We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Bernie Madoff rather than Jesus in the their hearts

Written By: Charles - Apr• 18•19

Spring                                                                              Rushing Waters Moon

read this article in the NYT. wrote in on comments.


“Well. Retired Presbyterian, UU clergy here. It was a used donkey that Jesus rode on Palm Sunday. He turned the tables on the money lenders. In Luke he’s quoted as saying: “…The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” Biblical. You can question the Bible, but these folks tend to want you to abide by it. Often think it’s the literal word of God. If they’re right (and I don’t think so), they’re in trouble with their God. If they’re not right, it doesn’t matter and fleecing rather than shepherding is just another Amway scam run by someone with Bernie Madoff rather than Jesus in their heart.”

You Old Dog

Written By: Charles - Apr• 18•19

Spring                                                                               Rushing Waters Moon

from friend Tom Crane:

ancient scottish dog

fetch my stone axe, boy

“CIVILIZATIONS MAY COME AND GO, but good dogs are forever. In a first for canine forensics, researchers have reconstructed the head of a domesticated dog that lived in Scotland’s Orkney Islands some 4,500 years ago. Based on the size of its skull, the scientists believe the dog must have been roughly the size of a large collie and had features similar to a European grey wolf. Based on the loving gleam in its forensically reconstructed eyes, we believe the pup must have been a very good dog.”

Caregiver Man

Written By: Charles - Apr• 18•19

Spring                                                                                Rushing Waters Moon

Kate’s in Swedish yet again. On O2 up here her oxygen saturation went down to 87. Runs about 98% on O2 on Shadow Mountain. She was also short of breath. That continued down the hill, but her O2 saturation rebounded. She had a chest x-ray, a c.t., and received some prednisone and a bronchodilator. Did not fix the shortness of breath. Meanwhile, Alex from Colorado Pulmonary Intensivists called with the results of her attempt to hook up Edwin Smith and the cardio-thoracic surgeon for the j-tube, lung biopsy. But we weren’t home.

Kate said she’s tired of this, the visits to the E.R. Said I must be, too. No, I told her. You remember, I reminded her, how I developed my commuterman persona to cope with all the trips in to St. Paul with Joseph? Yes. Well, now I’m caregiver man. I do what’s needed. Getting mad in rush hour traffic accomplished nothing but upsetting me, as fussing over this or that as a caregiver doesn’t change our reality, what needs to get done.

That’s not to say I’m immune to the stress. It comes. May have knocked my immune system back enough to make me vulnerable to the flu, pneumonia, that bad cold. Hard to tell. I don’t, however, project into the future. Caregiver man works in the present, stays there as best he can. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

dogs ribsOn a lighter note. When I got my second PSA done, the phlebotomist had pictures of her dogs on the wall. I commented. We got to talking about dogs. She had one, a smallish German shepherd like bitch. She loves to hunt, often comes in with a tail and two hind legs sticking out of her mouth. I mentioned Rigel and the time she upchucked a clear eyed rabbits head on the carpet. Well, she said, I have another one. This same girl once brought me back a full rack of ribs. Dressed. I laughed. So did she. Dogs.

There’s not a car wash in Conifer. Too much water use for our arid, rocky land. We don’t go down the hill much so our Rav4 is often dirty. Got gas down the hill yesterday. They had a car wash. Ah ha. I took advantage. First time in a couple, three months. I’m sitting there as the car wash machine starts spurting water and soap from its car sized mechanical arms. Reading. A whooosh of water and I feel it. Just a little. So I make sure all the windows are up. They are. Whooosh. Some water leaks onto my head, then more. Damn. The moon roof. It was open! Next pass even more water as I fumbled with the controls. They work differently than the one I used all the time in the Celica. I got it closed, but not before I had water streaming down my face. Even I could see the humor. After I got the moon roof closed.

On the way home I got off 73 and headed up Shadow Mountain Drive to find, a traffic jam. ? Cars snaked far around the curves out of sight. What? Luckily this is the information age. I opened my phone. After stopping and putting the now clean Rav4 in park. Went to google, typed in Nextdoor Shadow Mountain. Sure enough. A guy had rolled a gray pickup further up the road. He was in handcuffs. That explained the traffic jam.

Many cars turned around, got out of line. Many of us didn’t. The reason? Mountain roads. In order to get to our house, less than 3 miles up Shadow Mountain Drive, I would have to get back on 73, drive a good distance toward Evergreen, find Blue Creek Road, drive across it to Brook River Drive, turn left and drive miles to get home. Much easier to wait. The jam cleared. I got home.




A hypothesis. The long, very long history of clergy sexual abuse.

Written By: Charles - Apr• 17•19

Spring                                                                    Rushing Waters Moon

I wrote to the author of this Washington Post column, Pope Benedict shows how the Catholic church went so horribly off-courseHoly_Orders_Picture-cropped2.

Hello, Mr. Drehle,

I’m a retired Presbyterian clergy. I appreciated your comments about Benedict stepping out of the shadows. Problematic to say the least. And, what he said. About all this being the fault of liberals and the sexual revolutions. I mean, come on. Doesn’t pass the most cursory examination.

But. Here’s a matter that has bothered me since the beginning of this latest chapter. It’s my hypothesis that this kind of sexual abuse has existed since the beginning of the R.C. Probably apexed in the Middle Ages.

Sexual abuseWhy? What we know now about sexual abuse is that it often (usually) involves an authority figure and a subordinate. Sexual desire hasn’t waned in the last two thousand years, I’m sure of that. And the Catholic churches presumption of holy authority and that mediated through its bishops and their clergy trumps even the boss/employee relationship, the coach/athlete relationship, and the doctor/patient relationship.

I don’t have evidence for this, just the knowledge that the power dynamics were even worse for congregants from the time of the R.C.’s formation through at least the age of enlightenment.

I’m writing you to see if you know anyone else who’s come to a similar conclusion. And, if not, shouldn’t somebody be on this? If true, and I’m pretty sure it is, it would put the lie to any defense like Benedict’s.


Written By: Charles - Apr• 16•19

Spring                                                                              Rushing Waters Moon

Slept fine. But there is a certain heaviness this morning. A matter of this news, this cancer (see post below), seeping in to my psyche, I suppose. A dullness, compensation for the sharp knife. It wasn’t apparently, my rational side, that said things would be fine, but that part that hopes, that imagines life as a straight line. If our Colorado years have had a lesson, it is that life zigs and zags, even in the third phase.

ruin_stairs_leave_destroyed_broken_dirty_building_factory-921666.jpg!dI had a dream three nights ago. Seems prescient now. I was in a non-descript house or building, bare of furniture. Someone, or something, was in the basement. I could hear gun shots. I hunted for entrances to the basement and found two, one a door and one a grate.

Down there were steel pillars covered in concrete.  Whoever or whatever down there wanted to bring the building down. The blue painted concrete had shattered on many of the pillars exposing steel beams. They still stood strong.

Somebody handed me a rifle. I readied myself, though frightened, to go down and save the building.

In Jungian dream interpretation, as I learned it, any house or building is your psyche. The top floor is the supergo, the ground floor the ego, and the basement is the unconscious. This building might well have had a top floor, but it didn’t figure into this dream, all ego and unconscious. My unconscious sent up a clear message, our home is in danger. Get down here and take care of it before the foundation crumbles.

On it.


Cancer Returns

Written By: Charles - Apr• 15•19

Spring                                                                  Rushing Waters Moon


Cancer cell

Had to go at this head on, today, while it’s fresh. When I got to my appointment with Anna Willis, Dr. Eigner’s P.A., the first person in the room was Eigner himself. Grayer and thinner, he smiled, shook my hand. When I said it was good to see him, he said, “It’s good to see you, too, but I’m not happy about the reason.” When I told him my anxiety made me move the decimal place on my PSA, his relief was obvious, “Thank god.” Anna came in about then.

They both remembered me. Anna remembered my glasses and our visits. Eigner remembered me partly because I’d sent him a couple of emails over the years thanking him, telling him about my life. It was one of the warmest visits I’ve had in a doctor’s office and that felt good.


Davinci robotic arm, Sky Ridge (where I had my surgery)

Turns out though. “When you’ve been perfect (a .1 psa which means essentially undetectable) and that changes, it’s scary.” He went on to say that it most likely does mean a recurrence, a relatively rare thing for those who choose prostatectomy, even rarer if the pathology report read, as mine did, clear margins. Clear margins means no cancer was found on the outside of the prostate. The best news.

Dr. Eigner took out a piece of paper and drew a sort of oblong on it. “This is the prostate. They can’t take sections from every part, so they take representative slices. If the cancer is between those slices, it won’t show up on the path report.” Oh, shit.

Since it is three and a half years since my surgery, and since the number for the uptick is relatively small, it means the recurrence is probably local, that is, in the area where the prostate used to be. That’s good news, much better than metastasis.

The plan is to redo my PSA in three months, doing the super sensitive one that can take the numbers 3 or 4 places rather than just two. If it’s still rising, I’ll get a referral right away to the oncologists to discuss radiation. “We’ll just go in there and kill it,” he said. “If you were older, I’d tell you not to do anything. This will take ten years to manifest anyhow, but at 72 you’ve still got a lot of life ahead of you.” That’s my opinion, too.

the Prostate Specific Antigen

the Prostate Specific Antigen

Radiation has some potential downsides, so I hope we don’t have to go that route. But, as I said to Kate, I’ve always chosen treatments that offer the best chance to remain active, and alive. I chose repair for my torn Achilles even though it means two months of no walking and crutches for a good while after. I chose knee replacement over other treatment options because I wanted to continue exercising. I chose a radical prostatectomy because that gave me the best shot at a cure. Likewise here, if radiation is the option that gives me the best chance to survive and thrive, I’ll choose it. No doubt.

All that’s the rational side, and that’s pretty damned important because these are high risk, high reward decisions. But they’re not all of it.

On the way back from Eigner’s I drove through Deer Creek Canyon. When my biopsy confirmed my prostate cancer in 2015, I drove Deer Creek Canyon, too. Going through there I felt the rock, rock so old that our human scale word ancient is quaint. This rock rose millions of years ago and it will slowly soften, the rough edges frozen and thawed, rained on, plant roots will crack them, and Deer Creek will carry the pebbles and sand to the Platte River on its way to the Gulf. Not only will I be dead long, long before then, it may be that the human race will have ended itself well before then, too. This comforts me.

Laramide Orogeny, 70 million years ago, begun. 35 million years ago, ended. Built the Rockies

Laramide Orogeny, 70 million years ago, begun. 35 million years ago, ended. Built the Rockies

William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” came to mind. See the opening stanza below.* He goes on to make the point that the earth itself is a great tomb, holding all those who once lived. Again, this comforts me. Death has not chosen me for a special fate. No, death itself is a universal for all who live. It seems harsh and cruel, yet it is, rather, the opposite. Death ends suffering. Allows the world to carry many creatures, but not all at once.

Here there were Utes and Apaches, Comanches, too. And even they were not the first. Older humans preceded even them. And before all came the Rockies, then the trees, the lodgepole pines and the ponderosa and the bristle cone, the aspen. Mountain lions, deer, elk, rabbits, raccoons, pikas, prairie dogs, bison, moose, wolves, fox, martens, fishers, beaver. All here before humans, most will be here after we are gone. I can look at the lodgepoles in my front yard and know that their direct ancestors flourished here thousands of years ago and will do so after I’m dead.

All this brackets whatever troubles I may experience, even cancer. And cancer may be that friend that carries me off to the mighty sepulchre. Or, it might be something else. Whatever is my death-friend will not be an enemy, but the specific cause of my life ending. And that is, for all of us, in spite of our fears, a good thing.


Kindred Spirits by Asher Durand William Cullen Bryant and Thomas Cole

Kindred Spirits by Asher Durand William Cullen Bryant and Thomas Cole

* “To him who in the love of Nature holds

Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—
                                       Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears…
The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould…
Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.”

The Ides of April

Written By: Charles - Apr• 15•19

Spring                                                                           Rushing Waters Moon

Whoa. Tiger Woods won the Open. After 11 years of shame, rehab, shambling along. A victory for aging. For never letting go of the dream. For living into the present and the future, not being bridled by the past. I’m glad, for all of us.

tax_dayTax day. Still puzzled by the acrimony taxes create. Taxes express our solidarity as citizens of this nation. They do the work of road building, of feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, of war fighting, of space exploration, of consumer and environmental protection. Or, at least they do under reasonable, non-tyranny leaning Presidents. I’m happy to pay them, federal and state and property. Always have been.

Do I always agree with the use to which my tax dollars are put? Of course not. I understand the nature of politics. It’s about compromise, about negotiating the differences we have. Politics define how we live together as a people, at least in the public sphere.

No taxation without representation. That was the Boston Tea Party demand of King George. Its corollary is that when you have representation the taxes are legitimate, whether you agree with their aims or not. If not, change your representation.

There’s an article in this morning’s NYT titled, “Is America Becoming an Oligarchy?” I wrote a comment, “Whaddya mean, becoming?” That is, of course, the trouble with our government and with the notion of representation. I know that. It doesn’t make no taxation without representation inapplicable, rather it defines the struggle ahead.

Further down the page was an article titled “Want to Escape Global Warming?” It features Duluth as a climate-change proof city. Which, I imagine, makes Canada look pretty good, too. With decent forest management Conifer could be such a place, as well. Duluth’s a great town, situated between the Twin Cities and northern Minnesota, sitting on the largest body of fresh water in the world save Lake Baikal in Siberia. Kate and I considered moving there when she left Metro Peds.

A menu from a 1999 visit

Menu from a 1999 visit

60 today here in Conifer. Snow later in the week. Colorado.

And, my appointment with Anna Willis. I have some anxiety though my rational side says it’ll be fine. At least I’ll get a professional opinion about my rising PSA. What’s life in the third phase without a little medical frisson every once in a while?

Friend Tom Crane and Roxann have returned to Minnesota after several days on Maui. To snow and cold. Of course. They stayed at the condo near Duke’s restaurant on Kaanapli beach while the grandkids and their parents were with them and moved to Mama’s Fish House Inn after.

Mama’s has been a favorite spot of Kate and mine’s since our first trips to Hawai’i. Celebrated several birthdays there. Mine, since Kate’s CME’s often fell in February, a great time to be someplace else other than Minnesota.



Just Passing Through

Written By: Charles - Apr• 14•19

Spring                                                                       Rushing Waters Moon

A bit of snow. Twice. Over the last couple of days. Any moisture is good moisture in a drought and we’re climbing out of one here in Colorado.

Cooked that tenderloin roast yesterday. Oh, boy, is that good meat. And, it provides several meals over the week. Bread, potatoes (instant pot for 6 minutes), and asparagus in a sauce Kate found at Tony’s. We ate at 4 p.m. Kate said it was like a holiday meal.

sabbath2Yes, a sabbath meal, I replied. I’m still fascinated with the idea of the sabbath, especially as I’ve learned more about it at CBE. In Jewish thought the sabbath is far from a day of rest, though it is that, too. It is a foretaste of life when tikkun olam, healing of the fractured world (or, more interestingly, of a fractured God), has succeeded and every day is a sabbath. The sabbath pulls the observer away from the technological world which has come to so dominate us, setting aside a time for family, for study, for nourishment of the self.

There are, it’s true, a lot of rules. I don’t even know most of them, but one of the rules is that you have the best food on the sabbath. Also, sex. You can’t light a fire (or, turn on electricity since it causes a spark), so the cooking has to be done before hand.

It could be one model for retirement, for the third phase. That is, the third phase as a time of personal enrichment, caring for others, enjoying the best life has to offer. Why not? And, you could golf, too, if that turns your crank.

prostate cancerGot an appointment with Dr. Eigner’s physician’s assistant, Anna Willis. If my PSA rise needs further attention, I know she’ll get me in to see Eigner. I’ve calmed down about it, the tincture of time as Kate says. Who knows, perhaps it’s nothing at all. Though I don’t think so. Glad it’s this Monday. Although. That could mean the confluence of death and taxes. Would be ironic.

Next Saturday night is the communal seder at Mt. Vernon Country Club. We’ve gone a couple of times, had reservations last year, but Kate’s shoulder surgery knocked us out of that one. Although the pesach meal is commonly referred to as the seder, seder means order. The haggadah, which means telling in Hebrew, reflects the order of the passover ritual. Used to be many, if not most, of the haggadah were a small blue booklet from Maxwell House Coffee. Over the last decades though the number of haggadahs has multiplied, driven by changes among the various branches of Judaism, yes, but more by cultural/political concerns like feminism, environmentalism, reconstruction.

pesach chagallThe central point of the passover is the reenactment of the Exodus and the creation of a Jewish people. I learned last year that the telling (the haggadah) of the story focuses on children. You might be familiar with the four questions, proceeded by the often satirized question, Why is this night different from all other nights?

Easter is coming, too. I plan to take Gabe plus Jon and Ruth to a Rockies game to celebrate. No, not Easter. Gabe’s birthday.



Written By: Charles - Apr• 13•19

Spring                                                                             Rushing Waters Moon

Health south denver cardiology

South Denver Cardiology

Took Kate yesterday to her electro phys (pronounced, fizz) appointment. This one monitors her pacemaker. Unremarkable in terms of her health, really, since it hardly ever fires, but if necessary it’s there. What was interesting to me is the building. It looks like Valhalla for cardiologists. After that final operation, after that final payment on the Maui condo, after that last beat of their own hearts, cardiologists might gather in this Viking long house and feast on Sæhrímnir, the ever dying, ever resurrecting beast that feeds the fallen doctors of the heart. If such a final destination is anywhere, here near the Rockies seems appropriate. May they upcode in peace.

Max Bruckner (1836-1918), The Walhalla, backdrop for the scenic design of The Ring of the Nibelungs by Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Bayreuth, Richard-...

Max Bruckner (1836-1918), The Walhalla, backdrop for the scenic design of The Ring of the Nibelungs by Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Bayreuth, Richard-…

Afterward we went to Tony’s Market. I like Tony’s because you can spend a hundred dollars and still only have one bag to carry to the car. We’ve kicked our frequent eating out down two notches and do it at home now. We buy things at Tony’s like a tenderloin roast. Expensive? Yes. Compared to tenderloins at a steak house? Not at all. Tonight with asparagus, home cooked bread, boiled potatoes.

Kate’s much better. Her stamina has improved enough that we went to CBE last night for the Grateful Dead shabbat. Rabbi Jamie loves to perform and the CBE house band is better than good. Steve Posner on lead guitar rips it out. The harmonica player is wonderful. Drummer and bass ditto. Cheri Rubin, my friend Alan Rubin’s wife, an accomplished musician, plays the piano. She made a living in New Orleans before turning to reinsurance. Four singers, two men and two women, provided voice backup.

music dead bearsThis particular Grateful Dead shabbat, they occur occasionally, honored Leah, who recently left her position as synagogue administrator. She’s a Dead-head who sells tie dyed shirts and other craft items at Grateful Dead tribute concerts. She had a small shrine to the Dead over her desk. What was remarkable about this evening was that Leah’s leaving the job was not completely voluntary.

In a small community this could have been cause for bitterness or dissension. Instead folks got up and told Leah how much they appreciated her. Rabbi Jamie altered the words to a Dead song, changing the name of the woman in the song to Leah. She came up and sang with the two women in the backup group. It was delightful, charming, and altogether unlikely (in my experience of leave takings in churches that weren’t voluntary.). And, Leah responded by saying that she looked forward to getting back into the congregation, volunteering. Pretty damn amazing.

Not all who wander are lost. Tolkien

Written By: Charles - Apr• 12•19

Spring                                                                        Rushing Waters Moon

Mark in Saudi Arabia

Brother Mark in the sands of Araby

Brother Mark turned 60 yesterday. A landmark birthday. Sort of the transition from younger to older. The next decade is the 70’s while the previous one was the 50’s. He’s celebrated his birthday in many spots around the world, this time in Arar, Saudi Arabia. Mark’s finishing up the term at his school right now, then will head out for some travel. He’s a wanderer, a man addicted to movement. Mary and I are the same, with Mary’s level of addiction being greater than mine and Mark’s greater than Mary’s. Which we all inherited from our parents. Dad dreamed of travel. Mom did it. She made it to Algeria, Capri, and England during WW II. She was a WAC in the Signal Corps.

Today is Dad’s birthday. He would have been a hundred and six. In regard to yesterday’s post, he had prostate cancer at the same age I did, 69. He also had a prostatectomy, in a time when they were much more difficult to perform (too much blood obscured the surgeon’s view). He never had a recurrence.

Saw Alex, Dr. Gupta’s nurse practitioner yesterday. Kate does have some sort of interstitial lung disease, the kind to be determined by a lung biopsy. The current plan is to have the biopsy done at the same time as her j-tube placement. Alex is working on that right now. This is a big, a giant step forward. Where we’ve been trying to get since January. Alex said she thought Kate was fit for surgery.

Joe and SeoAhs apartment in Songtan, Korea

Joe and SeoAh’s apartment in Songtan, Korea

The wisdom of Ed Smith’s insistence on the tpn has become evident. Her weight is up and her consistent ot/pt has increased her muscle strength and her stamina. She’s in much better spirits, too. Happier. Laughing more. In certain instances now she sets aside the rollator and walks on her own. All of this means that her fitness for surgery has improved since the stent placement in January.

Still no appointment with Dr. Eigner, my urologist. But, soon.

My birthday present is attendance at another Ira Progoff Journal workshop. It’s this May, the 6th through the 10th. I’ve found these workshops, I’ve done three, most recently in 2014, useful. My first was in Wisconsin, in the early 1980’s. That’s when I developed my mantra: Spring rushing, white pine rooting. I’ve used it ever since. The second was in Georgia, outside Atlanta. Don’t recall the work I did there. The third was in Tucson. In that one I stirred things up, discovering a desire to move to Colorado, to be near the grandkids.

progoffThese workshops excel at locating yourself in your life at the moment. That is, what major factors are at play, which threads from your life will gain prominence, or might gain prominence. I want to look at our Colorado life, now three and a half years in, and in particular the knock on effects of our health issues, Congregation Beth Evergreen, living in the mountains, and our family.