We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The Longest Day

Beltane                                                                             Rushing Waters Moon

These are the last two days of the Rushing Waters Moon but it’s namesake creeks will continue rushing for another week or two. Last week’s substantial snow has been followed by some rain and last night another inch or so of snow. More precipitation to come, too.

The Moon of the Summer Solstice is new on the 25th. If I had the cash, I’d go to Sweden.


Everydayness. Monday.

Beltane                                                                           Rushing Waters Moon

Somedays are quotidian. 9am. Glaucoma pressure check and scheduling of testing for cataract surgery. Noon. Septic system pumped out by Shirley Septic. Nap. Ordered hearing aid batteries and skin softener. Went to fitness center to sign up for personal training. Want to ramp up my post surgery exercise. Getting important, but very ordinary, stuff done.

What oh what will tomorrow bring?

We are a diverse species

Beltane                                                                   Rushing Waters Moon

Actual complaints received by the British travel agency, Thomas Cook Holidays:

1. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

2. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallartato close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”

8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”

15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

19. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”


Mountain Weather May

Beltane                                                                             Rushing Waters Moon





My Process

Beltane                                                                   Rushing Waters Moon

MUSSAR-PATH-OF-W-LOGO1Still working on how I will lead our mussar class next week. It’s been hard for me, mildly anxiety producing. First, I don’t have the depth, any really, in Jewish thought. The Mesillat Yesharim, Path of the Upright, is a complex, subtle and often difficult to parse text. With a guide like Rabbi Jamie Arnold its complexity and subtlety becomes an advantage, encouraging a range of views, sparking discussion. But with me, lacking sufficient knowledge, it could become a bramble thicket instead.

Secondly, I do have some depth in other fields, especially those related to the environment, and I find myself drawn to them with the content of chapters 18 and 19 in this central mussar text. Those two chapters recount movement toward hasidut or piety and chesed or loving kindness. Since these are action outward categories-hasidut can also be translated as loving deeds-ecological thinking fits well with them. But. I realize if I go in this direction I risk making my own agenda the centerpiece rather than learning about these middah.

Kabbalistic_creatorThirdly, the whole Jewish immersion experience I’m having at Beth Evergreen is like learning a new language. I have some words and a very limited amount of grammar. I don’t want my naivete getting in the way of other’s learning.

Last. As is usual for me, I have way more information than can possibly fit. At this stage, roughly a week away, that’s not a problem. Except it is. I don’t know how to edit the material because I’m not really sure what my focus is. Is it hasidut, chesed, kedusha (holiness) or is it the manifestation of those ideas in the world? In this case it’s a question of am I moving too quickly beyond the new concepts to their application?

I’ve enlisted the help of a rabbi in training, Bonnie Houghton, to help me sort out what will be useful and what won’t. Mussar and Torah study both emphasize the value of a study partner. A sound idea.

Oh. And. I’m not a Jew.

Memorial Day

Beltane                                                                          Rushing Waters Moon

To any Hoosier boy Memorial Day announces the Indy 500. Likewise, as a Hoosier student it meant, summertime! But up here on Shadow Mountain? We’re not quite ready for the parades and “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

May 20th, 2017

May 20th, 2017


Sabbath Delight

Beltane                                                                        Rushing Waters Moon

Challah-2-300x280Kate and I sponsored the oneg last night at Beth Evergreen. Oneg means delight and in this use it’s a modest event after the sabbath service. It involves the kiddush prayer over wine, the passing of challah (a ceremony not coincidentally similar to the Christian eucharist) and having some sweets or other snacks. It’s similar to coffee after a Christian or U.U. service, but different in one significant regard. The Jewish sabbath, as a day of rest and renewal has a focus on good food and general delight, so the oneg both is that ideal and reinforces the larger sabbath ethos.

Kate did her usual excellent job of providing a variety of tasty food and adult beverages, in this case white wine. We bought the challah at a small bakery, Alpine Bakery, in Evergreen. I picked out cookies: bunnies, unicorns and trains. The oneg was in honor of Ruth and Gabe so they seemed apropos.

In the service, sparsely attended, due I imagine to the snowfall over the last three days, the Beth Evergreen choir sang. The Reconstructionist book for the sabbath service is an impressive piece of liturgical accompaniment. It contains both Hebrew and English versions of the various portions as well as commentary that suggests the reconstructionist take on traditional elements of Jewish worship.

Charlton Heston at work

Charlton Heston at work

In a section focused on the Exodus, the parting of the Reed (Red) Sea the commentary says an early Reconstructionist prayer book did not include the parting of the sea because of its supernatural element. This version of the prayer book has it because “As myth, however, the ancient tale of wonder underscores the sense of daily miracle in our lives.” This gives you a good feel for the Reconstructionist approach to both theology and the Torah. It’s one I find myself nodding to a lot.

Though I retain my empiricist, flat-earth metaphysics I’m finding it under spiritual and intellectual siege. This ancient tradition, radically reconsidered from within, pushes me to open myself to a deeper, more mystical place. The mystical has always been a significant part of my spiritual journey, but I’ve let it lie fallow for the most part in recent years. Not sure where this is headed, stirrings of old feelings mixed with reimagining faith. An interesting moment.


The Calm

Beltane                                                                             Rushing Waters Moon

20170519_054119White and gray. The 18 inches or so of snow lies thick on our roof, solar panels hidden from our star. That unusual characteristic of snow to move upwards with the shape of an obstacle like a fence post, a statue, mailbox, or birdbath has created several objects in our yard with white caps reaching skyward, simulacrums in snow of the surface beneath them.

The lodgepole pines have puffy sticky snow that conforms to their branches, weighing them down, pointing them towards Shadow Mountain. One by one the weight will become too much and the whole pile on one branch slides off with an oof and a powdery white trail following it to the ground followed by another, then another until the branches spring back up, ready to receive sunlight. Until then, the trees, like our solar panels, are cut off from the source of their power.

A member of Beth Evergreen sent an e-mail from Boston yesterday, “It’s a hot, sticky 95 here.” This reminded me that the legendary speaker of the house from Boston, Tip O’Niell said, “All politics are local.” So to with weather.

20170519_060312The storm seems to have quieted overnight. No snow falls now. The sun, already well up over Denver, has begun to light the clouds over Black Mountain, accentuating the blue sky. The whiteness of the scene from my loft window seems to impose a silence borne of the color itself, soundlessness corresponding to the fresh, but otherwise colorless, snow. Along with the silence comes a profound stillness, as if for the moment nothing moves. Perhaps the mountain lion has retreated to its den, the bear to its former place of hibernation, the mule deer and elk bedded down among the willows and dogwood out of the wind.

As for this mammal, I’m sitting here, quiet and thoughtful, happy to have a meditative scene out my window. Black Mountain is my writing companion, often my muse. In fact, just now I watched the sun’s light slowly descend from Black Mountain’s peak toward the shelf of rock well below it. The peak itself shines as the sun reflects back off the high albedo of its snow cover. The sun itself, our own star among the heaven’s billions or trillions, seems to have picked out Black Mountain saying, “Behold this wonder so near to you, yet so different.” The sun, God’s spotlight.



Dogs of Conifer

Beltane                                                                          Rushing Waters Moon

This family gives their dogs regular rides in a convertible and, according to their housekeeper, has a horse who comes in the house to eat out of the fruit bowl. Life in the mountains.

conifer convertible dogs

Snow, Snow, Lots and Lots of Snow.

Beltane                                                                                 Rushing Waters Moon

trump for prisonThis is a record breaking snow already and it’s barely gotten started. Good news for us up here on Shadow Mountain. Hard to burn when everything’s covered in fluffy white moisture. This is a flour sifter snow, coming down straight, no wind, and fast.

Trump. He says with “surety” that no politician in history has ever been treated worse. Not sure Charles II would agree. Or JFK, MLK, RFK, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Salvador Allende, Archduke Ferdinand. To mention a few off the top of my head.

His first hundred days might be his last hundred days. Even Pence looks better. Sort of.

DivergentOver the last couple of days I’ve been reading the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. Granddaughter Ruth is reading it and I try to keep up with at least some of her favorites. The first book is very good. The second one’s not quite as good, but ok. The third shows it’s difficult to sustain a creative push. Makes me wonder how George Martin’s done it with the Game of Thrones series. Not easy.

Still dealing with the difficulties of making tea at altitude. Just wrote my favorite tea company, Verdant Tea, a Minnesota company that works directly with tea growers in China. Maybe they’ll have some ideas.

20170514_105132Kate spent another sewing day yesterday, this time with the needleworkers. These are most of the day events where the women come together to work on their own projects, see what the others are up to and share ideas, techniques. Friendships, too. She also had her third injection of Remicade, an anti-rheumatoid arthritis biological drug. Her color and energy has improved. Seems to be working.

Well. Breakfast time in the Rockies. With snow.


May 2017
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