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Groundhog Days 15/08/2015

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The deerskin drum made a dull, thudding sound as I drummed in the day. And no wonder: With an orange sun rising, the thermometer showed seventy-two as I noted a heavy dew on the vegetation.

Another hot and muggy day in the offing, dawn was the time to look around at areas of wonder.

I noted, again, the lack of blossoms on the moonflower plants. Do they refrain from blooming during the dark of the Moon? I haven’t paid enough attention.


I saw that some of the beans are climbing more than head-high on one of the pear trees: a bit of successful permaculture.


I witnessed bumblebees stirring from sleep: Some had spent the night clinging to one of the cup plants.


And I marveled at the massive leaves of the elecampane that I started from seed four months ago.


Also visible: lingering evidence of depredation by the woodchuck that reappeared recently after several years’ absence from my yard. Is it a lone male? I haven’t seen any young’uns–nor do I want to. He was forced out of his preferred holes below the tower of the nearby high-voltage power line when Xcel began replacing all the towers back in April.

What a voracious lover of juicy leaves! He started on the biggest ones: broccoli and cabbage. He took off the growing ends of a couple of squash plants–maybe they weren’t juicy enough for a full meal. But he also chewed his way through half the parsley. Aarrgghhh.

He liked using the territory under the shed for one of his hangouts, where once I watched him from about six feet away, partially screened by a raspberry plant. His nose twitched aplenty, but his eyesight seemed poor. He moved mighty fast for such a low-to-the-ground critter. And he seems too clever to fall for the lure of a cage trap, especially when there’s plenty of fresh leaves available without leaving the block. In any case, he seems to have moved on . . . for now, anyway.

The Impatiens balsamina is waist-high and in full bloom, out front behind the black raspberry canes that have grown so extravagantly. They started blooming about a month ago: rather early, I thought.

It seems that a lot of veggies as well as perennials have been maturing prematurely. 

What’s up with that? Faulty recollection? Relative inexperience with gardening for food? Earth changes?

Though plenty of rain has fallen, and mostly in timely fashion, I would more likely attribute the ripening to abnormal heat. But with few exceptions, the days of this summer have been notably pleasant: cooler than average.

It’s amazing — yet not surprising, astro-meteorologically  — that the temperature has only reached 90 F thrice so far this summer. And yesterday was one. That compares with an average of about eight such days through early August.

No wonder the unofficial Twin Cities Summer Glory Index shows the summer of 2015, through 15 July, as very nearly the best ever recorded.


Sorry it hasn’t been so great out west and down south. Or in central and eastern Europe. Or in south Asia.

It’s odd, how easy it is to think of August around here as a dry month, when it’s actually the wettest: slightly wetter than June. Maybe it’s that the leaves on trees are getting to look dry and tattered, and vegetation on the ground is drying, ripening, going to seed. And human-wilting muggy days are more common.

Accordingly, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is showing the likelihood of heavy rain across southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin over the next week, especially on the 18th.


The forecast here for the week (14-21 August) following the New Moon was simple: “somewhat cooler, dry.” That was based largely on the primary indication in the New Moon chart: the cold earth sign Capricorn (where Saturn is lord) on the lower meridian. Capricorn is also apt to denote storminess, but other chart factors were not indicative. (The vertically-bisected circle within the outer ring of the chart below shows the upper meridian at the time of the New Moon, while the horizontally-bisected circle shows the zodiacal point on the eastern horizon.)


A significant shift in wind patterns affecting this latitude is shown by Mercury at the time of the New Moon exactly on the horizon of the season chart. This signifies the likelihood of notable wind events, but not necessarily precipitation.

What can bring rainfall is the Moon’s crossing of the horizon of the season chart, in the morning of the 16th. And in fact the Weather Service is forecasting rain on the 16th.

But a “slow moving low pressure system over Minnesota” on the 18th? Stalled-out situations and heavy storms seem more likely on the 21st and 22nd (as previously forecast), as the First Quarter Moon (and of course the Sun as well) is configured with Saturn.

Whose forecast for the week will be borne out: the astro-meteorologist’s or the techno-meteorologists’?


Sooner or Later 08/07/2015

Posted by zoidion in History, Long Emergency, Mundane.
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Twin Cities ephemera: While the wider world is falling apart, there are a lot of tasks near to hand that need attending to.

Last week it was picking cherries–not that there were a lot, nearly lost in the riot of new growth–and the first rounds of red currants and black raspberries. In so doing, I discovered a minor tragedy: two branches off one stem broken by a rogue gust of wind. When was that?

In the midst of first harvest came a sudden, brief shower of hail, the cloud coming strangely out of the northeast. The icy spheres measured five-eighths of an inch, the rough chunks rather bigger. They tore through the larger leaves–squash, hops, mullein–and tore off tender growing stems. But nothing was ruined.

Most of the broccoli plants look happy, with little damage from slugs since I scattered a band of crushed eggshells around the stems. More sun rather than a little less does seem to be to their liking, though: The ones that I plugged in near the young pear trees have not taken off like those that are out in the open, nor have the beans that I hoped would climb up those trees. (It seems I haven’t gotten the hang of some of the permaculture principles that I’ve been reading and watching videos about for the past few years.)

The main project lately has been restarting the several compost piles.  It’s been most impressive, how much the initial piles cooked down over the course of three months: to about half the volume. So now it’s time to add some fresh green matter to the brown, some nitrogen to the carbon. And let some air into the compressed piles.

It’s real labor, and I enjoy the physicality of it–while I remember (for example) that there are multitudes of very low-paid, continually-subject-to-chemical-residue laborers laboring all the livelong day. (And I recall that many of the characters in J.H. Kunstler’s “World Made by Hand” novels report that they spend much time “forking compost.”) 

As I do this and other tasks, I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn, or at least observe, something about how an ecosystem functions. And I wonder about the guy across the street, who’s hired himself out as lawn-mowing-guy to a number of others up and down the street —  was it he who so bravely chalked on my sidewalk a couple of years ago: “CUT YOUR LAWN”? (I was in the midst of converting sparsely grassy space to black raspberries.) It was he who accused me, a year or two after I’d explained how a rain garden functions, of breeding mosquitoes in that little depression I dug which has never, after the heaviest rain, held water for more than an hour or two. 

And there’s the crew that shows up each week across the alley with noisy equipment hauled around by a big pickup truck: Are they learning anything, anything at all–about the realms of plants, insects, soil, weather–in the process?

I’m happy to be where I am, doing what I’m doing. It’s an experiment. Some of it’s going agreeably, some . . . not so much. 

And in the sad-little-wonders department: A few days before the solstice, when I noticed the first few milkweed flowers opening, I immediately saw a single monarch flutterby dancing around the patch. It’s the only one I’ve seen. I realize . . .  soon they may be no more.

Noting the several economic earthquake zones–Greece, China, Puerto Rico–brings up the question: When will the tremors arrive here in the upper Mississippi valley, realm of Big Ag and Big Mining. (Both won greater license to pollute in this year’s state legislative session.) Both are highly dependent upon a functioning Big Bank system and long supply chains.

It calls into question the timing of other upheavals over the past century and more.

The most spectacular seizure is well detailed in John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash 1929, going well beyond the events of Black Tuesday, 29 October. It makes clear, for example, that the peak of U.S. industrial activity and factory production came in June 1929.

The Cancer solar ingress that month tells the tale: a very nearly Full Moon exactly conjunct Saturn in late Sagittarius, where Jupiter (growth, the drug of capitalism) is lord, and with Jupiter recently entered into Gemini (where Jupiter is in detriment or exile). Thus Jupiter and Saturn were in opposition phase: a crisis.

Cancer Ingress 1929

There had already been–since Saturn had entered Sagittarius–several shocks to the system. “Early in 1928, in June, in December, and in February and March of 1929, it seemed that the end [of the boom] had come. . . . And then the market took flight again.”

And looking further: The solar eclipse in May 1929 also eclipsed Jupiter in Taurus, zoidion of economic security and stability, but where Jupiter has no dignity. (Three days after Black Tuesday came the next solar eclipse, eclipsing Mars in domicile in Scorpio: unleashing the full pent-up force of a situation deeply out of balance.)

The dire early years of the Great Depression were those when contractive Saturn was moving through its domiciles in Capricorn and Aquarius.

The previous really big economic mess–the Panic of 1873 and ensuing Long Depression–had broken into the public realm with the failure of railroad tycoon Jay Cooke’s firm on 18 September. (Fifty-seven other stock-exchange firms followed over the next few weeks.) That year saw a somewhat different signature: Saturn in late Capricorn in close hard aspect to Neptune in late Aries, but with Jupiter in its other zoidion of detriment / exile: Virgo. Again, further growth denied.

The preceding Cancer solar ingress had occurred at dawn on Wall Street, and had featured Moon (exalted), Venus (domicile) and Pluto conjunct in Taurus, along with an opposition of Saturn and Uranus in second and eighth sectors of the chart: the my-money / your-money axis. Before the next major ingress, the collective sense of stability and well-being had been obliterated.

The massive one-day stock-market crash on 19 October1987 again featured a Saturn-Uranus combination–the conjunction–that time in the irrational-exuberance zoidion of Sagittarius. That it was not followed by a sustained and severe economic downturn is reflected in Jupiter’s place in fiery Aries. Jupiter, the gas giant, almost a sun, likes fire.

The bursting of the vast real estate fraud bubble in 2008 was again marked by Jupiter in zodiacal trouble: in Capricorn, where Jupiter is “in fall.” In the midst of the “hope and change” U.S. presidential election change, it was high drama centering, perhaps, on the federal government’s denial of a bailout for the house of Lehman Brothers on 15 September. It was a Full Moon aligning with the axis of Saturn opposing Uranus. The entrenchment and engorgement then and in the years since of those who engineered the crisis merely set the stage for greater eruptions.

Okay, so what about now and the next couple of years? Well, the prospects ain’t pretty. (But you weren’t really expecting pretty, were you?)

Jupiter moves out of ebullient Leo and into exile in Virgo for a year, starting in early August 2015, just after a hard aspect with Saturn: the three-quarter mark in their cycle that began in May 2000. Then, in mid-September, Saturn moves back into Sagittarius, to stay until December 2017, before moving on . . .  to Capricorn, then Aquarius. By late November 2015, Saturn is in hard aspect with Neptune, which continues through 2016.

The planetary configuration of mid-October 2015–especially around the New Moon of 12 October–appears particularly likely to correlate with a suddenly undeniable crisis. (Let’s be grateful it’s not the climax of another presidential election spectacle in the U.S.) For one of the better day-to-day aggregations of relevant news items, consult the Rice Farmer. See also David Stockman’s Contra Corner, “where mainstream delusions and cant about the Warfare State, the Bailout State, Bubble Finance and Beltway Banditry are ripped, refuted and rebuked.”

New Moon October 2015

Thus, the collapse of many large organizations and institutions–along with confidence in and legitimacy of the overarching structure–continues apace. The centers cannot hold, indeed have not for some time. But their gyrations become more obvious and desperate.

That’s what happens when a whole lotta stuff just doesn’t work anymore–structures and practices that seemed like good ideas at the times.

And isn’t it curious, the way these crises again and again break around the end of summer or in the autumn months? Winter’s first chilly breaths blow away the clouds of delusion. This time: another chunk of the delusion of infinite growth on a finite planet.


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