Fragments Rises Again. Kinda

The blog was on the ropes. Then it was down for the count. The referee intended to stop the fight, the victim too far injured to rise again. But wait! Fragments has struggled to her feet, bloodied, staggering, but headed back into the good fight. Here’s the backstory:

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. We are two weeks shy of the planet tilting back from its winter solstice,
its most southerly point. When we moved here in mid-June, sunrise hit our pine trees on its way to Panther Knob. Maybe–just maybe–
humankind is near its own SOULstice and will turn back towards brighter, warmer days ahead. Image from 11-05-20

Over the course of the 18 year life-span of Fragments, it has been threatened with non-existence more times than I can remember, usually at the hands of hackers–out of general mischief or misanthropy or to use my long-standing site to sell drugs for enhancing male rectitude and persistence.

The first disappearance happened during the first six months in 2002 when an Irish gal who kindly hosted my larval sight took offense at something one of my commenters made about her mishandling of images or some-such. She obliterated the site with hardly any advance notice. A kind tech-competent reader moved me to a server he controlled and it lived their, I think, until I met Doug Thompson in 2004.

Since that time, in one shape or another, Doug has both hosted the site and dealt, as friend and site guardian, with the many illegitimate attempts to corrupt or take down the site. The last episode started about a year ago, when I got reports from visitors that they were confronted with malicious ads or spoofing or trojans or other obvious attempts to do no good.

So as of Friday 4 Dec 2020, it looks like all bad actors (many of them from Croatia and the Netherlands) have been locked out of the site. I don’t know how many hours it took Doug to firewall the blog, and at one point, I had said “let’s just put a bullet in her head and send Fragments into oblivion” even when that would have broken my heart.

Fragments has been the repository of my life since May 2002, and I have come back to it hundreds of times to reconnect the Today Me with the Yesterday version. This has been an invaluable perspective to know where I am by seeing where I have been. Imagine you had lost your 20 year journal to a thief.

That said, I don’t know what potential use I might make of Fragments going forward . It might be that it is an archive rather than an active vehicle to navigate whatever years I have left to experience and share the world, “in words and pixels.” But looking back has its place. We know where we are by seeing the paths that got us here.

Some of you know I have found that a recent “newsletter” format via SubStack has been the recent (since maybe Sept 2020) repository for fresh writing and sharing. And if you want to get the freshest bits from my keyboard, that might be the best way to make that happen. The site is called “Earth Alive: Field Notes from the Southern Mountains. Click the subscribe button at the top of the RIGHT SIDEBAR.

I feel like I just emerged from a year inside the blankets-and-quilts tumble dryer down at the LaundryMat. The cumulative effects of the pandemic’s disruption of my connection to people and purposes, places and roles has made it hard to remember what it was that used to make me ME. I’m sure you know what I mean. Among other dysfunctions of mind and soul, this rude and sustained shock has affected my path towards that book I keep talking about. I struggle to muster the will and energy for it, heading into such an uncertain future.

And that is the kind of matter I would, at one point in the past, have asked readers to ponder with me towards finding our way back into the sun, back to hope for ourselves, our families and our species. Am I willing or able to ask such hard questions of myself and my readers? I truly do not know.

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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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