Woodpiles and shutters

Lafayette Noda called at 7:50-something this morning to “inform me” that he and Geordie (I suspect I’m not spelling that right) and Chris and Kesaya would be splitting and stacking wood this morning. Not to request my help, mind you, but just to “inform” me. Which made me laugh. Lafayette hates to ask for help, and I consider it a singular honor that he was willing to go this far to inform me.

I failed to find my wool long underwear, but wore silk lowers and wool uppers (which turned out to be a little warmer than necessary, once we got going, but not by much on a clear, frigid February morning) and got down there around 9:30, after getting a little leisurely oatmeal and reading in with Kate. We enjoy relish our lazy mornings when we’re free to trash the kitchen and read, and I wasn’t going to give that up any earlier than I had to, even as eager as I was to go down and help.

Kate gave me a ride down, and for the next several hours Lafayette tractored logs into the yard, Geordie whaled on them with a wickedly heavy splitting maul, and Chris and Kesaya and I stacked the split pieces, or used the hydraulic splitter to halve the larger ones. Stopped for mid-morning tea (dates and apricots and peanuts and plain hot water, at least for Lafayette) and then I tried using the splitting maul on some of giant frozen lumps of tree Geordie had been working on.

First my wedding ring gave me a blood blister. Then I switched to holding the maul barehanded, so as to keep it aimed straight down. And then I needed to find the right mechanics to swinging the 14-pound maul overhead and then accelerating it down to the right spot on the log… and then doing it again. And again. And still the log just sat there, relinquishing a useless shingle or two but refusing to split. So I tried a different piece, split that, and handed the maul back to Geordie, laughing at my own wimpiness. (I’ll confess to a small amount of schadenfreude, later, when Geordie also failed to split that particular log, requiring wedges and a sledgehammer to finally open it up. “Twisted grain,” he said.)

Had sandwiches and walked home, stopping to try and take a picture of some ice. My camera shutter stuck in place and hasn’t come back up since, despite being at room temperature for a couple of hours. Worrying.

Finished both “A Use of Weapons” and “Look to Windward,” both Banks’ Culture novels, and both good, especially “Look to Windward,” which had both a hilarious list of ship names and some of the frankest discussion of the highly mixed blessings afforded by meeting a civilisation able to do pretty much anything it wants. Next up: Glen’s copy of “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.”