We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Oh. My.

Written By: Charles - May• 31•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Sunday gratefuls: Jon. Ruth. Gabe. Levi, Gabe’s friend. Ruth and the boys hiking the Maxwell Falls trail from top to bottom. Li’l Sicily pizza from Beau Jo’s. The ancient friends gathering today. Alan’s birthday. Sally’s birthday. The Sunday paper. Rain over the last few days. Aspen leaves at work. Lodgepole pine needles, same. Dandelions, no longer a weed in our yard. Kate’s voracious reading. Westworld.

A couple of days ago I stood up here in the loft sobbing. The Band sang The Weight in the background. Something about it, and Sugaree before it, wrenched tears out of my eyes. Minneapolis. St. Paul. Beloved cities filled with friends. The reckoning of too white Minnesota with its reality. The pandemic with its overlay of stress. Our last couple of years. All of it. Cleansed. Crying is good.

The troubles. I’m too gobsmacked right now. Even though tears.

There is no peace without justice. If you want peace, work for justice.

I Can’t Breathe

Written By: Charles - May• 30•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Saturday gratefuls: The sun. The protests. The peaceful protesters and the others. Consciousness rising. Again. Still. All my Minnesota friends. Especially Joanne Platte who worked at the Town Talk Diner. Another three set day in my resistance workout. The pain in my shoulder. The pain in my heart. Seoah, who has bought special treats for Kep.

A voice from our past:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated” Thomas Paine, The Crisis

These are the days of our lives. Hard to believe that, in the middle of a pandemic, civil rights emerge, still repressed, suppressed, volatile. No, violence and looting. Yes, violence and looting. Put yourself in the heart of people who cannot run in Atlanta without getting shot. Who can’t put on masks for fear they’ll be considered criminals. Who have to teach their children what to do when the police stop them so as not to provoke a George Floyd response. Or, an Eric Garner. Not if, but when.

Imagine you’ve been in stay at home for weeks. Imagine that your community has been harder hit than the privileged whites who live next door or a few blocks away. Imagine that someone you know has had a bad experience with the police for driving while brown. Imagine that your son or daughter is brown. Now, see that video of the flagrant murder, the callous murder of George Floyd. Is your first thought charitable? Even your second one?

The Moon of Sorrow acquired another meaning. As if it needed one. Racism so permeates our culture that it is not visible to those who benefit from it. That’s us, at least those of you whom I know read this.

Plague. Racism. Climate change. Our work is not done, the race not complete.

900 lbs .10 oz

Written By: Charles - May• 29•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Friday gratefuls: Shavuot. Rabbi Jamie. Tara. Marilyn. Alan. Ron. Rich. Judy. Susan. Sleeping well, always good. Oxygen concentrators. The engineers who designed them. As Mark said yesterday in an e-mail, remember your well pump. Wildfire. Soap. Lysol. Used in the right places, of course. Bleach. Shampoo. Laundry detergent. The world beyond our driveway. The moose and the hummingbird.

I saw a moose! About a half mile from home. A mature, and very big, female. She was in a neighbor’s yard, heading toward the back. I could see her against the house so scale was pretty obvious. Moose cows can be be up to 1,100 pounds though I doubt she was that big. Maybe 900? And tall. Around six feet at the shoulder.

Moose do wander around our area, though they’re not common. Folks have seen them at Flying J Ranch, in the meadow at the bottom of Shadow Mountain Drive, Kate and Gabe saw a female at the pond in the little meadow about a mile down the hill from us. This one was in the opposite direction, on Black Mountain Drive headed toward Evergreen.

She looked back over her shoulder at me as I drove by, then sauntered off toward the forested incline that began behind the house. If you go up and over Black Mountain or Conifer Mountain near our house, you find yourself in Staunton State Park, a large and beautiful place. No roads that way though. To reach it by car you have to get on Hwy 285 and drive a few miles. I imagine that’s where they come from.

But, wait. That’s not all. Both Kate and I rescued hummingbirds yesterday. One was in the loft and the other in her sewing room. My little guy wanted to get out the window facing Black Mountain Drive. After opening the window and trying to let him out on his own, I picked him up in a kleenex and let him fly away. Kate used cloth.

The moose was fun. But, the hummingbirds seem meaningful since both Kate and I did the same thing, maybe to the same bird, on the same day. Gonna have to think about it. Let it sink in.

Hummingbirds are sort of the local bird. Many people put out hummingbird feeders. They come here in large numbers. We have a feeder, still hanging in the same place it was when we moved in. I don’t fill it because feeding wildlife of any kind leads to habituation. And, habituation is not good for wild animals.

Based on some quick googling, I’d say mine was a broad-tailed male. Our eyes met when I opened the window and his small body moved slightly toward me. I could feel his intelligence and his calm. He was not anxious, just wanted back outside. When I picked him up, he did not struggle. I used the Kleenex to keep my scent off of him. It fell to the driveway as he flew quickly away.

The female moose, maybe 900 pounds. The hummingbird, .10 ounces or 3.16 grams. Life in its extremes. Both living in these mountains. Both with intention and mobility. Our neighbors. Our wild neighbors.

Lucky we live in the Rockies.

I witness. I wait.

Written By: Charles - May• 28•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Thursday gratefuls: MVP last night on calmness of soul. Calmness of soul. Kate’s many improvements, her seder practice. Seoah’s frittata. Rain. Thunder. Another cool morning. Pictures of nearby bears on Nextdoor Shadow Mountain. One really big guy. Cataracts maturing. The morning sun, rising bright.

I have no clue how others see me. For some reason. Weird to discover this at 73, but there you are. The person my ancient friends described a couple of weeks ago? Huh? I mentioned this to Kate and she said, well, you’ve never cared how others see you. True. And, not true. I mean, I want to be seen favorably; but, I’m not willing to pay for it with my integrity. No one wants to be reviled. At least I don’t think so. Not sure what this means, but it feels strange to realize.

Got pretty far behind on the Talmud. Questioning my commitment. Is it worth the amount of time required? Maybe not for me. I can’t tell if this question has arisen because I’ve let it slip, 7 days now, or because I find it interesting, but only sometimes. Maybe not enough to keep at it for seven and a half years? Yes, I like long projects. But. I also have to like the long project itself. Leaning toward bagging it.

Loft reorganization report. Yes, you might be surprised to know that this is still underway. Getting much closer, but the fiddly stuff toward the end always takes a while. Filing. Redoing some decisions. Maybe this week? Really looking forward to a finished job.

Why so slow? A major job. Paying attention to other things led to me piling books and papers here and there. Not exactly new, but I let it go on for a while. Then. OK. This is too much. Things have to change. Passed that point well over a month ago. I’m moving furniture, books, files, painting and sumi-e brushes, inks, paints. Had to clear off the tops of the book shelves to accommodate new additions to my library.

Also, I can only work on it for a limited period of time until I get weary. This is a psychic thing I don’t fully understand. Yes, there’s a lot of mental energy in deciding what to do with this and that, where that file or set of files needs to be, which books go together, how I can set up my painting and sumi-e to best support my work. OK. Maybe that explains it actually. Well, that plus Lupron.

Oh. Final introspection. My practice for calmness of soul is, whenever I see my image-mirror, zoom, elsewhere-I will recall this phrase from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself: I witness and I wait. See below.

From Song of Myself, Walt Whitman

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait

Tuesday

Written By: Charles - May• 27•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Wednesday gratefuls: Clean sheets and pillow cases. Socks and underwear. T-shirts and shirts. Washing machines and dryers. (remembering the agitator Mom had with the aggressive rubber rollers for wringing out wet wash) Gas stove. (though. climate change) Plumbing. Toilets and sinks and showers and baths. The boiler. Solar panels and IREA. Wiring. Outlets. Our well. Our aquifer. The septic tank and its leach field. The driveway. The garage. The house itself.

In a concrete mode this morning. Took out the trash, might be it. Seeing edges, corners. Feeling the cool morning air. Hearing the faint whine of the oxygen concentrators downstairs and the silence up here in the loft. Tasting the bitter coffee from my Conifer Physical Therapy cup. Nose twitching as allergens come on the air to greet me.

Clan gathered yesterday. Mary got up early, had to miss the call to sleep. Mark’s in a four-day, 24 hour lockdown for Eid. Eiding out, I guess. Diane says there’s a haze of marijuana smoke from the alley when the youngsters get together in her San Francisco neighborhood. We’re still staying home. Another day, another week, another month of this unusual, suddenly dystopian time.

After the call, I retrieved the pouch in which Kate deposits our monthly dope money, blue and red quilting with a zippered top. Went upstairs and ordered 8 packages of Wanna indica edibles from the Happy Camper. We no longer have to order online only, but it’s simpler.

Backed our apple red Rav4 out of the garage and headed down Shadow Mountain to Hwy 285. An l.e.d. sign courtesy of the class of 2016 announced Conifer High School’s 98% graduation rate. If we ever have to sell, good schools are important to our home’s value. The Stinker’s Sinclair station has gas at $1.99. Across from the station, two log cabins slump though they’re still intact. One has an added garage. It doesn’t match the cabin. Right angles. Dimension lumber against round logs, chinked with gray.

On 285 I’m headed south accorded to the highway, but west according to my compass. 285 does run south, all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but the stretch from here to Baily is more like southwest. As I near King Valley, the intersection that has claimed many lives, especially motorcyclists, the continental divide floats on the far away horizon, snow covered. This is a declining grade with a 45 mph speed limit, often ignored.

The Rav4’s console beeps with an incoming text message. Ah. Happy Camper. My order is ready. It’s about a 20 minute drive and I was counting on them getting it ready before I got there.

On Mt. Rosalie road, a left turn, then a quick right up the hill. The Missouri Synod Lutheran Church whose property adjoins the Happy Camper’s gives a website for its services. Jesus on the left and marijuana up ahead. One toke over the line, sweet Jesus. One toke over the line.

A masked security guard checks my idea and asks me to pull down my mask. Feels risky. A paper bag with Charles B. written on it is by the cash register. The clerk, whose name I have again forgotten, hands me change and enters my phone number. Yes, even marijuana dispensaries have loyalty programs. I’m the only customer in the store at the time.

A short nap. Kate and I head off to Aspen Root’s. Jackie, our hair stylist, has begun working again. Kate’s roots had begun to shed their color, leaving maybe five inches of gray exposed. She was eager to get her hair cut, a Michele Williams do, and return to her ash blond norm.

Jackie has customers come in with no masks. Is that ok, they ask? No, she says. She can’t social distance. Jackie’s not happy to be working, exposed and having to enforce sensible precautions on her customers. It’s not right to put the enforcement burden on small business owners. But there you are. It’s Colorado and my right to make you sick trumps your expectation of a healthy workplace.

Short. Beard and hair. Short. Jackie’s a sweet lady and I hate to see her put in this situation. I hope things get better, but logic suggests they’ll get worse first.

Back home around 2 pm. Exhausted. Wanted to work on the loft reorganization, getting close. Too tired. The lupron effects do get worse as time on the drug increases. However, I only to have think of Dave and Judy, two cancer patients, friends, one dying and the other back on chemo. I’ll take the hot flashes and fatigue.

A New Creation

Written By: Charles - May• 26•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Tuesday gratefuls: For the clan, gathering. Solar snow shovel. Kate’s good days. Seoah’s potential flight, June 7. The ancient friends. The mice and the voles and the rabbits and the squirrels. Rigel’s love of the hunt. Life. Death. Skin and bones. Feet, keeping you grounded since you learned to walk.

It’s a Happy Camper day. Another 8 packages of Indica edibles for these old folks. On the drive to get our dope we see the still snow covered mountains of the continental divide. We go west, toward Bailey, toward Kenosha Pass, and South Park. Deeper into the mountains. Lucky we live Colorado.

How can I keep from singing?

My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

author: Robert Lowry A hymn for our time, eh?

Memorials

Written By: Charles - May• 25•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Memorial Day gratefuls: WWI. WWII. Those who fought. Those who died. Those killed in the death camps. Those affected still. Gertrude and Curtis, veterans of WWII. Joseph, a serving Major in the USAF. Warriors. Peaceniks. Peacemakers. Out terrible love of war. (James Hillman) The anti-war movement of the 60’s. Richard Nixon, who taught us about corruption and venality. His best, his very best, student, DJT.

War. Warriors. Old as the first dispute over a berry patch back on the veldt. Who’ll fight for us? “They don’t call it murder if you kill in the thousands, to the sounds of trumpets, and with banners flying.” That’s how I recall it. Here’s what Voltaire actually said, “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” A sign from the 60’s: Travel to foreign countries. Meet exotic people. And, kill them.

My thinking was simpler then. Bad war, good peace. Bad Westmoreland, good Vietcong. But even then I knew I was against this particular war, not all wars. This was an intervention in a civil war, a dispute stretching back in time beyond our creation as a country.

The domino theory was bad thinking, a cold war worldview that led to simplistic decisions much like the word terrorist does today. The invasion of Iraq was a bad war, for example. Prompted by warmongers, people willing to bend the truth to get reality to conform to their version of it. Weapons of mass destruction? Right.

However. Warriors, those who fight the wars dreamed up by old white men in oiled wood committee rooms, drinking ice water and hot coffee. They defend the tribe, the clan, the nation. Their profession is a noble one and can require the greatest sacrifice imaginable.

Here’s a prayer I wrote for Joseph’s commissioning service in June, 2008. Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama. He and his classmates had just finished OCT and were becoming Second Lieutenants: “Bring a blessing on these men and women who have not only found something worth living for, but something worth dying for.   Link them arm in arm as warriors with those  living and dead who cherish freedom, defend liberty and work for justice.  Stand with them wherever they go and whatever they do, for they are our children, our mothers and brothers and sisters, our wives and husbands and we love them.”

Afternoon Special Edition

Written By: Charles - May• 24•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

It’s Memorial Day tomorrow on Shadow Mountain. The beginning of Summer. As you might expect, our solar panels have a white covering and the Snow has begun to mount up, falling in great, fat flakes from a gray Mountain Sky.

Closed due to Coronavirus A-Basin plans to reopen on May 27th. This is Jon’s favorite ski hill. The vagaries of mountain weather.

Days of Yore

Written By: Charles - May• 24•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Sunday gratefuls: Wetness on the way. Hope it’s snow. The Pig who gave its life for our meal. Portuguese mint Rice. Tasty. Old friends. Kate’s wonderful mood. Changing her bandages. Mario’s struggle. The Indy 500. Decoration Day. Mom and Dad. Mary and Mark.

Memorial day weekend. School’s out, school’s out, monkeys let the teachers out! The Decoration Day parade. Baton twirlers. The Alexandria High School band. Tiny flags for the graves of veterans. Heat. Soft asphalt wrinkling under the heavy tread of tanks from the National Guard Armory. Speeches and prayers. Seeing friends and their families lined up along Harrison. All of us waving at various princesses and queens. A red letter day.

Memorial Day was (and still is for me) a demarcation between the rigors and discipline of tests, of class times, of paying attention and the joys of summer. Summer was freedom. Whole days of playing outside, baseball and going to the field.

We’d find a wagon and troll the alleyways of our small town hunting through trash for the prized Coke bottles, other pop bottles. Money! We’d pull our wagons down to Cox’s Super Market and exchange our finds for money. I don’t remember the amounts now, maybe a nickel a bottle?

Popsicles dripping onto our hands, we’d wander down main street looking in the windows at Danner’s and Murphy’s. We might go into Bailey’s drug store for liquid cinnamon to infuse toothpicks.

One of those summer days I bought a small bottle of sulfuric acid. After doing some experiment on a leaf or (hangs head here) an ant, the small bottle went back in my pant’s pocket. I still have a small scar on my left leg from not wiping off the bottle before pocketing it.

The best memories begin at the odd concrete decline that led the way into the Carnegie Library’s basement. Carved into the hillside on which the library itself sat, its sturdy walls and shade offered a cool way into the magic through the old wood and glass doors.

Each summer there was a reading contest. Each summer I read way more than the contest demanded. This was a solitary pleasure, one most of my friends avoided. Riding bikes and going to the swimming pool at Beulah Park were both far more attractive.

Visits to family cranked up in the summer months, too. The Keaton family reunion, a big one during the late fifties and early sixties, gathered in Greenfield at James Whitcomb Riley Park.

This might be the great America that trumpists yearn for. It was a world of black and white tv’s. Cars had fins and Dad always got pictures of the new models early at the Times-Tribune office. Oooh. That ’59 Chevy. Cool. Newspaper boys, myself included, fanning out each evening across the streets and sidewalks, delivering this small town’s daily newspaper.

Happy memories of Memorial Day to you, too.

Ongoing

Written By: Charles - May• 23•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Saturday gratefuls: Deep fried shrimp by Seoah. Wow. Delivery of six ten-year battery smoke detectors. Fire extinguishers on the way. Workout. 2 sets, but back. Teeth cleaning. My dental hygienist. Fear. Still. Protecting us. High threat of wildfire. Keeping us aware. Brenton White caring for Murdoch. The second coming. Of Covid.

Mood better today. Moods fascinate me since they seem so important for our daily life, yet they are not much discussed, and from what I can tell after a quick Google search, not much studied. One turgid page on Psychology Today referred to moods as dispositions toward positive or negative emotions. Sounds circular to me. If I’m in a good mood, I have good feelings. If I have good feelings, I’m in a good mood. Duh.

How does the weather shift in our inner life? What causes a sad front to move in, or an ebullient one? What creates an anxious mood and what dispels it? Is my melancholy a stalled mood? Curious me. Maybe sleep is a circuit breaker between moods.

POTUS the medical experimenter. May he bravely give his all so that the rest of us can know the dangers of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment. POTUS, his own Mengele.

Hot flashes have increased in frequency. Sneaky bastards. Why did this room suddenly become hot? Oh. Not the room. They wake me up. Make me take off layers. Go outside if it’s cool or cold. Luproned.

Dental hygienist told me what I thought was gingivitis was in fact a side effect of Lupron. Sensitive teeth, sore gums. It recedes, she says, after you come off the drug.

I’ve been on Lupron since September of last year. The side effects seem to be getting worse. On some days I’m too weak to workout. The resistance work doesn’t increase my muscles so much as prevent more loss from the sarcopenia.

It’s true that it’s better than dying. Certainly. But, like all of my cancer experience so far, I’ve experienced few symptoms from the disease, but many from the treatments. Not that I want symptoms from the cancer. The irony of it, that’s all.

Asked Kate the other day how she felt about all of her troubles. I’m tired of them, she said. I’m sure. Sjogren’s. Tube feeding. Reynaud’s. Two shortened fingers. Interstitial lung disease. Lugging the Inogen whenever we go out. Tethered by O2 tubing in the house. Small insults add up. Yet. She’s had improvements in stamina, weight, her ability to manage. Sore wrists, rheumatoid arthritis. She takes hydroxychloroquine for them. Bursitis. Neuropathy in her feet.

OK. Enough of the organ recital. Have a great memorial day weekend. One forecast puts nine inches of snow on us tomorrow or Monday. Rain. Cold. Helping us stay home.