Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter! Now get to work.

I hope everyone else (whether they celebrate it or not) had a wonderful Easter Sunday. (Or, in other words, a good Sunday.) We had a very busy day. It started for me with meeting a friend of a friend for coffee. She just moved up here for school and knows a couple of people, but of course when you've moved somewhere new it's nice to get to know even more people. It sounds like she's settling in all right, which is good. I've been telling her a bit about Fairbanks through emails over the last few months to try to prepare her for life here. I hope I did my part well enough!
After that, I rushed back home so that we could drive out to the hills and see J's parents. I had forgotten that they'd asked us all to do some work for them, so of course I had on a pretty shirt and clean pants. Ha! Luckily, the work wasn't that dirty. Their house is heated half with oil and half with wood. (And a little bit of passive solar heating. His mom was super excited to have it over 70^ in the house without any heating for the past week or two.) So we were splitting and stacking three cords of wood so that they can dry before next winter. I got to operate a log splitter! That was really fun. And pretty quick, too. One of the other women did the first 2/3rds of the wood, but after a while I ended up taking over running the machine. In case you don't know what a log splitter is or what it looks like, it's a gas-powered machine with a wedge-shaped thing that looks like a bit like an axehead. It's really easy to operate, with a lever that essentially moves the wedge either forward or backward. You put the log on a metal bar and move the wedge forward until the sharp edge pierces the wood. This will split it in two pieces. If the circumference of the log is big, I discovered that instead of pulling the two pieces off and splitting them again separately, I could sort of push them back together, roll the log so that the cut was horizontal (facing the vertical wedge) and split them again easily. It was so much less work than the way we'd been doing it before! You don't need to push the wedge all the way down the log, and split it entirely. Moving it in a few inches breaks the wood apart enough that either it splits apart all on its own or you can pull the pieces apart. Often I would throw them to the ground rather hard so that they'd split apart that way. Shane thought I was just being lazy in not throwing the wood into the sleds (used to transport the split wood over to the stacks) but I think he eventually figured out what I was doing. I couldn't hear him that well because I was wearing earplugs, and I was so focused that I didn't want to stop and explain myself.
It was nice because 9 of us were able to split and stack 3 cords of wood (that is A LOT of wood) in one afternoon. If we'd used axes and done it all manually this would have taken us probably a month of weekends to do.
The one part of it all that I found frustrating was that half the people seemed to think that either I didn't know what I was doing, or that I'd find the work too hard. J's dad, who was helping us, kept reaching to grab the logs off the splitter while I was still moving the wedge back. Not only did this worry me (I do not want to be the reason someone else loses a limb in some freak log splitting accident!) but it actually slowed things down. I think he thought he was being helpful because I didn't have to do the hard work of lifting the logs, but it wasn't helpful. J's sister was almost as bad about trying to be helpful and just getting in my way. Things went much, much faster when I had J helping me, because he actually treated me like I was capable. H'd pick up an uncut log and either hand it to me or place it on the splitter while I removed the already cut wood. This system moved things right along because there was no waiting for a new log. I'd toss away the done work and get started immediately on the next log.
J's mom, when we finished and went back inside, thanked us profusely and when I said that I actually enjoy work like that she lifted her eyebrows like I was supposed to be joking. This wouldn't be bad, but none of them treated the other women who'd helped like that! I realize that I don't have C's carpentry and building experience, and R is their daughter so they know she's been doing these chores her whole life, but come on! I am perfectly capable of enjoying and being good at manual labor. And just because I don't go around talking about the things I've done (like spending a summer with my brother building a retaining wall in my parents' backyard) doesn't mean I don't have experience with things like this. If needed, I could have used an axe to chop wood by hand.
I hate being underestimated.
Of course, after an afternoon of working like that a big dinner is especially appreciated. In fact, two dinners are even more appreciated! After eating dinner with them, we bounced to another Easter dinner at a friend's house. It was lovely. Shane had to leave early for a soccer game, but some friends offered me a ride home so that I could stay longer and play games. It was just a fun evening.
Shane and I topped the day off with a spur-of-the-moment trip to the movie theater to see "The Hunger Games". I loved the books, which Shane hasn't read, but I haven't had a chance to see the movie yet. It was wonderful. There were a bunch of places where I felt they expected the audience to have read the book, so I would lean over and whisper background info to Shane. I didn't realize it was such a long movie, though! If I'm not exhausted today, it won't be for lack of trying. We got home after midnight and then I was still a bit too pumped up to sleep. We discussed the story for a while and I told Shane a bit about the second and third books. When I woke up this morning, it freaked me out that it was light outside. I was certain that I'd slept through my alarm or something. Nope. Just summer daylight coming. :)

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