GANG garden news: pathetic potato harvest

Where did we go wrong? Our intern Jeffrey spent two hours digging up the six foot by three foot plot; here it is denuded —

potato plot

Of course, in our uncritical arrogance, we were anticipating a gigantic potato harvest (after all, every thing else has been gigantic and bountiful this year), and instead, what? This? These pathetic little poops?


Okay. Where did we “go wrong”? Admittedly, we didn’t add anything to this bed when we planted them. Rebecca thinks maybe potash? Any advice welcome . . . Pretty hilarious, actually.

And to put our disappointment in perspective, here’s that basket of potato poops right next to today’s tomato harvest. To be dehydrated. By me. NOW.


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GANG garden news: water catchment victory and plant profusion

We can barely keep up with harvesting now. Every day, Rebecca and I do our drill. Me dehydrating and freezing, Rebecca canning. It’s REQUIRED. And reminds me of a childhood dream. I was a little girl, back in “the old days.”

I am one of three sisters, Flicka, Ricka and Dicka (the names of little girls in children’s story books back then, 60 years ago). We lived in a small house on the edge of a dusty road on the prairie. Our mother had heard from those traveling by that there was a famine approaching, and she was busy, frantically preserving food.

Am I acting out this old dream? Perhaps. Though I don’t feel frantic, just resolute. I do feel that we need to prepare ourselves for whatever, and that includes water catchment off our roofs, for example. Something we have finally, after a two year planning and fiddling around, achieved.

The first step was to replace 5″ gutters with 6″ gutters. Think climate change, and think extremes. We want to be prepared for rain, no matter how fast it comes down. Before replacing, decide how to angle the gutters. I.e., decide how to catch water, on which corners. I picked three corners for water catchment, which we would then set up with receptacles.

I wrote a post on the day this year Rebecca and I took the old truck to get two 200-gallon tanks, 45 minutes north of here.  $75 each. A bargain.

A few more months went by. How would we hook them up? Neither of us felt qualified. Nor did our intern, Jeffrey. Finally, I put out a request to the Bloomington Permaculture Guild email list and was slammed with offers to help. Really surprised me! We chose Tom Landis, who has just moved to Bloomington from Fort Wayne. Tom is handy, eager, and will use his work with us to build a reputation locally. Plus, I told him I would read the astrological charts for him and his wife. So it wasn’t exactly a trade, it was more like mutual gifting, which I, for one, prefer.

Anyway, after several starts, correcting for errors, and waiting for parts at the hardware store, Tom finished the job today. Three systems. The first, two barrels (gifts from my son Colin, extras at the Garden Tower Project), which gave us trouble until today when he decided to put two inches of gravel underneath them, so they wouldn’t shift separately with the weight of rain. They must stay together on their pod, or the tube that connects them will leak, which it did, after last night’s hard rain, until he put the gravel down this afternoon. Here they are; notice that they have a black thingie connecting them at the bottom (hard to see in the picture). This assures that they will fill up equally. All three systems also have runoff hoses. In the first system it’s attached to the back of the top of one of the barrels, and Jeffrey will bury it bury under my driveway to its end in the GANG pond.

(I know for you metaphysical types that this sort of 3D functionality is mighty boring, and yes, I agree, it is to me, too; however, ahem! We want to build a template here that will work for the future, whatever it brings, and that takes tinkering with systems until they work. Thank God for Tom, his energy, his skill, and his enthusiasm for the task!)

two barrels

Okay. Next, one of the 200 gallon tanks, for the NE corner of my house, to supply the back yard gardens. That one, Tom told me, was the easiest.

200 gallon

Detail: the water runs in through a fine mesh, catching anything that makes it through the screens on the gutters.


And finally, the third system, this one with two 200-gallon tanks, on the SW corner of the DeKist house, to water the GANG garden. In this case, we didn’t connect the two tanks together. Instead, we just switch from one to the other as needed. Like the other two systems, both can be attached to a hose.

400 gallon

Detail of top, showing where we can just shift from one to the other, as needed.


Side View:

side viewThe GANG garden itself throbs with life, flourishing so fully that it threatens to transform into jungle. Here are a few close-ups.

Giant flower-like cabbage:


Black-eyed susans (which reportedly, are “good to dispell fear”).

black eyed susan

Yard long beans, so high and profuse they require a ladder to reach. This is the very first year we’ve gotten beans to grow before some critter ate them.

yard long beans

Chard and Calendula:

calendula and chard

My favorite duet: poke and wild carrot. Such a sensual combination!

poke and wild carrot

And finally, Brain Flower, or Celosia, some kind of a medicinal, I think! Glorious, eh?

brain flower celosia

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Perspectives on Ferguson

Jeff Robertson/AP photo

Jeff Robertson/AP photo

I mean, I coulda picked Ukraine, or ISIL, or Iraq, Ebola, or deep drought or flooding, or Gaza/Israel, on and on, no end to the developing horrors on this day when Mars closes in on Saturn in Scorpio. But somehow, the Ferguson freak-out show has captured the world’s attention right now. Or maybe it was meant to? Is this drama yet another staged false flag? Or is it that “they” come in and amp up whatever happens on the ground, funnel it in a direction that will benefit “them,” usually in multiple ways. Here, for example: FEAR OF THE BLACKS, FEAR OF THE OTHER, FEAR OF THE POLICE, FEAR OF CHAOS, NEED FOR ORDER, MARTIAL LAW, ETC. ETC. The usual “Problem, Reaction, Solution” to gradually ratchet up the controls of centralized state power.

Or maybe it isn’t a false flag, because other countries not so “exceptional” as the U.S. still claims to be are certainly having a field day.

The World Comments on Ferguson

. . . starts out like this (bold):

You know you’ve lost the plot when Egypt, Iran, China and the United Nations all feel so comfortable they have the moral high ground that they publicly chastise the U.S. about events in Ferguson.

And then there’s the Gaza folks, who tweet advice to folks in Ferguson on how to deal with the militarized violence.

Protestors say Ferguson feels like Gaza, Palestinians tweet back advice

And then there are the historical reflections this ongoing agony inspires. Remembrance of Civil Rights Days and Martin Luther King,

In Ferguson, the violence of the state created the violence of the street

of the still yawning economic gap between white people and black people,

Why so much anger in Ferguson? Ten facts about the massive gap between White America and Black America

of the huge percentage of young black men imprisoned ever since Civil Rights days,

in short, fully 50 years later, of America’s still rampant racism.

Institutional Racism in Ferguson? 

Unfortunately, I can’t find the photo that I saw this morning of an elder female protestor holding up a mirror to a militarized policeman (what did he see? was he shocked?), but there are plenty of stories that talk about Ferguson as holding up a mirror to America. For example:

Ferguson holds up a mirror to America’s militarized society, where dissent is a threat and police are above the law

— which brings me to the main point of this post, the part about Ferguson that does feel new, and that is the massive attention now bring brought to the militarization of the police in this country. The alternative press has been on this story for years, but not the MSM. I guess it took two MSM reporters getting roughed up and arrested in a MacDonalds for that news to hit home.  

There are lots of stories now, on the history of this insidious militarization, starting back in the late 1960s, when the storied Uranus/Pluto conjunction revved up the revolutionary energy in this country. And now, during the next crucial Uranus/Pluto aspect (the 90° “square”: 2012-2015), this insidious clanking militarization is finally, finally, finally! front and center. Check out “comedian” John Oliver’s delicious story.

Of course, it turns out that those congressmen who support the militarization of police get more money, gobs more . . .


Here’s a list from The Nation of just what weapons and other military gadgets America’s militarized police force is now using.

A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War being used by Police in Ferguson

BTW: Apparently last night, the situation eased somewhat. From yahoonews:

“The protests were more subdued Tuesday night, with smaller crowds, fewer confrontations and no tear gas. Police said they still made 47 arrests, but mainly of people who defied orders to disperse. Tensions rose briefly when someone hurled a bottle at officers, but there were no reports gunfire or the clashes that had marked previous nights.”






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Re: NAPC: I’m so glad Laura Bruno decided to make her private decision public . . .

sunnies-and-me-1The above title must sound like gobbeldy gook, eh?

NAPC is the North American Permaculture Convergence, which I was (and am) scheduled to attend August 29-31, with a group tour of permaculture sites in the upper midwest afterwards. Laura and I had planned to go together. Then her Sunflower Saga started, and ramped up, and up, and up . . .

The Sunflower Saga, Synchronicity, and the NAPC

And yes, as per her post, today is August 20th, the day we had originally agreed to check in with one another about the trip. I’m still going, and indeed am looking forward to it. However, given her caution, I’m also looking closely at the Ebola situation and how they’re trying to ramp it up to martial law in this country.

As ever, I remain poised, to shift even well-made plans, to pivot in place. Open to the heavens, grounded to Earth, I aim to be a clear channel for the Love that powers the universe as it radiates through the heart.


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John Oliver, on the implications of Ferguson: “If you are getting high in your dorm room right now, you are not paranoid. There is a SWAT team outside and it is coming to get you.”

The only possible appropriate response to what’s happening now in Ferguson Missouri is utter scorn. We can be grateful that the absurd militarization of police in this country has finally finally finally! come into the spotlight. Perhaps now we can recognize, and even empathize with, how people in other countries feel when swaggering, clanking U.S. forces of Empire invade their lands and attempt to take over, to instruct them, dominate them, destroy their homes and livelihoods, and of course, to kill them and their children, especially if they are the “wrong” color. 

John Oliver on Ferguson: Police Are Not Soldiers, So Why Are They Wearing Fucking Camo?

August 19, 2014


The “Last Week Tonight” host explains how U.S. towns like Ferguson became militarized with the excuse of the drug war and 9/11 and offers some possible solutions to the conflict in Missouri. The first step, says Oliver, would be to stop treating civilians with the same patronizing irritation that the governor of Missouri has displayed in addressing the situation. Next would be to direct some of that anger toward a police force that needs to have its “toys,” such as tanks and riot gear, taken away since they’re unnecessary in American suburbs and cops aren’t even trained to use them.

The comedian also points out that more appropriate attire for police wishing to blend in in Ferguson would be outfits that resemble a Dollar Store.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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“Our” U.S.A.: From “land of the free” to land of the farce?

Notice how much blow-back we are presently enduring? Not just the police militarization, murder, and racial mayhem of “Ferguson, Iraq” — the unintentional title of a White House tweet on the two topics of a talk Obama’s about to give; unfortunately, can no longer find the reference. I guess they meant to say “and” rather than insert the comma? — we now have American weapons used to blow up American weapons in Iraq. Hey hey! Zero Hedge sums it up nicely, showing how only the MIC (Military Industrial Complex), plus attendant banksters, benefit from this continuous vicious and wanton destruction of lives and property that necessitates, as always, a further upgrade of even more weapons systems for fun and profit.

How Much Does It Cost America To Blow Up American Weapons?

August 19, 2014

by Tyler Durden


As many have observed since Obama launched his own personal Iraq war, there is something rather farcical about the latest US intervention in the middle east, namely that US weapons are being used to destroy US weapons, captured by and in possession of ISIS jihadists. As Reuters summarizes the situation, rather poetically, “Islamic State’s  captured an enormous amount of U.S. weaponry, originally intended for the rebuilt Iraqi Army. You know — the one that collapsed in terror in front of the Islamic State, back when they were just ISIL? The ones who dropped their uniforms, and rifles and ran away?They left behind the bigger equipment, too, including M1 Abrams tanks (about $6 million each), 52 M198 Howitzer cannons ($527,337), and MRAPs (about $1 million) similar to the ones in use in Ferguson.”

In other words US taxpayers are now paying for military missions, in which US taxpayer paid-for warplans and missiles are used to blow up other US taxpayer paid-for tanks, artillery, MRAPs, and various other weapons of death.

Here is a closer look at the method behind the Keynesian madness from Reuters:

U.S. warplanes are flying sorties, at a cost somewhere between $22,000 to 30,000 per hour for the F-16s, to drop bombs that cost at least $20,000 each, to destroy this captured equipment.


That means if an F-16 were to take off from Incirclik Air Force Base in Turkey and fly two hours to Erbil, Iraq, and successfully drop both of its bombs on one target each, it costs the United States somewhere between $84,000 to $104,000 for the sortie and destroys a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of $12 million in U.S.-made equipment.

Lest the US appears alone in this silliness, Reuters is quick to remind readers that the very same situation can be encountered several hundred miles north, in the proxy civil war being waged in East Ukraine:

The Russians and Ukrainians are also facing off with tanks and guns and bombs and planes and uniforms all made in the same factories. They were the same country a mere 23 years ago. And even after they weren’t any more, they maintained close military ties until very recently.


Before Russia decided it couldn’t stand losing its friend in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin was happy to keep most of his navy in what was then Ukrainian territory: Crimea.


I guess that’s the thing about weapons. Once you make them, you never know who’s going to end up pointing them at whom.

You do know one thing, though: the only real beneficiary is the US military-industrial complex which built the weapons being used for both sides, and which are now being put into “accelerated obsolescence”, meaning an upgrade cycle is imminent as one or both sides are eager to restock. And who provides the funding for such “restocking”? Why the same banks that the US DOJ is “punshing” with vicious wristslaps of million dollar fines here, and multi-million dollar settlements there such as HSBC and JPM, thereby reducing the total profit on funding global warfare by “money-laundering” institutions to only tens of billions.

Rinse. Repeat.

For more on how the cycle of war works when all other conventional means of boosting GDP or generating bank profits when Net Interest Margins are record low, please watch the film the International, which summarizes all of the above in a tidy package.



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Heidi Schwermer: moneyless, carefree, and connected

I posted about this debt-free, care-free, caring woman who is intensely rich in experiences back in 2013, and at that time she was also 69, and the headlines said “16 years”. Now it’s “15 years.” Go figure! Does her intentionally moneyless life move linear time backwards? Or is it the same story, recycled? Whatever! It bears repeating. And reminds me of Daniel Suelo, who lives “for free” in caves in southern Utah. I posted on him too. Moving towards the moneyless life via the gift economy here too, as far as possible while still living in suburban America and converting my standard ranch house plus the one next door and the GANG garden into a fun and meaningful, community-based, continuously evolving, urban farmstead template for the future.

Heidemarie-SchwermerHappy 69 Year Old Lady Has Not Used Money For 15 Years

July 18, 2014


Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.

Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).

Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.

She started to realize she was living with a lot of stuff she didn’t really need and initially decided not to buy anything else without giving something away. Then she realized how unhappy she was with her work and made the connection between this feeling and the physical symptoms (backache and constant illness) she was feeling, so she decided to take up other jobs. She began washing dishes for 10 Deutchmarks an hour, and despite many were telling her things like “You went to university, you studied to do this?”, she felt good about herself, and didn’t feel like she should be valued more because of her studies than someone working in a kitchen. By 1995, the Tauschring had changed her life so much that she was spending virtually nothing, as everything she needed seemed to find its way into her life.

So in 1996. she took the biggest decision of her life: to live without money. Her children had moved out so she sold the apartment in Dortmund and decided to live nomadically, trading things and services for everything she needed. It was supposed to be a 12-month experiment, but found herself loving it so much that she just couldn’t give it up. 15 years later, she still lives according to the principles of Gib und Nimm, doing various chores for accommodation in the houses of various members of the Tauschring, and loving every minute of it. Schwermer has written two books about her experience of living without money and asked her publisher to give the money to charity so it can make many people happy instead of just one. She’s just happy being healthier and better off than ever before.

All of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.

Living Without Money – Trailer

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