Saddle Up, Move’m Out

Friends and Neighbors, the day has come. We are doing the next thing and moving away soon from the place we’ve known and loved for twenty years–but are NOT leaving Floyd. In fact, we’ll be about a third of the distance to The StopLight, on 27 acres, with accessible access to a much, much newer home with an incredible view. (I’ll post pix soon, and appreciate those of you who have been curious, even before we had this week’s certainty that this transition has started and will go to completion.)

So later today (on FB) I’ll post additional details, and hope our Floyd Family will help us find good neighbors as new owners of this magical place and then, come June, to settle in and re-home ourselves and grow a healthy new sense of place.

We are putting together our bug-out bags and creating a list of people and places to visit over the coming months as the house is visited by motivated and enthusiastic potential owners who want to fit in and put down roots on Goose Creek.

And so you might see us more often in Floyd Town, looking displaced and bewildered and looking for something to do. Thankfully, there is almost always something to do, coffee to be drunk, conversations to be had, visits to be made. It will be an adventure. He said.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of interior pix. You’ve seen the OUTSIDE over and over since 2003, but hardly ever shots from inside the house–unless they contained pix of Tsuga, Gandy, Dingo, Scout or Mosey. So more coming soon.

PS: Readers of Fragments via email, let me know in comments or by email that you’d like links to the photo gallery or features bullet-list.

The Agonies of Ink to Paper

My morning pages sometimes get out of hand. What can I say? I’m hearing conversations with inanimate objects now. So lock me up.

They ended up, one atop the other, in the back of my car, both bound for the final resting place–unfortunately in the local landfill and not in a next home where each would have been appreciated by yet another human master. There were no takers, and so we’d come to this day, and it had to be done.

I pondered the moment, hat in hand. These two strangers had been distant relatives in life, by purpose, in the putting of ink to paper–a need that first met its application in the crudest form by spewed red ochre paint against a hand, pressed hard against the cold stone of a dark, flame-lit cave in the ancient past. I. Am. Here.

And that impulse to leave one’s mark ultimately and perhaps inevitably found easier and faster and better ways to say and show in words and pixels–harking back as I stood there musing, to my own early and current and largely underwhelming attempts to leave my own mark at Fragments from Floyd and elsewhere, in stories and images, day by day, personal and public.

And so I found myself eulogizing the two of them, there on the asphalt, anticipating the metallic echo when I unceremoniously tossed them into the empty metal grave, a dark cave where they would leave no mark at all. They were so different, even with their shared purpose–the one (a Remington Rand vintage 1930s that belonged to my wife’s father) and the other, an Epson 2880 Professional Color Printer from the twenty-teens, that had been mine. The two of them, in their mechanical simplicity or complexity, in their own ways were GORP extenders, enhancing the work of the good old reliable pencil. But I digress.

They were–these two tools–our slaves to do our bidding, we the masters with minds and hands and creative impulses to show or tell. Built for very specific service, they had no reason to exist, apart from the effective performance of that function. That work was the measure of their worth and justification for the continued presence of each of them taking up precious space in our home–until that fateful day.

The one, kept long after its work had been superseded by a younger upstart, its form and symbol and family history made it worth keeping unseen in the Very Back Room for the past twenty years. The other lived in a gleaming plastic cowling housing God only knows what arcane chips and circuits such that, when just ONE of them gives up the ghost, the malignant tool becomes useless with no aesthetic or historical point to its continued presence.

Both would soon become bits of flotsam in the strata of the Floyd County land fill. And yet, they had both taken up space or energy, had offered in their time the opportunity to say or show something from the personal life of their owners. I rarely simply toss such touched objects away, without them being remembered–if not celebrated–in some way.

The Remington, in its day, was a metallic marvel of miniaturized complexity compared to its earlier predecessors, starting in Mr. Gutenberg’s basement in 1450. The now-defunct 80-something-year-old typer was somewhat less portable than the pencil, it is true, but its marks were consistently legible and produced with lightning rapidity compared to writing by hand.

The dialogue between a writer’s mind and this machine was spare and direct; this was a slave that simply obeyed your fingers, one hammered letter at a time. There was no backtalk, no delays, no excuses. Only the occasional slap of the carriage return was required to bring ideas into a new paragraph, rewarded by the bell attesting to the machine’s obedience and compliance.

Turn the platen knob to add another page of white bond paper and finish the job. If a ribbon’s ink grew faint on the page, threading on a new spool was the most difficult intervention required to type all day, as long as your fingers could hammer the levers sufficiently hard and often. Dumb. Obedient. Human-powered. Just so many levers and pulleys you could rely on. It had never caused much human grief. But neither was it able to offer value or service and over it went, without malice or grief, into the dumpster.

I will admit to a combined joy-with-revenge as the Epson took its final plunge. A pox on all your kind!

Yes, it was in theory an extension of the creative mind that sought to reproduce in the mind of another the exact representation of light-on-object from a landscape or portrait or family memory. How hard could it be: send a micro-droplet of just the correct color ink to the exact spot on the canvas. Paint by numbers, in bits and bytes. And voila! A print suitable for framing. If only…

Unlike the Remington, the Epson always had its own ideas, and could not be rushed. Each intended print job was preceded by an unpredictably long clearing of the throat, by whirrs and chirps and wildly-ranging print heads back and forth. And back and forth. Until finally, it was ready for my command to PRINT.

No it wasn’t. In addition to the ON light another warning light invariably signaled disorder, disease or dementia. An alarm popped up over the Epson icon on the dock of the Mac. “Your ramfrangle is mis-aligned. Please spin around three times and try again.” You’re jerking my chain. I spin around as instructed. Take a few calming breaths. And try again to make one simple print.

The fat lady begins her guttural noise but never sings. “You must replace the YK112 light purple ink cartridge now.” I rummage through a hundred dollars worth of ink-by-epson and there is no such thing as light purple YK112. I go back to the printer dialogue. “Just kidding. Replace black, Jack.”

And finally, all seems well and third time’s charm: PRINT! I command. And with great fanfare and pomp the sheet of Epson Premier Glossy at last begins to disappear millimeter by millimeter into the machine. And it comes out into the tray a perfect unblemished WHITE.

So in on your demented, obstinate, rebellious, incompetent head, YOU! I sing at the sound of your carcass reverberating in the Green Grave. And then and there I determine that, when I get home, I will seek out a handful of yellow Number 2’s and the long-neglected pencil sharpener and live happily every after.

[The Curious Evolution of the Typewriter, in Pictures](https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-curious-evolution-of-the-typewriter-in-pictures-509985235)

[Instructions for the Operation and Care of Remington Portables, 1936](http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/manuals/manual-1936RemingtonPortables.pdf)

Life Lessons: You’re Welcome

  • Current events:
    • I knew not to and did it anyway: “click here so we know you’re a real person” it said on an ostensible news site that promised to show me news about a piece of software-in-development I’ve been tracking. And BAM! Up pops a cartoon porn site which said…I don’t remember what it said because I instantly deleted the site from my browser cache. But it came back to haunt me. And apparently, this happens to lots of ignorami.
    • The spoof is called red news 7 (all one word) and there are numerous sites that tell you how to clear the malignant site from your “trusted places” on the Internet. I’m disappointed the anti-virus software I pay for did not catch this.
    • So this is just a confession I got lazy and jumped before I thought. And if you take the bait now that I’ve told you, well, fool me once, shame on George W.
  • Check Your Spam
    • So a few days ago I’m looking for the confirmation email to do something I’ve now forgotten but it never came. So I went to g-mail’s spam folder to see if it ended up there. (This was the same day I got infected as told above, so thought maybe somehow my system performance had been jeopardized.)
    • And there just a few days old was a message from Chicken Soup for the Soul. I had submitted a few pieces back in the fall and forgotten about them. This email contained instructions for submitting a Permission to Publish page. Having just been bitten, I did not immediately open the email until I confirmed it was legit.
    • So the form is completed, but having done so does not insure that “King Solomon’s Sheets” will be included in the April 2020 Laughter is the Best Medicine book version, they say. We’ll see.
    • But sure has heck, it would have had NO chance had I not happened to rummage through the trash in my spam folder. Lesson #2. And my work is done here. You’re welcome.

Last Things

It is starting to sink in that this is not a drill. This is not the projection of some future possibility that one day, we would leave this place, dead or alive.

This is an acceptance, almost, that one day, this in-the-present hardscape would become a distant abstraction on the globe, an amalgamated assortment of place-and-people memories, a thousand pieces of fused colored glass–beautiful to conjure but difficult to make out any of the original bits. One day, we would not be here, would be looking out at a different viewshed, from a different HeresHome, through different eyes.

One day, we would wake up dead or be moving from this place. Those were the options. And while we often spoke of our intention to leave here in a pine box, that would not have been the responsible thing for our children. While we could have continued to herd cats and keep body and soul together here for a few more years, that would only delay the inevitable day we would leave, and years in the future, a decision to leave would offer far fewer good years to settle in and make another place our home with its own amalgam of colored-glass memories.

And so we are moving.

And it turns out, of course, that there is a lot more to it than one day waking up in the same bed in a different house. It is not like the movies where an amnesiac suddenly finds themselves transported from their last recollections in the fifties into a different movie set they do not recognize. Maybe an acute rip-the-bandaid translation into another life would be desirable, if it could somehow become possible other than in a movie script. But ours will be a creeping crisis of opportunity, unfolding for at least a year. Probably more.

Out impending reality until June will be more like a six-month metamorphosis into a late instar that emerges at The Other Place, then continues internally to reform and reconnect the inner parts for another six to twelve months before emerging in a new skin, with new eyes to appreciate that Where that is not Goose Creek.

And with this reality setting in, it is certain that many of the things we do between now and June we will be doing for the last time:

There will be a last time we sit on the front porch with friends and a bottle of wine.

There will come a last time we walk the pasture loop while calling this our own place; we may walk it years hence as visitors when it is another’s, if that is not too bittersweet a revery to contemplate.

We will hear for the last time the creek through the open bedroom window, will hear perhaps once more the whippoorwill who visits briefly in the spring, will smell for the final time the maple sweetness when the sap drips on the first warmish spring day.

I will load the list stick of firewood into the maw of the Quadrifire, the last of the thousands that have, since November 1999, been hefted a half dozen times between the forest edge and the waiting coals from last night’s fire. And since we may not have wood heat Over There, the very last loading of a lifetime may happen as the first buds swell and the days stay warm in late April. How I will miss this part of who I have been.

We will, on that last day, have taken our last senses-wide-open panorama in our minds and memories with immense gratitude, two figures in a snow-globe fantasy land left behind as we drive out of here with our past in the rear view mirror.

But I also remember that we did all those things here for a first time when Goose Creek was unfamiliar and not ours quite yet. And while not so many things for so many years after we reach The Other Place, we will know first things again.

On Commitment

I’m beating the rush for New Year’s Resolutions, and thought I’d go ahead and start failing to keep mine ahead of schedule.

I’ve realized that I have allowed myself to get too unfocused and content to merely wander, digitally-speaking; while physically, in our current and unfamiliar dogless condition my geographic wandering covers only the distance between the back porch and the woodpile. This has got to change.

I do have the need to get things done, both because they tend to pile up like a sink-full of dirty dishes, left ignored; and because it galls me to see my to-do list being rolled over from Monday all the way to Friday unchecked. I can do better.

Writing words-per-day or completed “book parts” are worthless measures of my recent productivity. Firewood added to the stacks from the year’s deadfall has been a typical measure of things-gotten-done in winters past. This year, with our future housing uncertainty, I am not using my new old Ford Ranger to cut up perfectly good and relatively easy stove wood from up the valley. The stacks out my window, depleted, stay that way, down to the runners. This weighs heavily on my manhood.

At the same time all this is going on, I feel like I am making some progress in the “how and when to get things done” department, which overlaps with the how to save and find topical information again department. My digital house is more or less in order, the one over my head and under my feet, not so much.

With regard to the writing, I won’t beat the same dead horse that blogging’s nerve has been severed by Facebook and by my own lassitude and by having not worked to maintain my “platform” as publishers call it: your user cred measured in how many thousand people subscribe to your podcasts and blog; how many thousand you have spoken to in live audiences on regional TV and radio.

This latter deficit in my writer-cred has been one of the death blows to my early zeal in getting One Place Understood published-published, not self-published like books one and two. That fiction is over. What will become of the seventy five thousand words already tossed into the folder, more or less randomly and more or less unpolished, remains to be known.

My latest inclination is to just “put it out there” publicly in some way and let what few readers find it and show interest take what they might from it, and move on.

Another option I’m considering is creating a digitally accessed pdf that is nicely laid out with a generous addition of photographs from my archives. This would be satisfying, relatively easy to do, and perhaps marketable to recoup some money for Goose Creek Press, bless its poor neglected heart.

There are ways to do digital journaling to replace the moribund blog. One might be via a writing-augmented-thinking tool called ROAM. Already I have started compartmentalizing my daily brain-nuggets into a bulleted outliner (DynaList) for structured lists OR into ROAM for idea and thought management, but also into a ROAM notebook that could become an evolving internally-networked blog-like vehicle for following my own interests while those few who choose to can look over my shoulder and follow the story.

With regard to that story, a new chapter looms. It will offer much to tell but little life-force to devote to the telling, I’m afraid. Hence, full “blog posts” are unlikely, while incremental snatches of it can go to the ROAM blog, already in place.

I have been posting blog posts to FaceBook where the readers have gone. But lately a lot of my posts there are ignored and of no interest to those hangers-out. So only the few subscribing readers of Fragments can go to the link presently. Maybe I’ll try to share the link with a larger audience some day.

This post at Fragments is now duplicated over at the HOME FRONT PAGE. Let me know if you drop by. The Strange Farmer of Erehwon will be waiting for you.

Reprise: Of Memories and Hopes and Golden Dreams – Fragments from Floyd