cutting and moving wood. I was curious. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you just threw it up there. I’m the one who has to go and get most of the wood, and there are some big pieces up there. I don’t want them falling on me, because you were lazy and just threw them up there. So, stack the wood right.”

I can say that I was pleased that The Mrs. didn’t use her “Mom” voice. The Mrs. “Mom” voice is much like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi mind control voice, and could convince me that those really weren’t the droids I was looking for. I could feel the unease that The Boy must feel when confronted with the Motherly Might of The Mrs. over having strewn six or seven tons of toys on the front room floor.

I didn’t want to force her to use the “Mom” voice. I whipped out a T square and made sure that most of the wood I was placing was within a degree or two of parallel with it’s brother pieces in the stack.

In addition to having the “Mom” voice, The Mrs. also has the ability to discern the answer to questions without asking them. For example, on Friday she asked me:

“Did you put lotion on The New Boy last night?” The Mrs. knows my distaste for even touching lotion. It’s so . . . lotiony. Ugh. I’d rather clean up the inside of Dan Rather’s wrinkles.

I had my back to her, so, I answered, “Yes.” A small test, really, of her powers.

“John . . .”

“No, I didn’t grease him up, just checking to see that your powers were still unabated, oh great and powerful Oz.”

It works that way.

She even takes issue with my need for efficiency. We have a stack of wood near our door. We take the wood, put in a wheelbarrow, move it to the door, and put it there neatly so we don’t have to walk to the remote wood pile stack for a single stick of wood. I like to leave the last load in the wheelbarrow, so that I don’t have to stack the one load that we’ll take in first. Saves about two minutes of the day. Efficient, no?


The Mrs. doesn’t like it a bit, for the following reasons:
  • It’s not neat and tidy
  • If it snows, the wood in the wheelbarrow gets covered with snow, while the stacked wood does not
  • She wants it stacked
So, a bit of advice for the day: If The Mrs. ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Stack the wood. Oh, and those aren’t the droids I’m looking for. Move along.


Blogger Woofwoof said...

The Zen of wood cutting: no "i" in "team," one cut at a time, give it your 110%...

8:25 PM  
Blogger John said...

No, it's the sound of one hand clapping if I have the beer before the chainsawing . . .

9:25 PM  
Blogger Wild*Hen said...

Gonna go with the Mrs. on this one John boy.

A place for everything, and everything in it's place...

After making a comment like that, one might think I am OCD about my place. Quite the contrary. Think animal hoarder. (With 2 pets)

I'm a pathetic mess, inside and out!

Christ on a crutch man, STACK the wood!

2:36 AM  
Blogger the Witch said...

Ahhh, the mommie voice :-D

10:05 AM  
Blogger Al said...


I usually side with you, but I agree with the Mrs. If she carries the most wood, she can decide how to stack it.

Count yourself lucky for only getting the Mom voice. It would have been appropriate and justified if you received "the look", too.

You know the look. Its a cross between a stare and shooting heat rays out of the eyes. Children usually get the stare. But in rare cases, husbands have been on the receiving end. Believe me, the results are not pretty.

So you got off pretty easy.

5:32 PM  
Blogger dogsled_stacie said...

I gotta agree with John on this one. I never understood why people STACK wood. I mean, that's just more work right?

As for the snow, well, sure the top layer gets snowed on, but the stuff underneath is usually snow-free. It requires some digging... wait a minute... maybe the Mrs. is onto something there...

Either way - nice pile o' wood!! I'll have to post some pics of my rapidly disappearing wood pile... here's hoping for a warm March!

7:32 PM  
Blogger John said...

Oh, believe me the wood is stacked . . . I know where my bread is buttered!

Yes, the second most powerful force in the universe . . .

That would be the most powerful force in the universe . . . "the look".

yeah, we're stacked, and I must admit, only the top two or three pieces get the snow. When I grew up we were stackers for a few years, then pilers. Stackers when Dad had me around to do it . . .

9:05 PM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

Let me tell you about wood stacking. Not only was my grandpa obsessive compulsive about cutting the wood exactly 19" long (he would actually mark the lengths with pink carpenters chalk), my brother and I, at the tender ages of 7 and 8, had to move the old wood out of the shed, stack the freshly cut wood in rows exactly 8 feet tall (so grandpa could tell at a glance how many cords were in the shed), then move the old wood back.

When our little Koldfeet grumble about having to stack wood, cut in any old length, any which way in the shed (that we gathered in our own front yard), I have to tell them how easy they have it.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Joann said...

Brings back memories of cutting cords to pay the rent. I did a lot of 18 inch.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, this one was FUNNY!

Today, I sent the Mr. home to get an estimate on cutting down an olive tree and he called me with a proposal to buy a chainsaw - I think he is jealous of your toys. You REALLY need to talk more about how much hard WORK is involved. Please????

8:16 AM  
Blogger John said...

dame koldfoot,
Okay, I've never measured my wood (oh, that came out poorly).

Umm, let's just say I eyeball it. (running to blush in a corner)

I tell you, I enjoy cutting firewood . . . mainly on the "warm winter" end . . .

Don't worry unless he asks for the second chainsaw. Then you'd be cutting, too.

Besides, do they even allow chainsaws in the People's Republic?

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the things I’ve noticed is that while you’re planning here to cut wood, you’re not cutting wood.

2:23 AM  

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