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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.


Forecast: Summer 2015 17/06/2015

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The yard, front and back, is amazingly lush, as usual in mid-June: the peak of our rainy season.

As I look up from my keyboard, my eyes are caught by the first white umbels on one of the two elderberry bushes, reminding me that berry time is not so far away. I can see the patch of bee balm that will soon turn a blaze of red. Indistinguishable are the two hazelnut seedlings that I acquired from Badgersett research station  a year ago on the solstice; when I check on them at ground level, they show some growth and healthy leaves, but I remember not to expect a great deal of growth in the second season. (The saying is: Sleep, creep, leap.)

It’s been catch-up time for garden work around here, since spending the week of the Full Moon as part of a work crew on wondrous Mallard Island in Rainy Lake. 


It was a rather different situation there at the start of this year’s visiting season, after the lake lived up to its name in June last year: The shores of that narrow, rocky island were inundated, and the waters invaded one cabin, the kitchen building (the “wannigan”), and most of the gardens.

The previous week, one crew raised the wannigan by fourteen inches, leaving some finish carpentry and the task of filling the supporting cribs with rocks for the next bunch; another crew spent both weeks repairing many of the waterline stone walls.

None of my group were spring chickens, and I dare say we all felt stretched to our limits. On one occasion, I endeavored to de-grass a sizable patch of about-to-bloom irises–without stepping (or falling!) on said irises. I spent a couple of hours one day with a pair of loppers, cutting dead wild rose bushes down to their bases while wading through a patch of stinging nettles. (I left one dead bush alone: It contained a fairly fresh bird nest, no eggs — yet.) And I spent a couple of other work sessions inching my way down short slopes to cut dead juniper. There was always, somewhere, a small drowned bush calling to my blades. My shoulders kept screaming: Stop!

If I had any energy at all left after group dinner, I was typically too sore of hand and shoulder to feel like playing my fiddle, so several times I played dominoes with the group instead. Nobody seemed to have the will for the usual end-of-the-week soiree.

But on that last night before leaving, I put my camera on a tripod and sought a clear view of the western sky. It wasn’t easy to find, though once, my eyes were drawn down, to a bright patch in the inky water: It was the reflection of Venus! Both Venus and Jupiter were riding long arcs downward toward the horizon. And as I at last settled into what had been Ober’s bed, head to the south, I found I could tilt my head to the left and still see, through a gap in the tall white pine, the bright spot of Venus.


Outline for the season in the upper Mississippi River basin: Summer 2015

A warm and dryer-than-average season overall is indicated, but it begins relatively cool; the most notable heat holds off until August and (especially) September: until after Mars enters fire sign Leo.

Lingering stormy conditions through several periods, with above-average winds, make for a somewhat gloomy summer. The last week of June through the first week of July, 22-23 and 29-30 August, and the days surrounding the autumn equinox (23 September) will likely see the most notable and problematic storms.

Primary chart indications: An early degree of fire sign Sagittarius on lower meridian, with Saturn in last degree of water sign Scorpio; earth sign Virgo rising, with lord Mercury conjunct upper meridian; Neptune in water sign Pisces conjunct western horizon; Venus conjunct Jupiter in fire sign Leo; Sun six days past conjunction with Mars.

Sun and Mars are in parallel of declination; Mercury and Venus are in very close parallel, and contra-parallel to Saturn.

Cancer Ingress 2015

Lunar Week by Lunar Week

First Quarter: 24 – 30 June
Warmth and humidity increasing; wet 22 June, persistent (possibly severe) storms 28-29 June.

Full Moon: 1 – 7 July (lunar perigee 5 July)
Storms continuing, becoming more energetic, then tapering off with abrupt wind shift 6-7 July.

Last Quarter: 8 – 15 July
Cooler, becoming dryer, windier.

New Moon: 16 – 23 July
General increase in thunderstorm activity, with some strong storms likely.

First Quarter: 24 – 30 July
Decreasing weather drama, though still notably windy.

Full (Blue) Moon: 31 July – 6 August (lunar perigee 2 August)
Distinct shift in weather regime, becoming dryer.

Last Quarter: 6 – 13 August
Warmer, dry, windy.

New Moon: 14 – 21 August
Somewhat cooler, dry.

First Quarter: 22 – 28 August
Severe storms likely 22 – 23 August, then a continuing showery pattern.

Full Moon: 29 August – 4 September (lunar perigee 30 August)
Major storms likely from Texas to the Great Lakes region around the Full Moon date, but especially heavy in the northern areas and Texas itself. The most notable period of the season.

Last Quarter: 5 – 12 September
Warmer with continuing turbulence.

New Moon (Solar Eclipse): 13 – 20 September
Late-season heat, dry.

First Quarter: 21 – 27 September
Notable heat with likely heavy storms bringing little moisture.

Be well. Stay aware.


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