We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The Birthday Woman

Lughnasa                                                                      Kate’s Moon

70th Birthday

70th Birthday

Under this waning moon my sweetheart will turn 73. Tomorrow. Interestingly, for those of you attentive to matters ecliptical, it is not the moon that will blot out the sun on Monday. Only a new moon can create an eclipse. But Kate’s Moon, in our lives, is equally important.

Long ago, on March of 1990 Kate eclipsed my other, dismal attempts at marriage, blotting them out. Since then, I’ve gone through 26 of her birthdays as her husband and on each one I’ve grown fonder of her and more grateful that she’s in my life. Tomorrow is number 27.

Day after the 71st

Day after the 71st

Kate is a beautiful, bright, compassionate woman who has enriched my life. We have, throughout our marriage, sought the most creative, most fruitful life for each other. She encouraged my writing; I encourage her handwork. We’ve both grown and changed in positive directions, directly as a result of our relationship.

Two days after h

Two days after her 72nd

When she retired our marriage increased its significance, since we are now the other’s primary companion during the day, too. Love is healing as well as supportive and she’s been there for me during my prostate surgery and my knee surgery, both as supportive wife and medically knowledgeable healer.

I love her more now than when we met.

Her big birthday present this year is the rental of the r.v. that will carry us to Driggs, Idaho and position us in front of the total eclipse. She deserves it. And much more.

Happy wife, happy life. Happy Kate, happy mate.

No, I don’t recall the origin of the blackeye, but she’s beautiful anyhow, isn’t she?

Mountain Spirits

Lughnasa                                                                            Kate’s Moon

On Samain of 2014 I came up here to Shadow Mountain for the closing on our home. In the backyard of our new home three mule deer bucks greeted me. They were curious about me and I about them. We stood with each other for some time. The mountains had sent three spirits to welcome me.

They returned yesterday.

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Up Here

Lughnasa                                                                              Kate’s Moon

BaileyBailey, Colorado is about 20 miles west of us on Hwy. 285. It’s an up and down, winding path with vistas of the Continental Divide and several fourteeners including Mt. Evans, the weathermaker for our neighborhood here on Shadow Mountain.

Bailey is also the first, coming from the east, town in Park County, which abuts our own Jefferson County. That’s significant because the marijuana laws here in Colorado give counties the authority to accept or include dispensaries. Jefferson County, one of Colorado’s largest, has said no for now. Park County though, said yes. Kate and I make the journey to The Happy Camper, located just outside of Bailey, every once in awhile.

Entrance to the Sasquatch Museum

Entrance to the Sasquatch Museum

I went yesterday while Kate entertained the Needleworkers at our home. On a whim, after my visit to the Happy Camper I decided to satisfy my curiosity and visit the Sasquatch Outpost. It’s in Bailey, down the steep 7% grade known as Crow Hill, about six miles from the dispensary.

While there, I spoke to some folks, a couple of employees and two men who seemed to be hanging out, sussing out the level of credulity. Turns out it’s pretty high. Voicing the expected level of uncertainty, “Could be natural phenomenon,” one man, six foot two, white haired, well spoken, showed me on his phone a photograph he’d taken on a recent research trip with some Australians. It showed an Aspen bent in a 180 degree arc and, he said, “Fastened to the ground.” This Aspen had branches leaning up against it. When they do research, he and his buddy go to places that have what he described as a high incidence of such things.

Sasquatch Museum

Sasquatch Museum

When I asked why we didn’t have more information about the Sasquatch, he replied, “We do. There’s the BigFoot Field Researchers Organization. It has over 30,000 sightings graded A, B, C. With A the most reliable, C the least.” He recounted a recent Park County incident outside Shawnee, about 8 miles further west from Bailey, up the Ben Tyler trail. “Not all that far up. There’s six switchbacks before you get into the Lost Creek Wilderness. Guy saw a bigfoot right there only three switchbacks up.”

(the archways shown here are what the guy showed me on his phone.)

It would be exciting to have a North American ape living in our mountains. I found myself enthralled by the idea that out there, living a reclusive life like the pine martens and lynx and bobcats we rarely see, is an 8 foot, bipedal creature in our own evolutionary path. But. Geez. Seems far fetched to me. Still.

Oh, and there’s also this, more Bailey culture, a bit changed from the last time I posted a photograph of it. Trump inflected, I think. The America Will Act banner is new.

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Be Aware 8/16

Lughnasa                                                                     Kate’s Moon

At the Sasquatch Outpost in Bailey I asked, “Does anyone really believe in this?” referring to the Sasquatch. In asking the question to the two men and two women working there, I was aware of my genuine curiosity, my willingness to hear what these folks thought. It communicated to them, my willingness, and so we connected.

I received an eclipse related gift from my friend Tom Crane. While at the Outpost, I remembered that, his kindness, and became aware of the thread of friendship that has no distance, a quantum entanglement of the heart.

As I recall this awareness, I also recall the hand that Leah put on my shoulder as she passed me after making announcements at the shabbat service last week. Touch. Simple, no words. Powerful. Her awareness of me made me aware of myself as someone worthy of such a gesture. Also powerful.

Even though I know they’re silly, I do these quizzes I find on Facebook and in other places. A recent one, What is Your Jungian Archetype, has resonated with me. Part of the awareness is that even casual, non-deep encounters can change me. Even more though in this instance is my reaction to the conclusion:

The Innocent Child

Naive but a breath of new life and fresh ideas.

Your inner self archetype is that which closest matches your true personality. Your inner self is primarily influenced by the Innocent Child archetype.

It felt true, not as a total observation about me, of course, but as a part of me that I, at 70, celebrate, want to believe is true of me.

 

 

 

Be Aware

Lughnasa                                                                        Kate’s Moon

BlakeBe aware. Working with mussar practice now, decided to use focus phrases and journaling to work on the trait of watchfulness, seeing my path, owning my journey. The journal part will recount, as I can recall them, those moments when I was aware of my journey.

Last night when I came home from the mussar leadership meeting I recounted the meeting to Kate. I was aware of my own journey deeper into mussar and Beth Evergreen as I did.

After two unpleasant encounters at the New York Deli, a guy stopped right after he turned into the parking lot and a tree trimmer told me I had to me my car, I realized I didn’t like my angry response, but there it was anyhow.

While talking with Sandy, our housecleaner, newly recovering from brain surgery for an acoustic neuroma, I was aware of myself as a potential guide for her since I too lost hearing in one ear. It’s a surprising  and often unpleasant transition.

While writing Ancientrails in the mornings, I become self-aware about some small part of my journey the day before, just as I am now about yesterday.

Just before falling asleep, my helpful mind sets up a Times Square scroll of the day’s activities and why they might have been better. This bit of self awareness I would gladly chuck.

 

Working

Lughnasa                                                                         Kate’s Moon

hell2Moving forward, slowly, with Jennie’s Dead. Exploring the religion of the ancient Egyptians, trying to avoid hackneyed themes, not easy with all the mummy movies, Scorpion King, Raiders of the Lost Ark sort of cinema. Jennie’s Dead is not about Egypt, ancient or otherwise, but it plays an important role in the plot. Getting started is difficult, trying to sort out where the story wants to go, whether the main conflict is clear, to me and to the eventual reader.

Also moving forward, also slowly, with Reimagining. The pile of printed out posts has shrunk considerably, now filed. As I’ve gone through them, I read them a bit, for filing purposes. One notion that jumped out at me was my turn away from text-based religions, from the sort of quasi-scholastic reasoning that occurs.

image of godAs Emerson said, “Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?”

I guess Emerson and I had the same quandary. We love the ancient texts, their poetry and philosophy, yet do not want to be bound by them. We want our poetry and revelation straight from the source, nature and the human experience of our own time. Yet, it seems to me, we’re both informed in our search for the poetry of existence by the way those seekers of the past found revelation in their time. Surely the logic of wanting our own revelation grounds itself in the stories of Genesis, the work of Moses, the resurrection story of Jesus, even the night flight of Muhammad and the whirling cosmic dance of Shiva.

20-the-map-is-not-the-territoryThis means I’m in a curious position relevant to my own education in the Christian tradition and my new education, underway now, in the older faith tradition of Judaism. Both are normative, in their way, but not as holy writ. Rather, they are normative in a more fundamental sense, they reveal the way we humans can discover the sacred as it wends and winds its way not only through the universe, but through history.

We may not, in other words, be bound by their philosophy and insight, the history of their revelation, yet how the ancients made themselves open to the whispers and shouts of the sacred, how they received its insights and what use they made of it in their lives, those shape us because we are the same vessel, only thrown into a different time.

Arthur_Szyk_(1894-1951)._The_Holiday_Series,_Rosh_Hashanah_(1948),_New_Canaan,_CTThis is a similar idea to that of the reconstructionists, but not the same. Reconstructionists want to work with a constantly evolving Jewish civilization, grounding themselves in Torah, mussar, kabbalah, shabbat, the old holidays, but emphasizing the work of building a Jewish culture in the current day, reconstructing it as Jews change and the world around them changes, too. I’m learning so much from this radical idea.

2695406589_2517d8b0f2What I want to do though, and it’s a similar challenge, is to reimagine, for our time and as a dynamic, the way we reach for the sacred, the way we write about our experience, the way we celebrate the insights and the poetry it inspires. In this Reconstructionist Judaism is a better home for me than Unitarian Universalism. UU’s may have the same goal, but their net is cast into the vague sea of the past, trying to catch a bit from here and a bit from there. It is untethered, floating with no anchor. Beth Evergreen affirms the past, the texts of their ancestors, their thousands of years of interpretation, the holidays and the personal, daily life of a person shaped by this tradition, but also recognizes the need to live those insights in an evolving world.

 

American Values

Lughnasa                                                                         Kate’s Moon

Indiana_Klan_percentageThe alt-right and Charlottesville, Virginia. Many said this violence doesn’t represent American values. Horsepuckey, as we used to say.

In Alexandria, Indiana, my hometown, we had full-sheeted KKK folk handing out membership applications near the Curve pizza place. In my era the John Birch society was big, its Get US out of the UN billboards in highly visible evidence. There were also the Minutemen, an early militia movement.

Just north of Alexandria about 20 miles is Marion, Indiana where my father worked for several years. A notorious lynching occurred there in 1930. Strangely, years later in St. Paul, Minnesota I made friends with Clarence Davis whose ancestor was one of those lynched.

I can extend this circle of hate to Elwood, Indiana, 7 miles to the west, which had, in my memory, signs that read, No Niggers In Town After Sundown, taken down only after the 1964 civil rights act.

What’s really unnerving is that this was a microcosm, I know these things because I grew up in this general area. Take other 20 mile diameter circles and lay them down over the rest of Indiana, of Illinois, of Iowa, certainly of the south. You could find similar histories, each with their own marks of this violent and oh so American overbelly.

 

 

Lughnasa                                                                    Kate’s Moon

Almost edible. The ultimate fruitcake discovered 106 years later in Antarctica. Presumably at least a year or two past its sell-by date. Didn’t we all suspect this strange dessert might last, well, forever? Now we know. At least a century. And we eat it? (I don’t.)

 

 

The Black Sun

Lughnasa                                                                               Kate’s Moon

PutrefactioA week from today we’ll be on the road in a rented R.V., Ruth and Gabe on board, headed to Driggs, Idaho. It will be Kate’s 73rd birthday.  I wrote a post on Ancientrailsgreatwheel.com about dark ecology and the ecocide. It occurred to me just now that the total eclipse might be the perfect metaphor for it.

As the extinction event occasioned by our rapidly changing climate, both already well underway, slides over the face of our inner sun and blots it out, we will not enter total darkness, but the corona of that black sun will flare in our consciousness, the heavens filled with the stars and galaxies of our inner universe will pop into view. We will have a chance then to consider the majesty of all of which we are a part, often hidden. We will see the world without us and know that it can and will be beautiful, more than we can imagine.

alchemyPerhaps this eclipse on August 21st is an opportunity for us all to merge the outer with the inner, to experience the same fear our long ago ancestors did when they imagined the world might die, the sun might never reappear. It may be a chance to integrate this slow motion catastrophe through which we are living, in which we are implicated, and consider it in a new way.

I’m going to try for that experience. Maybe you will, too.

 

 

 

Fire and Fury. Big, big trouble.

Lughnasa                                                                               Kate’s Moon

My family’s Asian pivot began decades ago when Mary went to an Indiana University campus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She’s still in Asia, though now for a long time in Singapore, thirty years or so later. Brother Mark began teaching English as a second language and worked in Taiwan, then in Thailand and Cambodia. He was in Southeast Asia over twenty years and still considers Bangkok his refuge, if not his home. In 1981 Raeone and I welcomed a four-pound, four-ounce baby boy into our home from Calcutta, India. That boy turns 36 this fall. In 2016, after a year long deployment in Korea, Joseph married SeoAh, a native born Korean he met in a coffee shop in Seoul.

SeoAh’s family lives in the south of Korea near Gwangju. Better, I thought, than being in Seoul under the current circumstances, but Joseph says no. He knows far better than I do. This means that all the saber rattling going on between two tyrants with low impulse control is personal. We have family literally in the way of any outbreak of violence.

 

 

 

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