Sigh. O.F. alert

Summer                                                                Monsoon Moon

feeling the years

feeling the years

OK. Old guy here. Kate was going in to pick up the grandkids this morning for a couple of days stay here. “Where are the car keys?” “Hmm. Don’t know. Let me find them.” Not where I thought. “Maybe I left them in the truck. I’ll go look.”

Turns out that was it. Not only did I leave them in the truck after I returned from the library yesterday, I had not turned the truck off. I just got out, went in the house. Sigh. As I said. Old guy here.

When I walked into the garage, it was hot. In spite of the temperature outside being around 44. Well insulated with a truck running in it from around 5pm until 1:35 am. I’m pretty sure that was the length of time because the battery ran out and the clock stopped. At that time.

20180420_104829I mean, geez. Geeze. Things were looking bleak. We live on the mountain; I was pretty sure the truck was outta gas. I mean it ran till 1:35 am. The battery was dead. Neighbor Jude leaves for work at 6:30 am and this was around 8 am. Neighbors Holly and Eduardo asked to watch their house while they were gone. They were still gone. OMG.

But, I put the battery charger on and waited while it got past the 3 minute time for a rapid charge, enough to restart the truck and check the gas. Surprise! There was about a quarter tank of gas. Driving to Aurora to pick up the grandkids should charge the battery, so off we went. Pretty much on time.

Got gas at a Sinclair station. The truck restarted. Charged. Filled with gas. Glad I bought that battery charger. And not for the first time.

Weather. Travel dilemma.

Summer                                                                              Monsoon Moon

Want to use a weather widget on my website. I have from time to time, but somehow they get corrupted, get discontinued, fail to work. The one I have now, Willy Weather, is easy to use, attractive (I think), and has several data points easily accessible. Only problem? It shows the weather about 10 degrees cooler than my weather station does. Others show the weather warmer than it is. The many microclimates in the mountains makes nailing down accurate data very difficult.

Weather Underground is the best I’ve found since it allows use of personal weather stations like mine. There are two within a thousand feet or so of our house, not including my Davis Vantagepro2. I’ve not been willing to go through the process of setting mine up for the net. It’s an old system, from the last millennia and its software interface is clunky. But, with the ones close by I can find, on my phone, data that reflects the weather here on Black Mountain Drive. It does not, however, at least that I could find, have a weather widget that I can add to Ancientrails. Gonna leave Willy Weather on for now, but just know that it seems to have a cold bias.

Today is prep day. Read my travel checklist. Pack. It’s becoming harder and harder to leave home. When I fantasize about travel, I revert to a younger, stronger, more resilient self. He makes me want to go, to pack up, leave. See the sights. Experience the unexpected in places I don’t know. But, like today, when faced with an imminent departure, suddenly I think about how comfortable our mattress is. How nice it is to have the loft and its resources. And, when I’m leaving alone, how nice it is to have Kate as a traveling companion.

More today than ever travel has a push-pull associated with it for me. I still want to see the world, get away from home, be out in the wide world. I share that desire with my brother and sister, wanderers all. Inherited from our father who was a frustrated nomad. However, age takes it toll, as do the insults of traveling. Air travel has insulted me so many times that, if I can avoid it, I’ll take another mode of transport.

Tomorrow I’ll be in a rental car. In many ways it’s the ideal travel method for me. A rolling retreat where I can tune out for hundreds of miles, letting my mind shake loose from the ordinary, the day to day. The geography goes by at a pace I can assimilate, not too fast, not too slow. I can stop where I want when I want. No schlepping bags from terminal to terminal, standing in long lines, being probed and wanded and scoped out from the inside. Problems are: it’s slower. Sitting down for long periods makes my back act up. I’m responsible for the driving, the navigating, the locating of places to stay, which is ok, but can create some tension.

I don’t know how to resolve this though the trajectory seems clear. At some point the overall hassle of travel will outweigh my willingness, and, perhaps my ability, to manage. The only trips will be short or obligatory. Not there yet, but I can see the horizon.

 

Mary, Mark, Superior Wolf

Summer                                                                         Monsoon Moon

Mary, Diane and Mark. Andover, 2011

Brother Mark drove up yesterday. He’s back in the U.S.A., back in the U.S.A. He loves being in his home country, but he doesn’t love the price of life here. Definitely cheaper in Southeast Asia. He’s a wanderer of note, having traveled the world for most of his adult life, living in various spots for a while, then moving on. At 59 I’d have to say he’s a pro at living a cheap life that enables his traveling habit. He also has the mental stamina to take a life lived often alone, most often alone. Not something all of us have.

We talked about family. Both Mary and Mark, perhaps because they’re both expatriates, spend more time connecting to our extended family than I do. Mark knows about our new grand-nephew in the Three Rivers area of Washington state. Cousin Kathy was with him when he had a medical procedure in Indianapolis. Cousin Diane and he connected again when he was in the Bay area last week. Mark stays in touch and I admire that about him.

Mary, Singapore Cricket Club, 2016

Mary, Singapore Cricket Club, 2016

Mary is still in Kobe, Japan. She found, improbably, a Frisch’s Big Boy and had an Indiana nostalgia meal there. She says there are many large Japanese in the Kobe area, maybe the beef? Mary, like Mark, travels a lot, often in the past few years to conferences where she’s either presenting or headlining. Athens shows up on her itinerary often, Australia and Indonesia, too. She returns to Singapore after Kobe.

Up here in the Rocky Mountains we’re enjoying more rain and cooler temperatures. The too long at very high fire danger signs now point Smokey’s finger at moderate, a blue stripe, not the angry reds and oranges of high, very high and extreme. This is welcome news for us since the wildfire season has been compared to 2012 and 2002, both years in which thousands of acres burned.

Fishing advisories are in place for many mountain streams and rivers. The low snow pack and resultant desultory melt has streams often below 50% of normal flow. That means the water heats up and limits available oxygen for the trout fly fisherfolk go after.

August 2016

August 2016

The big fires, the 416 and the Spring Creek Fire, have both been contained and most of the smaller ones are under control, too. We’ll all be sending petitions, in whatever way, to the snow gods. Please cover us this year. We need it.

I leave for Minnesota on Tuesday morning in an Enterprise Rental Car. Since 2011 Kate and I have used rental cars when taking trips. Got to get over to the Evergreen Library today and load up on audiobooks. Need to pack tomorrow. Easier when going by car.

An agent I think might really like Superior Wolf opens again for submissions on August 1st. I’ll be in Minneapolis, but I’m preparing to be able to send her my query letter and the first fifty pages as the clock ticks over. I wrote my query letter yesterday. Here it is:

superior wolfSuperior Wolf

Dear Ms. Moore,

Superior Wolf needs representation and your client list suggested to me that you may find this 95K fantasy/horror novel compelling.

 

Christopher’s father dies in a whiteout, attacked on a frozen northern lake, his head wrenched off, leaving Christopher alone in the dogsled. Who or what killed his father?
His obsession with finding an answer, returning to northern Minnesota time after time even though only 10 years old, causes his godparents to send him away, separating him from their daughter, Diana, who loves him.

 

His determination to find and kill the man responsible for his father’s brutal death leads him back to Diana, now a MacArthur grant geneticist, back to northern Minnesota, and to the immortal Lycaon.

 

Did Lycaon, king of ancient Arcadia, kill his father? Does he hold the key to life extension that Diana seeks on behalf of a mysterious group of hedgefund CEO’s who want to live forever?

 

I wrote Superior Wolf because northern Minnesota had the only intact wolf population left after decades of their successful extermination in the rest of the lower 48. Given that, why hasn’t there been a werewolf novel set there? Superior Wolf remedies this curious lack.
Research for Superior Wolf included a week of intensive study at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota in January. We went out and howled with the wolves one bitter cold night. They howled back.

Thank you so much for your consideration.

Summer                                                                 Monsoon Moon

Alan, during the enso drawing presentation for kabbalah

Alan, during the enso drawing presentation for kabbalah

Riding in the future. Carpooled into Denver yesterday with Alan, in his Tesla Model S. It’s very wide display screen shows a map with your route laid out. It also shows buttons for radio, podcasts, particular stations. Alan asked me who my favorite musician was. John Coltrane. He spoke, “Play John Coltrane.” And 2 seconds later, John Coltrane filled the comfortable interior. It’s quiet and smooth, has a transparent, though tinted roof.

He demoed autopilot which kept a safe following distance between us and the car in front of us, slowing as they slowed, Alan’s feet comfortably away from the pedals. Going down the Front Range toward Denver the power consumption dial had a small green band that pulsed up and down. “Regenerative braking.” I asked Alan if the power he gained going downhill compensated for what he used going back up? No. The Tesla updates the range moment by moment. “I gain 5 miles of range going down, but lose 20 miles of range going up.”

We went into Congregation Rodef Shalom for a day of training in the B’nai Mitzvah curriculum. It focuses on the social and emotional development of students in the 11-13 year old age range, the range most common for bar and bat mitzvahs. As with all of the Jewish learning I’m doing these days, the curve is still very steep. This curriculum, for example, is apparently a radical break from the old style religious school model for b’nai mitzvah ages, but I have no idea what the old style looked like. This is 100% of my experience.

A print at Rodef Shalom

A print at Rodef Shalom

Rodef Shalom is a long, low building situated next to the Mizel Museum. It looks most like a fifty’s elementary school. Southeast Denver, Rodef’s location, is the heart of the Denver metro’s Jewish community, containing many synagogues, including several Orthodox synagogues where congregants have to live close to walk to the Temple on Shabbat. Alan grew up Orthodox in Southeast Denver.

There were 20 trainees including four of us from Beth Evergreen. Temple Sinai, Rodef Shalom, Judaism Our Way, and the Aspen Jewish congregation were also represented. We did example exercises from the curriculum. For example. A facilitator from Moving Traditions put up two large sheets of paper: Agree and Disagree on opposite ends of a wall. When answering questions like at age 12 0r 13 did you experience pressure to do well, we positioned ourselves either on one end or another, or in the middle according to our response.

This regular napper, around noon or 1 p.m. everyday, got seriously sleepy around 1, but struggled through it. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning more about Jewish culture. The religious school year starts on September 5th at Beth Evergreen.

 

Monarch of the Mountain Spirits

Summer                                                                            Monsoon Moon

101

at Running Aces

Kate’s getting hammered again by Sjogrens or illness or some very difficult to identify g.i. tract problem. She’s tough and resilient, my new favorite virtue, but, geez. She shouldn’t have to prove it so often.

Get to ride in a Tesla today, going into Denver with Alan for the Moving Traditions training. He bought his Tesla last year, sort of a I’m retired, this is a really good car thing. His dad did the same though he wanted a Cadillac and ended up buying an Oldsmobile. Alan bought the Cadillac.

No good deed goes unpunished. We’ve had significant rainfall the last couple of days. Yay. But. Hwy 285 in Bailey closed down yesterday due to a mudslide. Open now.

After a swim, from September, 2015

After a swim, from September, 2015

I waited on the hosta division for the monsoon rains to begin. Hot dry weather is very tough on transplants. The rains have kept the air cooler, the cuttings evaporate less so the leaves stay strong. The roots don’t dry out. Gives them a chance to get over the shock of a new spot, send out some rootlets. There’s also a concoction made by Miraclegro called Quickstart that I’ve used for years when dividing plants. It encourages root growth and gives the plants a burst of nutrients.

That buck yesterday was magnificent. He was the sort you see in bronze on the stony gate pillars guarding expensive homes. His bearing was regal. This is his kingdom. Unhurried, strolling the easement like it was a path in the gardens of Versailles. Perhaps the monarch of the mountain spirits who visit us.

 

 

 

A Great Pagan Morning

Summer                                                                  Monsoon Moon

By I, Atirador, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons

By I, Atirador, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons Irish Giant Deer

Rigel barking. Gertie and Kep run to the back fence to back her up. There, in the utility easement, just outside our 5 foot fence, a ten or twelve point elk buck, regal and calm. Rigel barking. He walks, slowly, along the fence line, gets to the end of our property, then turns around and walks quietly back. You, dog, are nothing more than a nuisance. Get out from behind that fence if you can.

The Irish Wolfhound, half of Rigel’s gene pool, was a deer hound until the Irish discovered while hunting deer with them that they killed the wolves who were also hunting deer. The Irish deer were very big, weighing between 1,100 and 1,900 pounds, as big as the current Alaskan moose. To the extent that memory of that prey is still in Rigel’s body’s somehow, the elk would have seemed not so formidable. Rigel has always been a predator, Gertie and Kep humor her, but don’t have the same instincts.

A great pagan morning. First the glorious elk, then time spent dividing hosta, finishing what I started yesterday. While doing it, digging up the root ball, separating distinct sections to transplant, hands in the soil, remembering how and what else needed to be done, I greeted a part of myself that has been quiescent for almost four years. The horticulturist. No vegetable and fruit garden. No orchard. No flowers. No bees. I miss him, but the barrier here, unless we buy a greenhouse, is too much for me at this stage of life. Even so, this was a good reminder. Hands in the soil, gardening tools out, used to occupy many, most, of my summer days in Minnesota.

at the start

at the start

in process

in process

Finished

Finished

 

The Week Ahead

Summer                                                                                Monsoon Moon

20180711_065526Finished entering the edits for Superior Wolf, 3.0. I have three plot points to resolve, none of them major. Next step is to craft a query letter, then submit it to an agent. I have a local, Denver-based agent that I think might be interested in my work, but she doesn’t open up for submissions again until July 28th. That’s why I pushed to get this revision done, so I’ll be ready.

Got out the garden tools yesterday and began splitting hosta. Kate wanted some in the front rock garden and she wanted the bed along the north facing side of the house filled in. Got about half way done, then the heat took over. Will finish this morning. If it dries out today (nice rain yesterday and last night), I’m going to mow the fines.

The recipe

The recipe

Back is slowly resolving. Not near as ouchy as it was two weeks ago, even a week ago. Keep moving. Get good sleep. The tramadol helps. One at night before bed.

We bought a quarter beef last year, still have a good deal of meat in the freezer.  Took a porterhouse out last night, pan seared, then broiled. Boiled potatoes. Watermelon gazpacho of my own design, including a whole pomegranate. I enjoy cooking except when the house is hot. Then, not so much.

Ruth is off on a 5 day back packing adventure at Camp Calwood this week. Both she and Jon head back to school in early August, Gabe not till later. Different schools and school districts.

Kate had a better week in regard to her nausea, but she still had a couple of bad days. Like yesterday. Tough to keep emotional equilibrium for her. She does an amazing job of it, difficult with regular insults.

A pondersoa pine at Beth Evergreen

A pondersoa pine at Beth Evergreen

Tomorrow I have a full day training on the B’nai Mitzvah program at a synagogue in Denver. It’s put on by Moving Traditions, a religious school support organization for Jewish education. Jews take their religious school seriously, so this is way beyond Bible School or Sunday School. It’s real school.

A week from tomorrow I leave for Minnesota. Groveland UU celebrates achieving Covenanting Community status with the UUA on Saturday. I’ve been asked to say something, along with three other speakings. Probably I’ll do something about covenant  from a reconstructionist perspective. Not sure yet.

 

 

Tor Returns

Summer                                                                               Monsoon Moon

Had an interesting dream last night. Tor, a 190 pound Irish Wolfhound, and a very sweet boy, had run away from home. I don’t recall the context, but I was doing something away from home, including yet another instance in which South Carolina came up. No idea why South Carolina keeps recurring in my dreams. But, suddenly, there was Tor. He wasn’t wheaten in the dream though, more of a strawberry blonde. We reconnected. He recognized me for sure, but seemed a bit reserved. Why had I abandoned him?

Over the course of the dream I saw him wander off again with a German Shepherd buddy, but he did come back. I couldn’t wait to call Kate and tell her I’d found him.

 

You know what?

Summer                                                                           Monsoon Moon

AAIncidentally, you have aortic atherosclerosis. But, no arthritis in the sacroiliac joints. Oh, well, thanks. X-ray results. Learning to flinch a bit when I get x-ray reports since the last two have had incidental findings. They’re not just a BTW, but a, hey, look at this! My usual position is knowledge is better. In this case though it comes unexpectedly, sort of out of left field. It can, and has, shocked me.

Neither this finding nor the one earlier are exactly surprises. I’m 71. I’m an American Midwesterner raised on meat and potatoes. I still eat red meat, including bacon and wienies. I get a certain transgressive pleasure from them. But, I know they have consequences. I also know, and this is an upfront reality for those of us past 70, that we’re in the death zone. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but life no longer stretches out beyond the horizon. Which feels appropriate and natural to me.

12042872_10207259131010620_7945654758127613848_nThe third phase of life is anomalous in many ways from the first two. It’s happier, less tense. It encourages self-expression and downplays, if not eliminates, striving. At the same time the slow insults of age begin to accumulate kidney disease, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, arthritis severe enough to require a new knee in my case. Each of these is a mortality signal. Still flashing yellow, but evidence that the light’s gonna change at some point. To red. As it has and does, for 100% of us.

Anyhow, have a good day!