We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

When the moon is in the 7th house…

Written By: Charles - Dec• 09•18

Samain                                                                         Stent Moon

astrologyMercury-RetrogradeMercury retrograde. Elisa said this would be a time when I would remember my dreams. I have recalled some, definitely more than usual. I’d also reassess my life, letting new things in, chucking the no longer useful.

Well. Over the last month plus I’ve read a lot, and I mean a lot even for me, on astrology. Letting it in. Gradually. Still. Those color field paintings by Rothko that I’ve always admired. Doing it myself, learning oil paints, what to do with oily rags, how to glaze, mixing colors, thinking and seeing in color. Last night I did my first instant pot meal with a rump roast, potatoes and carrots for Jon, Ruth, Gabe, and Kate. I’m also gestating a new style (for me) novel, a novel of ideas that will focus on the great crisis of our age, creating a synthesis between the ensouled primal universe and the disenchanted universe of the enlightenment.

artrothkoYou might say, oh, the power of suggestion. Could be a bit, I suppose. But recalling dreams when I haven’t been is big for me. Years of Jungian analysis, you know. Running toward something like astrology is a definite change in mindset. And, oil painting? I mean, come on.

It’s a fertile time for me in spite of (or, because of?) the upset with Kate. We’ve never been closer. Jon’s shift toward acceptance and moving on makes me glad. Ruth and I have a growing, deepening relationship. We’re going to paint together over her winter break. She comes to me with new books she’s reading, new art she’s making, her life at school. Gabe runs up and gives me a hug right away when he sees me. Rigel runs through the yard like a canine modern dancer, flexing her muscles, a smile on her face.

maslowHoliseason underlies and inflects all of this, creating moments of reflection and quiet, reinforcing attention to the Great Wheel. Feeling as positive about life as I have in a long, long time.

In the conversation last week at mussar vaad practice group, MVP, Tara said to me, “Maybe you’re just self actualized.” Not in jest. And you know, I think she might be right. Not enlightened. Not nirvana bound, not karmaless, but easy with myself, easy with others. Doing those things that make my heart sing. Loving and being loved. Setting aside the past, living today, knowing tomorrow will be as it is. Feels like the journey as destination. Whoa. Can’t believe I wrote that. Still, feels right to me.

What if the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train?

Written By: Charles - Dec• 08•18

Samain                                                                          Stent Moon

sharknadoChum is in the water. It may be Sharknado for he who shall not be named’s presidency. Part of Michael Cohen’s testimony indicates that individual-1, i.e. 45, the orange tumor on our democracy, ordered hush payments to two women with whom he had affairs, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Note the state of our public life now. This isn’t about the fact, the fact, that the President had extramarital affairs, one with a porn actress whose work is available for all to see. No. And, it’s not even technically about paying money to quiet them in advance of a Presidential election bid. It’s about illegal campaign donations, both payments constituting donations to 45’s campaign in excess of the $2,700 Federal limit.

I’m searching for the Christian ethical principle evangelicals see at work in all this. Nah, just kidding. I know worshiping Mammon when I see it. 45 is no Cyrus.

Having said that I’m not sure what this portends for our country. Look at this from RealClear Politics today:

Favorability Ratings: U.S. Political Leaders
Favorable Unfavorable Spread
Donald Trump 41.4 55.2 -13.8
Nancy Pelosi 29.5 52.0 -22.5
Mitch McConnell 21.8 48.3 -26.5
Chuck Schumer 29.3 42.7 -13.4

In spite of the pussy grabbing, in spite of the mocking of the disabled, in spite of inciting white supremacists, in spite of being Tariff Man, in spite of all the mean, low, bitter tweets, in spite of the now becoming clear violations of federal election law, 41% of the American people have a favorable view of 45. That means that any headon assault on his presidency will deepen and harden existing divisions in our political life. Congressional leaders have lower approval ratings than the orange tumor on our democracy. We’re in deep trouble at the Federal governance level.

orge González/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

orge González/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

If I were a foreign power, I’d take advantage of this weakness in any way I could. Think Russia and China have considered actions? I’m 100% certain of it. In fact, they may both be implicated in the current chaos, and if so, it’s working out even better than they could have imagined. I’m feeling like a Brit as the empire fell apart, only in this case it’s our own government.

I suppose the only answer to the mess is to keep slogging forward, electing Democrats to more and more offices, hoping that at some point the Republican party will wake from its long hibernation and eliminate the shameful immoral collection of shills currently operating under its banner. No, I’m not under any illusion about the Democrats. I know they are part of the corporate/capitalist cabal that controls our politics. But at least the Democrats make noises, though very quiet ones, about caring for the poor, understanding the danger of climate change, restoring our geopolitical alliances. That’s more than good enough for me right now.



Written By: Charles - Dec• 07•18

Samain                                                                       Stent Moon

October, the healing moon. November, the recovery moon. December, the stent moon. A quarter of a year with an intense focus on keeping Kate alive and then making her well. Well, well worth it.


Last night, an odd, sad, disturbing, necessary evening. If you’ve ever encountered preparedness training for a business, school, or place of worship, the four medallion image above may be familiar to you. It’s now a nationwide safety preparedness program used in thousands of schools, places of work and worship. But it’s origination is local and by local I mean Bailey, Colorado.

iloveemilyThe Platte Canyon hostage situation. Platte Canyon is the long, deep slash between two mountain ranges created by the South Fork of the Platte River. It runs from Baily to roughly the Kenosha Pass. Hwy. 285 runs its whole length. Outside Bailey headed toward Kenosha Pass is Platte Canyon High School. In 2006 a gunman, Duane Morrison, took hostages, all girls. One girl, Emily Keyes, had to speak to the police for Morrison, since he refused to speak to them.

IloveyouguysEmily’s father got to the high school using an old mountain goat trail. 285 had both police barriers and a huge traffic jam. When he arrived, he asked if any person could text Emily. Someone did. She texted back, “I love you guys.” A second text went unanswered. She was dead with a bullet wound to the head.

In her memory her father, John-Michael, and her mother, Ellen created the ILoveyouguys foundation. It is responsible for the Standard Response Protocol, the four medallions above representing its four responses to a crisis.

I learned all this last night at Congregation Beth Evergreen as part an emergency response training. The Squirrel Hill shootings in Pittsburgh heightened the synagogue’s awareness and the board decided to review how we protect those who worship or come to the synagogue. The man who runs the Jeffco Sheriff’s Jefferson County School District School Safety program spoke.

iloveyou3m He started with a tagline: The world we live in isn’t scary, but it is full of uncertainty. He had a reassuring manner, years of experience in protection, and a common sense approach to security. He recommended CBE put a 3M product on the windows, Safety and Security film. “You have a lot of glass.” This film ensures that bullets fired through the glass will not shatter it. The bullets pass through but the glass itself remains intact overall. He also recommended blinds on the windows so a shooter couldn’t see inside and a really good locking system for the sanctuary doors. All of these things made sense to me.

I was there as a teacher in the religious school. We did no drills last night, but we will at some point in the future.

My overall response to this was sadness. Kids in school today learn how to self-evacuate, how to lock, turn out the lights, and hide. They learn how to run like quail if an active shooter is among them. That is, scatter in all different directions. My god. Duck and cover from the fifties, which I do not recall ever doing, seems abstract and silly in light of these very real and immediate threats.

sadnessThat sadness has a special resonance here since Columbine was the ur-school shooting. John, the speaker, said he’d been at a conference in D.C. in the last month where a full day and a half was devoted to Columbine. Why? So many of the school shooters still refer back to Columbine for inspiration, for tips. It’s still relevant. Not only has Colorado had Columbine and the Platte Canyon hostage situation, but we’ve also had the Aurora Theater shooting.

This is, for some, still the wild west where a sidearm and a strong will can solve many problems. It’s also unfortunately a hotbed of libertarian leaning, no government treading on me folks. If they get cranked up by the news, or by groups of white supremacists, or by their neighborhood anti-semite, they can choose to act by heading out to the nearest public school or synagogue, taking their firearms along.



Written By: Charles - Dec• 07•18

Samain                                                                    Thanksgiving Moon

This is me. No, really. (ok, fake news)

This is me. No, really. (ok, fake news)

Into On the Move Fitness for a new workout: side lunges on the TRX, oblique isometrics with bands, a twisting shoulder press, planks, stepups with weight, push ups from an exercise ball, crunches on an exercise ball.

I always feel so much better when I exercise routinely. Long ago I decided regular exercise was a matter of  identity. Am I an exerciser, or not? Once I decided I was an exerciser I’ve been able to maintain regular exercise. When I fall away after a chaotic schedule or a long trip, I remind myself, I’m an exerciser. Then I start again.

Working on color field paintings. Finding myself looking, seeing, in a whole different way. For example when Kate and I were on our way to the radiologist Wednesday as dawn broke, I saw the color bands in the sky as inspiration for painting. Began wondering how to mix paints to get that color, how to arrange those colors on a canvas. Yesterday at On the Move I noticed a droopy face in the wood grains of a bathroom door. Oh, I could do that! While I did my cardio I wondered about the deep blue wall. Could I just cut a rectangle out of the sheet rock, frame it and call it found art?

20181202_070637My friends Stefan and Lonnie have devoted the last three years to a traditional painting education. The atelier in Florence where they’ve studied makes the usual atelier argument that representational painting is real painting, the sharp turn taken by Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh and later DuChamp, ManRay, Bacon, Pollock, Rothko a mistake.

I’ve always felt that an argument over “true” art is doomed at the beginning. I’m more a DuChampian, art is what an artist makes. That means, at least to me, that the color field painters, the pop artists, the abstract painters, fluxus folks, are making art. It also means that those still creating representational art are making art. Why fight?

My interest, at least right now, is in color, just color, arranging it on a flat surface in a pleasing or provocative or evocative way. I intend to make abstract works inspired by nature. The shape and color and texture of mountains at different times of day. The sky at sunrise and sunset. The night sky, especially moons. Streams. Faces in wooden doors. Clouds. I’ve noticed for a long while that even the most Rococo flourishes are often direct copies of natural forms. Not sure where this will take me, but I’m really enjoying the enhanced seeing, the thoughts about color, the mix of brushes and paints and palette knives.







The Thanksgiving Moon at 1%

Written By: Charles - Dec• 06•18

Samain                                                                            Last sliver Thanksgiving Moon

moon2Under the Healing Moon Kate recovered from her g.i. bleed. Under the Thanksgiving Moon we found the problem and are close to a procedure to provide her relief. The bleed was on September 28th, over two months ago. It does seem to have served the unintended but welcome purpose of ratcheting up the already extended process of diagnosing her problem.

Why this wasn’t found before? Here’s my take. All of her symptoms were gastro-intestinal with common g.i. problems that explained them. So the process was to look closely at her g.i. tract. This common sense approach kept its focus on the most likely source of the symptoms. When you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras. In other words the looking was inside the gastro-intestinal tract with a side excursion looking at the gallbladder.

The difficulty? The cause was outside the g.i. tract in the arteries that supply blood to part of it. These last two imaging studies were a sort of last gasp, let’s check out the really unlikely since nothing else has shown up. Fortunately, Dr. Rhee decided to look outside the g.i. system. The literature on the problem says it is difficult to diagnose, one of those things that you have to look for explicitly. Further complicating it is the fact the ultrasound which does diagnose it is itself difficult and requires very competent technicians and an acute radiologist.

medicineMedicine is much more art than science. Kate’s long journey toward a solution shows that. Imaging studies are not easy to interpret and no imaging study will find something if you’re looking in the wrong place to begin with. The body is exquisitely complicated with linkages between its various systems often tiny and in hard to see spots. Also, symptoms have multivalent possible origins. I find myself more forgiving of the medical world after all this. Why? Because I’ve observed first hand the struggle of competent people, working as best they can, to solve an intractable problem.

I’ve come to appreciate the incredible courage it takes to be a physician. People come looking for answers, for certainty. The questions can be matters of life and death, of a happy, fulfilling life versus one with chronic pain or weight loss or nervous system collapse. The stakes are so high, for the patient, for their families. The myth of the physician in our culture, the penumbra of authority and wisdom we impute to them, is just that, a myth. The arena in which they have to solve problems is, for the most part, closed off from direct view, accessible only through lab work, imaging, and the reporting of the patient. It’s often like asking a mechanic to diagnose a vehicle’s odd sounds without opening the hood and to solve the sound by putting tools through the car’s metal body. Really hard.

I think we’d appreciate the physician even more if we acknowledged the fraught world in which they work with imperfect tools. The work Kate did all those years ago was hard. But, also satisfying. Think if you could be the one who finally understands what makes a 74 year old woman experience nausea and abdominal pain when she eats, one who lost 30 pounds in less than a year. More. Think if you were the one who understood and steered her toward a solution. Wow.


It’s a New Day…

Written By: Charles - Dec• 05•18

Samain                                                                       Thanksgiving Moon

stentWhat a remarkable turn things have taken here. After many -oscopies, endo, upper, lower, colon, small bowel follow through, a HIDA test, nuclear med search for bleeding, bowel surgery and even more doctor visits, finally, finally. A consensus. The superior mesenteric artery has sufficient stenosis, severe, to cause Kate’s symptoms. And, there’s a stent for that.

Maybe in two weeks time we’ll drive again to Swedish hospital, check Kate in, and Dr. Mulden, assisted by Dr. Kooy, will thread a catheter up her femoral artery, follow the branching to the superior mesenteric, take a right turn, then where the narrowing is deploy a mesh stent, opening up the blood flow. Sounds straight forward until you consider the size and delicacy of everything involved. Can you imagine pushing, very gently, a long wire through a very small pipe with soft walls? Turning where needed into even smaller pipes and at the right time releasing a small device, leaving it behind to cure? I can’t.

We drove to the radial imaging offices in the far east of the southern Metro. As we went, our appointment was at 7:30, the sky put on a magnificent display. Red clouds, lenticular clouds stacked like pagodas, bands of umber, ocher, pale yellow all backgrounded by blue-black sky. We both kept pointing, exclaiming. Aurora is a goddess of hope and newness, a fresh slate, a beginning. Just what we got. She has my devotion today.

Yesterday was a hair day with Kate getting her usual dye and Michelle Williams cut, me a close beard trim, eyebrows and hair. Wax on the stray hairs that pop up on our ears as we age. Jackie, the cosmetologist, is a sweetheart, a friend. We both looked our best for the interventional radiologists.

Found myself hesitant yesterday, tired, low energy. Canceled my time to get a new workout and stayed home. It was a good choice.



The Moon

Written By: Charles - Dec• 04•18

Samain                                                                             Thanksgiving Moon

moon sickleReading some astrology material on the luminaries: the Moon and the Sun. Focused on the moon right now. The author, Liz Greene, has poked my own sensibilities, made me feel oh, yeah, this is me. I’m a lunar guy, more than a sun guy.

The first clue for me is my focus on the Winter Solstice. My favorite holiday. It celebrates darkness, fecundity that comes from fallowness, from decay. And inner quiet, a time alone with one’s Self. It celebrates, too, the fallow season, balancing as it does, the Sun’s eventual victory remembered, and experienced, on the Summer Solstice. The new moon, the black moon as Liz Greene calls it, had an ancient association with death, gestation, sorcery, and the Greek goddess Hekate who presided over birth and black magic. With the winter solstice and the new moon we encounter the pre-modern fear that light will not return, that we will be stuck in the blackness, cold and alone.

The second, and much more fraught clue came from this sentence: “If mother goes away, then the dark of the Moon has come, and we are overcome with terror of the abyss of extinction.” My mother died in October of 1964. Suddenly. Over a period of seven days after a brutal brain hemorrhage. None of us coped well. One night, some time after her death, maybe a week or so, I got into an argument with Dad and ran out of the house, across the bricks of Canal Street and up an alley that ran away from our house.

My inner experience. A black maw had opened in front of me. Instead of running away from it, I ran into it. Maybe I wanted to dissolve into it. Maybe I felt I would come out into another world. Maybe I was overcome with terror from the abyss yawning as I sprinted into it. This is an experience as fresh today as it was then, yet less emotionally charged now. In this mythic language it was a run into the black of the new moon, into Hekate’s realm.

abyssThe alcoholism which engulfed me the next year as a freshman in college could be a reprise, drink after drink, of this, this what? An anti-mystical experience? Or, a mystical experience like the one on the quad without the warmth and the light? It took years for me to come out of that dark other world; it literally consumed me until the old me no longer had a home.

I woke up, was spit out, emerged from the Holy Well about 20 years later when I opened my car door on a cold March evening and saw a $20 bill on the parking lot. That was the first night of treatment at Hazelden’s outpatient program. At this point I’d finished off one marriage, ended up in Seminary, bought a farm in northern Minnesota. I was working at Community Involvement Programs as director of Independent Living. (ha, realized right now-director of independent living-a major theme of my life)

After treatment, marriage to Raeone (with whom I was living at the time of treatment), adopting Joseph and the run up to my second divorce, Jungian analysis began to prise apart the man and the grieving boy. In a climactic dream I was in an auditorium, a bluish light pervaded the scene. I was in front, a brilliant light shone above me and a sword came down. I grasped it, held it up toward the light. The folks seated in the auditorium (I don’t know who they were.) began to chant, first softly, then with more volume, “He has the power. He has the power.”

tarot ace-of-swordsElisa, my astrologer, when I recounted this dream, went to her phone, searched a bit and showed me this tarot card, the ace of swords. This was a new way of thinking about that dream. In my case I think the sword came out of the abyss into which I ran all those years ago in 1964. I felt the raw power running down from the sky, through the sword and into my body, straight into my soul.

The blue light felt like moonlight, perhaps on a full moon, carrying energy harvested from the dark fallow time in which I had numbed myself with alcohol, moonlight with an edge, a jolt.

The moon, its feminine power, the anima, the mother and the matriarch got seared into my Self, darkening my soul, creating a space of mystery and magic. Not sure I’ve ever moved much beyond that.

Just comfortable being who you are? Yes.

Written By: Charles - Dec• 03•18

Samain                                                                            Thanksgiving Moon

Denver Public Library last week

Denver Public Library last week

Zoom again. The peripatetic Tom was on a porch swing in 60 degree Atlanta. Paul was up near New Brunswick where he and Sarah had recently attended a whisky pairing meal. Bill and Mark were in the homeland, colder but not as snowy as predicted. That left me on Shadow Mountain, a sunny cold day. We caught each other up, saw the world through each other’s eyes for a moment. Friends. And good ones.

Second Jewish Studies Sunday Sampler. I was not eager to get there, finding my tolerance for being responsible at a low ebb right now. Strange, such a small thing but I just didn’t want to do it. And, it’s my idea. Sparsely attended, like last time. Though. I realized I could catch up on Judaism pretty fast if I saw all these courses through to the end rather than just sampling them. Might do that.

When it came out that I wasn’t a Jew in a conversation about families, a woman asked me, “So you’re just comfortable being who you are?” “Yes,” I said. Worth the afternoon.

Kate’s getting impatient now, good for her. When the nausea et al looked life long, we were both adapting to it, trying to make our lives fit its demands. Now that there is some hope of lifting the curse, adaptation feels burdensome. Enough. She’ll be putting pressure on the various physicians in her life to suss out the optimal approach to relieving the stenosis. Then, get it done.

arar-locator-mapBrother Mark is in far off Araby, near the borders of Jordan and Iraq, close to Israel and Syria. He may get some traveling in over an upcoming break. Arar, the city where he’s posted this time, seems much to his liking. Not sure if Mary’s back in Singapore after Finland. We’ll see Joe and SeoAh again over the holidays.

It’s Hanukah 2018. Big do at CBE on Wednesday with a Hanukah bazaar. Gabe reminded us several times that Hanukah would begin soon.

Biggest news though is that Jon, on December 10, turns 50. Having a 50 year old son pretty much says senior citizen. Not sure what we’re going to do for his birthday, but something fun.

That’s it for the Rocky Mountain News this morning.


A Profound Week

Written By: Charles - Dec• 02•18

Samain                                                                     Thanksgiving Moon

Bit of winter. 9 degrees here on Shadow Mountain this morning. No snow and little snow for us in the forecast. Though. Across the divide they’re getting good snow. Our snowpack is 119% of normal and way ahead of last year. Important data for so many people.

Friday and Saturday were more or less rest days. The week through Thursday night found me pretty damned tired. Worth it though. Gabe threw himself in my arms after his concert. Ruth leaned in for a hug as I left Swigert headed for home. Jon seems to have gained some important insight about himself and the reality of his situation. Kate learned the cause of her months long struggle with nausea and abdominal pain, weight loss. Enough for one week. Thanksgiving moon, indeed.

20181123_154009I’ve not been idle. Using some small, 5×7, canvases I’ve begun to use oil paints. My first effort is here. Doesn’t pop like I hoped it would. I have three more of these small canvases painted with an undercoat. One yellow, one sap green, and one violet. Trying color field painting. Mark Rothko is my favorite abstract painter, so I thought I’d see what I could make using him as my inspiration.

This is venturing into really unknown territory since I know little about oil paints, about oil paint brushes, how to make colors do what I want, canvas. Since I began messing around with sumi-e a while back, I’ve found myself wanting to extend myself, get way outside my comfort zone. A key motivation for me in all this is regaining some tactile work, hand work. When I was a gardener, a bee keeper, a domestic lumber jack, I got lots of opportunity to use my hands, to interact with the physical world. Since moving to the mountains, not so much after the fire mitigation work.

20181202_070637After 12 years as a guide and docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, art became an integral part of my life; yet, I’ve struggled to keep art in my life since moving to Colorado. The museums here are not compelling and driving down the hill takes time. Reading about art, looking at it online or in books has not given me the satisfaction I’ve searched for. Painting myself, which necessitates a look into art materials, theory, and careful looking at artists whose work I’d like to use as inspiration, may. I’m not there yet, but I’m having a hell of a lot of fun.

In addition to trying color field painting, I’m going to use the sumi-e ink and brushes to create bespoke Hebrew letters, astrology glyphs, and alchemical symbols. My work in the second kabbalah class, on the mystery and magic of Hebrew, prompted this. I found working with the symbols and letters directly gave me a way into understanding them. I’m also going to create mandalas.

I’ve also continued my reading about astrology. I continue to vacillate between the long time skeptic and the interested novice. Some of the writing is childish, even moronic. That puts me off. Then, though, there’s Tarnas and the Inner Sky by Steven Forrest. Archetypes, too, by Jung and Hillman. A new book on Jung and Astrology. Still trying to figure out my birth chart, how to read it, understand it. Lots to investigate here.

In spite of the various outside turbulence, or, perhaps because of it, these new areas of learning have helped keep me sane, eager. I’ll be at them for a while yet.


Joseph Writing Colorado

Written By: Charles - Dec• 01•18

Samain                                                                             Thanksgiving Moon

Not sure what prompted the realization, but I became aware this last week that I’ve made three very important decisions in my life totally from my gut.

Joe and Seoah wedding pic1979. The first one, the decision, no, the need, to become a father, have a family with kids came as what I characterized as a male biological clock. I was 29, 30 and suddenly I had to have a kid. No reason, no plan, no forethought, just this impulse that my life would not be complete without a child. My decision when I was 25 to have a vasectomy, taking responsiblity for birth control as a male, made sense to me then, a solidarity with the women in my life. I wasn’t chagrined at all, but it was an obstacle.

The reversal failed. My sperm never got their energy back. Low motility, too few in number. It was the first time I’d ever been in a hospital. OK. What next?

Adoption. Raeone and I filled out all the paperwork including the multiply stamped documents that had to be notarized by the person who validated notaries. Paid the money, around $4,000 if I recall correctly, and waited. A referral came, a girl from Calcutta. We got ready. Then, the call. All the babies in the orphanage had died of a salmonella outbreak. Wow. Raeone, who’d just gotten a new job, put the brakes on. “I can’t do this and work into a new job.”

“All right, I’ll take care of the new baby.” I was not to be deterred. When the new referral came and Joseph flew in on a Northwest flight from Calcutta, we were there at midnight on December 15th, 1981 to meet him. The trip home has its own story, not too relevant here, but for the first 18 months of his life, I took Joseph to work with me everyday.

images (9)1990. The second decision. Writing. I’d organized a Doctor of Ministry program that brought professors from McCormick Seminary to Minneapolis. It was a three year course and at the end it required a thesis. In the process of writing the thesis, I ended up with 40,000 words of what would be my first novel, Even the Gods Must Die. I did finish the thesis, graduated, went on to serve on the seminary’s Doctor of Ministry committee, commuting monthly to Hyde Park, Chicago for two years. But the link between me and the ministry had been broken. The writing was exciting and my beliefs had changed dramatically.

But, I was stuck. Joseph was 8, Raeone and I had divorced, and my work with the Presbytery was how I paid the bills, supported my boy. Enter Kate. She read what I’d written and liked it. At the time she was reading a lot of fantasy. We agreed I could write full time. This let me out of the bind I was in with the ministry and gave me a chance to focus on personal creativity. It was a real and true miracle for me, made possible only because Kate was willing and financially able and I had the inchoate sense that writing was a path I needed to follow.

Some 30 years later I’ve written a lot. In retrospect I can’t tell whether it was a good career decision, doesn’t appear to have been. But as a personal decision, it was pure gold. I cooked, played a significant role in raising both Joseph and Jon, encouraged Kate in her creative ambitions, learned how to express myself and spent much of my day alone, as I do now, quite happily.


Dec. 19, 2014. After Tom and I drove them out to Colorado, the dogs wanted to get back in the car and go home.

2014. Colorado. It was a time when a lot of things were in flux. The gardens of Andover, and the orchard, and the bees were becoming difficult to care for. Kate retired. Life was changing. Again. Still. I needed a way to get a handle on it so I chose to go to my third Ira Progoff intensive journal retreat.

The one I selected was in Arizona. I drove, stopping by Carlsbad Caverns on the way, wandering south and west to Tucson. In Tucson I wrote and wrote, going deep into my Self and that time of my life in the way Progoff’s self-guided Jungian analysis facilitates. It was clear a big transition had been reached, but what was its significance?

I had decided from the beginning to go to Denver on the way home, see Jon and Jen, Ruth and Gabe. We decided to surprise Ruth, have Grandpop just show up at the door one afternoon. It was April, both Ruth and Gabe’s birthday month. A good time to visit.

Ruth ran away from me when I got to the door. I know now that surprises are not fun for Ruth, that remains true. She was much younger then, 8, I believe, or still 7. She got over the shock and we had a nice visit.

On the way home though I began to knit together the sense that life for Kate and me was at a definite inflection point. In Tucson I had planted many seeds in the soil of my inner world and like Cadmus’ dragon’s teeth they emerged out of my unconscious fully grown and ready to take on what comes.

Gabe, Nov 29th, 2018

Gabe, Nov 29th, 2018

The main conviction had two components. One, those kids were growing up fast and we could choose either to see them episodically, playing a distant grandparent’s role in their life or we could move closer. Second, if we were going to make a move, now was the time. We were both healthy. Kate was retired. The Andover homestead was more work than either of us wanted to continue.

Kate didn’t take much convincing. So, not very long after Tucson, we began to shift our focus from 40 years in Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the Front Range. We gave ourselves a full year to get ready for the move, but things moved faster than we imagined. We “lived in the move” for about nine months, winding down affairs in Minnesota, purging our belongings, getting our property ready to sell. Kate made trips as a scout, looking for houses.

That Samain I drove out to Conifer, climbing up Hwy 285 with canned goods in the car, some popping as the altitude exerted less pressure on them than sea level Minnesota. Not knowing it then, these tomatoes and beans augured a long term adjustment to life at 8,800 feet. It was that same day when I wandered out into our back yard here on Shadow Mountain and three mule deer bucks were there, waiting. We were permitted to live here.

Kate, also, Nov. 29th

Kate, also, Nov. 29th

Four years later, four years exactly this Winter Solstice, we moved into our home. As I’ve mentioned before, from a medical perspective and from a family perspective, it’s been one damned thing after another. However. All of these things have happened in the context of family and in the unexpected, but grace-filled (not a metaphor at all) community of folks at CBE. We’ve been there for each other through cancer and joint replacements and Sjogren’s and the bleed and the troubles with Kate’s colon. We’ve been there with Jon and the kids before and following the divorce. We are in their lives and they are in ours. Just what we wanted. No, it’s not been easy, but real life has its smooth paths and its rocky ones.

There is, too, and of equal significance, the wonder of the Rocky Mountains. Every day. I live on a mountain, see mountains out my study window, drive among them to Evergreen, to Bailey, down the hill. The mule deer and elk. The fox. Mountain lions and bears. Here. We live, perhaps selfishly, within a wild environment. I have never been happier about the place where I live. It nourishes me, challenges me, encompasses me. As the post-script says on my e-mails, “I am not in the mountains, the mountains are in me.” John Muir.

Big, life changing decisions. Made because they felt right, even necessary. No regrets.