Enter, February: and Then…

Last day of January. A month from now, early March and expectation of a blooming thing. And mud. I will not miss the mud. But I will miss the buds–especially later in March the pinking up of the maple buds, at first just visible in just the right light, early or late, when the reds of morning or evening sun hit the ridges. How that bit of color lifts my spirits after the monochrome of winter!

By then, the sun rises sooner and sets noticeably later, and on the longest day of 2020, we will own RHC. Will we by then live there and someone else live at GCK–in this very room where I sit listening to the ticking of the wood stove, through whose glass doors I see the light flickering off the cat, draped out like an accent of farmhouse decor in its warmth.

We are relinquishing the sense (the illusion) of permanence, of predictability of what happens in a week or a month, living with the risk every day that strangers will come, will purchase our roots out from under us, our foundation, our bedrock routines and habits and familiar navigation in time and space in this place.

And odder, that we want this to happen, that it must happen, given the course we have set for ourselves, dictated by the ticking of the clock, the passing of the seasons through our minds and bodies, leaving less and less to work with as the sand falls through the hourglass. And yet, there is sand left.

I am uncertain. Will it make leaving that last day harder or easier to hold up each view, each memory from the well-traveled places we have sat or stood or walked, of each room in the house, the windows from them that have been like dioramas to the seasons–not just anywhere but the seasons through that window of this house in this lifetime. My life time. Our life time. Should I stand and look again, and remember or walk past, on task and on time for what the move requires of me that moment? How stoic or nostalgic should one be just now?

All this self-absorbed perseveration in my morning pages about the move makes it seem like my life is lopsided and out of balance; like I am obsessing about this imminent transition of necessity ahead of us. And yes, the details, the moving parts require much thinking and deciding and planning.

But my days of late have assumed a better balance, everything inside being in its place now and the only thing to do, at least today, is wait for a showing, and go from there. The house is in order, and the yard, and the details of the sale. And so my own peculiar interests have come back in view, and I make occasional progress digging deeper in one or another subjects that I want or need to know more about. Life is rich. In predictable and irregular spurts.

And I have a new minor and regular duty: to write an occasional column for the Floyd Press. Again. I had a bimonthly column there for 7 years, ending in 2011. The new editor has been in touch, and is lining up a list of writers who have stated a wish to contribute within their interest and knowledge areas, and that will begin soon. I suppose my general topic area is sustainability — which can be very broad indeed. And so I have folder started for FPress Brainstorming. And as it was before, it will not be difficult to create a list of things I want to dig deeper into and now have an excuse to do so.

But with my more private writing, I am trying not to think about an audience for this or any other text just now, and have lowered the threshold and will just put it in a public place–like I have done since 2002–and be glad to share the journey with a very few. I have met so many wonderful people over the years, by simply being honest and transparent and interested in knowing myself better, and others, through words and pixels.

Bioprospecting, Ecological Services and Feeding 10 Billion

So this is one of those rabbit trails I have no idea will come between the first and second cup of coffee in the morning browse.

From the Anthropocene Magazine link called provocatively “Making Nature Pay for Itself” I followed the trail to a plant-based ivory substitute to the Author of the article David Simpson to the Breakthrough Institute where he publishes to the environmental iconoclasts Nordhaus and Shellenberger and their notions that nuclear energy and big ag are the only ways to save the natural world.

And while I am using Roam Research wonderful and recently-available and still-developing tool for cognitive connections to hold onto this trail to follow on another morning, I paste the early stages below because, well–because it’s my space and I’m pretty much the only one using it, and maybe–if unlikely–somebody else will stumble across this and follow the scent. Towards…dunno. But that’s the thrill of exploring ideas, isn’t it?

  • Phytelephas – Wikipedia tagua or vegetable ivory, bioresource utilization #blogthis see also The Problem with Making Nature Pay for Itself | Anthropocene [[**R. David Simpson**]] https://thebreakthrough.org/about
    • Given trade restrictions in elephant ivory as well as animal welfare concerns, ivory palm endosperm is often used as a substitute for elephant ivory today, and traded under the names vegetable ivory, palm ivory, marfim-vegetal, corozo, tagua, or jarina. When dried out, it can be carved just like elephant ivory; it is often used for beads, buttons, figurines and jewelry, and can be dyed. More recently, palm ivory has been used in the production of bagpipes.[4]
    • Vegetable ivory stimulates local economies in South America, provides an alternative to cutting down rainforests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks.[4]
    • How an obscure seed is helping to save the elephant – BBC News
      • Numbers of elephants in the wild are still falling; it’s estimated 100 of them are killed by poachers every day for their tusks to meet the continuing demand for ivory.
  • https://thebreakthrough.org/about
    • The Breakthrough Institute was founded in 2007 by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. Breakthrough’s early work built on Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s argument, first articulated in their 2004 essay “The Death of Environmentalism,” that 20th-century environmentalism cannot address complex, global, 21st-century environmental challenges like climate change.
      • “Toward that end, Breakthrough has been a leading advocate for innovation in advanced nuclear designs and business models.
      • In particular, we have made the case for industrial food systems. Large-scale industrial food systems are more land-, water-, and GHG-efficient than small scale low-intensity farming, and are better able to harness technology to increase land productivity, which holds the key to both climate mitigation and preserving biodiversity.
      • ecomodernism, a movement built on decoupling environmental impact from human well being. In 2015, 19 coauthors, including several Breakthrough representatives, published An Ecomodernist Manifesto, which laid out this new environmental vision and sparked a debate about the future of environmentalism that continues today.
      • Bioprospecting environmental services conservation rural-to-urban transition #energy #biodiversity #agriculture
      • https://diigo.com/0gnovr

The Confluence of Chance and Destiny

Selling a place you love: is less like finding someone to adopt a pet than it is like seeking a peaceful and secure passage into another life for dependent next-of-kin. We can’t just drop this place off at the curb and drive away. So we need help spreading the word, not as much about the REAL estate as the LIVED estate in being here.

Some of you know a lot about that, because I’ve certainly poured my morning musings and my camera’s view of the world close at hand onto the page now for so many years.

We imagine that, at just the right time, just the right words will turn just the right future owners towards Goose Creek. And it may be for them like it was for us–a place they’d never been but longed to find. And having found it, they will know it is home.

I doubt this connection will happen because of Zillow. It will come to pass because good people tend to meet the needs of other people. And somebody knows somebody who needs this place; they know that somewhere in their sphere of connection, there is a synergy between a couple they have known and this place they have heard so much about or have visited over the years.

And so in hoping for all this to come about, it disappoints me to know that the only medium we have to express what we offer and to offer what a buyer is looking for is the cold, impersonal Zillow-type just-the-facts.

What sold me on the place (granted by that time we had bought the bare-bones farm) was the totality of the place–not the things listed as features but the context and aesthetic placement of house and creeks and ridges and ravens and white pines. It was the local ecology and resonance with my bones. I’m not sure what else to call it.

How do you sell all that to a person visiting for an hour, deciding “is this home for us?”

But any serious buyer of the sort we imagine fitting well here will come back soon after the first visit and walk the pasture loop; and another visit, will walk the boundaries; and a final one to just lean back against a tree in the Fortress of Solitude and be, for a few minutes, a part of the web of all-that-is on Goose Creek.

Then they will know that they have found just this place both by chance and by destiny or design or fate or by God’s plan, as they will see it come together. It will be right.

A buyer who only buys property without this wider awareness will not know these things. They will not understand that we leave a piece of ourselves in every corner of this fragment of Earth, and hope to hand this home place over to others who will do the same.

But then, we are not in a position to let poetry win over practicalities. We can dream, but we also need to move out and away, best offer wins, and life goes on.

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)