On Seeing Things

When is the last time you stretched out on your back under a sky full of clouds?

Your mind literally cannot help but make sense of the seemingly random balloonings or smears or pulled threads of clouds. It is what minds do—create order from patterns that our eye and mind can’t help but look for.

Seeing shapes in billowing clouds or ceiling tiles was once thought to be a kind of madness.

But on looking again at pareidolia, it just may have something to teach us about creativity.

See faces in the clouds? It might be a sign of your creativity

I was reminded of this a few days back (before the near-strike of lightning at the house) when we saw a series of towering “cumulonimbus incus” clouds commonly known as Anvil Clouds of anvil-tops—a name derived from the flattened upper reaches where the air has hit the “cap” of the atmosphere and goes OUT instead of UP.

In the coming weeks, I will try to post some cloud pix, and you can import them and show us the things you see. We can compare notes, and see which one of us is the craziest. I did this to a cloud shot in the first year of blogging (2002) and titled it “The Hand of God reaches down and touches the face of….a poodle.” Guess you had to be there.

About anvil clouds so you can be alert that these things can cause mischief:

A cumulonimbus incus is a mature thunderstorm cloud generating many dangerous elements.

  • Lightning; this storm cloud is capable of producing bursts of cloud to ground lightning.
  • Hail; hailstones may fall from this cloud if it’s a highly unstable environment (which favors a more vigorous storm updraft).
  • Heavy rain; this cloud may drop several inches of rain in a short amount of time. This can cause flash flooding.
  • Strong wind; gale-force winds from a downburst may occur under this cloud.
  • Tornadoes; in severe cases (most commonly with supercells), it can produce tornadoes.

Moving Day: the Debacle

Screwup #3: They did not plan for moving boxes. “You didn’t tell us you had boxes.”

Maybe today, finally, I am calmed down enough to tell the story in broad strokes–the tale of how our moving day fell apart and then came together. Sort of.

I will save my most strongly worded language and the most agonizing detail for the site review I will write later today on the moving company’s web site, and perhaps in a letter to the BBB.

Matter of fact, I’ll just keep it short, because my coffee cup is empty and the moon is about to dip below the western horizon, behind Panther Knob, and I want to see that sight through the telescope, since by tomorrow night, the track would have moved enough to miss this twice a conjunction of heaven and our new vantage point from Earth. So out to the porch in my underwear to the telescope to hunker and squint.

So let me sweep the first four human errors under the rug in our dealings with a certain number of hominids and a truck. I’ll just jump right to their Magnum Dopus: they didn’t show up.

The reason: “I’m sorry we can’t reach your house from either end of your road.”

I had told the office person at least a week before that rains had washed out the approach from Terry’s Fork. They tried that way nevertheless, and (DUH) couldn’t reach the house. But the road from Shawsville Pike is way less steep and not in bad shape.

“Why could you not get here from Shawsville Pike” I asked, as the adrenalin surged and my temples throbbed.

“We’re sorry, our trucks (they were bringing two, and five men–despite their name) couldn’t get across the bridge.”

“Wait. You’re telling me you don’t scout the route to your destination for the width and carrying capacity of bridges on the route?”

“No sir, we don’t have that information.”

“You’re a moving company and you don’t have that information!!?”

Deleting a lot of expletives beginning when she told me they would be happy to move us 6 days later instead, I made the remark that I was a forgiving person and a reasonable person, but this was the FIFTH screw-up with this outfit, and I was going to let the public know of my horrible, no good, very bad experience with this Roanoke-based moving company.

And I will do so, hopefully later today, now that I am securely rooted at the new location, no thanks to said company, and cooled off sufficiently to delete subsequent expletives and be as dispassionately accurate, thorough and objective as possible describing the worst single job I have ever experienced by a company that advertises themselves as “professionals.”

I have since found out from several neighbors on Goose Creek that they have driven the largest rental trucks available across that bridge or have had items delivered by similarly large trucks. So we are at a loss to explain why, though we planned everything so carefully, things fell apart.

And to put a happy spin on the story, with the help of our son from Knoxville, my daughter and her husband and two daughters from near Wilmington, and two valiant and uncomplaining neighbors working in the rain all day Saturday, Sunday and half of Monday, with several trips between houses by a U-Haul trailer and a U-Haul 10 foot panel truck (from two disparate locations) we got under roof.

We are still moving in.

So Where’s The Church?

Rock Hill Church Road was once a state-maintained road with a county road number (714 I think) that is now in VDOT limbo status of not abandoned but not maintained. There are three full time residences on a half mile of single lane gravel road.

That said, it is named for a church that presumably once stood somewhere along this short single-lane path–most likely near Roberson Mill Road, the “main” artery of travel for the community near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And so, as I do the work of re-placing myself after 20 years embedded by head and heart on Goose Creek, I begin anew to get my bearings and find my relationships within this new and not unpleasant but not familiar dot on the surface of the Third Rock.

We are learning when and where to look for wildlife and enjoying the proximity to town that makes this location more convenient for drop-in masked visitors for a porch sit. I suppose these surroundings are as familiar as we should expect at just a little more than two weeks in place.

But now that we’re mostly out of cardboard, I’m looking around wondering what in the world am I? Why is this road a “church” road is there is not somewhere along here the foundation of that building?

I feel certain somebody knows the answer, and when I find out, I’ll let you know (the tension for you must be terrible not knowing!)

Meanwhile, we are keeping our eyes open. I see on the topo maps a “path” that at some point paralleled the existing road and turned west. At just that point today exists a copse of fairly mature trees between pastures north and south, with within those trees lies a large mass of rocks.

In fact there are two masses of rocks–those larger ones in place long enough to be covered in lichens; and a second pile of apparently newer baseball to grapefruit sized rocks much smaller than those typically culled from a tilled pasture. I can’t explain them.

But there does not seem to be a foundation (old steps etc) that would suggest a building ever stood there. At least now we have explored that spot we see every day on our walk down to the mailbox.

And I’m thinking somebody in the community can at least tell us what denomination the church was, so we can research it that way, if they don’t know exactly where it stood. And when we find out, we will be better “placed” in the time continuum of the current WHERE of our lives. And that life-context is part of what I refer to as my “personal ecology” that extends from MY space and place to be grounded on the globe, in the now and then, and in Earth’s life-systems, starting at home.

New Ground

We walked through our tiny patch of forest (compared to Goose Creek) in the rain–of course, in the Monsoon of June–on our third full day at what I used to refer to as The Other Place. It is now This Place.

We startled twin fawns out of the understory near the spring head. They flushed in different directions, and I wondered how they will reconnect with momma, still nursing as these very young must be. They bleat when tormented by a dog (as we used to experience every time this year during the Tsuga and Gandy years.) But do they call to their siblings and mother when their hiding place is disturbed and they panic and run?

By the time we left, one fawn was already back near its bedding spot. The mother was likely aware of the disturbance, and back with her twins by the time we had returned to the house.

The trill and throb of Cicadas high overhead and in surround-sound will be an aural marker and memory of our move, and we will remember it well in 2037 when they return. He said.

We will lay out a mower path through the recently mown pasture so we can reach the woods as the grasses grow back to knee-height. I am hoping to barter with a neighbor to cut a perimeter swath around the edge of the whole 17 acre pasture for this purpose.

There is not much understory in these woods, the trees sufficiently mature to shade out the brambles and shrubs of more recently disturbed places. But I did not expect to find a flowering plant in those woods to add to my life-list, a botany follower now for a half century and my first observation of this monochrome specimen. This, I declare, is a good omen.

Small round-leaved orchid:

Platanthera orbiculata, the lesser roundleaved orchid is a species of orchid native to forested areas of North America. It is widespread across most of Canada and parts of the United States (Alaska, New England, Appalachian Mountains, Great Lakes Region, Rocky Mountains, Black Hills and northern Cascades).

Platanthera orbiculata is found in moist to mesic shaded locations in forests. Each plant has two large, nearly round leaves that lie close to the ground, plus a vertical flowering stalk bearing a spike of small, white flowers.

wikipedia

Why Not Do What Works?

  • Business as usual when usual threatens to wipe out livelihoods, cultures and civilizations is just plain stupid. Vietnam, a nation of 90-something million people, has yet to have its first death from SARS-CoV2.
  • Look what Zog do!

Vietnam. The country of 97 million people has not reported a single coronavirus-related death and on Saturday had just 328 confirmed cases, despite its long border with China and the millions of Chinese visitors it receives each year.

This is all the more remarkable considering Vietnam is a low-middle income country with a much less-advanced healthcare system than others in the region. It only has 8 doctors for every 10,000 people, a third of the ratio in South Korea, according to the World Bank.

After a three-week nationwide lockdown, Vietnam lifted social distancing rules in late April. It hasn’t reported any local infections for more than 40 days. Businesses and schools have reopened, and life is gradually returning to normal.