We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The Anvil

Written By: Charles - Sep• 20•20

Lughnasa and the 5781 Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Jon and Ruth cooking lunch up here yesterday. Gabe asking me to sharpen the knife I got him. (which made me think about starting a charity, Knives for Hemophiliacs). Jon getting the new axle on his Subaru. Kate’s calm during the visit. RBG. Orion. Four Republican Senators. With courage and heart.

Kate lost sleep after RBG’s death. Tom, profoundly sad. Our nation has begun to grow up when a woman’s death has serious political consequences and her life defines a role model for men and women, boys and girls. The contrast between her 100 pound frame and what it contained with the 240 pound frame of the orange one and what it contains. Well.

The political struggle over her Supreme Court seat may define us as a nation every bit as much as the election on November 3rd. Hypocrisies seat is already taken by Mitch McConnell. Trump’s callous disregard for real heroes and for the country’s well being will be on full display. A Peacock of Presidential disdain. The Republican party’s soul, what tiny shred of it still hangs on, will get a chance to grow. Or, finally sink into oblivion.

My first reaction was to turn away, hide myself. My Trump scarred psyche didn’t want to face the next few weeks. They will be painful in the extreme. At least for me. Decency is in retreat. Honor gone. The nation’s well-being headed for a storm sewer.

Who can stand up now? Who will? The answer to these questions are key. Lisa Murkowski. Susan Collins. Two more at least are needed. Cory Gardner, maybe?

Let it be that the contest over RBG’s seat become the anvil on which our restoration gets hammered out.

Life and Death

Written By: Charles - Sep• 19•20

Lughnasa and the Rosh Hashanah Moon

Saturday gratefuls: RBG and her great soul. Kate. The big Yam. The Thai Yam soup. Orion, faithful and true. Returned. It’s Beyond Me. Sept. 27th. The U.S.A. November 3rd. Early voting. Early voters. The stars as bursts of light.

Kate had a better day yesterday, three in a row now. Not great, but better. She finally got an appointment for a CT scan and the thoracentesis. September 29 and September 30 respectively. Before that she has to get a test for Covid. Removal of the fluid on her lung will help her breathing. This is a big deal for us both.

Still reading Rage. He’s a good writer, easy to follow. Lots of stuff we already know, lots we don’t. It’s worth a look if you have the inclination and the time.

RBG fought. She persisted. But her body gave out. Sadness. For what is to come: anger. The beautiful RBG. Her spirit and her work will live on. Love on. We will need a blue tsunami now.

There is a danger, I think, that the Supreme Court could nullify congress and the Presidency. At least a Democratic congress and Presidency. With many dedicated activists willing and ready to file lawsuits on behalf of conservative to reactionary interpretations of law. Tie up the court. Seek verdicts turning away new Federal initiatives. Pounds head. Cries out.

That’s a dim note. Here’s a bright one. When my buddy Alan and I were talking on Thursday I said, Lyndon Johnson is one of my favorite presidents. Except for the whole Vietnam War stuff. That was McNamara and his liberal militarist cabal, but Johnson went along.

His other work shines for me. If you’re not familiar with the astounding amount of legislation he got passed, read these articles: The Great Society at 50 and LBJ: Impact and Legacy.

He achieved all of this because he had been a senator for a long, long time. Think of Reagan, Clinton, Bush I & II, Ford. No senatorial experience. Even Obama falls short, he’d only been in the Senate for three years. But Johnson was a master of the Senate and its arcane rituals, rules, and traditions. As Majority Leader, he knew what it took to get things done.

Joe Biden might be such a President. The sixth youngest senator ever elected, he was the fourth senior senator when Obama tapped him for Vice President. He was not the Majority Leader like LBJ, but he knows the senate, knows how to work across the partisan divide.

Biden will be able to get legislation passed, especially if the election flips the Senate. He’s no Bernie Sanders, but, then, neither was LBJ. With Kamala by his side I imagine his work will be progressive at least and certainly will target racial and economic justice.

Of course, there is the matter of an election to win.

La Shana Tova 5781!

Written By: Charles - Sep• 18•20

Lughnasa and the Rosh Hashanah Moon

Friday gratefuls: Joe and Seoah. Sano Vet. Yet more enroflaxcin. Chewy. Finally. Kate’s two good days in a row. Jon, Ruth, Gabe. Coming on Saturday. New workout. Subway. Lik’s Ice Cream. Stinker’s Sinclair. Black Mountain. Shadow Mountain. Longer nights.

Over to Safeway for a pickup order. All but two items this time. Pretty good. Pickup groceries makes me feel safe and I’m grateful it got started a bit before the pandemic. The pickups of early lockdown were often missing items, not so much now. Now they leave out things the pickers can’t find, don’t look for.

Got the ingredients for a sweet potato cream soup Kate saw. It’s a slow cooker recipe. Gonna start it this morning. Kate and I can have it tonight, then when Jon and the kids come, we’ll have the rest as a side with the barbecue beef from Tony’s. Watermelon and potato chips. Thanks to the meat bundles I bought from Tony’s back in May, Easy Entrees, and pickup groceries, good food happens here.

Talked to Alan yesterday. Passed on thanks from the Ancient Ones for his willingness to schlep me to my cataract surgery. Alan’s working hard on Lisa Cutter’s campaign. She’s our state rep facing a stiffer challenge than the whack job from last cycle. He didn’t believe in public schools. Alan’s also learning “If I Were a Rich Man”, anticipating tryouts for Fiddler in fall 2021.

Alan handles tech matters for the synagogue. They have a new sound board and sound system for the sanctuary. Alan wrote the RFP. Rabbi Jamie wants to do half of the High Holiday services outside, making an amphitheater out of an uphill slope off the synagogue’s rear patio. A lot of preparation necessary for these important holidays.

It was a quieter week for us this week. By design. We canceled our weekly visit to Amber and had nothing else except the early Monday appointment with the pulmonologist. Needed it.

Something wonky is going on with Kate’s medical care. Not sure whether it’s Covid disarray and stress, the bureaucratic quagmire occasioned by health care plans, or some pique with our PCP. Whatever it is the referral for her cat scan has not happened. This will locate her pleura effusion so they can drain it We’ve gotten no word either on a wheelchair for her. Meanwhile we’re renting one.

Cue a quiet scream of frustration with this most expensive of all health care systems. Takes me back to trying to get my axumin scan. Grrrr.

Be well. Do good deeds. And, VOTE.

An Age of Wonders

Written By: Charles - Sep• 17•20

Lughnasa and the 1% crescent of the Labor Day Moon

Thursday gratefuls: A better day for Kate yesterday. Chewy prescription order shipped. Mahi-Mahi in tomato sauce. Easy Entrees. Mary, Mark, Diane. Generous, kind. Tom and his knotty gift. Knotical. The Ancient Ones, my FFs, friends forever. Alan. The compounding pharmacy for my surgery eye drops. Rigel, the Yipper. Kep, the Snuggler.

An age of wonders. Peak TV. There has never been so much good television, ever. And, there might not be again since Netflix spends money as fast as the Mississippi flows into its delta. Right now I’m watching the Turkish series, the Gift, an English limited episodes drama, The Third Day, and the Sony production, Away. The Gift and the Third Path fall in the folk horror genre, like the movies Midsommar and the Wicker Man. Away stars Hilary Swank as commander of the first expedition to Mars. Great Britain and Korea also make compelling television.

Every Tuesday morning I speak with cousin Diane in San Francisco, sister Mary in Singapore, and brother Mark in Riyadh. At the same time. With video. On Sundays I speak with the Ancient Ones, my FF’s, friends forever, in Minneapolis and Maine. Every other Thursday Alan Rubin and I have a video chat. Without Zoom the pandemic would be so much worse.

Another wonder. I wonder who will rid us of this troublesome President? Several million of us, I hope. Gotta work to make it happen. Encourage friends and co-workers. Family. Vote! Make phone calls. Send e-mails.

I’m reading Rage, Bob Woodward’s book. It’s the only Trump era book I’ve read, finding my Trump box always filled to overflowing and not wanting to add that last word. It’s not revelatory so far, except for the big news of Trump’s early understanding of the nature of Covid. That’s a major item. He goes back to the beginning of Trump’s administration to put this story in context.

Early in the book Woodward tells the story of Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. He told his cabinet, after they tried to dissuade him, that he wanted the tariffs. Just implement them and we’ll see what happens, he said. His finance cabinet folks said the U.S. economy is nothing to play with. Do it anyway.

This after they pointed out that we’re no longer a steel producer or an aluminum producer and tariffs would therefore have the result of raising prices on imported products, not invigorating our once dominate foundries.

He went ahead.

An early signal of Trump’s discounting of experts and privileging his gut response.

I also read, yesterday, this troubling article by NYT columnist, Thomas B. Edsall. Most of us know, I think, that we live in partisan bubbles these days. Our friends, our news sources, our own analysis of the political. Even families. We don’t talk politics on Thanksgiving or at the reunion. Our lives are hermetically sealed from the other.

I’m guilty. I see the Trump base, the MAGA reactionaries as I think of them, as both deluded and obedient. Edsall shows that this sort of us/them thinking might end in violence around and after the election. Our descent into Banana Republic status has gained momentum.

What do we do? It’s not as easy as “having conversations with those with whom we disagree.” First of all, most of don’t know many with whom we disagree, at least not well enough to start a civil, literally, conversation. Second, even if we do know a few and engage them, our minds tend to be as made up as theirs. Where’s the gap, the space, for understanding each other. It’s thin at best.

My admittedly partisan notion is that we first need to lower the intensity of public discourse. I believe electing Biden will do that. Then we need to do a careful, honest, and serious review of our own attitudes. Push white supremacist ideologues back to the fringes where they belong while opening ourselves to the pain and anguish of Trump’s base.

This does not mean denying our own convictions. I won’t give an inch on eliminating racism, providing health care and food and housing for the neediest in our nation. Even so, I need to consider the sort of policies that would also benefit the white working class, would address the fears of white suburban women that their safety and their children’s is at stake, would reassure the small business owner that we care about their survival.

An anti-big business conversation might yield interesting results, for example. Debt relief. Job protection and job education for those below middle class income. Higher pay for “essential” jobs since we know how essential they are.

Getting to 5781

Written By: Charles - Sep• 16•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Kate. Always Kate. The night sky. Venus. Life on Venus? Rigel. Kep. Deb from on the move fitness. Her grief. The new workout. Cool morning. Mountain Waste. Rage, by Woodward. The internet. DSL. The Gift on Netflix. Borgen, too. Dark sky spots in Colorado: Dinosaur National Monument. Great Sand Dunes. Westcliffe. Black Canyon of the Gunnison. More.

Up early for the Clan call, forgot to post yesterday. Forgetting is rare, but it happened. Mary, Mark, Diane. Singapore, Riyadh, San Francisco. The wonders of our age. In real time, no lag other than the one I understand Zoom introduces to create smooth conversation.

Kate didn’t feel up to it. The pleura effusion continues to create problems for her. She now has some pain in her right chest, the side of the effusion. No imaging study scheduled yet, but she’s going to call today. It makes her shortness of breath worse, restricting her movement.

Some sleeplessness for me Sunday night. Wondering where things were headed with Kate. Rumination. Not my usual fare at night. Not for a long time.

We decided not to see Amber this week at Advanced Wound Care. We needed a quiet week. No medical appointments. With my upcoming cataract surgery I’ll have a few of my own.

As the Labor Day Moon wanes, it moves us toward the High Holidays. The Jewish lunar calendar starts each new month on a new moon, Rosh Chodesh. The head of the month. Rosh Hashanah, head of the year. Each new year celebrates the creation of Adam and Eve according to legend.

Since 2020, based on the Gregorian Calendar, has sucked, I recommend choosing 5781. No more of that 2020.

Got a new workout yesterday from Deb Brown. She lost her husband, Dave, to glioblastoma in the midst of early lockdown. I hear Dave’s voice often, I told her. I love to teach deadlift technique. Hold that band out from your chest as long as you can. She hears it, too, she said. Only louder and a lot.

We met on Zoom. A little clunky for this purpose, but it worked. The exercises: goblet squat, flat bench press, dipper, staggered stance row on stability ball, bicep curl, skullcrusher, stability ball prone back extension, plank, 1 leg balance with transverse step.

I like switching up my workout every six to eight weeks. It helps keep me interested, but more important, it changes up muscle use. Muscles don’t become acclimated to the routine.

Easy Entree tonight. Cod in a white wine and tomato sauce.

And, a trip to Happy Camper this morning.

Marriage is stronger

Written By: Charles - Sep• 14•20

Lughnasa and the crescent Labor Day Moon

Monday gratefuls: Kate’s better day. Rigel’s bland diet. Kep snuggling with Kate last night. Jon bringing up Ruth and Gabe this Saturday. Finally, the appointment with Taryle. The crescent moon with Venus in the eastern dawn sky. Lengthening nights. Instapot and rice.

Kate was in much better shape yesterday. Breathing easier, color better, more chipper. Her Friday in emergency mode while I drove Rigel to the VRCC for her antibiotic overdose drained her battery. She has few reserves. Saturday was struggling to get back to some equilibrium. She made it.

Today we see the pulmonologist. Try to get a handle on her pneumothorax. She could end up back in the hospital depending on Taryle’s assessment. She needs relief and I’m in favor of whatever will bring it to her. We’re packing a bag.

It’s a difficult time.

Rigel, recovering from her self-medicating, continues her interest in things on our table. Yesterday she chewed up the small pouch that holds our marijuana money. She ate a fifty, chewed up a twenty, and took a healthy bite out of a hundred dollar bill. And left no change. Geez.

Yes, we need to stop putting things on the table. She’s not done this before, at least not this persistently or comprehensively. We have to adjust to her. Otherwise she’s feeling perky. Ate all of her rice and hamburger, took her meds, seems happy.

Medicine and the medical took over our lives well over two and a half years ago. It continues and has gotten more pronounced in the last six months. Not unusual with aging, but still disruptive, heart rending at times.

Our marriage is stronger than ever, mutuality and intimacy at a peak. Love does not know illness or fatigue; it does not decline. Instead, it increases. Kate’s mental acuity and her composure during these troubles is a thing of wonder to me.

In less than two months, a major source of chaos and disruption will be gone. Trump will be dumped. That should mean a much better pandemic response, too. Eliminating one and reducing the other will help all of us.

BTW: No, I have no crystal ball. I’m stating my belief. Just a bit stronger than hope right now.

Unpopular Opinion

Written By: Charles - Sep• 13•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Jon, working on his Subaru. Getting more and more stable. Kate’s tough week. Appointment tomorrow with pulmonologist. The beautiful blue Sky Colorado day. Snow lingering in the Forest, on our north facing roof. Alan, for agreeing to take me to my surgery, even at an unreasonable hour. Rigel, enjoying her bland diet: Rice and cut up chunks of stew Meat. Jackie, of Aspen Roots. A great haircut.

Kate. A very difficult Saturday. Breathing harder. Now even lying down. Her chest x-ray shows a larger pneumothorax, some loss of lung capacity. Doctors decided it was ok to wait until Monday morning. Based on her struggles since then, I’d say they were wrong. But here we are anyhow.

Rigel’s diet has become brown Rice and Beef. Which she seems to like. Seoah showed me how to dump a bunch of Rice in the instapot, wash it three times, then put water in up to my first knuckle. Hit Rice, wait about 15 minutes. Voila! Fluffy Rice. I used brown Rice because it was in our pantry thanks to Seoah.

Seoah influenced me a lot on how to take care of the kitchen. In a good way. I needed it. Put the dishes straight in the dishwasher. Simple, eh? Put the cutting board outside in the sun to disinfect after a vinegar rinse. Clean pots in the sink if possible rather than taking up space in the dishwasher. Keep wiping things down. Throw stuff out in the fridge before it goes bad. I probably learned all this from Kate, too, but this time it’s stuck. Much easier.

9/11. It’s time, I believe, to stop opening this wound. Each time we do, each year, it’s we who bleed. We bleed sons and daughters in a mistaken war against Islam, against terrorists. Yes, it was terrible. Yes, it was shocking. Yes, it’s an important moment in our history. All true.

But think about how different the last 19 years would have been had it become a criminal investigation rather than an excuse for military adventures. I believed then and believe now that that’s how it should have gone.

Go get the bad guys. But, just the bad guys. Not a whole region or religion. Instead the dark hearts of Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Rumsfeld put us in a war against terror. And gave Bin Laden his real victory. The action is in the reaction as Saul Alinsky says.

An unpopular opinion, I know. But, it’s mine.

Beyond the Twilight Zone

Written By: Charles - Sep• 12•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Friday and Saturday gratefuls: Ruby. Air con and heat, needed in the same day. Hwy 470. Amber and Lizzie and Monique and Lisa. Dr. Gustave. Michelle Schmitz. VRCC. Dr. Timian. Dr. Rump. Vet techs. Rigel. The rascal. Kate’s support by phone. Kate’s staying calm, lying down. Broadband service. DSL. Century Link. That macaroni and cheese place on Wadsworth. Snow lingering in the forest and on the mountain sides facing north.

In the space between Friday afternoon and late Friday afternoon, in a small house on a medium sized mountain, one dog and one package of meds took us out of the normal twilit zone in which we lived this week and pushed us: Beyond the Twilight Zone.

It started as an ordinary day. Up at 4 am to feed the dogs, catch a little extra sleep because the day had a lot going on.

Out the door around 10:15 for the drive to Corneal Consultants in Littleton. I met Michele, the surgery scheduler. Two Zeiss machines later, taking pictures of my retina, other images to help guide cataract surgery. On me. Pretty straightforward, all told out of pocket around $400. Worth it.

Got in the one of the new safe places, a maskless zone, hung my Katy Did It mask on the turn signal column, and headed to the bank on Kipling.

Safety deposit box. Put my passport in and retrieved the title to Ivory, which we have to transfer to Jon. Looked at the flash drive which contains photographs of our worldly possessions, divorce decrees, some jewelry, insurance documents, the deed to our house and to Ruby. This box is part of our emergency plan in case of wildfire.

Forgot the check for cash at home, so I couldn’t do that. Left the bank and got back on 470 for the 20 mile drive to Wheatridge and Advanced Wound Care. They made some bandages for Kate’s stoma site that I had to pick up.

A decision point. Rigel’s meds would be ready in two hours. Should I pick them up today, staying out a lot longer than I wanted, or should I go home, get them on Saturday? These were more antibiotics for Rigel’s endocarditis. I would run out of one after Saturday.

I decided to get some lunch at this place that serves only macaroni and cheese, drive over to VRCC through Denver on Santa Fe, eat lunch, then see if the meds were ready.

That worked. I got a paper bag with a plastic bottle of enroflaxcin and clavamox. Drove home. Put the bag on the dinner table. Kate had worked the phones to set up the meds and she was ready for a nap. Me, too.

Got up from the nap, maybe an hour plus later. Rigel had chewed up some paper. I bent down to pick it up, throw it away. Oh. The bag the medicine was in?

Yep. After getting the enroflaxcin only a couple of hours before, Rigel had chosen to self-medicate. She ate all 21 of the tabs. The clavamox, wrapped in foil, was harder and she left most of it.

I got Rigel in Ruby. Kate called Pet Poison Control. I drove my cautious fast way perfected getting Kate to the E.R. Activated charcoal, fluids injected under the skin, vomiting, diarrhea, and a new bottle of enroflaxcin, not cheap, later, we headed back home, arriving around 8 pm. Thus endeth yesterday.

Now I’m up, made rice for Rigel’s bland diet, cleaned out the dishwasher, and cleaned up the kitchen, got the newspaper, and am ready to relax for a couple of days. Haircut at noon, a short grocery store trip. Old buddies tomorrow morning. In between, books and tv, naps.

New workout on Tuesday.

6 Tons a Second

Written By: Charles - Sep• 10•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon (the target)

Buddies Tom Crane and Bill Schmidt and I share articles, videos about interesting science, especially stuff related to astronomy and physics. Tom found this video. Big rocket.


Written By: Charles - Sep• 10•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Amber. Lisa. Wheatridge Pharmacy and its wheelchair rental. Freddy’s Steak Sandwiches. Fries. Chocolate shake. Kate’s Inogen. The X-ray tech. Madame Curie. Roentgen. The snow. The ice. The cold. Colorado and its weather. The Rocky Mountains. Shadow Mountain. Kate, her toughness.

Ooff. Yesterday. Kate, very short of breath. So much so that we had to rent a wheelchair so I could wheel her in to Amber’s Advanced Wound Care and Dr. Gidday’s. Got some new powder for Kate’s stoma site, includes a crushed up Tum’s to counter stomach acid.

Dilemma then. Home was 45 minutes away. It was 12:15. Dr. Gidday was 45 minutes in the opposite direction from Amber, also about 45 minutes from home. Did we go home, get there around 1, wait 45 minutes and head out again, or do we go to Dr. Gidday’s, stop for some food, nap in the car?

We chose the food and nap option. That meant Kate’s Inogen battery became a limiting option. A while back we miscalculated and Kate’s O2 ran out before we got home. Not a whole lot before, thankfully. Made me a bit anxious.

When we saw Dr. Gidday, who had failed to get us on at 2:30 as she said she would, it was 3 pm. The exam and consult took a half an hour, 45 minutes. You need a chest x-ray. Umm. Oxygen?

Kate thought we had enough, so we went to the Imaging place on Coal Mine Avenue in Littleton. By this time Kate had an exhausted look, slumping a bit in the wheelchair as I wheeled her. Twice on this trip I started to go into a building without a mask on, my brain back in the long lost pre-pandemic era. This was one of them.

Got her in, parked, got my mask on, and returned. About 4:00, a little after. At 5:15 we finally heard her name. The tech led us back, me pushing, Kate so tired. Me, too.

She stood, gripping the bars on the equipment like a sailor in heavy seas. Hold your breath. Hold. Breathe. Turn to the side. Hold your breath. Breathe.

At last, toward home. Into rush hour traffic. O2 at 8% battery life. Gotta remember that extra, smaller battery next time. Going up Shadow Mountain Drive the Inogen beeped. Plug battery in to charger.

Kate went straight to bed, connected at last to the O2 concentrator at the foot of the bed. Lying down, which is her preferred position these days. She breathes easier.

Nothing bad happened. The battery held out until we were near home. A hard day nonetheless. I need to do better at remembering the spare battery, timing these days. No more 11 am appointments followed by 2:30’s. Just not good.