Be It Ever So Jumbled

My old desk isn't picturesque

My desk, as usual, to an outside observer, is a mess. But it’s my mess. It does not require freshening up by housekeeping. It does not have to be returned to a rental warehouse across town. My desk is my own fault, not the children’s’ in Saint Louis or Rapid City, not the wife’s family in West Plains. It is good to be home, sitting at my desk with my coffee cup, my idiosyncratic mouse and keyboard and chair that are, as Goldilocks would judge, “just right.”

It was great to visit all those places during the past week, and all our eight flights were on time or early to arrive at their destinations. Nothing major broke along the way, and my unhappy tooth finally responded to (now) ten days of antibiotics. Yes, my back and shoulders feel like I just had a long workout inside a commercial dryer. Whoever engineered airplane seats was a sadist. Can you say lumbar kyphosis by design?

The chickens are fine. The grass is manageable. The garden, although SHE insists otherwise, is way too cool to plant yet. [It was 90 in Roanoke when our plane arrived yesterday, and 78 on the creek when we got home.] The only catastrophe in our absence, I had expected.

The house end of the wood pile (probably 5 cords) collapsed. I generally pride myself on good wood stacking standards. For some reason, this particular last dozen feet of five-feet-high double-stacked wood (probably a half cord) has listed precariously for more than a year. I wondered how it kept from toppling over. It toppled. Something to do. Boredom is once again held at bay.

I go to town this morning to fetch home the dog, who early in her stay at Puppy Camp got “tutored.” Her stitches will have to stay in for longer than usual, because she is on an antibiotic for a skin condition. So no going in the creeks for the rest of the week. Yeah, right. I will ask for a week’s worth of sedatives. And get some for the dog, too.

Okay, I’m used to my split-in-half keyboard again, and on my third cup of coffee. I have officially hit the ground stumbling. Bring it on!

In explanation of the image above: On impulse, I bought Paper for iPad–an elegant drawing-sketching-painting application, and spent two of our four plane-hops yesterday lost in rapt ineptitude. I think my flailing attempts to draw will make me pay more attention to shape and line, just as photography keens the eye to depth and color. At least that’s how I justified the $8. It kept me reasonably agreeable while I was being tumbled and contorted in the commercial dryer. The white rabbit-cat on the floor beside the desk must be an altitude-induced hallucination.

My old desk doesnt’t’t arabesque,
In the morning when I first arrive.
Its a pleasure to see it’s waiting there for me
To keep my hopes alive.
Such a comfort to know it’s got no place to go,
Its always there.
Its the one thing I’ve got, a huge success,
My Good Old Desk.

Harry Nilsson

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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. People tell me all the time that my desk is a mess. The only time I can’t find what I need, though, is when someone else has touched it.
    I heard on the radio today that a flight from Phoenix to Denver had such bad turbulence, paramedics were called to await its arrival, and two passengers and two flight attendants were hospitalized. Glad you didn’t get that particular dryer.

  2. Love that song.
    Have to admit I actually like the picture too (turned out downright artful — no fault of yours, of course!)