The Murdoch Problem

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Dinner at Twin Forks with Kate last night. Pint of cookie dough ice cream. Clouds of the front moving in from the east. Augmentin. Kate’s improvements. Her smile and her laugh. Gertie. Kep. Rigel. Murdoch. Dogs. Joe and SeoAh. Diane. Mark. Mary. Marilyn’s call.

Hands and wrists still in gauzy bandages. They come off today. The stitches are in until next Friday. A few aches. Not much pain unless I try to open a door or a dog food bin. In problem solving mode now. Antonio will come on Monday. Hope he has some good ideas. After that, it will be time for a talk with Joe and SeoAh.

Kate suggested, and it’s a good idea, that I talk with the Akita rescue folks here, see if there’s a foster situation that might be available for Murdoch. A big, big step for us and even more for Joe and SeoAh. Reluctant. But. Also reluctant, opposed to more E.R. trips.

If I looked at us from the outside, I’d say we don’t know what we’re doing. We do, it just isn’t going well.

Got sorta down yesterday. Mostly over my commitment to Joe and SeoAh. Wondering if I’m going to have to back out of it. That feels awful, so I hope not. Decided problem solving was more useful though the feeling lingers.

Kate saw that and took me out to dinner again. This time to Twin Forks, a fancier place. On Friday nights they serve the yabba dabba do cut of prime rib. It’s huge. We didn’t have it. Scallops for Kate, beef medallions for me. The energy of the place helped. Talking and laughing together. Also helped.

At least we’re not seeing life from the seat cushion of a recliner.

Recurrence

Winter and the Waning Crescent of the Future Moon

Friday gratefuls: Josie, the nurse, and William, the doctor at the Swedish E.R. Lidocaine. Kate and her bandaging skills. That neither Murdoch nor Kepler got badly injured. Sandy, who came today, just in time to clean my blood off the tile.

So, yes. It happened again. This time a door didn’t shut and Murdoch, who was outside, came in. When I saw him and Kepler together, I said, “Oh, no!” Shortly they were at each other. I don’t even remember getting in it with them. Not sure I did. But one of them got my left wrist, another my right. 6 more stitches and lots of less deep lacerations, plus spurting blood. Looked like a murder scene. Tile, fortunately.

Leaves me feeling like a failure. Taking care of Murdoch for Joe and SeoAh. They’re gone for a year. What will we do? A very tough place to be.

Just got off the phone with Antonio, a dog trainer. He’s going to come by on Monday for a consultation. See what we can do. He said it’s tough after they’ve already been into it. He’s right. Hope he’s got some good ideas. It obviously isn’t working as things are.

Then there’s an inevitable talk with Joe and SeoAh. What can we do? Yecchhh.

Both incidents have occurred right after we’ve gotten home together. Yesterday, Mussar, The first time, after Kate’s g-tube got replaced. The dogs are excited and we’re distracted.

Slept fine. Hands don’t hurt. Much. Lots of gauze, steri-strips, and the neat row of stitches. Antibiotics. Lot of exhaustion though.

Right after getting bit, when the blood still spurted onto the floor, I felt faint. Skin clammy. Scared me seeing all that bright red vital fluid escaping its container. Holding my wrist over the sink, I hollered to Kate.

She was blaring the fight extinguisher at the two combatants. Loud. Made no difference at all. Good idea, though.

When I got to the E.R., they asked me where I’d been seen first. Both hands were wrapped in paper towel and coban. A professional job. Oh, I have a doctor in the house.

The drive in, the pain, the treatment, the drive home. Long sleep. Till 9. Still worn out. Had to go to King Sooper to get the augmentin. Back home. Nap right now.

Watch and Learn

Winter and the Future Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Alan is back from the Bahamas. Our regular breakfasts. Rabbi Jamie’s clear explanation about Judaism as a vehicle for mystical consciousness. Our Thursday afternoon mussar class. A lot of good friends in that one. MVP tonight. Friends there, too.

Got the new vegetable chopper. Ready for the next round of Israeli salad or pico de gallo.

I’m on episode 73 out of the 80 in the final season of Resurrection: Ertugrul. That means I’ve watched a whole lot of episodes. I’ve enjoyed the storylines, the immersion in an imagined Turkic tribal culture, and the sets, costumes. Are the plot holes in it big enough to swing a sword through without hitting anything? Oh, yeah. Is some of it melodramatic? Hmm. Yes. But as a story of a people committed to a cause, suffering for it, and succeeding, a good one.

Read a NYT article yesterday about M.B.Z., Mohammed bin-Zayed, ruler of the United Arab Emirates. His father, Zayed, was a pluralist and a believer in a tolerant, peaceful Islam. He opposed Islamists of all stripes. Mohammed, after a flirtation with Islamists, experienced 9/11 and converted to his father’s opinion.

MBZ sounds like a contemporary Erugrul. He has a particular perspective on Islam and has put his Emirates resources behind it. He fought the Islamists in the UAE, finding those who collabarated with bin Laden, three of the attackers were Emiratis. He had 200 Emiratis arrested and about 1,600 hundred foreigners.

He has lifted up women and the poor. He has fought in other nations for a more tolerant form of Islam. His troops are in Libya right now and have been a major force in Yemen.

Though the Saudi state is, as the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said, “…the mother and father of political Islam.”, MBZ mentors MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince accused of ordering Khashoggi’s death. MBZ wants to temper the Wahhabi stream of Islam, the one married to the founding of the Saudi state and radical in its political ideas. Wahhabi funded madrasa around the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world spread its violent propensities.

Resurrection: Ertugrul showcases the Islamic love of a strong leader, a Prophet, a Caliph, an Emperor who loves his people and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe and prosperous. MBZ, like Ertugrul, has an affiliation for Sufi’s and is a Sunni.

Americans, as democrats (small d) and individualists, children of the Enlightenment, will find both Ertugrul and MBZ, and MBS for that matter, suffocating. Like the clan chieftain he was Ertugrul relied on the leaders of his tribe, beys, for authority in decision making. They met in council and debated issues before the Bey, bey of the whole Kayi tribe, Ertugrul in the later episodes, made a final decision.

The councils were advisory, though. The Bey’s decision was the one that mattered. Same with MBZ and MBS. There’s a lot paternalism and patriarchy running through Resurrection: Ertugrul and the worlds of MBZ and MBS.

Autocrats. Much like Egypt, Syria, Iran. Erdogan in Turkey. Some benevolent. Some not. I suspect much of Resurrection comes from contemporary fantasies for a return to the noble Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid. It certainly glorifies the mujaheddin, the warrior of jihad, of Allah’s Holy War. And it glorifies the strong central authority figure, Ertugrul. It could be seen as propaganda for Islamist extremists though I don’t believe that’s its intent.

I’ll miss the antics of Bamsi, the ax of Turgut, the strong swordarm and wisdom of Ertugrul. Finishing this week. Wow.

Yo, U.S.A., You Late!

Winter and the Future Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Mountain View Waste. Kate’s good humor. Rigel following the treat to bed. Cool weather. The waning crescent moon. All the stars in the sky. All the water in the ocean. The water cycle. The lakes of Minnesota. The mountains of Colorado.

Didn’t write about MLK.

When Joseph got his bars as a second Lieutenant, I drove down to Maxwell AFB to be there. Maxwell is outside Montgomery, Alabama.

I made three pilgrimages on that trip. The first to Dexter Baptist Church, only steps away from the Alabama State Capitol. In his 1963 inaugural address in that Capitol then governor George Wallace said, “…segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

MLK was the pastor at the Dexter Baptist Church, 1954-1960, and organized the Mongtomery Bus Boycott in the basement. To have done that with the state government of Alabama literally looking over you must have been a courageous act for all who participated.

The second stop on my pilgrimage was the Southern Poverty Law Center which has a building just behind and uphill from Dexter Baptist Church. Outside of the modest modern headquarters is a Maya Lin designed Civil Rights Memorial. A large sheet of black marble, top of a sliced in half cone, has engraved on it names of martyrs for the civil rights movement and a chronology of the movement. A sheet of water flows across it all, coming from a fountain in the middle.

In her minimalist style, the other primary part of the sculpture is a black marble wall that has on it MLK’s paraphrase of Amos 5:24: (We will not be satisfied)…until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

These two American institutions, Dexter Baptist and the Southern Poverty Law Center, were and are pillars of fire illuminating racism and burning it out where they can. It surprised to me feel so close to American radical justice while able to see the bright white colonnade of the Alabama capitol.

The third stop on my pilgrimage came after I left Montgomery. I went to Selma. Crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On that bridge, on March 7, 1965, MLK and many, many others encountered state police and city police, hidden on the east by the upward curve of the bridge. Bloody Sunday showed up on television screens across America and helped cement support for the civil rights movement.

In research for a novel I’m currently writing I looked up Edmund Pettus. Not only was he a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army and a U.S. Senator, Pettus was also the Grand Dragon of the Alabama KKK.

When I parked in downtown Selma to walk around… Nah, here’s what I said on June 19th, 2008:

“Yo, Minnesota!  You late.”  Said, on the high sidewalk in Selma, an African man of indeterminate middle age, salt and pepper beard, hair frizzed out, wearing a red shirt.  “”bout time you got down South, North.”

“Yeah, about 30 years too late,” I said, revealing my inner hope that I’m about 15 younger than I really am.

He was cheerful and continued his discussion with a smile and allusions to the Mennonites and some biblical tribes, but I didn’t get it all.  He was what in former times would have been called a character.

When you consider Charlottesburg, when you consider Monday in Richmond, when you consider the anti-immgration policies, when David Duke says, “He’s implementing our policies.”, when a close Presidential advisor admits to his white supremacy convictions, then, why then, we might say to the whole country, “Yo, U.S.A., you late.”

Broken. Replaced.

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Hot water in San Francisco! Diane’s recommendation of “Getting Open.” Sleep. Rest. Feeling rejuvenated. The U.S. grocery store. The NYT for endorsing Amy and Elizabeth. Blizzaks. AWD on Ruby. Healing from the dog bite. Almost done.

Cooked last night. Deep fried chicken chunks from a deli chicken. Coated with bread crumbs. Surprisingly good. Broke our vegetable chopper, too. A second time. I prefer hand tools in the kitchen for food prep. Knives, choppers, dicers, zesters. We have a mandolin somewhere and I want to find it. Just ordered a Swedish chopper, made of metal. More durable.

Broke the chopper making a version of Israeli salad. It was the onions that did it in. Well, not the onion, but me, pressing down quick and hard on the onion. Little blades popped off the cutting grid. Not supposed to happen. Got the salad, diced onions (by knife), tomatoes, cucumber, and a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Some lime juice. Some Italian seasoning.

But. I was also gonna warm up the cabbage and potatoes in the microwave. Put them in the microwave at the start. Kate’s taught me to get all the ingredients out before I begin. Forgot about the potatoes and the cabbage. Still in the microwave this morning.

Oh, yeah. Finally got the microwave installed. After the first appointment, I had to have an electrician come out to create a wall socket for it, then reschedule the installation. Happened Saturday. Kate is very happy. She can reheat her coffee. Hot coffee and the crossword in the morning make Kate a happy gal. I’m indifferent to coffee temperature. Cold. Hot. Meh. Not a gourmet.

Spent time yesterday on another modern chore. Cutting up boxes. We get our dogfood through chewy.com. Great service. Reasonable prices. Free shipping. And large cardboard boxes. Bought some airtight dogfood containers, too, through Amazon. Really big boxes. As I’ve noted before, the home has become a shipping and receiving department. All those cardboard boxes that used to get cut up at the warehouse or in the back of the store are now in living rooms across America. Or, garages.

Anyone rural appreciates the chance to look things up online and order them for delivery. Beats going on a Saturday morning quest for the right pan or sheets or, say, a vegetable chopper. Especially if the stores are miles and miles away. Makes a huge difference to caregivers like me, too. It’s why Sears and Roebuck did so well with their catalog. A shame they couldn’t make the transition to an economy much like the one they introduced back in the late 19th century.

Got doggy things to do now. Tomorrow.

WWMD?

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Kate’s feeling better. Stefan and Lonnie on zoom. Tom’s gift of cartoons by Sack. Beau Jo’s pizza, novel and tasty. Driving in the mountains. The three deer I saw on the way to Evergreen, especially the tiny one. The bare rock, the cold streams, the lodgepole and aspen. Steep slopes. Florence and its art.

After a somewhat comical series of no-goes, I gave up on going to Vail to see Lonnie and Stefan. Stefan had a new hip done at the Steadman Clinic. Snow came to Vail on the first two days I offered. Not unusual, but enough to not make me want to do a two hour drive in it. Yesterday, my third choice, was MLK weekend. The second busiest of the entire year for ski traffic. And, Sunday, the Denver Post said, would be the busiest of the four day holiday. So, zoom.

Good to talk to them. Four years ago they decided to learn painting in an atelier in Florence. They’ve become patrons of the school as well as students, spending much of each year in Italy. Now they face an existential choice between remaining most of the year in Florence, where they’ve become part of an international crowd of artists and art students, or returning to the Twin Cities where their family lives. Would be a tough call for me.

The mood here is lighter. After a tough period of dog bites and exhaustion, I’m rested again. Kate’s had some issues, but eliminating tramadol from her daily meds has given her easier breathing. It’s nice to have a respite from angst.

Today’s MLK. I wonder what he’d do right now? Would he organize mass marches in the face of the rising right wing threat? Would he stay away from such events as the pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia today?

Will the MLK holiday become a neo-nazi, white supremacist rally day? A day to show “racial solidarity” and protest for the right to gun ownership. IDNK.

His dream, MLK’s, is mine and probably yours. I’ve always been soothed by his quote from Theodore Parker, Unitarian clergy and anti-slavery activist, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Still am though this seems to be a time when it’s not bending very much in the direction of justice.

Co-caregiving

Winter and the Future Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Sleep. Again. Still. Kate. Always. The sun. Also, always. A true divinity who gives life and warmth. God or goddess. My heart. Beating faithfully. My feet, meeting the ground, providing a stable base. My fingers, so familiar with this keyboard. My eyes. So much to see. My ears, even my left one who quit on me years ago. My tongue. My lungs. To whom I am sorry for having abused them in my youth. Even my now long gone prostate. You provided years of faithful service. All of it, working together, my body, my soul, my link to all.

Co-caregiving. Kate’s kind gesture on Friday night, taking me out for sushi, got the leetle gray matter going. Caregiving, as a word, has a one way dimension to it. I give Kate care. She receives it. And, that was the way I was looking at it up until Friday night. Of course, our love remains mutual and our partnership in our marriage, too. But the whole caregiving notion. Not so mutual. Not much of a partnership.

I buy, pick up and shelve the groceries. If there’s cooking, I do it. I fix breakfast often in the morning. I feed the dogs, take them to the groomers. I drive Kate to her doctor’s appointments. I call the insurance company, negotiate with the business office at Anova Cancer Care, see to the cars’ repair and maintenance. I do the laundry, pick up. Open boxes, move stuff from one place to another. And on and on.

And, I see none of it as a burden. None. Part of loving someone. Doing what’s needed. Always. That does not mean I don’t get taxed by it. I do, especially when I’m tired as I have been this week. I feel like I’m doing it alone.

I’m not. Kate is a co-caregiver. She supports me as I do these things with kind words, dinners out, understanding me when the stress boils over like it did last Tuesday. And, no, this is not a pretty papering over of a difficult situation. Her role is every bit as important. Mine has a large physical component to it which hers does not, but our mutual need for love and acceptance is key. Mutual.

This is, for me anyway, a paradigm shift. Caregiving is not one way; it’s mutual. If it’s not, the psychic load on both parties can get overwhelming. Being a passive recipient of care is difficult. Agency is one of the defining marks of our life. Until it isn’t. Not easy to bear its diminution, its outright loss. Shifting into new roles and maintaining them over a long period of time is also hard. There’s a learning curve. No bleach with the colored loads. Don’t forget toilet paper and napkins. About four minutes a side for thick ribeyes, but pay close attention.

Love picks up the burden and makes it a joy, a gift. We’re doing what we need to do for each other, just with a different mix of roles and responsibilities. The more physical caregiving cannot be shared, that’s the whole point; but the stress and the constancy of it can. A hug here. A kiss. A thank you. Helping the other to see when matters get too hard, when the stress nears its worst. How important? Critical. Necessary.

Co-caregiving. Of course there will be caregiving situations where this is not a realistic expectation: dementia, a chronic illness with constant pain, mental illness; but, in the majority of the ones I’ve known, co-caregiving is not only possible, it’s necessary.

Someone less thick than me might have come to this insight a year ago, two years ago even. There is, though, an element of shock, displacement, dislocation that goes with a partner’s sudden serious decline. That shock, if the illness or need continues, can turn to grief over what was, fear for what might be. I’ve experienced all of this over the last couple of years.

The shock and the grief have their own needs, often, at least in my case, obscuring insight. And, of course, the shock and grief applies to the ill partner, too. They’re having to adjust to a life much, much different than their normal one. The mutuality of the shock and grief, different, yes, but strong and demanding for both, can also obscure insight into what’s needed, what’s going on.

We’re two years plus into Kate’s Sjogren’s problems which saw her lose weight down to 77 pounds. She couldn’t eat enough to sustain herself. We’re sixteen months away from her bleed which saw a cascade of procedures, treatments, diagnoses, doctor’s visits. Lung disease and a blocked artery to her mesentery slowed her recovery. She’s better now, but far from well.

My radiation is long past. The Lupron continues. My COPD has proved manageable. I’m calm about my situation, believing I’m cured, but still uncertain. Summertime.

Things have quieted down enough, the shock and the grief mostly in the past, that we can see our situation more clearly. Co-caregiving is the result of that clarity.

400 episodes down, 50 or so to go

Winter and the Future Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Kate. Always Kate. The last quarter Future Moon with Mars. Mars. Kim Stanley Robinson and his excellent trilogy: Red, Green, Blue Mars. New hips. Old hips. Brother Mark and the others who teach ESL around the globe. Sushi Win. Evergreen. Shadow Mountain again.

Kate took me out last night to Sushi Win. A thank you dinner after a tough week. Appreciated. Better rested this am. Not fully back, but a long nap yesterday morning helped. By tomorrow or Monday.

The winds were howling, bending the lodgepoles, testing their carefully evolved capacity to withstand the winds without breaking. The aspen, with no leaves, just let the air move through their branches.

Big winds mean changing weather and it’s much cooler here today, 12 this morning. Though. Friend Tom Crane said it was -2 yesterday on the shores of The lake. Snow coming, enough to cover the gopher holes. Conifer doesn’t measure up to Minnesota winter standards except in snow totals. Much, much more snow here. But it goes away. Solar snow shovel.

What do the animals do during the big winds? Hunker down, I suppose. Wind chill affects them, too, though not as much as us hairless apes. Kep seemed unfazed by it, running around outside last night for some time after we got back from Sushi Win.

I’m on the 50th episode of the 5th season of Resurrection: Ertugrul. Yes, it has soapy operatic threads and I enjoy them, too. Will Ibilge ever find a place in Ertugrul’s heart? Etrugrul’s wiliness, Bamsi’s double swords, Turgut’s ax, the battles. I like those, too. The narrative speed varies between fast and slow. Fast when battles or chases or rug weaving or eleventh century medicine dominates, slow when Islamic scholars or imams explain, say, the various names of Allah.

A narrative from the perspective of Islam privileges how Islam works positively in the lives of Turks. I find this fascinating and it’s what’s really glued me to this series. Resurrection weaves Islam together with Turkic tribal traditions and creates a rule bound world where duty and tribal loyalty supersede all.

Some of it makes me squirm, but that’s good. The unquestioned greatness of Allah in matters of war, family, love, justice gives the characters strength and confidence. The main characters share this worldview. The plot gains tension from the firmness of their beliefs.

In an episode yesterday Ertugrul and his Kayi alps (Turkic tribal soldiers, fierce warriors) rode into Sogut, a town and bazaar that Ertugrul established. He and his alps had conquered Sogut and the land around it in battle after a proclamation of Sultan Aladdin identified it as their territory. The Kayi tribes blue and white flag had hung everywhere Sogut.

Another tribe, the Umuroğlu, get Sogut from an ally, Mongol field commander. They put up their yellow flags and take down all the Kayi flags. A Turkic tribal tradition, however, privileges lands taken by the sword over those gained through political means. This means Ertugrul and the Kayis own Sogut.

When Ertugrul takes all of the Umuroğlu flags down, a swords out, lots of glaring battle ensues. Ertugrul admits his actions may cause trouble for everybody, but he’s defending his honor, defined by tradition.

Not for everybody I know, but it has fascinated me since October. Getting close to the end. But. Showing on Turkish TV now is Resurrection: Osman. Fortunately for my time, this is its first year and it won’t be on Netflix until the full season is over. Only one season to watch instead of 5.

Push the Clowns Out of the Car

Winter and the Future Moon

Friday gratefuls: the new dogfood bins. CBE board. Vietnamese food. Kate’s doggedness. Sleep. Wakefulness. Dreams. The Denver Post and its employees. Mountain Waste. Golden Solar. Kohler generators. Those who make the wires through which electricity and data flow. Cell towers. Tom, Bill, and Mark having lunch today.

Haven’t said much about Election 2020. My own policy views line up best with Warren and Sanders. No big surprise there. I prefer Warren over Sanders. Not by much, but I like her thoughtful approach. I like Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar for their moderate stances, if that’s what we need to beat Trump.

My political radar, honed over elections since Stevenson vs. Eisenhower, sees nothing but flak. Is Trump beatable? Can a true progressive win? And, if they win, can they govern? Is the economy the Trump card? Will young people vote? Who will African-Americans and Latinos choose? What about women? The bloc of voters in classes offended by Trump is huge, but will they go to the polls, stay home, or vote for him while holding their nose? All this clouds the screen, points of interference.

We suffer from outrage fatigue. Pussy grabbing and mocking the disabled reporter is so three years ago. Drone assassinations. Mocked at the G8. His steady drip of regulatory release. The Clean Water Act. Clean Air. Gas mileage targets. Intransigence, no, suicidal stupidity about climate change. Those too long red ties. His golfing holidays. Trying to get the next G8 at one of his properties. Tacky. Infuriating. Unseemly.

Vote, vote in this election. Help. Help get out the vote. Vote against Trump, against the Republicans. Please. If only to restore some sanity and balance. This isn’t about draining the swamp. This is about pushing all the clowns out of the car. All of them and getting back to governing the most powerful nation on earth.

Early to bed…

Winter and the Future Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Marilyn Saltzman, who works so hard. Rabbi Jamie’s The Human Narrative class. Truly radical religion. Extra sleep this am. (writing this at 9 am. way late for me) Heirloom tomatoes. Honeycrisp apples. Metamucil. The old garden in Andover where I learned so much. The beautiful light illuminating Black Mountain.

Still tired today, but less so. Got back to the house about 9pm last night after a focus group at Beth Evergreen. The first one of several. Part of a five year strategic planning process. They put me in this group with mostly founding members and other long termers. I was the only Gentile in the room. The focus group started at 7 pm, a time when I’m in my jammies and within an hour of going to bed. Not my time for peak performance.

Felt dull on the way home. Don’t like evening meetings anymore. Used to be my bread and butter. Now I fade after 6, 6:30 pm. The pattern we’ve gotten into. Since I get up between 4:30 and 5:00, it makes sense. But it makes evening sessions requiring, as Hercules Poirot says, “…the little gray cells,” hard.

More sleep still needed, but much better.