We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Hello, darkness

Lughnasa                                                        Kate’s Moon

monolith (1)Dark ecology. I’ll post more about this both here and on AncientrailsGreatwheel.com, but it interests me a lot right now. It’s a contrarian view of the climate crisis, but not in a denier vein. These are folks who accept climate science, but take a pessimists look at the likelihood of change, at least change sufficient to stave off disaster. They don’t see it happening. This could be equated to the final stage of the grief process, acceptance.

monolithI’m not familiar enough now with the movement to comment in depth, but the tone of it strikes a chord in me. Admittedly, it’s a melancholy chord though the more you know about both climate science and the current political will to tackle change, the more that chord may come to dominate the melody of your life. It’s either brave, facing reality in spite of its horror, or defeatist. Maybe it’s both.

Whichever it is, it feels like an important approach to climate change at an emotional level and one I want to better understand. If you want a sense of dark ecology’s direction, take a look at this manifesto on the Dark Mountain website.

Krishna Janma

Midsommar                                                                   Most Heat Moon

Krishnas-birth-in-prisonLooking for light in prison. An assignment for the kabbalah class tonight. Rabbi Jamie suggested watching a movie like Hurricane, about Rubin Carter. I thought of MLK and Letters from the Birmingham Jail and Nelson Mandela, too. Then I remembered a portion of the Mahabharata I’d watched. This DVD version, 94 episodes, aired in India in the late 1980’s. Bought it to watch while doing long sessions on the treadmill.

Krishna Janma was episode 11. A prophecy tells Kansa, a king, that his sister Devaki’s eighth son will kill him. At first he looks for the easiest solution. Kill Devaki. Vasudeva, her husband, pleads with Kansa not to kill his sister. “I will bring you each child to destroy.”

Kansa considers this and agrees with a condition. They have to live in chains in his dungeon. Six sons are born. Kansa comes in their cell after each birth, grabs the newborn and throws it against the wall. When the seventh son is born, a friend of Devaki’s visits her in the cell and takes her pregnancy as her own. This causes Kansa great consternation but he can’t do anything since the seventh pregnancy seems to have mysteriously ended.

krishnaFinally, nine years later, Devaki is pregnant again, this time with the eighth son Kansa dreaded. This son is Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu.

“Whenever righteousness wanes and unrighteousness increases I send myself forth.
For the protection of the good and for the destruction of evil,
and for the establishment of righteousness,
I come into being age after age.”

— Bhagavad Gita 4.7–8

Happy-Janmashtami-Images-Wishes-Quotes-SMS-Status-Greetings-09

When Devaki gives birth to Krishna, a light shines in the cell and a voice, presumably Vishnu, tells Vasudeva to take baby Krishna out of the dungeon to another couple. Vasudeva wonders how he can accomplish this but the dungeon’s many barred doors swing open, the guards are put asleep and he walks out into a raging storm with his eighth son held over his head.

Krishna Janmashtami is a Hindu holiday that celebrates Krishna’s birth. It’s a lunar holiday so the date changes from year to year, but this year Janmashtami is on August 14th.

“Do You Remember Your Childhood?”

Beltane                                                                      Moon of the Summer Solstice

311 E. Monroe. We lived here until I was 12.

311 E. Monroe. We lived here until I was 12.

Took Ruth and Gabe to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Turns out I have a middle school aesthetic when it comes to certain sci fi flicks. We had a great time as Rocket Raccoon and Star Lord saved the Galaxy. Again. The best time though was afterward while we waited for Jon and Kate at Sushi Win in Evergreen.

Gabe looked at me, serious, “Do you remember your childhood?” I know, I thought. It was soooo long ago. Might have slipped away by now. “Yes. I do.” “Could you tell some stories?” OMG. The quintessential old man of the mountain moment. Speak to me of times long past.

milkmanSo I told them both about the horse drawn wagon that delivered our milk. “We had insulated boxes on the front porch and the milkman would run up with a wire carrier that held the milk, cream, butter, whatever. While he delivered to the house next door, the horse would pull the cart in front our house so he could be more efficient in his work. Horses are smart; trucks aren’t.” Of course, this last statement may not stand much longer, but that’s what happens when time passes. The expression on their faces was priceless.

What else, Grandpop?

Kick.the_.can_.cover_“Well, there were about 25 kids my age on my block and we played together almost every night, especially in the summer. We’d play kick the can, hide and seek.”

Ruth asked, “What’s kick the can? Is it like soccer?”

“No, more like hide and seek. You have two teams, one hides and the other guards the can. Then you run around and try to kick the can if you’re on the team that hides.”

“Oh,” she said, “That sounds like fun.”

And it was. “We also threw rocks up in the air and watched the bats follow them down.”

As I went to bed last night, I thought about other stuff. The hill. The field. Collecting pop bottles in a wagon and taking them downtown to Cox’s Supermarket for refunds. Yes, I remember my childhood.

 

Baahubali

Beltane                                                                                       Rushing Waters Moon

bahuubaliBaahubali 2: the Conclusion. OK. Some confessions first. I love costume drama. Sword and sandal. Victorian England. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Gone With the Wind. Ben Hur. Movies like that. Or, television shows, too, for that matter. No, I don’t like them all, but when a movie combines a compelling story with the recreation of a period of time, I’m there.

I also love foreign films not made for an export market. In other words, I enjoy seeing how filmmakers and writers from other cultures choose to tell stories within their own cultural idioms. Seeing these and reading novels written and loved in a particular place, not the U.S., is the moral equivalent of traveling for me and I do all of these as often as I can.

bahuubali2I’ve also come to enjoy for its own sake the peculiar Bollywood film-making style. Technically, Baahubali is not Bollywood made, but it is in the Bollywood style. That style inevitably includes several elaborate song and dance numbers, often coming at odd junctures in the story, at least odd to this mountain man raised in the Midwest.

So, for me Baahubali was a perfect storm. Set in some mythic era of India, in the state of Mahishmati, a real ancient city, but here represented as the ultimate utopia, there are court scenes, love scenes, song and dance scenes, hunting scenes, battle scenes all elaborately produced and choreographed. Yes, the acting is often very broad, but this is not realism, it’s fantasy. There is also plenty of humor.

Though it was three hours long, the film never dragged, moving from one intense moment to another. One beautiful scene, the most fantastic, found a swan shaped ship sailing through the clouds as the two doomed lovers, Baahubali and Devasena, stood Titanic-like, at the prow.

bahuubali3There is a thoughtful review from the Indian entertainment press with which I largely agree. In essence the reviewer says the movie was a visual treat and thrilling, very watchable. But. It didn’t grab the heart, leave memorable characters or ideas behind. A glorious ephemera.

True that. Even so, it’s still worth seeing if you share even some of my cinematic quirks: love of costume dramas, a desire to see how other cultures express themselves in film, a jones for beautifully clad, colorful choreography and Indian musical vocals.

Music

Imbolc                                                                                 Valentine Moon

Dazzle

Dazzle

This was a weekend without the grandkids, allowing Grandpop and Grandma to decompress, take in some jazz and a movie. We saw La La Land yesterday. I appreciated what it wanted to do, but somehow it came up short for me. The plot seemed thin, the dancing and singing a little flat. A musical about folks trying to make it in Hollywood is not quite a cliche, but very close. On the other hand I like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and their acting made the movie for me.

20170202_190010

With Saturday night out at Dazzle and Thursday at Gabe’s 3rd grade concert it’s been a big week for us.

Our life has slowly begun to gain traction again after the knee disruption and the divorce. The house on Pontiac closes on February 20th or so and after that Jon will start hunting for a place to buy in Aurora. Final orders for the divorce were finished two months ago and the house is the major remaining marital entanglement. The divorce is on a downward slope now though it will take years to truly finish. Joint custody will ensure that.

The next big event here on Shadow Mountain is my birthday, hitting 70. I’m looking forward to it, feels like I’ve been getting ready for this birthday for a long time. Not sure why. Maybe it means the third phase is now finally and truly begun. No residuals from my early 60’s in this new decade.

The Year of the Absent December

Winter                                                         Cold Moon

lionTwo good friends, Allison and Tom, have recommended I see Lion, on my list for this week, especially now that I’m mobile, both on foot and behind the wheel. Yes, the knee is becoming much less painful though strength and stamina will take a while to regain. Not sure whether it’s the drug cocktails I’ve been taking or what, but sleep has become a precious commodity again, not easily found in batches long enough to feel rested. Ick.

2016 will be year of the absent December for me. My 20161203_083526surgery was December 1st and much of the first two weeks + I spent in a narcotic haze. Or so Kate tells me. The remainder of the month has been physical therapy and figuring out how to manipulate the meds so they help me rather than hurt me. Not an easy task.

The good part was having the grandkids here for most of Hanukkah. When Kate and I returned them to Jen yesterday, Ruth came back to the car to say goodbye to me. We touched hands and she smiled, a furtive lightning of her face. I said, “Remember what I told you about your audition.” (that I have faith in you) She said she remembered. This is her audition for the Denver School of the Arts. She presents her portfolio and sits for an interview.

Kate after election day

Kate after election day

Next big medical event is Kate’s endoscopy tomorrow. This is a follow-up on an occult blood finding, so it could have serious implications, though I’m not expecting them. I have physical therapy at 7:15 a.m., then we head down the hill on 285 to Swedish Hospital for a 9 a.m. procedure.

A sequelae of the absent December is waking up from it to a New Year. What will I do in 2017? Will it be continuous with the first two years here? Or, will I rethink it all, maybe reshuffle the deck one more time? I’m leaning toward the latter. There will be Superior Wolf, yes. There will be workouts, yes. There will Beth Evergreen. There will, I decided yesterday, be Latin. I’m picking that project up again beginning this week. But, beyond those and how those fit with other potentials? I don’t know. I do know that taking a big insult to my physicality, even for a good cause, has got me in a contemplative mood, wondering, once again, about how life fits together.

Caution: Not Election Related

Samain                                                                       Thanksgiving Moon

ekgPre-op physical yesterday. EKG within normal parameters. Dr. Gidday walked me through the pre-op questions including one which wondered if I had dementia. When I asked her how I would know, she laughed, slapped my hand, “Everybody says something like that.”

As long as I was in the area, I went over to Health Images and picked up a cd of Kate’s left shoulder x-rays for her visit with the rheumatologist next month. Let no month pass without significant medical moments.

We’re all in a bit of buzz here with a winter storm predicted for tomorrow. It’s not much of a storm but it’s precipitation and we need it. It’s also the first winter storm prediction in November so far. A lot of folks with snow deprivation. Folks on pinecam.com talk about doing their snow dance.

dr-strangeI’ve seen two movies in the past couple of weeks, Dr. Strange and Arrival. I saw Dr. Strange in 3-D. Fantasy and science fiction still have my attention after all these years. Dr. Strange was fun, great CGI, a cast that includes Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch, and the Dr. Strange origin story.

Arrival was a stunner. I’m promoting WWHD. What would the heptapods do? Amy Adams gives a somber, slightly distracted by melancholy performance. She carries the film with her delicate humanity. The story telling is not linear, arrivalneither is the heptapod language. Time is more flexible than we think, malleable. No Randy Quaid flying his jet into the mothership, no Luke flying his fighter into the weak spot of the death star. In fact, no onscreen violence at all with the exception of an explosion, a brief one. Though you won’t understand unless you see it, Arrival is about the power of language.

Today is Kate’s needleworker group and it’s here at our house. Preparations have been underway. More to come this morning: ebelskivers, muffins, cheese, coffee, furniture moving, that sort of thing. My job? Keep the dogs from biting the guests. That means I’ll have them outside or up in the loft most of the day.

Yesterday

Fall                                                                                         New (Thanksgiving) Moon

lycaon_and_zeus___veneziano_by_himera

lycaon_and_zeus___veneziano_by_himera

Had a couple of days in a row where the writing didn’t happen. This and that. Now I have to finish my critiques for the writing group Monday night. Critiques are difficult to do well, at least for me. Superior Wolf continues to grow in size though. It’s at 60,000 words now, 2/3’rds of the way toward my goal of 90,000.

We went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. A long movie and a dark one. As friend Tom Crane said, it’s a good movie, not a great one. A bit slow in the beginning and a bit scattered near the end. It has a grandpop as a central, heroic character.

Set in 1943 and 2016 the holocaust is the background. The grandfather is from Poland where, “There were real monsters.” The Home gets bombed by Nazi bombers. The grandfather and his son, a lead character, Jake, can see the Hollows, short for holocaust Ruthie said, but no else can.

Afterward we ate at a Brooklyn style pizza joint.

20160903_113024Ruth is filling out her application for the Denver School of the Arts. The application process includes an audition sometime in January. She’s going for fine arts. Ruth is a printmaker, a painter. She draws well, too. I really hope she gets in. She needs peers, other kids with her level of talent, intelligence and curiosity. Otherwise, she gets in trouble. Grandpop did, too.

Gertie is doing well. She’s a rascal and can’t keep her long, prehensile tongue from snaking up onto a plate without permission. Rigel bounds in the car when she can go. Most of the time she sits up in the back, looking this way and that. And Kepler, serious Kepler, watches and listens. Barks and growls. He also does athletic food catches.

 

 

Aaarrgghhh!

Fall                                                                            Hunter Moon

Aaaarggghhh. Let’s finish it. Two candidates, neither one of whom I want, but one I really, really don’t want. Vote. Vote. Count. Declare. Concede. I may want to underscore that last point, concede! “I’ve had all I can stand, I can’t stands no more.” popeye

Here’s a confession. Even though I want the election over, now, I think the aftermath will be ugly. In either case. Trump or Clinton. The polarization is real. It will be tough to govern through it, especially for Clinton if, as seems most likely, Republicans retain control of the House. Tougher if they retain control of the Senate. This could mean four more years of obstruction. Four more years of investigations. Four more years of rancor and fury, signifying very little.

total_knee_replacement_components_modelBrother Mark wanted to know if there were images of my new knee. This is a generic image that shows the components of a common knee prosthesis. Total knee replacement is an increasingly good procedure and all of the anecdotal data I’ve come across has been positive. To be able to walk easily, get in and out of the car without pain, exercise, hike with Ruth and Gabe, sleep with less pain medication, and build up my endurance will be wonderful. December 1st.

The grandkids are here this weekend. More wonder and awe. Pumpkin carving and a trip to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

I purchased a recent book on Vlad the Impaler. He’s become a fascination of Ruth’s. We got to talking about Dracula (I mean, who doesn’t? At least every once in awhile.) and I mentioned Vlad. She’s also noticed the t-shirt I bought Kate at Castle Bran, aka, Dracula’s Castle in the Carpathians. So, we’re going to learn more about him. And those stakes.

 

 

 

Complicated

Fall                                                                              Hunter Moon

stop-trying-to-be-other-culturesRuth wanted to see the Queen of Katwe, the story of a poor Uganda country girl who became a chess champion. So we did. It was a good movie, not great; but, its almost all black cast reminded me of Luke Cage, which also has an almost all black cast. I have been and am suspicious of the idea of appropriation* as bad, but these two media pieces have made rethink it.

The problem I have with the idea of cultural appropriation is its clash with the aims of art. We could not write books, make movies, script plays, probably even compose music if we did not borrow both from the realm of our personal experience and from the experiential realm of others. At its most fundamental, a man could not write about women, or a woman about men. And, to drill even deeper into this morass, since we can never know the interior life of another, I could not write about anyone else.

Also, to have no characters or roles or melodies that have roots in cultural experiences other than your own would make novels, films, plays and music monuments to cultural isolation. Too, the voice of one culture’s representative commenting on another’s is the stuff of art and provides important information, reflection for our common life as members of a diverse human community.

minstrel_posterbillyvanware_editHaving said that I found myself intrigued with both Luke Cage and Queen of Katwe because they had almost all black casts. The voice of the characters, the setting, the narrative drive had an integrity, a cohesiveness different from a white dominated movie or television program. The vulnerabilities, tensions, outright conflicts reflect immersion in Uganda and Harlem. They help open up a world, a way of being, a certain thrownness, as Heidegger put it, that is well outside my white, male, middle class, small town Midwest USA experience.

This presentation of the panorama of black and African characters humanizes them, makes them real, in a way that appropriated roles often cannot. What I’m saying here is that the positive argument stemming from the idea of cultural appropriation, that members of a group or culture can tell their own story best, seems validated for me by this particular movie and this television series.

stop2However. The notion of silos, common in critique of bureaucracies, corporate or governmental or academic, seems to me to apply here, too. Silos are self contained domains, segments of a differentiated work place. The easiest place to see silos is in academe where biology and physics occupy different departments, often different buildings, and usually do not communicate. The internal culture of the military makes it secretive while congress wants transparency, the EPA is a separate agency of quasi-cabinet rank, so it is separate from the department of Agriculture where many matters of critical environmental concern receive attention. The critique is that while the silos differentiate and protect, the world is not so divided. Biology and physics operate within each organism. In the world as it is, Federal Superfund sites, under the administration of the EPA, interact directly with farms and municipalities. There was no bureaucratic barrier between the toxic waste pouring from the Gold King Mine and the waters of the Animas River.

Sorry to have belabored that but my point is this: even if cultural appropriation was to become a norm, it would create its own problems by cordoning off the experience of one culture from another, creating silos of African-American experience or LGBT experience.

It seems to me that the best world would allow and encourage both works by members of all cultures that include and therefore reflect on other cultures and works by and about members of one culture. Let the reader, or the movie goer, or the symphony audience experience the tensions and conflicts. That’s the way to a richer and more intense dialogue among and between all people.

*Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture.[1]Cultural appropriation is seen by some[2] as controversial, notably when elements of a minority culture are used by members of the cultural majority; this is seen as wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity and intellectual property rights.  wikipedia

August 2017
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