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

A Future of Keystrokes, Minutes and Synapses

These are the things that I tell myself every morning are in limited and consistently depleted supply. Every morning, this reality should drive me to the top of my task and projects list.

And almost every morning, instead, I’m not driven anywhere in particular, other than where my whimsy points me—whimsy backed by curiosity, interest and the hope of discovering something new to know that I didn’t know I wanted or needed to know.

It turns out that “genius” and creativity hold a place for undisciplined “wandering”. I recommend this article that looks at the role of aptitude and focused work versus serendipity, wasting time and just showing up–in the realm of becoming a master of some domain of knowledge or ability.

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius by Paul Graham

Meanwhile (as Steven Colbert is fond of saying with great drama) I have now purchased three Affinity apps: Photos, Designer and Publisher. The latter two are now on sale for $35. I have bailed from Adobe products and now OWN outright the tools for digital creativity, should I ever be in that line of hobby-work again. I may yet need to create posters, handbills, etc should I venture into another magnum opus or dust off my speaker’s notes.

BTW I used Designer to cobble the graphic in a few minutes, and in time, will figure out why the WordPress editor won’t position the image properly. But for now, approximate is close enough for what you pay me.

And finally, tomorrow our little kitten Mosey (grown from 2.5 pounds to almost 7 now) goes to town to (as Gary Larsen would have it) to get TUTORED. We will hope to contain her in the carrying tote we purchased for just this purpose; listen to her howl between Goose Creek and town; and fetch her, less her baby software, tomorrow afternoon, and hope that she forgive us this additional insult, so close on the heels of leaving her at home alone for 4 days (with occasional human resupply and mostly failed attempts at socialization.)

So as you note here, this is one the once familiar “Seinfeld” blog posts about nothing in particular. But I paid my server-host friend for another year of hosing Fragments, so I’ll be darned if I’m going to be totally silent for the next 12 months. I’m looking for ways to streamline the process, lower the friction to posting and to image discovery and down-res-ing for blog purposes.

So I may in future be saying more about less. But I can’t promise I won’t get wound up and churn out an essay, homily or screed.

Plate is Full, Blog is Empty

Earth in Ice: Image from Goose Creek January 2008

I made the mistake a few weeks back of saying I hoped to be doubling down on efforts to apply the brake to the creening path of humanity towards the brink–as if one person can make a difference; and yet…

One person can be a bystander or can give aid at the scene of a horrific accident.

Where we are as a species today is a horrific consequence of ignorance early on, followed by full intention in the past decades–since the Great Accelleration of 1950–to push the pedal to the medal, calamitous consequences (for all but the present stockholders and CEOs) be damned.

And so since I made that declaration here (I am too lazy to make a link) I have had new obligations and opportunities to man the oars and paddle against the currents.

I am now serving on the Volunteer Core Group for the nomination then election of Anthony Flaccavento to Congress from the 9th district of Virginia; and have a multitude of new hats to wear with SustainFloyd, perhaps more about that at some point.

Also i have elaborated on the Personal Climate Pledge project of SustainFloyd and that essay will be up on Fragments in excerpt tomorrow, with a link to the full piece at medium.com

So I intend–because it is something I want to attempt to do for the first time in years–to post to the blog every day this week. The posts will come mostly from material already generated elsewhere (like the two Forestry-related presentations for the Living in Our Forests series at the Floyd library, yesterday and on January 11th.

Also now will be planning for an hour-long presentation (vs the 20 minute versions at the library) for an organization in Roanoke probably in July.

Idle hands…not so much. But I like it that way–up to a point that might have been passed a couple of weeks ago. Balance. Serenity Now! World peace!

Reprise: Of Memories and Hopes and Golden Dreams

Once upon a time, there was a strange farmer of Erehwon. He gathered his curiosities, his precious things–momentary objects that held his attention and delight–and hoped others might wander down his lonesome road and share his fascination with the ordinary.

Click to enlarge

They came at random, sometimes rather sizable crowds of them, and a few exclaimed and were delighted, and some returned often and regularly. Some where changed by having seen up close the myriad works of nature and light, of clouds, of storms and seasons that the farmer set before them.

He laid these things out expectantly-mere things, some onlookers imagined–but each was a story, and each story was a memory and a meaning to the foolish man.

And so, over the years, when fewer came, and then none, it was not the same of a morning. He still wandered among his amazements but he did not often gather them, and of those, he almost never laid them out for others to see. For there were so few that he felt alone, and his stories and meanings for him only. Life was good, but it was diminished, because he still remembered the gifts he once gave, so appreciated and approved, once upon a time. He thought of the friends he had made, whose names he could barely now remember.

And yet, now and then even today,  some pattern in tree bark or glint off moving waters or bird call or memory of the smell of earth will urge him to lay out his boards again along the creek road. And has done so this morning.

He had come upon a wonderful village of threaded webs, separate but close, isolated but connected by the thinnest of dew-beaded tightropes. In the wet grass, as he so often did, he imagined. He saw in these tattered webs tight aggregates of neurons, each synapsing cluster a concept, a siloed understanding, an aggregate idea or realization. He so often searched for those almost invisible threads that, discovered, would make him shout AHA! in the thrill of creative connection.

It was the possibility of sharing creative connection between disparate things on his roadside bench that woke him up each morning, expectant and hopeful of the alchemy of object and language, searching among his curios to find what he called the “so what” in everyday things like spider webs and blossoms and one more picture of a familiar light-and-shadow turn of his road or creek.

And so life goes on, the buzz of conversation barely audible to him in some distant tavern in an altogether different kind of stopping place for travelers along the loud and hurried webs of surface travel and talk.

Winter is coming. It is the time for the old farmer to draw the curtains on the chaos and confusion beyond Middle Earth and to go back over all his  klediments and commonplace jottings and scraps of wonder, revisiting like old friends the emulsions of light and memory he has stored and saved, stories unspoken.

He lives on. And with what is left of his bones and his wits, he will weave what he might from the webs of wonder his eyes and his ears and his heart have laid out for him, even so, on his slow road. And we shall see what lies around the bend.

Strange Farmer of Erewhon— a blogger’s Allegory from the early years of Fragments (original version 2005.)

Fragments Future

Fragments “came together”, so to speak, in the spring of 2002—for a variety of reasons, a history of belonging and writing and journey of self-knowledge and sharing that I have embellished with photographs over the course of the past 15 years and literally millions of words.

And that journey has morphed through several molts over those years, not always for the better, and especially since social media eclipsed the “blog with comments” format and the shrill pundits have proven the squeaky wheel theory true.

And so, as you few remaining blog time-to-time visitors will attest, Fragments care and feeding have bordered on cruel neglect, increasingly over the past two years. During that time, the morning spaces I once filled with blog topics I excitedly and expectantly shared with “my blog friends” as wife called them has been filled instead with ambulance-chasing the bad news du jour, writing about same for Facebook, medium.com or some other mostly invisible place, or doing the work of civic duty I have willingly shouldered.

But now…

My server host is building down. Since 2005 I have had local tech support over lunch at the Floyd Country Store and reliable housing for Fragments, and been spoiled by such conscientious care, even in spite of more than my share of fubared archives, hacked code and other oddities of dysfunction under the hood, promptly repaired, and life goes on. But not any more.

And so I have to decide if 15 years is the good fight, tie the blog up in a bow, and send it to the attic for permanent disregard OTOH, I might keep it on life support with the thought that, if I did ever complete “the book” I intermittently work on, that I would have the blog as a platform for sharing and for getting the third book up into the radar.

That promise is much less likely to be realized than it was for Slow Road Home published in April of 2006 when blogs were vital and populated with special-interest readership and felt like community. That books was literally group-edited by more than 40 readers I’d never met but felt I knew.

I don’t know how I found so much time for the work that went into Fragments, only that it was my purpose and mission there for many years, because I could sense that the work matured me as a writer, photographer, researcher and citizen, so it was not a waste of time, regardless of what I have heard from some very local authorities.

Now, maybe Fragments is coming apart. I have a few weeks to decide. And then, if life goes on, I’ll need to do the work to make the paid blog hosting earn its keep in some way—even if only in renewing the self-satisfaction I once felt just knowing I had done the best job I could to be authentic, vulnerable, personal, honest, entertaining and at times, a bit provocative and obnoxious.

Thanks for traveling with the Strange Farmer all these years. However it turns out, I have few regrets and lots and lots of future nostalgic reading to recall this one place, understood.