A House Divided

It’s a floor wax! No, it’s a dessert topping! You’re a physical therapist! No, you’re a writer and photographer. You use a PC. No, you use a Mac. The computer is on your desk. No, the computer is upstairs.

But wait–you’re both right!

Suffice it to say I am in a state of flux between what was and what will be. I live between.

I have a single (99 year old) patient to see today, and I’ve not had much work since September. I’m between doing what I’ve done for income for two years and doing what I’ll do with the rest of my so-called professional life. Looking like it might be time to move on, but on to what?

February: between the packed calendar of last fall and the busy calender of the coming spring. All I had hoped to get done on the book has pretty much been sacrificed to the computer transition, the newspaper columns and blog and the holidays and general lack of focus.

Today I have my first meeting of the Earth Day committee that will distract me until the 19th of April. A few days later, the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative will be visiting Radford and Floyd and I’ll be involved with that. The spring months are always too busy, so anything I get accomplished before July will likely happen before March.

We’re between the end of this year’s wood supply and the beginning of next years. We’ll have some left over, but not enough. Yesterday, we carried the chain saw a quarter mile up the middle path, down onto a relatively gentle grade that until last year was so overgrown in blackberries (after the logging of 1994) that you couldn’t go there. Now we can see and can get to quite a bit of downed wood–mostly locust–that once cut will be 100 yards away and 30 feet higher than we can get the truck to pick it up. And did I mention each piece also has to be carried across the creek and up the bank? We are between cutting wood for heat almost all our adult lives and whatever comes along to replace that wonderful, labor-intensive source of winter warmth.

I’m composing this morning on a free version of VoodooPad (oops forgot that Camel Case words invoke another page in wiki-like fashion) and the hyperlinked document is not altogether unlike MS One Note that I am going to install and use but hopefully wean from as I go to all-mac.

I’m in-between being a total Mac moron and a devoted and capable user–oh so heavily skewed toward the former. Things still happen I can’t explain (some of these accidents have been for the better–like a rat randomly pressing levers may eventually get a pellet of food.

Now I am between the morning calm and the morning rush. I have kitchen duty with a crockpot recipe laid out for me. I have the dog to walk and paperwork to get in order before stopping by the Bank of Floyd (Save at the sign of the sock, as Garrison says of Bob’s Bank–it’s pretty much like that.) And I am between the calm of the morning and the calm of having arrived back home to my blessed muddle of a life fixed temporarily twixt the cradle and the grave. We are, all of us, between.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Take a deeeeeep breath…close your eyes…listen to the sounds around you…relax every muscle starting with your head, neck, shoulders…AH, that’s good, Fred.

    We’re all running on these treadmills, running, running, even those of us retired after eons of working for the man. Or, in my case, the woman.

    But none of us knows if we’ll wake up tomorrow morning. Or not. Sleep is a gift, the morning is a gift. Maybe your sweetie will give you a footrub…