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“I read the news today, O boy…….” from the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

And so it goes. I tripped over these thoughts I had written back at the very beginning of 2008. It just seemed appropriate to post them today. No particular reason.

(penned January 2, 2008)

Have you ever had a Ted Kaczynski moment? I’ve had several. The most recent one was on, Sunday December 30, 2007. I have no particular explanation for why I should have had one then. It wasn’t the anniversary of his arrest or birth or any significant date in his life, like his arrest on April 3, 1996. Perhaps it was triggered by the imminent arrival of the new year. I actually have no idea why I found myself thinking about him at all. In puzzling it out, I have come to the conclusion that it was probably merely one of those moments when the constantly simmering rage that burbles just beneath the surface of my conscious thought blew a bubble that lifted the lid of my brain pot a little and out popped Teddy K. The really strange thing is that having that energy out there didn’t really seem all that strange. It just floated out and mated with the smoke and ash of Teddy K’s free-floating anger that still hovers over us and around us today…. though we don’t often talk about it in those terms. TK was one of the first individuals to be being tarred with the label: ‘terrorist’. And it’s been stylish to label anyone who lashes out against the staus quo in the USofA as a terrorist. Well, as has often been said: one person’s terrorist is another person’s patriot.

Anyway. My Teddy K moment happened in slow motion. I was drinking a mug of coffee at the time, half-listening to the morning news on TV and slowly working my way through the Boston Sunday Globe crossword puzzle when the Kaczynski fractal began to form. It emerged from the compound created by the collision of the tectonic plates of data intake and searching —–(Comprised, among other things,  of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the Patriots eking out a perfect 16 season, a TV commercial ‘approved’ by Mitt Romney, my dog whining for no apparent reason, and trying to recall the name of the director of Animal House so I could fill in 13-across on the crossword)— with the motley, though not uncommon, array of some other contents of my mind—- (random internal physical sensations and emotional embolisms including the thick furry taste of Starbuck’s Christmas-blend coffee, slowly filling sinuses, an accumulating anxiety darting furtively from health to ‘financial security’ to unnamed ‘deadlines’ )—— And suddenly there was the fractal ‘Ted Kaczynski’. His name was sort of half-spelled out but it did not include the moniker attached to him by the media, the ‘Unabomber’. That label I have always felt more aptly describes George W. Bush. The mental advert sign in my mind was set spinning like a ‘processing’ icon and it got to searching out some info about Teddy K., mostly because of the oddness factor. 

What does it all mean? Who knows? Like most other people I will be moving along the continuum into 2008. I will go along from day to day with a constantly changing cluster of external inputs that will attract the usual continual and familiar internal anxieties into new and various constructions, equally odd coalescences that will undoubtedly set off additional unforeseen and unpredictable fractals. These will be my own personal fractals; you, no doubt, will have your own. Some of them may be brilliantly reflective, but most of them, like most of mine, will merely be unremarkable and without sheen, or shine or depth or import. Most of mine will just be more of the scattered debris already adrift in my mental universe moving away from me at the speed of light. As indeed this one is. But I know that Ted K. had has own versions of what I am describing.

Dr. K’s —- yes, he is a Ph.D. He earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard and both a masters and a doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. His methodology was certainly flawed; his way of drawing attention to his message was bloody, but after all he lacked the resources of say, the US government, Exxon, Halliburton or even Rupert Murdock , to hire surrogates to drive his points home. Murdoch of course would figure out a way of profiting off Teddy K. no matter what. Say what you will Ted K. was right about many things concerning this country. His was a deeply concerned and passionate man who believed this country was running amok in the world.

His targets were carefully selected. The damage he did was limited to specific individuals. Maybe, ironically, that’s why the powerful feared him more than they fear the apparently spontaneous “mass” shooters. In general, most PhD-trained homicidal sociopaths are more inventive and clever than your average trailer-trash maniacs and disillusioned, disaffected teenagers…. they don’t generally target malls or even public schools. They look for the real perpetrators or is it just traitors?

Today the price of crude oil hit $100 a barrel. IT probably won’t stay at that level for long, but don’t expect it to drop too far below $90 again for any length of time. That means the perceived and accepted value of a barrel of the all-too-essential sticky black stuff has doubled within a year. We have a hit a benchmark that we weren’t expected to hit this soon; Doesn’t it remind you of those experts who said it would take the polar icecap a hundred years to melt? ‘Tipping point,’ anyone?

And, now that the $100 line has been crossed, despite our best efforts to prevent it, the next goal posts are already being staked out along the sidelines: $110? $125? $150? $200? Of course by the time we reach the equivalent of $150/barrel the price won’t be measured in dollars any more. It will be calculated in Euros or the yuan, or the renminbi, aka RMB. By the way (btw): you should probably make yourself familiar with those words because they will be cropping up more frequently during the next couple of years. They may not appear on the front pages or be mouthed by the talking-heads on the evening ‘news’ of course. After all, we really don’t want to scare the folks in Oklahoma, or the suburbs of NYC for that matter, too much, too soon. But, in a few months, they will turn up on the business pages, those pages ‘inside the fold’ and usually read only by the moneyed elites. Also FYI, here’s some other info that didn’t make the front page of the NY Times (at least I didn’t see it there): the RMB has climbed 6.9 percent against the dollar in the past year AND China’s trade surplus with the USofA soared to 238.13 BILLION U.S. dollars in the first 11 months of 2007. Those figures come from the US General Administration of Customs. That’s 52.2 percent more than the same period a year earlier. I could be wrong but I don’t think GWB mentioned that bit of economic good news in any of his recent ‘the US economy is doing just great’ chats. Oddly enough, that $200 plus billion is less than what we have spent so far on the ‘war’ in Iraq. Also FYI; in case you thought even a symbolic gesture on your part might help to balance this inequity, I hate to be the one to tell you, but it’s probably too late to send back all of those toxic PRC-produced, but designed-in-the-USofA, toys since your kids have probably already gummed them into a pulp. The PRC has a very strict no return policy, as do we. Since we enforce it why shouldn’t they? Right now you might want to take a moment to check on your kids just to make sure they aren’t throbbing into some sort of fit in the far corner of the family room…of course the fit may also have been caused by the ‘food’ in the snack pack they have just eaten, thanks to the Nestle corporation or some other beneficent corporate entity. See, it really is “a small world after all.”

What does it all mean? In both the short and long run it probably means the beginning of the end of USofA domination in the financial markets as well as most commodity markets. It also means that we may no longer have the role of leading actor on the political stage in the real world. Of course, over the next decade or two, there will be occasional spasms while we, now cast in the role of former dominator, thrash about in our death throes. As the drama plays out there will no doubt be an act or two of bathetic whining and posturing by whatever US ‘administration’ is in office. Remember: It’s always important to look good in front of the hometown audience. There may even be a brief few years, no more than a decade, when it looks as though our USofA character, let’s call him ‘Rocky’, that plucky heavyweight fighter, garbed in red-white-and-blue and bristling with arrogant self-serving bluster and military muscle, might stage a comeback. We may even occupy a country or two for a while. But this will be only a brief, and probably very bloody, reminder, to the rest of the world (i.e., everyone not in and of the USofA) of just how self-aggrandizing, nasty, greedy, racist, ruthless and murderous we really were/are (despite our perfect white-toothed smiles and sexy music videos). They will also be reminded by our behavior of just how very much they really hate and despise us. After all, no one loves a bullying over-lord. And after the shit has truly been scattered by the fan, what then? After that, we will be lucky if we get even table scraps. Hell, more likely than not we’ll have to scramble just to pick a few crumbs before Ecuador snatches them. For a while we may be able to push Canada or France around; but in the long run, no self-respecting nation will want to sell us anything, let alone make anything for us, even if we bribe or beg them. Then we’ll begin to discover what the rest of the world has been going through while we partied on. Hoo-Ha!

The initial stages of all of this are beginning to unfold right now. And while there are probably strategies and plans galore in the back rooms, NO ONE IN THE UPPER ECHELONS OF THE FEDERAL CORPORATE GOVERNMENT of the USofA IS EVEN TALKING PUBLICLY ABOUT IT!! Why? Because they are busy trying to convince us that none of it can possibly happen; not to US, they assure us. Some of them truly believe their own BS; they truly believe we are immune from the laws of natural relationships and the physical universe. Yes, yes I know that all of this ranting sounds truly unhinged. And even I hope it is. But I think all of us know, in our heart of hearts and brain of brains that it isn’t. All of this comfort and convenience we enjoy and take for granted isn’t going to unravel right away so certainly a few of us will get to enjoy some of the fruits of our social security checks and our 401-Ks for a few years. But you might want to suggest to your grandkids that they should consider beginning some courses in Mandarin and Hindi, as well as plumbing and farming. If not this week, maybe next. Just don’t wait too long.

And as the TK fractal moment puffed away, the entire room suddenly smelled like the place he lived in more than 4 decades ago…a mixture of lemon and wood smoke. It was, at least, more pleasingly fragrant than the smell of cordite and fracking fluids. 

June 5, 2014

This rant has nothing to do with anything in particular I suppose except to remind me that we live a world in which freedom (in the roughest and most inclusive sense of the word) has diminished and devolved since TK’s 18 year enterprise of disruption, terror and murder. Since his initial bombings in 1978, we have had 9/11, Afghanistan, Mumbai, Benghazi, innumerable school shootings, drones over Pakistan and here as well, and other government and corporate sponsored and sanctioned “interventions” and “actions”. And we have the daily terrorism of our own Congress.

This above was written back in 2008 before the festering disappointment of the Obama Administration and the economic/financial shit storm of late 2008 and 2009, a storm whose clouds have never really blown away. It was before the year 2012 when “Occupy” consciousness had begun to seep into the general culture awareness. It was before the continued escalation of violence against the planet itself and the fabric of life that supports us all. His methods may have been unfortunate, but TK’s message is/was fundamentally sound. Today his weak-limbed attempts at violence seem positively puny in comparison with the intrusive, omnipresent, all-consuming wrathful hubris of a violent, corporatized USA, whose ever-escalating, increasingly unhinged behavior we must endure every day. Hour by hour the lies pile up, the indignities forced on all of us, but always with a smile, accumulate. Will we reach a breaking point? Who knows. And, if we do, what will that moment look like? And what will it bring in its wake? 

 

 

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Artichoke CU

Artichoke “core”

Chard 1

Over-wintered chard in “antiqued” coloration

Chard 2

Mouse eye-view of chard

Garden Buddha FF

Garden Buddha amongst the Chinese leeks

Garden Buddha from above

Garden Buddha from above

Root development on artichoke

Root development on artichoke seedling

over-wintered shallots

Over-wintered shallots

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Miscellaneous pix from Homestead and Meadow Mist Farm

Wintered over greens in hoop house with mouse ploughed trench

(Note: This is a re-posting of a piece I put up here in September of 2010. It was written during a period of time midway in the Obama administration’s first term when it still seemed reasonable to have optimism about his capacities as a leader. There was talk of reviving the economy with actual productive work, though it never got beyond the talking phase and even then seemed more like a highly watered down attempt to recreate FDR’s New Deal. Instead we got no deal, unless you happened be a big corporation or a big bank. The doubts about Obama’s commitment to serving ALL of the people had already begun to blossom. Since then these doubts have been confirmed and amplified over and over. From drones to surveillance to servicing the relentless rapacious appetites of the elites of finance and corporations, Obama has proven where his allegiances truly reside. His dazzling smile now seems more feral than friendly.)

I have no shovel-ready answers about how to definitively dispel despair, in fact I’m not sure I should. Despair provides a goad and an inspiration. (Much of the time even knowing how to pose the right questions about dealing with our unraveling world in a clear and forthright fashion is a struggle.) The inability to be absolutely certain about what actions to take can be an abiding problem. I believe, the answers as to how to cope are at once personal and local; they are rooted in where we are living and will arise from that source. Not to beat too hard the old drum of “Think global, Act Local”, but because those of us who are looking for sanity, justice and ecological health for the entire array of species on the planet do not have a single answer, we almost always wilt and fail against the forces of corporate and military thinking — forces that always have a unified tri-purpose: profit, power and control. But because of our smallness and our sense of scale, we can be more resilient, more flexible, more nimble and more effective in creating long-term vitality. And, to be forthright, it is the righteous and moral way to go.

Our entire nation has been fed and has swallowed, for the most part, hook, line and sinker, the notion of the absolute rightness, a divine rightness in fact, of corporate capitalism and the supremacy of individuality. Though these are, in fact, opposite and opposing intellectual positions, their natural contrariness has been cleverly blended together by manipulating politicians, advertisers and nattering hucksters into a blurred amalgam sold under various labels as the American Dream. This ‘dream’ is first and foremost a product, a commodity. It is a product that requires constant infusions of propaganda in the form of advertising, and the relentless pilfering of our planet’s resources to maintain its hold on the collective mind and pocket book. And it’s not just fossil fuel energy and minerals that are being used up to bolster this house of cards. Vast swaths of tropical forests, entire mountain tops and rich verdant landscapes as well as  all the life that dwells there, are being laid waste to keep us in plastic wrap, I-phones, frozen pizza and SUVs.

This relentless devastation is going on with our complicity. We may not personally see our role in clear-cutting the Amazon Basin, but it is going on nonetheless. Despite the incessant and relentless greenwashing and anthropomorphizing of nature and a few very minor triumphs here and there (starring the Snail Darter, for example), despite lavish and lovely films about ‘nature’, e.g., the “World”, the fact is that we are continuing to trash and poison the planet at an ever-increasing rate. Our surrogates are busy, busy, busy and they have no restraint. Who are these engines of commerce and ‘progress’ who act for us, if not in our name, but with our tacit approval and endorsement? Why do we give a license to all those corporations, like Monsanto, and Cargill, and MacDonald’s and Nestle and Toyota, whose convenient products we buy, and the military, whose wars we don’t really protest, and the government, whose policies that support such violence and destruction to act on our behalf? Unfortunately, much, probably most, of what we have already perpetrated cannot be undone even if we were to stop right now. As we contemporary Neros fiddle away, spending our time and our dwindling $$$ shopping, all of the damaging practices that keep us in thrall to the ‘American Dream’ continue 24 hours a day seven days a week. To rephrase Barry Goldwater: “extremism in the defense of corporate profits and power is no vice.”

So what can you do?

1-     Become intimate with your food. Learn how to cook. Do whatever you can to get involved directly in gardening and growing at least some of your own food. Avoid giving in to the temptation of prepared meals, those plastic-swaddled specialties that are laced with fructose and nuked in the microwave. Besides your time, robust health is one of your greatest assets. The internet is an almost limitless source of information, but only hands in the soil and juice on the cutting board is going to provide real experience.

2-    Resist the urge to spend any more than you have to. Vote with your $$$. Shun the corporate sirens of convenience whenever you can. Another set of dishes, or another electronic gadget isn’t going to bring you fulfillment, it’s probably going to bring you debt. I realize that this kind of restraint is particularly difficult for most of us.

3-    Spend your time, probably your most valuable resource, on endeavors that bring joy and satisfaction and a feeling of community into your life. All of us are going to need ‘the kindness of strangers’ more than ever in the coming years.

4-    Become a ‘Green Wizard’. Go here for more information:http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/. Make or do something ‘useful’ and practical. Make a bookshelf. Refinish an old piece of furniture. Try carving a spoon from a single piece of wood. The possibilities are infinite.

5-    Consider learning more about ways to cope more effectively or even create a more satisfying lifestyle by looking into ideas like ‘permaculture’ (http://permacultureprinciples.com/), Transition Initiative (http://transitionculture.org/), Co-housing (http://www.cohousing.org/), etc.

6-    Use the internet to inform yourself of what is going on around the planet rather than relying on the big media, FOX, NBC, CBS, etc., for information. Start by learning about ‘peak oil’ (http://resilience.org/).

7-    Stop watching TV altogether. If you can’t bear to throw it out — which is a better idea than giving it away – then find some image or images that you love, maybe some your own photos or clippings from magazines, and use the screen to make a changing montage that reflects your growing independence from the infestation of corporate viruses. Don’t just inoculate yourself with ‘hope’ – we all have come to learn just how shallow that concept can be – DO SOMETHING to free yourself from addiction to the faux promises of company shills.

8-    Get up early to watch the sun rise in a sacred place.

This list, or some variation of it will be repeated and repeated in this blog. Repetition, after all, is one of the principal tools of persuasion. It is the most effective, if least obvious trick of advertising, propaganda, and political campaigns. It’s time those of us in the Resilience Resistance began to explore its potential. It may be a little while before we get it right and manage to find the right tone and the right language, but we’ll keep on trying. Tempus fugit, though.

Awaiting the New Year

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The garden has been laid to rest for the year. We are in a “wait and see” mode until warmer and sunnier days are upon us again. The one crop already in the ground, garlic, is sprouting and spreading its roots as well as pushing up some tentative sprouts I imagine. In some years those tiny tendrils have already poked above the surface by now, but not this year, not yet. It’s just as well, we have several night of single digit temperatures forecast and it’s only the end of December. Patience furthers, as the I Ching says.

Except for a few warm days, we’ve had a “normal” late fall and early winter, though a bit on the dry side. During the last weeks of October and early November I covered the beds with 3 to 4 inches of a loam/compost mixture. Over that was spread salt marsh hay and/or shredded leaves. In a couple of beds I planted winter rye. Most of the seed, at least that not finding its way into the gullets of wandering mobs of local turkeys, managed to sprout before the cold weather shut down plant activity until spring. There is still, however, some greenery percolating along. Inside the hoop house a few plants are still acookin’ beneath their blanket of row cover, bubble wrap and fiberglass house insulation. When I last checked, even after a couple of nights of single digit temperatures, they were looking fresh and robust. The next three months of cold weather is going to drop even more challenges on them, but I am betting on their grit and determination, as well some dumb good fortune, to get them through the winter to eating size. With such optimism in mind I am planning on starting some more greens soon, especially Bok Choy and Tat Soi. I’ll transplant those out there in mid or even early February. And right after that it will be time to start some other seeds.

Some reflections on last season’s growing efforts: We got too many plants into the ground too late last season to have a good harvest. We also had heavy rains in June which left the fields at Meadow Mist soggy. One of them was even underwater for about three weeks. Had to kiss the peppers and tomatoes adios. We planted our pole beans too late to get a decent yield and compounded the lateness with fitful watering. The Brussels sprouts were attacked by pests, I still haven’t determined what yet, that infected the plants with something that resembled above-ground root knot. The plants failed to set any “sprouts” at all and the stems grew either in contorted shapes or bulged out like bloated bladders. I intend to thoroughly test the soil in the spring for both nutrient deficiencies and the presence of unwanted organisms. These experiences just fire the determination to plough ahead. All in all I am hungry for the season to begin.

My efforts to continue the humanizing (of captive nature) and the anthropomorphic domesticating of the life I am surrounded by as I occupy this particular piece of the planet seem at once puny and gloriously worthwhile. Certainly working with the soil and making some efforts to partner with the microbes and other creatures that reside there and have congress of various kinds and degrees with my sown crops is worthwhile. At least in my view it is worthwhile. It certainly beats pushing forms and papers around, or hawking worthless and unnecessary wares that will eventually accumulate in some forlorn landfill or vacant lot somewhere. Besides I’d rather eat my own sometimes blemished and less-than-perfect veggies than the artificially pumped up crap from the supermarkets or even the precious produce from Whole Foods. DO I imagine however that I can feed myself and the rest of household on the food I grow here. Not a chance!

Here on our small piece of suburban real estate we do try to grow as much of our own food as possible. But we don’t have the space or the right conditions to grow more than a small share of the food we eat. We plant about 1800 square feet of crops. Of that, more than half of the area gets less than full sun. About a third of it gets no more than five hours per day at the sun’s zenith. There’s even less sunlight than that at the beginning and end of the growing season. We can’t grow nearly enough of some of our favorite vegetables, and some we can’t manage to grow at all. When the growing season is over, there is never enough to put up in storage to get us through more than a month of so of winter. Even at the height of the season, while we have an abundance of some things, we have a dearth of others. It’s always a balancing act and a precarious one at that. I am very proud of our efforts but I am also thoroughly sobered by them. We do pretty damn well on production and we get to eat nourishing organic food. But realistically these home-grown crops form only a third of our food intake. Some of the rest of our freshest food comes from my efforts at a nearby farm, Meadow Mist. But even this addition to our larder comprises only a minor portion of our consumption. It isn’t likely that this will change as long as we live here. We could lease land for growing somewhere, but being self-sufficient in food production is a goal we will never achieve. And we don’t really expect or even want to. Feeding oneself is invariably and, most importantly, a cooperative and group effort. And anyway, I have no wish to be a self-sufficient loner. The hunter-gatherer existence has long since ceased to be an option.

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(Just a little John Singer Sargent water color to brighten the day.)

Palm Reading

I suffer from the heart break of soil-lessness.
My hands are soft and too, too clean;
There are no smudges of cow shit
No dirt-lined cracks in my palms
My nails are long and even;
There are no bits of muck
Pressed into the quick.
When I fold my hands in grace
No scent of compost rises to my nostrils.
My lifeline is etched on either hand
But they yield no hint of fields or flowers;
They are merely maps without context
On the face of pink, pasty planets.
Already I long for Spring.