Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Prep at Morgan Manor

1 of the 2 stacks to be split

Fireplace season has begun and the Advil bottle is running low this week at Morgan Manor.  Steven and I have enjoyed the beauty and peace of a couple fires as we commiserated about our aching muscles and sore backs. 

We just finished a project that started back in ’09.  That’s when we cut down the first tree in the backyard due to a stress fracture it developed after a particularly bad wind storm.  It was cut it down or wait for another storm to blow it down.  The next two came down in 2010 to make way for an attached two car garage.  The wood was stacked to season and in the blink of an eye, a couple years passed and splitting time was upon us!

1 of the 3 piles - still only 1/2 size!
I grew up with a fireplace and love that our home of the past 27 years has one.  During any given winter, we have about 5 fires a week, so we go through a lot of wood.  Most years we rent a splitter, however this year Steve found a beauty on Craig’s list.  We made the purchase, and were off ~ working some days alone, and some days as a team as work schedules and daylight hours permitted.

We split, and split, and split. 

We went through the large stack along our back fence and another stack just as big that ran along the side fence.  That first day or two of splitting felt great!  Then that pile of beautifully split wood, begging to make a roaring fire in the fireplace soon grew quickly past a nice fire or two.  Or a season’s worth or two.  By week’s end, we had three HUGE piles and the thrill of those romantic nights by the fire faded in my mind with the looming task ahead.    

We stacked, and stacked, and stacked.

We took a lot of Advil.

5 covered stacks in back
I can’t imagine splitting this batch by hand, like we did a LONG time ago when we were MUCH younger.  Barring a handful of seasons when we had a few cords delivered, we have always “laid in” our wood supply.  Seems every few years there was always a neighbor or friend who needed a tree cut down or removed from their property. 

1 covered stack by the garage

And still, even with the aching muscles and sore back, I admit I don’t recall any other project being quite as sensory or satisfying.  I love the contrast of the sharp crack of a log as it splits with the dull note it strikes as it lands on the wood pile ten feet away.  I develop a comfortable rhythm and time passes quickly as log after log gets transferred from pile to stack, each piece getting spaced according to size and shape.   And that earthy, rich smell that gets released with each split seeps into my gloves and clothes, wrapping around me, so when I go in the house at the end of the day, it stays with me. 

Silly maybe, but looking at the completed work, I feel a connection to a life long ago.  There’s a silent acknowledgement of the difference when searching out wood and preparing it for the long winter ahead meant survival and not just an enjoyable evening fire.  And those same fires, well, they bridge some of the most pleasurable memories of my childhood with my adult life. 

The fruits of our labor!
All told, we most likely have about 10 – 12 cords from this project.  That should give us about five years of lazy evening fires or ones started on a cold weekend morning that burn all day. And that’s good, because our muscles and our backs could use the break.  All that’s left now is to sit back and enjoy…and of course, list that log splitter back on Craig’s list!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Hijacked! Well, all right, not exactly….…. I love journeys that takes me directly from point A to point B.  My NaNoWriMo journey was simple.  Start Nov 1st (point A) and end Nov 30th (point B) with 50,000 words of a novel draft.  THAT is not happening. 

My journey got hijacked, sidetracked, and just plain ransacked.  And I not only accept full responsibility for it, but am thrilled about it.  Most of it happened due to not preparing as extensively in October as I’d planned, and then consequently losing myself in self-education and research.

Here’s a few of the places I veered off course: 

  • Novel Writing – I visited this site for days.  Found it through a small reference on the NaNoWriMo forum…what a GEM!

  • The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  Never again will I struggle to SHOW a character’s feelings. Seventy five emotions are covered and through body language, internal sensations, actions and more.  Again, a $4.99 purchase and it was a surprisingly addictive read!

  • I left my laptop, novel notes, research and outlines behind on Nov. 12th and traveled to SUNY Geneseo to listen to Erika Dreifus read from her novel, Quiet Americans.  I’ve been a follower since the early 90’s and she didn’t disappoint – it was an engaging read and a rare opportunity to share in the process of her writing and her connection to her stories.  A day well spent!

  • The Buffalo News Short Story Contest 2012 submission is due December 3rd.  After numerous false starts, I woke up a couple nights ago in the middle of the night with the plot in my head.  This is a RARE occurrence for me, but I LOVE when it happens…..

Amidst the detours, I’ve sketched a rough list of my writing goals for 2013, come up with some draft changes for my website and blog, researched a few markets to enter and done a good deal of background research for my NaNoWriMo novel, which I officially now refer to as a “work in progress”. 

Hijacked? Sidetracked? Ransacked?  Absolutely ~ but what a ride!!!!!!!  

And the journey continues…