Morning Pages ~ 20 March ’20

A Garden Grows Hope

DREAMING IS FREE

It is good again to have a dream: We will be able to start a symbolic (if not a vastly productive) garden at The Other Place. It was preying on me–that we would be helpless and dependent there compared to our relative independence on Goose Creek. No wood heat. No water without power. No garden until year two.

So I asked permission to till up a patch to start enjoying the full days of sunlight and warmth we will have there that we have not had here. We give up much to move away from here, but we make some gains, too, and a garden whose soil warms before June is one benefit.

I will begin carrying over the tomato cages, T-posts and cattle panels I will use to make a crude 8 x 24 foot enclosure. A narrow fenced area seems to make it harder for deer to jump in. Chicken wire around the bottom will keep the rabbits out. There is a spot near the house with access to well water that gets good south sun and is protected by planted evergreens from the north wind.

We have a plan. We imagine continuity in the transition. We have hope, at least of vegetable life the way it used to be, if not our own. For cats or carrots, Coronavirus is not a thing. I will choose to be cat-minded when I can get away with it, and curl up–in my imagination–in front of the future wood stove that is not. Yet.

And regarding the water: Yes it is possible to retrofit an existing well (that is dependent on electricity) with a manual pump. We have some local folk who have offered their set-ups for us to look at (when people are at ease around people again) or the actual Y2K-holdover hardware. This will work out, and might be something we can begin to set in motion before taking possession over there on June 1.

The other missing piece in our anticipated new setting is wood heat. This might not get done until Winter Number 2. It might not get done at all if our former nest egg continues to be poached and scrambled into oblivion. We knew the move was going to be a financial challenge. And that was BC–before CoronaVirus.

But we can dream for free.

Earth and Sky: Build it, And They Will Come

Fragments: ’20 Week 12

So: this week, without embellishment or comment. Label me Otherwise Distracted. But still poking around and pecking the keys. — F1st

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Morning Pages 18 March 20

And even now, there are moments that seem pleasant, hopeful, when I am excited to complete something, to start some new thing. The world feels familiar. Comfortable. Briefly ordinary.

But like waking from one dream into another, it washes over me that this is not the world I live in now. I might never live in that once-upon-a-time again. No one will.

BC: Before COVID AD: After Dystopia

We are protected here in rural Floyd County to some degree by our long-standing propensity to shelter in place. Houses are, for the most part, at some distance apart. A person can go days without seeing anybody but the mailman go by at noon.

And when we gather, it is rarely in groups of more than 200–other than the high school gym, the highest capacity in Floyd County for holding a group.

Even the county seat is low-density by big-city standards. The town of Floyd holds some 450 people on almost 300 acres, twenty miles from the nearest interstate. Isolated. Remote. Backwaters. And yet…

We are not free of risk in the current crisis. All it will take is Patient Zero, who visited a Virginia Tech world traveler or just returned from a conference in California. That unknowingly infected person sheds virus at the grocery store. Patient Two carries it to church the next day.

We need not be needlessly paranoid. Many of us might not need change our day-to-day at-home lifestyle much at all for a while. I guess not knowing how long that while might last makes me anxious. When will we see our friends again? And my mom in assisted living: we may never meet again in this life. It’s possible.

Patient Three is my age. Healthy. Active. I probably know them. They get tested (this is in June when tests are finally available, and that is when Patients One and Two are deduced, well after the fact.) They have COVID19, are quarantined at home at first, then admitted to Lewis Gale Montgomery–a crow mile from mom; near the center of a major university of tens of thousands of students and faculty and facility workers.

Those early admits are among the more fortunate who require hospital space, equipment and professional care. If you have to be hospitalized, be in the first wave before the upturn in the hockey stick of logarithmic increase in full-blown cases.

And so in my ordinary, solitary, bucolic retired life, I get up in the morning and make the coffee. I spread out the things I want to explore, think, or write about. I make and prioritize my list of tasks by the usual categories. I am pulled into a thread about some part of the world where a new reptile has been discovered. I am momentarily absorbed into that realm of life, that culture, those people and creatures in far-away villages in Indonesia. Fascinating.

And then it invades my reverie and fragile focus: where ever that place is in the world, their lives are no longer ordinary, casual or in their control. The shadow of pandemic darkens all their lives, too. And they will never be the same on the other side.

It will come –The Other Side. What will it be like? How will it be different from the world, BC? It could be better. The world system is having a Dope Slap event; a come-to-Jesus moment. We can’t go on the way we were going, BC.

We can’t treat the planet and each other that way, so very very many of us, so very very acquisitive and indifferent and selfish. We can’t put people in power who don’t respect people and planet more than profit. We can’t defy science, thinking humans are somehow less animal flesh than bats or mosquitos.

In my hopeful moments of temporary oblivion, I know there will be a few changes that put band-aids on severed limbs of civilization. But mostly when the shareholders are happy again, human enterprise will pick up just where it left off, save for the millions who died, and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that went extinct, AD, never to rise again.

And so these fleeting moments of blissful ignorance, of flow, of the joy in the moments of immutable beauty of earth and sky just out my door–that will be where I try to live. As much as possible. I will seek solace in the knowing we have never been eternal in this life. We live in a world of material consequences. Things fall apart. But life in this body is a vapor. And there is eternity built into us.

And I will think on these things.

Why The F (Word)

Catcher in the Rye used it five times. If you find an old copy in a second-hand book store, chances are some 12 year old (now 80-ish) underlined every instance. Back then, the f-word was outrageous; shocking; and hidden. And then, more often than not, it had to do directly with the sex act. But that curious 12 year old would have had his mouth washed out with soap–at the very least–had he uttered the word in public. “Ya kiss ya mutha with that mouth?!”

Hidden, because after rare and typically cryptic use in the sixteenth century, it was banned from english dictionaries from 1795 to 1965. I find it interesting that there was a word, even outside protestant and Puritan influence, that was deemed unbecoming to anyone who would use a dictionary and keep civil company. That was then. This is (f-ing) now.

So where did the word come from in the first place? That sleuthing is made more difficult because of the reluctance across the history of written language to write it out and to record its use by upstanding members of literate society. There are inaccurate stories that it originally came from a royal decree to repopulate after the plague: “Fornicate Under Command of the King.” Good story. Fake news. But maybe good advice for the survivors of Covid19. Eat. Drink. And make babies.

The best etymological roots seem to trace it to Scottish/Scandinavian roots, variously including fukka, focka and fock (penis.) Apart from the sexual use, it came to imply violence (hitting, punching, thrusting.) The combined “thrust” of the term to profane the act of procreation and, at the same time, imply ill-intentioned aggression, making it a perfect word for our moral-psycho-socially dysfunctional times, don’t you think?

There was a time not long ago when it was veiled and substituted as fork, pork, fug or eff/effing/effed. But the gloves are off now and it is released full-monty into the wild. Perhaps the high-density winner is the movie Wolf of Wallstreet where it was used every other breathe: a total of 506 times in a three hour movie. The script must have been tres-easy for the actors to remember. And if you forget a line, toss in some f’s as subjects, objects and epithets.

The word has morphed in the media and common vernacular of the past decades to be a much more versatile word by far than the original verb. Few words have so many different uses, often within the same sentence.

From Opinion: The f-word is everywhere – CNN

Think about it. It can express surprise, outrage, anger, humor, delight or desire. And it can stand in for several parts of speech: noun, verb (in any tense), gerund, participle, imperative, interrogative, interjection, to mention just the most common uses.

It can be quite a variety of speech bits: the verb, of course, as in f you, intended to imply obliterating, humiliating or otherwise damaging the intended subject. Then there are the prepositions: something or someone can be f’d up, f’d over or f’d around with. There is the flying f, from an 1800 ballad of sex on horseback.

It can be an adjective whose meaning is conferred by context, so that f-ing awesome and f-ing terrible both imply the extreme. As a noun, to not give a f means to disregard as trivial.

And perhaps the most unique use of the word is as an “infix” (as opposed to pre-and suff-ix) where the word comes in the middle. Consider for example the emphatic infix of “un-f’ing-believable.

It can be used as an interrogative as in What da f?

But any more, it is a space filler that may or may not be chosen for any of the above purposes, but because it comes to mind. My favorite story is this one:

During a trivia game at her assisted living home, she could not think of the name of Peter, Paul, and Mary's magic dragon, so she blurted: "F--- the Magic Dragon," which now has become the family's official title for the song.

You can find plenty of praise for the word, including being an antidote to the “poison of piety, fastidiousness and erudition” and “a way of defining character.” I just don’t care to watch or listen to such characters for more than a minute.

So I having accepted the fact that I can’t find many things on Netflix or elsewhere that do not accost my brain with extensive overuse of the word, I still don’t quite understand how other words, with long rich histories of use, could not as well express outrage, surprise, indignation or malice.

After the first dozen f-bombs, I will chose to take a walk instead. There is sufficient anger, violence, misogyny and racism in fact without having to have it brought into common language, veiled or overt. I tend to remove my attention and my advertising dollars from those that have no better way to draw and keep my attention.

“Let your yay be yay and your nay be nay” the Bible admonishes. Speak your mind without the theatric embellishments, brethren and sistren. So my guess is, there was an f-word equivalent even back then. Verily, verily I say unto thee, if you don’t have other words than that for me well, just shut the…

Fragments: ’20 Week 11

So if I set up a kind of schedule and framework–say for every Thursday–maybe I’ll do a better job of posting at least once a week? Does it matter? Only that it might make me less the tree blogging in the forest with a few ears to hear, and I get to see a task completed. Might be, within the fragments, you’ll find a thing or two of interest or benefit. And the lists over time will let that browser know me better by seeing what has drawn my attention over the past week. And does that matter? The jury is still out.

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REALM OF NATURE ♻️

You’re Not So Different From an Octopus: Rethinking Our Relationship to Animals That we have allowed ourselves to see humankind as other than and apart from NATURE is part of the philosophical wrong path we’ve taken that lead us to see the biosphere as nothing but a commodity and fodder for the economic machine.

To save insects from extinction, we need to give them space | Ensia And how likely do you think this notion will gain traction? We won’t give space to Polar Bears, penguins, or tropical forests to grow. Imagine–in light of the above point–that we have fellow feelings (and our own self interest) to the point where we purposely create “insect corridors.” Nah.

WHAT PEOPLE DO ✂️

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak highlights serious deficiencies in scholarly communication | Impact of Social Sciences If there is a silver lining on the vast cloud that will become the global Covid19 storm, it might be that we rethink how we are failing to work as if we are all in the same lifeboat.

How South Korea Is Composting Its Way to Sustainability | The New Yorker This article came along when Ann and I realized we could play a role in community sustainability–and this, as we contemplated the need to be locally sustainable in our neighborhood as Covid19 sweeps through. We don’t have a dog now, and even though we don’t create a LOT of food scraps, what we have should be going to our neighbor (from whom we get eggs) who has chickens and pigs. Duh.

WHAT OUR TOOLS DO 🛠

Hand Pumps: An Option for Back-Up Water Pumping | Resilient Design Institute We are loathe to leave our water and wood independence on Goose Creek. The Other Place needs one of these. A friend called just last night and offered the unused manual pump installed just before Y2K, now unused because they are content to depend on a forever supply of propane for a whole-house generator. We are not.

How to add personal documents to Kindles and Kindle apps – The Verge So it is no secret I am trying to train myself to herd the million cats of information I come across. Taking smart notes is key. Getting text into annotatable format is the beginning. Then comes the hard work of winnowing the wheat and putting it in places and forms that my Future Self can find when needed.

How to Legally Download Movies for Free to Watch Offline It seems a wise thing to do to retain sufficient reading and viewing material to sustain a family through rocky times. I have lots of empty space on the iPad and iMac. Hopefully these downloads include older movies with less blood, a richer vocabulary and characters with character.

UP CLOSE and PERSONAL 🔎

Guest Column: ‘Holding Space’ at The Floyd Country Store – Blue Ridge Country Dylan and Heather are keeping the Heart of Floyd alive and well.

NRV’s ‘Fish Ladies’ retiring, ‘Fish Kids’ taking over | Business | roanoke.com The end of an era: but not really. We have bought from the “fishwagon” every week since we moved here to Goose Creek, I think. We’ll miss the ladies but keep enjoying the trout, catfish and shrimp. The article says when they started out, they discovered people would not buy shrimp with the heads on. Reminds me that, when I met Ann in college, she (from Biloxi) was the designated shrimp peeler anywhere they were served en mass. She was an experienced girl. In that way.

Amazon.com: Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella with Teflon Coating (Black Red): Upper Echelon Products So I decided I wanted my Last Umbrella: one that would be visible unique and less losable; one that was well made and warranteed; and one that (unlike my ten yr old golf umbrella) could be put in a car wet and not soak the passengers seat. This is it. When not expanded in use, it collapses, keeping the wet surface to the inside. Clever, if weird.

Why we need an absence of noise to hear anything important | Aeon Essays I have sought out, been steeped in, and learned from the solitude and (relative) tranquility of two decades of quiet. Places too big, too fast, too fake and too noisy send me into adrenal stress, as they do most people. Alas, most city folk don’t even realize the cost they pay.

Radio queen: DeVito has four decade ‘habit’ | Local News | roanoke.com So you Floyd folk might know Linda’s many current hats and voices, but not the background. She has quite a history, and brings pieces of all that into her multiple roles in Floyd County and SWVA, and we are the better off for that.

ORBIT OF EARTH 🌏

Earth View from Google Perusing the images of our Blue Marble from space never fails to elicit AWE for me. This is a “good” we rarely seek out or find. It is right under our very feet and the cosmos above. Day and night, the planet is an awe-inducing place if we care to look.

Why Do We Love the View From High Above? | Psychology Today Herein, an essay on the eve (well, three months off) of moving to higher ground. There is something happening when we stand on a peak and see the distant forest, river, mountain peak and meadow. What is about the “higher ground” that draws us–and often makes us pay extra?

A global shift to sustainability would save us $26 trillion – Vox The costs of the status quo keep rising; the costs of sustainable alternatives keep declining. To choose to live in an a world governed by an unsustainable economic model is self-destructive; we know that, and just hope the end of the road will not happen until some other people are behind the wheel after we’ve lived the good life.