Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Three Sisters

What have I been doing lately, @ 40? Not writing blog posts, obviously. Though I did post articles @ the Doomstead Diner in July, one on the Trayvon/Zimmerman thing and another with RE, on free speech, Constitutional hypocrisy and Brandon Smith of Alt-Market, which was cross-posted @ The Burning Platform. TBP readers called me Dumfuck and Dipshit, but I told them they were divine ;), so all is well. Otherwise I have been working @ uber garden center, uber retail outlet, doing whatever I can to undermine the system, in the gentle, easy-going way I do. I told the GM it is "insane" to throw in the trash compactor those hundreds of seed packets and all that seed starting equipment. He said my heart was in the right place. I didn't point out to him, what that implied about the condition of his own heart, nor that it wasn't my heart I was focused on, but the condition of my soul. Still, I had cajoled the Burpees women into giving me a few seed packets. 

A lot more than these end up @ non-profits, etc. Ferry Morris? Jiffy? Martha Stewart? Into the compactor.

I get down, every time I walk back to receiving, looking at the bin holding perfectly good merchandise headed for the compactor, different stuff every day. There is a crew, that is part of their job, to pull the merchandise that is to be marked down and compacted, and to throw it into the compactor. I don't envy that job, but then much of what I am expected to do is sell poisons, to kill weeds and bugs. I guarantee I have more weeds and bugs in my garden than just about anyone in this city, but not even the mosquitos bother me much, nor the hornets, wasps, ants, etc, nor even the dreaded Japanese beetle this year. More often than not, most of the time, when I try to steer people toward Eco-smart, plant derivative mostly, non-toxic sprays, they get uncomfortable, visibly, like there is something wrong with that (at least if they use that spray they won't kill every bug they aren't aiming at.) Some are dismissive, as if they know anything about it.  Sometimes I tell people the chemical they are about to buy has been linked to bee colony collapse disorder. Most of them get uncomfortable like they know what they are doing is wrong, but they buy it anyway. More and more I talk to people about my garden, and the insects and weeds there, the weeds I eat, the attracting of insects and birds and bats to eat insects. I have as yet failed to steer anyone set on buying chemicals away from chemicals, though I am not at all averse to using phrases like, "neuro-toxin", "broad-spectrum poison" and "good bugs, like monarchs". I tell them until the ants living in my garden prove to me that they are a detriment, they get a free pass, unless they come inside, which few do, there being so much to eat outside apparently. Most people can not be talked to about their chemical use. I do talk a few people out of buying general shit they don't need (this store typically comes close to doubling the sales it was built for. A few Associates act jealous that we didn't get the $500,000 upgrade next-door-city, uber retail outlet brother got. Few complain to management about the pay, shitty schedule, no hope for benefits etc). Hey guys, a good note: I've encountered a number of beautiful women who are gardening for the first time, but not really knowing what they are doing, or really why. (None seem too impressed by me in my apron.) LOL.

(speaking of ants, (and snakes))

Every day I think, I could build just about any dwelling, I can grow way more food than I can eat, I have more plant knowledge than anyone I know. And this is what my culture, the Twin Cities greater metro, has for me to do, to sell shit people don't need that is toxic to them and the earth, for $10/hr part time, with a schedule that changes every week, with only one of four shifts @ 8 hours, with 4hr shifts in the middle of the day. (Six years ago they paid $12/hr for this work.) While terrorism task force commandos ride metro transit around here busting up the few fights and arresting pot smokers @ $80,000/year? Yesterday too the GM sat us down in groups to inform us that the termination process has been simplified so it is less confusing. I'm convinced there is something like a systematic process by which they are attempting to make the situation so economically intolerable that none but the few who are well compensated will stick around long, so they can continue to hire an ever revolving workforce at an ever lower cost. I'm certain that if I were to stay, whatever meager raises I would receive would be considerably less than real inflation. A guy came in complaining that he paid more for sod somewhere else because we didn't have as much as he needed. I thought but didn't say, that's because they probably pay their people a dignified wage - your low cost facilitates wage slavery. I won't necessarily hesitate next time.

Otherwise, I am enchanted by my garden. Writing now, I'm watching a male cardinal, ready himself for a bath in the pond. He is considerably more wary about it than the female, who can be indulgent about it I judge, soaking herself repeatedly, several times a day. LOL. I've seen yellow finch, native and English sparrow, sometimes at the same time. While the male cardinal favors the gravel path, the female, the sparrows and the finch seem to prefer the beach. I've seen as many as a half dozen birds bathing at one time. :) (Excuse the poor quality - I work with an early generation digital camera running on AA batteries. Which it gobbles up like crazy but I've dropped it a half dozen times and it still works. LOL) The female cardinal. She was there awhile before I caught her on video.

I took much of the spring garden in, and planted the fall garden. Here is cosmo with borage, with beets and baby swamp milkweed.

Mr Rufalumpagus, all growed up :) LOL

It maybe looks like more than it is. Maybe forty lbs of edibles. I saved the beet and kohl rabi leaves and stems, a few of the turnip stems, freezing them to break down the cell structure, which I'll boil with other veges into soup base.

This is the peninsula out by the driveway. Swamp milkweed, evening primrose, amaranth.

These are the happiest potatoes in this garden. The ones out in full sun look ragged.

Morning glory leaf, with boltonia, and zinnia in the background.

Zinnia with borage and golden alexander. That's a potato flower on the left.

Name the flowers: Zinnia, amaranth, borage, golden alexander, cosmos, sunflower.

Joe Pye at top, and something white flower I forgot the name of bulb I bought @ uber garden center. 

Down in there is the lettuce bed. It will grow slow and won't bolt (go to seed) as soon.

My neighbors junk pile. Considerably more people are drawn to that than there are, drawn to this garden.

Dahlia, with a pair of morning glories poised like dragons. Here is an interesting video about the life of plants. (Head nod to Agelbert.)

One of the morning glory wrapped around the neck of the dahlia facing the other way, the other morning glory searching for an opening.

The second morning glory, not finding an opening, joins the first, along with a third.

This has become something of a food and flower ornamental bed. Cabbage that I planted as seed, late. Tomatillo that have naturalized in this garden, popping up all over the place. With scattered, young spiderwort.


The heart mountains there in the background are morning glories covering my compost piles.

Purple cone flower, near where the blue flag bloom in the spring. Tick trefoil on either side foreground. Elderberry bush, fruit ripening. A young Clapps' Favorite pear against the backdrop of elderberry.

My front "yard" meadow. A young couple stopped by the other day and started ripping out flowers. They said they thought the place was abandoned. I put a sign out.

Bergamot on the sidewalk. The flower petals make a nice, smokey tea. When I was planting the fall garden, I heard a couple comment to each other about what a great idea the flowers in the treasure chest are. Followed shortly by a woman who complained, as if exasperated, "What a ridiculous path we just took," as if the plants were a little too close, even touching her. 

Sunflower, bald like me :) (an offering)

This is the center of my garden, the bed where I plant something with some more sacred intent. Last year, contemplating the power of the sun to end Industrialism as we have known it, half expecting a harsh CME solar slap in the face for our polluting, insatiable ways, I planted red sunflower like the one above. This year it's all about food. Corn, beans and zucchini. 

Last evening, at the end of a grinding five day stint @ uber garden center - three 6am-starts in four days after four-months closing until midnight and later many nights - I bought some beer, Hop Rising, and some blackberry wine, and proceeded to get super high and drunk. Then I found these, some kind of native pollinator, at rest on a small amaranth, in slumber, at the center of the bed, the absolute center of the spiral that is this garden. They probably have a hive somewhere here, their ancestors perhaps having found this garden to their liking. Their offspring and their offspring ongoing might habitate here as long as this garden exists. Many people who shop @ uber garden center would spray these. I've noticed a distinct reduction in all pollinator numbers, generally.

Then I found this dragonfly.

Contemplating this scene, realizing I want every human to feel at ease as much as these insects do here, thinking about garden tours, classes, trainings, I heard a young man on the sidewalk say to his friends, "This is the yard I want!" The four of them were walking away, when he noticed me and said he loved my garden. I told him I heard what he said earlier, and that he had "made my day."

As they walked away, I thought to myself, why didn't I invite them in, to see this scene? That is my challenge, the cancer in me, metaphorically speaking, snip snip, don't get too close. I am Minnesotan too; it is said of Minnesotans, they will give you directions to anywhere but their own house. Then I saw two young men lingering on a corner down the street, one of them the young man I had spoken with, so I waved to them to come back. They did, Mike and Tom, canvassing for Sisters' Camelot. I invited them into the garden. Tom is a certified Permaculture expert. When I showed them the pollinators sleeping, reminding him, the first plant he named when he walked into the garden was Amaranth. I told Mike about the synchronicity I perceived, him saying what he said, and what I had been contemplating at the time. I told them about this blog, and the Doomstead Diner, and SUN (Sustaining Universal Needs, land acquisition, community building non-profit.) We discussed the difficulty in maintaining community. We agreed that hemp should be a foundation of an entirely different kind of economy.  I gave them $10 of uber bank, uber retail outlet money. They gave me some tobacco.

Sometime after that Melodee walked by, with three young girls, Lily, Molly and Tabitha, and a young boy named Kingston. Melodie informed me that she had been defending me to her husband, who thinks my garden is "so overgrown", telling him I grow 60% of the food I eat, even exaggerating on my and this garden's behalf. LOL. I didn't ask her how she knew that I grew so much food. I did tell her to tell her husband I have nine gallons of strawberry wine and blackberry wine brewing. Next time I see her, I'm going to tell her to challenge her husband to drink a beer with me and take a tour of this garden.

Then Tess walked by. I seem to see Tess about every six months or so. She complimented me on the garden, we talked, there was a tension in the air, mostly mine. I invited her to take a tour. She was with her big, mild mannered dog Wainright. I showed her the pollinators and the dragonfly, after I warned her that I was super drunk and high. LOL. When I explained the intent behind the bed the pollinators and the dragonfly were resting in, that it was all about food this year, I called out "corn, zucchini, and beans", and she said, "three sisters."

I was super awkward, and yet managed to proposition her in a veiled way at least three times. What would Wainright do, while.... Wisely, she declined my drunken-high advances - gross. Besides I seem to recall now, sober, she is married or coupled at least, and she is so adorable and friendly and kind that I'm sure I would get along with whoever she is coupled with, and I don't mean to sow drama like that. She did not seem to be offended, and we parted ways. Not before I reminded her though, this was our third meeting.

So as I like to repeat:

My Goddess, My Goddess, My Goddess; My name is William Hunter Duncan and I am in service to you.  

My Goddess, My Goddess, My Goddess; My name is William Hunter Duncan and I am in service to you.

My Goddess, My Goddess, My Goddess; My name is William Hunter Duncan and I am in service to you.

PS: I did a podcast with Toby Hemenway, of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, and the website Pattern Literacy. Coming to the Doomstead Diner soon.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Birthday Garden

Lest you thought I would leave you with a screed about what is wrong with America, this Fourth of July, here is the latest from my garden :)

Early this year:

My antique tea rose.

This little viola, similar to one we sold @ uber garden center, just showed up this year.

Boulevard flowers. A native, the name escapes me.

Hops next to a morning glory, ready to climb the garage.
The onions that stood so tall in a previous pic.
Blue Flag
Big Lobelia

More blue flag
A new species I'm tentatively calling Scopopalomien duncansonia. lol A cross, I think, between bittersweet nightshade and a potato.

Draining the pond

 Filling it back up again. Lily pads on the ledge

More blue flag, with the neighbors pergola I built.


Potato, bittersweet nightshade, carex, virgins bower clematis, sandaled feet.
Unknown flowers sprouting in the driveway

Potato flower, spiderwort, evening primrose and a bit of sage

Strawberries. About 12-14 quarts this year, total. Some of them brewing with wild strawberries, elderberry flower tea, sprigs of absinthia, rhubarb and some mead.

Bergamot, w/frontenac grape starts, onions, corn, potato, a pile of morning glory, and some kind of lily at the base of the absinthe @ the lower left.

Poppy above, wild strawberry with joe pye and yarrow below

Boltonia meadow
Familiarize yourself:potato, bean, summer squash, corn
The three most beautiful things to me, in my garden, are the blue flag @ peak, the hazlenut in the fall, and the elderberry in flower

Sunflower, w/borage, cosmos, California poppy.



The view from the patio.
Carrot flower
The garden at peace.

Happy Birthday America. Happy 40th Birthday, me :)