My day

Rolled out of bed about 7 and fucked off til about 10, then went into town to the post office to mail off some Christmas packages, then came home to wait on the woodcutter.

Let me back up a minute.
When we first moved in, the brush and undergrowth in the treeline was so thick I couldn’t get into it but I could see wood that had been cut laying on the ground. Cool, there’s my winter wood. Only thing I didn’t figure on was that as soon as that shit hits the ground here, it starts to rot. It ain’t like California where it don’t rain and the wood actually seasons when it goes to ground.

Okay, trying to be practical I figure I can heat the house a lot cheaper in the long run with the wood stove than I can with central heating and air. Not only that, but the area is known for ice storms and power outages in the winter. Generator? Check. Gasoline? Check. Propane stove and fuel? Check. Wood? Uh-oh.
Gotta be prepared, right?
So there’s a woodlot in town with seasoned firewood for sale, sold by the rick. For those of you that don’t know, a rick is a face cord – 8 feet long, 4 feet high, 18 inches deep. Don’t be ashamed of being ignorant, I didn’t know what a rick was either – the only dealings I’ve had with wood was cordwood. But it makes sense when you stop and think about it. Most wood stoves can only handle wood up to 20 inches long.
I called Bubba yesterday and found out the price and then ask if he delivers because for me to go pick the shit up I’ve got to unload the toolbox on the truck, take the box out, then make a couple trips back and forth to town and then reload my toolbox and….. you get the picture. Bubba says he’ll deliver the wood for 10 dollars extra cash money but it’ll be Saturday after dinner before he can do it and he’ll call first to make sure I’m home.

Dinner here is the noon meal. About 1:30 I still ain’t got word from Bubba so I call him. Did I mention that Bubba is the grumpiest motherfucker I’ve talked to since I hit Tennessee? No? He tells me that he’s not entirely sure where I live and I need to meet him at such and such a place in an hour and he’ll follow me home. Shit, where he wants to meet is about a half mile from his woodlot so I tell him I’ll just meet him there.
Me and Miss Lisa leave right then because she needs to start on our monthly shopping. We go to the canned foods store, do that and then head over to the woodlot where Bubba is splitting wood. I walk over and introduce myself and tells me “Go pick yer rick and I ain’t gonna hear no bitching and whining because it ain’t all split. Everybody wants split wood but damnitall, you cain’t split everything. Yer gonna getcha some rounds whether you like it or not. Some of that shit is either knotted up or too small to split.”
Hey, no problem, man. I pick my rick (easy, I picked the one I was leaning against because I ain’t in the mood to be gunshot) and he pulled his flatbed up and started tossing wood and actually looked surprised when I started throwing logs too. What the fuck, the dude’s about my age and twice as bitchy. I’ll give him a hand. Again, I ain’t in the mood to get gunshot.
When I tell him where we’re headed he looks surprised – “You told me it was 5 miles outside of town!” Well yeah, 5 miles from the other side of town – 7 miles from where we’re standing on his woodlot – on the far side of town. “Don’t trip, I’ll kick you another 5 bucks for gas.”
Okay. We get out to my place and I tell him to just pull up in front of the woodshed and we’ll dump it there. I’ll stack it inside later. Again, I’m helping. Bubba finally lightens the fuck up and starts talking, telling me about his day working as a handyman and his kids and his grandkids and his great grandkids and now I can’t get the motherfucker to shut up.
I hand Bubba his money – the price of the rick, 10 bucks for hauling it and 5 for gas just like I said. He counts it, looks puzzled and says it ain’t right. Huh? This fucking hillbilly’s gonna hold me up for more? He peels off the 5 extra and hands it back. “We had a price and you paid me too much.”
“Naw, it’s further out than you thought. I’ll pay you for your gas.”
“Nossir. We agreed on a price. I’m a man of my word.”
“Well, let me buy you a beer” and I try to give him the 5.
“Don’t drink.”
“Let me buy you a soda pop then.”
“Got me one in the cab.”
“Let me buy you a hamburger.”
“Done et.”
Well, fuck you then. “How ’bout I give you my wood business next time?”
“That’ll work” and he jumps in his truck and roars off.

Shit, after all that, I’m dying for a beer and I mention it to Lisa. “Do you want to go back into town and buy some? Because we’ve got our canned goods but we still need dairy and Christmas dinner stuff.”
We head back into town, my third fucking trip of the day. Third. Some weeks I don’t even make it to town once and now I’m on my third trip that day and we’re headed to the Walmart.

Here’s where my day got strange.
We’re pricing hams and I look up and see Sammy Kanada. I haven’t seen Sammy Kanada (we called him Frenchy, I don’t know why, he was an Okie) since man, 1986? Funny thing is, last time I saw him he was fucking dead. I mean laying in his casket dead. You can’t get a whole lot deader that that. And I know for a fact he was dead because when I bent over to kiss him on his forehead before they closed the casket, he was colder than a motherfucker. Dead. No life. Fini, bro.
Yet here he was in the Walmart in middle Tennessee. Same height, weight, greasy-ass 1960s style ducktail, same slouch, everything.
Fuck me running.
It took me awhile to realize that I was seeing the 1980s Frenchy, not the Frenchy that he’d be today if he was still alive. He was 45 then, he’d be in his 70s today. Plus this imposter was wearing a brown leather jacket and Frenchy wouldn’t be caught dead in brown leather. And he didn’t have a Model 19 in his pocket. Yeah, I checked out the dude’s ass. Sue me.
It still sent shivers down my spine.

A couple quick things about Frenchy and I’ll get back to my day.
Frenchy was an old school 1960s hoodlum. Carried a 357 and a switchblade but preferred to beat the shit out of people with a chain or an ax handle. He drove Panheads or Lincolns and wore a black leather jacket, wore his hair in a ducktail and combed it about five every minutes or so. Lived in a single wide. Smoked other people’s cigarettes but left his daughter over $200,000 when he died.

I remember one time me and my connection was driving down the road and saw a car fire in front of us. As we’re idling by, Randy says “Hey, ain’t that Frenchy?” so I pull over and bigger than shit there’s Frenchy sitting on the curb with his chin in his hands looking all glum and shit. “Hey bro, what happened?”
He didn’t even look up. “Overheated, man.”

When he died we held a Dead Man’s Auction, the kind where you auction off his possessions and forward the proceeds on to his survivors. I bought his sheath Buck knife for something like $180 for a 50 dollar knife but what the hell, it was for a good cause. I’ve still got it somewhere. I can remember Red the auctioneer selling his shit saying “Ten dolla, ten dolla do I hear fifteen, come on you cheap cocksuckers, give it up, I got fifteen, how about 20, 20 motherfucking bucks, the price of a quarter gram…..” Strangest auction I ever been to.
When we gave the proceeds to his daughter she looked kinda puzzled and said that the reading of her daddy’s will was just that afternoon and he left her 200+ thousand dollars….. and that cheap bastard used to bum cigarettes off of me.

Okay, back to my day.
Once I got back home I realized I’ve got a shitload of logs but no small splits or kindling so I got my maul and wedges out and started splitting wood. Turned out I didn’t need the wedges – seasoned wood splits easy but it was still a workout. I haven’t done any serious splitting in 30 years and I remembered that even then I didn’t like it. That was back when I was in my 20s and I’m 57 now. I split enough to get week’s worth of fire going and said fuck it.
Tonight I got online and checked the weather – there’s 90% chance of rain and then I remembered all that wood piled in front of my woodshed. You gotta be fucking kidding me.
My original intent was to gather up all the loose wood, pile it up and then throw a tarp over it until I could stack it inside tomorrow, but I realized that I could throw it in the shed just as easily, so I ended up tossing it most of it in a pile in the shed. It ain’t pretty but at least it’ll stay dry until I can stack it tomorrow. The rest of it I hauled up to the porch and filled the wood box inside the house.

So that was my day – handling a face cord three times, three times into town, two shopping trips and a motherfucking ghost.
I did buy my monthly six pack though so it wasn’t all bad.

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28 Responses to My day

  1. Dickweed says:

    Sounds like you had a interesting day. Lol.

    Do you have a P.O. box address where I can mail you something? You can email to my address that I provided if you don’t want to post it. Just want to send you a Thank You for all you do on your site.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Sent via email and thank you. It’s a poor man’s life that I lead now and I’m grateful for any appreciation sent my way.
      Thank you.

  2. James says:

    Well,as we say in New England,stove wood,it heats you up cutting it/splitting it/stacking it and,the actual wood stove.Damn,I love splitting wood,though here in New England split next years this winter as when frozen the rounds up to two feet wide open very easily.Me stove good enuff will safely in a pinch burn wood split that day without creosoting the pipe.

    Yep,Kenny,ya’s need a good pipe brush if one didn’t come with the place,last thing you need is a pipe fire during the cold weather,of course till nothing left the burning house will keep ya’s warm!

  3. Andrew says:

    It sure is scary when you start seeing ghosts. Scarier when they start talking to you.

    And ain’t you ever heard of the rule of three?

    Wood stove or fireplace? You’re going to handle the wood 3 times no matter what, whether you cut it yourself or you buy it and stack it.
    Fixing something on your car or house? 3 trips to town (once for what you think is the right stuff, once for the actual right stuff and once for the stuff to fix the stuff you fucked up fixing the stuff.)
    Lose something? You’ll wander by it, yep, 3 times before you notice it sitting out in plain site.

    I am pretty sure the rule of three is a Southern rule, but I’m not sure.

  4. dogpigcat says:

    Hey shit I thought you fucking retired. That sounds like a full work day.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Tell me about it.
      I don’t do a full day’s labor every day (physical labor, but blogging is work believe it or not) but when I do it seems to be non-stop.

      • Exile1981 says:

        Any chance what you saw was Frenchies grandson?

        I ran into a women working counter at a hotel up north once who looked like a much younger version of my neighbours wife who had passed a few years before.

        We got to talking and it turned out she was the granddaughter of the lady.

  5. texaszea says:

    We live five miles from town and love it. Enjoy the solitude!

  6. RHT447 says:

    How do you make a six pack last a month? We used wood for heat when I was a kid in Amador County. We used mostly White Oak as it would burn for a long time, but it left more ash. Soft wood (pine) burned hot and fast–didn’t leave much ash, but would just about grease your stove pipe with creosote.

    • Wirecutter says:

      A six pack lasts me 2.3 hours but it’s all I can afford. After a while you really develop a pleasure for the small things in life.

      Hickory and Oak – burns hot, little ash and lasts a long time. I can throw a log on before I go to bed and there will still be coals in the morning.

  7. elric says:

    Great post.

    Gotta write that book, bro!

  8. Jim Jerzycke says:

    I’ve seen “dead people” a couple of times, too.

    I know that feeling. It just stops you (dead) in your tracks.

    You GOTTA write that book, Ken. I’ll bet you could sell 50,000 copies!

  9. rick says:

    I’m dying here. My first business as a real grown up was firewood. I had the rights to a 25,000 acre ranch so windfall was enough to fit my quota. Never did cut a standing tree, not even a branch. Anyway. enough city slicks where moving in that I could deliver worm wood, sometimes a very short cord, what y’all call a rick, and they would think they got a deal all delivered and stacked thinking like I was their lackey. Those MFs deserved it, thinking they all country now, especially them wearing their designer jeans and shiny boots…and that’s the ‘men’ fer crying out loud.

    But Bubba keeping his word, I completely understand that. You came too close to forcing him to violate his word, jus keep that in mind from now on. Maybe you should get into town more often to set a spell and pick up on the local way of seeing things and push that vestigial CA shit right out of ya.. See here, this shit in CA is insidious that even the most conservative in CA is very much not in tune with the rest of the country. Friend, get in tune.

    All in all, a good post. It’s good to show humility and make fun of yerself. It’s evident y’all be enjoying life.

  10. cavguy says:

    yep. burn me some wood too. have not run the gas heat in years, wonder if it still works? soap stone stove. wood splitter run by a 1940s Ford 223 no shit. got it off of Craig’s list for $800. runs like a top and sips fuel.

  11. alcade says:

    I hand split 14 full cords of wood this year. Keep up the fight!

  12. John Deaux says:

    Wood heat is great but it’s a hands on experience for sure, great story Kenny. Stay warm up that way.

  13. Sarthurk says:

    Here in Oregon, away from Portland and Eugene, we call a rick, a “cord”. Don’t have a wood stove or fireplace, but I do have a sheepherder style stove stashed away, just in case. Lot’s of wood around here.

  14. Familyman says:

    Seems to me that there’s a bit of regional difference as to how folks classify stacks of wood.
    I hadn’t heard of a rick until I moved down south.
    In MI where I grew up a rick was known as a face cord, a full cord was two face cords. A cord was also synonymous with a face cord.
    Be sure to ask before buying, or you may be disappointed.

    As an aside, it’s like the regional differences between an eaves trough and a gutter.

  15. Angel says:

    Let me know when you’re ready to write that book.
    I see your doppelgänger wandering around Ganders every time I go, hair, jeans, boots, camo shirt and surly attitude. Do a double take every time.

  16. Crustyrusty says:

    Harbor Freight has a manual splitter for a hundred bucks give or take if you get the coupon. It’s still a workout but nowhere as bad as a sledge and wedge. I’ve had one for 5 years and haven’t had a problem yet.

  17. Skynet says:

    Dear Kenny, try a Logmatic Wedge axe. spread the word. regards, Skynet

  18. Great story, and it sounds like you may also have met someone who’ll be looking out for you in the future. I’ll be willing to bet that he knew exactly where you lived and that you were a California transplant. I’m sure his warning and bitching about people wanting their wood already split came from years of experience dealing with other transplants who didn’t roll up their sleeves to lend a hand and then treated him like a servant or employee. You treated him as an equal, with dignity and respect. Want to bet he’ll have some split wood for you next year?
    Stay warm. I’m hoping to make the transition to being a homesteading retiree in a couple of years too. Starting our property search now.

    • Wirecutter says:

      I’ve worked all my life and won’t trash another working man. Besides, he saved me a bunch of work just by agreeing to haul it. It goes both ways.

  19. Mark says:

    I’m slipping. A 6 pack a month? I still have 4 beers out of a 6 pack I bought in January.

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