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.

Downsize?

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Ruth and Jon skiing. Gabe peeling potatoes. Kate getting Murdoch upstairs. The picker at King Sooper. Having Sunday free of workout. Cleaning off my table. Organizing and preserving my paintings. Kate paying the bills. Ruth. Murdoch.

My paintings. Whoa. Like my novels and my blog. I’ve done, I don’t know, twenty/thirty paintings since I began. A few end up in the trash because I can’t bear to look at them. A few are standing out so I can look at them, review what I like about them, don’t like. The rest I put between buffered paper and/or cardboard sheets yesterday. Not sure what I’ll do with them. My novels exist in printed form in file boxes and in their revisions on my computer.

Two million words of Ancientrails rest on Kate’s old medical school desk, two thousand plus pages printed out with the wrong margins for binding. Sigh. Going to a bookbinder for an estimate and to be told how or if, if I decide to, I should layout the page for printing myself. Might give them a memory stick with all on it. Or, that might be too expensive. We’ll see.

Gabe stayed here yesterday while Ruth and Jon went to A-basin. I asked Gabe to tell me one interesting thing he’d done last week. I haven’t done much. I did see movies. Oh? Which ones? Lots of them on the Disney Channel.

Clever folks, Disney. They priced their channel, at $6.99 a month, so a kid with an allowance might choose to purchase their own subscription. Both Ruth and Gabe have a subscription.

Stirring inside. Declutter, simplify. Downsize. Example. When we moved, I kept every file I made for my docent work at the MIA. Why? Wanted to keep art as central to my life as it was when I was there. Tried several different things, none worked. And, having the files hasn’t helped either. Out they go. I also want to clean up the filing system (?) in the horizontal file which will mean throwing out yet more files.

The bigger, harder question? What about the books? Is it time to downsize my library? I’m considering it.

Doubt it will stop my book buying. That’s a lifelong habit started, I think, with those book lists from the Scholastic Reader (something like that). Sheets with books, descriptions, and modest prices. We could pay for them at school, then they would come at some other point. Sorta like e-commerce. Oh, how I looked forward to the arrival of those books. I read them quickly, too. I graduated to buying comics and paperbacks at the Newsstand downtown.

My first serious kick was all the James Bond books. I bought them one or two at a time with my paper route money. Lots of others, too. I was also reading books from the Carnegie library, too.

Got into the habit of buying books that interested me, books that followed other books I’d read. Buying books. College was hard in that I passed by the bookstore every day in the Student Union. If I went in, I’d always come out with a book or two.

Later, bookstores. Joseph had been in most of the good book stores in the Twin Cities before he hit first grade. And, finally, Amazon. Oh, right here in my own loft. On my computer. What a great deal.

Over 60+ years I’ve bought a lot of books. My interests have waxed and waned, but the books purchased during my enthusiasms remain. A few: Celtic mythology, fairy tales, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, magic, Jungian thought. An ur religion focused on the natural world, not scripture. Literature of all sorts. Plays. Theology. Poetry. U.S. history. the Civil War. Art. Lake Superior. Latin and the classics. Religion.

Getting rid of them feels like betraying my curiosity. I might finish that book on the Tarot. That commentary on the Inferno? Maybe next year? What about that ecological history of Lake Superior? The work on reconstructing, reimagining faith?

Still, it feels like time to begin paring down. Will take a while. And be hard.

For each of the tags listed here, I have a small or large collection of books.

Stick to it

Winter and the Full Future Moon shining through the lodgepole pines in the west

Friday gratefuls: for the Mussar group. for the Daf Yomi, now day seven. for the chance to do the Murdoch mitzvah. for the fresh new snow. for the 12 degree weather, what they call here, Stock Show weather. for Black Mountain who watches over me from above. for Shadow Mountain who supports me from below. for the crazy people who go out on Evergreen Lake for ice-fishing. May there always be crazy people.

Kepler to the vet yesterday. No, not bites and rips from Murdoch’s teeth. Rashes and hot spots. Antibiotics and an increased prednisone load for a week or so. Dr. Palmini has lost weight and buffed up. When I asked him if he would go to the Iditarod this year. The jury’s still out, he said. It’s a long time to be gone. But, it’s fun, isn’t it? Well, some of it, but when you get up at 3 am…? He goes as a volunteer vet for the sled dogs in the race. Lots of Iditarod memorabilia on the walls of his practice.

Back to HIIT workouts for cardio. Hi intensity interval training. A new one. Slow, 90 seconds. Fast as possible, 6mph for me, 30 seconds. Repeat four times then 3 minute cool down. I increased the number of intervals and the incline, from 1% to 2%, this week. Intervals are the best workout for cardio and they take a shorter time period that most cardio workouts.

Mussar. Got caught out nodding like I understood something that was said. Had to admit it, because the conversation expected me to say something about I’d already said. Everybody laughed when I told them. First time I can recall being caught in this oh, so usual gambit of not only me, but all folks hard of hearing. Gotta work on the ear wax thing. Seems to bother my hearing aid a lot.

The quality of the day, see Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities, was perseverance. A lot of discussion, an amusing number of examples about math, not unusual in a group with literary inclinations. Perseverance is in my toolkit.

Mostly. I can write novels. Start and finish them. Not easy, often taking over a year. I did not persevere so well with marketing them, though. I enjoy, as I said a few posts back, long books, long movies, long tv series. I can start all of these and finish them. Think War and Peace, Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Fairie Queen, Faust, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 10 Commandments, the Irishman, Gone with the Wind. And, Resurrection: Ertugrul. I’m finally in the fifth and last season. It only has 88 episodes.

I can make a commitment and stick to it for years, a lifetime. One of my youthful commitments was to keep reading difficult material. Stay political. College. Keep asking the fundamental questions and don’t shy away from difficult answers. Never work in a setting that compromises your values. Kate, now for over 30 years. The Woollies, about the same. Joseph, now going 39 years. Exercise, since my forties.

When I didn’t persevere, marketing and college German being the ones that come to mind, it was out of fear, I think. Fear is not a guide, it’s a caution, but I let myself get stuck in its glue at least those two times and I regret it. Anxiety grows along with fear and fear increases the anxiety. As I’m learning to be easier with myself, I’ll give myself an “I’m sorry to hear that, but you’re ok now.” bit of self-talk.

Artistes

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: (I like this practice, so I’m going to continue it for awhile. Maybe keep it here.) Being with Ruth yesterday. Going to Meininger’s Art Supply with her. The stuff in Meininger’s. Stanley Market Place. Maria’s Empanadas. Coming home to the mountains after driving in the city. The bare rock on Berrian Mountain. The flocked trees.

Took Ruth to Red Herring Art Supply. Again. Seoah was with us the last time. Like last time, it was closed. The holidays. We drove along Colfax, “the longest street in the U.S. that doesn’t turn into a highway,” she said. Makes me think of Lake Street. Colfax runs through several ethnically diverse neighborhoods and changes its character as it does. Near its ends, west and east, are old tourist motels now the cheaper equivalent of SRO’s.

We took it into downtown Denver, turned right at the State Capitol Building, and followed Broadway to Meininger’s, Colorado’s primary art supply store. Ruth educated me again. Explaining the use of mediums for oil paints, why she likes synthetic brushes, and a type of paper on which you can do oil painting.

We bought some of that paper, a small bottle of medium, and some brushes. The next time she comes we’ll cut up some of the paper into sizes she would like to use.

The ancientrail of art is not only for the gifted. Making things with our hands is a primary human act, from houses to Space Shuttles, quilts to sculptures. When creating objects that reflect our inner life, make the world beautiful, show and enhance our ability to see, we expand our own life.

We got Gabe a Chromebook for Hanukah, a very low end, yet still useful laptop. Jon predicted he would be, “very happy.” After he opened it up, Gabe said, “I’m so happy.” Sometimes grandparents are the wish genie.

We both have concerns about Jon. Still. He inherited depressive genes from the Johnson line, maybe the Olsons, too. Very bright, creatively gifted, incredibly self sabotaging. And, 51. I hope in this next decade he can find the traction he needs.

His art is wonderful, colorful and conceptual, using old smashed metal pieces he finds along the road as objects to print. His grasp of politics, of the workings of his school, of home renovation is keen. When he’s not down, he’s a lot of fun. He skis and makes his own skis.

Tough, very tough, situation.

A Nocturne

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

A note on hope. Been working with the idea of hope for our next mussar class on Thursday. Painting it. Not sure about the piece I’ve done, but I’m sure about the process that got me there.

Hope. Hmm? John Desteian, my Jungian analyst of many years, used to say, “Don’t get me started on hope!” What is about hope that got him riled up? I don’t remember. Wish I did. But ever since I’ve had a skeptical attitude toward hope.

Biggest issue with hope? It puts the self into the future, takes it away from the present. At least the usual senses of it. I hope I graduate from high school. I hope I’ll meet a guy. I hope I’ll get better someday. I hope Trump will disappear from the White House.

Hope doesn’t matter. What matters is the action you’ll take right now based on your values. I want to learn something. I don’t say, I hope I’ll know more Latin in the future. I say, how do I find somebody to teach me Latin. I hope I graduate from high school. Go to class, do the work, keep your grades up. All stuff to do in the now.

Hope might even cause you to distort your values in its name. I hope I’ll graduate from high school. I need good grades. Sally writes good papers, maybe I can get her to do mine for me.

Hope by itself is evanescent, a wisp, perhaps at best a distraction from whatever doesn’t exist now that you hope will exist in the future.

But what about such big hopes as freedom? If I’m in a Trump concentration camp, doesn’t it make sense to hope for release? No. You need to figure out what concrete steps you can take right now. I want to be free and here’s what I’m willing to do about it is a very different statement from I hope to be free from here.

So the painting. I began imaging a bright light, perhaps an area of cadmium yellow and titanium white somewhere in the upper left. A bank of darkness, ivory black or a deep shade of blue, would dominate the bottom and strands of lighter colored pigments would snake up from it, never quite reaching the light. It would be just out of reach.

I kept the bank of black, made the dominate color cerulean blue, and added rectangles of orange, egyptian violet, cerulean blue, and phthalo green. At the end of the painting, I accidentally created swirls in the blue background and added them throughout the background.

Not sure whether this relates to the first idea at all. Probably not. In fact, I may start tomorrow morning and work on the earlier idea. Not sure why I didn’t use it. Oh, well. I like the second, finished one, but it really doesn’t go very far toward the idea of hope, bah humbug.

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Friday gratefuls. Deb and Dave at On the Move Fitness. Seoah’s life joy. The inventor of kettlebells. Treadmills. dumbbells. Television. The transformer. The circuit board. The CPU. Software. Sputnik. Laika. Koko. Any random elephant, giraffe, lion, hyena, rhino, cheetah, zebra, hippo. All of them.

Back to the future. New workout from On the Move. Stepup. TRX pushup. TRX row. Kettlebell one arm shoulder press. Quadraped with a three second hold. Reverse crunch circles. Bridge hold. Step and hold, balance. Deb recommended high intensity cardio for the COPD. Did them up until the radiation started in June. I’ll get back to them, slowly.

She pointed out that the COPD will make me feel fatigued. Oh, yeah. Sarcopenia from aging and sarcopenia from lupron, too. No wonder I’m feeling like that guy on the back of the comic book. You know, the one getting sand kicked in his face? Not much to do but keep exercising, wait for the lupron to drop away. Maybe June of next year.

The Mayans considered the last 5 days of the year as useless days. I used to take that week and do a research project on something of interest to me. Now I’m going to expand that time to December and this year I choose painting. I will poke around in color theory, mixing paints, continuing to paint using shades of intense blue as background. Composition, too. I’ll take Ruth to Meiningers art supply store. Might pick up some new Princeton brushes, some new Williamsburg paints.

Then, there’s the issue of the next decade. The 20’s. Whoa. I’ve lived well into the future. But. Where’s my time traveling Delorian? My transport portal? My brain implants? Why haven’t I met a cyborg yet? You know, like from this year’s Blade Runner.

For the first time I’ve considered whether I’ll live out the decade. Hardly impossible. I’d just have to reach 83 and I know two guys that have already made that or very close to it. Frank’s already there. Bill will be on April 8th. But, who knows? Of course, dying is always possible, but with cancer and copd, my clock may have sped up.

If I knew I would die in the next decade, what would I do differently? Anything? Not sure. I’d like to travel more. See more of Colorado. Make it to Taipei and see the National Museum. Paint more. Write more books. But I already do those things. Love more. Laugh more. Again, not new. Maybe it will be the proportion of those things. Or, maybe something new will appear. Whatever happens, it will be the 2020’s! Buck Rogers time.

Late, late night.

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Off to Brave Alice in Wonderland last night. Ruth’s 8th grade play. She gets her head chopped off and plays a bishop. My kinda gal. It meant we didn’t get home until almost 8:15.

Boy. Am I outta shape on the nightlife thing. (and, I know. 8:15’s not really late, is it?) It is to my body. Slept in till almost 8:30 am. Made me feel loggy, lazy. Just got up here to the loft at 10:15. About 5 hours later than usual.

Weird happenstance. Apparently Denver has two middle schools named MauCaliffe and they are in with in 2.5 miles of each other. Guess which one I went to first? Yep.

Seoah, who’d never heard of Alice in Wonderland, let alone the middle school adaptation, enjoyed herself thoroughly. She made grilled cheese sandwiches and sliced apples for us since we had to go in early. 4:00 pm for 6:00 pm performance. Getting through Denver between 4 and 6 pm is a slow crawl.

Another weird thing. Seeing all the Christmas lights in Denver, a lot, from outside the Christmas veil. I live somewhere the Winter Solstice, Hanukah, and the ghosts of Christmas past. The only December holiday I fully own now is the Solstice. The darkness, the solitude, the longest night on top of Shadow Mountain with Black Mountain rising to our west.

On the Move Fitness has a treadmill out of service so I’m doing my warmup here, then leaving for my 11 am appointment. Gotta hit the belt.

Always Something to Celebrate

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Thursday (Thanksgiving) gratefuls: Annie, who came yesterday. The snow on Tuesday. The capon that gave its life for our meal. The winds that howl through the forests this morning. Orion, faithful friend and his good dog, Canis Major. The folks who designed and built our Rav4’s, especially Ruby, whose AWD makes her surefooted. Those who care for them at Stevinson Toyota. And, on this day in particular, for all those who sustain traditions and holidays, moments out of ordinary time.

I asked brother Mark and sister Mary what Thanksgiving, a very American holiday, looks like in lands Asian and Arab. Mark said Thanksgiving probably got celebrated in Aramco compounds. Here’s Mary’s reply from Singapore:

The big hotels serve Thanksgiving dinner & it needs to be reserved way in advance; Brits have Christmas dinner which is also involves Turkey so food is authentic- with all the trimmings- here Halloween and St Patrick‚Äôs Day☘️are also widely celebrated- in addition to Asian festivals- so pretty much there is always something to celebrate

Mary has made this comment, always something to celebrate, before. When I visited Singapore for the first time in 2004, I was there the first week of November. Christmas decorations lined Orchard Road, the big commercial street. It was also U.S. election week, so the American Club had a big breakfast spread so we could watch the returns live. You know how that turned out. We weren’t celebrating. (though right now GW Bush looks like a political genius)

These paled in comparison to the Arab quarters celebration of post-fast Ramadan. We found shisha smokers lounging on the sidewalks and had a good Arab meal, probably lamb and rice, but I don’t recall.

Little India had a huge arc of lights over its main road marking the holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights, also underway. There were stalls selling sweets, Diwali lights, and Hindu related religious artifacts. I bought a Kali medallion, a Vishnu and Shiva medallion. We had a vegetarian meal in a Tamil restaurant where we ate with our hands. Our right ones.

Not sure whether it was Diwali related or not, but much later that night, in the early a.m., Mary and I went to the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, Sri Mariamman Temple, built in 1827. According to the Temple’s website the firewalking was on October 20th this year.

Due to changes in population over time it happens to sit now in the midst of Chinatown. There were lines blocks long of men in various sorts of clothing, all holding branches of some kind and, if I recall correctly, lemons or limes. At the very end of these line were a few women.

I stopped to talk with some of the women. “Oh, yes. Now we can go to the firewalking, too. But they didn’t want us. We insisted.” This was about 3 am or so. Mary and I walked along the lines of devotees waiting for their turn.

We got to the temple and watched folks walk across the bed of coals, then into a milk bath, and finally into the arms of priests and fellow firewalkers. The moist night air, the early morning quiet, and this strange (to my eyes) sight is a special memory for me. Afterward, Mary and I had Chinese food at a big hotel.

Ramadan, Diwali, Christmas, firewalking, and the American election. It was my introduction to Asia and underlines Mary’s there’s always something to celebrate.

Monet

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Kate and I went to see the Monet exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art. First outing for Kate in quite a while. Lesley, a fellow mussarite, architect and art historian, led the tour as a DMA docent.

Christoph Heinrich, director of the DMA, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Monet and used his scholarly contacts as well as his museum world contacts to organize this show with a fellow Monet scholar from Potsdam, Germany. It has 120 paintings by Monet that show the development of his unique, impressionist style over a period of years.

Leslie had a knowledgeable presentation, for which she had many notecards. The exhibit draws big crowds and the museum supplied ear pieces and a receiver. Leslie stood back and spoke to us through her headset while we looked at the paintings. Could have used this technology in several exhibits at the MIA.

The DMA has a different docent style than the MIA. The docent explains, gives facts and interpretations. The way it used to be everywhere, I believe. The MIA requires the docent to engage tour participants with questions about each work, questions that help them draw their own conclusions, that force them to look and learn for themselves. There’s a place for both styles, imo.

There were some beautiful pieces, some ordinary works that showed Monet working out what he wanted to paint, many showing early experimentation with putting colors next to each other and letting the eye merge them into the color Monet saw as he painted. There were no real show stoppers in the exhibit however. I imagine the cost of getting several haystacks, several Rouen cathedrals (there were none), and the large water-lilly works like hang at the Chicago Art Institute was too much.

While a docent at the MIA, I became friends with the registrar, a position little know outside the museum world. The registrar crew handles the art works, moving them, hanging them, indexing them with the museums cataloging protocols. From him I learned about the intricacies of putting an exhibit together.

Most museums require that works over a certain value, I believe it was two-hundred and fifty thousand at the MIA, are never out of sight of one of their employees. An employee travels on the plane with them, observing them be loaded and removed.

I remember he told me (can’t recall his name) a story about a painting being flown to Australia for an exhibition there. He agreed to go with the painting, but due to his workload, he flew there with it, watched it get unloaded and shipped to the museum, then turned around and got back on a plane to Minneapolis. A long, long time in the air.

Given Monet’s prices at auction I would guess most, if not all, of his many paintings exceed the value limit of the MIA. That would be a lot of insurance, shipping, and travel costs.

Found myself fascinated with his brushwork, color choices. I’ve not spent much in museums or galleries since I started painting. Made me want to start going again to inform my own work.

Mundane

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Stayed out late Tuesday, for us past 8 pm. Makes the next day slow. Tried to get into the resistance work, couldn’t. Muscles complained. Did thirty minutes on the treadmill.

In to see my ophthalmologist. (spelling gets me every time) Glaucoma check. Every six months for over 20 years. Now every 4 months. The usual. Eye charts. A small glass instrument pressed against the pupil to check pressures, 16 and 14. Scan of the retinal nerve. Mine’s still abnormal. Has been for as long as they’ve been following me.

Stopped by Tony’s market. Picked up a few things. Cooked supper. The end of the day.

Big day. I’m meeting Alan to go over our bagel table plan for Saturday morning. The Dandelion again in Evergreen. Slippery roads this am, freezing drizzle. Driving freezing drizzle down the mountains can be challenging. The Blizzaks went on Ruby last Friday and she has all wheel drive.

At 12:45 we’re meeting Steve and Jamie at the Staples parking lot. We’re going to a CBE tour of the Monet show at the Denver Art Museum, a four hundred object exhibit arranged by a curator at the Denver Art Museum. This is its only stop. Looking forward to it.

This evening we have MVP, the mussar vaad practice group. Had to be moved from Tuesday due to the shiva at Steve and Jamie’s.

That’s a lot of moving parts for us in one day. Good ones, yes, but still a lot.