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  • My young husband and I went out on his grandmother's land to cut down dead trees, saw them into stove-length and haul them home to split and burn in the wood stove. He cut the trees down, and I lopped off the branches and cut the narrower end to length. I had my own chain saw, something I was mighty proud of, but it was smaller and had a shorter blade than his. He cut the thicker end of the tree--we worked together like a well-oiled machine.

    He had a job; I had two babies. When the babies were napping, I went out to split wood. The neighbor across the street, Carl, came to watch and critique. Then he brought his wife, Helene, over to learn a thing or two. She was a sweet overweight woman with a baby of her own, a good cook and good homemaker.

    He wanted Helene to split wood like I did. She refused.

    I, on the other hand, liked to split wood. What I never admitted to Carl was, I'd rather split wood that clean the house. My house was never as neat or clean as Helene's. But we had plenty of firewood, split and ready. And my husband could clean as well as I could.

    I never asked Carl and Helene to our messy house--instead, we went there, took squash from the garden, eggs from the hens, milk from our goats and cowboy cookies to complement the dainty pasties Helene prepared. Helene and I each clung stubbornly to being exactly who we were.
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