Thursday, April 9, 2015


Sometimes someone says something to me and I see the world differently.

Like when a man said to me recently that I could become like Tom Bombadil. The urge is strong, it always has been, to live at the intersection between civilization and wilderness, or what there still is of wilderness in America. The end of the road (in a country where there are roads almost everywhere.) Grow food, build greenhouses and off-grid housing, brew fruits of the garden and wild, spend much of my time in the woods, hunting and foraging, otherwise singing and dancing and enjoying this wondrous earth. I've lived like that before, I grew up in the woods, I miss that, perhaps more than anything about my life in the city. I love my life in the city, but sometimes I do wonder about what I'm doing in the city.

This blog seems to have lost the thread of it's genesis. The blog began with the fact that I was living in this house in the summer of 2010, without any of the utilities on, without any money or a job, with an idea about taking the house officially off the grid. There's been little progress on the Off-Grid plans. Mostly since, I have been ranting about this or that, sometimes saying something thoughtful or creative, mostly just evaluating the issues of the day as I saw them, as from a soapbox. I have also written about the gardens, but otherwise I haven't said much about the house, other than some of the details in my on-again, off-again troubles with city bureaucracy.

That trouble seems on-again, about that greenhouse I showed you last post.

They are saying the greenhouse is an illegal addition, because I didn't apply for a permit. I didn't apply for a permit, because I didn't want to spend the money, and because I wanted to build the thing as inexpensively as possible. Letting an inspector in is almost certain to inflate the cost considerably; and besides, I don't need an inspector to tell me whether I am capable of building a structurally sound greenhouse. Besides, I have a lot of projects in mind, that I can do inexpensively, most of which would require a permit, some of which projects Inspections would call illegal; I can't afford to pay the city to permit me to make my house stronger, more energy efficient, more comfortable and resilient - not with my underwater mortgage, on my meager salary maintenancing houses for the autistic. There is also the argument, in this age, if I document digitally everything I do to the house, that any pending buyer might consult, or anyone spending time here, what do I need the City to approve it for?

They sent a Final Warning, on threat of "legal action." I went downtown and told them, after I received the first notice, I don't want my $800 greenhouse to turn into a several thousand dollar debacle. I think this time I'm going to skip Inspections, and go straight to the City Attorney. So I have a (potential) mediator who knows what bad press can cost the City. One in that office kept Inspections from coming into my house with a swat team, in the summer of 2011, because I didn't have the natural gas hooked up. Budget constrains now what they are, I'm not sure what maniacal tendencies I might incite if I try to engage Inspections directly, in their protecting of Public Health and Welfare (getting their money one way or another.)

That I should have to engage Inspections at all, is somewhat offensive to my spirit. I'm not sure how the City Attorney is going to react to my argument that inspections aren't necessary (probably with a repetitious shield of "it's the code.") I suspect by legal action they mean they are going to assess the Fees to my property taxes, if I don't comply. But then, these days, you never know what kind of treatment you might get from your government; and with a monopoly on power, not a few bureaucrats are drunk with it.

Anyway, you might imagine why I am thinking about living somewhere else, far from the city.

It's at times like these, I'm grateful for my soapbox. Even if all I have been doing with it lately is posting mostly pithy comments about articles I post on Facebook.

Except the context of what was said to me recently, that changed my world, was that I sound like I'm standing on a soapbox. Someone has to do it, I said. But I know what she meant. I don't want to be that guy, standing above, on the corner shouting about what's wrong with the culture, absolutely. There is too much wrong with the culture to do much of anything about it. It will run it's course no matter what I shout about.

At the same time, some things need to be said. Some things need to be talked about. Like a Facebook friend who likes to put all Muslims in a box labelled "evil", with Obama as their Chief. He wrote a long screed recently, about which I called noxious and mean spirited, that his language made me think he was engaged in a "Holy War" that would destroy civilization. To which another of his friends, Tuffy, replied:

"Sounds like that guy Duncan has had too much "kool-aid". For a better, more clear definition of "holy war", he should probably join ISIS; they will explain it to him."

To which I replied: "LOL, Tuffy. Sing and dance, get drunk, get high if you like (I recommend cannabis as it can chill you out ;) Otherwise, yeah, "kool-aid" - speaking of ISIS, do you mean that thing so much a product of America and Europe's imperious war machine, or what happens anytime you reach such a high population, and can't provide jobs to or even feed the majority of people (and you've been manipulating them with misinformation for generations), or the very dark and hideous shadow of that monotheistic cousin, or the goddess? War is never holy."

Somebody has to say it.


I don't want to go to war with the City. Meanwhile, forthcoming, updates on that; and I will write a little more about the greenhouse, and about the gardens I am building, here and off-site.




Luciddreams said...

You're damn right there's nothing gonna fix this mess of an anti-culture. I think about it every day as I weed eat and spray noxious chemicals in our futile attempt to control nature. It's so dysfunctional to think that we should control nature. We want grass yards with no weeds in them for some reason.

I fight for bamboo. I currently have three varities in the ground, and I'm apprenticing at Haiku Nursery in Hendersonville NC with an old Japanese man named KG Oshima. Sometimes I wonder why I'm doing that because it's every Friday, and that's another day out of the week where I can make another hundred plus dollars. Nobody gives a shit about bamboo in this country, in fact most people actually hate the plant.

You don't have any children, and so I think you should continue fighting the system. Although I have more reason to fight the system having children. I suppose I fight it in my own way. Working for cash, not paying the income thieves, growing bamboo where everybody hates me for it. Living in a glitch. Everyday I fight the urge to get back on an ambulance and comply to societies standards. Every day I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. It's hard to follow your bliss when it's contrary to the project that is our society.

If you retreat to the woods I'd understand. I'd like to see you fight, but then I happen to agree with you that fighting is just about pointless. It starts to look like all you'd be doing is causing yourself stress and negativity. The system will win until it runs out of petroleum.

Seeing your blogs always inspires me to blog. I should...if nothing else I should snap some pictures of my bamboo shoots.

William H Duncan said...

Best of luck with your decisions, LD. I know a few EMTs, and none of them are very happy. Low pay, high stress, hard work.

Bamboo will have it's day. If people hate it it's because it doesn't conform to peoples expectations of subdued and controlled nature. Stick with the apprenticeship, IMHO. Nature will return in our time, I believe.

I will fight, btw, because they aren't leaving me any choice ;)


Ien in the Kootenays said...

Shouldn't you get a medal instead? Oh no, that would require a sane society. I believe the arch druid talked about how the bureaucracies become predatory as collapse approaches. Good luck with the fight.

William H Duncan said...

Oh len :)

I don't deserve any kind of medal. I would like merely to be left alone to work on my house as I care to. I'm no danger to public health and welfare, I get compliments regularly from passersby.

Thanks for the support.