Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Losing my edge

When R was working away, every Sunday evening before he packed for the next week, he would bring in enough firewood to last me the next few days and would sharpen all the kitchen knives. It was one of those little rituals that made me feel loved.

Well the firewood thing I can do myself. It might not be stacked as neatly as when he used to do it, but it still makes a fire.

But I just cannot get the hang of knife-sharpening. I don't know whether it is because I am a cack-handed leftie, or because my steel needs replacing, but I seem to spend as much time blunting the blade as sharpening it.

And I so hate using blunt knives. My older sister gave me a new filleting knife for my birthday (after a freak accident at Christmas involving my old filleting knife and a potful of frozen parsnips - it's a long story, don't ask!). It is so beautifully sharp that I only use it when absolutely necessary to ensure that it keeps its edge. Otherwise I have to wait until my brother-in-law is here and ask him to do it, and I hate asking people to do daft things like that for me.

Such a little thing, but a constant reminder that he has gone.


  1. Try looking for an diamond oval shaped sharpening steel. They are a little more expensive then your standard steel but so worth it. The trick to sharpening is getting the angle right. The blade edge is not flat to the steel, neither is it 90 degrees - but somewhere in between. Yeah I know that's not so helpful, but you'll feel a sort of "bite" when you have the angle right. I'm left handed and can do it, and so can you! This Youtube might be of help.

  2. megan18:42

    yup, little things sometimes suck more than larger ones. Our dog has been on a trial of doggie ibuprofen, and I have just read all these reports of sudden dog death from the meds, and Matt is not here to discuss whether to go on with them or not, and whether boris' new very early morning scared-as-though-it's-thundering, but-it's-not behavior is due to said medication or not. Not having Matt here to do these daily life things together, discuss this stuff - everything and anything.

  3. @Ruth: Thank you for that YouTube clip. That method is so different from the way I have been using my steel. I suspect you are right about needing a diamond steel as well.

    @Megan: That's just it - the daily life things that are made so much harder because you have no one to discuss them with. For the first year I found it almost impossible to make decisions or I would simply take the first option so I didn't have to think about them any more. It's not a lot easier now, but I am sort of resigned to the fact that they have to be taken.
    I hope Boris is OK. Some dogs do simply get into the habit of being frightened by things. Moose is the same - this year he has decided that he is scared of the fire crackling, and won't stay in the room when it does. How long does Boris stay scared when he has these attacks of nerves?

  4. megan21:33

    They usually start around 5 am, and I figure he has to go outside, as I often fall asleep without a pre-bedtime walk for him. So we go out. Me in pjs and very sleepy. Nothing. When we come back in and he is still whimpering and licking my face, and sitting up on his hind legs as though he were a much smaller dog, it occurs to me that he is scared. I then sit on the floor with him, and put him in my lap as though he actually were a small dog (he's 65 pounds), give him some rescue remedy (rubbed into his ears), and then just sit there and sing to him for about half an hour until he falls asleep. Then he's fine. by that time it is usually after 6, and I am wondering if I should just stay up.
    He was always afraid of the crackling fire. Matt could get him to sit there for a few minutes, but he hated it - only did it because Matt asked. Other than fire, thunderstorms and fireworks, he wasn't previously a scared-y dog. The vet said it is very unlikely there is a connection between his early morning nerves and the new medicine. I don't trust it completely - I don't trust that anything is as it should be anymore - but I'm glad it isn't a big warning bell.
    Just went to schedule a car inspection, and my mechanic told me I was last in there in august - I know I was in there, because I told him Matt had just died, but I have no idea what the car was in for. Matt was in charge of the car a lot of the time, and I know I got something fixed that had needed to be fixed since "before." And I thought - I'll just call him and see what it was, that won't be too much of an interruption. Right. It would just take a minute, to discuss knife sharpening or dog fears or what was it again that we were doing?

  5. I wonder how long it takes for those "I'll just call him and ask..." moments to stop. They show no sign of abating with me. Indeed I still find myself asking him out loud when something is really bothering me. Is this madness I wonder - I'm pretty sure it doesn't show to the outside world, but I certainly never used to go around talking to the empty room before.

  6. megan01:16

    And right on top of each other, these moments: in the midst of a thought of, "man, he would have loved today, it so much sucks" comes the reflex to pick up the phone to hear his voicemail, which of course he left for me, calling to see how my day is going. Occupying the same space.
    I used to talk out loud a lot, sing little goofy songs. Waiting for a tangible, helpful, visceral response from whom and what I am now talking out loud to - that is certainly new. Kind of glad to hear it hasn't abated; I get afraid our life will fade, and I will forget. That sucks.

  7. Just a thought regarding the dog fears, have you tried Bach flower remedies? There is a spray called Rescue Remedy which is helpful for calming a person. It also works on pets. I had a pyranean mountain dog who was petrified of thunderstorms, fire crackers - any loud sharp noise would set her off - like a car backfiring for eg. As she was a very large dog it was very difficult to control her and she would be agitated for hours. Spraying Rescue Remedy on the palm of my hand and rubbing it over her nose and muzzle was how we administered it. She would calm down and even doze off. There is a formulation now marketed specifically for pets, I haven't tried that one, just the one for humans. I noticed the pet version is a bottle eyedropper. Personally I find the spray easier to administer.

  8. oh dear, I didn't read the post fully and saw that rescue remedy was already being used by Megan. It seems to me though that if this is a regular occurrence then the dog is used to getting this attention and thus a cycle is set up whereby the dog comes to you whimpering and then gets all this attention. Perhaps a word with a dog trainer about de-sensitising your dog?

  9. It's a charming, charming story. I have no suggestions to offer, no solutions. I just wish I could sharpen a knife or two for you now and then, to soften your sorrow.