The Cutting Edge

I’ve been opening a large bundle of mail everyday with a zip letter opener that looks like a whale’s head with an angled razor where his throat would be.  It was well used but its usefulness had expired.  After a few months of struggle it occurred to me to buy a new one.  What had previously been a pushing, shoving and ripping contest was transformed  to “zip zip”! 

Hello!  A basic maxim of life is to “keep your saw sharp.” 

So my thanksgiving this week is for people who sharpen the cutting edge.

My father — one of his trademarks was sharp kitchen knives.  A few months ago I heard the story about the origin of this minor obsession.  My dad was in a butcher’s shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan; this butcher’s lightening speed in cutting meat was legend.  The reason was simple: he stopped and sharpened his knives often.  This  inspiration from the late 1950s stayed sharp until his death in 1987. Everywhere he went he sharpened the knives.  He was a man with a steel in his hand.  I remember the whisk and whirl of the blade, the circular back-and -forth motions that blur together, the high-pitched tsk tsk of blade on steel. 

My husband Curt is as obsessed with cutting firewood as my father was with kitchen knives.  Beginning in May, he maps out the plan and goes out with our son Chris and brings home the fuel that keeps our homes warm.  He is restless until the wood is in.  Every evening before a wood cutting trip he spends considerable time sharpening the blades of his saw.  Honestly, I don’t know what he does!  But he keeps the saws in excellent working order.  I would be tempted to do this every other time or every third time, but Curt never skips this important step.  Falling trees is serious business and I’m grateful that he treats it with the respect it deserves.    

Last weekend we put in a patio.  Chris brought his father-in-law’s stone cutter saw and made all the cuts for the pavers on the edge.  The ability to cut bricks made a huge difference in the beauty of the finished product.  I saw the same dedication to excellence that his father has in our son.  He considered, selected, measured and cut all the live day long.  And at the end of the day, we had a beautiful cobble-stone-ish patio.  Sitting on the patio at the end of the day with my husband softens the sharp edges of the day.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

5 thoughts on “The Cutting Edge

  1. Not only did I notice the picture of Chris’s precision-like stance over the cutter, I recognized the full cord of cut wood in the background.  You are truly surrounded with fine men who understand quality.   What a blessing!PS  My current letter opener is compliments of Lantus …. I’ve never had to buy one.

  2. Oh, Carol, I have quite a few from my dad that are really cool–several wooden ones w/ ivory blades that have sailing ships and such from Hawaii–want one?

  3. @hiddenart – Oh boy – we can’t receive any freebie gifts anymore.  Good-bye (sniff, sniff) pens, highlighters, sticky pads, letter openers, keychains, notepads, totes…@LimboLady – That is so kind of you, Mel.  But I’m opening letters at work.  I think you should keep them for your grandsons to enjoy in a few years.  

  4. The dullness of the kitchen knives at my house is legend. The other day i was doing a stupid thing, using a (dull) steak knife to loosen onion powder in its container by this stab-stab-stab motion. i missed. As it went into the soft area between my right thumb and finger i thought “wow. That is gonna hurt.” The knife being as dull as it was it only went in a sickly eighth of an inch. i hate to think what would have happened had the knife been sharp in terms of depth, but at least then it wouldn’t feel like my hand had been bludgeoned! i love when you share things about your family–your way of showing their passions, their strengths, it’s a beautiful thing. They are so fortunate to have your solidly positive support.

  5. I had a summer job which entailed using hand clippers to cut a lot of grass.  We all sharpened them at lunch and then when the day was over.  I found out how to have the sharpest clippers of anyone.  I just hacked away with the file until the guy in charge said, “Here let me show you how to sharpen those…” and he did.  Several times that summer!

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