We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Family Celebration

Midsommar                                                                          Kate’s Moon

Jon has made it through, all the way through, a year plus of divorce drama with court appearances, lawyers, contested final orders. Those final orders, written in November of 2016 and recorded then, have now been in place for over six months. The daily crisis mode has fallen away, replaced by the gradual establishing of new norms. Both Jon and Jen must find a new balance, as must Ruth and Gabe. When kids are involved, you’re not divorced from someone, you’re divorced to them.

To celebrate we all went to Domo. It’s a unique restaurant, one of my favorites in Denver, that focuses on serving dishes typical of rural Japan, especially its mountain prefectures. Below are some pictures.

Waiting for supper

Waiting for supper

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Inside

Inside

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Making Friends

Midsommar                                                            Most Heat Moon

Fourth of July party at Steve and Jamie Bernstein’s. We went to this last year. I knew nobody. Jamie is Kate’s friend from the Bailey Patchworkers and the needleworkers. Since then we’ve become more engaged at Congregation Beth Evergreen, Jamie and Steve are members there, too. They’re both in the kabbalah class I’m taking with Rabbi Jamie Arnold. So this time I knew the hosts, too.

Their home is down a private road, maintained by a resident’s association. It overlooks Pike’s Peak in the distance with many mountain peaks between their home and this famous piece of Colorado history.

Since we showed up very fashionably late, the party was winding down. This meant we had a chance to talk with Steve and Jamie. Their party is big and they are excellent hosts so they move from guest to guest with little chance for in depth conversation. We had a good chat with them, touching on matters Jewish, kabbalistic, Beth Evergreen. I referred to Rabbi Jamie as Jamie and realized I’d been too informal. Gonna have to stick to Rabbi, though it seems over done for me. But, in the Jewish world, the Rabbi is the Rabbi.

Gradually, slowly making friends here. A week from today we’ll attend Marilyn Saltzman’s 70th birthday brunch. Marilyn is the chair of the adult ed committee at Beth Evergreen. We had dinner at her house with Irv and two of their friends a few weeks back.

 

 

Reunion Weekend

Midsommar                                                                    Most Heat Moon

20170423_090148We had a light frost the other night. The weather has been generally cool since Kate left which is ironic. Friday and yesterday were her 55th reunion, today she drives back to the Twin Cities to stay with longtime friend Penny Bond. Monday the ladies who lunch will gather to include her again while she’s in town.

Kate’s made contact with many Coloradans, at first with the Bailey Patchworkers, then with the Needleworkers and now with Beth Evergreen. During her recent Sjogren’s flare all of these groups expressed concern about her. She’s only been here a couple of years but she has integrated into the community. Good to see.

Jon and the grandkids have walked the Great Sand Dunes, driven to the ancient dwellings at Mesa Verde and will head north to the Dinosaur National Monument before coming home. Jon invited me to come to the Dinosaur National Monument and meet them there, but this is Kate’s reunion weekend and I’m the official dog guy. Otherwise, I’d have done it. It’s one of the many places in Colorado I want to see. It’s a bit unusual in that it is in Colorado and in Utah, following the course of the Green River.

20170618_082145I’ve been speculating about my knee, about how hard I can push it and not have to replace it too soon. Tough since I want to keep my cardio work up. My decision so far has been to privilege my heart over my knee, reasoning that heart health has longer term benefits, but I don’t want to be stupid about it either. Decided last night that I want to see my internist, Lisa Gidday and get some guidance.

Today is mundane: groceries, laundry, groom Kep. Work on reimagining. No workout today. Going back to Sunday as a rest day for now. I prefer to workout, but there’s that nagging thing about the knee. A bit of caution right now.

The Daily

Midsommar                                                                 Moon of the Summer Solstice

20170423_090148Jon and the grandkids took off yesterday for the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde and the Dinosaur National Monument. Sounds like a great summer vacation to me. Kate leaves Thursday morning for her 55th! high school reunion in Nevada, Iowa. She’ll fly into Minneapolis, pick up a rental and drive down to Nevada with her sister Anne who also has a reunion the same day. That leaves me here with Rigel, Gertie and Kepler until next Tuesday. Batchin’ it as the old lingo suggested.

Reimagining work is underway. Yesterday I went through Ancientrails and copied posts related to it into a Word file. 200,000 words. That will take a while to wade through. I’m considering printing it out, around 400 pages worth, so I can work with it more easily. After I’ve revisited my earlier work, dug out all the file folders and examined my Reimaging bookshelf carefully, an outline will be the next step, then a research plan to support the outline. A timeline will come, too, I suppose; but, my writing timelines have a way of being wrong. Still, the discipline of having one is good, so I’ll make one.

Any day the Sun will return to shineIt’s been hot here, but the normal summer sort of hot, not the cringe worthy temperature spikes of other spots. A friend from Tucson posted their 5 day forecast on facebook the other day. The lows in that forecast were higher than our highs. It’s not so bad here. And, it turns out, dry heat is more bearable than the moist heat of a Minnesota summer, even at a higher temperature.

Tonight I have kabbalah, tomorrow the far more mundane 90,000 mile service for our Rav4 after I take Kate to the airport for her trip. Mussar at 1pm. Then, a quiet house until Tuesday.

 

 

Shadow Mountain Seen

Beltane                                                                  Moon of the Summer Solstice

When ancientrails came into being, it was to fill time while I healed from surgery to repain (ha, I meant repair, but this covers it, too) an achilles tendon rupture. I was off my feet for two months, crutches after that.

This morning I enjoyed the results of another surgical procedure, the total knee replacement I had on December 1st of last year. The work out I got from On the Move Fitness has strengthened my abductors and adductors, giving me more ease with hiking over rocks as well as climbing and descending on the trail.

Today Rigel really, really wanted to go with me. I had to get some stuff out of the car and left the door open. She crawled in and sat up, regal Rigel, in the seat, ignoring me when I asked her to come out. She was hurt that I wanted her to give up a spot she’d earned on her own. So, I took her.

As a result, I stopped at a spot where I’ve seen cars parked many times, a spot where there is no trailhead, no named trail. It’s close to our house and I decided to do a shorter hike since Rigel, hardly leash trained, needed to stay in the car. It was cool, low 50’s, but I didn’t want her in there too long.

The trail I found ushered me out, after maybe half a mile, onto a series of rocky cliffs that overlooked Shadow Mountain. It’s the first vantage point I’ve found, in the two and half years we’ve been here, where you can actually see Shadow Mountain. That was exciting. The vista was almost pristine, with very few houses visible. Unusual up here, so close to the city. Here’s what I saw.

Shadow Mountain. We live off to the right and behind what you can see.

Shadow Mountain. We live off to the right and behind what you can see.

Shadow Mountain

Shadow Mountain

Toward Evergreen with Brook Forest Drive/Black Mountain Drive in the distance

Toward Evergreen with Brook Forest Drive/Black Mountain Drive in the distance

Along the trail

Along the trail

Me, amazed or just gasping for

Me, amazed or just gasping for breath

Continuation

Beltane                                                                               Moon of the Summer Solstice

20170601_183426On Thursday night Jon and I drove into Stapleton. Ruth’s 5th grade class had presentations and exhibitions for class projects, then there was the oddly named “continuation” ceremony in which each 5th grader got a diploma. This was their last event at Schweigert elementary because next year each of them will be in middle school.

Ruth’s outfit and her posture speak for her in this fuzzy cell phone photo. Other girls had on white dresses with fancy shoes; but, not our Ruth, a girl in the fifth grade with fashion sensibilities I didn’t develop until college. She was one of two girls dressed down for the occasion. The other one had on t-shirt that said, “I like to fart at night.” The rest were in some version of fancy.

These occasions are fraught for Jon, and I suspect for Jen too. The hostility, shame, guilt and resulting tension from the marriage has not yet dissipated, but events important to the kids naturally bring them in proximity to each other. The day after this time at Schweigert Jen went to the police complaining about harassment from Jon, trying to trigger a violation of the restraining order. I don’t know why she did it, but I imagine inner turmoil from Ruth’s event contributed to the timing.

20170601_174005Ruth is a gifted student, a rebel and a usually sweet kid. She has a depressive side which can make her angry, sulky. She also resists, stubbornly, talking about her feelings, refusing to open up to counselors in the aftermath of the divorce. Her 5th grade teacher referred to her as a “little spitfire” whom she would remember forever. That’s Ruth in a phrase.

Being a grandparent of troubled kids, both Ruth and Gabe, is difficult. We can see what’s happening, have an idea about what would be helpful, but possess little true leverage, especially in these months so soon after the final orders for the divorce. What we can do is show up, love them, and offer, with some delicacy, our ideas.

I ache for Ruth, seeing all the potential, all the possibility in her, yet watching her forced to deal with emotional currents far too complex for her current level of emotional maturity. She does have her own reading chair in the loft and she sometimes retreats here with her kindle.

 

Wild, Wild Horses

Beltane                                                                                 Rushing Waters Moon

I belong to a facebook group called Front Range Wildlife Photographers. The following photographs are by Boulder resident Michelle Theall. I think they’re amazing.

Michelle Theall3Michelle Theall2Michelle Theall

Naturally

Beltane                                                                                          Rushing Waters Moon

Upper Maxwell Falls

Upper Maxwell Falls

I’ve found the Colorado equivalent of Minnesota’s Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA’s). Here they’re called Colorado Designated Natural Areas. “Designated Natural Areas contain a wide representation of Colorado’s ra​re plants and animals, unique plant communities, rich fossil locations, and geological features.” I enjoyed visiting these areas in Minnesota. Sounds like they’re a little more diverse here. Road trip!

Little Forces, Big Results

Spring                                                                           Rushing Waters Moon

Upper Maxwell Falls, 2015

Upper Maxwell Falls, 2015

The mountain streams we see regularly: Shadow Brook, Maxwell Creek, Bear Creek, Cub Creek have begun, a bit early, I think, their post-ice plummet toward sea level. In May these streams are often boiling, filled with snow melt and pushing the limits of their banks. On any given day driving past them as they speed downhill, down the mountain, they look interesting, worth watching for the tumult; but, in fact, these racing streams are much more than merely interesting.

They are the levelers of mother earth. They take the mighty and strip them down to size, pebble by pebble, rock by rock, chunks of soil by chunks of soil. A defining characteristic of a mountain is its imposing size, its thereness. Mountains dominate their landscape, putting up barriers to human passage that often forced the pioneers of nineteenth century America to go around them rather than over them. They seem, in the moment, eternal.

When living in or visiting a relatively young mountain range like the Rockies, no reasonable person would ever expect them to look any different than they do right now. Colorado is proud of its fourteeners, those summits exceeding 14,000 feet. Mt. Evans, for example has a summit of 14,265 feet. That’s precise. And, would you add it to a website or book or road sign if you expected it to change? No.

Near Bailey, 2015

Near Bailey, 2015

But it will. One only has to drive east toward the Atlantic to see what’s in store for even Mt. Evans. Look at the Appalachians. Their mountain building episode (orogeny) happened around 480 million years ago. When it was done, the Appalachians stood as tall as the contemporary Rockies. The Rocky Mountain orogeny was a quite recent, geologically speaking, 80 million years ago. They too will wear down.

In the spring we see this process at its most obvious as mountain streams from every summit in every range of the Rocky Mountains, including here in the Front Range, obey gravity and try to find the lowest points available to them. Of course, the streams are not the only process at work. Drive on Highway 285 out of Conifer, as we do often going down or returning from Denver, and you will see large steel mesh hanging over some cliffs. In other places there are bolts driven into the side of rock faces, giving them a slightly Frankensteinian look. In other spots massive retaining walls of concrete encase an especially troublesome chunk of mountain.

These CDOT efforts are not always successful, witness the many Watch for Falling Rocks signs sprinkled throughout Colorado. Freezing and thawing splits the rock faces and they come tumbling down, creating talus or road obstructions. Just this last year, near Glenwood Springs, a large boulder broke loose from its millions of years long position and crashed down on an SUV on I-70, killing the driver. Winds, too, often reaching high double digit speeds, also wear away the rock.

These forces are slow, miniscule in appearance, but massive in their results over long periods of time. When driving by a mountain stream in full force, remember the Appalachians. They’re coming, but not soon, to a Rocky Mountain range near me.

A, just A

Spring                                                                              Passover Moon

1042886_grande

Yesterday on my Lego store, IKEA, Dairy Queen outing-all in the interest of Ruth and Gabe-I saw an unusual and unusually striking sight. While waiting for the stoplight at Chester and Yosemite after visiting IKEA, a flash of mylar caught my eye. In a parking lot across Yosemite I saw a person struggling, or at least that’s what I thought it was, to put shiny objects into their vehicle. Since the same shapes moved in, then came back out a couple of times, I realized it wasn’t going well. Then, just as most of them disappeared inside, one broke loose and drifted up, up, up into the air.

It was a silvery colored mylar A. As it lifted out of reach, the person at the vehicle looked up. Turning once onto its side, it became a triangular aircraft, life a B2 bomber. Then some current of air turned it again and it faded away toward the north, a clear and flashy A, signaling itself as a familiar part of the alphabet on a journey all its own, freed from both words and the earth.

 

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