Bare Bones Biology 279 – Two Moons

Full moon again. I think it was full moon when Bitsy and I came once again down from the mountain into the miasma that once was (according to me and William Least Heat Moon):


“. . . an intense clarity as if the little things gave off light.” Maybe some of you also remember; it was not so long ago.

Then we cleaned out the studio and the clubhouse and also the Annex.


We wore out two pickups and ended with the third, which is a dark taupe, or perhaps dark gray, dude truck with a mind of its own and room for four people and half of their stuff. It locks when it feels like it, honks its horn from time to time for no apparent reason, and starts every time I turn the key (that I now keep in my pocket at all times) and keeps on going until I turn the key off, which is very useful.

In the process we were, at various times:

  • (1) sick — microbiotic sick, requiring antibiotics, AND chemically sick for which there is no cure except to get away, which we could not do while accomplishing the purpose of the trip. Of course, antibiotics are chemicals, so double whammy – triple if you count the sress.

(2) Homeless while owning three homes.151028-Halloween-asc_9772RSs

  • (3) Delighted to have found a good new owner to one of the homes.
  • (4) Dependant very much on the help of friends.

(5) Scrounging for utilities.


Yesterday we slept on the floor with no utilities; today the Ramada Inn at Gatesville, and the incredible luxury of no sick-making chemicals, an actually HOT bath and a bed with four or five pillows and a TV with a few hundred stations, all expounding on the basic theme of war and/or extreme competition, which is the same thing. Why you want to raise your children on a theme of war escapes me. I also remember when that was not true. I turned it off.


We are heading back up the mountain from the land of the “ostrich” to the land of reality, on the clean air trail. A greater contrast would be difficult to imagine. As described by Wm. R. Catton, Jr. (“Overshoot,” 1980):


“The world looks very different to people who think in terms of such different           perspectives. Communication between them can be as difficult as between people    who share no common language.”


Or more so.


There is no point trying to talk about anything of significance within a community that hears words you did not say or mean, so as not to listen to what you are saying — to keep the people occupied with futile conflicts over irrelevant trivia — while their lives and futures, and even their own past, crumble under their very homes like one of those sink-holes on the late-night weather channel. Only to listen is painful enough. Discussion is socially impossible; give it a try and you will be cut off by one or another social attack, as the system strives ever harder to maintain itself in the face of a wildly anomalous belief system that does not relate to the reality of what is happening to the system as a whole, and therefore cannot actually accomplish any kind of future dream. The Brazos Valley has become the poster child of our malaise.

“Real Limits not seen are not limits repealed.” (Catton)


And I don’t know about Bitsy, but I have a strong sense that there are two of me. As though my brain has two completely different people in there, and it takes a morning of hard physical labor and a good night’s sleep at the Ramada and a half hour under the evening sky watching the full moon rise out of the gleaming silver smog, to wake up the next day a different person. Who I was before I drove voluntarily into the ghostland and who I must become again to survive our common nightmare with eyes that can see beyond the cataracts and ears that can hear above the WIFI.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.


A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:


And when we arrived at the Winter Palace, what did we find at the end of the road?  May’s pea soup.  And another day.



Blue Highways, A Journey into America, William Least Heat Moon. 1982. Fawcett.

Overshoot; The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. William R. Catton, Jr. 1980. University of Illinois Press.

Bare Bones Biology 278 – Selling the Land

The national sport in the Brazos Valley of Texas seems to be the destruction of it’s own God-given heritage, including the fabulous richness of the natural prairies and the ancient oaks; the climate and the earth that nurtured both; and even the air our children must breath to stay alive, healthy and independent. These cannot ever re-new themselves without the ecosystem that nourished their creation, and we wipe them clean off the map overnight just because we can, we like the money, and it is fun. Much more fun than a careful consideration of the ethical, biological and medical heritage that we are now creating for our children.


I do not believe I was put on this earth to create money, but rather to help generate a healthy future for humankind. Not a future that consists of scrabbling o151019-Annex-ASC_9728RSsver every last dying remnant of our home on earth and our amazing history of accomplishments, but a future that builds on these to grow toward ever more humanity and beauty.


While some in this area of Texas are struggling to revive the razed, overgrazed, chemically sterilized lands in order to create edible forest gardens ( or beautiful places of meditation and contemplation, or a permaculture future capable of producing healthy food; and while master gardeners try to make lovely spaces out of little plots of clay on street corners; I have intentionally protected the innate value of this land for two decades – protected it from the woman who wanted to graze 8 horses on it, and from various building propositions — to the point where it is now ripe to mold to any of the above regenerative uses by selective pruning, selective addition of benches, niches, corners of native blossom like those yellow bushes that are blooming right now all around the area, and the fruits, vegetables and blossoms of winter, spring and even summer. To grow something worthwhile. Perhaps to grow enough organically produced fruits, vegetables and meat to keep a family all year round, while at the same time serving the needs of local birds and wildlife that regenerate the whole system. In addition, the property is surrounded and protected within an old growth that, once destroyed, will be gone forever.


The preferred industry option, of course, is to wipe out the rich potential of this property, as it has near the post office, overnight, and use it to build a bunch of sterile little cabins filled with people. This land cannot support 8 homes any more than it can support 8 horses, and the result will be more dependant people. People who will then have to depend on the same otxic industry for their welfare. We will not be growing healthy community – we will be creating ever more dependance.


And so, by protecting the Annex property, I have reduced the value of the land to something below the industry average. I say Hooray – I don’t want the toxic industry standard for this property that I have been nurturing and protecting for over two decades.


However, having just filled in more or less 15 pages of questions that are not relevant to the innate value of the Annex property, I now realize that it will be a rare realtor who can sell this place, or even see it, with grace and an eye to the future, because the future that most realtors envision (based on the questions I have answered) is a Vietnamese style scorched-earth nightmare.


I will be highly resistant to dickering for a sale of this property to anyone who has in mind the destruction of its special value in order to force it into a common mediocre toxic industry norm.


A person who buys this property because of its own innate value at least has the option to nurture both the dollar value of the land and its value to the community. That’s what we did with the studio, but of course the studio was a different piece of land with a different innate value. I remember you saw the value there. The clubhouse, also different, in the protected arm of the cemetery and in a backwater of its community, can probably take care of itself. The Annex is in danger of being killed outright, just as has been done to most of the magnificence that was the God-given legacy of Bryan/CS.


On the other hand, it seems to me that a creative use requires creative selling, and I would be happy to participate in an advertising campaign (using my blog and other methods) that would get the property into the hands of a young person or family who want to use it to grow health within the community. Also, I believe the property is worth $135 in the hands of a permaculturist or master gardener, and that kind of person would pay for the potential of this land. While at the same time those who cannot see past the dollar signs would be deterred. I would negotiate eagerly to help that person get the place — especially if they are a part of the coming boom in permaculture production for self and/or others, or someone who simply wants to develop a showplace natural property or wants a nice place to raise a family with pets, a garden, and a horse or two. I believe I’d start the campaign at the University organic farm, the Vet School, the rodeo group, the various places where horses are kept (feed stores) and the master gardeners.


I don’t have time to do a complete demo of what I’m talking about, but I can work on some promotions, if you have any additional ideas, and next time I’m here, if it isn’t sold, it will be spring and I will make a map of the property, make some trails through it, and consult with a master gardener to design a plot such as I am talking about. Today I have mowed what I can, including a new walking trail to the area where the pond should be, with perhaps a bench or a little gazebo on its bank, under a weeping willow tree, or nestled under the already-grown cedar, to sit in meditation or to watch the sunrise, or for a retreat with a good book or a good friend, during the heat of the day.


I also have some pictures of a place in NM that has been developed in the way I am talking about and is used for group retreats (as apparently is another place up the road, though I haven’t gone up to look at it).


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, TX.


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:



One of the best and most accurate books I have ever read on ecology, permaculture, plant physiology and nurture.


Bare Bones Biology

No blog or podcast this week.  Please refer to last week and repeat the last week podcast on the radio spot.  Thanks,  🙂

Bare Bones Biology 277* – Dear Friend

Your letter just arrived, and I appreciate your response more than I can say. Your time and your work are valuable, so I will try for a short response.


1 – I appreciate your primary statement that: “A true act of nonviolent love which seeks to end the suffering of others – never creates more suffering.”   I believe this awareness is why you qualify nonviolence with the word active, and The Dalai Lama qualifies compassion with wise. Active, nonviolent, wise compassion.


2 – My base of belief is that God meant The Creation to function as it does function, and we therefore can “know him by his works” of Creation, as well as by His words.


3 – We agree that the “problem” in our society is war, injustice, etc., and of course our common goal is to solve that problem.


4 – I am not saying that your work is bad or wrong in any way; in fact I believe it is indeed on the level of Jesus and Gandhi. What I am saying is that you can’t succeed at your great work unless we all – but especially the great ones – also work to eliminate the ROOT CAUSE of the problem, which is not human, but is inherent in how God made the Biosystem to function.


Wise compassion, according to The Dalai Lama identifies the root cause of the problem and addresses that cause. A major breakthrough in science in the last century clarified the same truth. To cure a disease, for example, it is necessary to address the root cause, in addition to treating symptoms.   If for any reason we ignore the root cause of any biological problem that we seek to solve, the problem will continue to regenerate itself. That is because Life is a system – cyclic, self regulating, not linear, and that is also why it is difficult for us to envision a good thing giving rise to suffering.


You and I both live in a culture that puts humans at the center, almost to the exclusion of the other parts of the system, and in fact does not imagine a systemic reality. Human accomplishments are thought of as linear, radiating out into the future or rebounding like a sort of pendulum that can exist in one configuration or be pushed back to another. Back and forth, and our job is to push it the right way.


150928-moonnight-ASC_9670RSs copyThis false view of how the system functions may have arisen from Western applied science, but we do also have the good basic science that is necessary to identify the root cause of our common problem, and good basic science tells us we cannot resolve human problems by push/pull linear responses. God is not so simple. God created, instead of a linear universe, a universe of interacting systems that regulate themselves using (among other things) positive and negative feedback loops.


My question is not a koan because it’s not about humans as central, and because the functional answer is explained by systems, and specifically the Biosystem. The reality of a system that is regulated by positive and negative feedback loops illustrates the truth that more of a good thing, any good thing, even compassion, can cause suffering within the system – depending on many circumstances – because it unbalances the natural feedback loops. That was why I asked the question(s).


God created humans with the capacity for pure compassion, and I am sure you know more about that than almost anyone, certainly more than I do. But my experience is that some of our own suffering (yours and mine) is because compassion in action, like science in action, is not pure. As soon as either is put to a specific action, it becomes applied compassion or applied science, and humans are not omniscient. Therefore, the minute we apply our compassion, or our science, we then become responsible to the results of our behaviors within a system – therefore responsible to study all possible outcomes of our behaviors, as they are known or expected to function in God’s Creation – not only our envisioned goals.


I am not saying that your work is wrong nor trying to create any doubts about it – of course not – I am saying that we must do more if we are to succeed – we must also address the root cause of the problem, which is primarily not human, but systemic. I am not one of those web people who create arguments for the fun of it; I am a very serious scientist. That is why I wrote to you rather than the war-mongers or the corporate divas. The root cause of our problem, and much of the suffering of all sentient beings in this age, is the damage we are doing to unbalance the overall system of Life. Both the cause and the cure are straightforward (but difficult) and I hoped you could embrace the whole of the system within your compassionate viewpoint and help to resolve the root cause.


Otherwise, our work will fail and I will be left “crying in the wilderness,” watching as I am now the greatest tragedy of historic time proceed, step by predictable step, and powerless to help, because our culture does not permit discussion of this kind of issue.


I am looking for people with whom this pivotal issue can be discussed/addressed.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS 89.1 FM in Bryan, TX


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 276 – Moving

Here I am late again, this time at Denny’s, which is a good place for food and emailing.  Senior French Toast, and I can watch Bitsy in the truck while all he crazy people go to the Aggie Game.

We arrived on 9/13, Bitsy and me, after about a1000 mile drive (1/3 of the distance across this giant country), looking eagerly toward a hot bath and long sound sleep, only to find an unhappy breaker box, a steamy “clubhouse,” and the prospect of another night of car camping. The nearly-new furnace, installed by a company that is riding on (and ruining) the reputation of people who they bought out, had to be fixed (again) before we could escape this steamy smog. Bitsy and I clearly are no longer Texans, and I am wondering why we are in Texas at all in September, which is the most gloriously golden time of year in rural New Mexico.


150926-Danielle-150926-Danielle-ASC_9657RSbs copyOh yes, teeth. We had the teeth and the furnace fixed on 9/14, then proceeded to empty the clubhouse, move most of the stuff into storage locker, and then clean out the studio property, and with the occasional help of 6 or 8 local folk, moved most of our things into the same storage locker until it was full, then dumped four more pickup loads onto the lawn of the third property in time to almost get the studio cleaned up before the closing on 9/25, which was rather pleasant and informal.


Property-rich = tax-poor, and I know they will make it a real home, so everyone was happy with the exchange, and the new owner and family celebrated an initiating barbecue on the lawn of their new home, while we collapsed into a soggy heap back to car camping mode under the sultry Texas sky that literally stinks of pesticides but nevertheless continues to host the same old gorgeous moon that we have everywhere else.


They say it is “perfect weather for football,” and they honestly don’t know the difference between the belief and the reality. I was once interviewed by a reporter who was willing to fight over her genuine belief; even though she wasn’t even living on this earth in the days when we really did have beautiful weather and we were both looking out the same window at the same putrescent Texan sky.


150928-moonnight-ASC_9697RSs copyNext morning, Bitsy and I began picking and packing and moving the stuff off the lawn of house number 3. (I genuinely believed I would live here with the fruits of my lifetime of labor to the end of my days.) We got it all in just in time, the day before the rains came.


In the meantime I posted two radio spots (these things take @ least a day and a half each to write and publish, just so you know, and it’s really difficult to find three days when I and the electricity and the internet are all at the same place at the same time), so they all were posted very late.


And then I hit the end of every daily thing at the same time today.   End of truck – a truck that requires me to jump to its tune is no longer useful, but we did make it home by the method of never turning it off until we got there. In the process we forgot to pick up the stack of pills from the drug store and had to go back but made it home again. End of most chores – vet, MD, PO, A-1, bank – end of tolerance for fixing other people’s problems.   End of this phase of my life, end of the day – but most likely there will be another one tomorrow – another day. Probably. Maybe not for us, or for the birds, that are already sliding down to wherever most of the insects went before them, but not the end for the central focus of the Life of Earth, which is after all not “human,” but LIFE.


150928-moonnight-ASC_9674RSs copyIn this land to which I gave the “best years of my own life,” where people have been taught that climate change is normal so we don’t need to worry about it, and it never occurs to them we should be worrying about ourselves, given that the LIFE of Earth doesn’t need us, but we do need it — we met a large number of people who do not know the difference between “knowing” (as in for example “your brake linings are worn all the way through”) and believing (as in “I think I can drive down this hill with no trouble, I’ve done it many times before”). They didn’t learn this in my biology classes, but maybe that’s why they took me out of teaching fairly early on.   My facts don’t suit their beliefs. Still don’t.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at: