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

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, 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.

One Man’s Junk: Info-Hoarding

I confess to being a hoarder. My wife would say that my desk offers ample piled-higher-and-deeper evidence of that claim, but I actually need just so much disordered STUFF around me to make my mind seem like a relatively organized place by comparison.

The hoarding I am admitting to has to do with information. It started when I was a full-time teacher lo those many years ago (when xerox copies were all the rage.) It continued, digitally-enhanced of course, when I became a blogger in 2002 and ramped up a few notches when I went back to teaching a little at Radford U in 2004 and 2005.

The web scrapbooking persisted during the halcyon days of blogging whilst generating a wide-ranging newspaper column every two weeks for seven years (for the Floyd Press and Roanoke Star–once Star Sentinel.)

This blog post–should I actually hit publish rather than delete it at the last moment–began in my mind with the intention of actually pulling out several of the saved snippets from this month’s hoarding list– you can see a piece of the list in the featured image.

But now I have run out of coffee and also know I have exceeded the number of words that mark the end of a blog-reader’s tolerance for screen time without a cat picture or youtube video. My apologies for that. For both of you who are left standing, read on…

Today’s preferred method of info-hoarding  saves webpage title and url (via Firefox add-on called Fire Link) to a table created for this month for this purpose in OneNote for Mac. The green column is for tags to help me remember who sent the link or what I intend to do with it (blog, read, watch, send, research etc.)

If I collect a link that I want to read right away and annotate and keep permanently, then I save it to diigo and on the first reading, highlight pertinent terms, phrases and paragraphs with sticky-note comments.

Both OneNote and Diigo have very good search capabilities. So if I remember something I read six months ago about trilobites that would fit well with something I read today about loss of biodiversity,  I can go back and pull it up and think about weaving that into something interesting for–NAH.

Now mostly I just collect rumination-fodder of a morning and drink coffee until it’s gone. Someday, perhaps the thing I thought I was going to write in this space this morning.

OOH! Another link gathered from the Zemanta links to this post!

TeachThought – Learn better.

The Fragmented Empire

thumbstrip655You might have noticed that, after years of thematic stasis and no blog changes but the regular filler of words and images, we’ve rearranged the Fragments furniture in the past few weeks.

Fragments design has shifted to a new template. And as with most changes, there are some losses and some improvements.

The purpose for the anchor blog of Fragments will be to remain what it has always been, but to now be able to take longer posts, serialized topics and less warm and fuzzy topics to Life, the Universe et Cetera.

And now–you’re hearing about it for the first time today–to take images to a new repository at First Impressions Photography. (You can find a link to it in the header under image galleries.)

So please click over to that new subdomain. While there is not much up there yet, I do have four sets of photo-notecards on display.

My hope is to make them available for purchase in a way that is easy for customers and easy for me (to have cards printed and shipped on demand.)

So … a man and his toys: the Fragmented Empire…

Fragments from Floyd
Life, the Universe et Cetera

First Impressions Photography