Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Finishing a beginning

"Remember to never split an infinitive.
The passive voice should never be used.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives."
--William Safire

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

Okay, cliches aside, I finished splitting the wood. Let's not rehash why the felled trees were lying like beached whales in my backyard attracting bugs and blackberry vines. Suffice it to say, the 25-30 something odd rounds of conifer wood have been taunting me since last September when I had two trees "removed" from my backyard by the tree service from hell.

And as I've established in earlier posts, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to get rid of 18-inch rounds of conifer wood that has not been split. I even called Trashbusters and they were in quite the quandry as to how to haul it despite their claim that they "haul anything." They finally quoted me a figure very close to a thousand dollars to get rid of the wood. And that involved something akin to a convoy of Trashbuster truck working round the clock for days.

So, as you may recall, I decided to split the wood myself. And I left you hanging with the impression that, after leaving two wedges appropriately wedged in a particularily knotty section of the tree, I had left the wood splitting project unfinished as many of the projects I've started in my life have been left.

But, I am proud to say that is not the case. In the past couple of weeks I have diligently donned my mirror-lensed protective glasses and my leather workman's gloves and attacked the wood one round at time. And here is photographic proof that I accomplished what I set out to do: split the wood to a level that rational people in need of firewood will take it off my hands without a struggle.

Above you see my sledgehammer, my splitting maul and my remaining wedge. The other two wedges are still buried in this nasty piece of wood.

This is the last of the megarounds of wood. And buried in it, posed for action, is my other splitting maul with the unbreakable, fiberglass handle. See the log's smug look of defiance? Little does it know that its log days were numbered.

Above you see the climactic point that makes splitting wood so satisfying.

And then the final blow and the wedge splits the errant log. Where's your smug smile, now Mr. Tree Round!

Finally the log is cleft and fallen, waiting to be split yet again to a manageable size.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a wood pile of heroic proportions! It's accomplishments like these that separate us from the animals (that and opposible thumbs).

But I must admit, once the realization dawned on me that I had actually completed something and the euphoria of that accomplishment had surged through me, I was filled with a sense of emptiness and dread. I mean, now that I've finished a project, doesn't that mean the pressure will be on to finish other things I start?

This can't be good. It's like climbing Mount Everest and realizing you've raised the bar a bit to high in your life. It's little wonder Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and has spent the rest of his days shaking his head and muttering.

Oh well, it's done. No use crying over split wood. And tomorrow is another day to lower the bar.


Anonymous said...

I suppose it's inevitable that you'd feel a sense of loss. Finishing a project like this can actually change who you are, or rather, how you and other people think of you.
Allow me to illustrate my point:

"Tim Healy, hmmm, sounds familiar but I can't place him."
"Oh, you know. The guy with all the wood in his yard."
"Yeah, I remember now. That sure is a lot of wood."
"Sure is."

So, you see, in a sense the wood had become part of you. Now it's gone, and with it a unique identifying characteristic.

But at least you've still got the Monkey Playing Cymbals, which is nice.

Time said...

Leave it to you Lights, to put it all in perspective. I was the man with all the wood. Now it has split.

Being left with the Monkey is no picnic, however. He's always on my back.

BTW. If you ever do start a blog, here's a title suggestion: "Walk into the light...wait, not that one...sorry."

Naughti Biscotti said...

Whoooo hooo!!!! You finished! I'm so happy for you! Awesome pictures as well.
You know though.... I think your blog is the primary reason for this completion. You were able to document the accomplishment with photos. That had to be pretty cool.
NOW..... I'm thinking.... you should really get that old novel out of the Mac and complete it.

Time said...

Well bless your soul, Shandie. Only you would appreciate photos of a log being split. And you are probably right about the blog motivational therapy. But I don't know about the novel. If I started to finish that, when would I have time to blog?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I guess I haven't been very attentive as I have just now discovered that your old nemesis, Monkey Playing Cymbals, has a blog. He doesn't seem to think much of you. It appears that he is using your own computer against you. You've gotta be careful about that. No telling what kind of sites he's accessing. You could get in trouble.

Anonymous said...

William Safire quote:
Thank you for this. I'm horrible at composition and grammar.

I like Tolkien's way of getting around the "starting a sentence with a conjunction" rule - the venerable semi-colon.

The Hobbits did this; and they did that; and they did it with a Hobbit ball bat."

Good folk, those Hobbits.

It's always satisfying to work hard and have a big pile of something to show for it. You may have addressed this in a previous blog entry but why didn't you rent a hydraulic splitter for a day?


Time said...


Well Tolkien is probably the only person who knows what to do with a semi-colon.

I thought about a hydraulic wood splitter, but I had a bad experience with a rented lawn aeriator last year (I almost ran it into my truck). I also wanted the challenge. Plus I needed the exercise.

You didn't happen to have anything to do with someone buying the Gold Lame skull did you? Someone from Minnesota bought it.

Anonymous said...

Tim Elvis:
Your Dad always had piles of wood laying around. I wonder if this trait is learned or genetic? Since your father's lumber was always in board form maybe you got the "log gene" from your Mom. This sounds like an excellent study for the government to fund.

Runaway aeriator? That sounds like a fine story worth telling.

Trucks should have dents in them. I mean they're trucks, right? Even better is if the dents were created after someone said: "Hold my beer and watch this!"

I asked Mrs. R if I could buy the Gold Lame skull and she said "No."

No! Can you believe it? That an awesome thing like a Gold Lame skull exists and yet she doesn't appreciate it.

When pressed for a reason she replied "we had animal skulls hanging up all over the place when I was growing up. It's just not that interesting."


Perhaps Love has (once again) overcome better judgement and the Gold Lame skull will show up under the Christmas tree this year.

A man can hope, right?


Time said...


Appreciating skulls or lack of appreciating skulls appears to be a gender issue. I wouldn't have sold the skull if Tess appreciated it as an artform. I will ultimately have to divest myself of most of my skull collection in the new house we end up buying. I've already tossed the deer and goat skulls. I held on to the buffalo skull with the promise that I'd sell it on eBay (where I bought it). But I'm drawing the line on giving up the warthog and baboon skulls. A man has to have limits.