Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gov Don't Get No Respect


But then, they haven't earned it.

Tomorrow is Easter in the Western calendar, a story of ugly death and resurrection.

Cynics have belabored the death of liberty, rule of law, and sinking of the sheeple. Doom-porn and Armageddon. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here... ye 99%...


But that's not all the story.

In Ukraine, the ever-rapacious USGov sent in mercenaries/phony liberators to overturn an election, installing Neo-Fascists more to their liking. Pssst, Ukraine is rich in resources.

In chaos, opportunity. But not always.

(Please know that not all Americans rah-rah abuse of power, here or abroad.)

I saw a vid today of run-amok armored tanks in Ukraine and an unarmed woman, who stepped in front. She stretched out her left arm; set her palm on the hood of the tank. She stopped the thing.

No guarantee there of surviving, but she stood her ground, in an eerie echo of Tiananmen Square.


In the Southwest desert, in godforsaken Nevada, a government agency has run amok, stealing land and cattle, shooting bulls, separating cows and calves to die in the heat.

And threatening a ranching family who had bought the land in 1877.

That usually works. The rancher used to have 50+ neighboring families, all driven off by government greed for mineral rights and such.

In this, how-stoopid-do-they-think-we-are case, gov first tried the canard---of it being their duty to protect endangered desert turtles!

In fact, fracking and foreign investment lucre brought in the goons.

Cowboys on horseback began showing up at the Nevada ranch. Most have to be crack shots; most arrived with rifles. The desert is full of rattlesnakes.

In the Revolutionary War against British imperial power, late 18th Century, one of the Colonial flags read, "Don't Tread on Me."

photo: wikipedia

"Oathkeepers" began assembling in the desert: law enforcement and military who stand by their oaths, to protect the US Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

So imagine ... a line of horsemen facing militarized agency goons.

It evokes the tragic bravery of Tibetans who loved their land and died facing down Chinese machine guns and tanks. Ancient lamaseries were bombed into rubble, gulags for Lamas and dissidents built.

Love of land, love of honor are taking a global stand against brute force and greed. It's an old, old story.

We get to live it, and hopefully tell our grandchildren about it.

A story of betrayal, and of resurrection.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Out of Season, Out of Stock


The produce manager, a friend, chuckles as he looks at my outfit. I've forgotten to take off a bright fruit and flower apron from my earlier project.

I stand there making indignant noises by the $3.49/pound apples.

"This is crazy. No wonder they're called 'heirloom' apples. They're so pricey, you will them to your grandchildren."

A big jovial man, he laughs.

"You're spoiled," he said. "Is this apple season? Of course they're pricey."

"Well, duh, I know that, and frosts are settling on local fruit tree blossoms and we don't know about drought, and and... But maybe some good will come out of these outrageous prices."

I cut my eyes at him. He looks benign, Buddha-like.

"Maybe more of us will plant gardens this year."

"We won't be growing gardens without rain."

"Well, yes, there's that and I hear you. It means some more labor, deep digging organic matter, mulching, watering in the cool of the morning..."

He laughs again.

"Maybe. Those who can, do. Those who can't or won't, shop here."

Once upon a time, America stretched vast and fertile. Not so long ago, though it seems the stuff of ballads now,  mythic... Burl Ives ...

Tra la la tweedily dee dee
It gives me a thrill
To wake up in the morning
To the mockingbird's trill.
Tra la la tweedily dee dee
There's peace and good will
You're welcome as the flowers
On the mockingbird hill...

Food the bountiful, the varied, the ever-available grows precarious this year. Drought clamps hard on the fruit and nut basket called California. The state has cut off all, all irrigation water to farmers.


Prices will continue to rise. Non-availability may be a shocker.

In my mind's eye am remembering a vegetable kiosk in divided East Berlin. Three veggies on offer: dried up whitish cabbage, carrots hanging limp over the box edge, and small shriveled potatoes.

A lot of US produce, especially through the winter, comes from California.

Fukushima continues shimmering out its Jet Stream and Pacific Ocean horrors. One customer comes in now with shopping sacks, and his Geiger Counter, to decide what's safe to buy.

Employees and bug-eyed customers try not to freak out hearing the clicks start up.

Back when I lived in Maine, dear friends paid the mortgage on their little farm by growing greenhouse "yuppy chow" (gourmet mixed lettuces, mesclun) and delivering it to area restaurants through the long coastal winters.

Local is looking pretty good. An enterprising grower near here is producing winter greens in hoop houses. I buy those.

Writing the article, "Radiation Remedies" the morning after Fukushima blew set me to ruminating what we've allowed.

And what we'll do now, as local communities and global peoples.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Waxing Moon & Fertile Sign


A good time to prune, by the moon. I've been out with secateurs snipping more dead wood out of roses and butterfly bush.

(See: "Planting by the Moon" in Book I, Wayfaring Traveler, Whale Rider of the Tide.)

It won't be an apricot year, after the frost death-knell two nights ago. Massively-budded lilacs met dawn today shrouded in three inches of snow, and look diminished in vigor.

Apples and crab apples are about to bud out. Oh for apple pies and cobbler this fall!!

Apples of Genesis infamy...

In Medieval times, many of the non-warrior sorts entered the cloistered life among men. Some tended monastery gardens and orchards, robed, tonsured, mostly separate from the temptations of women.

But long, long before, the fruitfulness of the earth was revered in a more womanly mode, as:

The "Venus of Willendorf" from Stone Age Europe:

Pachamama in Central and South America:


Demeter/Ceres, Greek and Roman goddess of agriculture, who loses her daughter and the world goes dark:


In the myth, her daughter Persephone is lured to the Underworld  of Hades/Pluto. Demeter's dark grieving plays out as winter. 

Pleading with Hades, the girl is allowed to return as spring flowers and summer fruitfulness, till winter comes again.

As winter wanes each year, fruit trees and vineyards and roses are pruned of dead wood and crowded branches to prepare for sound fruiting. If the frosts are kind!

Fruitfulness is not a given, with harsh weather, earth changes, and insane incursions like poison-monger-Monsanto.

Historically, invading armies crushed an enemy by cutting down orchards, poisoning wells and salting fertile ground.

We have a modern equivalent in an ancient land: Palestinian olive groves, some old as Gethsemane, are bulldozed or burnt to destroy livelihood. 

A scorched-earth path to cinder block settlements where once stood ancient villages.

It is an old, old story, rapine and plunder of the fruiting earth, a man-made winter. 

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Thursday, April 3, 2014



Quake-sensitives have not slept much lately.

An odd phenom and a global one, not to be wished on anyone: Nervous systems and bodies seem to thrum with deep earth infra-sonics, vibrate, dys-equilibrate in you-are-there warning of Richter scale events.

For some it feels like wretched flu aches, for others, as though being lifted and dropped by ocean swells, hands like soft light sabers.

A sense of humor helps, and some compassion for all of us trying to keep our footing in mythic times.

Gilgamesh and Gandalf times, and our hearth fire stories from flat screens of nightly news.

Seismic sentries have suddenly gripped our imagination: A Yellowstone bison video of the prairie beasts gone walkabout, apparently fleeing before the recent caldera quake, and where are the elk?

In fact, some folks who live above the San Andreas Fault track seismic sentries in the form of lost pet notices, which seem to surge before a quake.

A German scientist, Tributsch, risked mockery from colleagues by writing about domestic and wildlife warnings preceding a very bad quake in the Italian Alps, where his parents' village was all but destroyed.

He trusted the old farmers of the area and asked what had happened, then correlated their experiences with historical record.

His book, When the Snakes Awake refers to the slitheries coming out of seismically-vibrating winter burrows, to die on the snow. (Original German: Wann die Schlangen erwachen.)
The Chilean quakes continue and volcanoes awake, with some concern of an answering lurch, more northerly. The Cascadia Fault of the Pacific Northwest has slumbered since the year 1700; the tsunami reached Japan.

An organic farmer friend in Washington State told me about this years ago. Tree ring studies showed a total scouring of coastal trees. Old growth dated back only to 1700.

And what of the coastal peoples? Villages of the salmon-based indigenous cultures were swept away. But not all the people.

Native shamans had sensed earth perturbations and moved villages to higher ground.
Which brings us to the cacophony of global angst. Where is safe, in mythic times?

Sensible precautions fill the Net, a great boon as safety nets may come up empty.

Family and community stand as rallying ground for solutions. We may experience shocks and uprooting, even homelessness and diaspora.

That said, each day given us can be a day of wonder, of blooming where planted.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Catalogs & Whimsy Gardening

Garden catalogs!... morning snow and all night howler gale. A day of wintry layers, and an apricot tree in bloom, yesterday full of bees and fragrance and now thrashing in the wind.

Robins are hopping about, tilting their heads and looking for worms with pert monocular vision. How little we actually see.

I peeked around the door, piled on layers, and returned the bird feeder to the great outdoors. Bears, it seems, have lumbered out of hibernation, grumpy and on the prowl.

Two mornings ago, I found the bird feeder empty, its hanging loop twisted round and around, muddy tongue slurp-marks on its roof.

Ten feet off the ground in a pine tree being just an ursine romp.
Last two nights, I've brought the feeder indoors. Black bear had snuffled around on the ground for fallen seed. Apparently miffed about the feeder-trough gone missing, a great paw had flipped over a heavy wooden bench.

I settled in with a gardening-goodies catalog and sound of the wind, remembering the wonders of Kindergarten, a bean seed sprouting and twining. Jack and the Bean Stalk, in a paper cup.

The catalog brought me into a digital world of pricey heat mats, grow light setups, timers, cloches (tall plastic hats) to put over a tomato plant at eight dollars each, cold frames at hundreds of dollars a pop.

The targeted demographic seemed to be black and stainless steel kitchens, microwaves, wifi, flat screens everywhere ... and a sudden itch to grow veggies.

Hm! Kind of exciting actually. If there's a little bit of earth around the living space, cheaper options abound:

Cloche: Plastic cider or milk jugs with the bottoms sliced off, to tuck a tomato or pepper plant safely to bed on a chilly night, or cold windy day. Though it may snow, and all bets are off.

Cold frame: Straw bales in a square or rectangle with old windows across the top, in this strange spring which feels like Little Ice Age.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Young Entrepreneurs: Lemonade Stand and Fishing Worms

The childhood weekly allowance included chores.

Doing things together was mostly a pleasure, sitting on a kitchen stool, chatting with Mama while I shelled peas or snapped beans, or helping Pater with projects when he was home from the sea.

With Father, I'd hold the flashlight steady, hand him tools like a surgical nurse, or do step-and-fetch-it. The latter did sometimes feel like being a pint-sized S.L.J.O. (Shitty Little Jobs Officer!)

The amount of the weekly allowance, twenty-five cents, served as a goad to entrepreneurship.

By age eight and nine, I was doing odd jobs and babysitting. (See: "A Pet Skunk; Value of Money" in the first book of stories, Wayfaring Traveler, Whale Rider of the Tide.)

I began accumulating small coin lucre, and learned beginner in's and out's of money-management.

By my chubby, pink piggy bank.

Initially, I went for candy, ice cream and small toys, a jump rope, a yo-yo, then a transistor radio kit which Father and I built together.

As I felt the satisfying weight of my piggy bank accrue, my "wannaneeda" list expanded, and piggy went slack!

Not necessarily a given sense, the Law of Cause and Effect.

Did my little friends get more, more, more? You bet. One particularly galling example being a friend's pink-ruffled canopy bedroom and her every whim gushingly satisfied.

Mama made most of my clothes; she was gifted. My little friend wore Saks Fifth Avenue dresses and took the whole gestalt of entitlement for granted. Country Club never-never-land; she hadn't a clue.

She also was not learning any skills.

We lived in a forest then on an old 18th century farm, wild with birds and foxes and wild fruits. I thought about it; got over my harumph, and realized myself as fortunate.

Now, in bureaucrat-overreach-land, we have government goon agencies shutting down children's lemonade stands! Even stands set up to raise funds for charities. Save us, oh do, from good-hearted boys and girls. Bring on OSHA and the EPA. 

Just as American jobs are gushing to third world sweat shops and some of our children find themselves in homeless shelters, adrift and un-mentored. Corporate detritus, a different version of: not a clue.

My mother's little brother was a late life astonishment for his parents and continued to dazzle through remarkable lifetime. He was also mentored and encouraged.

When still a curly-headed rapscallion he played cowboys and Indians by himself (taking both roles, being a last sibling) and dying with full sound effects, staggering with arrow or six-shooter wounds, all over the backyard.

The boy's lawyer father and grandfather were good horsemen and outdoorsmen and had worked as cowboys; the family was part Cherokee and Comanche. The boy grew up to become a professor and early computer wizard.

When I came along, he was seven. We became playmates, mischief together, up into the tree house in the old hackberry, and running wild all over a neighborhood of extended family, "Aunts and Uncles" galore.

Before I was fully two-footed and old enough to be interesting, his entrepreneurship had twitched into being.

Newspaper carrier? Nuh unh. He decided on a worm farm business. Fishing worms: sure income producer, and independent-minded, he would set his own hours. Not be hurling papers onto front porches, wolfing a buttered biscuit before school.

My ever-outrageous grandfather's smile flickered for a moment. He chuckled, nodded, and returned from his law office with a document of incorporation, naming the little boy, as President.

A supermarket chain with the say-what? name, of Piggly-Wiggly, had just started up.

Various family and extended family members were to serve in my young uncle's new enterprise, including his father as Laborer/Digger/General Roust-a-bout, and "Uncle" Frank the bank president, as Treasurer.

Bless small towns.

Thus, "Squirmy-Wormy, Inc." was born! And a child affirmed.

How might communities mentor our bright and inventive young minds? ... in what was long known as "the land of opportunity."

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Tree & I, Part 2

Readers have noodged for more, a more satisfying finis to the "Blessed by a Tree" story. The above illustration is from a children's book.

My pine tree friend, unforeseen, in the Wind River Range of Wyoming seemed to hear my cry for help when I couldn't go on. I was engulfed with healing, an emerald light, flowing from the tree.

My trembling and exhaustion grounded; heartbeat steadied to pulse of earth. Tree shimmered back into quietude, gnarled and strong to the wind.

Since that day, I see power company butchery of trees, leaving branch stubs which will not heal, which will rot, as a travesty of unwitting harm.

Before I prune a fruit tree, I study it, and ask its go-ahead to hopefully increase fruitfulness and balance.

As a child, I knew rain forest and deciduous forest as cathedral, as many-life shelter, guardians of springs and freshets and rivulets and cataracts thundering to the sea.

My Wind River, arboreal friend stood alone, an outlier at uppermost treeline, an emissary of woodlands. My hand still trembling a bit, I touched its bark.

When sufficiently recovered, I continued up the steep trail and eventually caught up with the erstwhile friend, the two-footed. The former Army Ranger, who marched between map points and left me in the dust without compunction.

I had morphed from wrung-out straggler to avenging angel, sufficiently restored to sit down by a pretty waterfall, eat a bit of lunch and let 'er rip.

I'd had it with rudeness unconscionable, and started walking back down the mountain from near the crest of the Continental Divide.

I had a Swiss Army knife in my pocket; he had some alarming jungle knife in a sheath on his belt, and ferocity skills. He also had the tent!

None of that mattered. I had food on my back and fury in my blood. I'd gone about a mile when he ran ahead of me; I'd done talking and was not stopping.

He blocked the trail, caught his breath, and apologized.

I glared at him and started up a boulder to get around the impediment.

"No, I mean it," he said. "We've made great time, ahead of schedule..."

I could feel myself swelling like a toad, and gave him a level look. Shifted the weight of my pack.

"Let me carry the fuel canisters," he offered. "We can eat more now; you're losing weight. There's enough food..."

"Hm... It's wildly beautiful here; it fills my heart. I'll likely never pass this way again. I want to see all I can and savour it. Am happy to do that alone. You offer the company of a horse's ass?"

"No. I offer company, and will do what I can to safeguard the way."

After all then, we resumed the backtracking trip, and I did not get eaten by a bear. I fell to my knees in awe of flowers and springs. He waited for me. We remained friends.

I last heard from him years ago, a postcard from Colombia, which left me uneasy about his ever making it to Tierra del Fuego.

But I hope he did, in Dreamtime if not in body.

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