Blogging: Of Language and Light

You’ve known people, surely, that if they had to keep their hands in their pockets, they couldn’t tell a story.

I’ve just realized that part the reason for the dearth of blog posts over the past year is because I’ve had to keep my hands in my pockets.

Photoshop 5 (at the end of more than a dozen years of upgrades) has finally stopped working after being maddeningly frustrating for more than a year. I can’t tell you how many draft blog posts never saw the light of day because I gave up trying to get a low-res 600 x 800 pixel image ready to post.

Good bye, Photoshop. No thanks, Adobe, I will not pay $120 a year to subscribe when I can own Affinity Photo Pro for $40.

So yes, all my muscle memory and actions and routine of a dozen years is useless, and I’m climbing up the learning curve on wobbly legs of a day-old fawn.

And so no more excuses (but not necessarily a whole lot more blog posts than recently). But my photo-life shows promise. The lack of tools to work with photos has been so severe that I have simply stopped thinking of taking them. Much of the joy of taking an image has been working with it to fully express what the light “felt like” or “had to say” about the subject. I’ve lacked that voice, and now have it back.

Meanwhile, I’ll be pouring more time into finishing up the writing project–the purported book. I may have changed the working title, and if so, will have to adapt some of the preface and foreword to reflect that minor shift in center of importance that this creates.

So much shop talk. Blog on!

THE IMAGE: My first exploration with Affinity, I pulled up a random picture–of spikenard, a relative of Ginseng–taken on Goose Creek Run. The mirror filter created the kaleidoscope effect. And it was really great news to discover that Topaz filters could be manually imported from Photoshop into Affinity, and the painterly effect was from that tool. Adult play. Keeps me off the streets.

Finding One’s Place


The title is the name of the first section of what I once imagined–and still sometimes am certain–will be a book whose title will be “One Place Understood.” The first chapter is Finding Floyd.

When I wrote this in early 2016, I was making good progress and had a clear vision of the end for this project. Then the presidential campaigning began, culminating in the election that abolished many a dream–of writers and lovers, of nature and science advocates and of the truth-oriented community from all walks of life–who like me,  abandoned their heart’s work in disbelief and recoiled in horror at the spectacle that is America crumbling before them.

But I am trying to recover from all that, even as it proceeds to deeper and deeper levels of decay. I vow to regain my footing, to re-envision the full and complete and final saying of what it is I want to say in this third book of the trilogy from Goose Creek. But then, I have vowed such things before.

So, at least this morning, my thought is that I will put some of the completed rough drafts on the blog–which will make me un-roughen them in another pass; it will make me somewhat accountable, at least to the handful of blog readers who hang on. And even in the absence of readers, the blog is a life story that will outlive me, even if the book never sees the light of day. It is a tepid legacy, but more than many find the time or the words for. Why stop now after only 16 years of blogging?

Blog readers tend more and more to read less and less in any given place. So if you want to read this first 1000 words, you can find it at where, if I can sustain the motivation and find sufficient interest, I will compile some portion of the book for pre-publication consumption. Should Iive so long…

FINDING FLOYD: Chapter One/Part One ~ Finding One’s Place
…from a possible book with the possible title:One Place Understood: Field Notes from a Small Planet

And for the sake of keeping up with the Big Picture of this bit of story-telling, and mostly for my own sake, I’ll append a link to the mind-map of my current thinking about the book’s structure. Just click the image:

One Place Understood mind-map brainstorming of possible structure and content.

Spinning in Place For Want of a Word

I sat on the love seat watching the fire burn down, sat there much longer than the usual wait to close down the draft just so and get on about my work. My work. I sat there in the flickering dark because I understood so well that I don’t understand so well anymore just what my work is or ought to be.

So I sat there a little longer, trying to put that feeling into words–the better if there was one word that would wrap that complex state into a single breath. Or not. It is not really that important to make this happen, having lost the urge to plead my case to any other, and my one word, then, should include that solipsist inclination. Still…

With my second cup of coffee, Stumbler-ing across the interwebs, I find by chance (or not) “23 emotions people feel but can’t explain.” I would have said “can’t express” because it is often entirely possible to trace the above-ground branches back to their hidden roots. There are just no words in ordinary Everyman language to share with others, or to graps within the speechless moments of the ruminative word-seeker.

And this list at least lets me know that there are people–writers, mostly, because who else would do the work?–out there, in their own private dark, creating words like conjured stepping stones at the moment of need, to be able to get about their work, to take the next step.

It is a comfort to know these words describe experiences not unlike mine that have arisen in the lives of others. The obscurity of these odd words, however, will make them awkward to use in a conversation at the Country Store. Even so, the sum total of these selected few gives me a few pavers in the darkness of the day.

Liberosis: The desire to care less about things.

Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.

Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening

Vemödalen: The frustration of photographic something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

John Green’s tumblr • 23 Emotions people feel, but can’t explain 

Graphic created with WordItOut, since Wordle doesn’t play nice with Chrome–with some additional tweaking to distort text and overlay it against deep space. It is a kind of occupational therapy.

The Act of Creation

creativity2_480“It was during the Renaissance that creativity was first seen, not as a conduit for the divine, but from the abilities of “great men.” –wikipedia

So I was riffing on this notion that creativity was not even a word until modern times, even while I had been thinking over the past weeks of how different an existence would prevail if “in the beginning” everything had just sat there:  If all along there was no progress with modification, no menu to choose from, no “ghost in the machine”;  If there was no creative evolution–just inert mindless lifeless stuff forever. What role has Creativity or creativity played in this Grand Story?

So I share this in the comfort of the knowledge that few will read this blathering though they might wonder if I’ve gone off my meds. I blame my hands, without which none of this would have come to light, so to speak. My morning pages here. An exercise. I’ve parsed it as a poem to slow down the reader’s chew-and-swallow, not because it is a poem.

Creativity: that hydrogen at the Big Bang
Did not lie fallow but
went on to form what we now call “the elements”
from which matter, worlds, minds
and hands have taken shape.

Creativity: that carbon, cooling from a molten first world
went on to invent myriad ways to hold hands
with H, O, N, S and P, and from there
to form hundreds of simple amino acids
in the chaos of Earth and space.

Creativity: that amino acids,
since conditions were just right just here
coalesced (a mere 20 of them) into peptide chains
in ways totally random and pointless
until orchestrated and ordered by As, Ts, Cs and Gs
of an acidic double helix seemingly waiting for such a moment.
To fashion cells, tissues, organs and more or less sentient creatures
who would become characters in the further creation of Earth.

Creativity: that out of those ingredients
of hydrogen, carbon, and proteins
a pink pudding became capable
of incrementally thinking into being civilizations,
and to do so even as that lumpy organ,
that warm throbbing bit of microcosm
grew to  know a tatter of the fabric of the macrocosm
from which its matter derived, was created,
they say, from nothing so many parsecs from here and now.

And not content to merely observe,
not content to  simply accept a world as the brain found it,
driven by passion and some would say by that divine spark
that, at the singularity created,
it was humankind, the paragon of animals,
that wielded thought with intention and purpose.
Creativity with forethought and hope, for good or ill,
was wed to the notion of tomorrow,
driven maybe in ways it had always been, by Mind,
to see the world as it could be.
And sometimes but not always, as it should be.

Creativity: to rage against the same old ways,
against the good enough–the insistence over centuries
that what is is not the only or the best
or most meaningful or beautiful way of being;
of going forward.
Not fiat ex nihilo, granted,
but a pretty amazing second-order calling into being.
Some would say it is a form of madness, others of divinity.

So where do we go now?
How do we become the best possible stewards
of our most precious ability
to create, to bring forth order from chaos?
Do we explore and celebrate and nurture,
or smother art and invention with a pillow
Our best selves lost in the cacophony of a bestial dystopia
fashioned  by our passive indifference to the muse
baked into each of us in the beginning?

Cat Does Not Have Blogger’s Tongue

Fragments: via Fracture app on iPhone 5s
Fragments: via Fracture app on iPhone 5s

While it does not register even the tiniest twitch on the digital Richter Scale, it’s kind of a big deal on my personal  storyline (circa 2002) when there are few words and pixels here at Fragments for much of May and June.

No the cat does not have my tongue or my keyboard for that matter. There are reasons, and there are excuses, and there is some truth to the fact that said cat has my writer’s mojo wrapped up in a hot June-July blanket of lethargy and ennui as happens this time every year. The hotter it gets, the less I want to be sociable.

I am at my most advanced level of curmudgeonly achievement around the time of the Summer Solstice–the hot-weather form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, as I have confessed before.

Add to that three out of town trips, two sets of out of town company, two automotive car-tastrophies, lots of civic editing and committee-meeting, the building of  the new Poultry Palace (anybody got laying hens for sale?) and far less Fred-time than I once had before the semi-retirement of Spouse.

On the issues front, there is no shortage of concerns, this morning’s being the combined disasters of wildfires in CA, WA and AK that are terrible for that’s happening to people and other living things on the ground, but from the larger view, for the portent for soils, watersheds, CO2 and soot and in Alaska, the impact of such additional heat on permafrost release of methane.

Alaska wildfires have burned over a million acres — and fire season still has a long way to go – The Washington Post

As if all that was not explanation enough for the Perfect Yawn–the opposite of the Perfect Storm to smother the flames of a 13-year-old blog–I have largely lost whatever zeal I used to gain from the blog-visiting community that for years made me feel energized, empowered and somehow obliged to tell my story, our story or to offer one biology-watcher’s perspective of the planet’s story as our “personal ecologies” impact the future.

So I’m in a mell of a hess, dear diary. My premise from June 2002 when this blog became a “permanent” part of my life was that I could come to know what I thought by seeing what it would be that I would say about any given topic of a morning. It didn’t matter WHAT topic, premeditated or spontaneous, as long as it was authentic, in some way edifying, entertaining for readers or fun to write or satisfying to show an image from nearby nature.

So I’m in a quandary. If I don’t write to the blog for any or all of those reasons above, I don’t very well know what I think. Lacking the intent to write, I don’t do the research or dwell in the contemplation of or take the care to get any deeper into a subject than a trivial surface browsing.  And that is not a state of disengagement I should be content with just yet. I am not ready to sit idly and silently rocking on the front porch, scowling at a world about which I have nothing to say.

I just don’t know where to take the conversations I used to have on the blog. Times have changed but Facebook is not my bully pulpit. I suppose I have some catching up to do with the times. Come here, cat: let me tall you a story.