My first sharp knife
I've had some knives my father gave me for the past 5 years.
He was always a believer in keeping knives razor sharp. He bought good knives with good steel that would hold an edge, and would grind them by hand regularly with a block stone, and also a leather stroppy thing for the finest edge. I grew up with our knives always kept razor sharp, and you had to be careful after he had just sharpened them or you would cut yourself. Knives were respected in our house, always wiped off and put back on the knife rack and thrown in to be washed with the dishes. When I grew up and moved out, and realized how differently everyone lived, and the discipline that my parents had that not everyone had, I saw that most people didn't sharpen their knives. They kept many cheap tin knives in the cutlery drawer, and cutting anything was a frustrating struggle.
Anyways, back to my knives. They became dull. I didn't have the discipline yet to sharpen them regularly, but I respected them, and held onto them, and bought a stone block. Over time before my life became less chaotic I lost the small one, my husband ruined the big one, but I managed to save one of my father's gifts and the sharpening block. Just recently, I decided to sharpen my putty knife with the block while renovating. Then, if finally happened! I was sick of not being able to cut into a squash for dinner, and I actually sat down, and started grinding the edge of my last good knife. I had finally arrived at a state where I left perfectionism behind enough (waiting for the perfect time to do something perfectly had kept me from achieving so often), and also had grown enough personal discipline to just do things.
Starting small with my own knife
I looked closely at the edge as I went along. I remembered how he had taught me to do it (I just hadn't had very much practice) about the degree of the angle. It was exciting to actually achieve a sharp edge like my father's after doing it for a few minutes. I also had fond memories of him sitting in the kitchen, and grinding knives, so I enjoyed doing the same thing, so far now from home. I also had the understanding now of how early man had made their first sharp edge from stone from watching the Human Journey documentary, which I could connect to this current activity-- I really respected the ability to maintain my own tool.
We can't go backwards guys! We've come so far, for so long, to get our sharp edge, to go back due to laziness to use factory turned-out dull crappy tools our whole lives.
Now I am going to keep my one knife sharp for a start, and over time, buy more good knives. And I hope my habits will leave a strong impression in my children, as my father's did in me.
By the way, that squash cut like a dream.
P.S. (Added Feb 2011.) Something else, it really works to actually keep looking at the edge to see how sharp it is. There is basically a hill on either side of the point, and you are sanding away, or grinding it away, to create the point. You have to wear away the bump until you've met on both sides. You can sand at a more flat angle as you go.
The whole "looking" and sensing thing - is something that our ancestors did, all the time. Now I am more connected than before, that is what I do, and now I can do it as well as I want. Sensing your materials...
My dad also smears vegetable oil on his cutting boards and cures them in the sun to create a food-friendly varnish.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
STEP 1. Baby Steps
You may not be able to find the time to change your the new habits right away (e.g. becoming environmentally sustainable. Just make little progresses, grasping onto each on for dear life, until you get stronger to keep moving forward. When you are strong, and we underestimate ourselves, it will be easy! We are learning new skills.
A first great step in becoming more responsible to the earth, or your environment, is to start taking cloth bags. You'll be amazed by how often they are used, when you stop taking them. And even this is really hard at first!
Right now I am holding on for dear life for motivation to make a small change - to get my lazy self to make yogourt instead of buying it. I know how to do it—- my Dad even made me a version of his homemade using a lightbulb in a metal container setup to keep heat going, but for now I buy yogourt in bulk size, and in a cardboard millk-type carton, and flavour it myself and pour it into reusable lunch containers. That's something! And then it will be easier to go to the yogourt-making habit.
STEP 2. Know History
History makes you stronger: knowing that people once lived differently, and how strong we can be.
I grew up with a mother that loved history. She also researched my ancestors' stories, and told us stories as she discovered them. It was very special and positive - I knew what I was capable of as a person because I knew my own people had been strong.
It also helps to be aware of our place in history. It puts our selfish modern world into perspective.
STEP 3. You will be blessed.
I discovered after having a terribly difficult time-- and I would recommend it to anyone, you really learn alot-- that it is really important to Listen to the world around you. But not just with your ears, with your spirit.
Listen to what you really know in your heart is true, even if it's hard to accept at the time. (Because, sometimes we know the true direction is uphill, at first.) But something neat is-- that we can ask ourselves if we are doing in our life what we believe in, if we are going the right way, and we will hear the answer. Am I really happy doing this? Or, is this relationship working?
In the end all these little steps turn into blessings. The steps weren't made for this reason, but of course, you will have more strength and discipline from it that will be for your benefit. Also, you will gain a creative and resourcefulness edge, as you connect to the materials, and the world, around you. For real.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Worms are cool.
That's what I was thinking yesterday, feeling ill after working on the computer, rushing around the house or out, eating, resting, doing chores but still feeling weak. I finally had to get out and do something earthy.
I was going to walk to the dairy to get some cell phone time, rush, rush, acquire, acquire, but got tripped up by a weed on the way. My neighbour-- we share this house, three units of a building, she was really good and pulled the weeds out of a part of our garden, a wedge shaped part on the side of our driveway. I saw a weed she had missed. Then, my fingers in the dirt trying to get it out, I had to go get a stick or something to get the roots out. When I got the root out and had a metal tool in my hand which was useful, I noticed that none of the roots of the weeds had been pulled out. I could feel that the roots needed to be pulled. The earth drew me in, and after a bit, I was pulled in by the earth, and pulling out roots, churning up the dirt, and freeing it from this horrible plastic layer some misguided soul had put in years ago. I was lifting and pulling up a root-twined layer of earth like a carpet, as the plastic had made a barrier, roots in the ground white below-- somehow got most of it out, and then churned it all up, free to breathe. AND I found these ginormous earthworms, 10 inches long and very fat, that lived large enough to churn through that soil. My little children had come home from school, and right into the house to the TV. But for once I wasn't needing that sickly babysitter, and I forced them to come out with me, little children, similar to the white starved roots that I found under my plastic layer. COME! I yelled. COME LOOK! Dubious, they eventually came, and they loved it. Soon Troy was holding 5 huge earthworms. Luke was too scared, he kept saying
"look, a worm"
"a worm"...with with the voice of the young child whose mouth is new to making those sounds. He was frightened to touch them, once calling them "-nake baby" (he can't say s's). But fascinated to watch them as I kept finding them and throwing them over to him to see.
It was great. I felt really well after that.
Worm trying to crawl back into the soil, a good symbol for us!