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Halfway House 19/09/2016

Posted by zoidion in Climate, forecast, Photography, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: Most of my time is spent in the polar half of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s an odd thought, admittedly, and not one with much time and energy invested in it, either. Yet there it was, bouncing around through several thought bubbles, soon after waking.

That’s because the forty-fifth parallel of latitude passes through North and Northeast Minneapolis, and my place is a couple of miles to the north. And just a couple of miles south of forty-five, the Mississippi River — greatest on the entire continent — rushes over the most significant falls of its entire length. Curious.

This is one of those periods of the year, after all, for reflecting on such facts: halfway between solstices, when day and night are equal, when Sun rises and sets at east and west points of the horizon. The Full Harvest Moon, occurring six days before the equinox (Libra solar ingress), also rose and set approximately on the east-west axis.

On the evening of the Full Moon, M and I went to Indian Mounds Park, on the east side of St. Paul overlooking a great bend in the river, in hopes of seeing the moonrise more or less in line with the mounds. The sky had cleared in the afternoon, so there was some prospect of seeing it on that account. But trees are another matter.

As places along another transition zone — between eastern hardwood forest and western grasslands, with boreal forest just a little further north — much of the Twin Cities area was prairie when settlers arrived. Trees were mostly found in the river bottoms. Now they’re on every street, with a great deal of resources applied to maintaining and replacing trees that naturally succumb to the pressures of urban environments, as well as a series of insect opportunists. Many, many streets were veritable cathedrals: the effect of lines of tall elm trees — until Dutch elm beetles carrying their deadly fungus took their toll. (Minnesota History magazine published, in its summer 2016 issue, a feature story on the great change.) Now it’s the turn of the emerald ash borers devastating the millions of ash trees.

Even so, the view to the horizon was obscured by trees. After capturing this view, a rogue raincloud arrived, bringing a downpour for a few minutes.


The rainy pattern continues, with somewhat longer stretches of dry weather between episodes. The ground is soggy across much of the region, as it is in my garden. 

The sorrel’s second season of luxuriant leaves yields plenty of salad material, as does the raspberries’. The squash continue trying to grow, as I continue nipping off the growing ends so the plants will put their resources into making fruit. The compost bins are nearly full, even without any tree leaves yet, and still cooking, although when rain is imminent I cover the denser pile so the microorganisms doing the work don’t drown.

Out front, along the sidewalk, I’ve dug out some of the black raspberries, having decided I’m not as enthused about the seedier fruit as compared to their red cousins. I’m transplanting some red raspberry plants out there, and I figure on taking some cuttings from the black currants come February, and putting them in that area as well. Always new garden experiments to contemplate.

But the big questions at this time of year are: How many days have we got left? When will the killing frost come? It’s tricky because even two spots within the urban heat island can have rather different experiences.

Before that most recent rainy spell, there was a reminder that September does belong, meteorologically, to autumn. The temperature here in the metro dropped to forty-seven (coolest since mid-May), in northern Minnesota as low as twenty-seven.

That was when Moon was moving through Aquarius, along with Capricorn a zoidion associated with cold conditions, where Saturn is lord. That was a reminder to give more consideration to the indications contained in the seasonal chart cast for the Libra solar ingress on 22 September: a chart that for this locality has Aquarius on the most important place: the lower meridian.


(In case you’re wondering why the chart here uses Placidus houses / places instead of whole-sign houses / places, usual on this site, it is simply to render the horizon and meridian obvious.)

“Sharp cold spells” was the phrase that came to mind when first seeing the coming season’s chart. Climatologists and meteorologists seem to have the slow-motion train wreck of climate chaos fairly well figured out, at least for the short-term future: Earth’s overall climate continuing on a steeply warming pace. And that is likely to continue through the autumn of 2016.

But that doesn’t preclude the likelihood of some rude shocks of cold weather — successive killing frosts, as Canadian air masses gain strength against Gulf and Pacific air masses — through the North American midsection.

As Moon moves through the zoidia (counter-clockwise across the face of the chart), the first crossing of the horizon at the ascendant — late on 1 October — will likely be a telling indicator of the character of the season. Markedly cooler and windier weather with a bit of rain — as Moon crosses the position of Venus in the season chart — is the forecast for this area. But probably not a hard frost.

The real drama arrives as Moon crosses the early-Aquarius lower meridian on 10 October. Expect the lengthening night after to be very chilly indeed. End of season for any tender plants, even covered with a blanket.

Further weather drama of the chilly variety comes for areas further south on 6-8 November: the Moon’s next pass through Aquarius, just as Americans make decisions on who is most deplorable at their polling places.

Around here until recent years, Thanksgiving marked the start of snow-on-the-ground winter. The heavens seem to be indicating a return to normal this time, with a sloppy storm rolling through.

And come the first weekend in December: another rude shock.

There is some good news: The very wet pattern eases.

What does the Farmer’s Almanac say? I heard something a while back — a summary, along with the obligatory derision that “it’s not scientific” — but I don’t remember.


[ Currently reading: Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson, 2013; The Fermented Man, Derek Dellinger, 2016 ]


Dilma’s Downfall 05/09/2016

Posted by zoidion in Hellenistic, homesteading, Long Emergency, Mundane.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The moments of renewal, or reassurance, are sweet indeed: happening, after breaking the stems of the infernal bindweed, after noting the leaves perforated by Japanese beetles, upon the wondrous sight of a few virgin raspberry canes:


finding a few ripe raspberries to add to my pancakes (pausing along the way to blow away a renegade ant): noting that there are fewer mosquitoes after five (!) straight days without rain: a visit from the bold gray bird that loves elderberries, though only the deep purple ribs of their umbels remain: an opportunity to lie down on the deck, wispy sky above and book in between: James Howard Kunstler’s The Harrows of Spring, with titles of fiddle tunes for which to search (“The Stool of Repentance,” “Hollow Poplar,” “Two Rivers Waltz”) along with more curious musical pieces (Erik Satie’s “Reveries and Nocturnes”): introducing new plants (spotted dead nettle, Lamium maculatum — “dead” because it doesn’t sting) that have culinary value.

Through it all, the joy of sensation: the soft air caressing my skin.

But the losses are many: the eight-foot sunflower “tree” that tipped over onto the squash zone: I’d so wanted to observe it through the fall and winter, turning brown, then gray, adding a mantle of snow, showing off its majesty with icicles. The patch of rose hips — with its rich potential for fortifying against winter and early spring illness — growing next to a neighboring garage: cut down, nearly the first bit of work done by the new occupant of the house. The denuding of another nearby yard when that property changed hands. And at still another location — only a block away — a spot formerly occupied by bushes and a bit of undergrowth now sporting a fresh patch of sod, a water sprinkler going and going in this near-record-wet summer to get it to “take.”

What is it with this mania for a generic, lifeless landscape?

Just one of many effects, it makes heavy demands on our rivers and aquifers — yes, even here, along the Mississippi River — as a recent story in the StarTribune newspaper reported: The difference in metro area water usage, between winter low and summer high, is eight billion gallons, the bulk of it going to lawns. At current rates, some aquifers could drop by forty feet over the next fifteen years, presupposing the expected 400,000 growth in human population. (Not at all likely, in my view — especially as trends in declining public health, and costly and increasingly ineffectual conventional medical care continue.)

Are many people mentally and practically ready for the next, imminent collapse in business as usual? When so many behaviors such as these are in evidence, it appears not.

Venezuela in the tank, now Brazil. National dependency upon petro revenue a major factor in both. Democratic functions in ruins. Masses of people desperate for the basics of life, with “austerity” measures in place, squeezing the poor / enriching the rich. Not a formula for political stability.

The fall — impeachment and removal from office — of President Dilma Rousseff deepens Brazil’s crisis, formally ending thirteen years of rule by the Workers’ Party.

The 61-20 vote by the Senate took place on 31 August, the day before a solar eclipse (symbolically, a break in the established pattern) in the same zoidion as the Sun in the Brazilian independence chart (7 September 1822, 4:47 p.m., Sao Paolo*). The Sun: representing the ruling class, with roots deeper and resources stronger than workers’. It was a claw-back coup.

For some years under the Workers’ Party, when the Brazilian economy was growing along with its oil industry (Petrobras), there was enough surplus in the system to grant boons to the struggling millions. But when world oil prices plummeted a couple of years ago, and Petrobras ran into trouble, the writing was on the wall. Austerity was imposed, and millions were thrown back into destitution — while the state poured resources into construction for the just-concluded Rio Olympics.

The all-but-inevitable vote was put off until after the Games.

For Rousseff herself, the indications of a great rise and fall are clear: Saturn without dignity (in detriment in the zoidion Leo) in the tenth place of her chart.** (The same placement as in Hillary Clinton’s, by the way, though in Clinton’s case the indications are worse: likely disgrace in a military debacle.)


One can see how Rousseff was riding high, with ominous clouds on the horizon, when she was inaugurated: The Sun in the inaugural chart, flanked by Mars and Pluto, conjunct her natal Moon position: the workers’ darling who had survived imprisonment and torture, but contained by powerful, well-organized forces she could not control. The inaugural Moon conjunct natal Mercury-Jupiter: the sense that the common people were in tune with her thinking and articulated principles. Inaugural Mercury conjunct natal Sun: the experience and conviction of speaking with authority: that her voice could / would carry the era.

Her personal transits for her re-election (26 October 2014) show the weakness of her popularity, and the imminence of the crisis: the Sun with Venus (the latter lacking dignity in Scorpio) exactly upon her natal ascendant, while Jupiter (transiting her tenth place of public position and reputation) was closing in on the last-quarter phase with Saturn, within their twenty-year cycle.) The crashing waves of economic and political crisis were rolling in.


As Saturn over the next year moved into Sagittarius, Rousseff had less and less room for maneuver: Saturn moved to the place of natal Mercury-Jupiter. What could she say to restore faith among those whose hopes had been crushed by austerity?

And Saturn continued moving on, toward natal Sun: lord of her tenth place zoidion, Leo, where sits natal Saturn. Indications were increasingly clear that she could not last, that the vote was a foregone conclusion. Even as many senators themselves were subjects of criminal investigation.

As so often when Saturn occupies the tenth place in a natal chart (and especially when debilitated), circumstances and opposition proved more than a match for Dilma Rousseff.

But it takes a special brand of creep to dedicate his vote to impeach (in April 2016) to the colonel who led a torture unit during the dictatorship. One of whose victims was the president herself.

-< zoidion>-

Happy Labor Day, recognizing those who organized to win for all (what used to be) the forty-hour work week, and the weekend.

* Source: The Book of World Horoscopes, Nicholas Campion, 1999
** Source: Astrodatabank

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