Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Chez Lazarus

I've thought of posting about splitting wood. It is such an impressive, manly thing to see, and fun to do too. The trick, besides just practice, is not hitting the top of the wood but hitting the bottom. That's what it has to be in your head -- hit the ground, split it to China. I like watching people splitting wood (especially shirtless, triangle shaped men although all men look impressive doing it) but I also like to split wood myself.

And there are so many tools you can use. We have a heavy maul but you don't want to heft that weight over your head repeatedly if what you are splitting is easy to split oak quarters. If it is knotty oak, or a 24 in. diameter round, that heavy maul comes in handy. We also have a lighter maul, an ax or three, a hatchet. We bust a handle or two every year too from miss hits mostly and always try to have extra handles on the place. Just so you know, oak is easy to split (mostly) and poplar is hard, even though it seems it should be the opposite.

So anyway, husband was splitting some oak yesterday and our many cats and kittens (10 in all at last count) were sitting around watching, wondering if there would be any food or petting in it for them. Whack, split, a piece of oak flew off, there was a thwock, and husband looks over to see a red kitten named ChezWing with all four feet in the air. Not moving. Not a sound.

So he picked up the cat and one paw started convulsing. He'd hold it while it was dying. It continued dying until it was alive! By the time I knew this was happening (the kids and I were on our way home from a homeschool meeting and visiting family), the chez was definitely alive but didn't have its entire body back yet, and it didn't look particularly cat-like out of its eyes. It stayed in the house last night. This morning it seems fine.

"Chez" or "chessie" as a term for cat is probably a specifically Appalachian (pronounced as in "throw an apple at 'cha") use. One of the many railroads that mined the coalfields was the Chesapeake and Southern which had as its logo on the sides of the coal cars a rendition of the Chesapeake Bay which looked to us landlubbers more like the profile of a cat than a body of water, thus "Chessie" and derivations came to some to be another term for kitty cat.

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