Defendable Homes

Summer and the waning (4%) Radiation Moon

Down to single digits. Nine more treatments. Life after radiation (a bit of a joke, ha) is coming next week. Only three bedbugs were ever found. There was a “bubble” of people who sat in that chair at the approximate time Anova suspects the bugs transferred. They’re having them do extra preparation before they can come into treatment. Not me. Nope. No bedbugs here on the mountain. Gratitude. Probably means I’ll finish on August 9th.

My friend Dave, personal trainer Dave, has calmed down the nausea from his brain cancer chemo. Deb told me yesterday that he rode 78 miles last week, 20 miles that day. He’s in phenomenal shape. You might remember my mentioning that he ran a 15 mile endurance race in British Columbia, the Fitzsimmon Mountains. Lots of elevation gain. This was a year ago. Part of the motivation for staying in shape during cancer treatment is to prove you’re still alive, still have agency over your body. Take that, brain cancer. Take that, prostate cancer.

Found all this out when I took in the check for a large lug of Western Slope peaches. There’s a small section of the Western Slope (of the Rockies, in Colorado) that’s perfect for growing fancy peaches. Tents pop up along roads selling Colorado Peaches. On the Move Fitness takes orders from clients and organizes a bulk purchase from Green Barn Produce. Pick’em up next week. Kate’s going to make a sizable batch of peaches frozen in orange juice.

Another Colorado moment yesterday. On the way to Kate’s hearing test (she’s good in both ears. yeah.) we drove past a long dump truck, a side dumper, full of boulders. When I see a large truck here with boulders, I think of the golf carts leaving Minnesota each year for southern courses. Or, the Christmas trees beginning to head out of state by truck in November. Moving rock is a big business here. Including moving those rocks that fall onto roadways.

Sent a note yesterday to Elk Creek Fire District. They have a staff person who does two hour assessments of fire mitigation needs on your property. It’s been three years since I thinned our lodgepoles and I stopped at that. Might be other things I’m missing.

There were 30 wildfires within the Elk Creek District last year. The recent newsletter points out that firefighters “…must focus on evacuations and effectively apply available resources to defendable homes. In these scenarios, it is crucial that homeowners have already implemented Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) best practices.”

In practical terms this defines the triage that firefighters do in case of a wildfire threatening homes. They leave those already in flames and those too difficult to get to, think way up high or very steep driveways or in an unmitigated stand of trees. Those with short driveways, near major roads, who have done mitigation in their HIZ, will be defended. Our house meets all those criteria and I want to make sure it continues to.

Life in the WUI (pronounced woo-eee), the Wildland/Urban Interface. Yes, it makes about as much sense to live here as in a flood plain or in a coastal city waiting for sea level rise or a bad hurricane. But, we love it here, as residents of those other areas must love their home turf. So…

Sincerity is bs?

Summer and the Radiation Moon

Thinner crescent this morning. More toward the east. These sickle moons. Beautiful and fleeting. Like life.

Sailor take warning

Because our house faces south, lodgepole pines and Black Mountain block early sunrise and the latter part of the sunset. When I get the paper before I come up to the loft, a red sky is sometimes visible (depends on time of year) at the horizon, peeking through stands of pine. The sun disappears behind Black Mountain like it drops below the curve of the earth on the ocean. No green flash though. At least I haven’t seen it.

Moved to picking up groceries instead of having them delivered. May still use delivery, but having them picked by staff, then loaded into the Rav4 works, too. Saves a lot of time. And, checks impulse buying. Bingo/bingo.

Read the short essay, On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt, philosophy professor emeritus from Princeton. Tom sent it to me. I’ll have to read it again to get clear, but in essence he says bullshit is any attempt to persuade without adherence to the truth, other than a lie. Which, he says, makes bullshit a greater enemy of truth than a lie which at least opposes itself to the truth and in so doing acknowledges that there is a truth.

In this regard he comes to an interesting conclusion. Since, as the Buddhists have said for centuries, the Self changes, mutates, and self-knowledge is therefore evanescent, sincerity is also a form of bullshit. That is, when we attempt to convince others that we are sincere, we do so without knowing our true Self by definition. Chew on that awhile. I’m considering the concept of authenticity in relationship to this.

Two more weeks of radiation. Ten more ten minute photonic zaps. Unless of course. Bedbugs. Looking forward to the end, so stay in bed bedbugs! Don’t come to the office. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

Don’t think I mentioned the DEXA scan I got on the 19th of July. Dexa scans measure, among other things, bone density. Searching for osteoporosis. I had it because Lupron tends to, in Sherry’s words, “soften the bones.” Making me more vulnerable to broken bones.

No results from the scan yet, but I did learn one fact that disturbed me. I’m now 5’6″ rather than 5’7″. Kate’s lost 4 inches plus over the last few years. We’re shrinking together. This finding disturbed me mostly because it’s a permanent change of something I had taken as a given since I became an adult.

Not Its Purpose

Summer and the Radiation Moon

“We’re a pair.” A phrase often on our lips. Kate loads up her feeding tube with Jevity, tapes it to the bed, and gets most of her calories overnight while sleeping. I go to bed two or three times a day trying to quiet my stomach, hoping it will be up for food later. My muscles ache as I go up the stairs to the loft. We’re trying to sort out now whether between the two of us we have one functional adult. A bit of a stretch right now, I think.

Yeah, we’re beyond waiting for the side effects. The Lupron’s expressing itself in multiple ways: nausea, gut pain, diarrhea, fatigue. Lassitude. None of this is too awful. So far. On the other hand it’s not great either. The walls of the tunnel have narrowed even further for me, though Kate’s tunnel has gotten wider.

2014

Gratitude here for her recovery. She takes off for the grocery store, the liquor store just like old times. Sorta. By that I mean those trips usually are the peak activity of the day. Way more than she could have done even two months ago, however.

In sickness and in health is a dominant theme of our marriage. I’ll be happy for that to recede, but we’ve both been able to be there for each other. Wonderful.

We’re at a point where we need some help with meals. At least until the radiation is done and a week or so after that. I usually don’t have the energy to cook and Kate’s stamina gets a challenge from standing for a long time. This is temporary.

I’m still ok to drive since the “good” part of my day comes around midday when I travel out to Lone Tree.

Instead of Travels with Charlie this blog has become the Travails of Charlie. I know that. But, it’s my reality right now. A Woolly friend wrote to me and said three of his friends have prostate cancer. As we get older, that number will go up. Maybe somebody can get some solace or ideas from reading these post. I hope so.

Recovery

Summer and the Recovery Moon

March, 2019

Kate’s recovery sped up during the Recovery Moon. Yesterday she went with me to the grocery store to pick up a few items. First time in a year or so. She’s doing all the clean up after I cook, a big assist. She’s laughing, smiling, joking. She folds the laundry, does the dog’s second feeding on days I need to get my workout in before radiation. Picture me jumping up and down, grinning. Her, too, for that matter.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

As for me. Itchy eyes. Check. Sneezing. Check. Clogged sinuses. Check. Pine pollen season, unveiled now by the recent dry weather, has come to my head. Not as bad this year as last, at least so far. Thankful for that.

Got out the old Rommertopf clay pot yesterday. Plopped a 5 pound chicken in it with some potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, oyster mushrooms, red wine, and home made chicken stock. Cook from a cold oven for sixty minutes at 480 degrees. Remove lid. Cook fifteen minutes more.

Hadn’t used this handy kitchen tool since we moved here, but I will again soon. The chicken was so moist. A real treat.

No Beano yesterday, drank carbonated water. Enjoying the day off from the radiation protocol.

Some modest change

Beltane and the Recovery Moon

Each day now I’m privileging exercise over other activities. I usually get in at least two, aiming for three resistance sessions a week. Three now for sure. On the other days I do cardio, planning to start back on my interval training tomorrow. I want to get out and hike, but somehow haven’t. Just the press of things, I think.

Also, beginning Monday we’re going to focus on more healthy eating. Our diet’s not bad, but it could be better. Less red meat, more chicken, fish, pork. More vegetables and fruit. Importantly for the radiation, too, avoiding foods that cause gas. Why? Because of bubbles in the rectum. Geez, how silly that sounds. But it screws up the location of things in my gut. Bad for aiming the beam.

The Right Thing for Us

Beltane Cancer Moon

Things I think about while falling asleep. Life. A stream rushing down the mountain of time, a branch into a tributary, tributary to river, river to the gulf of eternity, a small part of the sea of infinity.

Project print ancientrails update. Got into May of 2015. Then, printer spooling error. Spent an hour on it yesterday, got tired. Learned long ago to quit at a point when I’m doing the same thing over and over. Come back the next day with fresh eyes. Later this morning I’ll be back at it.

Looked out the bedroom window this morning. Frost. Rained over night and the temperature is just below freezing. A nubbly ice covered the deck and the stall mats, but the driveway was only wet. Saw a mule deer crossing Eduardo and Holly’s yard.

The sun is now well up at 5:30. The victory of the light will peak in three weeks. I look forward to the Summer Solstice as the moment when night begins to claw its way back into prominence.

Jon and Ruth left Gabe here yesterday while they went skiing. A-Basin. It still has peak snow cover, may be open until July 4th. Unusual. When they got back, Ruth and I made spaghetti and meatballs. She’s turning into a sweet, loving person. A real pleasure to see.

While walking back to the house after getting the paper this morning, I thought about her and Gabe. We moved here to have these kind of interactions with them, casual and frequent. It was the right thing for us to do.

50th High School Reunion, Alexandria, Indiana

When I was in school in Alexandria, Memorial Day marked the end of the school year. Summer begins! Days of freedom wandering alleys collecting pop bottles for small change. Going to the field with Rick Meyers and the Kildow boys to play army. Playing blackjack every weekday afternoon in the paper boys shack of the Times-Tribune. The occasional pickup softball game. Riding bikes around town. Outside until well after dark. No thoughts of pedophiles, school shooters, terrorists. No climate change worries. No computers. No cell phones.

Here in Colorado school typically ends in June though Ruth, because of McCauliffe’s schedule, got out a couple of weeks ago. This is Gabe’s last week. They will both start school again in the second week of August, both at McCauliffe for this one year, Ruth in the 8th grade and Gabe in the 6th.

Ruth, as do most of her friends, has a season pass to Elitch Gardens, an amusement park that serves as summer day care for many Denver teens. They have rides named Brain Drain, Mind Erase. You can see the attraction after school’s over.

33 foot Jesus

Beltane                                                                            Cancer Moon

progoffMeet up in cyberspace. My old friends Paul, Mark, Tom, and Bill zoomed into the bits and bytes yesterday from the land of first light to my spot among the purple mountain majesties. We spoke of those things that matter now. Mark is done with his second book. Bill’s going to Tanzania next year as his long term project, U-Face Me, takes off. Paul’s about to join the joint replacement club with a new hip. Tom’s adjusting to life as an eminence grisé.

Woke up yesterday realizing I’d not prepared any food for Kate. After breakfast I made her a pound of sloppy joed hamburger and a couple of quarts of vermicelli soup, a favorite of hers from our Monastery Soups cookbook. Got ready to go to Progoff.

At noon I headed down the hill toward Evergreen, hopped on I-70 for a short run to the Genesee Exit. U.S. 40, the old cross country national highway which I-70 more or less parallels has a short run between that exit and Golden. Gonna stop this afternoon at the buffalo overlook, just off that same exit. An article in the Denver Post says there are buffalo calves. Makes sense. It’s spring/summer.

Progoff cabrini

Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at the Shrine

Down old 40 toward Denver you can access Lookout Mountain, Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave, museum plus giftshop, and the world famous, to Catholics, shrine of Mother Cabrini. The most prominent feature at the shrine is a 33 foot high statue of Jesus, set at the shrine’s highest point. When I left last night at 9, Denver’s lights twinkled below me and Cabrini Jesus stood lit up and proud above.

If you’ve ever been on a retreat at a Catholic retreat center, you’ve been to the Cabrini set up. Hallways with one bedroom rooms on either side, large kitchens, kitschy paintings, and furniture bought with comfort not fashion in mind. A chapel. And, since this is the Rocky Mountains, vacationland U.S.A., a big gift shop.

When I arrived yesterday, the large parking lot was about three quarters full and most of the visitors I saw were Latino. The retreat center cum chapel cum giftshop is at the end of a switchback road that climbs several hundred feet up a rounded peak, one of the first of the foothills. It overlooks Golden, then Denver, to the east and the continental divide to the west.

Joann Hackett, the workshop leader, flew in Saturday from Hawai’i. Quite a shift from humid, warm Hawai’i to the dry, 60 degrees Rocky Mountain foothills. She was the workshop leader in Tucson, my last Progoff workshop. She began this work when she went to a Journal workshop lead by Ira Progoff. She got to know him very well, found his intensive journal idea compelling.

progoff2There are seven of us, a small group by workshop standards. Two folks from Denver, one from Berthoud, another from Boulder, one from Ft. Collins, and one man from Santa Fe. One other commuter. This first segment, all the segments are two days in length, begins with identifying the current period of your life. Mine had an obvious starting point, the move to Colorado. You spend time fleshing out what makes this the current period of your life, then move on to an exercise called steppingstones. Steppingstones, in the Progoff work you get 12, are key moments in your life that led you to this period of your life.

As I wrote them this time, mine were roughly, polio, mom’s death, participating in the 60’s, adopting Joseph, marrying Kate and leaving the ministry to write, becoming a docent at the MIA, working on the Great Work, the move to Colorado, cancer, Jon’s divorce and Kate’s illnesses, cancer’s reemergence. The steppingstones, I’ve discovered, change according to the perspective you bring to the exercise, a perspective shaped by what you’ve defined as the current period. Over the course of the workshop you expand on each of these, writing about them, following the memories and the feelings they evoke.

Gotta get ready for today’s session. Talk to you later.

 

 

 

No to impeachment

Spring                                                                             Rushing Waters Moon

abyssJupiter hangs west of the Rushing Waters Moon while Antares sits below it, also to the west. Black Mountain has a faint reddish glow as  dawn sun pushes up the Shadow Creek valley. In this light our lodgepole pines look lush, a vibrant healthy green against the red-tinted Black Mountain. Another Rocky Mountain morning.

Made corned beef and cabbage last night using the Instapot. I can’t say why I like this appliance so much, maybe the idea of using a pressure cooker at altitude. This was on Kate’s list of meals for me to cook this week. Strangely liberating, having someone else come up with the menu.

Got a call from Anova Cancer Care last night. A warm young woman. We scheduled an appointment for May 17th, hoping that’s out far enough for me to have had my axumin scan. They want a cd of it. The docs at Anova are radiation oncologists. Who wants to need an oncologist? Nobody. But, to have them available and experienced when you do. Pretty damned valuable.

Impeachment. A bad idea. Trump needs to be invalidated at the ballot box. Impeachment and all the hoopla surrounding it would only embolden all the creepy crawling things wearing those red hats. Vigilantes at the border. Proud Boys gearing up to attack the liberal left. McConnell. Republicans who have been Jim Jonesed by the orange tumor on our democracy. The regular white folks who think putting others in their place, domestically and abroad, is what Americur is all about. The judges who somehow believe in the infallible words written in the constitution, not by founders who were complex and nuanced, but by the almighty herself working through their pens. We need all these folks to suffer defeat in the democratic way, in an election, a fair election. Which might be more difficult to pull off than we imagine.

 

 

No Cheffing Required

Spring                                                                         Rushing Waters Moon

Two favorite tools

Two favorite tools

Kate and I discussed ways to relieve my stress. One source of stress for me was the evening meal. Part of me, a very strong part, wants to be a chef every night. Something new, something remarkable. Understand the ingredients, bring out their best, try new techniques. Problem. That requires a lot of forethought. Buy the right ingredients. Have them to hand. Try to replicate things I barely understand. And, it results in duds. Failures. Sometimes. Unnecessary stress.

Kate’s solution? She’ll make a menu plan for a week and I’ll cook it. Oh. I can do that. That relieves me of the need to create and in this instance I’m happy to let it go. Last night I followed her suggestion: spaghetti and sauce, spinach. Straightforward. Tasty. And, no cheffing required. Doesn’t seem like it would be much, but I felt so much better when I saw that menu plan.

No word yet on the Progoff workshop. When I registered, there were only 4 of us and they require 7. Hope it happens. I need the clarity about this time that these workshops always give me. The Colorado years have been wonderful, filled with family as we wanted, saturated with mountains and wild life and blue sky, anchored by new friends and community at CBE. The Colorado years have been awful. Cancer. Sjogren’s. Knee and shoulder replacements. (which have helped us both) Kate’s bleed and the sequelae. Interstitial lung disease. Trips to the E.R. Hospital stays. Vega’s death.

alvarez-adventure-caving-spelunking-1So much here. The grit of my life over the past three and a half years. How has all this changed me? What direction does it suggest? How might I live into it with greater joy, greater passion, greater serenity? I also need a break from the every day. Not just because it’s been stressful as I said below, but because it’s been a long time between breaks. Tom and Mark’s visit was a nice respite, but too short.

The Progoff workshop is five days, morning and afternoon in a retreat center. I’ll be a commuter because of the dogs and Kate’s tpn, plus it’s cheaper. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll have to figure out some other way to get perspective and get a break.

Just Passing Through

Spring                                                                       Rushing Waters Moon

A bit of snow. Twice. Over the last couple of days. Any moisture is good moisture in a drought and we’re climbing out of one here in Colorado.

Cooked that tenderloin roast yesterday. Oh, boy, is that good meat. And, it provides several meals over the week. Bread, potatoes (instant pot for 6 minutes), and asparagus in a sauce Kate found at Tony’s. We ate at 4 p.m. Kate said it was like a holiday meal.

sabbath2Yes, a sabbath meal, I replied. I’m still fascinated with the idea of the sabbath, especially as I’ve learned more about it at CBE. In Jewish thought the sabbath is far from a day of rest, though it is that, too. It is a foretaste of life when tikkun olam, healing of the fractured world (or, more interestingly, of a fractured God), has succeeded and every day is a sabbath. The sabbath pulls the observer away from the technological world which has come to so dominate us, setting aside a time for family, for study, for nourishment of the self.

There are, it’s true, a lot of rules. I don’t even know most of them, but one of the rules is that you have the best food on the sabbath. Also, sex. You can’t light a fire (or, turn on electricity since it causes a spark), so the cooking has to be done before hand.

It could be one model for retirement, for the third phase. That is, the third phase as a time of personal enrichment, caring for others, enjoying the best life has to offer. Why not? And, you could golf, too, if that turns your crank.

prostate cancerGot an appointment with Dr. Eigner’s physician’s assistant, Anna Willis. If my PSA rise needs further attention, I know she’ll get me in to see Eigner. I’ve calmed down about it, the tincture of time as Kate says. Who knows, perhaps it’s nothing at all. Though I don’t think so. Glad it’s this Monday. Although. That could mean the confluence of death and taxes. Would be ironic.

Next Saturday night is the communal seder at Mt. Vernon Country Club. We’ve gone a couple of times, had reservations last year, but Kate’s shoulder surgery knocked us out of that one. Although the pesach meal is commonly referred to as the seder, seder means order. The haggadah, which means telling in Hebrew, reflects the order of the passover ritual. Used to be many, if not most, of the haggadah were a small blue booklet from Maxwell House Coffee. Over the last decades though the number of haggadahs has multiplied, driven by changes among the various branches of Judaism, yes, but more by cultural/political concerns like feminism, environmentalism, reconstruction.

pesach chagallThe central point of the passover is the reenactment of the Exodus and the creation of a Jewish people. I learned last year that the telling (the haggadah) of the story focuses on children. You might be familiar with the four questions, proceeded by the often satirized question, Why is this night different from all other nights?

Easter is coming, too. I plan to take Gabe plus Jon and Ruth to a Rockies game to celebrate. No, not Easter. Gabe’s birthday.