Todd Walton: Homelessness


I am currently in the throes of rewriting a novel I first completed in 2003, rewrote entirely in 2006, and then did not touch for six years. I have only undertaken this kind of extended creative venture a few times in my life because most of my long dormant creations do not stand the test of time for me; so I have no interest in spending another thousand hours remaking them. Nor would I have had the opportunity to rewrite any of these long slumbering works had I been a more successful writer with publishers and producers clambering for my works as I completed them the first time. In any case, these books and plays and screenplays I remake multiple times over the course of many years are my favorite creations, regardless of their commercial fates.

This novel I am rewriting is a quasi-autobiographical tale about a middle-aged man who invites a homeless woman and her four-year-old son to live with him. His relationship with the boy is loving and parental, his relationship with the woman in no way sexual, though sexuality is one of the larger subjects of the novel. And though I am still keenly interested in the book’s exploration of sexuality, I am most interested (at the moment) in the subject of homelessness, for I was reminded when I read this manuscript that homelessness has played a central role

Dave Smith: Let Us Now Praise Creative Men…


We are blessed with many creative people around our corner of the world here in Mendoland…  artists and writers and actors and musicians seem to congregate in abundance around Mendocino and Northern California mainly because, I suppose, we live in beautiful surroundings.

I would like to stop just a minute and stand in awe of a particularly rare creative talent shared by two men in our midst that I find magical. That is the ability to pull out of thin air an imaginative piece of writing against deadline.

Todd Walton and Tom Hine create interesting, topical, opinionated columns in the Anderson Valley Advertiser and Ukiah Daily Journal respectively. This is not the common commenting on today’s news that you find everywhere. This is local, original, intelligent, emotional, engaging, tragic, quirky, funny, pissed off writing… done against deadline, week in, week out, year after year after year.

I, for one, with gratitude, am amazed.

Books: Fermentation IS Culture…


[An Excerpt from The Art of Fermentation, just out and available now at special discount from Mulligan Books & Seeds, a Chelsea Green bookshop partner… DS]

From Publisher Chelsea Green: Sandor Katz — the nation’s foremost fermentation expert — has written a bible-sized book about his craft. Beyond sauerkraut, bread, and beer, The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World takes readers into the outer realms of the theory and practice behind this edgy, traditional approach to food preservation. What follows is an excerpt from Katz’ introduction, but it can also serve as a kind of manifesto Local Heroes Doing Good Work…


[Local Heroes: Michael Flynn, Megan Watson, Leo Buc, Paul West, Carrie Staller. -DS]

20-educators and performing artists from Common Vision will arrive at a school in vegetable-oil powered buses to deliver a program that includes

  • A 40-min Theater assembly that weaves colorful stories, larger than life puppets, a live band, and relevant, engaging environmental education
  • Planting 15-30 fruit trees in the schoolyard with the students.  Varieties are numerous and school-year fruiting
  • Dynamic 45-minute arts workshops that focus on articulating vision and goals through words,  visual arts, and the painting of orchard signs
  • Fruit tree care workshop for teachers, parents, community members, groundskeepers, and sometimes students.
  • Installation of drip irrigation for the orchard
  • A day that the teachers and students will never forget!


Common Vision implements innovative strategies in sustainability with diverse communities and schools throughout California.  Focusing on fruit trees, local agriculture, renewable energy, and community engagement Common Vision uses inspirational education to create a healthier and more just society.

How We Roll

Common Vision brings inspiring and relevant earth education to diverse communities to cultivate dynamic and experienced leaders in sustainability practice and education. With a fleet of vegetable-powered vehicles, a dedicated staff, and big vision, Common Vision’s mobile operation weaves a wide network in California as it creates and inspires collaborations amongst schools, farms, volunteers, mentors, nurseries, musicians, and native peoples.


Gina Covina: Mendocino Seed Growers Co-op Meet…

Big Pink Beauties remain mild and sweet

Laughing Frog Farm

[Fifty summer vegetable varieties are now being grown for seed by local co-op farmers and gardeners, for Mendo/Lake farmers and gardeners, and why you should care… -DS]

Last Saturday we hosted the first farm/garden tour for members of the new Mendocino Seed Growers Co-op – lots of gardening info shared and progress compared, followed by a totally delicious potluck lunch featuring plants from each of our gardens — fresh turnips, kale, and lettuces, last year’s dried tomatoes and peppers, plus rhubarb pie. We also taste-tested the radish varieties and some of the lettuces from our current trials. Among six radishes the winner by a slim margin was Pink Beauty. The lettuces were even harder to judge, being almost equally delicious, but Mayan Jaguar (bred by Wild Garden Seeds) and Marvel of Four Seasons (from seed selected and grown by Julianne Ash of Anacortes, Washington) edged out the others. The variety trials continue, as we wait to see who holds their flavor and refrains from bolting as the weather warms.

The seed growers co-op enters its first season with lots of yummy locally adapted vegetable crops planted in 18 different locations. Growers range from veteran seed-saving market gardeners to beginning seed-savers with backyard plots. There are even a few politically motivated gardening newbies. Yes – rescuing the genetic heritage of our food sources from the jaws of Monsanto, one heirloom variety at a time, and just in time. The geographical hub of this activity is Laytonville – ideally situated for seed-saving with widely scattered gardens tucked in the folds of forested hills. There are also participating growers in Willits, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, Hopland, and on the coast.

Fifty summer vegetable varieties are being grown for seed by co-op gardeners. Among them are two notable pole beans that have both been saved in Mendocino County for many years: Rattlesnake, in Laytonville, and what we can call

Dave Pollard: A Clear, Actionable Platform for Those Who Care About Earth’s Future

progress cartoonCartoon by Barry Deutsch of Alas, A Blog fame, in ZMag.

How To Save The World

Back in February, I wrote about the frustration of citizens being offered “stimulus” (to restore “growth”) and “austerity” (to reduce debt levels) as the only choices for an economic platform, and why both of these “options” will only accelerate the pace of collapse of our economy and our civilization culture. I concluded the post by proposing a 4-point alternative platform I call “Plan C”:

  1. End the wars: Immediately cease the imperialist and resource wars being waged by affluent nations against struggling nations all over the world, and the ideological and futile wars on “terror” and on drugs and “illegal” immigrants.
  2. End corporate subsidies: Eliminate all agricultural, energy, military and other corporate subsidies, and instead provide incentives for new small business creation and employment.
  3. Replace “free” trade with “fair” trade to reinvigorate domestic work and employment. Cancel globalist trade treaties like NAFTA and those of the WTO. This will provide an enormous boost to local economies, and save valuable energy used in long-distance transportation. And while we’re at it, forgive struggling nations’ debts: These nations will only be able to achieve self-sufficiency and democracy if we give them back the land and resources we’ve stolen from them, and let them make a fresh start.
  4. Radically simplify tax laws and really enforce them: Current tax codes in most countries are so complicated that the rich who can afford to pay for expensive tax evasion schemes end up paying less than the rest of us. A simple tax code that computes your year-end global net worth and the annual change in it, and taxes a certain portion of each, with no deductions or exemptions or loopholes, on a graduated scale, could generate vastly more tax revenue, more fairly, with much less effort by everyone, even if those with income

Gene Logsdon: Can Garden Farming Be Too Successful?


This is just mischievous philosophical musing. Don’t take me too seriously.  On the other hand…

One of my favorite  books is the classic “Farmers of Forty Centuries” by F.H. King, written in 1911. It details the way food was produced in much of Asia for something like four thousand years and still is in many places there. It was, according to King who traveled the area at that time, an amazing kind of small scale agriculture that, without chemical fertilizer or power machinery of any kind was producing more food per acre at the beginning of the 20th century than farming in America then or now. The way the Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese returned all organic wastes, including human manure, to the soil was an absolutely triumphant model of sustainable farming. Some of the production figures from that time, over a century ago, seem almost unbelievable even today, and it all happened without Monsanto Claus if you can imagine that. Author King writes of farms in Japan which were producing food enough for 240 people, 24 donkeys, and 24 pigs per 40 acres, a size of farm that in the United States at that time would be regarded, he says, as too small to support a single family. Some 500,000,000 people (the present population of the U.S. of course is around 300,000,000) were being fed in the Far East upon the products of an area smaller than all the improved farm land of the United States in 1911. These garden farms hardly averaged one to two acres each. With a climate similar to our mid-south to lower corn belt area, these tiny farms sometimes grew three and even four crops per year on the same land. So precious were organic fertilizers that a private contractor paid the city of Shanghai $31,000, gold, for 78,000 tons of human waste which the contractor removed from residences and public places at his own cost— and felt privileged to be able to do so, says King because he was going to resell it to farmers.

To maintain ultra- high production, hundreds of miles of canals

Transition: The Greek Town that Already Opted Out of the Euro…

The Most Revolutionary Act

An interesting  BBC feature about a flourishing Greek town. They have plenty of money because they have their own local currency – the TEMS.

If video fails to play go to free link:

A Video About Greek Time Banks

A second BBC video about Greek time banks, where services are exchanged without money:

From the Wall Street Journal

Also check out a fascinating article (from the Wall Street Journal Market Watch, no less) about all the countries (including the US) that are setting up barter systems and local currencies in their determination to alleviate the human misery causes by the global economic crisis:

“China, France, Ireland and other countries are seriously examining the feasibility of launching their own government sponsored barter systems. On December 8, 2011, The City of London released a report titled ‘Capacity Trade and Credit: Emerging Architectures for Commerce and Money’ with the goal of creating a barter hub of sorts for Europe in London. In the U.S. more than twelve states have legislation pending to create State currencies to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve and commercial banking system.” Link to Full Article

Re-introducing the Drachma as a Complementary Currency

And James Skinner’s  A dual-currency solution to the Greek debt crisis, with a a proposal to address Greece’s money shortage by keeping the euro and re-introducing the drachma as a complementary currency:

According to Skinner:

No one is going to save us fools again…



Here we go again.

We now know that the Obama Administration traded away the public option in order to gain support from the hospital industry for the Affordable Care Act. And we know that it traded away, among other things, the importation of cheaper drugs to PhRMA in order to secure their support for the bill.

Some of these details were known long ago, of course. Good policy was scuttled in order to secure industry support. The question is why it was done, and whether it could have been done any other way.

In 2009 I wrote my most recommended diary ever on DailyKos called No One Is Going to Save You Fools. To reprise what I said then:

Barack Obama has indeed sold you out. He and many of his Democratic colleagues have sold you out on healthcare, and they’ve sold you out on financial reform. You were looking for a savior, and you’ve been had–not an altogether atypical result for those looking for a strong leader to “save” them.

He hasn’t done this because he’s a bad guy. In fact, he’s a great guy. I think he’s doing pretty much the best job he can. He’s sold you out because he’s not afraid of you. And really, if I may be so bold, he shouldn’t be afraid of you. You don’t know who really runs the show, and you’re far too fickle and manipulable to count on.

The first thing you need to understand about healthcare reform is what Jane Hamsher identified long ago: nothing–absolutely nothing–is going to trump the White House’s deal with PhRMA and the insurance industry. The question you need to ask yourselves is: why? If you’re intellectually mature enough to get past “personal betrayal” as your best answer, you’ll be on the right track.

While you ponder that one, you might want to also consider why nothing has been done–nor will anything serious actually be done–about financial industry reform. Standing up to the financial industry in the current political environment

The War on Old Folks…

In These Times

I’m sitting here feeling my bile rise as I eye the cover of the publication I most love to hate, AARP The Magazine. This one features Diane Keaton and promises to explain “How she stays forever young.” The featured tip? “Take risks – do things you can’t imagine!” Month in and month out, this rag features well-preserved, wealthy, beaming celebrities who suggest that aging can be defied, and also that it’s just one big blast.

I’d like to see a somewhat different cover. This one would feature a sick, homeless grandma taking risks and doing all the things Keaton can’t imagine. Like living without Medicare. Or Social Security. Or affordable housing. Because if the Republicans get their way, more and more retirees are going to be increasingly impoverished. Sarah Palin and others may have gone ballistic over alleged “death panels,” but the real ghouls facing older people are the right-wingers in Congress, and in all too many state houses and legislatures.

While the Republican War on Women has gained national attention, there has been less outrage over the Republican War on Older Americans. But the battles are everywhere. State after state is going after pension funds. Here in Michigan, for example, one of the first things Republican Gov. Rick Snyder did was to impose new and higher taxes on retirement income and public pensions. Making matters worse, our state’s long recession forced many people in their 50s to take early retirement as employers downsized. When you retire early, your benefits are lower than if you wait until you’re 65. So now, a larger percentage of smaller retirement eggs will be subject to income tax. Why? To make up for cuts in the state’s business taxes.

Beyond Michigan, the AFL-CIO finds that older workers who lose their jobs have the highest rate of long-term unemployment, which in turn means significantly reduced retirement income. Plus, they often have to tap into what savings they have to get by.

So how are compassionate conservatives at the national level responding to the needs of aging Americans? Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposed budget is a full-out, concerted assault on old folks. According to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), he would cut Medicaid by $1 trillion over the next decade

Mendo Local Food Guide!

Mendo Local Food Guide Here


Welcome to the virtual guide to Mendocino County’s locally grown, crafted, traded and sold food. Here you can visit the farms, meet the farmers or discover links to local food efforts like Community gardens, Food banks, and Farmers Markets; learn or post about upcoming events on the calendar; or refer to helpful gardening guides so you can grow your own. List items for sale or trade on the Classifieds; or give away tools, fruits and vegetables, offer/ seek farm employment or land opportunities.

We dedicate this site to all of the farmers of land and sea and the abundance of Mendocino County’s Local Food!

Why Buy and Eat Locally?

It makes a difference when you buy and eat locally produced food.

1. Promote a Local Economy

Spent locally, our dollars recirculate in our communities. Buying directly from local farmers generates 44% more money for the local economy than purchasing food at supermarkets.

2. Help Farmers

On average, farmers receive only 20 cents of each dollar we spend on food. The rest goes to packaging, processing, transportation, and, most of all, advertising. By buying local, we assure that local and regional family farmers can get full retail price for their food – which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm

3. It Tastes Better & It’s Better For You

Fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. In a week’s delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality. Processed foods, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and filled with hydrogenated oils, are linked to many health problems, including obesity and diabetes. Food grown in our community was probably picked within the last day or two. It is crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor and nutrition.

4. Know Who Does the Growing

By buying locally, we can develop a relationship with the people growing our food. When we value our food and the people who produce it

Climate Denial: The GOP war on science should be the Democrats’ greatest political weapon…

Daily Kos

Imagine if there was one single issue of such import and magnitude, and on which the Democrats were so clearly paradigmatically better than the Republicans, that it could by itself recast the entirety of our national political dynamic. Imagine if it were an issue about which the facts were so clear, and unlike so many political issues scientifically verifiable, that there was no legitimate debate, with the Democrats clearly accepting the reality of those facts and that science and the Republicans denying them. Imagine if that Republican denial was of such a degree that their behavior was not only stupid and dishonest but of grave and impending danger to the very nature of not only our economy but our society and culture as well. You would think that the Democrats would want to discuss that issue, wouldn’t you? You would think that the Democrats would want impress those facts and that science over and over, at every opportunity, both to educate the public and to create perhaps an unprecedented electoral political dominance. You would think.The reality is that there is such an issue, the Democrats are that much better on it and the Republicans that incomprehensibly bad, and yet the Democrats almost never talk about it, and in fact allow the facts and the science to be ignored, distorted and denied as if there is legitimate scientific debate, which there is not. It’s baffling and infuriating. It’s not only about the issue itself, which to any responsible observer takes primacy and precedence, but it’s also about the politics; and even the most calculating politician ought at the very least to be passionately eager to take advantage of what could be such a uniquely powerful political advantage.

The issue is climate change, and the mere mention of it often causes even many elected Democrats and Democratic activists to cringe, sigh, or otherwise turn away and hide. But it shouldn’t. To many it is a given that climate change is at best

Occupy: The Cult of Capitalism Exposed…

The Occupied WSJ
The Cult of Capitalism holds us captive by threatening economic and social ruin if we should step outside its structures. Unlike other cults that are considered outside the norm, it has claimed center stage, and its propaganda appears to be unquestioned reality.

But this house of cards is built on one primary myth; that humans own the earth and have dominion over all its inhabitants.

These are the strategies that reinforce the myth:

First, it is necessary to isolate potential disciples of the cult from family and friends — in this case, the indigenous peoples of the earth and all other species. This disconnection is the key that keeps us locked inside the cult, which serves as our new family.

Second, the cult’s leaders create total dependency: to survive in this cult, we must serve the leaders who dangle the dream that one day we, too, may ascend the ladder of hierarchy to experience wealth and power.

Third, we are afraid to leave the cult because there is a belief that only poverty and isolation await us outside the group. To leave the group is to be stigmatized, criminalized and often institutionalized, or face homelessness and worse.

Isolated, dependent and afraid, we walk the streets of the walled city, buying temporary tastes of pleasure in the form of products that the cult claims makes us sexy, powerful and successful.

In the pursuit of “happiness” we are like dogs chasing a stick. Arriving is not an option. Freedom of choice exists as the freedom to choose between one brand and another, one job or another. Meaningful work and a meaningful life have been severed from our supposed needs of survival within this cult.

But Occupy broke the taboo of speaking against what rules this Empire, and named the true nature of the cult: A select few are sucking dry the life force of the rest of us and of nature Herself.

Transition: The New REconomy Website…

Transition Culture

Finally! It’s here! After what feels like years of hard graft (but was really only 9 months or so) the REconomy Project website is now live. What a relief, I can tell you. What started out as one of those conversations in the team that go “hmmm I think we need to build a totally new website of our own, so it does exactly what we want – I can knock up a wordpress template based site in a few days” has turned into something rather more labour intensive.  This is a bit like the thinking that went “we need a 5 minute video for the homepage, that will probably take a couple of hours” and then consumed over 27 hours of time! It’s been quite a learning curve for us. But we’re delighted with the result, and we hope you like it too.

The website provides the latest tools and resources that can help you build a local economy where you live. We have tried to organise them all in a logical way so you can find what you need. Trying to figure out the navigation of the website has taken more time than anything else, and led to the most heated arguments.

Here’s a linked picture of one of the webpages just to give you flavour of one of the many great posts.

Todd Walton: No Honeybees


“The busy bee has no time for sorrow.” William Blake

I am not a master gardener. I’ve been growing vegetables and flowers and herbs for fifty years, and at various times I’ve made my living as a landscaper, gardener, and pruner of fruit trees. A renter for most of my life, I have moved many times and had many gardens ranging in size from quite large to very small. I have gardened in cool climates and moderate climates and hot climates, in sandy loam and rich black earth and barely arable pygmy; and I’ve made a habit of picking the brains of other gardeners about the how’s and why’s and do’s and don’ts of growing things. Which is all to say, I know something about gardening, but would not describe myself as an expert.

People exploring my gardens used to ask, “How do you attract so many honeybees?”

And I used to reply, “Borage and white clover.”

I was twenty-one and the proud creator of a big vegetable garden in Santa Cruz when I discovered how incredibly attractive borage is to bees, and I have known about the bee-seducing power of white clover since I was a boy and had the arduous task of mowing a large lawn of white clover with an old dull steel push mower, a weekly chore that gave me bigger muscles than most of my friends and made me the dreaded enemy of hundreds of happily grazing honeybees.

Rosalind Peterson: Take Action Today on World Oceans Day 6/8/12…

Redwood Valley

Welcome to NOAA’s online resource for World Oceans Day—our planet’s biggest celebration of the ocean, held every June 8th.   The mission of World Ocean’s Day is to inspire action to protect our world’s ocean.  World Ocean Day is June 8. Help us celebrate the beauty, mystery, and importance of the ocean.

The Agriculture Defense Coalition and California Skywatch are requesting everyone to take action on Friday, June 8, 2012, to protect 11.7 Million Marine Mammals in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico from U.S. Navy Warfare Testing using Sonar, Bomb Blasts, and New Weapons testing for the next five years. 

The U.S. Navy refuses to protect our National Marine Sanctuaries, Marine Reserves, biologically sensitive areas, breeding and feeding habitats in many ocean areas from this type of testing.

We are asking that you take three actions today:

1) Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Congressmen and let them know that you want to protect these vital ocean areas from U.S. Navy testing and experiments. 

Occupy Wall Street does not care if you think Occupy is dead. Here’s why…

Occupy Denver staged a Canadian student solidarity march on June 1. Photo: lthnmsrtk


This week in Occupy, the Cruz home at 4044 Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis became a national flashpoint for the Movement, overthrown Egyptian former dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison, Canadian solidarity had everyone wearing red, the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall sparked a frenzy among politicians and activists alike, and an Occupy Yale activist left us far too soon.

#Occupied: The Cruz home in South Minneapolis. Photo: Michael A. Shapiro

#Occupy Homes MN protestors are condemning Minneapolis police and Mayor R.T. Rybak after 14 were arrested defending the home of Alejandra Cruz and her family from foreclosure

Malcolm Gladwell? Nothing but a shameless shill for Big Tobacco and Big Pharma…

From S.H.A.M.E. Project
Shame the Hacks Who Abuse Media Ethics

Malcolm Gladwell Unmasked: A Look Into the Life & Work of America’s Most Successful Propagandist

In the vast ecosystem of corporate shills, which one is the most effective? Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies. The master of this approach is Malcolm Gladwell.

Malcolm Gladwell is the New Yorker’s leading essayist and bestselling author. Time magazine named Gladwell one of the world’s 100 most influential people. His books sell copies in the millions, and he is in hot demand as one of the nation’s top public intellectual and pop gurus. Gladwell plays his role as a disinterested public intellectual like few others, right down to the frizzy hairdo and smock-y getups. His political aloofness, high-brow contrarianism and constant challenges to “popular wisdom” are all part of his shtick.

But beneath Malcolm Gladwell’s cleverly-crafted ambiguity, beneath the branded facade, one finds, with surprising ease, a common huckster on the take. I say “surprising ease” because it’s all out there on the public record.

As this article will demonstrate, Gladwell has shilled for Big Tobacco

Bargains Are Bad News…

Steady State Economomics

Bargain-hunting has become a cultural obsession (my father in law, bless him, used to drive a good way across town so he could buy day-old bread that a flyer had promised was a nickel a loaf cheaper; my neighbor trolls the Internet for wine a dollar cheaper, or a lawnmower he can get for a hundreds buck off — whether or not he needs another lawnmower). Thrift hasn’t disappeared; it just mutated into the endless search for cheaper stuff.

This search has had many savagely negative effects: it has persuaded manufacturers to set price, rather than quality or service, as the single prime necessity. It no longer matters that something lasts, or does what it was supposed to for longer than it takes to unwrap it, as long as it was cheaper than the competition. This means that things can no longer be fixed, only thrown away, and the next cheap thing bought in its stead. It has driven down wages, and led to the globalized search for an ever cheaper work force. It has led to a world in which advertising tells greater and greater lies. It has led to a world in which predatory discounters routinely drive smaller businesses into bankruptcy, devastating small towns everywhere. It rewards scale. It led to Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, and arch pusher of vast amounts of Adam Smith’s unnecessary things.

Much has been made recently of Wal-Mart’s plans to reduce its environmental impact, and to enforce environmental and social standards on the millions of suppliers that fill its stores. Wal-Mart has switched to environmentally benign light bulbs in its stores. Its trucks are no longer kept idling while their drivers take a lunch break. But meanwhile, Wal-Mart still keeps its prices as low as possible. It works this way: a factory in a small town, say Winchester, Virginia, makes, say, rubber goods. Call it, oh, Rubbermaid for short. It is a good-sized firm

10 Not-to-Miss Fiction Books…


Dare Me byMegan Abbott

Following the direction taken by her last novel, The End of Everything, Edgar winner Abbott again delivers an unsettling look at the inner life of adolescent girls in the guise of a crime story. The setting is an unnamed, frighteningly familiar town that could be found anywhere in contemporary America. Narrator Addy has been lifelong best friend to Beth, now the powerful captain of Sutton Grove High School’s cheerleading squad. The cheerleaders are popular mean girls, and Beth is the meanest and most popular. Then a new coach, young and pretty Colette French, arrives. She immediately asserts her authority, not only taking away the girls’ cell phones, but also announcing there will be no squad captain. A battle of wills ensues between Coach and Beth…Compelling, claustrophobic and slightly creepy in a can’t-put-it-down way. 


The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

The deeply satisfying story of a Chicago family coming apart at the seams and weaving together at the same time. Former lawyer Edie Middlestein has always been a large presence, brilliant as a lawyer, loving as a mother, shrewish as a wife. Since early childhood, food has been her private if not secret passion. The novel is organized according to Edie’s fluctuations in weight, and the descriptions

Gina Covina: Rooster Fog…

Laughing Frog Farm

People who don’t know chickens personally often don’t realize how smart they are, how precisely they manage to communicate, or how gallant roosters can be with their hens. A few weeks back we sold our blue Marans rooster Fog and three of his girls to neighbors Kitty and Ray. We’re making room for the younger generation – and truth be told, Fog never got along with our other roosters, who we expect to live peaceably together in bachelor quarters for much of the year. The next time we saw Ray and Kitty in town, they shared this story.

Ray and Kitty had been gone for the day, and when they returned Ray went to check on the birds. Fog stood beside the almost empty water dish, glaring first at Ray and then at the dish. Ray didn’t pay much attention until Fog tipped the dish off its stand and looked back at him again. Then Ray refilled the dish, and Fog stepped up and drank, on and on. None of the hens came over to drink – which is when Ray realized Fog had gone thirsty all day so his hens could have all the water they needed.

Transition: Give Me That Doom Time Religion…

Transition Voice

[Previous articles from this conference posted recently here and here. -DS]

To deal with the scary bits of an economy facing collapse, a campground in the middle of the forest will put you in a different frame of mind than a hotel conference center.

I don’t usually think of people interested in peak oil, climate change and economic collapse as particularly religious. “Spiritual” maybe — Sufi dancing and Lakota Vision Quests are OK and agnosticism is better. But peak preppers are usually not the kind of folks you’d expect to see in the pews on Sunday at First Presbyterian.

The Age of Limits conference held at the end of May offered some new insights on how religion, as an organized institution, could play a key role in helping people deal with the collapse that the conference’s speakers think has already hit many parts of the world, including much of the US.

Though at this event, neither religion nor collapse were what they used to be.

The speakers, collapsitarians all — Dmitry Orlov, John Michael Greer, Gail Tverberg and Carolyn Baker — apparently weren’t born again while reading the Book of Job and didn’t hear the voice of God while fasting during Ramadan. As to the mother of all religious organizations, the Catholic Church came up only as the example of an institution that has outlasted the rise and fall of empires and nations and even today seems to enjoy great immunity from legal prosecution (pedophilia crisis, anyone?).

Todd Walton: Children


“I would suspect that the hardest thing for you to accept is your own beauty. Your own worth. Your own dignity. Your own royal pedigree. Your priestly identity as one who blesses and is blessed in return. Your own calling to learn to love and allow yourself to be loved to the utmost.” Alan Jones

I was in Corners a few days ago, perusing the bananas, when a little girl, four-years-old, came right up to me and said, “Know what?”

“What?” I replied, never having seen her before.

“I made up a special song.” She nodded to affirm this. “Do you want to hear it?”

“Of course,” I said, delighted by her. “Who wouldn’t?”

And without a moment’s hesitation she began to sing about how beautiful the day was and how happy she was and how much she loved her mother and having chocolate milk. The melody was something of a hybrid, Mary Had A Little Lamb meets Oh What A Beautiful Morning, and the tune changed key several times throughout her rendition. In short: a masterpiece. Oh, and she danced as she sang, a subtle shimmying hula. Brilliant.

“That was fabulous,” I declared, applauding. “I loved it.”

“Do you want to hear another one?” she asked, frowning quizzically

Ukiah Blog returns next Wednesday…

Hey J…
Spencer Brewer: Tommy Castro Opens Sundays In The Park 6/17