Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:28:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Frozen Peas: Thousands Die Young Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:09:20 +0000 I have been feeling the pain these past few well-below-freezing April mornings knowing what our local vegetable farmers are suffering at the hand of winter that won’t give it up.

Thousands of tender sets and sprouts in long rows, the results of hours of back-bending work and tedium, lay limp and lifeless in the cold soil this morning–AGAIN.

Native plants have evolved in place and are more-or-less adapted to late frosts and freezes. Our food crops, OTOH, are bred for color or firmness of fruit or shipping tolerance or shelf life and their genes are more likely tropical by history. They don’t do winter.

IMG_1236troutLily300So this just to say that the native trout lilies are abundant and holding up well this very cool spring, and will be just fine as a species, even if a few get zapped. Their emergence and bloom range is wide. Riverstone’s peas all emerge at once, at get zapped by a freak freeze all on the same dark still morning.

Our farming practices are in many ways “un-natural” forcing upon the soil and seed a human mandate not programmed into the ordered being of the wild thing; we are resentful of events that are inconvenient truths and facts of life on and in the ground. Fortunes are lost in the gamble, yet we must eat and farmers must take those risks–for us, and for their livelihood. It is not an easy life.

The other reason to add this post this morning (even though I told myself I’d have too much to do otherwise and would go post-less) is that WordPress 3.9 is fresh out this morning, and I just had to try the drag and drop feature that will so streamline the workflow. So I give you a bonus image of our early blooming lily–from years past.

We have yet to see the first bloom. The margins of the Blue Ridge Parkway are thick with Trout Lily (or Yellow Dog Tooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue) in places where the Skunk Cabbage is well up and going strong. Images of that soon to come.

BTW, just learned Trout Lily LEAVES are edible, will have to explore that menu item! The edible bulbs are way too hard to dig up, and harm the population; a few leaves, not so much.

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Intramural Murine Mortality Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:49:06 +0000 Pardon my alliterative exuberance. This phrase is simply a fancy way of describing what we’ve just seen here at our house. Or I should most certainly say SMELLED.

We live in a place with miles and miles of forests around us. The wildlife was here first and our shelter is their shelter. I can’t blame them for wanting to get in out of the rain and cold. I’m just happy that only certain of our faunal co-inhabitants are small enough to live–and die–in our walls.

Small comfort to learn that not a few of our friends and neighbors have had much larger animals to get where they don’t belong–and from whence they cannot extricate themselves–only to die and rot in place.

So we are accustomed to the drill where the day after listening to the track meet in the space between our bedroom ceiling and the floor of the room above–the incessant scurrying wind-sprints in the dark of tiny cleated feet just overhead–we feed the little dears a meal in the walled-off storage space that is their food court.

In theory–and this has always been the case until now–they eat the “bar bait” (we hear the telltale chiseling away in the wee hours) and in addition to that last supper playing havoc with their coagulation chemistry, it makes them thirsty. They have the good manners to leave the house to find water, and expire al fresco.

The uncooperative guest three weeks ago saved itself the travel outdoors and gave up the mousy ghost in the wall behind the head of the bed. Stuff happens.

“Do something!” she repeatedly demanded, breathing through her mouth.

“What would you have me do, dear? Take a chain saw and just start anywhere?”

We slept upstairs for a week and a half, keeping the door to our bedroom closed and the windows open to the frigid air of a petulant and balky spring.

What probably cut this expulsion from paradise a bit shorter than it would have been was that the dermestid beetles and other carrion-feeders found the putrifying protoplasm and reduced it to a tiny fleshless skeleton.

Still, this gives me sympathy for all those who have told me dead-possum or groundhot or black snake horror stories.

We have our sad tales from within these walls, but they could always be worse.

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Tab A in Slot B: Getting my Shop Together Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:29:50 +0000 So as of yesterday, I now have full inventory of all 25 notecards. It took about a month longer than I thought it would.

Anything that could go wrong, pretty much did, but ended up being a small ripple on the larger pond. And all of this kerfuffle is really just up-front disorder and static that goes with any new undertaking never tried before. Nothing ventured…

What I have learned so far is that just because people have been enthusiastic about the cards in person does not mean they will find them online and scoop them off the digital shelves like the Black Friday rush at WallyWorld.

Build it, and they will yawn.

So with all this stock, I am going to have to take initiative to find a buying market other than the Etsy storefront. I am going to have to prepare x number of each card set for shelves in local stores that I keep restocked on a recurring basis.

Where I’ll ask for space and how many vendors I’ll be willing to keep supplied is something I have not sorted out yet.

And here’s the crunch: retail sales is NOT going to be easy money or much of it per unit sales. And high volume is beyond the capacity of my thumbs, who are both on disability.

Selling wholesale to stores takes a bite out of the small margin per card.

Each “unit” requires an awful lot of touches from the time I get cards from the printer to the time I send them off in the mail or leave them at the Country Store.

I can see the tedium factor skyrocketing rapidly. I can see turf wars between one side insists he needs a lot of seemingly disordered surface area and the other who values “all that junk off the table” no matter why it’s there.

All of this is to say that today is the real beginning of this undertaking. I’d love to be successful in bringing in a bit to supplement my meager Social Security check. But how much busywork, how many touches, how many hours a week would represent more “success” than I’m willing to give to this “great idea” I had a few months back?

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A Horse is a Horse and People are Gray Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:05:14 +0000 I found myself whistling as we drove to or from a soccer game with the grand daughters over the weekend.

Why I retrieved this one particular tune from the cobwebs I will never know.

“I’ll bet you two don’t have any idea where that tune came from” I challenged.

They thought they sort of knew, but couldn’t come up with the name of the show.

I even gave them a hint. It’s about a horse, I told them.

“OOOH I know! I know!” exclaimed Taryn, the six year old. Her older sister snorted. “You do NOT know what you’re talking about.”

I relented. “The show was called Mister Ed.” To which Taryn offered…

“Yeah, I saw that and there was a parrot and gray people.”

Bingo. A 1961 sit-com. Black and white. Gray people.

[She even got the details right. Season ONE episode 9: Mister Ed teaches some new phrases to a visiting parrot.]
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Creature Feature: Carolina Chameleon Sun, 13 Apr 2014 12:03:18 +0000 We’re minding the home front down on the Carolina coast for my daughter while she and hubby are away at a meeting.

Other than two soccer games and one birthday party, we havent gotten far from the home base.

One of these days I will have to come down with the intention of getting out to a seashore wildlife preserve with my camera. The back porch was as far as I made it this trip, and this was the extent of the wildlife available.

My 6-yr-old photographic assistant could not resist getting too close too fast to our subject–a Carolina Anole. I suffered from a bit too much help,  so this was a rushed shot with the iPhone at minimum focal distance.

The creature was very familiar to me as a boy in Birmingham. We called them chameleons because they can change color. This one changed to brown before it disappeared under the deck.

We don’t see these in the Virginia mountains. Yet. Another couple of decades of climate shift, we’ll have them. And parrots. And palm trees.  And….

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Cost of Doing Business: Upgrades Sat, 12 Apr 2014 12:39:27 +0000 I am at a certain time of life when everything I own (including my own personal body) is wearing out.

I pulled on my favorite work pants last week and the knee ripped open. The same day, a favorite shirt gave way at the elbow as I slid my arm into the sleeve.

I sport a manly scar on my cheek from last week’s plastic-surgery for skin CA  take three. The parts are failing, breaking down, aging out.

Things fall apart. Thank goodness for the surgical option. And for needle and thread. And for upgrades when our technological things fall apart.  A guy can swim against the current of chaos–up to a point. But negentropy is expensive.

This morning–out of town with some time-sensitive work to do, the 2009 MacBookPro churned to an almost complete stop after upgrading to the lastest IOS version.  Nothing doing.

And this at the end of a string of failings that have made me know for a year or more that I’d eventually have to upgrade. Today was the day when something had to be done to keep from being swept to sea.

Against my strong frugal inclinations, I ordered a MacBook Air–quite possibly my last technological “up with the Joneses” expense. At some point, I’ll just stick with what I  have until it breaks or becomes as obsolescent as I will be at that point, and the fat lady will have sung.

But not quite yet.  The cost of doing business is high, but I can still pay it with some vague hope that it will be worth the investment. I’ll let you know.


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Foto Friday ~ 2014-04-11 Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:50:18 +0000 Galaxies collide. Sunstruck dewdrops bedazzle bowl-and-doily webs and pasture grasses of an early spring morning.


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Shop Talking Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0000 I want a place to have conversations (theoretically) with folks who are interested in nature photography, landscapes, sense of place, writing, and aesthetics AND are trying to put their arts, crafts and other goods in the hands of responsive and appreciative customers.

So that’s what this string of posts will be about.

I may have it such that these posts find their way onto Facebook and other visible places, since my blog is moving farther and farther out of the main flow of conversation. And that’s okay. It’s quiet here.

But if I want to stay out of debt, I need to show a profit.

On the one hand, I hate being commercial. On the other, nothing gives me more joy than having my words or images touch another human.

Like the rest of life, selling one’s art is a mixed bag, isn’t it?

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About The Light: About the Photographer Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:24:48 +0000
This is from the ABOUT page at my Etsy Store. I like the fact that this site for commerce does not neglect to let the artists and craft folks share their personal story: the WHY and the WHO of their creativity. The WHAT will hopefully sell itself.

I got my first camera, a Minolta, in 1970–the same month I got married and started grad school at Auburn University. As a recent convert to field botany, I needed a way to share what I saw in the wild.

Forty years and a half-dozen cameras later, I’ve shared my image collection widely with audiences in the Floyd County, Virginia area where I live (near Roanoke and Blacksburg.)

I’ve displayed photos regularly on my original blog site, Fragments from Floyd, that started in May 2002 and gets fresh photos and “grampa tales” a few times a week, even now.

I’ve “become a writer” these past dozen years, with radio essays, regular newspaper columns and two books, plus the blah-blah blogging. I have discovered that I enjoy “composition” of language in a similar way that I enjoy composing the lit object in the camera’s frame.

But I’ll always be partial to the stories that pictures tell–my pictures and my stories, but when you look at what I saw through the lens, you experience the exact same image frozen in time, captured now on card stock. Photography is a most intimate and shared creative work.

And so for the first time in this Etsy store–not that I have not been asked over the years to do it sooner–I can offer my visions of nature and local landscapes in this most personal exchange of beauty. Those who receive these cards will appreciate how much you care.

And in sharing the photography, you’re sharing where I’m from: Goose Creek–the source waters of the south fork of the Roanoke River. Goose Creek is home, and I named my store that way because it is intimately attached to and comes out of this place.

My intention is to slowly add other items to the store–photographic desktop and screen saver image packages, image-illustrated essays and stories, and maybe even some spoken-word readings from Slow Road Home and What We Hold In Our Hands.

I am really excited at last to reach beyond the local audience with my words and images, and I hope you find in them some resonance with your own sense of belonging, of beauty, of gratitude for this wonderful life we too often take for granted.

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100% Beef-ish: Show Don’t Sell Wed, 09 Apr 2014 11:30:43 +0000 Wall-e meets Gromit goes grocery shopping.

Chipotle scores in this un-commercial info-tainment animated moral tale. We have become the undead among unfoods.

There is another way to feed ourselves.

▶ Slow foods, local foods: buy

▶ Fast foods, long-distance foods: sell

Read more…

What Does ‘The Scarecrow,’ Chipotle’s Animated Ad, Tell Us About the Company? : The New Yorker

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