We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Becoming Emo

Lughnasa                                                            Waning Summer Moon

20171202_1925591514204365009Got up with Kate at 2:45 am, went upstairs in the dark (to preserve night vision) and out on the deck attached to the house. We watched the NNE sky for about a half an hour and on the peak night of this much ballyhooed annual running of the Perseids saw 3 meteors. 3. It was a clear, beautiful night and stars dotted the sky. The Milky Way swept across its dome carrying souls of many cultures to the world beyond this one. And we were out there together. Glad the Perseids got us up. Might try again tonight.

My shift to emo continues. Still strange, but becoming more, what, usual? Ruth, Jon, and Gabe came up around 8 pm last night to drop off Gabe for the week. The start of his school year is out of synch with Jen and Jon’s. They’re back at work, but he has another week to go before school starts. Ruth’s school, though in the same Denver school district as Gabe’s, started last week. McAuliffe middle school marches to its own drummer, just like Ruth.

20171217_171626Ruth had a lot to say about school. She’s excited, loves school. And I love her. Her presence warms up my day, makes me very happy to be a grandad, to have a role in her life. She’s in honors math, mindfulness and meditation, Chinese, art, life sciences and will run cross country this year. I couldn’t be more excited about her life if she was my own child.

20171224_091544Jon’s still working out the sequelae from the divorce. He spent, he said, the last couple of years trying to manage the stress. He’s gotten out of shape, hasn’t handled his diabetes as well as he normally does. His house is a work in process and will be, I suspect, for a couple of years, maybe more. Adapting to being a single parent, in a divorce situation where he can only communicate with Jen, his ex, by email is difficult, too. No wonder the U of happiness troughs out in the 40’s and 50’s. Better times ahead.

Gabe’s on a new drug for his hemophilia now. It only requires a weekly subcutaneous injection and keeps his factor level steady with no canyons and peaks. This is brand new medication. He’s only on it because he can no longer have a port. He’s working on a fifth grade project, at his initiation, on racism. Fifth grade culminates in a project and his has a focus on race from the perspective of African-Americans. I’m going to help him with some research.

20171228_190150

This is love. Family is an exercise in life cycles, with various family members beginning or ending cycles that others have been through. The interactions between and among the cycles makes family life dynamic and a reservoir of  wisdom and hope. Struggles and joys, achievements and failures, emerge and subside. During each one we are there for each other. As it has been across human culture for thousands of years.

 

 

 

 

Home(s)

Summer                                                                      Monsoon Moon

monsoon clouds in Aurora

monsoon clouds in Aurora

The last day of summer. Lughnasa, which starts tomorrow on August 1st, marks the beginning of the harvest season. Though the growing season is not at all over, gathering in has begun and will only increase as we move through Mabon, the second harvest season and then end the harvest on Samain. Samain means end of summer and that name holds the history of the ancient Celtic calendar which had only two seasons, Beltane (the growing season) and Samain (the fallow season).

In the mountains we do not anticipate the beginning of the harvest season so much as we mark the beginning of the monsoon season. The monsoon pumps moisture from the Gulf of Baja and the Gulf of Mexico northwards until it cools and falls over the Rockies. This marks the end of the high fire season.

20180616_133209Taking off today with age nipping. The incident yesterday (see post below) means I have to pay attention to myself in new ways. A bit disconcerting. Not to mention that I occasionally leave the refrigerator door open. A common thread here, oddly, is hearing. The refrigerator has a come back and shut my door melody it plays when the door is left open. Trouble is, I can’t hear it unless I’m right by the door. The truck’s engine is obviously on when I step out with it running, but the call back that its noise would generate for others is only background for me. So a combination of distraction and hearing loss. Time to adapt. Again.

20150911_174834If I go to Indiana, I go home. Home in this case is the place of my childhood, a place, with Heidegger, into which I was thrown without choice by decisions my parents made. Indiana home, the banks of the Wabash, the sycamores, Harrison Street, mom and dad’s graves, the years of growing up, basketball, the Indianapolis 500 and lots of hate has a sort of giveness to it that makes it seem inevitable. Of course I grew up on Monroe Street, called down bats with stones thrown in the air, cheered for the Tigers, worked for the Alexandria Times-Tribune, P.N. Hirsch and Johns-Manville.

Gertie, Vega, Rigel in Andover

Gertie, Rigel, Kona in Andover

If I go to Minnesota, I go home. Home in this case is the place of my adulthood, the second phase of life focused on family and career. Minnesota was a choice and has none of the inevitability of my Hoosier life. I could have chosen differently. I tried New York City for example. I might have gone to graduate school at either Brandeis or Rice, both places where I got accepted in Anthropology graduate programs. I could have headed overseas as did Mary and Mark.

Instead, I chose seminary in New Brighton and continued to choose Minnesota in decision after decision. Now the land of sky blue waters, the western shores of Lake Superior, the northwoods and the timber wolf and the moose, the Twin Cities, two marriages, the adoption of Joseph, years of political work, immersion in its cultural life mean home.

When I stay for 5 nights at the Millennium Hotel on the edge of Loring Park, I’ll be in the midst of my own history, a neighborhood where I chose to live, where I participated in its politics. Within walking distance will be the Walker Museum of Modern Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts two institutions that shaped my aesthetic. Close by, too, is the Minnesota Church Center where I once had an office as an executive of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.

The Woolly Mammoths, the docent class of 2005 at the MIA, and various political cronies, mostly in the Sierra Club during my last years, the members of Groveland UU are the web of relations that make Minnesota home.

Mountain Home

Mountain Home

When I leave Minnesota, though, and head west again, it will be my used-to-be home once more. I’ll be heading home to the Rocky Mountains, to the land of mountain Jews, lodgepole pine and golden aspen, of black bears and mountain lions, mule deer and elk. Ruth, Gabe, Jon, Kate, the dogs. They’re all far away from Minnesota, in my third phase home.

This is another place of choice, a home determined by decisions that Kate and I made.  We will have been here four years on the Winter Solstice. We will have owned our home here for four years this Samain.

I have three homes: Indiana, Minnesota and Colorado. Each from a different era of my life, a different phase, each shaping me and, being shaped by me, in diverse ways.

Today I’m leaving for home and when I head out on the return trip I’ll be leaving for home.

 

 

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.

Life is a cabaret, old friend

Summer                                                                     New (Super) Moon

supermoon = closest new moon to Earth. See the tides go up. Bay of Fundy, watch out.

20180608_181820Skype yesterday with RJ Devick of Bond and Devick, our financial planners. We meet with him once a year to go over our portfolio, look at upcoming needs, see if we need to make any adjustments to the draw from our IRA. This session in particular may have changed our lives a bit. We’ll see. Maybe some more money available for travel or work around the house. That would be nice, put a bit of a skip in both our steps yesterday.

Mussar was a profound conversation about the nature of equanimity, turning into a discussion of the nature of chaos and how we can keep ourselves calm in the face of disorder.

Last night I went to bed about a half an hour before my usual time and got up early, 5 am. Still a little asleep. It’s 49 up here on Shadow Mountain, delightful.

Can I hear you now?

Summer                                                                           Woolly Mammoth Moon

Went to the Hearing Rehab Associates shop today for a hearing test, hearing aid cleaning and tune up. An old folks event. First order of business, shine a bright plastic wand in my ear and make my ear drum go owwiiee. Then, into the Scott Pruitt sound proof booth. I felt like I was right there at the EPA, protected from those damned environmentalists.

The booth has two outlets, but I only need one, for my right ear. My other ear goes along, because, what’s it gonna do, but it doesn’t have to participate. That stopped a long time ago. First words. Then, beeps. Finally, staticky sounds with the hearing aid on. Result? Hearing is in the same place as a year ago. Good news. The hearing aid needed some adjustment to clarify higher range sounds. A few clicks of a mouse and that was done.

I also checked in, as I do from time to time, to see what’s new for us single sided hearing loss folks. Since the left ear went dark when I was 38, 1975, last millennia, there’s not been a sufficient advance to make my situation better. “That’s one thing we can’t fix,” said Katie, the audiologist. She did give me information on a BAHA device, Bone Assisted Hearing Aid. Might look into it. Still, she seemed rather doubtful that it would do more than alert me to sound coming from the left. Nothing new.

Also, as long as I’m on health matters, I made an appointment with Lisa, my internist, for a back pain consult. I work out, with work outs from a personal trainer, and have done for a long, long time, but I still tweak my back. Tramadol helps. I’m in a bit of an odd spot since my kidney disease makes taking NSAIDS inadvisable. Don’t want to go to opoids and acetaminophen doesn’t always knock down severe pain. I hope she’ll give me a prescription since I don’t know when it’s going to happen.

Meanwhile, though it’s way cooler here than Denver, it’s still too freaking hot. OK. Rant over.

 

Old, but not dead

Summer                                                                         Woolly Mammoth Moon

20180705_07254120180705_072553Sixth dead tree down. All limbed, the slash moved to the road, and Elk Creek Fire Department notified. They have a new program this year. We put slash within 5 feet of the road and in 5 foot or so piles. They’ll come by and chip it. This is not a small deal since the last slash chipping I had done cost $600. Sometime in the next few days I’ll cut all six of them into fireplace sized chunks and stack them.

Just a few stray aspen in the wrong places to fell and I’m done with tree work for the year. I like it. It’s outside, the smell of fresh cut wood, get to use my body, creates firewood and helps give our property a better chance in a very high fire season. I miss the same sort of work that our large gardens in Andover used to give me, but I have no intention of recreating those here. Too hard up here, other things to do. Well, if we had a greenhouse, I’d get back to it. I miss working with plants, with the soil.

20180704_110235A friend wrote about my life here in Colorado. He is, he said, intentionally simplifying, trying to have fewer obligations, yet I’m taking care of dogs, doing more work around the house, cutting down trees and teaching at Beth Evergreen. Now I happen to know that this same guy, who is older than I am, recently completed a show in which he made posters of all the bridges across the Mississippi in the Twin Cities. He has also found a patron who loves his art, so he’s producing larger art works across various media. Not exactly slowing down in that sense. Life in the old lane does force us to make choices about how to use the energy and time we have, but so does every other phase of life. Now though we know ourselves better so we can get more bang for the time and energy.

His comment did give me pause, wondering if I’m ignoring the moment, the actual state of my life. Kate and I were talking about this a couple of days ago in relation to her diminished energy, occasioned by Sjogrens, arthritis and this damned nausea that afflicts her. When we whack down the nausea mole, I’m hoping the other symptoms will give her some rest for a while, especially since her shoulder surgery has been so successful. Even so, we do have to adjust to our current physical and energetic and intellectual reality, and she’s not likely to go back to the energizer mode of yesterday.

20180704_111915Here’s my situation. I have my chronic illnesses, collected along the way. I don’t hear worth a damn, have stage III kidney disease (stable), glaucoma, high blood pressure, an anxiety disorder (which, frankly, is much, much improved), arthritis in various spots. A repaired achilles tendon and a titanium left knee make my legs not what they were. All these are facts. If you ask me, I’ll tell you, though, that my health is excellent. None of this drags me down, either physically or emotionally.

ancora impari

ancora impari

Having said that, my intellectual faculties seem intact though I admit it’s hard to know sometimes from the inside. I’m emotionally more stable, less reactive, have a more nuanced approach to relationships, much of this thanks to the lessons of mussar at Beth Evergreen and the very sensible approach to life that is Jewish culture. THC helps me sleep better than I have in my life. Writing still excites me, makes me feel puissant and I have projects underway, a novel and a collection of short stories, plus an idea for a novelization of the Medea myth. Kate and I have a great relationship, we do a lot of things together, enjoying the years of getting to understand and appreciate each other. Grandparenting is a wonderful life moment.

Right now, in other words, I am old, 71 is past the three score and ten, yet I’m still eager, still curious, still hopeful, still physically able. So for me, 71 is my age, but decrepitude has not captured me yet. It will, if I live long enough, I’m sure, and slowing down, when it becomes necessary, is something I foresee. It doesn’t frighten me, since death doesn’t frighten me. Until then, I’m going to keep plowing ahead, purpose driven and excited about life and its various offerings.

 

 

 

We came; We zoomed; We parted.

Summer                                                                      Woolly Mammoth Moon

20180616_114748

Paul

Zoomed. We talked for over an hour, Mark, Paul, Bill and me. Each of us was in a different physical location, Paul in Maine, me in Colorado, Mark and Bill in the Twin Cities. This technology is a definite push beyond Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It is more like letter writing in its length of interaction and interpersonal depth. In that sense it works against the grain of 140 characters, photographs and short posts. It’s more like real life in its immediacy and interactions that includes body language.

Ode

Ode

Even its limits are closer to real life. No e-mail blasts. No dashing off a quick post, then moving on to something else. This is sitting across the room from someone, though in this case the rooms can be hundreds of miles apart. Some of the social niceties are impossible of course. No shared snacks. No hugs. Different weather. It was pouring rain in the Twin Cities, dry here in the Rockies. No offering hospitality of the physical kind. We couldn’t decide to get up and go somewhere else afterwards, or, for that matter, even during the hour. If we got up, it would be as if we left the room.

I liked it. In this mode we can nurture old friendships, share confidential news in private (at least I think it’s private, but who knows really), spark off each others sentences, laugh together. It may not be a trip to Durango or a hike at the

Bill

Bill

summit of Guanella Pass, but it’s not a short typed note either. Can this technology sustain us over time? Difficult to tell. We’re creatures, at least those of us on this Zoom session, of the old, pre-computer days when communication across distances was sporadic and limited to long distance phone calls and letters; for us this way of being with each other is novel to some extent and compares not so much, really, to social media, but to actual, in person meetings.

Me

Me

Whether the digital natives will see in it a form of being with each other that they want to pursue, I don’t know. One of the factors that held me in the Twin Cities so long was the physical presence of and frequent visits with Woolly friends. In the important sense of in depth conversation Zoom and its like provides a very close equivalent. Perhaps it will make distance matter less, allow us to rearrange ourselves physically with less loss. I hope so.

 

 

Sundays are strange

Summer                                                                          Woolly Mammoth Moon

Instagram logoAfter talking with Ruth yesterday I created an instagram account. Surprised to see that several people I know already have one. Probably spells doom for the tweener and teenager use of it. They understandably like platforms without their parents or other adults who know them.

I asked Ruth whether she got more guidance from her parents or her friends, “Duh. My friends. I’m more open with them. They know me better.” See above. This is part of my research for developing lesson plans and her response conforms to what I’ve been told about the psychology of kids this age.

Had a dream last night that I got surprisingly big offers on my two submissions. Really, really big offers. Even in my dream I thought, that can’t possibly be true. Still…

Often on Sundays I feel neither here nor there, wanting to relax as if it’s a commandment, but not feeling like it.

20180624_095233I cut down one more dead tree, making two so far of the six. In spite of my workouts the chainsaw feels heavy and I tire quickly. Which means I’m stopping earlier since I won’t use the chainsaw when I’m tired. Too easy to do serious damage. This is odd to me because I cut, limbed and bucked several trees, well over 40, the first two years we lived here. Recovery from both prostate surgery and then knee replacement must have weakened me more than I thought. I’ll do the work in stages that I can handle.

The grandkids were here from Thursday through yesterday evening and it went well. Gabe stayed all day Sunday. Jon and Ruth went to a wedding in Silverthorne later in the day and came back around 8 pm, then all three left for the city.

 

 

Barely Legal

1968 or so, found by Mary Munchel

1968 or so, found by Mary Munchel

Woolly’s In the Rockies

Beltane                                                                               Woolly Mammoth Moon

20180616_104132

Paul and Tom

Ode and All Hat and No Motel

Ode and All Hat and No Motel

20180616_114754

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Spruce Tree House

Spruce Tree House

Pensive Tom

Pensive Tom

The Trailhead, Buena Vista

The Trailhead, Buena Vista

August 2018
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