29 years ago

Imbolc                                                                         Recovery Moon

kate and me in time29 years ago tomorrow Kate and I stepped on a glass* in Federal Court Chambers, the Landmark Building, Rice Park, St. Paul. The next day, just to show how long ago 29 years is, we flew Pan Am to Rome. We wrote thank you notes on the plane and mailed them from the Vatican Post Office. Probably wouldn’t make that decision today, but then it seemed sorta cool. Cousin Diane Keaton was my best person.

The honeymoon followed spring north in Europe proceeding from Rome to Venice, Vienna, Paris, London, Inverness, Edinburgh, and London again. We also made it to Florence, Salzburg, and Bath. Along the way we discovered what it meant to be together.

Pompeii was a revelation about humanity in the face of catastrophe. The Uffizi a revelation about the human creative spirit. Venice showed the adaptive capacity of our species. Vienna. We arrived at 10 pm, hungry after a foodless train ride that passed through the Dolomites from Venice. Wiener schnitzel in a small restaurant with red table cloths. Paulaner non-alcoholic beer. Later Andean musicians played the pan pipes under our balcony at the Hotel Astoria on the ringstrasse. Paris. Of course the Louvre. The Rodin museum. Life as a graceful and elegant soiree. Crossing the English Channel by ferry. Before the Chunnel. London. The Basil Street Hotel had a women’s club like the better known men’s clubs for which England is famous. From there to Inverness where we walked hand in hand along the Ness river at night, fog rolling off it, spilling over the sidewalk. We ate breakfast at the Station Hotel in a large ballroom with a carpeted corner they used for dining. Then, Edinburgh where we ordered room service and stayed in bed watching movies on tv. Back to London. At the Reject China shop where we bought our Portemerion dinner ware the clerk suggested I might like to go to a pub while Kate shopped. I visited antique stores instead. Then, home.

Astoria SignThe last 29 years have seen other adventures. Cruising the Mediterranean. Twice the Panama Canal. Once almost all the way around Latin America. Hawai’i several times. Korea for the wedding. Singapore. New York, of course. New Orleans. Chicago. Other places, too.

Those are frosting on the life we created 29 years ago. The life itself, that’s the cake. We’ve moved three times. Once into the house on Edgcumbe Boulevard in St. Paul. The one with the pool. Where we lived with our first Irish Wolfhounds, Celt and Sorsha. Where Joseph played baseball with the Hasidic kids next door. After that, Andover. 20 years of exurban life. Flower gardens. Vegetable gardens. Bees. An orchard. A firepit. The lives and deaths of many dogs. Joe finishing high school. Jon off to Colorado to teach. Then Joe off to Breckenridge to work and ski for three years before he joined the Air Force. And now, Shadow Mountain. Seeing the grandkids often, the many insults life has thrown us, even so, just life. Joe married. SeoAh in our lives. Congregation Beth Evergreen. A Colorado finish to a life begun at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, an easy stroll to the Landmark Center. Will we stay here on Shadow Mountain? Don’t know. TBD.

20190127_163835I love the arc of our life together, the suffering and the joy. No life has only one or the other. The key factor of our love has been this: support each other in living our best life. We’ve mostly succeeded. Kids, grandkids, dogs, gardening together, harvesting honey together, traveling together. Kate sewing, me writing. The MIA. Music, jazz and classical. Seeing the world. Living in the mountains. Life now in its third phase.

I love her still, always. I know her better, she knows me better, and yet we’re together. That’s proof of the broken glass moment. Till death do us part. And beyond even that.



*”The fragility of glass suggests the frailty of human relationships. Since even the strongest love is subject to disintegration, the glass is broken as a kind of incantation: “As this glass shatters, so may our marriage never break.” For more interpretations: myjewishlearning.

Worn Out

Winter (last day)                                                                    Waxing Moon

Me driving home

Me driving home

OK. You guys win. Extreme Minnesota macho points earned these last few days. And, I saw that Paul Douglas predicts a 100 degree temperature swing! 100 degrees. You wouldn’t want to hear that if it was 52 outside and the direction was up, but in this situation, hallelujah brothers and sisters! Thank you, Jesus. And, Mohamed. And, Moses. Meanwhile up here in the tropical Rocky Mountains we’ve had mid-40’s for highs.

Yesterday. OMG. I pushed myself past some inner limit, way past. When I got up, it wasn’t a hop of bed, ready to greet the day moment. It was a let’s pull the blanket back over my head, switch the electric blanket back on and quit the world at least for the morning moment. Not a good time.

I had to make chicken soup with matzo balls (made by Kate). I had to take the soup to Golden with Kate. I had to go to CBE and teach the first hour of religious school, then head out for Aurora and Jon’s show. While down there, I had to go to Maria’s Empanada’s and get a dozen for Kate. I could head back up the mountain.

exhaustionAny of these things separately, happy, joyful tasks. All of them on the same day, a day that started with fatigue on waking? The happiness and joy would have to be in retrospect. I make chicken soup from scratch, with a whole chicken, cut up celery, onions, carrots, and garlic sauteed first. Wine to deglaze. Add water, lot of water. The chicken in its wire mesh cage. Wait for it to boil. Up here, longer than normal. An hour or so of simmering, then a package of frozen peas and one of frozen corn. Another ten minute. Retrieve the chicken, set it out to cool. Later, pick the meat from the bones. Put it in the soup. A lot of standing.

Got a lie down while the soup boiled, but it didn’t prove very restful. Back at the stove I finished the soup. At that point, time to go to Golden. About a 40 minute drive there, 40 minutes back. Dropped off the soup, 18 cups of it plus matzo balls. Back home to let Kate out. On the road right away to CBE. Spent a couple of hours there, getting food ready, talking to the kids as they came in. This was a first semester review. That went ok.

When Irene came to lead the dreams workshop, I left to go Aurora. This was at 5:00 pm. After a brutal hour and twenty minutes, I was in the gallery, talking to Jon about his new work. When I hit the big traffic on 6th street, congestion that lasted all the way across the city, my body began to resist what I was doing. I got sleepy, inattentive, restless. Just wanted to go home. Felt miserable. Wasn’t even close to my destination. Denver does not have a way to travel from east to west, west to east without encountering either dense urban traffic, or dense, worse freeway traffic on I-70. At 5 pm, that missing artery makes the lives of any one going either way awful.

exhaustedI’m not describing this well. I was a runner in a marathon. My resources had tapped out around 5 pm. As I got onto 6th street going east past Santa Fe, I hit the wall. Still had to cross Denver, get into Aurora, see Jon, then Maria’s. By the time I pulled out of the Stanley Marketplace parking lot, empanadas steaming in their cardboard box, I had half the marathon to finish. But I was already finished. My bed, however, was over an hour away, 45 miles, the first 20 miles back across the Denver metro. No choice.

Leaving Highway 6 going west, merging onto I-70, then 470, I began to wonder if I was going to make it home. My attention was split between fatigue and the road. At 72 there are many parts of driving that are essentially automated. They took over. I tried to remind myself to watch that car ahead, find the Fairplay exit, slow down in Morrison. It felt like I was carrying the car up the hill toward Shadow Mountain.

Kate, bless her heart, cleaned up most of the kitchen, something that was weighing on me. Get home, beyond exhausted, and clean up? OMG. Usually I clean up right away but the time frame of the day made that impossible. She’s doing better, not gaining weight yet, but she’s willing to pitch in now and again. This time it really mattered.

This morning I’m still bushwhacked, wrung out, sleepy, but I finished the marathon and slept in my own bed. A good start. Read a Harvard Business Review article, Resilience is not about enduring; it’s about recharging. That’s my job today, maybe tomorrow. Recharge.

What next?

Winter                                                                          Waxing Moon

Wednesdays have a tendency to get busy. Today, for example. Make soup, eat some, deliver the rest. Drive Kate back home and myself over to CBE for religious school. At 5 pm Irene will do a class on dreams. I’d love to stay for it; but, when she comes, I’m leaving and heading over to Aurora for Jon’s opening. Looking forward to seeing his new prints. As I’ve mentioned before, Aurora (the sun rises first on the Denver metro in Aurora) is almost as far away as the airport. Drive home, then. This is retired busy, of course, with much more choice involved than obligation.

Monday was 4 months since Kate’s bleed and subsequent hospitalization. Weight gain still eludes her, possibly because shortness of breath, waking up nauseated (some days), lack of stamina, and her dry mouth from Sjogren’s Syndrome make eating a chore, a have-to, not a want-to. Whatever it is, we both feel stuck, wheels spinning on the icy surface of recovery. Not sure where we go from here; but, it’s life; so, moving forward even without clear direction.

Gertie’s healing up from her latest experience as a pin-cushion for Kep’s canines. She’s still a little down, a little sore, but she’s up and moving around. Dogs typically don’t linger over insults. Look at all the tripods. Kep has no remorse, that’s part of not lingering over results. Rigel, our healthiest big dog ever, has developed a strange habit. She eats some out of her bowl, walks away from her food to the glass in the outside door, looks outside, then returns to eating. This may happen a couple of times in a feeding.

After a mussar friend did a short riff on responsibility, I began to wonder about my role here. Her husband died of a lingering illness, took months. She says, “I look back and am certain my husband and I would have fared better had I interpreted my responsibility as being his wife rather than his nurse (just commenting in broad strokes).” She went on about a party. “I recently hosted a large party and, in contrast to my usual MO, relinquished some of the logistics in favor of engaging and having fun with my guests; to a person, each told me it was the best ever.”  And she finished, “It makes me reconsider the languages of love:  gifts, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch.”

Am I really doing what I need to be doing? I’ve emphasized cooking, laundry, some cleaning up, grocery shopping, being present with Kate at the hospital, rehab center, doctor’s appointments, taking care of the dogs, other home related chores. Am I replacing doing with graceful being? Not an either or. The domestic chores have to get done, but am I not husbanding enough? This is not an abstract question. It’s present to me right now. Do I need to learn new languages as my friend suggest?

These are difficult questions that every couple has to answer throughout their marriage. Illness can make them fraught.






Winter                                                                              Waxing Moon

kate 1200Kate’s wanting to get out and not just visits to medical facilities. Her stamina has improved some, she’s eating more. She’s still in the 80-82 zone, but I’m looking forward to her cracking 83. Then up from there. She’s laughing and smiling, things I didn’t see often over the last three months. Enjoying these moments. Both of us.

My Jewish Studies January event is past. My solo act as teacher of the 6th and 7th graders was yesterday. Both of these, the Jewish Studies and the religious school class weighed on me. In both cases I had the full responsibility for them and that old bugger, what if things don’t go well and what can I do to take make sure that they do syndrome. Not a bad thing under normal circumstances, even ordinary, but in these two instances I felt exposed, reluctant. I suppose it was garden variety anxiety, but it clouded my days for a week plus.

Tara teaching Hebrew with my class

Tara teaching Hebrew with my class

When I went to H-Mart with SeoAh, I picked up ingredients for an Israeli salad. I had collected stories of loving-kindness, made a plan for using them. When I got to CBE, the vegetable dicer came out, a knife from the drawer and I got to slicing and dicing. Red pepper. Crunch. Whack. Roma tomatoes. Deseed, cut. Whack. Crunch. Persian cucumbers. Garlic. Parsley. Whack. Whack. Whack. A little olive oil, some lemon juice, a bit of mint. Toss. All the time I was talking to Leslie, a retired architect and city planner. She wanted to know how Kate was doing. The conversation veered to art. Leslie’s a docent at D.A.M., the Denver Art Museum. She offered to sponsor me when the next docent class comes up.

The kids began to come in. Isaac and his brother from the charter school up the hill. Sam from gymnastics. They trickled in, signing their names in Hebrew as an attendance check. Ryan, always on Ryan, came in with his mischievous smile. Robbie, tall Robbie. Charlie Mulvihill, whose bar mitzvah is on the 16th of February. Gwen. Liya. Jordan and Adam. Aaron. Gabe, who keeps bees with his dad, Dan.

Ryan, Tara, Liya

Ryan, Tara, Liya

The class went well. The kids were attentive during a discussion of loving-kindness. I read stories of kindness from within the Jewish tradition and asked them to match me story for story. Soon they were pulling out stories from movies, books, their personal lives. Several mentioned Hunger Games. Witness. Wonder. One girl bought her sister a toy her sister couldn’t afford. Another gave $20 he’d received for toys to a homeless man. Tara, the director of religious education, then came in and did a Hebrew class on chesed, loving-kindness, reinforcing what we’d experienced from stories.

At 5:30, we start at 4 and finish at 6, they’d been so responsive, I suggested we play games. These are 6th and 7th graders and they have a lot of energy. They come to religious school directly from school so they’ve also been behaving all day. Fortunately we have the whole carpeted social hall for our class. We played (yes, I got down on the floor, thank you work outs) duck, duck, goose. Statue. And zap, the rules of which I never understood. At 6 they weren’t ready to leave.

My point in recounting this is to say why I continue to do these things. They bring such joy, if I can manage my anxiety. Which I usually can. With a little help from Zoloft, years of analysis, and a generally positive disposition. It’s a balance, taking responsibility and living a retired life. It can, and does, get out of whack like it has for me recently. When other matters keep up a drumbeat of stress and vigilance, the teeter totter can suddenly take a dive.

A good class, for example, reminds me why I put myself out there. Sheer joy.


Let It Be

Winter                                                                        Waxing Moon

h-mart sashimiOver to the second H-Mart with SeoAh yesterday. This one is smaller than the one in Aurora, but is much better organized. It’s more like a US supermarket though with very different stock. The Aurora H-Mart is more like an Asian market. I love the produce, the array of seafood, and whole cold storage displays filled with things I can’t identify. As you might expect, there is also an amazing range of sushi, sashimi, (left) noodles, soy sauces, frozen dumplings, other prepared foods like soups and sauces. The beef is all Kobe beef, wagyu, but raised in the U.S.

At the checkout I said to the cashier, “You have to be able to recognize a lot of different produce items. Do they train you?” “Yes, we have two weeks of training.” She smiled. They have parsley, garlic, onions, sure, but also rambutan, dragon fruit, jack fruit, many varieties of mushroom, persimmons, young coconut, bok choy. I’m going to get over there once a month since I’m beginning to understand how SeoAh cooks. It’s straightforward but requires ingredients you can’t find at King Sooper. (Krogers)

I enjoy the time with SeoAh. Her English has improved so much. We had Pho for lunch, one of her favorites.

relaxCousin Diane wrote a “why don’t you slow down some, just be for a while?” e-mail. Interesting. When I had no choice, during Kate’s first hospitalization, I did prune out many things, but that was necessity. Daily trips into Swedish or Brookdale, occasionally more than one, left me too exhausted to do much more. My friend Mark Odegard made a similar comment on Sunday during our Zoom session. “Your life is always complex, lots going on.” Also interesting because Mark’s got a lot going on, too, but he sees my life, perhaps as Diane did, as having more going on than is necessary.

Gonna chew on this one. No question that I keep many balls in the air: novels, painting, teaching, cooking, housework, grocery shopping, canine care, exercise, writing this blog. Why, you might ask? That’s the part I need to chew on. Partly it’s a sense of responsibility, not just to Kate and our marriage, our home, but also to that ground-in cultural norm of living up to your potential. Yes, even at 72. Still. Another part, and I picked this up from Elisa in our first session on my birth chart, may be numbing. One way to avoid the feelings involved in this crazy period, or, if not avoid, attenuate is to distract myself. Since I no longer drink, having a lot of things going on is, can be, a socially acceptable equivalent. I do have an addictive personality so numbing is native to my personality.

I would like a rest. Just not sure how to go about getting one. Maybe when Mark and Tom come out next week we can talk that through.

Tah for now. Gotta get back to work. Ha.


Winter                                                                          Waxing Moon

Dull Knife.Sharp Knife, William Wegman (American, born 1943), Gelatin

Dull Knife/Sharp Knife, William Wegman (American, born 1943), Gelatin

A dull glaze coats my mind. Not all the time, but some. Forgetting things. Urgency softened, what to do next unclear. Forgot Deborah was doing the meditation at Jewish Studies. Slower at prepping for my Wednesday class. No painting. No writing. Drifting. Even with SeoAh and Murdoch’s energy infusing the house. Don’t like it, but it goes with the steady beat down of uncertainty, of traumas large and small. Yesterday, for example, I sat down in my reading chair, closed my eyes for just a minute. Woke up an hour and a half later. I’m getting good sleep at night.

We need good news unalloyed with hesitation or new symptoms. Though I feel Kate’s beginning to recover, she’s not gained weight. She had three days with nausea unrelated to eating. She sleeps several hours at night and naps often. I suppose chronic illness puts this patina on any couple after an extended time.

A friend from mussar has a vicious, rare degenerative disease called multiple systems atrophy, MSA, in its end stage. Another CBE friend is in the middle of seventeen weeks of chemo for cancer. Yet another is still recovering from a fall that broke her femur. Another CBE friend cared for her husband for several months until he died. We’re not alone. This is the present.

advantage rope-wood-old-natureEven as I write this I can feel it lifting. Writing can be therapy, taking what’s inside, putting it outside where its outline clarifies, where it doesn’t rattle around contaminating the rest of the mind. There’s a stress element. There’s also an oh, I’ll just lean back and let things go past inertia. I can’t be on all the time. And, if I’m honest, I sometimes hit this slump without any outside influence.

Maybe it’s melancholy, a low grade version. Whatever it is, I’m tired of it. Exercise helps a lot and I’m back to that. Writing helps, but I’m stuck there right now. New novel trying to come to life; Jennie’s Dead still incomplete. Submissions stalled. Had the painting time with Ruth, then stopped. I feel guilty about this since SeoAh’s here taking off the cooking load.

Going to regain my verve. How’s not exactly clear, but I’m going to. Sorry for the Debbie downer tone here, but it’s where I am right now.



Around Denver with Ruth and SeoAh

Winter                                                                           Stent Moon

New Year's Day

New Year’s Day

The last sliver of the stent moon.

A day out yesterday. Took Ruth and SeoAh over to Red Herring Arts only to discover that, in spite of their web page, they opened at 1 pm. Since they’re only open on Wednesdays during the week, that meant we’d have to give it a pass. Red Herring is on Colfax, a really long street that reminds me of Lake Street/Marshall in the Twin Cities. The western part of it, where Red Herring is, was once the Orthodox Jewish center of Denver. My friend Alan Rubin grew up there.

Now it’s filled with cheap motels: The Bunny Rabbit, The Swan, The Western, The Rocky Mountains, marijuana dispensaries, tattoo parlors, many Mexican restaurants. Casa Bonita, a Denver landmark known for its bad food and cliff divers, shares a wall with Red Herring. Casa Bonita advertised this Sunday in the Denver Post for cliff divers. I’ve not been, but someday.

We drove all the way into downtown Denver on Colfax, some miles. I love the transitions of these long, older streets. At one point we passed a Russian/Turkish bathhouse. Next to it was the Pleasure Palace.



As we neared Broadway we passed Civic Center Park. In a colonnade there Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist, has a set of bronze heads mounted on poles. They represent the Chinese zodiac.

At Broadway we headed south to Meiningers, Denver’s largest art supply store. Ruth’s working on a portrait of SeoAh and Murdoch in black and white, so I bought her some oil paint. I picked up a few things, too. A palette I can clean, unlike the wooden one I’ve been using. A few brushes, some paint and a color mixing guide. “You have to have one,” Ruth said. An expensive visit.

20190102_12550920190102_125513Next stop Stanley Marketplace. It’s one of many repurposed aviation buildings in Stapleton, a new urban development project on the site of the old Denver Stapleton Airport. SeoAh, Ruth, and I all love sushi and the Stanley has Misaki. We got ourselves a table and ordered. Two wooden serving platters later we were all full. I went next door to Maria’s Empanada’s and bought Kate, as requested, two mushroom empanadas. I also picked up a couple of italian sausage and beef empanadas, too. Dinner.

While I sat in a large open air lounge, Ruth and SeoAh went shopping. Jon lives nearby so we returned Ruth to his house and came back home. I find these outings take a lot of energy these days. Specifically these days in a nearly 72 year old body.

A good day. SeoAh had fun, got out of the house. Ruth picked up some supplies, so did I. And, we all had sushi. Better. We had a few hours to talk, cement bonds, build for the future.

It’s a New Day…

Samain                                                                       Thanksgiving Moon

stentWhat a remarkable turn things have taken here. After many -oscopies, endo, upper, lower, colon, small bowel follow through, a HIDA test, nuclear med search for bleeding, bowel surgery and even more doctor visits, finally, finally. A consensus. The superior mesenteric artery has sufficient stenosis, severe, to cause Kate’s symptoms. And, there’s a stent for that.

Maybe in two weeks time we’ll drive again to Swedish hospital, check Kate in, and Dr. Mulden, assisted by Dr. Kooy, will thread a catheter up her femoral artery, follow the branching to the superior mesenteric, take a right turn, then where the narrowing is deploy a mesh stent, opening up the blood flow. Sounds straight forward until you consider the size and delicacy of everything involved. Can you imagine pushing, very gently, a long wire through a very small pipe with soft walls? Turning where needed into even smaller pipes and at the right time releasing a small device, leaving it behind to cure? I can’t.

We drove to the radial imaging offices in the far east of the southern Metro. As we went, our appointment was at 7:30, the sky put on a magnificent display. Red clouds, lenticular clouds stacked like pagodas, bands of umber, ocher, pale yellow all backgrounded by blue-black sky. We both kept pointing, exclaiming. Aurora is a goddess of hope and newness, a fresh slate, a beginning. Just what we got. She has my devotion today.

Yesterday was a hair day with Kate getting her usual dye and Michelle Williams cut, me a close beard trim, eyebrows and hair. Wax on the stray hairs that pop up on our ears as we age. Jackie, the cosmetologist, is a sweetheart, a friend. We both looked our best for the interventional radiologists.

Found myself hesitant yesterday, tired, low energy. Canceled my time to get a new workout and stayed home. It was a good choice.



A Profound Week

Samain                                                                     Thanksgiving Moon

Bit of winter. 9 degrees here on Shadow Mountain this morning. No snow and little snow for us in the forecast. Though. Across the divide they’re getting good snow. Our snowpack is 119% of normal and way ahead of last year. Important data for so many people.

Friday and Saturday were more or less rest days. The week through Thursday night found me pretty damned tired. Worth it though. Gabe threw himself in my arms after his concert. Ruth leaned in for a hug as I left Swigert headed for home. Jon seems to have gained some important insight about himself and the reality of his situation. Kate learned the cause of her months long struggle with nausea and abdominal pain, weight loss. Enough for one week. Thanksgiving moon, indeed.

20181123_154009I’ve not been idle. Using some small, 5×7, canvases I’ve begun to use oil paints. My first effort is here. Doesn’t pop like I hoped it would. I have three more of these small canvases painted with an undercoat. One yellow, one sap green, and one violet. Trying color field painting. Mark Rothko is my favorite abstract painter, so I thought I’d see what I could make using him as my inspiration.

This is venturing into really unknown territory since I know little about oil paints, about oil paint brushes, how to make colors do what I want, canvas. Since I began messing around with sumi-e a while back, I’ve found myself wanting to extend myself, get way outside my comfort zone. A key motivation for me in all this is regaining some tactile work, hand work. When I was a gardener, a bee keeper, a domestic lumber jack, I got lots of opportunity to use my hands, to interact with the physical world. Since moving to the mountains, not so much after the fire mitigation work.

20181202_070637After 12 years as a guide and docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, art became an integral part of my life; yet, I’ve struggled to keep art in my life since moving to Colorado. The museums here are not compelling and driving down the hill takes time. Reading about art, looking at it online or in books has not given me the satisfaction I’ve searched for. Painting myself, which necessitates a look into art materials, theory, and careful looking at artists whose work I’d like to use as inspiration, may. I’m not there yet, but I’m having a hell of a lot of fun.

In addition to trying color field painting, I’m going to use the sumi-e ink and brushes to create bespoke Hebrew letters, astrology glyphs, and alchemical symbols. My work in the second kabbalah class, on the mystery and magic of Hebrew, prompted this. I found working with the symbols and letters directly gave me a way into understanding them. I’m also going to create mandalas.

I’ve also continued my reading about astrology. I continue to vacillate between the long time skeptic and the interested novice. Some of the writing is childish, even moronic. That puts me off. Then, though, there’s Tarnas and the Inner Sky by Steven Forrest. Archetypes, too, by Jung and Hillman. A new book on Jung and Astrology. Still trying to figure out my birth chart, how to read it, understand it. Lots to investigate here.

In spite of the various outside turbulence, or, perhaps because of it, these new areas of learning have helped keep me sane, eager. I’ll be at them for a while yet.


A Pivotal Week. Potentially.

Samain                                                             Thanksgiving Moon


Kate and the machine

This may turn out to be a pivotal week for our family. Jon’s coping well with the aftermath of his court hearing. And, ta dah, we have likely uncovered the reason for Kate’s problems with eating and weight loss. Stenosis of the superior mesenteric artery. Obviously not something you want, but now, after 18 months or so, we have a reason. And there are possible treatments, too.

This diagnosis came quickly. We went in yesterday morning for the imaging work. It was the ultrasound that found it. Dr. Rhee called in the afternoon.

If Jon and Kate can find ways to move on from their respective difficulties, life on the mountain will take on a different tone. And, a welcome one. In neither case is a positive outcome assured, but in my view both of them may have altered the direction of their lives. This week. Wow.

Yesterday evening I drove in to Swigert Elementary for Gabe’s 5th grade concert. The drive in is always an ordeal because Stapleton, the new urban neighborhood built on the grounds of the former Stapleton Airport, is all the way across metro Denver from the foothills. The concerts are at 6:00 pm which means driving on city streets during the height of rush hour. Big fun.

But, I made it just as the 5th graders filed into the gym and mounted the stage like scaffolding. After a drive of an hour and twenty minutes. Whew. I was there not only for Gabe, but for Jon who was prevented from going by a more restrictive version of the restraining order generated during his court hearing on Tuesday. I found a front row seat and Gabe saw me right away. They sang four songs, beginning with Bob Marley’s, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Given the new information I had the song went right into my heart.

The third song, the name of which I don’t recall right now, involved twenty fifth graders coming out front to do a short dance piece from the musical Hairspray. Swigert will put on Hairspray in the spring. They danced and in their movements, their eagerness, their smiles radiated the innocence, the possibility of childhood.

It was a surprisingly powerful moment for me as was the thought that came as I watched. “We’ve failed these kids.” Though that sentiment is true of all generations to some extent, the world we hope for for our kids is not the one we’ve created, in this case I meant it literally and profoundly. Climate change. These kids, 5th graders, are ten years old. If they live a normal life expectancy, let’s say 80 years for convenience, they will be alive in 2088. Here’s the problem in a single for instance: “Most cities might be too hot to host the summer Olympic Games after 2085 because of climate change, according to an analysis in The Lancet1.” Nature

This is what we’ve done, allowed to happen. They will, of course, be responsible for how they handle the challenges we’ve left them. Maybe they’ll do really well at adaptation and mitigation. Maybe not. In either case their world and ours will be so different as to be almost unrecognizable. We should all bow our heads in shame.