A Birthday Wish

Summer and the Radiation Moon

Another Yankee Doodle birthday. SeoAh turned 41. The U.S.A. 243. SeoAh’s birth culture is thousands of years old, as is Joe’s.

A Chinese
classical novel

We’re such a baby from a historical perspective. Our relative youth is on display in every interaction we have with China, an ancient civilization like Korea and India that has lasted into the time of nation-states. One commentator I read a while back refers to China as a civilization state, rather than a nation state for that reason.

China engages the world as a regional hegemon, a role its held for most of its long history. It abuts so many different cultures, unlike the U.S. Vietnam, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Himalayan kingdoms, the Stans, Russia, North Korea, even Japan if you see the South China Sea from China’s perspective. It does not share the great geopolitical advantage of the U.S., world ocean moats on both eastern and western borders.

The dynastic period of China, begun during the mostly lost in the mists Xia dynasty, only ended in the 20th century with the Qing ending in 1912. Thus, there are patterns and assumptions built into even the Chinese Communist party that reach far, far back in the Middle Kingdom’s political experience.

Among them is strategic patience, a trait sorely missing from U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century. The Chinese waited until its 99 year lease on Hong Kong was up, then reabsorbed this city-state. Not without difficulty, yes, but even the one country-two systems policy has Hong Kong, like Tibet, as an administrative district of the larger nation. They are also waiting to absorb Taiwan, sometimes patiently, sometimes not.

The world is big enough for China and the U.S. as regional hegemons, not big enough for either of us to dominate. China knows that. I’m not sure we do.

If I could have a birthday wish for the U.S.A., it would be a leavening of our foreign policy with the wisdom of history. Hard to pull off when our supreme leader doesn’t read, I know. We, as a citizenry, may have to exercise strategic patience with him and his followers. Trump and his base are not the vanguard of a revolution, rather they are equivalent of the village peasant in traditional societies.

By James 4 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61859662

They are defensive in posture, that’s what America First means. You only wish for America First if you believe we’re already somehow less than others. I don’t.

DJT and his cult hold onto economic givens long out of date. Manufacturing and its supply chain, though still crucial to our economy, we’re #2 in the world after, guess who, China, has been in steady decline as an employer since the 1990’s, continuing a long slide begun in the 1940’s. see this Wikipedia article. Tariff man reflects a belief that the U.S. is somehow getting screwed on a regular basis.

They hold onto social givens like fear of the other, affecting immigration, race, and gender identity. The unearned privilege of the white American male is still regarded among them, and their leader, as a privilege given by hard work and innovation, rather than a teetering social contract based on patriarchy and ruthless oppression of minorities.

This is a passing phase, often at its strongest when its proponents sense their weakness, perhaps for the first time. Strategic patience involves doing everything possible to align their national political influence with their actual minority status. It means working against the Proud Boy in the White House and for politicians existing in today’s world, not yesterday’s. It also means not succumbing to despair or nihilism.

That’s tough, I know, especially with the climate crisis literally breathing hot air on our necks. But one way to not succumb is to do what is possible politically while focusing on those local and state level initiatives that will position us later for strong climate action.

Standing with you all in this, our 243rd year of a grand national experiment: Can a nation be built on political values rather than culture?

Kudos to Mary

Summer and the Recovery Moon

Kate at Biker Jim’s on Father’s Day

Kate’s recovery continues to go well. She drove the half hour to PetSmart and picked up Kep yesterday. I took him in on my way to the Cyber Knife. She’ll also drive Mary to the Federal Center RTD stop. Mary tried to find a shuttle or taxi and experienced the mountain way. Either not possible or folks didn’t answer the phone. Wish I could take her, but the Cyber Knife beckons.

Mary’s working on school libraries in Singapore. They’re surprised when I tell them I have Masters Degree in Library Science. Libraries are under a lot of pressure these days and are rethinking how they fit into colleges, universities, communities. Mary has helped the nation with her knowledge of how students actually use libraries. She’s so successful that she’s working well past the usual retirement age. Unusual. Kudos to Mary and her internationally acclaimed work.

Brother Mark likes to comment on the Vietnamese currency, the dong. He says it’s drooping right now. What kind of stimulus might make it rise, he wonders. LOL. He’s on vacation, plenty of time to consider the world around him.

With nine treatments my inner glow has increased. I may be a beacon on Shadow Mountain for aircraft trying to orient themselves. Listened to the Cream yesterday. Nicky was not familiar with them, but she knew Eric Clapton. The Cream was one of the first super groups: Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker. I saw them in a weed smoke filled theatre in Chicago’s old stockyard district, maybe 1968. Got stoned just sitting there.

No side effects so far. But. Every ache, like the hip ouching me as I fed the dogs, or some shortness of breath, or general weariness makes me wonder. Is this it? Are the side effects commencing? No. No. No.

Well, at least I think no on that last one. It’s hard to separate the fatigue from driving back and forth, the treatments, pushing myself to get all my exercise in, and any that might be the result of either the radiation or the Lupron.

goes over the faded Baby’s On Board

A strange place to be. Waiting. Not wanting to invite trouble. The runup to both treatments had a lot of focus on the side effects. Cancer care is like that. Here, take this. It’ll help kill your cancer. And, oh, by the way, your hair and teeth will fall out. But that’s only temporary. Oh. Good.

Most important of all: remember why radiation, why lupron. Kill cancer. Go for a cure.

Been focusing on simplicity of the heart as I drive back and forth, reminding myself to stay in the moment, to not let other drivers, current circumstances drag me out of my inner calm. Tough for me, but really good practice. I failed yesterday when a peloton rode up narrow, no shoulder Shadow Mountain Drive. “Ride single file!” I yelled out the window.

Simplicity is about navigating the churn, the “blooming, buzzing confusion” that is our mind, as William James put it. I’ve taken to using advice for people experiencing panic attacks. Find five things you can see. Five things you can hear. Five things you can feel. I like this because it echoes techniques I learned long ago from the existential psychologists like Carl Rogers. Grounding. It helps.

All is Well

Summer (at 33 degrees and a prediction of snow?) and the Recovery Moon

King Ramkamhaeng stele at Sukkothai

“There is fruit in the forest, there is rice in the field, there are fish in the river. All is well.” King Ramkamhaeng, of Thailand. Brother Mark sent this quote from a 13th century king of Thailand. When we discussed simplicity at the Mussar Vaad Practice group, we noticed that abundance does not contradict simplicity. And, that complexity doesn’t either. Chaos and ingratitude contradict simplicity.

In the book Simple Abundance, there is a line that Rabbi Jamie quoted: “First comes Gratitude which leads to Simplicity that gives us Order that brings us Harmony that shows us the Beauty which opens us up to Joy – and we live happily ever after.” I just ordered the book so I can’t say where she goes with this, but I like the thought.

It’s tough in ‘Murica to take in this thought. He who dies with the most toys wins. Winning, you’re gonna get tired of so much winning. Success is achievement is money is power is life. What else is there?

Only the important stuff. Like love, justice, compassion. The definition of leadership ginned up by the rebel Leadership Minneapolis class Paul Strickland, Sarah Strickland, and Lonnie Helgeson were a part of. The whole volunteer board got fired after trying to integrate this idea of leadership back into the organization. Back in the 1980’s.

A friend who’s just coming out of her cancer journey observed that being sick had forced her to pare away commitments because she couldn’t rely on herself to keep them. I made the same decision when I resigned from teaching at CBE in February though the decision related more to Kate’s illness than mine at the time. She went on to say that now that she had begun to recover she could choose how to complicate her life.

Illness, serious illness, can have the unintended, but salutary consequence of driving us toward simplicity. I’m taking in this lesson right now. Kate and I had one life before Sjogren’s, before the bleed, before cancer. We’re still in it, that paring away of commitments and even domestic responsibilities. It’s an opportunity. What kind of life do we want post-illness? (if we are fortunate enough to recover, and I believe we will.)

Joe and SeoAh

We’re both grateful for the way friends and family have shown up for us. SeoAh’s coming to stay. CBE dinners and constant offerings of help. Tom and Mark coming out in January. Then, joining Paul and Bill in our monthly meetings on Zoom. Jon and Joe have picked up tasks around the house. Jon was just out to try and unclog a stubborn sink drain.

We’ve had to consider which household tasks are necessary and which can be set aside for a time. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, doing the bills, buying groceries, key maintenance tasks, yes. All the rest can wait.

By September, lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, Kate may be over a hundred pounds and back to sewing. Probable. I’ll finish radiation on August 6th and Dr. Gilroy said it usually takes about a month to get back to feeling normal. September might be the time for us to reemerge, out of this illness chrysalis.

The Lupron is a wild card. I get my second injection of September 24th. Not sure what I’ll be like, but I’m hopeful I’ll feel well enough to get back to those aspects of life Kate and I choose to emphasize. September 28th, four days after my second Lupron injection, will be the anniversary of Kate’s bleed. 9 months ago this week.

But, even now, to paraphrase the King, “There’s meat in the freezer, vegetables in the fridge, and bread in the bread box. All is well.”

The Mountains Are Calling

Summer and the Recovery Moon

Yamabushi monk

Not sure exactly what’s going on here. They mention Shugendo. It’s a fourteen hundred year old tradition that has esoteric Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto roots. They refer to themselves as Yamabushi, those who prostrate themselves on the mountain.

Master Hashino

It seems like they’re dedicated to reducing the distance between humans and mother earth. Or, perhaps better, creating awareness of that already existing intimacy, now obfuscated by so much.

Fellow travelers with me, I think.

Ikigai

Beltane Cancer Moon

This Morning

It’s been this kind of May. And it looks as if June will be cooler and wet, too, according to Weather5280. Good news for us, not so much for those lower down when the huge snowpack starts to melt.

Got further along on print Ancientrails. Am now in late 2017, quite a ways in. Then, print spool error. Again. Well. Gotta go back to whatever I did that solved it once. Tried so many things I’m not sure which one worked. Something did. For a while. Soon though. Then, I’ll take everything for three hole punching and decide what kind of binders I’m going to buy. Each folder with month tabs.

Also figured a way to unzip Superior Wolf and focus on Lycaon’s story. Don’t know whether I’ll follow up later on Christopher and Diana. The hunt for immortality is almost a cliche these days. And the central conceit of their story, a hedgefund group that funds Diana’s research, is not fiction anymore. Geez.

That means I’ve got months of work ahead, maybe years. My ikigai. A Japanese word that means reason to live. This article talks about ikigai in more depth as an explanation for Japanese longevity. Squares with my own intuition. Purpose keeps you alive and flourishing.

The Japanese have a lot about life figured out. Ichi-go, ichi-e is another favorite of mine. It comes from the Japanese tea ceremony and means each moment is once in a lifetime. No such thing as an insignificant experience with another person.

Sekkyakushi, 15th century, Muromachi period, Metropolitan Museum of art

Reading a book right now by the wonderful travel writer, Pico Iyer: Autumn Light, Season of Fire and Farewells. It’s a follow-up to his The Lady and the Monk, which I have not read, in which he recounts meeting Hiroko, the Japanese woman who would become his wife. He had moved to Kyoto to immerse himself in Japanese culture, sensing, as I do, that their approach to life is worth learning, perhaps adopting. Twenty-three years later he lives in Japan with Hiroko six months out of the year and six months in the U.S., caring for his mother and working for the New York Times. Recommended.

Each time I dip into some aspect of Japanese culture I find I want to know more. The MIA’s Japanese collection gave me a chance to interact with tea bowls, tatami mats, sumi-e, Buddhist and Shinto sculpture, put me deeper into my own Asian pivot.

Zen itself has not intrigued me, but I did follow Zen back to its roots in Chinese Chan Buddhism, a melding of Taoism and Buddhism. The Taoist aspect of Zen, and Chan. Yes.

Tomorrow. The CT scan. Probably the last of the imaging work. It will either show metastatic disease or a localized recurrence in the prostate fossa. If the former, one kind of treatment. And, prognosis. If the latter, 35 days of radiation and a possible cure. Hopeful, of course, that it will be localized, but aware that it might not be. In either case I’ll know. That’s been the hardest part of this time (well, no, that’s not right. The hardest part has been dealing with insurance and the hospital’s “benefits” office.), knowing the cancer has reasserted itself, but not knowing what that means for my life.

Will be glad to have this work done so I can move onto what’s next.

Are you going to be o.k.?

Mortality signals. Coming through loud and strong. A frisson of the world without me. “Are you going to be ok,” Kate asked, “Psychologically?” “Yeah, I think so. I’ll tell you if I’m not.”

Yamantaka

Hard to avoid running the recent news all the way out to the literal end. (see post below) I’m neither a pessimist nor an optimist, I’m a realist. The indicators are not good. But. At this point that’s all they are. Indicators. As Kate also said, “We need more data.” Yes, an axumin scan would have helped, but a ct and an mri will get us started.

Yamantaka and I have been friends for a long time now. I’ve imagined my death, my corpse. Meditated on it. When my mind insists on following the bread crumbs, I let it. I end up the same place Yamantaka has taken me. The same place we all come to. The question isn’t whether, but when.

Yes, this is morbid. And, yes, even if all the signs are negative, nothing’s happening soon. But I can’t be other than where I am. Right now, on this chilly May Saturday, I’m still absorbing.

I do feel I’ll be ok. Psychologically. Which doesn’t mean I won’t be scared. The unknown is the landscape between here and death. Will treatments be able to slow down the cancer? Is there still a chance for a cure? Unknown.

There a couple of mantras I’ve said over and over for quite a while. Live until you die. I intend to do that. Live in the present. I’m doing that except for those pesky moments when the blood hound of logic starts baying at the trail. I still have books to write, paintings to finish, friends and family. Dogs. Those will not change. Books to read. Places to go. Mountains and nearby states to explore.

On that last. I will see the National Gallery of Art in Taipei. This is the museum which contains the Qing emperors collection, all the best of Chinese art over its long history. Chiang Kai-Shek gathered the collection and took it with him to Taiwan after a losing fight against Mao and the Red Army.

Here is a large copy of one piece I most want to see:

Fan Kuan, Travelers with Mountains and Streams, Song Dynasty

Death, and given the date, Taxes

Spring                                                                        Rushing Waters Moon

This time the snow storm underperformed. Maybe 3 inches. Good news, really, since it means Colorado Pulmonary Intensivists won’t close and we’ll finally get to have a delayed visit there, pick up Kate’s ct reading and discuss her j-tube surgery.

fearGot my own thing going on, too. Second PSA showed a slight uptick from a month ago, from .12 to .13. As Kate said, probably in the lab’s margin of error. Still, it is cancer we’re talking about here. Any increase over .1 sends some sort of signal, just how serious a one I don’t know. Going in to see the urologist as soon as I can get an appointment.

Not the best judge of my anxiety about this. When I sent the note to Dr. Eigner, the surgeon who removed my prostate, I said my psa had gone up to 1.2. That’s a huge difference from .12. I misplaced the decimal point. Not at my calm best on that e-mail.

As I hear myself thinking, my self talk is like this. I need more information. I don’t know enough to  know whether this is bad or just something we’ll need to watch. Or, both. But wait. It’s cancer. You know, CANCER. I don’t want to have a sell-by date given to me, or worse an expiration date. This body no good after 13 years. Oh, come on. We all die. And, you’ve even referred to your eventual cause of death as your friend.

Yamantaka

Yamantaka

Death is not an enemy. It’s an inevitability. Yes, it takes my breath away when my inner conversation veers towards my absence, my annihilation. Sometimes. Other times, I take it in, embrace it. I take from the Tibetan Buddhists that being calm at the moment of your death is a spiritual goal. It is for me and that also means being calm about death since it always approaches, is never further away than your next breath.

We begin and we end. This much we know with certainty. If life, that time between a sleep and a sleep as the Mexica say, is filled with apprehension about the end, then this brief mayfly moment will be wasted. That’s why Yamantaka encourages us to consider our death in as realistic as a fashion as we can. See our dead body. Imagine it in a coffin. Feel the last breath leaving your body. Imagine the world without you.

Not sure about the notion of an afterlife. Reincarnation? The Buddhists think so. Heaven or hell? Very unlikely since I know the literary sources for both of them. Absorption back into the 10,000 things? Makes the most sense, but sense is an artifact of this life and in particular an artifact of human reason. All the data we have comes from our singular experience in this body, in this lifetime. We have no prebirth memories (I find past-life regressions difficult to believe. Which does not mean untrue.). We have no post-death returns save for those who have experienced death and been revived in some way. Even those experiences are brief and inevitably the product of a difficult moment.

death Osiris-nepraWhat about Jesus? There again, I know the literary sources. The earliest gospel, Mark, probably did not include a resurrection narrative. The dying and rising god is a motif of certain Middle Eastern belief systems, the story of Osiris for example.

Would we all like to have a definitive report back from beyond the pale? Not sure. What if it contradicts our hopes, our beliefs?

Here’s the nub of it. I know and love life. But it is, I admit, all I know for certain, except that it also ends. I’m not eager to trade a known good for an unknown. Most aren’t, I suppose. When a mortality signal like a possible return (or more like a reemergence) of cancer comes, part of me responds with fear, with anxiety. Another part of me responds with acceptance of my death.Which is, in any case, not  yet.

Charon and Psyche, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope. 1883

Charon and Psyche, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope. 1883

The older I get I realize carrying contradictory states is the norm, at least for me. It’s like pneumonia. I learned this February that you can have both viral and bacterial pneumonia, in fact, you can have different strains of both. At the same time. We’re more complex, less simple than our reductive thinking processes can usually entertain.

One thing I find odd is being given thirteen years to live (a possible prognosis if this is a reemergence), makes me more anxious than not having such a number. Which is silly from a rational perspective. All that’s being taken away, all he said, is the fantasy of immortality. Without such a prognosis I could continue to live, well, ongoingly. Which of course we know not to be true. Anyhow at 72 I’m already two years into the bonus range beyond three score and ten.

Consistency, Emerson said, is the hobgoblin of small minds. On the matter of death and cancer I’m not a small mind.

Legendary

Spring                                                                      Recovery Moon

IMG_0612

Tom Crane sent me this street poet’s work, found on Maui. I wrote him back after reading it and said we could go for an epic third phase. I meant legendary, but epic appeared anyhow. He wrote back, said he’d like that, too, but didn’t know how. I agreed. Beginner’s Mind, eh? We’d have to redefine epic, Tom replied. Yes.

And, we don’t want to get stuck in the success trap. That trap can consume the second phase, career and family, but it can be set aside in the third. So the question could be, what would a legendary third phase look like? Better than epic. Epic has that Hollywood feel, doesn’t it? Let’s forget I transmuted legendary into epic and go back to the poem.

Sadhu

Sadhu

What does an open spirit look like in the third phase? What risks might we take if we had one? What risks are particular to the third phase? To get an idea of where this might go, I looked up the Hindu sadhu. A sadhu intentionally creates a fourth phase of life.* Of course in a Minnesota winter like the last one the Jain option of wearing nothing would require modification unless the sadhu phase was to be short.

I wonder if other cultures have similar ideas? Don’t know. What I do take from the sadhu is that they have an open spirit, moving toward moksa means getting free from samsara, the worldly enmeshment that the second phase presses upon us with such vigor.

Part of a legendary third phase might involve letting go, leaving the old desires of life, shaped by education, work, and family behind. But, if they’re left behind we might be left wondering, what else is there? Those desires are the ones that motivated us, got us up in the morning, out the door coffee in hand, ready to do. The old finish line model of retirement pretended that this was as easy as buying a set of Pings, selling the house in Kenwood, and moving to a Del Webb village to drive, chip and putt. Or, head out to Margaritaville, collect umbrellas in the sand next to your beach chair. Doesn’t sound like a sadhu approach, does it?

Song dynasty

Song dynasty

Another image, similar to the sadhu, was the Chinese scholar who would retire from the bureaucratic life, paradigmatic of the second phase in that culture, and move into the mountains to write poetry and live amongst wildlife and forests. This is a Taoist vision, one that took over from the Confucian when either work was over or changes in the political life forced a scholar out of the court. I like this one a little better than the sadhu because I like clothes.

Wu wei: “a state of being in which our actions are…effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world” is the Taoist principle these mountain hermits follow. And, a sound one, though as I’ve written before, I’m also a “take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them” sort of guy. This may be the key attitude that prevents me from fully letting go of success, of my set of Pings, that beach chair.

I’m not talking here about monastics or hermits who take to those lives, as Thomas Merton did, in the midst of their second phase. These are escapist lives, profound in their way of course, but ones that set aside the second phase much earlier. What I want to consider is the legendary third phase possible after the more traditional transition from work and raising a family.

Look forward to any ideas you might have. This preliminary look suggests some things to me. Let go. Seek spiritual liberation. Attune life to the seasons, to the natural world. Live in some seclusion from the old, second phase world.

 

 

“The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of Brahman. Sādhus often wear simple clothing, such saffron-coloured clothing in Hinduism, white or nothing in Jainism, symbolising their sannyāsa (renunciation of worldly possessions).” wiki

 

A seed

Imbolc                                                                                  Waxing Moon

20180828_185716The waxing moon has not brought the weight gain I’d hoped. Maybe next month. We talked yesterday about eating disorders and their relevance to Kate’s situation. Through a combination of aversive conditioning, nausea and cramping triggered by eating, the dry mouth issues of Sjogren’s that can make food unpalatable, a generally depleted musculature that makes it difficult to work up an appetite, and a feeling of malaise we’ve not been able to shake, eating has become problematic. Sounds like an eating disorder. If it quacks…

One sobering reality driven home by my illness (on the way out, but not gone) is how much the two of us depend on me to live in this house. If I got to Kate’s level of dysfunction, we’d have to move. When I was sick, especially Wednesday and Thursday, my body tingled. Arthritis in my left hand, thumb, knuckles, finger joints and the thumb of my right hand got bad enough that I couldn’t unlock the front door or open a package of sliced turkey. My stamina was almost nonexistent and I had no hunger. This lead me to the conclusion that my workouts are now a matter of marital necessity. They keep me strong, agile, healthy. We need to protect my schedule so I can always get them in. I’m sure this moment comes for many couples as they age, where one partner’s fragility makes their mutual independence more at risk.

abyssMuch as I like the dark, the cold, the snow, I also love the growing season. Imbolc, Feb. 1st, (or, as for all Celtic holidays, a full week of markets and dances), marks the turn from winter, the season just past, toward spring, or Ostara, which we celebrate on the spring equinox. That’s what Groundhog Day celebrates, Imbolc, and a European belief that if a furry rodent saw it’s shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter. In Germany it’s the badger that is the predictor. The Pennsylvania Dutch apparently shifted to the groundhog.

Whichever, shadow or not, and usually not accurate, the attention to mother earth while snow’s still on the ground, occurs because the Great Wheel has turned past the Winter Solstice, allowing light to begin it’s slow increase, culminating in the heart of mid-Summer on the Summer Solstice.

Imbolc then, is the first season of a new agricultural year. Imbolc, in the belly, referred to the freshening of ewes whose pregnancies would finally bring some long awaited milk into the family larder. The lambs also add to the flocks. It was a signal that the fallow time that began back in October of the previous year at Samain, summer’s end, would again be followed by a fertile season. The growing season itself doesn’t begin, on the Great Wheel, until Mayday, Beltane. But Imbolc assures us that there will be food produced this year, even if the days are still dreary and cold.

Near Seoul, Kate. April, 2016

Near Seoul, Kate. April, 2016

What is freshening my soul these days? What seed has been fertilized and begun to grow? Imbolc is important;  even when the world seems to have gone fallow for us, we find the Great Wheel still turning, still pushing us toward the next growing season.

Kate’s bleed happened on September 28th, the day before Michaelmas, Steiner’s “springtime of the soul.” The sequelae has lasted through the last of Fall (Mabon), through Samain, through Winter, and now into Imbolc.  Imbolc suggests that somewhere buried in the detritus of ten units of blood, bowl resection, rehab, multiple imaging studies, the stent placement, and continuing insults from Sjogren’s and weight loss lies a lamb, or at least a ewe’s egg. Finding it will not be, hasn’t been easy; but, I believe it’s there, that the Spring Equinox will find us moving forward into a new growing season for Kate’s soul and her body. May it be so.

 

 

Puzzled

Winter                                                                         Waxing Moon

20190127_163835Snowing here. About an inch already. Then comes the cold. But not like the cold my friends in Minnesota are going to feel. For example, Tue -7 for a high, -27 for a low. Wed -15 for a high, -30 for a low. Also, winds in the 10 to 19 mph range. Wind chill will be brutal. Enduring the last of  any January will qualify you for Minnesota macho. Plan a trip there now to claim it for yourself.

We got started on the 1,000 piece jigsaw. Kate may have underestimated how long it will take to do all five. She said ten years. After yesterday? Maybe into our 90’s. New to me. Surprised how satisfied I was when a couple of pieces fit together. Kate’s pretty good at this. As you might expect.

Wondered yesterday about the origin of jigsaw puzzles. Kate thinks it was somebody who wanted something for the kids to do. So, I let wikipedia teach me.* Coulda been the Spilsbury kids, I guess.

20190127_174935The bulgogi was good. So was the dumpling soup. The porkbelly last night? Not so much. Got a little rushed since I fried the smelt at the same time. Shouldn’t have done both. The smelt, which I realize now were considerably smaller than the Lake Superior smelt, fried up fine, but I bunched them together too much. And, fried things don’t work so well as left overs. In the trash after my meal. SeoAh sent me her sauce for the porkbelly, which I used. It couldn’t rescue a too fatty, not enough taste dish. Not sure I’ll try that one again. Didn’t seem worth learning how to do well. Tonight straight up American fare. Macaroni and cheese? Hamburgers? Steak and potatoes? Something more in my wheelhouse.

no f-ng way

no f-ng way

The snow falls straight down, looks like a gentle, white rain. A flour sifter somewhere above us, gently shaken by the deity we know isn’t there.

I’ve started on a cleanup, straighten, reorganize project for the whole house, loft and garage. Working on one room a day, or more if needed. I’m no Marie Kondo. Just want to get things spruced up a bit. Read an NYT article on stocking the modern pantry. When I get to the kitchen, I’m going to follow its suggestions. Suppose this is a cabin fever moment.

*”Jigsaw puzzles were originally created by painting a picture on a flat, rectangular piece of wood, and then cutting that picture into small pieces with a jigsaw, hence the name. John Spilsbury, a London cartographer and engraver, is credited with commercializing jigsaw puzzles around 1760.[1] Jigsaw puzzles have since come to be made primarily of cardboard.” wiki