Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chem Trails

I had the opportunity today to familiarize myself with a house in an outlying, affluent suburb. While it was not the most egregious example of conspicuous consumption, compared to the life I lead it was a revelation of sorts. It was the dream house of the previous owners, Mike Smith and Sara Anderson (not their real names, though equally innocuous), who had the house built on a filled-in wetland, in a cul-de-sac development. They fell out of love and into hatred. There was a pile of garbage out front, about two-thirds of which could easily sell at a thrift store. I pulled out several lawn chairs, a twenty dollar pair of swimming goggles, and some fun Halloween decorations that will work well in the store I'll be managing. One bag was filled with the trophies a young woman won playing basketball.

The house, and the neighborhood, is very much everything that is wrong with America, and why America is doomed. I sometimes think of my house as too big for me, though by current code I could not legally build a house this small; my house would fit in the great room in the basement of that house. Everywhere there, fine woodwork and fancy tile and counter tops, the kind of material we are plundering the world to attain, installed for people who do not know themselves. There was more money in window treatments than I have earned in any one year in this lifetime.

I drank beer while I wandered around, observing the landscaping equal to their names, critiquing the whole product, knowing the vast majority of people in this country - the very vast majority - would say, "What a beautiful house and yard!" The American Dream. I heard the new owners talking about blocking up the wood fireplace. I tried to talk them out of it, saying it might prove useful in a power outage. I didn't say they might some winter feed most of the house into it to stay alive. Perhaps such a big house will prove useful in that regard. Which is not the kind of talk I share with people who have not yet awakened to the impending reality of resource constraints.

I came home and took a nap to sober up. After, I picked wild strawberries on my boulevard, weeded one of the tomato beds and planted some heat loving flowers that were still in small pots. I wandered over to the community garden to check on the condition of the mulberry tree. On a long bike ride this morning I scouted several mulberry. The serviceberries are ripe as well. I scored two glass carboys for five dollars at a garage sale recently, and I'm hoping to make mulberry wine. I might even try that with serviceberries, though I might just dry them.

A neighbor walked by late in the evening, relating that he had called the mayor's office about the city workers who fixed my curb recently, where they had replaced the stop box last fall, which I am still paying $300 a month for on threat of condemnation (it is a hard monthly pill to swallow, as there was never any real evidence anything was wrong with the stop box). There were about two guys working, and about eleven others standing around watching them work, laughing and mocking each other. It looked like fun. I told my neighbor the stories of harassment I have received from the city. His response was, "If you took better care of your yard, perhaps that wouldn't happen to you," and then proceeded to tell me that I was dragging down property values. This particular neighbor has a habit of asking me for help, and then after I help him, he returns the favor by tearing me down. He claims to speak for a contingent of my neighbors, who evidently do not have the courage to confront me themselves. I don't think he has called the city to complain about me, but someone has. Or more than one person, likely.

Dragging down property values? I took this abuse, as I always do from him, because I am not interested in feuding with my neighbors. Yes, my yard is a little wild, but that is much the point. There is intention everywhere in this yard, and I am on much better terms with nearly every plant in it than I am with any but a small number of my neighbors. Dragging down property values? Who was handing out home loans like candy? Who securitized those loans? Who cut twenty million jobs, refuses to create any, even as they enrich themselves? So, I deserve to be a target of the city inspections department because I treat my yard more like an organic farm, than a sterile golf course? All I said was, "The yard is in process. I would appreciate it if you took notice."

My neighbor on the opposite corner has the sort of pristine landscape this other neighbor imagines to be good for property values. He is out there every few days with his bottle of poison. Poison, poison everywhere. My sister recently sent me a video about chem-trails, the notion that a cabal of elite are spraying aluminum-oxide in the contrails of jets, to reflect the sun, in an attempt to lessen the threat of climate change. The very next day I read in the work of Joel Salatin, Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, that he believes mad cow disease is not likely caused by the official story - feeding carrion to cows - but by heavy use of certain pesticides and high concentrations in some areas of heavy metals, especially aluminum. As to these chem trails, I take a dim view of conspiracy theories generally. But my experience of late with these city bureaucrats has led me to believe, there is no limit to what people will do if they believe they understand better than you do what is in your best interest.

I sometimes wonder if the only thing my culture will know what to do with me, because I partake of the Earth to heal myself and the Earth, is to put me in a cage. I am not a threat to anyone, except perhaps to another's sense of what is true. I keep hearing repeating in my head, 'Do Not Be Afraid. Do Not Be Afraid.' I can't prove that message is true, but I choose to believe it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I spent most of this Saturday working with a new friend, together sanding his hardwood floor. It went very well. When we were done, he brought the sanding equipment to my house. I just spent the last five hours prepping the white oak hardwood floor in my sunroom, and the bathroom, to sand tomorrow. A week ago I pulled the (plain ugly) tan carpet off the sunroom floor to reveal the hardwoods; tonight, I pulled the (plain ugly) tan tile, from the front entry (part of the sunroom) and the bathroom floor.

Not long after I moved into this house I re-finished the maple hardwoods in the bedroom, living room and the dining room. That is, after removing the tan carpet, the carpet pad, the tan laminate, and the ancient carpet under that (asbestos embedded linoleum tile as the third layer in the dining room, which once had been the kitchen.) Prior to me buying it, this house was a flip house, common in the housing boom, the owners buying the house, adding a few thousand dollars in adjustments and then asking a few ten-thousand above the purchase price. I knew that, when buying it, and talked them down, though not nearly enough. The owners before that just piled flooring on top of flooring, presumably because it was too much effort to remove the old layer and dispose of it. Why anyone would cover hardwoods with synthetic crap in the first place, is intimately related to the toxic nature of everything, everywhere today. Last I heard, we are manufacturing 80,000 chemicals in America, of which our precious protectors in Government regulate about nine.

In the bathroom and the front entry, they tiled directly on top of the hardwoods. Five years later, most of the tiles were popping up. No professional did that. They likely hired a professional to carpet the hardwoods in the sun room. A professional? I spent not less than three hours pulling staples out of the white oak. Every time I thought I was done, I found twenty-eight more. I think I'm done now, but there are probably twenty-eight more. 'Get a real skill,' I kept thinking, about the idiot who put those staples in. 'I'm just doing my job, paying for my kid,' I heard in my head. 'That's admirable', I replied, 'Now go get a real skill.' There is nothing about a house I can't build or remodel, but I won't lay carpet, unless it's a responsible carpet tile from a company that is conscious about it's true impact in this world (I don't know what's going on with Interface Global at this point, but they were once a rare as rare can be model of corporate responsibility). There is hardly a more toxic example of environmental indifference, than the making of hum-drum, take-it-for-granted carpet.

I can sand my hardwoods without asking permission from my government, but I can't gut the bathroom. Too bad, it's already in process. The sink, toilet and floor tile are gone. I'm going to remove the ridiculous jacuzzi tub the flippers put in, the only virtue of which is, it's deep. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, maybe bury it under a downspout and make a raingarden. The pump however might prove useful, when I start experimenting with in-floor, solar radiant heating. As for what I'll do without a toilet or a functioning shower? I lived off-the-grid in this house all last summer. I'll figure it out.

I didn't ask permission from my city government to gut my bathroom, because I only have the sanding equipment until Sunday evening, and I needed to get under the toilet and vanity to get to all the tile. It turns out, however, I can't sand the floor in the bathroom, because the maple is missing around the toilet. The reader might be thinking, why would he want to have hardwoods in the bathroom, anyway? Well, let me tell you, hardwoods with about six or eight coats of polyurethane is infinitely better than tile on top of hardwoods, which is a recipe for mold. I didn't ask permission for what I've done, also because I can't afford permits; and I know what I'm doing, and I don't need a bureaucrat to hassle me about everything I do, every step of the way. Whatever I do, it will be infinitely more appropriate than anything the flippers did, and quite a bit more than I would be required to do under code. Which relates to the inherent flaw in the inspections process.

I am a man of integrity. I am not going to do anything to this house, or any other house, that would compromise the integrity of it. Why then do we suppose that inspectors, with likely little common sense or actual building experience, and hardly a shred of discretion, to be flexible depending on the particular circumstance, are necessary to protect whom? There wasn't any inspector overseeing what went on in the flipping of this house, because the people who did this work lacked integrity and weren't about to involve anyone in the process but the people they bought the material from. The only time inspectors are involved, you can be sure the homeowner or the contractor has integrity, or, if they don't, they are simply afraid of the government. Most contractors these days know what is up to code and what is not. Most contractors are going to meet code or exceed it, whether the project is inspected or not. Codes are a minimum standard designed by inspectors to protect the job security of inspectors. Codes provide tyrannical like powers to supposed public servants, while preventing real innovation, and requiring a far greater expense in material and labor, often with less actual building integrity as the end result. You don't see many old houses collapsing, though built before anyone conceived of inspections. The stories of collapsing houses built after the inspections regime was established, are legion. As to the real cost, when I was contracting officially, I told my clients, if you want to involve city inspectors, expect the process to take a third as long and cost about 25% more. One hundred percent opted to skip inspections. I have never had a call back to repair anything that would have required inspections.

"Inspections are necessary to protect houses and homeowners from unscrupulous contractors," someone somewhere is thinking. Well, if a homeowner doesn't have sense enough to hire a man of integrity, then he probably shouldn't be remodeling his house. That, or he should do his homework to find a man of integrity. They exist (though it takes one to know one, and having the integrity to know integrity takes more work than just asking around). As to the moral superiority of government inspectors? That is a mythology that has been ruinous for America, which we can serve our country and community well, to divest ourselves of. I've known plenty of contractors who were not good men; plenty of others who are. There are honest inspectors, but I've met only one, of the few dozen I've had to deal with. Petty tyrants, and intransigent acolytes of the gods of calcified and inflexible understanding, mostly. That, or just plain useless. I'm recalling a job site, and a plumbing inspector we waited three weeks for, a delay which neither we nor the homeowner could afford. He showed up at ten a.m. randomly one day, so drunk we could smell him before he was halfway up the stairs he could hardly climb. Once at the top of the stairs, without being able to see anything he was there to inspect, he did a 360, said, "looks good", and stumbled back down the stairs, smiling like a sacrosanct mad man. Approved. Moving on.

It's hard to talk about these things without sounding like a Tea Party crank. The Tea Party loves to talk about integrity, personal responsibility, self-reliance, ya-da ya-da ya. In practice, however, these devotees of the free-market prefer a highly regulated world, with special concessions for the big dogs. As if corporations are the pinnacle of virtue, and not the dark-force entities they in fact are. If you can find a Tea Partier with a sense of responsibility toward the biosphere, and thus all people and all living things, I'll show you a few thousand who think natural-gas hydro-fracturing is a grand old American ideal. Rape the land as equivalent to apple pie. But I'm beginning to wander off-topic.

I haven't yet called JV, the city inspector who is targeting me about my driveway. In a way, I'm avoiding it, because really I just want to be left alone, as if that problem is simply going to go away. The more I put it off, however, the more the idea grows, that a crew of oblivious city employees are going to show up with a front-end loader and a dump truck, and cart my garden away, just doing their job on orders from above. Which is probably just me conflating this woman with the evil she represents. I'm resolved to call her Monday, and initiate who knows what.

As for gutting the bathroom, and the sanding of floors, that's me investing in this house, and this community, living in this space as opposed to simply camping in it, temporarily. Healing this house as I'm healing the land, with an eye on actually one day inviting an actual woman to share this space with me, which for me is sort of like, just about the most radical thing I can conceive of. I actually have a particular woman in mind, a true warrior woman valkyrie, though that idea, having not actually met her yet, is like almost all of my ideas, which begin as radical delusion, outside the pale of what is socially mainstream, which prove either to be delusion, or a curious bit of genius.

I hope you don't mind me interjecting a bit of the personal, but off-the-grid as I conceive it is more than just mechanical; and the only saving grace I can imagine is to cloak myself in the truth of my existence, as I live it. Which is why I so despise thinking tied irrevocably to code and regulation, which is stagnation and ego-inflation for those who otherwise fear themselves - in this universe that is vastly more mysterious than any of us can suppose.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Second Thoughts

I'm back.

It turned out, that without this blog, I felt lost, and somewhat helpless. There is power in the truth. And with another looming battle with city bureaucrats, because I tore up part of my driveway to plant a garden, a part of my driveway I have never used and would not need even if I owned a vehicle, I feel called to write about that too. That, and the words of support I have received from readers, slight in number but broad in kindness and sincerity, compels me to rekindle the fire that lead me to start writing here. There was a time when I thought I would maintain a blog until the Internet goes down forever. I'm thinking like that again. I hope the reader will forgive my spell of self-pity, a weakness I am not at all immune to. Nine thousand post views in one year is, I have come to recognize, infinitely greater than none. Thank you for your support.

Continuing, I will revisit the driveway situation. Since I moved into this house in 2006 I have dreamt of fruit trees where the driveway is. I finally gave myself permission this year to begin that process, tearing up much of the fossil fuel-derived asphalt, while leaving more than enough driveway to allow motor-vehicle access to the garage. In the process of preparing the garden beds throughout the yard, I moved approximately 200 wheelbarrows of soil to the driveway, layering leaves, then soil, then leaves, and so on, building soil. I planted vegetables and flowers and nitrogen fixers. The city inspector promptly sent me a letter, that I was only allowed asphalt, concrete or pavers, and I had to be in compliance with the order by June 12, or I would be charged $100 for each subsequent inspection, with the threat of criminal and civil penalties.

I called the inspector twice. He did not respond. I called the inspections office, and was put in touch with his supervisor. This man seemed reasonable. He said he would have the inspector take a picture, and if I still had a driveway, there wouldn't be a problem. I called him back several days later. He had nothing to say about my driveway, instead bringing up the extension the city gave me, after I challenged them about their attempt to condemn my house because I'm not using natural gas, a battle in which he played no part. He informed me that the decision was no longer his, that I would have to speak with JV, the very same woman who told me that people like me need to apply for assistance from Centerpoint Energy, and that if I didn't pursue that and hook the gas back up, she would condemn my house and have me removed from it by the police.

Ms JV had been chastened by the City Attorneys office, for her clear indifference to that pesky Fourth Amendment, that part in our Constitution about unreasonable search and seizure. I may be wrong, but I'm assuming she is planning to take vengeance upon me - as soon as she is done kicking people out of their houses in North Minneapolis, in the aftermath of the tornado that tore through that poorest of Minneapolis neighborhoods. All in the name of health and safety, of course, just like it says on their written orders of violation, right after the part where they accuse you of being a criminal, for violating whatever code they have deemed appropriate. Any rational discussion about what is in fact appropriate, being out of the question. Though their orders all say too, that if you have any questions at all, feel free to call, and they will be sure to address them. To tell you either that they have no answer for you, or that the only thing that matters is what the bureaucrat decides what matters, even if that thing is entirely contrary to anything even resembling the truth.

If you think I overstate it, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Joel Salatin's book, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal. The Salatin Family Farm, also known as Polyface Farm, was profiled in Michael Pollan's outstanding book The Omnivores Dillema. Polyface Farm is a model of what all farms should be. Reading his book, my problem with the Minneapolis City office of pharonic inspectors seems quaint. His experience makes it clear that truth is not a thing the typical bureaucrat is after. Power, yes. Cruelty, indeed. Truth? Irrelevant. Knowing that he has gone through much worse, however, does not lessen the frustration I feel that there are petty tyrants conspiring to harm this American.

Home of the free? The truth is irrelevant and even contrary to the aims of the bureaucrat, because the application of the truth would often mean the bureaucrat would be out of a job. There may be a place for the city inspections office, maybe, but coming after me isn't anything but the generating of revenue, and the petty application of arbitrary power. I'm not doing anybody any harm, except perhaps myself, and that isn't any of the city government's god-damned business. I tend to think of the typical tea partier as a twit and a crank, who would rail against the overreach of government, while more than happy to support the petty and arbitrary use of government power against anyone who isn't a conservative Christian - but I certainly won't mind at all if my government shuts down, indefinitely. Maybe that's what it's going to take for us to start taking responsibility for our community, rather than handing tyrannical powers to government rule makers, who inevitably abuse it? We're on the verge of that, a government shutdown, here in Minnesota. But somehow, I think, the politicos are going to come together and save themselves, and the bureaucracies our taxes and fees and penalties and confiscated property maintain.

I was supposed to call Ms JV, Monday. I didn't. Tuesday, I'm contemplating taking the light rail to that retail vortex, Mall of America, and Best Buy, to see if I can return that ridiculous digital camera that broke down after 500 pics, and maybe see about equipment for recording phone conversations. That sort of thing has never been my style, but I don't see many ways to protect myself at this point, from ravenous code enforcers with sadistic tendencies. That might actually prove to be fun, if I can afford it. I'm not sure I can afford not to do it.

Yeah, it feels great to be blogging again. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


It was 102 and 103 degrees here in Minneapolis, Monday and Tuesday respectively. It was about 50 degrees Thursday morning. The culture is so screwed up we've gone and given nature a bi-polar disorder. People were complaining about the heat, but I remember clearly the seven consecutive weeks this winter, when the temperature never climbed above freezing. Wednesday was gorgeous, and evidently a Mexican gray wolf at the Minnesota Zoo thought so too, escaping his confines through a hole in the fence, and then leaping another fence, eight feet tall. If you happen to be near an eight foot wall, the height of most interior residential walls, imagine a gray wolf leaping over it, keeping in mind that this particular gray wolf lived its entire life in a cage. How much do you suppose this wolf wanted to be free? The zoo said the breach in the fence was caused by an unusually heavy snow load. I know the last snow in the Twin Cities finally melted on Wednesday, but that was once a small mountain on the Midway Stadium parking lot, piled there by the city of St Paul. Few seem to be asking the obvious question: you guys don't check your fences? They shot and killed the wolf. Better to die the way he did, than to die old, in a cage.

For long-time readers: the city went and ripped out every one of the Regent serviceberry shrubs I wrote about last July. To replace them, it appears, with long rows of identical variegated ornamental grasses, like the typically sterile, homogenized retail/commercial landscaping in a seventh-tier suburban parking lot.

I was in a dark place when I published the last post. The negredo of the alchemists, the fertile shit of birth and regeneration. There is nothing attractive or pleasant about it, though from the alchemical perspective, it is necessary, and the true creative source out of which all gold originates. This came back to me as I was sitting on the patio at the Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood, one afternoon last Saturday. There were two women sitting at a table near me, a crone, and a young, beautiful West African, speaking French. I was hostile to the world, but the weather was mild, I was softened by the mixed cultivar and wild flowers on the boulevard, so I sat there with my coffee, closed my eyes and drifted into the cadence of their conversation - though I do not understand the language. The West African seemed to key with my attention, and became more and more animated, joyous in her expression, and my spirit was in turn lifted.

The Goddess has been good to me in many ways. I have come to see women as manifestations of the Goddess; of course, to say so, that would mean that men are manifestations of the God - and each of us manifestations of both, by degrees. That's not easy for me, as I'm inclined to think God doesn't have much credibility at this point, so much that is ugly having been done, is being done, in His name, with such great success. Still, I have come to see the friction or interaction between these opposites, the feminine and the masculine, as the engine of creation. Out of unity, harmony flows. Starting with oneself.

I had been asking, of myself, of the Goddess, what is the point? Why am I here, in this house, on this land, without the means to pay for it? What really am I doing? In the summer of 2008 I called out to the Goddess, offering myself up in service. Shortly after, I met Val Kyrie. That fall, I walked away from this house, and my life here, to be with her and her kids. Since, I wrote a book, I have educated myself about the economy, about plants, about the soil, about the nature of existence, I have returned to this house where I wrote another book. I continue to educate myself. That no one understands what I am doing or why I do what I do, has been a great distress to me. What is the point of any of it, any of the advances I have made in my interior life, in my body, if the world is indifferent, if there is so little return on this investment, beyond my own satisfaction, that what I am doing I know to be true to myself?

I've been feeling the shamanic call. I am desperate, in fact, to test what I have been hearing about psychedelics. The doors of my perception are in dire need of cleansing. I planted the olilioqui, but only three of the 36 seeds I planted germinated. I would like to try three grams of mushrooms, but I don't have the means right now. There are no known psychedelics native to Minnesota, and I don't have the kind of friends who have access to the black market, and I don't really want the plants or the shrooms if I don't know where they came from. My attitude is, if I can grow it, then I should be able to consume it. My government says I can't, making it fundamentally illegitimate. Being fundamentally illegitimate, however, has never stopped any government from oppressing, not least this one. So what am I to do?

I've been spending my evenings listening to Terence Mckenna on youtube*. He has become like a mentor to me. I have never heard any man speak so eloquently, so intelligently, so gently and so profoundly, about the human experience. Like many, I thought I was alone in my thinking until I heard Terence speak. That he is likely unintelligible to most has little to do with Terence. I found a recording of a woman asking him about heavenly blue morning glory. The seeds were his first psychedelic experience (though don't go out, buy them and consume them, as they apparently make you nauseous, and many seed companies soak them in poison.) I've grown those! I'm growing a lot more now.

Then I learned reed canary grass, Phalaris arundinaceae, is a source of Dimethyltryptamine, DMT, also known as the spirit molecule. Reed canary grass is one of those noxious invasives that has come to dominate the landscape, which is ironic if the word about DMT is true. That would make Minnesota something like the promised land. I sang to it as I clipped the leaves on the shore of Minnehaha Creek. I found a juicer at Savers for $3.77. The first round, the juicer bounced around until one of the latches broke. The second round, the second latch broke, the top flew off onto the floor, plant fibers were flung around the kitchen, and the cutting apparatus spun through the air, landing in a cast iron pan at about 100 rpm/second. The juice is drying in the oven at 170 degrees.

I was working this afternoon, mudding sheetrock at a jobsite when I decided to call my father. He was not well, having just gone through a difficult surgery. Twice now, people have come to him, asking about me. Evidently, because they saw me on tv, a local news station having interviewed me about the city trying to condemn this house - which he is currently paying for. Ominously, he told me not to do anything else to bring him any more trouble than he already has.

Though he was referring to the house and yard, I started thinking about my books, and this blog. I haven't shown anyone the second book, and I'm not sure I'm going to. I write as much with the sword, as I do for healing. I have tried to be honest. I have tried to be clear. I have tried to be entertaining, and courageous. I have endeavored above all not to take myself too seriously (not always with success, I think). I had conceived of this blog as a means to help others navigate these difficult times. Most of the response has been positive, which I am immensely grateful for. That said, my friend Chad asked me recently how many page views there have been. I said 9,000. He asked, "A day?" "Since I started." "That's nothing," was his honest if not entirely accurate reply.

I meant to bring healing to the world, and I have, by healing myself. I had thought to share that. I had imagined the books I've been writing as a trilogy, as a kind of guide, not as a path, but as a challenge, as a means to help the reader give him or herself permission to follow what he or she knows to be true to him or herself. I had thought to use the proceeds to re-build this house as a model of what is possible off-the-grid. It is also true, that any success would likely meet with equal or greater force by dominators and righteous oppressors. I am not afraid. But there is little support in this world for radical anarchist gorilla gardening shamanic alchemical hermeticists in service to the Goddess. And any trouble I encounter, though it come from the blind and the cruel, will be seen by my father as a betrayal on my part - and it has never been my intention to harm him. I have wanted to write a book since I was a child. I have written two; I am thinking of them now as a sacrifice unto God. As to the Goddess, she will remain, I suspect, as she has always been toward me, mostly indifferent.

I will continue to heal. To heal the land, to heal this house, and those I come in contact with, who are open to it. I will continue on the shamanic path, in service to the Goddess. I will continue to work to take this house off the grid. But I think I will do so now, quietly. This blog has been fun; I'm going to miss it. Thank you for reading. Blessings to you, and those close to you,

William Hunter Duncan

* I leave you with this from Mckenna. This is as clear a delineation of what I am and believe, and who we are, as I have heard from anyone. Timothy Leary introduces him. You are welcome to skip the Q&A, though there's gold there too, especially at the very end.
aka Terence Mckenna: Unfolding the Stone

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Q: How Honest Do I Want to Be?

Wednesday morning I finished the planting. There will be more planting, expanding of the gardens, and infrastructure to build, but the bulk of the planting is done. As a capstone, I planted datura seed in four different places, in the wildflower bed along the north fence, and on the sliding hill next to the sun room and the pond. The packet says 21-42 days before germination, so I don't necessarily expect to see mature plants this year, if any; and even if I do, I don't expect to experiment with the plant for its psychoactive gifts, as datura is not a plant to be trifled with. One should expect to have a great many plant allies, and at least two faithful human guides, to be asking help from the spirit of datura.

I've also planted 36 Ololiuqui seeds, Turbina corymbosa, a vine with psychoactive gifts, and about two thousand Nicotiana sylvestris and Nicotiana rustica, two South American tobacco plants sacred to shaman. None are showing any signs of germinating, but about a dozen little sprouts of sylvestris in two single-serving yogurt cups, and compared to most of the other plants around them, these seem reluctant. While I consider cannabis to be an ally, three of the last four times I've smoked a cigarette, sober or drunk, American Spirit or chemically sodden Phillip Morris, I've vomited. When you begin to think of some plants as potential allies, you find that they are likely to test you, and that is not likely to be pleasant. And if they give, they seem to give most to those who are honest, which is a thing that can't be faked to a plant.

There is also a perfectly rational explanation, why all my seedlings are struggling, not just the shamanic plants but the vegetables also. Right now, the surface of my garden beds is an inhospitable place. Even the uber-prolific Chenopodium species, the red* and the green Lambs Quarter, are having a hard time getting started, though outside the beds they're doing fine; I'm eating more of that than anything else in my yard right now. The soil is carbon rich, and hummus and nitrogen deficient. I've planted red clover, which I'll cut periodically to help alleviate the nitrogen deficiency, but even they are having a hard time in these harsh conditions. It was only last year that it was sod, in most places. The top inch dries out quick (I probably should have spread what compost I had, even though it wasn't ready). It's also been a cool and gray month, on the whole.

Which has lead to a peculiar state of mind for me, as I found myself raging around the house looking for a glove that turned out to have been resting on the back step for who knows how long; perhaps the blooming golden alexander emerging from a crack at the base of the steps, the most attractive in my yard, knows? There is chaos in my life, though considerable order and a greater balance, progress, and yet it is difficult for me sometimes to remember, what is the point? I feel like I'm doing what I feel called to do. I'm writing books. I maintain a blog. I garden. But I'm alone as I've always been, and my house is still a mess, and there's no money to do the things I know I can do to the house - and no one fucking cares, I hear myself repeating.

Am I depressed? That's not the word for what I am. A curious idea, the sane asking the insane what it means to be Homo sapien sapien on planet Earth. At least five billion people on this planet not having any idea what that really means; and the other two billion aren't the ones excelling in this current hyper-active state of epic super-madness. Here's a great idea: increase demand until you've exhausted supply globally, while covering most of the planet with armament, and pollute everything in sight. That we are not helping each other prepare for resource constraints is not the craziest thing there ever was, but it's surely one of the saddest.

After finding the glove where it's long been, I stood for a long time listening to the radio. Manufacturing, slowing. Housing, slowing. Hiring, slowing. Bleak. The weather is still cool, everything preferring warm weather struggling, but there's heat on the way. There's also flooding, mid-Missouri river in the Dakotas, after the southern Mississippi river States already flooded so badly, well downstream. E-coli. Higher food prices. Energy shortages in China, forecast through the summer. The Minneapolis housing market is considered by some to be the worst in the nation.

But then a recording of Tim Flannery at the Commonwealth Club, speaking a Gaian tongue, reminding us that there are thousands of species living on us, in us, that we can not live without, that we require to be healthy; that the true state of existence is not competition, but co-existence. That we as a species have become like a super-organism, that we could act if we awaken to our role in the biosphere, like a consciousness for the Earth, a "true global intelligence."

The glove I so raged about was for a bike ride, a gathering-scouting trip, and possibly the gathering of mullein and nettles - Mullein for the smoke, nettles for dried greens, for tea and soup or stew - though I'm sure I can pick nettles without a glove, without getting stung, much. And then, as I walked out of the house ready to ride, I locked myself out without my keys. I checked all my pockets and then the pack, and then the windows which I'm generally good about latching - though I found one window unlatched, behind a locked storm window.

Trying to laugh at myself but not really being able to, I went scouting; but the Minnesota river as it passed through Fort Snelling State Park, still flooding, smelled bad, and there was a foul red affluent flowing out of a culvert into Snelling Lake, from the airport. I would have liked to continue on, to the National Wildlife Refuge, but the way is blocked by airport land, and more culverts; which in the spring, drain millions of gallons of plane de-icer, that has been contained in anaerobic holding ponds all winter, which smells like eggs and onions in a cooler in the garage in the summer. Though the woods, I do have to say looked lovely, a perfectly uncrowded spring balance of order and chaos, and I saw several species I'll be returning to for seed, for the boulevard under the maple.

On National Park land where the Bureau of Mines used to be, at Coldwater spring, I saw an exuberant crowd of inner-city kids, having fun planting wildflowers and grasses, with a ranger wearing a big stiff ranger hat, right in the little cul-de-sac where last spring I planted a female and male Cannabis sativa. Someone removed the female and her root ball shortly after, and I never went back for the male. Though because my government finds it convenient to infringe on my sovereign rights as a human being, and I can't grow my own at home, which I am both skilled enough and naturally inclined to do, I've been smoking lately the flowers of the three males I planted on a ledge overlooking the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers last spring, in St Paul.

I got home and used a knife and a scissors to unscrew the storm window covering the window that wasn't latched. I climbed through the open window onto the desk I used this winter to write much of my second book, the desk now piled with office clutter. And there were my keys, on the desk in front of my face. I must have set them there while I stood listening to the radio. It is hard to imagine how long that window latch has been open. I don't often open that window. Nor do I generally set the keys on that desk.

Sam Harris finds that we are only matter, but he nor anyone has any explanation really for the mystery of consciousness. What was going on in me that caused me to set those keys there in front of the only window that was unlatched and then lock myself out, at a time when I am deeply engaged in a bleak outlook for our species, and a bleak outlook for myself, and a bleak desire to divest myself of any and all responsibility to anything?

I biked across the city then, to meet with the partners, to go over what we've ordered for merchandise for the Halloween store. The three of us are considerably more organized than the two of them were, at this time last year. I reminded them about electrical shortages in China. Delivery sooner rather than later.

Thursday morning I woke to an erotic dream about Val Kyrie, the woman I once left this house for. To say it was a pleasant dream would not be accurate at all. The image of her was as close to a goddess as I have seen in any dream any time recently, an image in the dark aspect, full of mockery. It was unusual, not only for the character of the dream, but for the fact that my erotic dreams come about as often as some comets. I realized then that it was the anniversary of my return to this house, from my time with Val Kyrie and her family. I looked out the window, and saw the first spring sight of my favorite blue flag iris.

A year later, and there is more order in my life, and in some ways I am stronger than I have ever been. But there is also abundant chaos. There is very little money. I have not published a book. My father is still paying the mortgage on this house and while there is potential work, nothing is certain. And there is little guidance. I am left to interpret signs, to find meaning where I can, how I can. It is a curious life, this. A mystery.

* The Chenopodium spc. that is red was billed by the seed company as a traditional Hopi spinach. It is basically a burgundy Lamb's Quarter, of which there are now about a hundred-thousand little burgundy seedlings scattered around the yard. They are actually quite attractive, and Lamb's Quarter is one of the most healthy and tasty greens available, so I'm letting them be, mostly.