Monday, May 30, 2011

The Ranting of a Mad Farmer, on Memorial Day

I bought a Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS Digital ELPH 12.1 MEGA PIXELS camera this past winter. It cost me about $140, and I've used it to take some of the pictures seen on this blog. I've been quite happy with the camera, in-so-far as the pictures are concerned (though the process of transferring the pictures to my computer is, like most things I come in contact with from the Govt. or Corp. worlds, inhumanly inefficient). Unfortunately, the camera no longer works. It won't take pictures, because the lens won't extend. Lens Error, says the screen. I've taken maybe 500 pictures with the damn thing.

This morning I tried to respond to a comment from a reader of this blog. I couldn't. On my own blog. Another reader recently told me it was a problem to post comments. I have since revamped the comment option. I hope it works. I can only hope.

What both of these issues have in common is, there is no trouble-shooting process. Not a meaningful one, anyway. recently deleted posts across the network, to fix something. The word from Google was, basically, 'we're on it.' A more paranoid mind might have thought it a pre-courser for a sweep by the Office of Homeland Security, or some such invasion. Those of us who blog simply had to wait, and assume the problem would be fixed. It was, evidently. Will Google fix the problem that would not allow me to comment on my own blog, that made it difficult for readers to comment? Not likely, as there is no real way for me to tell them there is problem, Google is so large. Unless this is a problem for all's. I assume otherwise I would have to have a personal friend within the Google inner circle, to have any hope of being heard. And really, what does Google care, unless the problem effects Google profits?

As for Canon, it's a curious business model, to build a thing poorly, and then make the remedy for problems effectively impossible, or so egregiously time consuming that any remedy isn't worth the effort. To be fair to Canon, I don't know this yet to be true, but I'm betting it will be. The question is, should I assume this will be the case with every camera I might buy from a giant corporation? With anything I buy from any Corporation? I bought a 4.0 mega pixel camera for my mother years ago, for $400. It worked. What's the point of 12 mega pixels at $140 if the camera doesn't function, or I have to buy three to find one that works longer than six months? A curious business model, but effective apparently, as Canon was 216 on Fortune Mag's 2010 list of the worlds largest companies. They do a lot more than make cameras.

My Samsung phone has never really worked like it was meant to. None of the three alarms works, and people tell me with some regularity that they tried to call, and left a message, though the phone never rang, nor did it tell me there was a message. Does Samsung care? Verizon? It is an absurdity even to ask the question.

My point with this rant is, I guess, that life in this high-tech age is basically an act of faith. Because little we are told about it, generally, is true. I have come to have more faith in my potatoes, of which I planted about 100 today, later than I might have, but they will be fine. It was the post I wanted to write, with pics; but I awoke late, because the sun wasn't shining for the tenth (or so) day in a row, one of the three phone alarms I set was going off, but it wasn't making any sound, and then I found that it wasn't a battery-charge problem with my camera, and then I spent a god-damn hour trying to comment on my own blog. I have come to feel there is a great deal more certainty in my potato patch than there is in any Corporation, or any product created by a corporation, esp. the more high tech the gadget. Properly cared for, I will plant the descendants of these eight varieties of potatoes fifty years from now; someone else, perhaps hundreds of years from now. My new fancy camera is a hunk of trash, except that it is probably full of rare Earth elements, the extraction of which is likely a great sorrow to some people, somewhere.

(Last night I dreamt about flying, waking several times and falling back asleep to practice flying. Then I dreamt about running a long distance, and then woke to ask myself why I didn't just fly? Then I dreamt about working with women, to assure the health of the Earth.)

I planted the potatoes I wanted to plant today, and then I called my father who is a veteran, and then I road my bike to the liquor store to purchase my first ever sample of mead. Bottled near here in Chisago City, MN. I bottled my own wine I made last fall, from the grapes on my sister's fence, Thursday. I have several grape cuttings partially buried in the yard. The future vineyard, though I'd have to take down at least one city tree to make 30-40 bottles a functioning reality. I need to check in with the city soon. They're after me again. I didn't ask permission to tear up part of my driveway for the orchard.

I found a patch of edible oyster mushrooms growing on a mulberry stump, when I was weeding the raspberries of menace morning glory seedlings. I cut the mulberry in the spring of 2006. I ate one mushroom, even though in my less inspired days I poured 2-cycle motor oil in holes I drilled in the stump, to kill the tree, on the advice of a Mexican I knew. It didn't work, the motor oil, as the mulberry has sprouted several new shoots this year. The oysters work well. Paul Stamets at has advocated the use of oyster mushrooms in the clean up of certain waste sites, the fungi breaking down chemical bonds of hydro-carbons, etc. I didn't know it was a mulberry when I cut it. Not all mulberry are created equal, and I generally prefer the raspberries, strawberries and the asparagus that thrive in the opening created (though I know at least one female Goddess worshiping singer song-writer, who brews a fine drink from mulberry). I'm letting a different mulberry grow on a different spot on the fence, there at least until it fruits.

I'll try to take a picture of the oysters with my unreliable phone in the morning. I finished the mead (and the cookie is on the wane). I'll have to sample others, to gain perspective, at some future point. Though I'm thinking I should get some bees. For now, I'm off to the fridge, for a Magic Hat Wacko summer seasonal, from finish the post, and the night (I'd like to grow some hops on the garage, which I'd like to turn into a greenhouse - but that's yet only a dream).

(And Google lost the post when I tried to publish. Good thing I manually copied it. And I really wanted to add a link to Paul Stamets site, but Google won't insert it.)

*** I took pictures of the mushrooms with my phone Tuesday morning. But when I hooked my phone up to my computer, and the software app V-Cast Media Manager (Verizon), I made the crucial mistake of allowing the update. With the updated software, my computer will no longer recognize that my phone is hooked up to it, and Verizon's V-Cast Media Manager does not seem to recognize that this phone, which I am paying Verizon $80+ a month to maintain, even exists. As for Canon, I never even received an automated email response to my support email. Because, clearly, to Verizon and Canon, me and my cheap-ass gadgets don't matter.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Honest Work in Bad Weather

It was my niece's birthday party this weekend. I was on the roof setting up the tarp, just in time for the heavy rain. I heard a clap of thunder a long way off, and resolved to keep listening, when, twenty minutes later, a flash and concussion came almost simultaneously, as I literally had my hands in the gutter, cleaning them out. I nearly leapt off the roof, but as that bolt wasn't going to hit me, I figured I was safer taking the janky ladder I had made, out of 2x4's.

No one showed up the first hour after the party was supposed to have started, and my niece was distraught. But the sun came out and stayed out, just in time for the nine kids and their families who did arrive, and they all wanted to stay - even after the party, and the world, was supposed to have ended.

On the bike path near Minnehaha Falls, on my way to a job site this morning, smelling the scent of apple blossoms and lilac, I came to a sudden stop three feet from a snapping turtle, parked on the yellow line. Somebody seemed to have ridden over its tail recently, one of the saw tooth keels missing, the flesh healing but exposed. She didn't seem alarmed by me, but scanned the surroundings while I peered over the handlebars of my bike, and then continued walking, her tail swaying slowly like a snake. I took her to be a female, though I didn't check, about 60-70 years old, perhaps older. City workers arrived. They were respectful. Apparently, she's often found on the other side of the parkway, which is Minnehaha Falls Park, where all the people are. Last week, she was seen climbing into swollen Minnehaha Creek, swimming upstream. As they were contemplating what to do with her, like they might pick her up, I told them she had been on the path, that she was on her way to the creek. With that, she started walking again, plowing through the dandelions, and the City Parks workers let her be.

On my way, I thought about what to write for this blog. Ayn Rand came up. I stumbled across a copy of her Return of the Primitive recently, while I was in a book store searching for Terence Mckenna's The Archaic Revival. She is fashionable again, the great High Priestess to the cult of self interest and exploitation. It is hard to imagine a character as absurd as Ms Rand, in any age but a high tide of resource extraction and a glut of cheap and abundant fossil fuels. I read her Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in my twenties and rejected her not because I thought she was wrong necessarily, about the importance of self interest, but because she rejected any responsibility to any community, or to the Earth, and because her vision is simply mean. That she is fashionable again is no surprise, the extremes standing out in this time of epic denial, and the ascendancy of so-called conservative principles.

At the job site, I consulted with the homeowner about his maple hardwood floor, probably original to the hundred year old building, covered until recently by 50's vinyl, and also a more recent, less aesthetically pleasing layer of vinyl. We talked about the bathroom, and decided to remove the existing floor. I did the demo.

When I was contracting, remodeling houses during the most recent and rather tragic housing boom, about 50% of what I did was undoing something that never should have been done. This bathroom floor was that, par excellence. Pine floor sheathing, covered by maple hardwoods, covered by 1/2 inch plywood, covered by asbestos tiles, covered by 1/4 luan wood sheathing, covered by cheap big-box wood parquet. Five layers of wood, in a bathroom. With a layer of asbestos between the layers of plywood. The building was previously owned by a local slum lord.

I could have stopped, and had I, the homeowner, who is an honest man, would likely have hired an abatement company, and permits would be required, and a scene would be made. But I need the money, the bathroom window was open, the sliding glass door next to the bathroom was open, it was pouring rain outside, the air was heavy and dense; if there was a time to do it safely, it was then. So I ripped the floor apart, cursing the system that breeds such unscrupulousness.

What is Ms Rand's laissez-faire capitalism but the elevation and protection of the unscrupulous? Here, at least two examples (excluding the original hardwoods), of self-interest superseding anything else, and asbestos to boot. We knew the stuff to be deadly as early as the nineteen-teens, and yet here it is, at least the second example of asbestos in this house, this second applied likely at the same time as the funky kitchen vinyl, thirty or forty years after the fact. If you know what water does to wood with time, you have some idea of what tearing that floor apart was like, with rows of two inch nails every six inches - in the first layer of plywood; the second layer nailed and adhered - mindful that this house was owned by a slum lord, with the likely tenants.

Is it really better for the community that the community is not able to condemn such behavior? Is it a better society, that the tenants of such men, and the people of the community in which the house exists (which will outlast the slum lord), cannot come together and make an example of him, lynch the guy or maybe just tar and feather? Law and order indeed. Is this what law and order looks like? Smells like? Meanwhile the City tries to condemn me and my house because I don't have natural gas hooked up? Me, with my wildflowers and fruit and 3000 sq ft of garden?

As I was working, three attractive upper-middle class women came to the door asking for one of the tenants, an American Indian male about my age, who is a resident left over from the days of the slum lord. He just left the building, I told them, with an older woman and a young boy. They asked if they could leave the cookies they intended for him, if I could get them to him. I told them I was only working in the building for a short period of time, and couldn't guarantee he would get them. I wondered if they know he never takes his dogs off their heavy chains, passively torturing them, turning them insane? At no time in my life have three attractive upper-middle class women come to my door bearing cookies, and I do not torture dogs. They didn't offer me a cookie.

At least one Tornado tore through the Twin Cities metro area, while I worked. When the work was done, during a lull in the bad weather I biked to my sister's house and removed the tarp I applied yesterday. The sun is out now and it's calm and warm. Once home, I started to dismantle my temporary greenhouse, but I grew increasingly angry, thinking about the unscrupulous, the seeming backward nature of everything, how so much that is pure and beautiful is ignored or maligned, while the base and ugly is esteemed and strived relentlessly after; angry at women; angry at God and Goddess; angry at myself, because I am the only reason I am lonely, and not better than I am. This yard has been a great healing for me, and I write now looking at my new pond.

Now, I've got my own responsibilities to this house, which is 55 years older than I am, which I've let go somewhat to seed. What you won't find here is any evidence that I've done anything to it that could be a health concern or even a serious pain-in-the-ass to someone else. In fact, what I hope to do here is create a gleaming example of what is possible in a northern climate, gracefully and at minimal expense, in the name of winter comforts, energy efficiently. But that's not going to happen, demoing bathrooms, or whining about all that's rotten in the world. That's only going to happen by bold action. And clearly, the world favors bold action, even and especially when that bold action is unattached to any concern other than ones self interest - a rule which I hope to confound.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Planting Week

It's planting week. I've been turning soil the last two days, bio-intensively. I'll be turning soil every day this week, about 8-10 hours a day. By Sunday, just about everything should be planted.

Spending so much time in the yard, I'm meeting more of my neighbors. Marsha is impressed by what I'm doing, but she's "about ready to pave over [her] whole yard." Ben and Angela may turn out to be friends, my age and living only a block away. Ben wants "to pick my brain" about a water garden, and home repairs. Arleen "Very much appreciates what [I'm] doing." Few people stop to talk though. There are very few questions. A few people say things like "looking great", but the most common response of course is, "that looks like a lot of work."

I don't think so. I think of it as a discipline: Practice form; Maintain a steady pace; Remember to breathe; Quiet the mind; Listen; Smile; Think clearly when thinking; Ride the wave of thought but pay attention (so as not to stab myself in the foot with the garden fork, or cut off a toe with the spade); It is a process; Don't hurry; Be present, like I was when I was a kid.

Just about everyone my sister knows is unemployed. Her partner's mother just lost her job working with troubled teenagers, in the St Paul schools (one of those oh-so important budget cuts by Congress.) It's a new reality in America, for a large portion of us, good paying jobs disappearing, the people who might have run industries now taking cozy corporate jobs and investing their money in ever larger corporations, the Fed and Wall Street and Congress indifferent to the jobs problem. There is a great deal of fear out there. My neighbor Patty the nurse says the corporate leadership of her hospital treat the nurses like peons. I told her the corporate and financial elite of this country are convinced of the righteousness of their economic model, though the country is inching toward Revolution.

I was standing on my back step this morning when I watched an unleashed pit bull walk along my sidewalk. I started to wonder if it was loose, when a big man came into view.

"You get a new water heater?"

It was a non-sensical question, as I don't know him, and I don't have natural gas hooked up at present. I replied, "No, but the city tried to condemn my house for not having natural gas hooked up."

"You get to keep it? You get to stay?"

"I do. The city let go of it when I brought up the Fourth Amendment, that part about unreasonable search and seizure."

"You one of those government haters then?"

"No, I don't hate government. I simply don't appreciate laws that make no sense."

"Yeah, well tell that to the FBI in a couple of days." With that, he was past the alley and gone.

He was the same man I wrote about last fall, I realized, who came by my house as I was returning late one night, who said I was going to have some "visitors soon". I think it gives him a thrill, terrorizing people. I'm not particularly worried about it, as my yard is full of implements to use, should this mad man or his dog attack. As I worked on the soil afterward, I thought about another neighbor who came to me recently with a mouthful of Aryan Brotherhood nonsense. He has five brothers and every single one of them is in foreclosure. And who is he blaming for America's problems? I told him my nephew is Black. That didn't prevent him from trying to recruit me to the idea that white people need to stick together, against everyone else.

Many people come by the house with little children. I tell them all they are free to pick the wild strawberries on the corner, and the black cap raspberries along the fence. Larry, who lived in my house a long time ago, stopped by. He has six kids, all of whom graduated from college. He is very proud of them. I told him about the berries. "The kids pilfer them?" I told him kids are free to pick, that I've had young kids picking as their parents watched, berry juice all over their face. He liked that. I told him to come back later this summer when there's food aplenty. Shortly after he left, I dug up another cache of garbage (probably buried before Larry's time here.)

I've decided to focus this year on saving seed. It will take some practice, and some infrastructure, to get it right. And then, should the culture crumble because of the collapse of the oil supply, or a lack of water, or runaway self-interest, I'll contact every family I know with young kids, and we will gather together to protect and plant that seed.

Here's a brief tutorial on the method I'm using to prepare the soil:

Start digging.

Remove the top twelve inches

Place leaves, wood chips in the trench (in this case, old tomato vines and leaves, as this is a tomato bed and tomatoes are both canabalistic and omnivorous).

Using a garden fork, loosen the soil and mix in the carbon material.

Rake the soil back into the trench.

Form the bed.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Individual Sovereign

Last Saturday I met my mother for a gathering of statewide members of the Republic of Minnesota. As I mentioned in the last post, they believe that with the Act of 1871, the United States Federal Government has been operating outside the constitution, as a corporation; effectively eliminating our status as individual sovereigns within a Republic, making us corporate "citizens" within a Democracy that has descended into oligarchy. What they are doing is "re-inhabiting" the Republic at the state and federal level, by establishing grand juries and electing public officials, and declaring themselves sovereign members of the Republic.

The meeting took place in a VFW in Bloomington. There were about 75 people, in a bingo hall with a capacity of about 500 - and yet I couldn't have spit without hitting a conspiracy theory. I am generally fond of entertaining curious and far out ideas, but after awhile I found myself feeling a little like my head was about to break, such were the number, and distance these theories were flowing from. Basically, if I can distill them to their core, it goes something like this:

With the Fourteenth Amendment our Rights became "privileges", and our Federal Government was empowered to go into debt to foreign powers. With the later "surrender of the people's gold" and the creation of the Federal Reserve, an international cabal of Bankers secured control of the money supply, and now the Government, which was never meant to be anything but a surrogate of the people, extracts copious funds from the citizenry to empower corporations and International Banks, going ever deeper into debt, while mismanaging the affairs of the nation such that corruption and pollution rule. The goal being, to destroy America, because our Constitution is the one document extant in the world establishing individual sovereignty, contrary to the establishment of One World Government. Soon, the planned economic collapse of America will take place, and in the vacuum a global elite will assume full control of the World.

I wasn't taking them very seriously at first. If you think people are generally any less superstitious than they were in say, the Middle Ages, you'd be wrong. Only now instead of fairy folk, people believe in HARP, mind control and geologic manipulation, in government plans to gas whole segments of the population to quell dissent. As the meeting descended into an all too typically dull civil meeting, following the Rules of Order, I started to check out - until Governor Urdahl, responding to a question about how much time there is before the Federal Government collapses, said that "the people funding us are the same ones who will be dismantling the Fed." The whole room went silent. I'm not sure what he really meant, but it certainly was a statement filled with the gravitas of monumental imminence. I asked him about it later and all he would say was, "the people need to know."

(I also heard in the meeting that the military supports this, and will step in when it's clear that a new government is established and functioning. Also, that all governments and and law enforcement agencies, and many foreign governments have been notified, and that the legal justification is established.)

It was at that moment I realized, these people are engaged in the earnest work of saving their country. Just regular people, they are attempting, in all 50 states, to rebuild the government, not from within government, but from the ground up. With a distinct emphasis on the idea of the sovereignty of the Individual, according to the principles of our nation's founders. This is where the distinction between Republic and Democracy is important. Democracy is, as our founders understood, the rule of the mob. Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution does the word Democracy appear. In Democracy, whatever majority is in control makes the rules, even if those rules are contrary to reason and simple sense. In a Republic, every Individual participates in governance, in grand juries or as surrogate office holders. Watching them in that VFW, it was clear, we Americans are not accustomed to the idea of governing ourselves; even among these, who are aware it is possible, who are aware it is what our founders intended for us.

Former US Representative Clyde Cleveland has put together a document called Common Sense Revisited, which speaks more clearly and in far greater detail to these points than I have. I tried to look at the website for the Republic of Minnesota, but entering the site my computer was hit with an attack unlike any I have ever seen. My computer was deluged with malicious attacks, and continued to be every time I went online thereafter, until my computer went through a lengthy and exhaustive scan, deleting more than a dozen corrupted files (which is why I was not able to maintain the publishing of a post every fourth day.) Someone doesn't want people reading what is contained there.

This Republic thing seems less a movement than a potential means to take the country back, if we want it. I'm not sure Americans really care. What would we have to bitch about if we were actually running things ourselves? We are so accustomed to government existing for government's sake, and all the entitlements it has offered us, to assuage us in its usurpation of our Rights and Duties. It's hard to imagine there being any broad scale will or desire to consider the difference between Sovereign, Indigenous power and the surrogate power of governments.

Anyway, I continue to go about establishing in myself a greater understanding of my individual sovereignty. I go about that most clearly in my yard. Every spring, a lone white tulip pops up in the middle of a mess of unforgiving black cap raspberry vines. To get close I have to go through the gateway - next to my new pond, which I'm going to spend some time in this summer, when it gets really hot.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Choose Love

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday making love to my yard, turning soil, building soil, planting seed. It was such a relief, knowing that the city is not going to condemn my house, and remove me from it with the police. The sun came out Tuesday morning after a long absence, and stayed out for two glorious days. I wore my iPod much of the time, singing softly to the soil as I worked, listening to the birds calling when I put the music away, sometimes answering, occasionally a call and response. Resting the afternoon of the second day, a native bee landed on my hand and groomed itself, each of its myriad hairs ridged and glistening gold; attending to the minute particulars, as Blake suggested.

As I worked I contemplated the bizarre divide separating our country, fear driving both sides further apart. Consider this quote from one of our more radically ideological politicians, Alan West, House Representative from Florida:

"The Liberal Progressive agenda is nothing more than a dishonest tyranny trying to reduce our citizens into subservient subjects of the bureaucratic nanny state."

Now lets adjust this quote a little bit:

"The Conservative Free Market agenda is nothing more than a dishonest tyranny trying to reduce our citizens into subservient subjects of Wall Street and Corporations."

Sound familiar? The fact is, both are true. If liberals had their way, we could hardly make a decision about anything important, without first asking permission from half-a-dozen government agents, who would then tell you exactly what you have no choice but to do, and exactly how to do it. If Conservatives had their way, they'd be building oil and gas derricks and 20,000+ sq/ft mansions in Yellowstone, the rich would pay no taxes and the world would be twice as polluted as it is. Either one in control and you might have to sell your soul to breath the air and drink the water. Tyranny, one way or the other.

Meanwhile, the country is about evenly divided, with a well balanced tyranny of expanding government and unaccountable corporate and financial elite. The result being, the country's finances are near collapse, and both sides are wailing at each other impotently, neither side willing to admit both sides are at fault. Each side asking the other to make all the sacrifice, and neither willing to make any. And almost no one questioning the whole idea of what America has become, which is an Empire feeding off the resources of much of the planet to maintain a standard of living that has no future.

My recommendation? I say we cut virtually all government spending but for the youngest and the oldest, and raise taxes on the richest, and then raise them a little more. Pay off the debt, and stop borrowing money. Reign in banks, outlaw insurance, and restore the right of the people to revoke corporate charters. Once revoked, make the leadership personally clean up whatever mess that resulted in the closing of the company. Redistribute land currently in service to industrial agriculture in X00 acre plots to families willing to steward the land bio-intensively.* Re-plot the cities and rebuild the buildings to take full advantage of solar heat. Rebuild America, until we no longer need fossil fuels. Remove our troops from every foreign outpost, and disband the military. Declare the harming of a child, a woman, or an elder to be a capital offense. Let women in community be the final arbiters of progress and justice. Recover the understanding that we are of the Earth.

It is inevitable anyway, likely. Though I'm not sure Americans have either the courage or the fortitude or the fore-sight to make it so, without going through a long, ugly process of collapse. We are so well trained as consumers, without regard for how the things we consume are created, or secured, or transported. We are so well blinded by ideology, many can't see the world in any way but through that poison.

There is a notion that if we consume less, we will all have to live like apes. I consider this idea deeply condescending, and also fundamentally clueless. As if by using less we will suddenly forget how to do anything, as if we will stop building, stop creating. Some might, but I won't. Being a nation of victims, of one ideology or another, most of us might, when it dawns on us that everything we have believed about the inevitability of Progress is proved to be false, when the Market we have believed to be infallible collapses, because the fuel required is no longer available in the abundance required, to allow it to flow as smoothly as it has. How many will go on blaming one villain or another, right up until the moment they die of starvation - not because of the action of any villain, but because they never gave a moment's thought to where their food comes from, abandoning the future to magical thinking, like the whole issue of limited resources will suddenly be resolved just in the nick of time, by someone, somewhere, doing something?

More and more I hear talk about the end. We know it's coming. Instead of thinking about it constructively, mostly I hear people absolve responsibility, believing in the return of a Messiah, in Divine intervention of some kind, in savior aliens, in the miracle of Technology, in Science, in the status quo - in short, in anything but taking responsibly for my own life, in relation to the Earth.

Maybe there will be an intervention. When I go to that place, I imagine Dec 12, 2012, the center of the galaxy sending out a pulse, that pulse amplified passing through the sun, this immense energy enveloping the Earth, and every human on Earth in that moment uttering a collective giggle - and suddenly ALL is revealed. I don't believe the world will end even then, should that happen. Which is why I conspire to plant fruit trees. Which is why I continue to cultivate my love affair with the Earth. I'm a naive and somewhat self-conscious lover that way, but I grow more open and more energetic, the more I listen, the more I feel.

These corporations, the banks, the Fed and this Government are all necessary to each other, and they are now in their fullest expression. The population shows no sign of awareness of it's role in the biosphere, increasing the number and distribution of poisons, draining the aquifers, melting the glaciers and ice caps. Unrelenting in our drive toward affluence, it's hard to imagine anything but the continued and increasing rush toward ecological oblivion.

I think what we will find is what we have always found to be true, which is friends and family and community. And maybe more, if we are open to it. I'm certainly finding that this existence is a good deal more mysterious than I have been lead to believe. The Earth has a great many secrets the powers-that-be would rather we not be aware of.

Friday, more loving my yard, and then a boat race with my sister, her partner and my niece and nephew, on Minnehaha creek. We each make a boat (except my nephew who is four months and just about ready to crawl), the materials limited to a health care catalog and painters tape. Whose boat floats the farthest, wins. I'm building mine remnant of a design preceding the Pharaohs, with global reach(the original, not my paper Health Care manual.) Saturday, I'm meeting my Mother. She's attending a gathering in Bloomington, of the members of the Republic. They believe that the Federal Government has been operating outside the Constitution, as a Corporation, since at least 1871; making them, ostensibly, the true Americans. Saturday evening and Sunday I'm helping a reader demo an apartment he and his wife own, for cash. A great blessing to me, and fun probably.

Basically what I'm saying is, with all the fear in the world, I choose love. (Which, if I'm honest about that, may be the scariest thing of all.)

* Joel Salatin's Polyface farm is a supreme example of farming as it should be. He's also fun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Part III: Condemnation Resolution

I took the train downtown again Friday. I was looking for Tom, who had appeared on a local tv news piece on my situation that aired the previous night. I went to a 4th floor office of the City Utilities building, where I entered a door into a cramped, unattended lobby no bigger than a walk-in closet, with restricted access to the offices beyond. One, and then another inquired if I needed help, and both went looking for Tom. A third asked if I was being helped, and I told her jokingly that she could be the third to go in search, though she declined, laughing. Everyone was pleasant to me.

Then, as on cue, a young blonde woman appeared. She said, "No one from the city will be coming into your house any time next week."

"Does that mean that my house is not going to be condemned?" She didn't know, and I explained to her patiently that I was under the impression that my house would be condemned that day, and I couldn't leave until someone could tell me whether or not that was true. She looked stymied, as if there was nothing she could do. I reiterated. She stood there, shrugging helplessly, growing increasingly uncomfortable, as I grew increasingly perplexed.

That's when an older woman swept in through the door behind me, from the hall. Her energy was astonishingly defensive and hostile. She said in fact that my house would be condemned that day. Flustered by her aggressiveness, I asked about the codes I had broken. "You have access to the Internet, don't you?" As if this was not regulatory services and I were an idiot to think that they might actually have copies of their codes, or could make some. "Have you looked into energy assistance programs with CenterPoint," she asked, accusingly, with an energy like she was addressing some kind of illiterate grifter. "People like you," she started, "need to ask for assistance from CenterPoint to pay your bills", as I started laughing, parroting her sadly, appalled: "People like me?" She floundered helplessly, before she recovered by telling me "I'll give you until Monday midnight. After that, were coming in with the police."

What the fuck? From there I went to the office of Police Chief Tim Dolan. I asked the elder woman behind the counter, who had the polar opposite energy of the elder in Regulatory Services, if I could file a police report.

"What do you want to file a report about?" she asked.

"Well, the city is threatening to condemn my house and remove me from it with the police, because I don't have natural gas service hooked up."

She looked at me inquisitively, somewhat confused. "You want to file a report for an action that hasn't happened yet?"

"I guess. Mostly I just want to let the police know what the city will be asking of them," and I winked at her and smiled. She smiled, and gave me a list of precincts, and a phone number to call and a website address to visit, apologizing that I couldn't file the report with her.

From there I went to Sheriff Richard Stanek's office, because I wasn't sure, when Regulatory Services says they're coming in with the police, whether that means Minneapolis Police Officers or Sheriff Deputies. The elder woman behind the bullet proof glass told me in her firm, conservative tone that I needed to go to processing, in room 30.

In room 30, I talked with a deputy. He didn't know the answer to my question. "It's complicated," he said, and after a roundabout description he ended with, "civil process is different from criminal," pausing and shrugging his shoulders uncomfortably, when I looked at him like, "what?" He told me I needed to go to Regulatory Services.

"I've been there, and they haven't been very nice to me."

"I'm not surprised," he said, and replied, "I'm not sure I want to know," when I asked if he wanted to know why the city was condemning my house and threatening to remove me from it. I told him anyway. He shook his head and said he didn't know what to tell me. On the verge of shouting, I said I felt like going to the City Attorney. He said I should.

At the City Attorney's office, a kindly man behind the glass went in search of someone to help me, and Bert appeared. There was kindness in his eyes, and concern. I was half-hysterical by that point, like the whole idea of the Constitution was a farce and in my great naivete' I was just coming to recognize it. I babbled on about my situation, mindlessly trying to find where I put the damn Intent to Condemn order, until I fairly shouted, "search and seizure, what!"

It had taken an Englishman, responding to this blog, to remind this American, that what Regulatory Services was planning to do was a clear violation of the spirit of the Fourth Amendment, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..." Bert disappeared for awhile behind the restricted access door, and returned with a guarantee that nothing would be done about the Condemnation order at least for the next week, and he gave me a number to call Monday morning, to arrange a meeting, he said, with the top three officials at Regulatory Services. I left, reminded as I always am, when I get carried away by frustration with any institution anywhere, that there are good people everywhere.

I called the number this morning and left a voicemail, in a state not at all certain, as if at any moment Harold the inspector might appear at my door with a troop of police. Laying in bed a long while after, in my room now heated by natural gas generated electricity, I thought about fossil fuels. Here the city is threatening to condemn my house, and remove me from it with the police, for not having natural gas service, while all over America and the world, we are hydro-fracturing, pumping water and sand and toxic chemicals and known carcinogens at high pressure into the Earth and aquifers, in an effort not to have the conversation in America about life after fossil fuels. We would likely be seeing the same inflation in natural gas prices as we are with oil, if we were not using this incredibly destructive technique (no matter how much we want to blame parasitic speculators, or corrupt government officials, or greedy oil executives). As the writer John Michael Greer has pointed out in a very prescient series of posts*, we might have chosen an eco-technic future in the 70's, but we chose global hegemony and conspicuous consumption instead. And now we're involved in at least four foreign wars, the great financial empire we have created is showing signs of utter dissolution, and a world of scarce resources approaches closer by the day.

A low pressure weather system has parked itself over Minnesota the past week; my vegetable starts are back inside, many taking a serious hit the last three days from the cold. It is cold in most of my house, except my bedroom. I'm almost out of money, again. I have talked with the neighbors about building a pergola over their back patio. But to do that, we will likely have to pull a permit, and have to deal with the same Regulatory Services that has lately taken the attitude toward me, that either I play by the rules however illogical, or I will be destroyed, and I worry that that job which I hoped would pay this months bills will be denied me. I received a letter Friday from the city, that I have until June 11 to repair my driveway, part of which I tore up for what I hope will be my orchard, telling me I'm only allowed to place asphalt, concrete or pavers.**

I stomped around the house awhile, unable to find the letter, raging at myself for being so unorganized, for being such an idiot to lose such an important piece of information.

I biked to the coffee shop, noticing that gas at the local station is $3.99 and 9/10ths, arriving only to find that I had forgotten the computer power cord (it's a five year old battery and holds maybe an hour's charge). I biked home, packed the power cord in my backpack, and looked for the letter again, as if it would suddenly appear by magic. Biking back to the coffee shop, I reminded myself of the importance of mindfulness, that the greatest enemy of my peace of mind is not government, or rogue agents, or amoral corporations, or angry, insulting people, but myself. All that is coming at me now is just that which I need to fulfill my purpose. I am not a victim of anything unless I make myself so. Which I do, repeatedly, until I realize again that this is all just a test, that it is all just what must be, as I have chosen to act not out of the expectations of culture, or even family or friends, but out of what I know to be true to myself, at the core of my being.

I called the number at Regulatory Services again. The woman who answered, who is the very same woman who treated me so badly on Friday, told me in a calm, open voice without defensiveness, that the city had issued an extension, that I would be receiving a letter, and that the order would not need to be addressed again until October 15. I asked her if that meant the city would not be condemning my house. She said it did.