Sunday, January 31, 2010

Magical Mystery Cure

When I published my “New Direction” post on Friday, I thought it would be a good long while until I posted again. Well, what do I know? Here we are, two days later, and I’m already two posts behind! So let’s get cracking here.

Anybody who has been following my blog might remember statements like “Giving it up” and “Dropping back out.” Intriguing concepts to be sure, but what do they refer to? Sometimes I find myself knowing things without knowing why. I see through the glass darkly at first. Only later do the details emerge. This is one of those times when I’m finally starting to understand what those statements I made weeks ago really meant.

Like many Americans, I have had it with this country. The situation has become so extreme that I am reluctant to articulate all the things that have gone wrong, even though I haven’t been shy about speaking out in the recent past. I have concluded that speaking or writing about negative situations contaminates my own vibrational field with negativity. (This is perhaps what is warned about by the Biblical injunction, “Resist not evil.”) This doesn’t mean that I’m choosing denial. I’m fully aware of what’s going on out there. It’s just that constant complaining, if not followed by action, is worse than useless.

I have decided to take action for myself. I have decided to TUNE OUT, and in fact already have. I’ve already noticed benefits in my own life. For years I haven’t watched TV, listened to the radio, or listened to very much canned music, so I’ve already been semi-tuned-out. But I’ve been an Internet junkie since I got my first computer in 1996, spending several hours a day logging onto various websites, under the excuse of “keeping myself informed.” But like I said, I’m totally fed up with just about everything the cultural mainstream has to offer these days, so my old habits are losing their allure. I think the last straw was when I realized that I didn’t need to know what Digby thought of Obama’s State of the Union Speech. Something fundamental shifted for me. I realized that I didn’t need to participate as a media consumer anymore, and I went cold turkey from the Internet except for checking the weather and snowpack. I haven’t missed being “informed” at all; in fact I find it liberating. Next I’ll be canceling Netflix.

But doesn’t this mean I’m giving up? Shouldn’t a citizen keep himself informed about what’s happening? In my case, at least, not at all. I already understand the trajectory of this country very well, and I doubt that it will be changing anytime soon. Whenever I choose to re-engage, I can be quickly brought up to speed. (And if I do re-engage, maybe I will have learned something useful in the meantime.) TUNING OUT means I’ve eliminated a huge distraction, a huge energy drain, from my life. I now have extra hours every day to engage with my wife, play music, or sit in my rocking chair thinking about nothing at all... which greatly enhances my spirituality and creativity. The benefits are spectacular so far. It’s a magical mystery cure for the overstimulated brain/mind system.

We all know that America is ripe for something. Like a supersaturated solution, just one seed crystal can cause a massive crystallization event. I think a critical mass of Americans are becoming desperate to try something different. People feel frustrated and helpless. Our present situation is becoming increasingly unsatisfactory. How can we become free once again? It’s hard to become free from the economic system and our joke of a political system, but it’s relatively easy to escape the tendrils of the constant media barrage we’re exposed to. (As McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message,” which I take to mean that a message of control is inherent within the electronic media themselves, and by our position as passive media consumers.) Tuning out frees us from this control, frees our time, energy, minds and spirits, and is totally risk-free. (We can always tune back in if tuning out proves to be unsatisfactory.)

Just Google “media fast” for any number of fine articles about this subject. Many people have tried it, have experienced positive benefits, and are recommending it to others. I think we’ve reached a point in this country where people are finally willing to actively disengage from the mainstream Matrix. This could catch on. I’m doing my little bit here to stoke the flame of freedom. There will be others.

Tuning out creates unprecedented time and energy for live conversation, live music, live culture, live creativity (is there any other kind?). We have unprecedented opportunities to create creative excitement for ourselves. And creative excitement can create what I call “the extra buzz,” which has more implications than is commonly supposed. It’s about time for this blog to become supernatural again. (That didn’t take long, did it?)

Friday, January 29, 2010


East Las Cruces.  I like the juxtaposition of the tombstones with the electrical substation.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pink House

Brightly-colored houses are so unAmerican.  That's why I love them so much.

East Las Cruces.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


East Las Cruces.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snowflake Porch

East Las Cruces.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thought for Today

"The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest."

This, by the way, is why I have finally lost interest in writing about politics, even as a spectator sport.  In fact, I am rapidly losing interest in writing altogether. 

Blue Mortar Joints

An interesting accent to your rockwork.  East Las Cruces.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adobe Fixer-Upper

East Las Cruces.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sanchez House

East Las Cruces.  Lots of personal touches -- bubble lights, coyote, eagle.

Friday, January 22, 2010

St. Francis

At least it looks like St. Francis, cut from a sheet of metal and standing in the Carlos Sanchez Memorial in East Las Cruces.  Barely visible in the background:  a wire flamingo.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This is part of the Carlos Sanchez Memorial.  East Las Cruces is a notoriously rough neighborhood, so it is expedient to protect one's shrine with a fence and a locked gate. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In Memorium

East Las Cruces.  This corner lot has been turned into a memorial for Carlos Sanchez.  You don't find stuff like this in other parts of town.  In fact, you don't find it elsewhere in East Las Cruces, either.   

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If Your Mailbox Falls Over...

... you can easily fix it.

East Las Cruces.

Monday, January 18, 2010


East Las Cruces.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fuchsia House

East Las Cruces.  Brightly-colored houses are a Latino tradition.  Unfortunately, there are a lot fewer of these paint jobs than there used to be. 

Avatar: The Wasteland and The Holy Grail

This is my February-March Grassroots Press column:

James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Avatar deals with an important theme currently playing itself out right here on Earth: planetary destruction. Will the culture of destruction win, or not? Right now it looks like there’s little to stop the destroyers. The pro-Earth forces seem too few, too compromised, and too weak to make the necessary difference. But no worries, let’s just take $300,000,000 and create a movie with the desired happy ending!

The year is 2154, and the Earthlings have pretty well destroyed their own planet. So they’ve invaded Pandora, a paradise located in a nearby star system, for some necessary resource extraction. The Earthlings are white, corporate Americans with a militaristic bent. In this movie, at least, it looks like the Republicans took over our planet and destroyed what was left of it. With rare exceptions, the Earthlings of 2154 are a bunch of assholes. In fact, the corporate boss looks and acts remarkably like George W. Bush.

Pandora is inhabited by a race of 9-foot-tall, blue humanoids with tails who live in harmony with their planet. The Pandorans are trying to defend their home from the invading Americans, who have overwhelming firepower and a no-nonsense culture of total destruction. The ensuing conflict is what we would expect in a movie: cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, might vs. right. But Cameron turns convention on its head by making the Pandorans the good guys, and the Americans the bad guys. What a change of pace to see the Americans shipped home in humiliating defeat! Cameron has wisely (from a commercial viewpoint) tapped into the global zeitgeist of fear and frustration with the out-of-control American Empire. In movieland at least, America gets its long-awaited comeuppance.

The movie gives Cameron the opportunity to contrast two opposing cultures: the sterile, exploitative, high-tech American corporate culture, and the magical, harmony-oriented world of the Pandorans. Like Star Wars, Avatar is lifted right from the pages of Joseph Campbell. In this movie, as in real life, the Americans have lost the Holy Grail, the spiritual connection with reality which Campbell calls the “infinite depths... of the living waters of the inexhaustible source,” and consequently live in a spiritual and physical Wasteland of their own creation. The Pandorans, on the other hand, have never lost the Grail in the first place.

We are already all-too-familiar with the American Wasteland, since we live in the middle of it. Americans, and by extension the entire industrialized world, are projecting their spiritual desolation onto the planet, and in so doing, laying waste to it. The Wasteland culture reduces life to a routine whenever possible. Everything is ordinary; nothing is sacred. The wealthy set the agenda, and technocrats run everything. Indigenous cultures are destroyed. It’s all about money and exploitation; anything not for sale is valueless. As Campbell says, the Wasteland is “... where there is no poet’s eye to see, no adventure to be lived, where all is set for all and forever: Utopia! It is the land where poets languish and priestly spirits thrive, whose task it is only to repeat, enforce, and elucidate cliches... There is no time, no place, no permission – let alone encouragement – for experience.” In other words, life is always tightly programmed within the Wasteland culture, and the vital essence of life – which requires long periods of unstructured time in which to grow -- has been squeezed right out of it.

The critical mass of Americans don’t feel spiritually desolated. They don’t even realize they’re living in a Wasteland. They’ve adapted to it, and in so doing, have lost more than they realize. The Grail is a strictly optional experience – powerful, yet exceedingly subtle. Experiencing the Grail within the Wasteland culture is like trying to hear a bird singing in a tree next to a busy freeway – the bird is singing, but all you hear is traffic. (I don’t want to minimize the amazing creativity and spirituality to be found in our country. But when we look at our behavior on the national level – war, torture, environmental destruction, financial exploitation, on and on – we must conclude that something is terribly wrong with this nation.)

What’s most fascinating about the movie is the Pandoran culture Cameron created. The Pandorans are in full contact with the Grail, which I would define as the lived experience of connection with the transcendental ground of reality. The Pandorans are TUNED IN: to their emotions, to their own animal nature and spiritual nature (animal and spirit are one and the same), to the spirit of the planet that gave them birth. The Pandoran culture Cameron created is loosely based on Native American spirituality (in which everything is sacred), and as such is perhaps the first exposure many young people have ever had to a culture with a spiritual orientation to life. This is a good thing: I imagine that many a Quest has been activated within the soul of many a young person from watching Avatar. This movie might spark questions like: What is life all about? Does my pre-programmed religion or non-religion really satisfy my spiritual needs? Where are my people? Is destruction the only possible human outcome? Hopefully, questions like this help to break the tyranny of the take-it-all-for-granted mindset of the Wasteland. Even a Hollywood caricature of nature-based spirituality is better than nothing.

One positive aspect of the movie is the way in which Pandoran women – and specifically the heroine, Neytiri – are portrayed. They are the equals of men in every way; they come across as powerful, competent, physical, spiritual, sexual. Being products of Cameron’s imagination, they transcend the “mere human.” They are archetypes more than accurate representations of actual living creatures. For all practical purposes, they are goddesses. Neytiri and her cohorts are excellent role models for young women living on the cusp of a collapsing Empire. They (along with people of all sexes) will need some major inner resources as chaos fills our planet.

Cameron has tapped into the hunger for harmony and magic that many people feel within the Wasteland culture. After all, the Grail (or whatever you want to call it) is closer to us than our own breathing. Even if we’ve been distracted out of noticing it, it’s always there. So it stands to reason that a certain percentage of Americans feel dissatisfied with the spiritually primitive nature of American mainstream culture: “Where is the culture that amplifies and supports my own inner experience?” they might well ask. Mainstream America has made remarkably little progress since the heady days of the 60s and 70s, when many of us believed that surely we could create some sort of alternative to the madness. Now, 40 years later, it seems obvious that things are significantly worse. The wealthy now control all the levers of national power, the rabble are thoroughly trivialized, life is more tightly programmed than ever, and the biosphere is on the verge of collapse.

But we still have our inner experience, as free as ever. What can we ever hope to accomplish with such evanescence? As with every generation, today’s young people will have plenty of opportunities to figure this out for themselves, or not. They’re inheriting a stark new world, in which the traditional explanations will be revealed to be the prattle they’ve been all along.

In the final analysis, spirituality is not about outcomes. It’s about awakening from the hypnotism of the altered state of consciousness we take as “normal,” and reclaiming the birthright which has been ours all along. Looking at it that way, all Avatar can ever hope to be is just another movie. It’s very entertaining, to be sure, and will no doubt cause at least a few young people to seek the real thing in terms of nature-based spirituality. This is probably more than Cameron ever intended... which, along with being a blockbuster success, is not a bad outcome for any filmmaker.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nice Detailing

East Las Cruces.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nature is Messy

In this photo, our lumberjack gestures towards the mess he is about to attack.  It's not really chaos, because there's definitely a pattern to this inpenetrable tangle of twigs.  Nature is more complex than we can imagine.  Nature is definitely not American.

Americans like to keep things simple, as befits our simple-mindedness.  The epitome of American landscaping is the lawn -- two-dimensional, one species, one color.  Even better would be to pave it over.  You don't have to mow a parking lot.  Get rid of life altogether, now we're talking!

I can't imagine a greater tragedy than turning a rainforest -- which is messiness personified -- into a cow pasture.  Eliminate the third dimension, and you've eliminated billions of years of evolutionary magic.  But there are burgers to be fried, and money to be made.  Onward into the 21st Century!

Blue Posts

East Las Cruces.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cactus Hedge

East Las Cruces.  This neighborhood is over 150 years old, so there is a lot of mature landscaping.  These cacti are more than 6 feet tall. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's That Time of Year

"Wintertime, when the livin' is freezy" is the best time to cut firewood with minimal sweat.  We still have plenty of firewood left from 07 through 09, so this year I have the modest goal of cutting down a large saltcedar clump that's a bit too close to the Ark.  Cutting it down will reduce the fire hazard, open up a nice view of North Hill, and give us a big pile of firewood for next winter. 

This is one of the messiest saltcedar clumps I've ever seen.  This picture was taken after I had spent over an hour cutting away at it, and you still can't see what's there.  The trunks are covered with a multi-year accumulation of saltcedar leaves -- the bottom layer is so old, it's turning into humus.  Additionally, everything up to a height of four feet is soaked with mud from the 06 flood.  And the clump shown in this photo is only the beginning -- there's even more closer to the river. 

Thought for Today

"Have a Coke, be my friend."  Simple, isn't it?

On the wall of Sunshine Grocery, East Las Cruces.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Doors

After neglecting it for years, I have finally turned my attention to East Las Cruces, which is the Mother Lode for the funky architecture and folk art I love so much.  I plan to make an expedition into that realm before long, hopefully on a cloudy day without the harsh lighting and shadows we usually have.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Purple Cabbage

While slicing up a cabbage the other day, I realized it would make a great pattern picture.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Grail Quest

Laura has encouraged me to post some excerpts from Joseph Campbell, so here goes:

During the early 70s I was deeply affected by Joseph Campbell’s massive four-volume opus, The Masks of God. My favorite was Volume Four, Creative Mythology. From the book I came to understand key elements of my own life. I came to understand that my own self-actualization process, which seemed, as often as not, to lurch sideways or backwards or to not move at all, was in fact a Grail Quest. Everything is mythological, we are all legendary, nothing is “ordinary” – how could it possibly be?

Reading Campbell can be challenging to those not used to his long sentences. But I love the concept-music he makes. At his best, he’s like Bach playing a fugue on the organ.

Here’s a choice nugget from Creative Mythology where he talks about the Grail Quest, and the possible consequences of living an individual life:


In the marvelous thirteenth-century legend called La Queste del Saint Graal, it is told that when the knights of the Round Table set forth, each on his own steed, in quest of the Holy Grail, they departed separately from the castle of King Arthur. “And now each one,” we are told, “went the way upon which he had decided, and they set out into the forest at one point and another, there where they saw it to be thickest” (la ou il la volent plus espresse); so that each, entering of his own volition, leaving behind the known good company and table of Arthur’s towered court, would experience the unknown pathless forest in his own heroic way.

Today the walls and towers of the culture-world that then were in the building are dissolving; and whereas heroes then could set forth of their own will from the known to the unknown, we today, willy-nilly, must enter the forest la ou nos la voions plus espresse: and, like it or not, the pathless way is the only way now before us.

But of course, on the other hand, for those who can still contrive to live within the fold of a traditional mythology of some kind, protection is still afforded against the dangers of an individual life; and for many the possibility of adhering in this way to established formulas is a birthright they rightly cherish, since it will contribute meaning and nobility to their unadventured lives, from birth to marriage and it duties and, with the gradual failure of powers, a peaceful passage of the last gate. For, as the psalmist sings, “Steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in the Lord” (Psalm 32:10); and to those for whom such protection seems a prospect worthy of all sacrifice, an orthodox mythology will afford both the patterns and the sentiments of a lifetime of good repute.

However, by those to whom such living would not be life, but anticipated death, the circumvallating mountains that to others appear to be of stone are recognized as of the mist of dream, and precisely between their God and Devil, heaven and hell, white and black, the man of heart walks through. Out beyond those walls, in the uncharted forest night, where the terrible wind of God blows directly on the questing undefended soul, tangled ways may lead to madness. They may also lead, however, as one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages tells, to “all those things that go to make heaven and earth.”

Refurbishing Our Solar Collector, Part 3

This is what the solar collector looks like with the trim in place.  The vertical strips are strictly decorative; the top strip is roof edge that serves a useful function, sealing the top from rain.  Two tasks remain:  removing the ivy from the back of the collector, and hiring a tree service to remove two large pine trees that are shading the collector during part of the day.  There always seems to be something.

I'll never understand why Mother Earth News rejected my article about colorful solar collectors back in the early 80s.  It's a worthy concept.  As you have perhaps noticed, solar energy never really caught on during the critical 80s and 90s.  I think colorful collectors -- which look stylishly sharp to some people -- might have made some difference.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I sent this picture to James Howard Kunstler to add to his "Eyesore of the Month" collection, along with this note:

Here’s another eyesore for your collection: the new $81 million Federal Building in Las Cruces, NM. It looks like the architect put every possible design element in a pot, stirred well, and this is what came out: stucco, copper cladding, rock facing; right angles, acute angles, obtuse angles; arbitrary overhangs; zigzags; three colors of paint. It looks like it was stuck together with legos. It looks like a ziggurat on psilocybin. There’s nothing pleasing upon which the eye can rest in this mass of jumbled confusion. It’s like the Federal Government itself: still monstrously powerful, but lacking any sense of direction beyond gigantism for its own sake.


He emailed me right back:

Wow. That's a humdinger.
I'll let everybody know when he runs it on his site.


Randy Harris sent his observation:

I see that building often and only shudder at the obvious message we're sending...

"No money for schools or jobs ... Lots of money for courthouses. Lots of money to enable the burgeoning police-state. Lots of money for the machine that processes the uneducated and unemployed into the taxpayer funded "for profit prison systems". It's frightening that our direction as a society is so apparent and so thoroughly ignored.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ark Water Tank

These days I consider a rainwater catchment tank an integral part of any structure.  Last winter I built the Ark; this winter I'm installing the tank.  This one is 1100 gallons, which I bought from Western Tank conveniently located just a few miles down the road.  I chose the low-profile model, since I didn't want to block the view from the window.  Since I wanted a bit of water pressure, I put the tank on a platform, which as Laura demonstrates, is about 5 1/2 feet tall.  Since 1100 gallons of water weighs 9185 pounds, I built a stout platform using treated 6x6 timbers and 2x6 diagonal bracing.  No more railroad ties for me!

Now I have to install the guttering and downspout, and figure out a way to handle the overflow.  Then I'll lay an underground water line to the Ark coldframe, and to a little garden area barely visible in the lower-right corner of the picture.

The Ark roof is 16x24 feet, which works out to 384 square feet.  Assuming 8" of rain a year, the Ark collects 256.1 cubic feet of rain a year.  One cubic foot = 7.481 gallons.  So in an average year, the Ark roof will collect a little over 1900 gallons of water, or nearly double the tank's capacity.  The conclusion I draw from this is that surely I can fill the tank every year. 

An interesting piece of data is to calculate the amount of water from 1" of rain.  From this, you can easily figure out how much water has been added to your tank after any rain.  One inch is 1/12 of a foot, so in this case we multiply 384 square feet by 1/12 and get 32 cubic feet.  Multiply 32 by 7.481 and get 239.4 gallons from 1" of rain.  If, for example, we have 0.2" of rain, multiply 239.4 x 0.2 and get 47.9 gallons.  How about a 2 1/2" gullywasher?  239.4 x 2.5 = 598.5 gallons, over half a tank.  Aren't we glad we went to grade school?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

In mainstream America, there’s no need for the promoters of information to actually practice it themselves. For example, there’s no need for an environmentalist to actually live in an environmentally-sound manner, or for a “man of God” to actually be a man of God. All that counts is how good you are at spinning hype. The audience seems unable to look skeptically at a hypester, and connect the dots. Like credulous children, they take things at face value, and are therefore easily manipulated by those who feed them information.

(I’m getting back to my brief comment about Kunstler yesterday.)

I’ve been living this way for so long, I’ve gone through “periods.” (Much like Picasso had his Blue Period, his Cubist Period, etc.) What I’m going through right now is my “Let’s Get This Wrapped Up At Long Last” Period. So I’m doing my final (hopefully) spasm of infrastructure-building, refurbishing old neglected infrastructure, and getting rid of some of the ridiculous overabundance of biomass I’ve created around myself here. Then, in the future, all I’ll have left is annual maintenance on everything (which isn’t such a big deal), and food production. Food production, if done in a serious way, will require lots of time and energy, hence my desire to get all my other projects out of the way ahead of time.

I’m not promoting “homesteading” anymore. I got that one whomped out of me when I put out Earth Quarterly 10 years ago. We got some enthusiastic feedback, but encountered mostly indifference. So I changed course back then, deciding to concentrate mostly on my family and my honey business. Only in the past few years have I been possessed by this urge to finish building and finish cleaning up the bio-mess I’ve created here. I’m seeking a sense of closure with the past, so that I can enter The Long Emergency unencumbered.

Kunstler seems to feel that The Long Emergency will offer enough stability that humans will learn to cope with it. My own sense is that the situation will ratchet steadily downward into the massive dieoff zone. There might be temporary periods of semi-stability, but they won’t last. Thus I don’t feel that homesteading offers any kind of permanent solution, even though it’s the only way of life that has ever made sense to me. The modern homesteading concept has its roots in the Great Depression, during which the people that owned their land free and clear, and practiced subsistence agriculture, at least had a roof over their heads and food on the table... even if they had little or no money. Present-day homesteading is the modern version of a 1930s lifestyle. Modern homesteaders might have high-tech accouterments (solar panels, plastic water tanks), but some things never change (wood heater, gardening).

Homesteading was never intended to cope with the death of the biosphere or the breakdown of civilization. But even so, a homesteader might be able to ride things out to a certain extent. And in the right location, who really knows? I think it’s impossible to predict, given the information we now have, which remnant human populations will survive. It’ll probably be a matter of chance as much as anything. Thus, all that people can do is prepare as best they can, or in the case of the overwhelming majority, do nothing at all. Cast our fate to the winds, why not? Can we really do any better than that?

At any rate, I like this way of life. I like hearing the owls at night and watching the deer emerge from the willow thickets across the river. So even though I’m not promoting anything (except for, hopefully, some truth), I enjoy posting pictures of the natural world, oddball architecture, and my latest cool projects. Whatever people will make of this, they will. I suspect that 10 will be at least as fascinating as 09, which I supposed is a threat more than a promise.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Fundamentally Criminal Nature of our Political System

For what we’ve learned in the last few years as one scandal after another spilled onto the front pages is that the bubble economies of the last two decades were not merely monstrous Ponzi schemes that destroyed trillions in wealth while making a small handful of people rich. They were also a profound expression of the fundamentally criminal nature of our political system, in which state power/largess and the private pursuit of (mostly short-term) profit were brilliantly fused in a kind of ongoing theft scheme that sought to instant-cannibalize all the wealth America had stored up during its postwar glory, in the process keeping politicians in office and bankers in beach homes while continually moving the increasingly inevitable disaster to the future.

I like the way Matt Taibbi thinks:  logical and lucid.

Sounds Like Homesteading to Me

From James Howard Kunstler's latest post, "The Futility Economy" --

Our destination is an everyday economy where you rarely travel far from the place you live, where you have to make provision for you own health, your own old age, your own income, your own diet, your own security, and your own education. If you're really fortunate, some or all of these necessities can be obtained in conjunction with your neighbors in the place where you live -- but don't expect an increasingly mythical federal government to supply any of it. Expect a new and different way of organizing households based on extended families and kinship groups. Be prepared for agriculture to return to the foreground of everyday life, where farming is back at the center of the economy. Think about how you will cultivate your best role in a social network so the things you do will be truly valued by the other people who know you. Learn how to make your own music and write your own scripts. Try to study history. Resist cults. Keep your mind clear and your senses sharp.

One big difference between Kunstler and myself:  he doesn't live this way even though he talks about it, but I have for 40 years now.  This makes me quaint, but Kunstler is actually taken seriously by some.  Go figure. 


When I noticed animal poop on a shelf in the bottom room of the papercrete office last week, I knew that we had an uninvited guest visiting there.  After I checked the outside of the building and fixed the hole where the creature was getting in, I set a trap inside baited with dry cat food.

That same evening we heard the trap crash closed and finally met our guest face-to-face:  a little ringtail.  These are nocturnal creatures that are rarely seen by humans; in fact, I've seen only one other ringtail in the 36 year I've lived here.  This is a lousy picture because it doesn't show the magnificent ringed tail, which is at least half the animal's length.

We took the trap outside and opened the door.  It took the ringtail a minute to figure out that the end of the trap was wide open, but once it did, within a split-second it was 20 feet away and accelerating fast.  Yet another of those seldom-used phrases entered my mind:  "greased lightning."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Coyote Willow

While walking along the sandbar the other day, we encountered this nice coyote willow clump.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Doves on a Wire

Doves tend to gather together on the electric wire during winter afternoons.  They are evenly spaced because -- so my theory goes -- they are exactly one pecking distance apart.