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)

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.