We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Semiotics of the American Back Windshield. The Continuing Saga

Spring                                                                               Mountain Moon

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On the left reads: We don’t need gun control, we need idiot control. Right as I read it, the drive of the pickup vanished.

Wednesday

Spring                                                                             Mountain Moon

dishesYesterday was d-2 of the new dishwasher era. I have now seen the wonderful word, CLEAN, on its external panel twice. And, after checking, it’s true! I believe, barring trouble, that this brings the dishwasher saga to an end. Blessed be.

We’ve had maybe 8 inches of snow over the last week. All gone. As if it it never happened. 62 yesterday. Blue skies, small cotton balls of cumulus drifting over Black Mountain. Another day in the Rockies.

Kate sewed yesterday! This is a big deal and I’m happy for her. She can get her right arm up to 90 degrees though she still can’t use the shoulder for the most part. Coming along though. Her weight is up and so are her spirits. “I’m so happy I did the surgery.” Me, too.

whelmAfter the initial overwhelm (what’s a whelm*, I wonder?), I’ve been surprised by the good feelings that have come from my part in Kate’s recovery. Doing more, enjoying it more. Though. I will be happy when Kate’s back to full functioning.

Qabbalah last night. A lot of talk about sacred time, about creating sacred time, especially referenting Shabbat. What kind of practices move us toward eternal time? Observing Shabbat is one.

Allan talked about creating characters as an actor. He’s just been cast in two plays. The formation of a character and then the expression of the character on stage is a lot of work, a technical and often demanding process, but it’s ephemeral. After the rehearsals are done and the play has closed, the work disappears. I imagine each character leaves some residue, but I take his overall point that immersion in another identity allows for a glimpse of sacred time.

time, creation and expulsion

The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise   Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia) (Italian, Siena 1398–1482 Siena)  1445

*who knew?

verb

archaic literary
verb: whelm; 3rd person present: whelms; past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed; gerund or present participle: whelming
  1. 1.
    engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).
    “a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm”
    • flow or heap up abundantly.
      “the brook whelmed up from its source”

noun

archaic literary
noun: whelm; plural noun: whelms
  1. 1.
    an act or instance of flowing or heaping up abundantly; a surge.
    “the whelm of the tide”

Absence makes the heart grow wiser

Spring                                                                            Mountain Moon

Black Mountain white

Black Mountain white

Yes, it arrived. The bad Samsung got hauled away ignominiously with nary a tear of loss or grief. The new Kitchenaid now glares from its Cylon lens, hunting for dirty dishes, pots and pans that need a wash. This morning I walked past it and a single word glowed on the small screen visible from the front: CLEAN. Oh, joy. Oh, bring on the robotic revolution.

interstellar mediumBuddy Bill Schmidt shared a paper sent to him by a friend from JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratories. It’s title is: Science and Enabling Technologies for Exploration of the Interstellar Medium. Exploring among the stars. I mean, wow. Still an avid reader of science fiction, I thanked Bill and noted in my reply that we live in a time when science fiction and science fact often intersect. One of the delightful realities of living through this particular era.

Since we have a deep freezer drawer filled with ground beef from our quarter we bought last fall, I picked up an important cookbook, The Essentials of Cooking Ground Beef. In it, to both Kate and mine’s delight, is a recipe for the famous Matt’s jucy lucy’s. This recipe is for sliders and last night I divided a pound of hamburger into eight parts, balled them up, dented the ball with my thumb and stuck white cheddar inside. Hmmm. Tasty. Served with frozen Arby’s curly fries, dill pickle slices and haricourt vert. OK, that last dish didn’t really fit, but I always like to have a vegetable and it was available.

jucy-lucy-burger-042

As the photo at the top shows, we did get another round of snow yesterday. Maybe four inches. All of it welcome. Precipitation, especially now, aids to some extent in fire protection and recharges the ground water. When your daily water comes from the ground water, having moisture to replace what’s been used is important. Water is safety as well as life here. Without it we become vulnerable to lightning strikes, visiting campers and the odd animal trying to navigate high voltage power lines.

ch'an

Kabbalah tonight. More about time. Qabbalah is another way to explore the interstellar medium, a matrix of space/time with its deep roots in what I’ve learned the mountain and rivers poets of ancient China called absence. Absence is at the heart of Ch’an Buddhism, that peculiar blend of Taoism and Buddhism that emigrated to Japan to become Zen. Absence is the place of the Tao, the generative force that gives rise to the ten thousand things in all their uniqueness and detail. Learning to penetrate the gauze of sensation and feel your way into the absence behind it leads to enlightenment. In fact, both Ch’an and its child, Zen, believe in instant enlightenment; once you learn this truth in your core, you know what needs knowing. Absence makes the heart grow wiser.

Oh. I did get my cleaning, reorganizing finished. Spiffed up and ready for a return to both writing and sumi-e.

Spring                                                                          Mountain Moon

Kepler guards our new dishwasher against breakdowns. Good boy!

Kepler guards our new dishwasher against breakdowns. Good boy!

D-Day

Spring                                                                    Mountain Moon

kitchen aidToday is D-Day on Shadow Mountain. Dishwasher Day, that is. Sometime between 8 and 12, the cliched “window”, Best Buy, yes, that old home town favorite, will deliver and install our new Kitchen Aid dishwasher. After five weeks plus of hand washing dishes (the horror!) we’ll go back to the way dishes were meant to be washed, with lots of chugging and rushing and whirring. This has been a sufficiently long and frustrating process that I’ll not believe it’s over until the new appliance is snug in its home and has run its first few cycles.

Rich Levine wrote yesterday to say that our bee equipment is out in the wild now, helping other, new beekeepers. Tara Saltzman, CBE’s director of religious education, felt more comfortable using our half body bee suit. A hive tool, twenty of our built out frames, two hive boxes, bee brush, smoker and pellets went to the bee project. It feels good that they’re in use rather than sitting in our garage and it particularly feels good that they’re encouraging others to learn about bees.

IMAG0784We have more hive boxes, more honey supers, plus all the equipment needed to harvest and bottle honey. We brought the bee stuff with us on the chance that we would want to pick up bee keeping here, but now it’s unlikely. With both gardening and beekeeping the challenges altitude presented might have been overcome, they can be, but that first year enthusiasm after the move, 2015, got absorbed by prostate cancer. In 2016 Jon told me he and Jen were getting divorced. That took our attention for a full year and a half to which I added knee replacement surgery and Kate added Sjogren’s. Unless we decide to purchase a greenhouse, our horticultural life will remain muted.

Kate had her third session of p.t. and I took the time to go to King Soopers and get some groceries. She’s a had a small set back with her appetite, but her progress has given her confidence. This will be only a to be expected dip. Nothing’s linear.

Today's work

Today’s work

Meanwhile I have decluttered the loft. As I work, I pile up books and paper, file folders and magazines, creating temporary archival mounds. When I get to a place where I can poke my head up over the transom and see some light, the mounds lose their archival charm and become just clutter. The act of reshelving books, creating file folders for loose papers, organizing magazines has an energizing effect, both in the satisfaction of a more organized space and in the psychic sense of a new time beginning.

Today is filing, organizing magazines and a task new to me, creating storage for my sumi-e work. Most of it is practice, but there are a few keepers. I don’t understand the value of practice work yet, so I’m going to keep almost all of it even though my instinct is to throw it away. This means finding a way to archive large flat pieces of paper in a way that doesn’t fold or mutilate them. I have some ideas, folded cardboard, removing a few maps from my flat file storage. When I get to working on it, I’ll invent something.

That, plus the dishwasher, is what Tuesday will be about.

 

Out and Back Again

Spring                                                                       Mountain Moon

20180422_182925Earth Day. Thanks, Gaylord Nelson. Gabe’s birthday, too. 10 this year. He got a fidget spinner, an infinity box and a red envelope with money, $10 for each year. This year Earth Day is also Kate’s one month mark after surgery. She’s on an upswing in many ways, weight, pain, nausea.20180422_173735

We were at Domo again, the rural Japanese restaurant that was one of Zagat’s five best Japanese restaurants in the U.S. in 2007.

Quite awhile ago I told Ruth that I liked restaurants that transported me to another culture or offered a very different experience than my day to day life. She remembered and asked me last night if Domo was one of those. “Yes. Definitely.”

20180422_174528In addition to having an Akido studio that is one of the oldest in the country, Domo has a museum of rural Japanese objects, many related to farming or carpentry. They also have art hung in many spots, but in an unobtrusive, organic way. It’s located in an older, warehouse looking building in what is now a rapidly growing part of Denver. A brand new apartment building is under construction right next to it.

It’s not surprising, then, that there is a disclaimer on the door that reads, “No. We are not closing. Domo has no intention or plans for closing. We look forward to serving you in the future.” Both Domo and the equally unique Buckhorn, which is about three blocks further south on the same street, have been enveloped by Denver’s hot housing market and its drive for non-vehicular transportation. The Buckhorn, liquor license #1 in the City of Denver, sits in the curve of a rapid transit station and shares with Domo new housing starts, mostly apartments, all around it. The old city, Buffalo Bill Cody ate at the Buckhorn, and the new smooshing together.

20180422_174540It’s been an unusual weekend visually with the suspended bee hives and the elk Saturday, the 4/20 celebration at Happy Camper on Friday and Domo yesterday. There is, too, of course, always the mountains. When we drive down the hill into Denver, we leave them behind for a bit, decanting ourselves onto the terminus of the great plains, still high at 5,280 feet, but flat all the same. Last night when we came home, a mountain in the distance toward Evergreen was a flat, pastel teal with pink ribbons of clouds behind it. Only Cezanne could have done it justice.

Black Mountain

Black Mountain

We go into Denver less and less, remaining in the mountains unless family or medical matters call us. On occasion we do visit jazz clubs, go to a movie, head into a museum, but not often. As a result, each time we drive into the city, I feel a little more strange, a little more estranged from the (relatively) crowded streets, the hurry, the built environment. When we turn west, which from Denver means headed toward the Front Range, I get the same feeling of peace now that I used to get when I turned north on a trip and headed back toward Minnesota.

We can return home three different ways, each offering a different sort of return to the mountains. The most dramatic is to take I-70 to Evergreen. After passing through the first foothills and getting up the rise, the snow-covered (now) continental divide appears in the distance, the sort of mountain scenery that is post-card worthy. We can also turn off 470 and head through the small touristy mountain town of Morrison, up past the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater and onto a windy road with rocky cliffs and Bear Creek tumbling alongside. The most common way home is up Hwy. 285 which enters the foothills through a dynamited opening in the hogback. 285 winds in largely gentle curves up to Conifer. All three take us home by gradually reintroducing us to elevation and the rocky, fir covered slopes where the great plains come to end.

Mountain Scenes

Spring                                                                    Mountain Moon

On the way over to Rich’s (see post below), I saw these gals lounging around in front yards.

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This morning, looking east on Black Mountain Drive.

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Hiving

Spring                                                                        Mountain Moon

The Levine hive suspension method

The Levine hive suspension method

Drove over to Rich Levine’s in Evergreen, up on Alpine drive. I took with me two hive boxes, twenty filled out frames, a half bee suit and a veil, smoker, pellets, bee brush, and a hive tool. Rich carried the hive boxes and frames up to his deck cum study where his bees live on a wire.

We hived a three-pound box of bees into one of my old hive boxes. This involves spraying down around 10,000 bees with sugar water, removing the tin can that has fed them on their trip from the bee supplier, in this case all the way from the Western Slope, and easing the queen cage out. Once the queen cage was out, we removed a small cork in the end of the tiny wooden container and replaced it with a marshmallow. This allows the workers and queen to eat away at the marshmallow, releasing her gradually and hopefully encouraging the colony to accept her. They may not and if they don’t they’ll kill her. If they do, your hive is queen right.

Queen cage

Queen cage

After putting the marshmallow in the queen cage, we removed four frames from the middle of the hive box, turned the box over so the space for the can faced down toward the hive floor and whacked the can. Since it was chilly and since we’d sprayed them liberally with sugar water, the workers fell into the bottom of the hive. I took my hive tool and spread them around on the bottom. They’re a squirming, moving mass, whirring. With the workers in the base of the hive, the other four frames return to the hive box and the queen cage is placed between two of the frames, marshmallow end down.

BEES 3 poiund package

Since there are no flowers or other blossoms out right now, the colony must be fed sugar water until they can find something to eat. Rich purchase a feeding system new to me. It involves four holes cut into a hive box cover, just the right size for four mason jars put in them upside down. Punch a few holes in the lid, fill the jar with sugar water, invert.

The fifteen or so people there, many of whom would take a hive box and a three-pound box of bees home and repeat the hiving process there, watched with both fascination and a bit of trepidation. Afterward we had lunch, hotdogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs. Rich is a vegetarian.

I left a little early. I’ve become part of Beth Evergreen’s community at the synagogue, but I’m still nascent as part of the community outside of it. At first I thought it meant something negative, the feeling of being an outsider; but, I realized no, it was only a part of the process of coming to belong there, too. I’m an introvert and cast as the expert so being with so many strangers, I knew only four people, and looked to for answers wore me out. Normal, really.

 

4/20, Dogs

Spring                                                                           Mountain Moon

Just as I imagined I would after I turned seventy, Kate and I drove over to our local marijuana dispensary, The Happy Camper, to celebrate pot’s unofficial holiday, 4/20.

The Happy Camper on the flank of Mount Rosalie. Decorated. Sort of.

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A local food truck offered fried chicken, pulled pork, baby back ribs as part of the 4/20 celebration.

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Rigel and Gertie came along.

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Often when I go up to the loft, these treat loving dogs await me. They push past me to get there first.

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See

Spring                                                                            Mountain Moon

Slate sky behind snow loaded lodgepole pines,

Scraping blades scritch, push, push, push

While more white falls, softening the edges.

Our house has a white roof, like me.

20180327_094904Find myself leaning into a favorite phrase of Bill Schmidt’s, “See what you’re looking at.” It’s a mantra now as I drive in the mountains, trying to see their essence. What about their shape, their altitude, their rock, their trees tell me, this is a mountain? Close looking is a skill, a hard to develop one since distractions of all kinds, a key this-moment-in-time issue, lead us away from direct experience to mediated experience. Close looking, like the close reading of poetry, opens up the unseen, the unexpected.

As I continue to develop my sumi-e skills, I’ve decided I want to focus on only a few things: mountains, Hebrew letters, Tarot major arcana, and objects I’ve used and love like chain-saws and axes, garden tools, bee equipment, maybe dogs, too. I plan to seek what I understand is the central objective of sumi-e painting, expressing the essence, the soul of an object rather than aiming for a Western representational rendering. Good thing, since I don’t have the patience to attend an atelier like my friends Lonnie and Stefan Helgeson.

 

 

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