Needing a dose of the kid I hopped a flight on Southwest from Oakland to Seattle for the weekend. Here’s her new condo on Capitol Hill. Never done but always organized. This is not something she got from her dad.
Last night we ate at Blotto. Lucky for me they had vegan pizza. Joint was the inspiration of Cal and Jordan sour dough obsessed pie makers. Ate outside, crowd was mostly masked. This is a to die for hole in the wall on Capitol Hill. They launched during the pandemic to rave reviews. Life is still possible and pizza you will not soon forget too.
Last weeks return from the Southwest ruins tour hasn’t prepared this dad for the coldest May on record in Seattle. Oh, well, I got a warmhearted kid.
Nomads will be pleased to view this beauty. A rare petite Avion ready for duty. I want one.
And finally this is a cat Lee Ross has been taking care of. This is Sally’s cat but there’ve been some logistical moves and to cool the cat down she’s hanging out at Lee’s place. Lovely little feline.
I diverted from Winnemucca north to Orovada. In town I inventoried one school, one church and one gas station. If you take Hwy 293 west, you’ll end up atop Thacker Pass. I drove out 22 miles parked my rig and took a walk. Clear sky, cool, wind was calm, beautiful up top this discovery. You wouldn’t know by looking that I was standing on the largest known lithium deposit in the United States, there is still room for uncertainty, could be the biggest whopping lithium deposit in the world, for all we know this is the largest recoverable deposit geophysicists have ever discovered or a mining company has laid claim to.
For ten years one mining company after another has been seeking the Department of the Interior’s permission to develop a mine here. Hay growers and ranchers have been scheming like a pack of chicken chasing coyotes trying to stop the project. Then, this last weekend, word came down from on high the Bureau of Land Management sent a formal notice that they had approved the claim and that Lithium America may officially proceed.
Man Cave Misbehavior
First it was the Atomic Test Site and now for all the pickles, burros, and brothels you can find, the fate of the world has once again come to rest in the Silver State’s hands. Lithium batteries will not save humanity singlehandedly but could be that our ability to manufacture electric automobiles plays an outsized role in our quest to snatch our tender behinds from everlasting vanquishment. I swear to God Cliven Bundy slammed his hat into the dirt, cursed one of his steers, the geezer is jumping up and down, and it is not with joy.
The American West is fated with a first come-first dibs sensibility. The lineage of this tradition stretches back at least to when the first pioneers crossed the frontier to open this territory for homesteading. Cowboys believed that their rights came first, last, and in-between. The original people, the indigenous population, the ancient prehistoric citizens that had arrived here 20,000 years ago, the first to have long settled the Great Basin, a civilization of hunters and gatherers, were pushed off their homeland, and replaced by a more aggressive European immigrant. Hypocrisy, dirty dealing, and no-good rotten irony went lost on this crowd of bronco busting fur trappers.
At first glance Nevada appears empty. Driving on a two-lane highway you may not encounter another soul all day and night. Looking off into the distance there are wide valleys and steep mountains where you will not see one ranch, hayfield or strand of barbwire. Nothing is out here but landscape, wildlife, and the sound of silence. Almost like Cliven Bundy is right. “Hell, nobody is here. Might as well put some cattle on the rangeland and make a little for the family.”
Sometimes it feels like the world is made up of nothing but claim jumpers, water grabbers and free grazers. Sometimes it seems Nevada is all nuclear weapons, roulette wheels and whiskey addled men. Feels like the Great Basin is biggest man cave known to civilization- this isn’t like just anywhere, this place is for misfits, this is the where you’ll find that home of the brave-land of the free.
Standing atop Thacker Pass there remains much unfinished business. There is the matter of scaling the lithium refinement process. Markets agree the Gigafactory would be a buyer, that China has been the global juggernaut of battery manufacturing, that the United States has some serious catching up to do, four years we’ve been awash in a tempest of conspiracy theories, Putin puppetry and peak swamp draining paralysis.
Still, if you are going to take part in the World Emergency Full Catastrophe Climate Change Comedy Show you need something like the Great Basin Desert, a Jeep full of contradiction, and a good plot threatening existential calamity from beginning to end. It is almost like gridlock, filibuster and procrastination have brought us to the edge of doom, doom and more doom. But we got a new sheriff in town, change is in the air, I’m feeling the tectonic plates shifting. I see progress rolling across the plains. We’re making electricity for spit, and cheap batteries out Thacker Pass dirt. I bend down and grab hold of a piece of rock, it is a piece of tomorrow I’ve got a hold of, and the 10,000 acres that I can see, I’m looking at our future, and I see hope. Today was a good day for an inauguration, Today is a fine clear blue sky, the future holds a promise. Thacker Pass until you behold the place is almost unbelievable, too good to be true, then you come here, see it for yourself, and things inside you shift around, and you see deep into the human condition, and you see possibility, you see the means of building an energy system, a gift for those who have yet come for their turn, here on this earth, the one we must preserve and nurture, our response to the climate emergency isn’t technological, it is a moral duty. I am standing atop the means to our salvation. Don’t let up now, don’t be discouraged, we’re just getting started. I got a piece of hope in my hand up on Thacker Pass.
Psychological resilience in this after-times is demanded of civilizations players. To survive this rollicking adventure we must adapt to fast moving viruses, wildfires, and weaponized inequality.
Mask wearing, I don’t mind. Socially distancing, I’m hermetic by nature. Vaccinations, I’m ready when they’ve got one that works.
Yesterday I could see and smell smoke here in Northern California where wildfire erupted in Napa County. Evacuations were ordered. Being forced out of your home is disorienting, especially while fleeing and having forgotten your mask.
Into the Wildest Places
Perhaps yours is not but my economy is shattered. For the moment if you are landing on your East Hampton’s helipad things might be just dandy. The peasants in pitchforks are plenty stirred up by the madness that passes for a Republican President and Congress but whether they are going to slow roast their hard-hearts remains a longshot. As we say in the trade, “I like oligarch I’ve just never been able to finish a whole one.”
Swift moving flames of wildfire burn one thing down and odd as it seems another thing isn’t touched. Entertainment industry is shuttered the lives of tens of thousands of ballet dancers, actors, singers, musicians, choreographers, conductors, orchestras, theme parks, circus shows, street performers are all out of work. Movie theaters, Las Vegas, nightclubs, comedy joints, strip clubs, and singing telegram gigs are all kaput.
Better Living Through Virus Dodging
All of what had been reliable and true is no longer the case. We may not wander about the world with our passports, enter and exit most of the world as we once did. We may have thought living on some leafy lane a terrific bit of pastoral splendor at one time and of course now you’ll have to have your head examined before occupying such a residence.
We continue to struggle about whether citizens are going to have access to health-care. Two months from now our Supreme Court may toss out the Affordable Care Act and with it will go coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Depending upon how you count that group of unfortunates, to give you a ballpark figure, approximately all of us will be affected by this change.
As we all dash about dodging the plague and wildfires while searching for new jobs, because we can’t perform the work we’ve spent our life training for, our titans of finance are doing their damned best to get their morally bankrupt huckster back in the Oval Office.
History’s warning chastens our self-conceit. Turning the page on the industrial revolution and building a brighter more survivable renewable energy economy is like you know going to take a moonshot. The technology has all been invented, we have the tools, what is lacking is a means of organizing the human spirit into a coherent civilization saving act.
We’ll need leaders at the top. We’ll need an activist citizenship. Mobilizing will require a colossal deployment of people and technologies. Jobs will be plentiful. The economy will thrive, but yeah there are going to be winners and losers. To that end we’ll show those sectors of the economy that need a hand up how a more compassionate capitalism can work.
None of what I’ve outlined is remotely original. This plan waits. November’s election is crucial. Democracy, civilization and the football season are all on the line. Vote like your season tickets depend upon it.
Going has been replaced with staying. Every task assigned in this time of staying is given bare boned attention, as a monk might say when you brush your teeth brush your teeth. The instructions hold up for folding pillowcases, transplanting sentry plants or washing cars. Much of what I knew as true about living in this world is from the now ended “before times,”
I didn’t characterize my previous life as being distracted. I left room in the schedule to do chores. There were routines. The dog ate each day at the same time and from the same bowl. Dogs can be such sticklers.
Potted Sentry Plant
I always thought when told to, “work hard so you can play hard,” as an excellent homily. Until my first lost summer in France I had no inkling what suckers’ American workers had been. Knowing there is a nation where its people stop everything and spend August on holiday sunbathing in the Riviera forced me to reconsider the merit of having a work ethic.
Roses need pruning, mail needs to be trekked in from the curb and a squeak in a door hinge out in the workshop is in desperate need of oiling.
Friends, family and colleagues do call. There is little time for this conviviality. Until the gutters are clean, the windows spotless and crumbs beneath the kitchen table are dispatched there is not a second to waste.
Quercus suber or Cork Oak Tree
Since receiving orders to remain in place the first error made was allowing the mind time to imagine leaving. Replaying the scene time and again the result was the same. The initial days here in the after times have been part of the “all dressed up with no place to go,” epoch.
Settling in for the long haul is rife with inaccuracies. In addition to the domestic chores there is the matter of work. Ambition, enterprise and success vary much as the weather.
Before Times with Dog
A neighborhood crow finds my juggling eye-catching. My fan lingers to watch. I enjoy speaking to birds. Results of these conversations are meager. Crows have difficulty with trust. Sweet talk is for parakeets.
Hummingbirds are free riders. Crows, jays, finches and common house sparrows have to fend for themselves. Fanciful hummingbird flight style is popular. Crows, pigeons and gulls can wear out their welcome.
Stove and Pots
Fairness is in short supply. With nowhere to go while in lockdown any bird is welcome to stop by. I find time spent admiring the less appreciated birds a worthy pastime. Putting the garbage cans out on the curb, spotting a new nest in the eaves is a major event. Whittling away time on the stoop with a pot of my grandfather’s pinto beans slow cooking on the stove soothes.
Compassion for weeds is misplaced. Weeds have depended upon my having better things to do. Procrastination works in direct proportion to distraction.
Plucking the tops of weeds will not be tolerated. Tools that get to the root of the thing are to be used and officers disguised as wives will be inspecting the offenders for proof of proper subterranean extraction.
In the brochures published by the International Association of Weeds advertising focused on the yards in my neighborhood. Until the coronavirus sheltering in place craze hit weeds could count on multiple generational reincarnations right here. Visitation packages promise sunlight, water and fecund soil. Disclaimers regarding gophers, Roundup and wildfire were necessary due to litigious nature of weeds.
Imagine a few good plants
Freeway driving time constrained homeowners are the poster child for the wide wonderful world of weeds. Weeds in Green Valley near Tucson watch YouTubes of distant relatives in Northern California thriving in abundance.
Here we find quackgrass, lambsquarter and dandelion. A constant watch is stood against blackberry vine and milk thistle. Overcrowded populations of weeds dream of moving to Texas in another life and coming back as saltcedar. Saltcedar isn’t a mere weed why it has been identified as an invasive species.
Innocent enough but still guilty
We have a whole green bin full of fresh pulled weeds. Like in-laws to fend off their visit we deploy groundcover where we can. Sheets of plastic and cardboard cover over soil that to a weed looks more like a destination resort.
Fingers raw, knees are sore, but the will is strong. Weeds like so many of the people you know are stubborn things. Like a bad idea they will return again and again. Weeds are relentless. If you could dissect persistence out of the weed and inject it into the bloodstream of the unmotivated, humankind would walk in a litter free world.
Paradise would be all potting soil and plants. Why gardens would be wisteria, gardenias and prairie blue grass from horizon to horizon. Watering bills would be lower and all those places you’ve wanted to visit in your post pandemic bucket list will suddenly be within a nematode’s hairs breath reach.
Weeding for Buddha
Committee has been formed, a weed sympathizer up the street was indignant over this reckless disregard for weed life. Beer swilling self-isolating friend called them “a bunch of noxious tenderhearted pseudo botanists, wouldn’t know the difference between bed of straw or a flake of Timothy hay.” Beer bellied loner snorted through his N-95 facemask, pointing his latex gloved finger up into the sky, “They’ll be sorry if they come try take my Tibetan prayer flags out of these cold weed pulling hands. Who do they think they’re trying to bamboozle? Why I’m old enough to remember when the only kind of weed anyone knew was the one you smoked, and the only thing weed smoking made you do was laugh, eat cheeseburgers and put Visine in your eyes. Hell, what kind of no-till- carbon sequestration- save the world- urban farmer do they think they are messing with?”
Where fern bar ferns come from
Since this dust-up most of what passes for time in the neighborhood has settled into a familiar only in California multicultural truce. Neighbors are talking through fences, bragging about their house wrens, vireos and honeysuckle. Life’s not too awful and by looks of things most people in these parts have found a place in their hearts for both weeds and weed pullers. It’s as if Fox Television no longer exists and Jerry Hall has dumped Rupert Murdoch. Life could not be looking any better.