Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And How Does a Gentleman of Leisure Spend His Mornings?

I can't speak for all gentlemen of leisure, but in lieu of writing and researching, today I spent my misty, drippy morning chopping up that tree that fell in my orchard late this summer. Chainsaws, wedges, splitting mauls.... Corking good fun.

I alternate among piles of things. The Burn Pile (this will make a capital bonfire; we're still allowed to do this sort of thing in these parts, as long as the Fire Department is told in advance). It doesn't look like much in the photo, but that pile is considerably taller than me, and doused in gasoline and set ablaze, the flames will lick high into the sky:

Here's the Chastened Culprit, denuded of its branches. I'm reliably informed it's a cherry. (And I, much to my surprise, am Marie of Roumania.) Fascinatingly, David Mull's original 1772 deed from Lord Fairfax stipulates that as a condition of sale he plant "upon the Demised premises One hundred good Apple trees and One hundred and fifty Peach trees at least thirty feet Distant from each other..." Can't wait to get to the trunk of this baby and count the rings:

Piles. And piles of piles. Wood to be split:

Wood already split, or not in need of splitting:

We ran out of firewood a few days ago, and the cabin where I type this has been bloody freezing. I tried to burn some of this newly split wood, but it wouldn't go exothermic for love or money. So I called the estimable Mr. Mills from Sandy Hook, and he brought this eminently welcome load of seasoned firewood, which now crackles merrily in the hearth:

Next year this time, it'll be my wood burning on that glowing, crackling, hissing hearth. I'll know every piece of it: Oh, this bit! I remember this knot, what a stubborn bitch this one was!

I love being unemployed.


Anonymous said...

Good day's work, Jeddie.

How'd the hip hold up?

Oh man. You're comments have changed too.

Neddie said...

How'd the hip hold up?

Absolutely perfectly.

The photos don't show it, but behind my orchard the mountain rises 1,000 feet -- two Washington Monuments. I climbed it last Thursday with my neighbor, Roger, who also had the day off from work. Was a little sore afterward, but, again, sore in a good way.

I'm back, baby.

Anonymous said...

Cherry wood? You cut up cherry wood for fires? I am told that we do not allow cherry trees to grow anymore, thus no more boards. BUT cherry wood logs are stripped for veneer and are worth millijuns. You have squandered your independent retirement account, I am afraid!

I was married to a Ky. woman (song?) whose uncle had a barnful of cherry wood timbers, nicely seasoned and ready for furniture-building. Unfortunately, she dumped me before I could engineer a late-night raid on the barn.

Evil women, these Kentucky women.

Neddie said...


Who is this "we" that does not "allow" cherry trees to "grow anymore"?

I am only down to trunk-wood now; all the branches that can't be used for furniture and the like have been sawed off and split. If any cabinetmaker or historian within the sound of my voice wants to pay me "milljuns" for this damned thing, speak now or for ever hold your penis -- peace, dammit. I've got my grave doubts. These trees just plain ain't rare.

Damn, that oak is drawin' nicely... Mmmm... Warm.

Anonymous said...

Ol' Neddie,
Where I come from, sweet cherry trees grew to such girth that it would take four Plasticmen, hand-in-hand, to encircle them. These trees do not exist anymore. In fac', the whole cherry industry died a coupla generations ago. Last time I dealt with them was on an uncle's farm. He didn't pick 'em because the processors' prices were too low.

Not to worry. We picked 'em into a pick-up truck and made wine out of 'em. Little did I know that they would ultimately uproot whole orchards to plant (gasp!) condominiae.

Today, such cherry wood is weighed on a gold scale. Condominiae, well, not so much.

Anonymous said...

FYI. Down here in sunny Florida (where we are presently freezing our asses off with 58º night temps), we burn any fruitwood (oranges, grapefruit, mango, avocado) in our primitive fireplaces. We have no qualms of conscience over this because none of these makes a drinkable wine.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Neddie. Your yard is beautiful, and spooky; it reminds me of something... Sleepy Hollow. The fog, I think, is what does it. And the ancient stone wall is a nice touch. Pretty.

That being said, I have to admit I haven't read in a while.

Congratulations on your newfound freedom. You know, I never wanted to say anything before because it's great to get paid to design anything, and GUI design is really fucking cool. But, aol is boring, not anywhere near good enough for your caliber.

No matter what amazing work you've done for them, I'm certain they've found some way to clutter it up with as much garbage as they could fit. You're too incisive for them, and if I have any words of condolence, they would be that we can look forward to the day that all the mindless, dried-up, useless hacks in the corner offices die, and perhaps we can burn their insipid memories in a deliciously toasty cherry bonfire along with some pretentious turtleneck sweaters, comic sans and undereducated republicans.

At any rate, it wouldn't be difficult for you to be a successful writer, and I wouldn't disregard the idea of having your own design company. I'm sure the lovely lady would be happy to have you working from home. It's a nice dream, at least.

Good luck with the book. I'll buy a copy or two myself.

Roger D. Parish said...

I love being unemployed.

When I saw you the other morning, you appeared to be clean-shaven. I wondered if, perhaps, you were going to a job, or, at least, a job interview. Guess not.

Yodood said...

You should check into the value of the cherry trunk at some hardwood, cabinet maker. I think you'll be amazed at what cherry wood goes for.

sgage said...

The value of your cherry wood for cabinetry and the like very much depends on quality, and varies wildly by location.

I heat with wood up here in NH, and cut my own. It really is amusing when you go to stoke the fire in February and totally recognize the piece of wood from when you split it.

Ah, the burn pile... nice pic, but what is all that green stuff on the ground? Did your snow go moldy or something?

We can burn here without a permit so long as there are at least 2" of snow on the ground. We've got about 8" at the moment, so my Saturday Enormous Bonfire Party should be able to proceed as scheduled. Unless, of course, the Nor'easter that Accuweather predicts actually materializes...

Neddie said...

Rosemary: For most of the time I worked there, AOL was anything but boring. Sweatshop conditions, sure; hideously foreshortened deadlines, absolutely; incredibly short-sighted business goals, you bet. But boring? Never.

Thank you for your kind words. Sleepy Hollow? I'll buy it. Me as Ichabod Crane? I don't have the build for it.

Roger: It's a self-discipline thing. I get up at 6:30 to get the boy to the schoolbus, I read the paper, I shower and shave and get in a day's work at whatever needs doing. Otherwise, I'd be sitting in my bathrobe all day, watching rooms get dark and drinking directly from the vodka bottle. Don't need that.

Everybody else: There's a cabinetmaker in Purcellville. I will stop in and enquire about the price of cherrywood in these parts, but I'm betting good money it's not worth the cost (to me) of getting it to him, that the expense of a crane, truck, etc., outpaces by a good long way what he'll pay me for it, if anything.

dwgs said...

Hi Ned,
Speaking as a cabinetmaker, I too am appalled at the potential waste of some fine lumber. Especially since I'm not likely to be felling any cherry trees up here in the wilds of Kweebec. Actually I'm not likely to be doing any felling at all here in Montreal.
See if your local cabinetmaker knows of anyone with a portable bandsaw mill. They might be happy to come to your place, mill it on site and haul it away for you. He might give you a few dollars or a few boards...

Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

I never swung an axe until college. My wife's (then girlfriend's) family lives out in the "Endless Mountains" (read boonies) of northeastern PA. I remember first meeting her mother... I was a city boy, a member of the general class she liked to refer to as "educated idiots." But, I noticed a pile of wood outside and asked (quite naively) if they split their own. They laughed and said yes. So, I asked if I could give it a whirl. Well, this was a chore to them, so they encouraged me to split all I wanted. I stayed out there for at least two hours, maybe more. (As you said, "corking good fun.") While I was really just enjoying myself with the axe, the activity carried the added bonus of permanently endearing me to my future mother-in-law. We got along beautifully until she passed away some 15 years later -- all because I was an educated idiot who never did any honest country labor.

JD said...

My husband tried the same endearing ploy, but broke the axehead off the handle. My father was not amused.

Roger D. Parish said...

Hey, Neddie! Check with Tom Bullock! He has had beams milled from whole logs for his restoration. Someone came to his place with a portable bandsaw mill.

Neddie said...

Thank you, all you clever, clever people!

Roger, I got off the phone with Tom not an hour ago, and he's calling his friend with the bandsaw (if he's the guy I think he is, he's a cabinetmaker himself) and we're going to set up a milling party.

Aren't you all just so smart!

Anonymous said...


Here in SoCal I’m currently undergoing a kitch’n remodel. We couldn’t spring for new cabinets so it’s all cherry veneer [but w/new solid cherry doors]. We picked natural unstained because it’s a shame to dress those naturally vulvic fleshy waves of grain. The way they undulate, expanding and contracting is enough to make a fella blush.
We do have bit’s of oak in these parts and that is the staple firewood sold by the cord [or in small shrink wrapped bundles at the supermarket for $7.50, ack!] The only species I get to take an axe to is the developer friendly anemic eucalyptus. Originally planted here because they thought it might make good rail ties, but proved to twisty warped and weak. Now it’s chosen for its speed of growth to plush out a new track of homes.

Savor your wood...

Anonymous said...

My humblest apologies. I was searching for a word to describe the opposite of perfect. I'll try to be more creative.

Cherry is, in my opinion, the best of woods to sculpt. I'll buy a few hunks from ya. How much would you charge?

Neddie said...

Rosemary: "The opposite of perfect" describes AOL, er, perfectly.

What size hunk of cherry we talking about, here? I'll tell you, the stuff is heavy, and pretty hard to ship. But, spirit of the season and all, I'll part with a Christmas prezzie...

Anonymous said...

Well I like big sculptures, but nothing too crazy. I can't tell you how much it would weigh, but I'd prefer... maybe 24" high, and the circumference of the trunk, whatever that may be. You be the judge. Find out how much it would cost if it were to panel a nice contemporary breakfast nook, and I'll reimburse you for it happily. I don't mind paying for shipping – UPS Ground is slow, but inexpensive. Who knows, maybe someday my art will be worth... millijuns.

Neddie said...

Rosemary: Shoot me an email; let's discuss this further. hbsherwood at mac dot com.

Jeremy said...

Unemployed? Are you kidding? What you mean is, nobody is paying you to do things, whether you want to do them or not.

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

"...it’s a shame to dress those naturally vulvic fleshy waves of grain. The way they undulate, expanding and contracting is enough to make a fella blush."
---Chunky Stu

hahahahahahaha *tears*

Anonymous said...

neddie - bobby lightfoot has a roundup of some job postings you might want to check out. be well