Home Tomagrams Words to the Wise: Chip Away, Chip Away

Words to the Wise: Chip Away, Chip Away


woodstack of fir rounds

I recoil at the thought of considering that which I love a burden or the things that feed me being a bother. But there are days, when a turn to the left or gaze to the right will add a parcel of things to my already hefty to-do list, and leave me pondering when will I get it all done?

As one friend’s frank father put it after visiting my home and hearing my plans and ideas for the place, “Tom, just how long do plan on living?” By his calculations, completion of my project list would exceed any date found on any actuary chart for any country (or planet). And this is why I never do the math.

When mentioning my dance card of to-dos to my friend and neighbor Dan, he offered up some elegantly simple advice, “Chip away Tom, just chip away.” As a man who could reroof his house, fell a couple firs, and fix a tractor before lunch, he knew of what he spoke. I embraced his words and sought to rethink my approach. 

As an example of the effectiveness of Dan’s axiom, behold the wood pile. I have stared at and ignored two large (though oddly artful) stacks of log rounds in my meadow since April, knowing a day of log splitting fell somewhere on my enjoyment meter between tooth extraction and watching a PBS fund drive.

So last week, I promised myself that I would split four rounds into eighths each night after work. Because the ‘chip-away’ number was small, I would often split a few more. Ten days later, the logs are ready for the woodstove and my next chip-away task: stacking. I’d have to say doing a little something gets you farther than doing a little nothing. Yep Dan, you were right; chip away, indeed.

piles of split wood douglas fir

To bad it doesn’t stack itself


  1. Hi Tom,
    Oh My !! That is a lot of hard work. Who needs a gym with that kind of work. You certainly did chip away. I hope you add a day of rest to your to do list.

  2. And Linda, you too offer up good advice. — I did just that and took a field trip on Sunday and headed over the pass.

    And Miffala, as always thanks for the kind words and warm heart.

  3. Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.
    You’ll be happy this winter when you’re snuggled on the couch with the pooches.
    Nice job.

  4. Brion, I don’t know if Dan’s advice included cracking a whip, but then again I have no one to direct my orders to (and as for Boz and Gracie, they make it clear that they are not working class dogs.)

  5. Whoa! Tom, are you chopping wood on a crop circle?! Better stack ’em in the barn before they’re sucked up into a ray of light and carried off to become house pets/slaves in the Pleiades.

  6. “Doing a little something gets you farther than doing a little nothing.” That should go down in history as one of THE great quotations, Tom. On my days of greatest frustration, when I’m spinning in too many directions, I sometimes have to stop myself and find one thing, however small, that I can accomplish. Then I feel better.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving such great notes on your tomatoes. I can’t wait to see yours and hear more about what works and what you love. I do think I’ll have success here growing what is successful for you. And since you love the Ruby Gold-esque tomatoes, I know we have companion tastes!


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