Independence Day may be over, but the fireworks in DC are just beginning. Hard to imagine this could be a controversial topic, but in the post-Trump age even an investigation into an insurrectionist attack on the US Capitol itself can become a bone of contention between the two Parties. Some of the very lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the fury unleashed by Donald Trump’s supporters, now stand by and opine that the attack was just high spirits or a typical congressional tour group.
Daylilies have always been a part of my experience of this property, from my earliest remembrances of the lemon lilies my mother brought with her from my grandmother’s garden. Bright shining yellow, these late May bloomers are still the first to open, though the encroaching maple shade has thinned them to a precious few.
The nation’s largest city is about to change leadership again. Term-limited current mayor Bill de Blasio will be leaving Gracie Mansion in January 2022 and turning over the keys to … who? Metropolitan voter registration of Gotham’s 8+ million citizens leans heavily Democratic, by a 5-1 margin, but that hasn’t prevented independents like Michael Bloomberg or Republicans like Rudi Giuliani from taking the helm in previous elections. Most of the early action took place on the Democratic side, with eight contenders vying for the nomination in a first-ever “ranked choice” electoral process where voters rate their preferences and supporters of candidates who are eliminated in the first round of tabulation are assigned to others.
Olympic hopeful Sha’Carri Richardson is covered in “grass” stains after a stumble and fall on her quest for a Gold Medal. The track phenom, noted for her streaming masses of flame-orange hair as much as for her athletic prowess, failed a drug test for marijuana use and was given a one-month suspension on July 2, which effectively prevents her from fully competing in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, beginning July 23rd. The suspension was retroactively imposed on June 28th, making Richardson free to compete after July 27th, so though she will miss the Women’s 100 meter, her qualifying race, she could conceivably participate in the Women’s 4 x 100 relay scheduled for August 5th. However, Richardson has been cut from the roster of the US Olympic team, and will apparently not be allowed to compete at all.
Just in time for Pride Month, on June 21st Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as homosexual, in a very casual and matter-of-fact Instagram post. “I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” stated Nassib, in what sounded almost like an afterthought, a testimony perhaps to the non-event such disclosures have become in recent years. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest,” continued Nassib. “I really have the best life. I got the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”
June can be a slow month in the garden, visually; the spring bulbs and ephemerals are long past, seeds have barely sprouted, bedded annuals are still teeny things just starting to grow, and summer perennials have yet to open. But as the month progresses to the solstice, pops of color begin to emerge.
In olden days an astrologer could be executed for treason if he prophesied the death of the king, but times have changed. To be clear, the purpose of this article is not to say that Joe Biden will expire in office, but that there is a window opening shortly which could produce that result, and it’s something we should take note of. Given the pressures of the office and Biden’s status as the oldest serving president, this should come as a shock to no one.
To be fair, orange was the Old Trump, too, at least in terms of spray tan and hair dye. But in this next solar year, Donald J. Trump may find himself moving into a more sartorial realm with orange, in the form of a prison jumpsuit. On May 25th, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance gave The Donald an early birthday present when he empaneled a Grand Jury to look into possible criminal charges to be filed against the former US President (just a day before a Lunar Eclipse which conjoined asteroid Nemesis, noted for ruin and downfall). Prosecutors have been investigating Trump, the Trump Organization and its officers since at least 2018, and the convening of a Grand Jury signals that they are ready to present evidence and potentially seek indictments.
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) must feel as if she’s gone down the rabbit hole these days. The conservative stalwart, daughter of former VP Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney, with a 78% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union and a record of voting with President Donald Trump 98% of the time, is being booted from her leadership position, likely to be replaced by a woman with a 44% ACU rating, who only voted 77% with Trump. The reason for Cheney’s fall from GOP grace? Her apostacy in refusing to accept and promulgate the Big Lie, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election in a landslide and had it stolen out from under him. Liz also voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th assault on the US Capitol, and has called him to account for his role in that abortive coup, for which she is now paying the penalty.
It’s déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have it. Less than four months ago I put down my rescue cat Charcoal, who had a cancerous tumor in his mouth, and now his companion Cleo follows him across the Rainbow Bridge, from the same complaint! Cleo and Charkey were very close, and she hasn’t been the same since his passing. Her eating habits had become erratic, and she was isolating more and more in the upper reaches of a storage unit in the laundry room that was their home. After a few initial forays into the spring sunshine of the garden, she refused to go out, and the weekend before her death, she stopped eating completely.
As April wanes and fades into the lusty month of May, spring bulbs in the garden are waning, too, but there’s a last flourish of late-season daffodils to enjoy, and the muscari are at their peak. Perennials have returned, and are lush with new green growth (or in the case of heucheras, that might be rose, bronze, burgundy, yellow or purple growth!), and some have even bloomed.
Ten months after his murder, George Floyd’s family received some closure and a form of justice when the jury convicted his killer, former Officer Derek Chauvin, on all three counts of murder and manslaughter charges, after less than 11 hours of deliberation. The evidence against him was so egregious, that outcome should have been beyond dispute, but in such racially charged cases of police misconduct, nothing is certain.
Not ten miles away from the George Floyd murder trial, another unarmed black man needlessly lost his life during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. When police pulled him over, Daunte called his mother, worried what the outcome might be. The official story of why Daunte was stopped has changed; apparently, the initial charge was car deodorizers hanging from his rearview mirror. This shortly morphed into an expired license plate, during a pandemic where the DMV has been closed for months and processing of registration renewals has been notoriously delayed.
On April 9th, 2021, Buckingham Palace announced the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, at their home in Windsor Castle, just two months shy of his 100th birthday. Prince Philip and the Queen were married 73 years, and he was the longest-serving consort in British history. The couple have four children, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, with another on the way, due this summer.
During Holy Week 2021, the New York Times broke the story that GOP firebrand Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking of a minor and related offenses. Begun by the William Barr Justice Department, the investigation has been ongoing for more than a year, with the FBI characterizing Gaetz as a “subject”, not a “target.” Gaetz stands accused of multiple incidents involving exchange of cash or goods for sex, but so far only one allegation of underage trafficking; if proved, Gaetz faces up to life in prison. Gaetz’ response to the story being made public has been a staunch denial, and a rather tortured quasi-justification alleging a complicated and improbable blackmail and extortion scenario at the root of the investigation.
AAA kicks off a new department this month with “Garden Glimpses”, a photographic memoir of life here at what I affectionately term “Pokeberry Farm”, after our most prolific vegetative output (the pokeberry, AKA pokeweed, is a large native plant, sometimes up to 6 feet tall, with spreading branches bearing pendulous, almost grapelike bunches of purple-black fruits; birds prize these, and their droppings proliferate this invasive species all over the yard). Over the past year I’ve chronicled each sabbat, or pagan festival, and have integrated my horticultural adventures within that seasonal framework. But I have only so much to say about pagan holidays, whereas the garden is the gift that keeps on giving, so we’ll be morphing the original “House Diary” column into a more flora-focused one. After all, with asteroid Gardner just a degree off my natal Sun, I’m only an “e” away from being the real thing!
Less than a week after the spa shootings in Atlanta, shots rang out again in Boulder, Colorado, as 10 were killed in a crowded grocery store by a lone shooter wielding an assault-style rifle. The suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is the same age as the Georgia shooter, but this motive is less certain. We do, however, have a birth date, and victim names which match asteroids, so let’s dig in on this latest atrocity.
At approximately 4:55 PM EDT on 16 March 2021, Robert Aaron Long allegedly entered the Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia and opened fire with a 9mm handgun, killing 4 and wounding another. He then drove the half hour to Atlanta and continued his shooting spree at two additional massage establishments, Gold Massage Spa and Aromatherapy Spa, across the street from each other on Piedmont Road. Long shot three dead at Gold’s Spa, killing one more and wounding 4 others at Aromatherapy Spa. He was apprehended on the highway at about 8:30 PM, allegedly headed to Florida to continue his murderous rampage.
The shockwaves are still reverberating among royalty watchers worldwide from an explosive new interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, given to Oprah Winfrey on March 7th, which ranged from accusations of Palace racism to revelations of thoughts of suicide. Shades of Princess Diana! When I first profiled Meghan at the announcement of their engagement, I noted that her birth occurred within a week of Harry’s parents’ marriage, and mirrored much of the challenges of that union, as though the cosmos wanted a re-do, but the danger was that history might repeat itself.
Although removed from office almost a month ago, Donald J. Trump continues to set presidential records. Only president to lose the popular vote in both general elections where he was on the ballot; only president to never reach a 50% approval rating during his term in office; only president to be impeached twice; only president to be tried after leaving office; and now, the president with the most bipartisan impeachment and majority conviction in history.
Not since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 has a freshman congressperson made such a stunning impact in the House of Representatives as Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), quickly emerging as an avatar for the extremist fringe of her Party. Greene latched onto the Trumpist base with all the furor of a Sarah-Palin-inspired “pit bull in lipstick”, hawking every conspiracy theory to come within range while endorsing the lynching of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump strongly supported her candidacy, calling her “a future Republican star.” Since his departure from the Oval Office, he and Greene have exchanged phone calls frequently, with the newly minted Representative planning a visit to Mar-a-Lago soon, to kiss the ring: “Great news is, he supports me 100%, and I’ve always supported him,” tweeted Greene.
On Tuesday 19 January 2021, I lost my dear fur buddy Charcoal to cancer. What I thought was a respiratory infection, which Charkey got every winter, turned out to be a mass in his mouth. While waiting for the biopsy appointment, the faint swelling I had observed on his left side blew up dramatically over the weekend, becoming so large it looked like he had a tennis ball in his cheek. I dropped him off for his appointment that morning, the vet confirmed the diagnosis a few hours later, and shortly after that, I held him as he passed.
By Constitutional fiat, all US administrations begin at 12 Noon on the January 20th following a general election, regardless of when the oath of office is actually sworn. This provides a celestial continuity from decade to decade, with all administrations having an early Aquarius Sun conjunct a late Capricorn MC, and a mid-Taurus Ascendant (unless begun by the death or resignation of the previous office holder). But within that rigid framework, the permutations are virtually endless, especially when asteroids are considered.
On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, the Feast of the Epiphany, Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol to prevent Congress’ counting and certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, preparatory to his inauguration two weeks later. Doors were forced, windows broken, as insurrectionists fresh from a Trump rally mere blocks away which featured an in-person address from the President took control from Capitol Police and security, who offered minimal resistance to the crowd, estimated in the tens of thousands. The Senate and House were evacuated, put on lockdown, as legislators cowered in safe spaces or barricaded themselves in their offices to avoid the mob.
After a protracted waiting period while ballots were counted in crucial swing states, reputable news outlets, from the AP to Fox News, have finally stated what’s been obvious for days: Democratic candidate Joe Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election.
That Biden would be the popular vote winner was never in serious doubt, celestially or terrestrially, but the US Constitution provides for a less-than-democratic mechanism to determine who actually holds the office. In 2016, despite winning the contest by almost 3 million more votes, Hillary Clinton was denied the presidency on an Electoral College technicality. With 4 million-plus more voters casting their ballots for him, that unfair outcome has been avoided in 2020, and Joe Biden will now assume the office, with 273 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump’s 214. Not all states have been called, but when Pennsylvania fell to Biden on the morning of Saturday, November 7th, there was no longer a numeric path to victory for Donald Trump; the former VP had surpassed the 270 vote threshold. If the current leaders retain their positions and win those states where they are ahead, the final tally will be Joe Biden 306 and Donald Trump 230; ironically, this is the same number by which Trump won in 2016.
On Tuesday 11 August 2020, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made his long-awaited choice for running mate in the 2020 election: US Senator and former nomination contender Kamala Harris (D-CA). I suggested Harris as a running mate for Biden in my January 2019 profile on her when she announced her candidacy for president, based not so much on astrological analysis as a gut feeling that this would make a winning team.
Harris’ chart shows a clear professional drive for the White House, and the connections between her and Biden suggest she’ll be an asset on the campaign trail, and a worthy successor when the time comes, should they win in November.
On Thursday 25 April 2019 former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Biden’s Macbeth routine, “letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’,” was wearing thin, and at his announcement Biden joined an already crowded field of some twenty rivals who dove into the political (cess)pool ahead of him. Before officially becoming a candidate, Biden’s name recognition kept him at the top of most polls; now that he’s an actual contender, that may change. Fast.
On Sunday, 27 January 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign in her home town of Oakland, California, before a crowd estimated at some 20,000. Harris is the former Attorney General of California, elected to the US Senate in 2016. As a mixed race child of a Jamaican father and a Tamil Indian mother, Harris is the first potentially viable candidate who is a woman of color to run for president. Her candidacy will electrify liberals and promote progressive goals, such as universal pre-K, debt-free college, and Medicare for all, and a long career in law enforcement may help to remove the “soft on crime” sting that many conservatives will attempt to apply.
When the 116th Congress convenes on January 3rd, 2019, it’s likely to have a most remarkable woman at its head. If chosen Speaker by the incoming Democratic majority in US the House of Representatives, it won’t be Nancy Pelosi’s first crack at wielding the gavel. The California-based Representative made history in 2007 when she became the first female Speaker of the House, a post she held until the 2010 electoral rout against the Affordable Care Act, spearheaded by the Tea Party, tossed Democrats out of power for 8 years. But progressives and Pelosi are back, and 2018’s Blue Wave has once again turned the tide in DC.
On Saturday 19 May 2018, Prince Harry of Wales and American actress Meghan Markle will wed in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Vows will be taken at noon, before a comparatively small (by royal standards) company of some 600 friends and relatives, after which the couple will drive on a two-mile procession through the town, followed by a reception hosted by the Prince’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.