Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:43:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Old Dog, New Tricks Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:43:42 +0000 No this will not be a back to back Gandy post.  I wouldn’t do that to you few who CAN get enough dog stories and pictures.

But what I will do is get geeky on ya. I’m always looking for ways to make easy things look hard–more often than not, with regard to publicity about some town event or another, to post to FB, the blog or elsewhere.

And so along comes what seems like a good investment of five bucks. Flowboard, long an ipad app, has just become available as Flowvella for the Mac and for 25% of the original cost of the ipad app. So I gave it a shot. My first five minute 3-slide about-nothing FLOWBOARD is at this link because I could not make the embed code work. Yet.

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Three Dog Night Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:28:12 +0000 By all rights we should not have had a very small puppy in a wire crate next to our bed on the morning of December 19, three years ago. When Tsuga died suddenly on December 5, we vowed we’d live out the pain before we dared open our home and hearts to another darned dog.


You know how such things go–the empty places where their faces always appeared, the missing sounds, the unmet need to love and to be warmed in the guileless fidelity of a familiar friend, now gone. You think you can live without them once that the decision has been thrust by mortality upon you and that is just the way things are.

But this far-flung fenceless playground and Mole Ranch (and its ranchers) could not go on until the pain subsided, and on December 18, we brought home an 8-week rescue pup from a Walmart parking lot in Carroll County.  We called her Gandy–my crafted feminine for gander–of Goose Creek.

And on December 19, we began our first full day together.  So how could I, this very morning, write about anything else? Herself watches me at the keyboard from her accustomed place on the loveseat–HER loveseat now–where Buster, then Tsuga could nestle briefly and by invitation only.  She OTOH is nestled permanently and sometimes grants us permission to share.

So happy three-year homecoming anniversary, mutt. We hope you’ll keep us as we’re paper-trained and don’t jump up on visitors or sniff inappropriately at strangers or delivery persons.

Gandy Has Entered the Building! | Fragments from Floyd

If Life Gives You Gandy… | Fragments from Floyd


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Committees. Commitment. Community: Common Unity. Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:01:37 +0000 We just celebrated, at Thanksgiving, our fifteenth year of living in the Floyd County outback. We are isolated, sequestered, cloistered in this deep valley and there is good in that separation and solitude. Humans need and seek out just this kind of apartness when they must think completely and clearly and when they feel the urgency to stay connected to home ground of self and soil.

And yet, as I’ve put on pages over the years, we are social animals. The blog was an attempt–and ultimately a successful attempt–to connect with community; to join skills and passions with others; to find some common work to sink my teeth into (while I still had them) that did good in its own right but also confirmed the wholeness of the human enterprise in this place we cared about.

I write on this topic this morning because I dreamed about community in some vague way, and awoke at the end of a long subconscious rehearsal of the evolution of my civic interest and engagement that has happened only since this blog began in May, 2002. Fragments was in those earliest months and years a beacon, an inchoate but earnest message in a bottle to others I did not yet know. The morning posts said “I am here. I know I should not continue forever an island hermit bent over a keyboard. So what can we do together, here; now?”

So it is no surprise I might have such a dream last night, after returning from yet another organizational meeting. The cost of getting the community involvement I asked for in 2002  has been countless fidgeting  hours of *FMC Rostralgia. The cost has been thousands of miles and hours and words and worry. The cost has been committee commitment. This is the cost of community: of  common unity. In 2002,  I thought to use my camera and my writing and my body in place towards a common goal, unaware of the costs.

Last night’s dream was not the usual post-committee angst about budget or personnel or organizational myopia or discord as is so often the case. After all, this Star Wars Bar Room assortment of creatures sitting around the table with you may be as hard to get along with as a spouse; and yet, for better or for worse, you’ve committed to try to work it out–for the children’s sake, if nothing else. It is often very very hard to keep your eye on the prize, even when the bank account is in the black.

Last night, we birthed a new child, and for that moment of delivery, it felt very good.

A few years ago, SustainFloyd undertook a “creative economy” project which we oversaw and for which we obtained funding. We championed it for several years to the point that it has become a fixed and anticipated event on the annual Floyd County Events calendar.

This active program  was somewhat peripheral to the recent center of SustainFloyd’s mission that has chiefly come to be about supporting agriculture in the county–but also the mission is about sustaining a way of life. So the Floyd Artisan’s Tour was a good enough fit that we retained it, thinking all along that “One day it will grow up and stand on its own legs, and we might fledge it into the nest of another group that can take it on and see it to adulthood.”

As of last night, the FAT is now officially a project of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts. It is right and fitting that this be so. And there is more to it, I must have seen in my drowsy dream-state, than just this small transition of a small program between two small non-profits in a very small pond in a remote eddy of human strivings. There is more to it than that.

I place the scale of this tiny celebration of mine in proportion to  my limited and small-world experience of civic and community matters–topics that until the blog began, were not at all on my personal radar. But what has made me smile in my sleep is that increasingly, there is coming to be a level of cooperation, of transparency and of common purpose among groups that I’ve come to know as participant or officer, and to some extent, to have known as competitors for limited support dollars and member energy.

But now, lines are blurring. Boundaries between camps are not impermeable or solid or unyielding to change. Cooperation is winning, at times, over competition on this microcosmic stage of the human story at a most auspicious time on the cusp of humanity’s uncertain future.  There is a role here for science and the arts; for charity and calloused hands; for new ways of doing things informed by the oldest hands in the community. And all these players have to talk clearly with each other.

SustainFloyd, Preserve Floyd, Partnership for Floyd, the Jacksonville Center, The Music Festival (VBRMF), Plenty, the Board of Supervisors, the Economic Development Board and others have the potential to work in common unity towards a future we all want for our living offspring  a century down the road. What does that future look like? We are asking the questions and talking to each other about this. And at least at this moment this morning, I am encouraged.

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Wednesday Wordless Wanderer Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:19:23 +0000 I’m staring out the window again, sports fans. I think I done lost my mojo for good this time. I’ve reached that dreaded blogger cross-roads where, looking in all possible directions, I’ve already been down that road before.

In such situations, one logically resorts to their image archives. And such is the case today. The usual outcome of this image search is a string of words that stream out of the image.

In this case, I’ll just let you stream your own words about this one-of-a-kind compositions from Chez First. I think I’ll get dressed and wander aimlessly outside–instead of inside–for a while. You get busy telling the story behind this permanent bit of plush that lives with us on Goose Creek.


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For Your Health: Take a Walk Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:31:21 +0000 IMG_3329Double670I find myself, once again, staring out the window by my desk, my eyes falling more often than not on the “New Road” that rises out of the pasture just past the barn.

We (and especially SHE) follow that path countless times in a week (and SHE in a single day) as a form of meditation, release and habit born of the pleasure it gives us to live IN and not just on this land.

And as fate would have it, I came across an essay I recorded in 2011. I don’t remember why I would have made a 5 minute essay, since the limit for NPR radio essays at WVTF was no more than three and a half.

The topic is not a surprise, however. The notion of the relationship between our health and the ways we relate (or fail to relate) to nature is a significant part of what I read and think about. And in this one case at least, speak about.

The image shows my first and second wife, walking more or less together, down the New Road, into mystery.

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Nature is Not our Golden Egg if We Kill the Goose Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:23:48 +0000 Do you think that the chief purpose of natural places and communities of the planet is for human transformation into more and more human stuff forever? Or do forests or coral reefs or estuaries have rights to legal protection (as much as now afforded to corporations)?

Communities not unlike Floyd County’s population are impacted today by coal ash storage ponds that will contaminate their aquifers; they live downstream from mountaintop coal mining; they suffer genetic deformities in their newborns because of toxic industrial waste abandoned by the industries that created them.

Citizens of Floyd County have recently faced the real threat of massive fracking-gas pipelines that will potentially be putting our neighboring counties and their citizens and properties at risk.

Do communities in Giles, Franklin, Floyd and Montgomery Counties  have rights to prevent degradation of their water, soil, air and way of life — even if corporation-states blow off those human needs and rights as impediments to their profit?

We are at last acknowledging  that, if our local ecosystems become unhealthy, the humans and non-human creatures that depend on those living systems will also become unwell.

If we know these kinds of abuses of people and planet are wrong, what is a community on the ground in the path of known or anticipated natural-system damage to do in the face of what seems to be an indifferent, omnipotent, un-stoppable corporatocracy?

These are not academic questions and thankfully,  the solutions are not theoretical but real and available. Preserve Floyd is in the process of learning how to use these solutions for the common good in Floyd County and southwest Virginia in similar ways that locally-drafted ordinances have been used in 110 municipalities across the country.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund will provide guidance and assistance as we craft a draft ordinance in support of ongoing health and justice for those in-common natural resources within our shared habitat of Floyd County–water, soil, forests and more.

Come learn more this Sunday , from 3 to 5 p.m., at the public meeting of Preserve Floyd: Citizens Preserving Floyd County. Location is the Junebug Center across from the Jacksonville Center on Route 8 just south of the town of Floyd towards the BR Parkway.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund : Rights of Nature: Background

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Wind and Whimsy Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:07:06 +0000 It’s an ominous symptom from a blogging-post point of view. I look at a list of potential topics I have been exploring–some of which are supported by a list of a few pertinent links. Some, like “synthetic biology” and “transhuman super-intelligence” have dozens each, massive topics to be sure.

Nah. Too arcane, too complex for the typical blog-reader 30 second hop. So all I seem to be able to do is stare out the window at wind playing with bare branches–all that the season has left for the wind to sign its signature in the cold air.

It agitates the butterfly bush canes, whipping them up against the house just below the window at arm’s length from my keyboard. The bare branches transmogrify briefly to privet switches once self-collected for my own punishment.  A sudden spanking of canes against the siding snaps me back into the now.

Just across the lane, those same invisible eddies gently ricochet off the unyielding walls to sway the lithe limbs of spreading maples, our summer salvation from the heat. But the maples here in the shelter of the valley are not a true gauge of the power of last night’s howling.

If I lean a bit right for the longer view I can watch the turbulent treetops of the far ridge, maybe a quarter mile away and two hundred feet higher than where I sit. This is stage where the winds we heard all night are making most of their music.

Silhouetted against  peach-and-sapphire sunrise, mature oaks and poplars do battle, push and shove, back and forth, force against force; wind against wood, both sides powerful and worthy of awe in a daydream over coffee.

The muscle of wood is borne in bones of lignin, root to trunk. When wind-swayed off-balance each bole rebounds with a resilient force equal to the power of the wind. The wind, borne of sun, sent swirling by a spinning planet, by the sagging weight of a continental bubble of air, slips east and south, a map of imaginary blue arrows not visible in the sky overhead to mark its arrival over Goose Creek.

The bark skin of each red oak above Nameless Creek is where biology confronts meteorology, gust upon gust, until the wind blows itself out or moves along east, the tree stronger for each of these howling night dramas of push coming to shove in the cold dark.

Wind Map

Intellicast –

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Alien Airspace: Coming to Take us Away HaHa Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:11:14 +0000 We will some day go to visit my daughter’s family on the NC coast and actually enjoy the unique landscapes and nature of that place–such as have managed to survive hurricanes, strip malls, subdivisions and military installations.

Surely there are some natural area remnants–dunes, savannahs, pine pocosins, and beaches–where a curious mountaineer could wander for a few hours with binocs and cameras.

That has not happened yet since family moved to NC, and it for sure did not happen this visit, where the chief task was herding cats –two actual cats (who hate each), a very needy one-eyed dog (who hates both cats), two horses (who hate each other) and their attendant daily deposits, and two grand daughters (who actually got along!) and their attendant shuttling to and from, with the frenzied static electricity that just generally pervades this particular time of the year.

So the opportunity for discovery offered to me from our station in a suburban subdivision was the sky over the back yard.  I had forgotten my binoculars, and never was holding a camera in hand other than the iPhone when I wanted to grab a shot. And I grabbed exactly two.

The image up top is, of course, a documented instance of our government’s efforts to subjugate the people of this country by spraying us with toxins or bacteria or hallucinogens or anti-fertility drugs or tranquilizers (pick your preferred conspiracy theory) by means of CHEMTRAILS.  You might have thought these were just contrails, but no. There are people who will set you straight about this.

And if they do that to the plain old air, why would these same chemicals not be present in snow? You have read about or perhaps flamed your own snowball with a cigarette lighter and smelled the chemical smell of it (maybe butane?), seen the soot in the snowball (maybe from the match?) and watched as it to alarmingly witness that it does not melt but just disappears! (remember learning about sublimation in science class in grade school?)

Internet panics over ‘geo-engineered, poison’ snow.

Call me silly, but it worries me that so many Americans will go out of their way to reject anything produced by the peer-reviewed methodical slow and careful work of scientists but grasp with white knuckles the likes of some of the conspiracies floating around the inter-webs.  Not every “conspiracy” sighting is false, mind you. Some hold up to scrutiny better than others, however.

The props are so large that landing requires them to be spinning horizontally.
The props are so large that landing requires them to be spinning horizontally.

But wait! Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a Plane! No, it’s…yes, it’s a plane actually. And a very common variety over said sandy back yard, and even occasionally over Southwest Virginia. I’ve seen these things flying so low as to get a side-on view as they cruise over Cole’s Knob near the house. Other Floydians from Willis and nearby have also seen them recently.

It is a V-22 Osprey– a tilt-rotor vertical take-off and landing troop transport, combat and rescue aircraft that has replaced the twin-prop helicopters familiar from the Viet Nam era. This design has been in the field only since 2007. With Camp Lejeune just up the road, these striking airships were always present to the ear and just beyond the trees, but never to the eye when I was toting my Nikon. This digital zoom from the iPhone will have to do.

And for those following the terrible tooth story, I guess I cried wolf. It turns out the tooth did not shatter, an omen of pending dentures and a eternal menu of oatmeal, as I feared over a weekend and from out of town. A porcelain filling had apparently gone down the bathroom drain. Yesterday, I was out of the chair and in thirty minutes (without numbing) and $450 later, I was good to go.  I can whistle again!

Oh. You might want to know. These helicopter-plane things were actually designed to extract entire neighborhoods of more-or-less ordinary people like you and me and carry us to Agenda 21 Internment Camps to save the Spotted Owls. You heard it here first!

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Where Trouble Melts Like Lemon Drops Sun, 07 Dec 2014 12:55:37 +0000 IMG_3644

I think his territory might be limited to just this stretch of Carolina coast, but here, the good elf Ruddy, has been very busy getting the younger children primed for Christmas by laying out surprises overnight for the joy of discovery each morning.

Several days ago, he left a candy cane bud as you see here. When planted in a jar of sugar, he said would grow into a candy cane in three days (don’t add water.)

I admit, I was skeptical and said as much to the munchkin. She assured me that if Ruddy said it would happen, I had better just wait before I expressed such old-person doubt. Her older sister, Abby, assured me that Ruddy’s track record was beyond reproach.

And this morning, she made a believer out of me. Just look!


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Down in the Mouth Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:21:37 +0000 As a blogger over the years, I’ve generally avoided sharing  the nuances of bodily state or machinations of marital war and peace. (If there are regular readers out there, even on a Friday, you’ll have already nailed me as a liar on both counts. There are even several pieces about the spousal unit in Slow Road and What We Hold in Our Hands. So sue me.)

I don’t think, however, with the exception of the selfie from the dentist chair in the nitrous oxide clown mask (which I would have linked here but cannot locate), I’ve not  talked teeth very much. Thankfully, the choppers have held up pretty well to the daily grind. This morning however, we have an Oral Code Red Alert.

And as you are certainly aware, such emergencies unfailingly happen while out of town on a weekend over a holiday while expected for an important meeting. Or some combination of two or more of these ingredients. Today’s crisis qualifies, so in my own mind at least, this is a big deal:

My upper incisor (that would the front toof to you lay-persons) calved the entire back side like a melting Arctic glacier. The face of the tooth remains, fragile as gramma’s crystal gravy bowl, and with one vertical edge gone black, just enough to suggest a hint of Jethro Bodine.

The sleep-robbing part of this just-before-bedtime  breakdown in the status quo of my personal body is the inconvenience and “unexpected” expense here in the early months of fixed income. I can’t say I didn’t see the threat on the horizon. Let me quote myself from less than a week ago, where I failed to acknowledge the looming threat of Dental Disaster:

“But the unexpected, inevitable death of major appliances, of vehicles or for home repairs–all live inside a black hole. And of course we face the increasing probability of medical expenses over and above what the best combination of SS plus Supplemental will cover. We’re quite healthy at the moment. But…

These leaks, the Great Flushing, can happen as quickly as the Titanic hitting an iceberg–and so it makes those of us in the Jacuzzi of the Golden Years necessarily cautious about what would once have been significant but not sleep-depriving decisions.”

Yes, I could just have the stump of the tooth pulled and be content to  lose the ability to whistle ever again. At the same time, I would gain status as featured personality in town with some of the tourists of a Friday night who may have come to see stereotypical Appalachian edentulous half-wits.

But no. I’ll pay the thousands out of retirement-shallow pockets (and in the absence of any dental version of Medicare) over the course of who knows how many 4 hour visits to Blacksburg. This is what it will cost to return to cosmetic integrity–an imagined personal state of rugged good looks whose ship has sailed if indeed it ever docked.  At this stage of life, self-image and ego whimper from under the front porch and a body learns humility, with daily lessons and homework.

So folks, the Titanic has hit the iceberg–on a day the dentist office is closed, while we are six hours from home, herding cats. I will be meeting numerous organizational associates at an important meeting. Without smiling. Or whistling. And all I want for Christmas is…well, I don’t generally blog about such personal matters.

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