At a Journal Workshop

Beltane                                                                      Rushing Waters Moon

My Intensive Journal from 2014

My Intensive Journal from 2014

This Sunday I start my fourth Intensive Journal Workshop. It runs each day through Friday, the 10th. The whole rising psa, get in the oncological spirit matter has come up since I decided to attend. Makes the whole process even more important. What’s life like for me post the move to Colorado? What’s the next few years’ focus?

No question that health matters have had pride of place almost from the time we got here. My prostate cancer diagnosis came in April and May of 2015, only months after we moved into our house. Kate’s multiple issues, Sjogren’s, the bleed, food aversion and weight loss, anemia, and lung disease have dominated for almost 18 months. We both had joint replacements, my knee, her shoulder.

20190501_090802Having said that, they don’t compare to the importance of having been here for Jon and the kids during that messy divorce and its aftermath. Which continues. Nor do they compare in importance to finding Congregation Beth Evergreen. Or, the constant wonder and awe of living in the Rocky Mountains. Or, the creation of a new family with Joe and SeoAh’s marriage.

How have all these things changed me? What do they suggest for things that need emphasis, and things that need to go in the compost heap of my life? An introvert’s delight, the journal workshop. It’s my birthday present, maybe the best one ever. Thanks, Kate.

My Age

Spring                                                                          Rushing Waters Moon

20190421_130639Earth day. Gabe turns 11. At the baseball game I asked Gabe what would change when he turned 11. “My age,” he replied. He’s that kinda kid.

Four signs of spring in three days. Pesach. Easter. A baseball game. Earth day. April is grandchild birthday month for us. Ruth, a sophisticated 13, loves Domo, the Japanese restaurant. Gabe, 11, said, yes, I’d like that, to my baseball game idea. Gabe, Ruth, Jon, and I saw the Rockies, cellar dwellers, beat the division leading Phillies 4 to 1.

It was a day game, started at 1:10. Had to leave here, in the snow, at 11:45. It was 41 on Shadow Mountain, when I got into Denver it was 67 and rainy. Even with the weather delay the game didn’t run too long with the Rockies stopping the Phillies in the top of the ninth. It got cooler and windier as the game progressed. Gabe, true to his Norwegian DNA, wore shorts and a t-shirt. I had on a fleece, a flannel overshirt, a scarf, and a hat. Even though I could see the goose bumps on his arms and legs, he only asked for a coat a couple of times. Late in the game he even got ice cream in a small blue baseball hat. Geez.

The Aurora Olsons

The Aurora Olsons

When Joe was six, I started taking him to see the Minnesota Twins in the now deflated and unmissed Metrodome. We got partial season tickets, probably saw 20 games. It was, however, 1987 and those same Twins went on that season to win the World Series. Joe’s been a baseball fan ever since. Me, not so much. Fishing and baseball I did as a father with a son.

The game yesterday was fun, in spite of the chilly weather. The Rockies had lots of offense, twice leaving the bases loaded when an inning ended. Two three-hundred million dollar players, Arenado for the Rockies and Bryce Harper for the Phillies, were on the field. Arenado looked good, Harper not so much, but it’s a long season.

 

 

Move

Spring                                                                         Recovery Moon

Home gym

Home gym

Ooff. Beware what you wish for. Got back to working out yesterday. Huffing and puffing. Resting between sets. My legs were rubbery when I left the gym and this morning when I got out of bed. Detrained. Starting back, even slow, was difficult. No other way to get there though. And, just two sets plus cardio. A ways to go. Glad to have begun, however.

This is an ancientrail that didn’t use to exist. Back when we were mostly farmers or laborers, back when we were still in the veldt hunting and gathering, exercise wasn’t necessary. It came with the day. Run down some game. Climb a tree for fruit. Hoe the field. Gather in the grain. Hitch up the oxen. It’s only since farming and manual labor diminished that we’ve been getting the modern, sitting disease. Now we live in cities, drive or otherwise ride to work, and find desks a more common habitat than the field. We are victims of our more brain less strain lifestyle.

This means we have to find time in a life occupied by other things, gathering money rather than tubers, for example, to move our bodies and stress our muscles. It seems unnatural, the treadmill or the bike, the weights, the bands, the various exercises, yet in fact it is exercising the body that is natural and our modern daily routine that is not.

Here in Colorado getting outside hiking, climbing, biking, camping, hunting, fishing are popular. Our spectacular natural amenities the mountains, the snow, fast flowing rivers and streams beckon, are visible even from downtown Denver. Yet 5280, a glossy magazine covering the Denver metro scene, had a recent issue devoted to work/life balance. Seems metro folk work more hours per week than most other cities in the U.S.

finishWhen you read the literature, it’s clear that exercise is not only beneficial, but necessary for good health, especially as we age. I didn’t start until my late 30’s and it took me a while to get regular at it. Now it feels weird to me if I don’t get in my workouts on a regular basis. The last two months were an anomaly and one I didn’t like.

Exercise not only benefits the body, but the mind as well. Yes, endorphins release if you go hard and that’s reinforcing, but for me, the real advantage is the knowledge that I’m caring for myself. If you do what you can, diet and exercise (and my diet is ok, barely), then what comes is part of the aging process.

The trick, at least for me, was staying with it long enough for exercise to become a habit, one that felt more normal than ignoring it. It wasn’t easy and I had long stretches where I could have quit. Glad I didn’t. Not sure what kept me at it. I’m a believer at age 72. When my personal trainer said I moved better than a lot of the 30 and 40 year olds she saw in the gym, I was surprised, but pleased. Worth it.

 

Became Native to This Place

Imbolc                                                                Valentine Moon

we're waiting to transition to a feeding tube placed in the jejunum

we’re waiting to transition to a feeding tube placed in the jejunum

UPS delivers vitamins and bags of nutrients for Kate. On Tuesday we got a box with a styrofoam container, two gel packs to keep things cool, bubble wrap filling the container, about 12x12x12. Two vials of vitamins. Next day, two more boxes, same size, syringes, nutrient bags, batteries (a fresh 9 volt goes into the pump every day), saline flushes, heparin locks, tubing for the pump that connects to Kate’s picc line.

The logistics of this tpn feeding are remarkable. Not only do they have to ship us the right amount of stuff, it has to get here on a timely basis. And, the nutrient bags have a mixture that is tuned according to Kate’s labs, which can change on a weekly basis. Somebody has to coordinate all that and make sure the counts are right, the nutrient’s up to date, and that it gets here so we can use it. But, you can’t send too much at once because the tpn might be stopped, or certain things, like the vitamins and nutrients might spoil.

tpn4It’s no wonder medical costs are high. All of these things are one use only: syringes, nutrients, saline flushes and heparin flushes (each in their own individual packing), batteries, tubing, alcohol wipes, even the packaging for the deliveries. The need for sterility drives most of this. Kate’s picc line ends near her heart in the superior venous cava, which means there is a direct link between the outside, non-sterile world and that vip organ. Even the tiniest mistake in sterile procedure could have disastrous, catastrophic results. No pressure, eh?

I’ve gotten more facile with the various steps required to change out Kate’s nutrient bags. She draws the vitamins out of their vials using syringes. She and Julie, the home health nurse, make that look easy, but my fingers don’t find it so. As Kate said, my dexterity is in my brain, not my fingers. The rest of it, I can do. I could figure that one out, too, but with Kate’s expertise, why?

20181230_064700Grieving now. Looking at things around the house with that critical, ok what do we need to do with this in order to sell the house eye. Driving up the mountain considering how many more times I’ll be able to see Black Mountain on my left as I climb Shadow Mountain to our home near its peak. Not anxious about it, just sad.

Place is very important to me. Andover taught me that. Even though we lived there twenty years I never made my peace with the suburban blandness. No there there, was the way I put it. Oh, yes, our property had a definite sense of place, but it was set in a context that numbed the mind. At least my mind. Here, the opposite is true. I love the mountains, the vistas, the curves in the road. The weather. The ever changing face of Black Mountain.

As the John Muir quote on my e-mails says, “You are not in the mountains, the mountains are in you.” It’s an aesthetic sensibility. Over my years at the MIA I learned how important aesthetics were to me. Always have been. Deep in my soul. Perhaps it’s even the root of my pagan leanings, the aesthetic link I feel between myself and the natural world.

 

Worn Out

Winter (last day)                                                                    Waxing Moon

Me driving home

Me driving home

OK. You guys win. Extreme Minnesota macho points earned these last few days. And, I saw that Paul Douglas predicts a 100 degree temperature swing! 100 degrees. You wouldn’t want to hear that if it was 52 outside and the direction was up, but in this situation, hallelujah brothers and sisters! Thank you, Jesus. And, Mohamed. And, Moses. Meanwhile up here in the tropical Rocky Mountains we’ve had mid-40’s for highs.

Yesterday. OMG. I pushed myself past some inner limit, way past. When I got up, it wasn’t a hop of bed, ready to greet the day moment. It was a let’s pull the blanket back over my head, switch the electric blanket back on and quit the world at least for the morning moment. Not a good time.

I had to make chicken soup with matzo balls (made by Kate). I had to take the soup to Golden with Kate. I had to go to CBE and teach the first hour of religious school, then head out for Aurora and Jon’s show. While down there, I had to go to Maria’s Empanada’s and get a dozen for Kate. I could head back up the mountain.

exhaustionAny of these things separately, happy, joyful tasks. All of them on the same day, a day that started with fatigue on waking? The happiness and joy would have to be in retrospect. I make chicken soup from scratch, with a whole chicken, cut up celery, onions, carrots, and garlic sauteed first. Wine to deglaze. Add water, lot of water. The chicken in its wire mesh cage. Wait for it to boil. Up here, longer than normal. An hour or so of simmering, then a package of frozen peas and one of frozen corn. Another ten minute. Retrieve the chicken, set it out to cool. Later, pick the meat from the bones. Put it in the soup. A lot of standing.

Got a lie down while the soup boiled, but it didn’t prove very restful. Back at the stove I finished the soup. At that point, time to go to Golden. About a 40 minute drive there, 40 minutes back. Dropped off the soup, 18 cups of it plus matzo balls. Back home to let Kate out. On the road right away to CBE. Spent a couple of hours there, getting food ready, talking to the kids as they came in. This was a first semester review. That went ok.

When Irene came to lead the dreams workshop, I left to go Aurora. This was at 5:00 pm. After a brutal hour and twenty minutes, I was in the gallery, talking to Jon about his new work. When I hit the big traffic on 6th street, congestion that lasted all the way across the city, my body began to resist what I was doing. I got sleepy, inattentive, restless. Just wanted to go home. Felt miserable. Wasn’t even close to my destination. Denver does not have a way to travel from east to west, west to east without encountering either dense urban traffic, or dense, worse freeway traffic on I-70. At 5 pm, that missing artery makes the lives of any one going either way awful.

exhaustedI’m not describing this well. I was a runner in a marathon. My resources had tapped out around 5 pm. As I got onto 6th street going east past Santa Fe, I hit the wall. Still had to cross Denver, get into Aurora, see Jon, then Maria’s. By the time I pulled out of the Stanley Marketplace parking lot, empanadas steaming in their cardboard box, I had half the marathon to finish. But I was already finished. My bed, however, was over an hour away, 45 miles, the first 20 miles back across the Denver metro. No choice.

Leaving Highway 6 going west, merging onto I-70, then 470, I began to wonder if I was going to make it home. My attention was split between fatigue and the road. At 72 there are many parts of driving that are essentially automated. They took over. I tried to remind myself to watch that car ahead, find the Fairplay exit, slow down in Morrison. It felt like I was carrying the car up the hill toward Shadow Mountain.

Kate, bless her heart, cleaned up most of the kitchen, something that was weighing on me. Get home, beyond exhausted, and clean up? OMG. Usually I clean up right away but the time frame of the day made that impossible. She’s doing better, not gaining weight yet, but she’s willing to pitch in now and again. This time it really mattered.

This morning I’m still bushwhacked, wrung out, sleepy, but I finished the marathon and slept in my own bed. A good start. Read a Harvard Business Review article, Resilience is not about enduring; it’s about recharging. That’s my job today, maybe tomorrow. Recharge.

So Beautiful

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

Our snowpack. Needed for the trees and our well

Our snowpack beside the front door. Needed for the trees and our well

Another 6 or 8 inches of snow yesterday. Snowiest January since 1993. The northern half and eastern quadrant of Colorado watersheds have above average snowpack. Critically, the Colorado Headwaters area is at 116%. The south western quadrant of the state though is below average in two spots, including the Durango area where the big fires burned last summer.

So beautiful. The lodgepoles carry snowy covers on their branches. The deer, rabbits, fox that come through our yard leave their tracks.The rising sun colors the snow on Black Mountain, right now a light flush pink. Bright blue sky behind the mountain.

Not so good for those of us animals who need carapaces and wheels. This is the google traffic map from yesterday. Rush hour. Add in altitude and you get a real mess. This is when commuting to Denver from Conifer separates the brave from the foolish.

 

metro roads 1 28

Kate’s initiated a get-out of the house plan. She said last week that she felt isolated and alone, so we’re going to go somewhere each day. Yesterday we went to the post office. Today, the King Sooper Starbucks for Kate while I pick up some groceries. Tomorrow? Who knows?

creation of the waters

creation of the waters

Last week I painted the creation of the universe, the shattering of the ohr. Followed it with the creation of the waters. Next up: land. I tried to show an island in my first attempt. Not so good. I like the first two, I’m starting over today on land. I’m going to get somehow to Eden and humans and that tree. Will take awhile. Hard to say in the abstract paint language I’m using. But, that’s part of the fun.

Astrological learning has been on hold. Painting, exercise, and Kate have gotten my focus along with CBE. Gonna get back to it, though. Probably a reading with Elisa’s astrologer, John, to kick off the next phase of my learning.

Just entered the Chicken soup cookoff at CBE. Gonna get some practice today, picking up soup supplies during the grocery shopping at King Sooper. Taking some to a friend, leaving some behind for Kate and me. Kate loves my chicken soup. My heirloom recipe came off the Golden Plump packages when I bought chickens in Minnesota. Here, I do it from memory.

Sweet Cream Pancakes and more

Winter                                                                         Waxing Moon

20190126_091138When Mark and Tom were here, we tried to recapitulate our Durango trip breakfast at the Rustic Station. Turned out they only serve breakfast on weekends. Yesterday was my monthly run to the Happy Camper for cannabis. Thank you, Centennial State. Since it was Saturday, I decided to have breakfast at the Rustic Station, just down the hill, the really, really big hill from the Happy Camper. And, I did. These are why. Sweet cream pancakes. Not my usual fare, but they are amazing.

Kate had a not so good day yesterday. Nausea. When that happens, it effects her emotionally. Disappointment. Frustration. Reinforcing her down state. She got better as the day went on, but it had taken its toll. Not sure why.

We’ve started on the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. We have, too, a 2,000, a 3,000, a 4,000, and a 5,000 piece puzzle. Kate thinks it will take us ten years to complete them. Depends, I suppose, on how much effort we put in.

Rustic Station

Rustic Station

Back to my six day rhythm of workouts, three resistance, three cardio. Don’t always make the six, but that’s the benchmark. I hit it a lot once I’ve gotten back into it. Always makes me feel better. Three big motivators: increased health span, feel better in the moment, habit.

My Korean cooking chops are modest, but improving. Bulgogi on Friday, a dumpling soup last night. Tonight some pork and cabbage, potatoes. H-Mart also had one nostalgic food for me: smelt. I love fried smelt and when the smelt used to run in abundance on Lake Superior, out of the cold streams that flow down the Sawtooth Mountains, I used to make them a lot. Then the smelt diminished and I haven’t had them for a long time. Kate says I can have all them to myself. Just fine. A beaten egg, seasoned corn meal or bread crumbs, cooking oil. Lunch.

Kep, hunting

Kep, hunting

Gertie’s still sore, but she’s running around, wagging her tail.  She came up the stairs to the loft yesterday afternoon in spite of the wounds on her haunch. We’re cleaning her wounds with hibi-cleanse. Kate used it before her shoulder surgery.

Gert’s been bitten by many different dogs. Not sure what makes her so bitable. She can be annoying. As for yesterday, we both wondered whether her more feeble habitus, arthritic left leg, blind in one eye and decreasing vision in the other, might make her more vulnerable. Kep’s still the omega in our little pack and he may be looking to move up in the hierarchy. Hope not, because that would suggest more to come.

spsBrother Mark seems to be finding a home in Saudi Arabia, at least an ex-pat style home. It’s nuances are more clear to him, being up north in Arar the weather is more clement and there’s access to other Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Syria, Iraq. As he said, “Not everybody gets a chance to live in a medieval kingdom.” True that.

Jon has a new show going up on Wednesday, the annual Aurora art teacher’s exhibition. He has several new pieces in it. I will attend, leaving a bit early from religious school. On Friday he, Ruthie and I will wander Santa Fe for the First Friday art crawl. Santa Fe north of Sixth has many galleries, museums, studios. Food trucks come down. It’s fun. I’ve only been once, but I really liked it.

 

 

 

Tajikistani Comfort

Winter                                                                Waxing Moon

20190118_104419Quick geopolitical quiz. Where is Tajikistan? No googling, no globe, no world map. Where is it? If you know, you get the sister city of Boulder appellation, Friend of Dushanbe. Friend of what? Oh, you didn’t know that Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan? No, we’re not revoking your nametag. Not only are we not revoking your nametag, we’re inviting you over to tea at a traditional Tajikistan Tea House donated to Boulder by the citizens of Dushanbe. And, it’s a stunner.

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse was fabricated in Tajikistan and then reassembled in Boulder, much like the Teahouse exhibited in the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Japanese galleries. The result puts you in another place. The intricate, colorful glazed tiles and the carefully hand carved wooden pillars lit by floor to ceiling windows makes the dining room seem both familiar and exotic, intimate, yet expansive. 20190118_123043Though we didn’t sit on one of them, there were also raised platforms with cushions and short tables. Looked like fun to me.

The menu has an assortment of dishes ranging from Lapsang Souchong Bulgogi to a Russian Beet Salad. We spent a leisurely hour and a half eating hummus, samosas, and the Russian Beet Salad. The deserts were wonderful, too.

I picked up an ounce of white tea, Silver Needle. My disappointment with the physics of boiling water at 8,800 feet sorta knocked me out of the tea making habit I’d developed in Andover. The Teahouse inspired me to suck it up and get back to it. Starting today, I plan to add tea-making back into my daily routine.

Fellow Travelers

Fellow Travelers

While we ate a gentle snow fell, visible through the large windows. Could have been a morning in Dushanbe. After our meal, we drove over to McGuckin’s. It’s a hardware store, but so much more. First, it’s the size of a big box retailer. It’s aisles have that distinctive hardware shelving and signage, but they include furniture, fly fishing equipment, art supplies, humidifiers, a dizzying range of power tools, garden tools. The atmosphere was laid back, many folks meandering around, like us, taking in its immensity. I found a large brush to paint backgrounds and some tape to use for outlining. A few sponges, too.

Dark Lane, Southowram, England

Dark Lane, Southowram, England

The drive back home, about an hour in normal conditions, took almost two. Tom did his usual masterful, calm job as helmsman. Unfortunately the timing meant that he and Mark dropped me off, then headed back down the mountain to make their 7:00 pm flight. DIA is far from our house and you have to traverse the whole of the Denver metro to get there. Not a fun drive.

Ram Dass sums it up: We’re all just walking each other home. Tom and Mark came out and we hiked another few miles toward that final destination, the most ancientrail of all. The precious value of knowing we’re not walking alone turns us into fellow pilgrims. Life without travel companions is a burden; with fellow pilgrims it’s a rich, exciting journey toward the unknown.

 

Water, Water, Somewhere

Winter                                                                        Waxing Moon

water colorado river basinOur first major snowstorm of the season is upon us. We’ve gotten 4 or 5 inches already and it’s only been snowing since midnight. May get 8-10 inches. Black Mountain has disappeared behind a gray-blue curtain, the lodgepoles look like flocked Christmas trees, and our solar panels have a 4 inch white blanket between themselves and the sun. No appointments today, no meetings. We can take this storm in as it comes, not see it as a barrier. We’ll get plowed today, I’m sure, so no worries there either. Let it snow.

Snow is so important here. Obviously it fuels the winter tourism economy, giving skiers destinations like Breckenridge, Aspen, Copper Mountain, Vail, Crested Butte. It transforms the mountains from gray eminences to white peaks that sometimes look like whipped cream on the horizon. But these are ancillary benefits.

Water2There are two other effects that are critical to life both here in the Colorado Rockies and in the southwestern U.S. A good snow season reduces the threat of wildfire in the spring and summer until the monsoons come. That effects Kate and me and our neighbors directly. It feels much better going into summer having had plenty of moisture for the trees and the soil. A good snow season also recharges our aquifers, makes sure we’ll have water throughout the next year. This is an immediate, right here result of good snow.

But effecting even more people is the snow melt* carried by the Colorado River downstream. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming take an allocated and collective 16,400,000 acre feet per year. Problem is this amount, agreed to in a 1928 compact, is an inaccurate estimate of the actual annual flow of the Colorado. Based on tree ring data it’s somewhere between  13,200,000 acre feet and 14,300,000 acre feet a year. This is known by folks who deal with this complicated issue as “the gap.”

water crb blm“Total population in the Colorado River Basin (CRB) increased from 4.56 to 9.44 million people from 1985 to 2010. Most of those people were in the lower CRB, with 86 percent of the total in 1985, and 90 percent of the total in 2010.”** The snowpack numbers, created by our annual snowfall, are critical not only here, because the Front Range and the Denver Metro rely on the Colorado River, but throughout the seven state CRB. These figures, almost invisible to the population of the humid east, are never far from the minds of government officials at the state, county, and municipal level here in the arid west, or the population as a whole.

The gap is a problem for obvious reasons. Drought years, like last year when the snowpack was well below normal, and the increasing population in the CRB both reinforce and multiply the effects of the gap. As the Water Defenders fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline repeatedly said, “Water is life.” These are not trivial matters, so seeing a healthy snowfall is a joy and a relief to all of us living out here.

water_use_pieFinally, here is the problem that bedevils all those effected by The Law of the River, a web of compacts, federal laws, court decisions and decrees, contracts, and regulatory guidelines.* As this graph clearly shows irrigation is the largest claim on the CRB’s water by an order of magnitude. Add to that the allocation for livestock and aquaculture and 82% of the allocation goes to agriculture of one kind or another. We need food, those who grow our food need water. With public uses only 17% of the pie even the most draconian water policies in cities and areas like the Front Range will not move the needle much in total water use. Add to this the problem of the gap, droughts, and rapidly increasing populations, five of the fastest growing states in the nation are part of the CRB, then you can begin to imagine the tense negotiations required to maintain the status quo, let alone plan sensibly for the future.

So, as I said at the end of the first paragraph, let it snow. Please.

*data here from this wikipedia site.

**USGS site

Crullers, Empanadas, Goddesses, and Mussar

Winter                                                                                Waxing Moon

20190104_104318_001Made a big circle yesterday. Drove into Denver on 6, a six lane version of 6th Street between hwy 470 and Santa Fe. Wanted to try LeMar’s Donuts since Kate needs weight and likes donuts. It’s right at the intersection 6th and Santa Fe. I like Bismarck’s and crullers, Kate prefers original glazed. The Bismarck at LaMars was about twice the size of the usual. It was quiet there, mid-morning, after the before work rush. This picture is the counter.

Maybe 6-8 blocks further on 6th is Broadway. Turned right and headed south toward Louisiana Street. Broadway is fascinating. After it passes under I-25, just north of Mississippi, you could call it the Green Mile thanks to the number of dispensaries between there and Englewood. There are also funky bars, used bookstores, antique shops, design studios. Meiningers, the art supply store I mentioned earlier and the Wizard’s Chest, a magic and costume shop fit right in. At Louisiana sits Maria’s Empanadas.

cookingKate wanted more mushroom empanadas, corn, and spinach. Lisa Gidday, our internist, had recommended the spinach. “Your new favorite food.” I got an Argentina which has steak, onions, and red peppers.

The woman behind the counter had a very thick accent, Argentinian, I assume. Even with hearing aids accents often defeat me and with the ambient noise, we had difficulty communicating. I hope, in these situations, that I don’t come off as insensitive because I keep asking, “What?” The bill was more than I expected, but after my discomfort with our interaction, I just paid.

I have the same frustration with Vanessa. She’s a member of our mussar group at CBE who has MAS, a neurological disease that makes it very difficult for her to speak or swallow. It is, for her and me, a perfect storm. She can’t speak very well and I can’t hear very well. Third phase life.

20190104_112922As I drove further on the Green Mile, I came across Goddess Isis books. I thought it was on Colorado. I’d always wanted to stop and this was my chance. I’d accomplished my errands and had some free time.

Goddess Isis books used to be Isis books, but the turmoil with Daesh, or Isis in Iraq and Syria, occasioned the name change. Isis has books on astrology, Celtic magic, love magic, shamanism, Hinduism, chakras, a wall full of different Tarot decks, multiple statues and figures ranging from dragons to Kali to cutesy fairies. There’s also a magical apothecary with jars not of herbs or granola, but ingredients for spells.

I picked up Indian Temple Incense, a coloring book of the Tarot deck (to implant those images in my mind), and a magazine called Witches and Pagans. Wanted to see what the broader community was thinking. When asked how I was doing  by the owner, an older woman in a flower print dress with a flowing outer cover, I replied, as I often do, “I think I’ll make it.” She laughed and said, “I know I will.”

Our mussar groups sponsored a potluck last night. First time I’d been to CBE in a while since religious school shut down for the holidays. Lot of questions about Kate. “She’s improving, but had a setback the last couple of days.”

Still strange to me to be picked out as one of the mussar leaders, but I was, working with a small group to talk about the middot of responsibility. A quick example of how mussar works. When it came my turn to read, I had a long paragraph with a lot of Hebrew. I felt shy since the others all did much better than me at pronouncing it. And, I was leading.

Had a cruller after I came home. Unusual, but hey, it had been a long day.