Brown Eyes Blue

Imbolc and the waning Shadow Mountain Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Staff at the Burn clinic where Kate’s fingers will go through rehab. Jon’s improvement overnight. A clean refrigerator. Birthday present from Seoah. As well as the holiday meal with sweet potato noodles. Joe’s call. Kate. Always Kate.

A bit of weirdness at the DMV on Thursday. Got there at 7:20 am. My goal, no one there. I was the first. Improbably, with at least three clerks behind the long l-shaped desk that followed the skating rink sized room’s south and west sides and no one else waiting the receptionist said, “Have a seat and your number will be called.” I rolled my eyes.

The clerk nearest me motioned me over. Now, that made sense. A pleasant young woman, maybe early thirties. Cafe au lait skin and bouncy, frizzy hair.

“What are you here to do?” “Renew my license.”

“OK. Last four letters of your social.” I gave them to her.

“What color are your eyes?” “What do you think?”

“Blue,” she said. I nodded. My eyes, my dark brown eyes. No more. For a while the color has been fading leaving me with blue surrounding a shrinking circle of brown. For the next five years, from now on, I have blue eyes. Wow.

Then, “What color is your hair?” Reflexively, “Brown.” She nodded. My hair, now all gray, hasn’t been brown for years, but my brain doesn’t remember. I don’t see it often enough to remember, I guess.

My new license says blue eyes, brown hair. Who is this guy?

They took my picture. My new photo looks like I had a stroke during my renewal. Oh, well. Only five years to a new one. Wonder what colors I’ll have at 77?

Benson Pulikkottil, a hand surgeon, looked at Kate’s fingers. He repaired them a week ago yesterday. They looked good, he said. I found this news story about his work on a man whose face got ripped off by a grizzly bear.

We drove up Broadway from Swedish to St. Joseph’s. Jon is there. He looked and sounded good, chastened by the scare he had Thursday night. I believe this high blood sugar incident may shock him into getting back to good self care. I hope so.

Seoah cleaned the refrigerator for my birthday. It needed it. Looks great. She also made a Korean holiday dish. Very sweet. Talked to Joe, recovering from another week in classes in Singapore. Still no resolution for Murdoch, but we’re all working on it.


Imbolc and the waning Shadow Mountain Moon

Friday gratefuls: For a return to my orbital goal post. Murdoch, bouncy and happy yesterday at Bergen Bark Inn. The Village Gourmet., maybe a solution. Chocolate rocks. Jon made it to the E.R.

Moving from the bewildering and sad to the chaotic and absurd. Jon called about 10 last night from the Emergency Room. Yes, really. He’s been sick since last week and that screws up a diabetic’s response to insulin. His blood sugar got very high. He called an ambulance and had himself transported to E.R. He was afraid of dying.

We waited on his lab tests. Don’t yet know what they showed, but the docs transferred him to the hospital. We’ll see him today after Kate’s appointment with hand therapy and her surgeon. I know. Strains credulity, doesn’t it?

In other family news. Septuagenarian adds another year. Valentine’s day. Anti-climatic given recent happenings here, but there you are. The calendar ticks over despite events. 73 seems, unusual. Not sure why. An odd number. Perhaps a bit mystical: 7 and 3.

As I’m entering this phase of aging, the numbers seem to have less and less significance. Days, weeks, years. Artificial, like borders for nations. Irrelevant, too. I’m alive or not. In this moment, alive and typing.

Tom wondered in a recent e-mail about a name for our house. Our place in Andover was Seven Oaks after seven oak trees clustered on a small rise southeast of our home. In looking up matters related to Korean birthdays I found the name of the Korean mountain gods, Sansin. When I came to close on the house over Samain 2014 and on the day before I started radiation, mountain spirits visited me in the form of mule deer and elk bucks. So. Sansin. Full name, Honoring the Sansin of Shadow Mountain.

The Sansin of Shadow Mountain has blessed me through direct visitation twice. We belong here, in this place, on this mountain. I can feel the god’s presence, a massive bulking, a dense collection of ohr on which we have our home. Becoming native to this place.


Imbolc and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Ted, who plowed our driveway early. The snow. Temps below zero. Almost a Minnesota June afternoon. Delicious meal last night, SeoAh. (Spring onions, enoki mushrooms, eggplant and thinly sliced, fried beef.) Not having to watch Murdoch. A weird short TV series about teens and Norwegian myth: Ragnarok.

When I picked up SeoAh at DIA on Sunday, it was 74. This morning we have over 6 inches of fresh snow and the temp is -2 on Shadow Mountain.

When I sit on the bench with Kate, hugging her, my heart leaps. Yes, she’s bony, her s-shaped spine protrudes and her ribs are palpable, but she’s over a hundred pounds now. She moves with much less effort and her pencil is still sharp for crosswords.

We’ve come to a new place, an appreciation for the fragility of our bodies tempered by the constancy of our love. Two years in we smile and laugh a lot. We plan for the future. Enjoy meals together. Care for the dogs together.

The snow comes down and its beauty is sweet. The occasional deer and elk in our yard are thank you gifts from the mountain spirits. Our house is bright and cheerful. We live in the Rockies and on Shadow Mountain.

Murdoch has proved a pain in the elbow and wrist, but his eagerness, his teen dog energy, his love, like Kepler, of the snow makes him a joy, too. Everything is polyvalent.

Before she left Singapore for Colorado, SeoAh told Joe she was going home. “Your home is here,” he said. “No,” she said, “I have two homes. One here and one in Colorado.” She will come back at least three more times for a month. She is our daughter.

Here’s the takeaway. No matter the challenges our perspective on them is up to us. We can become drowned in a sea of troubles, resenting misfortune, or we can learn how to surf.

This Rumi poem is a gift from Paul Strickland:

Love Dogs by Rumi

One night a man was crying Allah! Allah!

His lips grew sweet with praising, until a cynic said, “So! I’ve heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that. He quit praying and fell into a
confused sleep. He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,in a
thick, green foliage.

“Why did you stop praising?”

“Because I’ve never heard anything

“This longing you express is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the

There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.

Asia in Colorado

Imbolc and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Monday gratefuls: SeoAh. H-Mart. The pan-Asian experience of H-Mart. Inventor of the jet engine. The Wright brothers. Joe. Ruby. The coming snow. Mt. Evans, our weathermaker. Altitude. Those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

Saw my buddies on the Zoom yesterday. Except for sleep challenged Mark. Did my check in, showed my wounded forearm, listened to brotherly advice about the Murdoch situation. Had to leave right after to drive out to Denver International.

Sunday morning, easy drive in spite of all the construction on I-70. Short term parking. Found SeoAh at carousel 11, her bag had just come. We hugged. She cut her hair. Looks nice.

Since H-Mart sits conveniently between DIA and Conifer, we made the obligatory trip there so SeoAh could stock up on groceries familiar to her. It’s huge. A warehouse with a grocery store, furniture, kitchenware, and cosmetics preferred by Asians. Plus a couple of small eating places.

Foods not familiar to Hoosier eyes dominate. Dried persimmons that looked like big mushroom caps, live flounder, kimchi cabbage, kimchi green onions, frozen bags of pot stickers, mochi ice cream, bags of oyster flavored ramen. All colorful, stacked neatly in spite of the many shoppers.

Here’s a Chinese woman investigating the bok choy. A Filipino man following his wife with the grocery cart. An Indian man buying a bag of basmati rice. Up near the front are pallets of 25 and 50 pounds sacks of rice. Our checkout clerk, Armenian, gave me a verbal recipe for dolma. This is probably the most international spot in all of the Denver metro.

After shopping, we went to the Pho restaurant across the parking lot. We’ve eaten there before. SeoAh loves pho. “Pho in Singapore is awful. I’m so glad to have American pho.” Ha. We were catching up. She saw my wounds and shook her head, “Murdoch.”

Derek sent me a text while we were driving. He wanted to come in the yard and get some more wood. He was here Saturday. I was gonna help him, but had to take Kate over to Ed Smith’s office. He’s cutting up previously downed trees into six foot or so logs, then carrying them to his house. Not easy. Logs are heavy. Symbiotic. We need to get rid of the wood; Derek needs to burn it.

When Murdoch smelled SeoAh under the kitchen door, his whole body quivered. He jumped up on the glass, whined. She came out and they had a sweet reunion, like in those videos of vets returning home to their dogs. He licked her, twisted, jumped up, smiled. A big, big smile.

“We’ll fix it,” she says. I hope so. Relieved and happy that she’s here.

A lot of driving over the last three days: into Denver Friday for dinner with Jon, over to Ed Smith’s office on Saturday, out to DIA for SeoAh yesterday.

Apropos of nothing but weirdness: It was 74 in Denver yesterday. Tomorrow morning the low up here will be around -6. Plus snow.

Just Another Saturday

Imbolc and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Sunday gratefuls: SeoAh. What a treasure in our lives. I pick her up around eleven. The zoomguys: Paul, Tom, Mark, Bill. Old friends. Nothing better. Sundays. Still a restful day, a quasi-sabbath. Snow coming.

Last Saturday we went to the Porter Adventist E.R. (not sure it’s worthy of the name) to have Kate’s feeding tube replaced. The onsite doc did not want to do it, but decided, after consultation with Kate’s surgeon, Ed Smith, to go ahead. His first instinct was right. He put in the wrong size tube. Yesterday we went to see Ed. He’s going to slip a new one in on Monday or Tuesday.

When he saw Kate’s obvious progress, he beamed in his off-center way, head cocked to one side. He’d grown, like most folks do, to appreciate Kate. He asked for a hug before we left. Ed gives a damn. May his kind flourish.

5 days with no fights, no bites. OSHA sign in the room where we feed the dogs. Two Jeffco animal control officers came by for the 5 day check on Kepler’s health. Which is fine. We purchased a Colorado license for Murdoch from them. I knew where his shot records were. Kep got his new license last week.

The guy was big, solid, and young, looked ex-military. The woman with him was the trainee. She did the paperwork while he observed.

“I don’t believe I caught your name?” “Charlie.” “Officer Clark.”

Replaying this because his, “Officer Clark” took me by surprise. I realized then that titles are as much about distance as they are about honorifics. I’m Charlie, a citizen in his home. This was an Officer of the state. In this interaction he held the power, so he needed a gap between familiarity and his role.

They’ll be back on Thursday for the 10 day check on Kep, then he’ll be free. Of course, his freedom now has a check mark against it. Just read the Jeffco animal control ordinance. Not as bad as I feared. Vicious dogs are those who bite off the dog owner’s premises. On site, not vicious. Another report would not be good, but it would not be fatal, either.

We’ve had Kep here five years and he’s never been reported before. No bites to humans. I imagine that will continue.

SeoAh’s plane leaves San Francisco in 48 minutes. It will be a relief to have her here. I need the rest and we need to work out a new plan. Not sure what it will be right now.

Doggy Detention

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: The Apple repair store guy. The offensive line size guy at Broadway Motors who, after putting on black plastic gloves, got my chainsaw working. No charge. Jeffco animal control. Yes, really. Ruby, in whom I slipped through Denver with ease. Dr. Palmini and Sano Vet. Cephalosporin*. Gertie.

Kep is on doggy home detention. No ankle bracelet, but our solemn vow to not take him anywhere for 10 days. I think it’s a mistake; I’m pretty sure it was Murdoch that bit Antonio, but it was chaotic. Antonio had to report the dog bite and Jeffco animal control followed up. The law is there to protect other dogs and people from a potentially rabid or otherwise sick dog. Can’t deny the value of that, especially up here where we also have wildlife to take into account.

We paid Antonio’s expenses at Urgent Care, though Joe will reimburse us. Antonio is a good guy. He’ll come back. This time he suggested we use muzzles. Hmm. Good idea.

Meanwhile for both Kep and Murdoch the whole incident is so last decade. Dog’s shrug off yesterday, the last hour, the last minute. Today. Right now. That’s where they live. After the inside fight where I got bit, I walked Murdoch calmly up the stairs with no leash. The fight was over.

In other doggy news Gertie is only on three legs now. Her left rear apparently got knicked in that same fight. We took her into Sano, our Vet Dr. Palmini suggested an x-ray. She has either a very severe bone infection, probably not from the fight, or bone cancer. She’s our oldest, beating out Rigel by a year at 12. At these ages dogs can begin a decline.

The cephalosporin should knock back an infection, at least make us see some improvement in a week. If it does, then she’ll stay on the antibiotics for a month. If it doesn’t, we’ll need to do a biopsy for cancer.

SeoAh is coming for a month. She arrives Sunday. The Coronavirus has Asia scared. Singapore has had a few cases. And, their household belongings which Joseph hurried to get ready for the movers by December 19th, have not arrived yet. Plus the issues with Murdoch. She will be a great help, will calm things down for a while. Much needed. And, appreciated. What a joy it is to have her in our life.

In further good news Kate is bouncy and energetic. At least compared to the last couple of years. Her trajectory is on the upswing and that makes me so happy. Just seeing her smiling, her voice without stress, her face without a grimace makes all this other seem incidental.

* The aerobic mold which yielded cephalosporin C was found in the sea near a sewage outfall in Su Siccu, by Cagliari harbour in Sardinia, by the Italian pharmacologist Giuseppe Brotzu in July 1945. wiki

Supernova Era

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Kassi at Petsmart, who groomed Kepler so well. All the kids from Collegiate Academy who came into the Starbucks while I waited for Kep. Growers of coffee. Dairy farmers. Cappuccino. The checkout clerk at Petsmart so proud of her dog. Passing the emissions test. Emissions testing. Friend Debra who we’ll see for dinner tonight.

A confluence of literature and place yesterday. Started reading Supernova Era by the brilliant contemporary Chinese science fiction writer, Cixin Liu. A star goes supernova close to earth. His astronomical knowledge is profound, the explanation for this event detailed and lengthy.

The resulting energy burst damages the DNA of everyone on earth. Those above middle school age no longer have the capacity to recover from such an insult. Over the course of a year all the adults will die, leaving about one billion children under school age all across the globe.

While I waited for Kep at the Kipling Avenue Starbucks, I read chapters about the transition from an adult run world to a child run world. Parents taught their children the occupations they were in as the most efficient way to transfer knowledge quickly. Cixin focuses on the case of China.

As I read this, kids from the Collegiate Academy about two blocks away began to stream into the Starbucks. One tall senior high youth had a fade and a topknot grown from the crown of his head. A girl with whom he would later play fight had piercings, black lipstick and a friendly demeanor. She asked politely if she could have the chair at my table.

A younger, perhaps middle school girl, had on an orange athleisure top and carried, of course, her phone. She seemed serious until her friend came in, then they laughed and shared pictures off their phones.

The Starbucks lit up with the energy of young folks performing the person they thought they wanted to be or should be or could be.

At one point a college aged woman walked through them. Pant suit, blouse, briefcase. Not that far away in age, but so distant in sense of self and composure. At least outwardly. Her mask was adult.

My mask was that of the elder amused at the antics of the young, serious in his reading, but willing to laugh with the kids, too. Kabbalah teaches that we all wear masks, all the time. That everything is a mask for the ohr, the divine light of creation shattered after the tzimtzum, the sacred’s self contraction to allow space for other.

Saw all this through the lens of Cixin Liu’s middle schoolers taking over the adult world. Three children from the same middle school class in suburban Beijing were chosen to become the President, Prime Minister, and head of the military. No time for elections.

As I read, I looked up and saw the kids around me, released from the strict parameters of schooling, letting their still forming selves out to play. And tried to imagine this group here designated to run Colorado.

She’s the governor. He’s the head of the Highway Patrol. That one the Mayor of Littleton. Topknot guy following his mother as a bulldozer operator.

A fun collision of reading and immediate reality.


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.

Up, Up, And Away

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Joe and Seoah found each at San Francisco International, got a seat together. In the air right now. Rigel and Murdoch spent a so-far quiet night together. Hanukah. Which starts tonight. For the United folks at DIA yesterday. A smooth process checking Seoah in. As she might say, Amazing.

Seoah came with Joe on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. More Murdoch time. I took her to the airport yesterday. The short-term lot was full so we had to use Valet parking. Which I didn’t know they had. Not cheap, but in the circumstance, worth it.

We’ll miss her, Good Morning! Her cooking skills. She’s really good. Her willingness to clean. Mostly though her presence. She has a light heart and a cheerful manner. Much like Murdoch.

We’ll also miss our over the stove microwave which chose the holiday season as its death time. It died gradually, losing one function after another. The good news is that over the stove micros are really expensive! And, we’ll have to pay to have it installed. Merry Christmas!’

Odd product information. In a pick-up order at King Sooper I got Simple Truth Organic Seltzer Water as a replacement for my order of another brand. On the can, which is sized like an energy drink, less diameter, but more height, it says: What makes S.T. Seltzer water so refreshing? A. Organic, naturally flavored and free of calories… It’s water! They forgot to add gluten free.

A Holiweek

Winter and the Gratitude Moon

Saturday gratefuls: For this spinning, traveling planet. For ways to get from one spot to another: cars, trains, planes, bicycles, feet. For the new Woolly Calendar, produced again by Mark Odegard. Over 30 years. For cities like Minneapolis, San Francisco, Denver. And for those of us who live outside of them.

The long dark Solstice night still wraps Shadow Mountain, quiet and black. For those lovers of the summer this marks a key moment as the night begins, gradually, to give way to the day. Six months from now the Summer Solstice will celebrate the longest day, which marks the moment when the day gradually begins to give way to the night. A cycle that will last as long as mother earth does.

A cycle that can remind us, if we let it, of the way of life. That darkness comes, fecund and still. That light comes, spurring growth and movement. That we need both the darkness and the light, both are essential. When dark periods enter our life, they are usual, normal and will pass. When light periods enter our life, they are usual, normal and will pass.

Our time with Seoah ends today. She heads off to Singapore for a year, leaving Denver this evening. We’ll head out to the airport early. It’s Christmas travel weekend and the airport will be buzzing.

Her English is much better and she studies hard. She hopes that her time in Singapore will push her all the way to fluency. Mary has a Korean friend who will help Seoah hook up with the Korean community there and English language tutors.

Hanukah starts tomorrow night. The first candle. Tuesday is Christmas Eve, then Wednesday, Christmas Day. Festivals of light. Showing our human preference for the day, for the growing season. Showing our confidence in the long ago, when the Maccabees revolted, kicking the Seleucids out, entering Jerusalem, and rededicating the Second Temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes. And, when the miracle baby, Jesus, entered this world, like the Shekinah.

A holiweek. Filled with candles, presents, songs, family. The most sacred part of this holiweek is the coming together of friends and family.