We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Absence makes the heart grow wiser

Spring                                                                            Mountain Moon

Black Mountain white

Black Mountain white

Yes, it arrived. The bad Samsung got hauled away ignominiously with nary a tear of loss or grief. The new Kitchenaid now glares from its Cylon lens, hunting for dirty dishes, pots and pans that need a wash. This morning I walked past it and a single word glowed on the small screen visible from the front: CLEAN. Oh, joy. Oh, bring on the robotic revolution.

interstellar mediumBuddy Bill Schmidt shared a paper sent to him by a friend from JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratories. It’s title is: Science and Enabling Technologies for Exploration of the Interstellar Medium. Exploring among the stars. I mean, wow. Still an avid reader of science fiction, I thanked Bill and noted in my reply that we live in a time when science fiction and science fact often intersect. One of the delightful realities of living through this particular era.

Since we have a deep freezer drawer filled with ground beef from our quarter we bought last fall, I picked up an important cookbook, The Essentials of Cooking Ground Beef. In it, to both Kate and mine’s delight, is a recipe for the famous Matt’s jucy lucy’s. This recipe is for sliders and last night I divided a pound of hamburger into eight parts, balled them up, dented the ball with my thumb and stuck white cheddar inside. Hmmm. Tasty. Served with frozen Arby’s curly fries, dill pickle slices and haricourt vert. OK, that last dish didn’t really fit, but I always like to have a vegetable and it was available.

jucy-lucy-burger-042

As the photo at the top shows, we did get another round of snow yesterday. Maybe four inches. All of it welcome. Precipitation, especially now, aids to some extent in fire protection and recharges the ground water. When your daily water comes from the ground water, having moisture to replace what’s been used is important. Water is safety as well as life here. Without it we become vulnerable to lightning strikes, visiting campers and the odd animal trying to navigate high voltage power lines.

ch'an

Kabbalah tonight. More about time. Qabbalah is another way to explore the interstellar medium, a matrix of space/time with its deep roots in what I’ve learned the mountain and rivers poets of ancient China called absence. Absence is at the heart of Ch’an Buddhism, that peculiar blend of Taoism and Buddhism that emigrated to Japan to become Zen. Absence is the place of the Tao, the generative force that gives rise to the ten thousand things in all their uniqueness and detail. Learning to penetrate the gauze of sensation and feel your way into the absence behind it leads to enlightenment. In fact, both Ch’an and its child, Zen, believe in instant enlightenment; once you learn this truth in your core, you know what needs knowing. Absence makes the heart grow wiser.

Oh. I did get my cleaning, reorganizing finished. Spiffed up and ready for a return to both writing and sumi-e.

Homey

Spring                                                                        Mountain Moon

the political side

the political side

Played domestic goddess yesterday. Wash dishes. Make taco meat. Three loads of laundry. Feed dogs twice. Make supper. Pick up. Take out the trash this morning. The duties of an ordinary housewife of the 1950’s, coupled with raising the kids, would have been physically and mentally exhausting. No wonder they wanted to go to work. It’s easier.

Whole process getting simpler, better understood, flowing with the tao of the moment which is nurture and be nurtured.

We went to see Jackie yesterday at Aspen Roots. Better coiffed now. I’m enjoying the well groomed look. It’s all persona. Cut the hair. Let it grow. Trim the beard. Let it flow. Just different. Since this look is less counter cultural, I feel it less. It’s a way of hiding in plain sight.

Cleaned up

Cleaned up

Decided a few days ago that I’d stick, for now, to my resistance workouts and some modest cardio before and after them. That’s three days a week, leaving me four days to do house work or take care of other matters. It’s better because I’m not feeling short changed on those days I usually do my longer and high intensity cardio. I’m good at getting back to the routine after I’ve changed it, so it’s only a matter of time.

Today is a workout day but before that I’m going to fold laundry and wash my bee suit. Hiving some bees on Saturday morning for Beth Evergreen and I want to look spiffy. Part of the well-coiffed thing, I guess. Can’t find my hive tool or my full body bee suit. Gotta be here somewhere, but I can’t find them.

Kabbalah tonight. More on time.

housework_thumbWhich brings me back to housework. Housework, in its earthy, basic realm, is a microcosm of the Great Wheel. It’s a cycle that never finishes, food must be bought and cooked, trash discarded, dishes cleaned. Then again and again and again. Likewise clothing gets soiled and must be washed, folded, put away. Toilets and counters and floors and windows get dirty, then cleaned, then dirty, then cleaned. It’s a great wheel because it relates to the true life needs of us all and is, as a result, repetitive, but powerful.

 

Memories

Spring                                                                     New Shoulder Moon

The new shoulder continues its impact on our lives.

20160410_122224SeoAh’s here and cooking suppers, cleaning, chatting. We had a long conversation about dogs yesterday while watching a youtube video in Korean. It’s one of a series made by a Korean man whose father owned a dog food factory. That is, a factory in which dogs were turned into food for humans. This made him angry and he decided to start a one man crusade to change the way Koreans treat and think about dogs. SeoAh says he’s having a large impact. He’s sort of Caesar Milan and the Animal Defense League.

Yesterday was Joe and SeoAh’s second anniversary and she spent it helping us. And says, in her heavily accented English, “It is my pleasure.” Makes this 71 year old’s heart feel full.

weightKate and I went to a nutritionist yesterday for a consultation on how to help Kate gain weight. The most salient point Betsy made was this, “Make every bite count.” Every food needs to be considered for not only nutritional value but for its caloric value, ideally, and ironically, high. Add oils to salads, to pasta. Use peanut butter powder as an additive in shakes. Eat cheese. Given Kate’s past struggles with her weight, a lifelong problem until her bariatric surgery, being encouraged to eat foods high in calories is mental whiplash which makes the whole weight gain and weight maintenance goal difficult emotionally.

Betsy also suggested, after asking if she could raise a personal question (geez, what kind of personal question does a nutritionist ask?), medical marijuana. It’s truly a new day in the neighborhood. In this case of course she was suggesting using some marijuana to enhance appetite. A good use for the munchies.

marijuanaAfter the nutrition consult, which was in Golden, I drove Kate to Bailey for the monthly meeting of the Bailey Patchworkers. Bailey is also the home of the Happy Camper so I stopped and stocked up on indica edibles, our homemade sleep enhancement. We may branch out into sativa, which brings on more of the munchies. Sativa and indica are strains of marijuana with very different characteristics. Indica makes you sleepy while sativa is a classic stoner strain, often smoked.

In the evening Jon, Ruth, and Gabe came up. SeoAh made rice cake soup, the soup I’ve mentioned that’s served at the spring festival, Korean New Year’s. She also made a sweet potato noodle dish with peppers that she says is typical when family’s gather for something important. Both were delicious. She uses her mother’s recipes.

Tteokguk.jpg2Gabe’s in much better shape physically than he was a couple of weeks ago. His earth day birthday is coming up and he wants a pocket knife. I reached in my pocket and took out a small pocket knife I’d purchased a while back. “Here you go. But. Don’t stab yourself in the leg, or the arm or the head or the ear.” Gabe laughed and said, “Or in the butt.”

Ruth’s doing well. She seems mostly level emotionally. A recent shift from Risperidone, an adult anti-psychotic, to Lexipro, an anti-anxiety medication, is underway right now. I forgot to ask her about it last night.

Memories build and sustain families. Friendships, too, of course. Last evening was one of those memories for the Olson/Buckman-Ellis family. And a sweet one.

 

Yesterday and Today

Spring                                                                  New Shoulder Moon

exerciseMade it to three sets on my workout. This is slow for me since I’ve had this routine for over six weeks, the time frame in which I usually go back for new exercises. No matter. Things have been busy. Feels good to be have gotten this far given the situation.

Dream last night. I had been called to organize a protest at a factory, Johns-Manville, where I worked during high school. The rationale (which I forget) was good; I saw a clear path to getting folks ready to take on management. The meeting was held at the factory and lots of workers had come. However. Just before I was to get started, everyone suddenly left the room. They came back in, slowly, and while they were coming I looked at my self in a mirror, getting ready to go onstage. My hair was a mess. I couldn’t get it to lie down.

ruins of the old Johns-Manville factory in  Alexandria

ruins of the old Johns-Manville factory in
Alexandria

By the time I got onstage I could tell that management had a plan and it involved disrupting the meeting by distracting the audience. It worked. People kept coming and going. I started out with a question, “Did any of you work here in 1964?” One older man, his back turned to me, raised his hand. “Well, you might have seen me here as a shipping and receiving clerk.” (actual job) That got the reaction I’d hoped for, a mild bond. After that the meeting dissolved.

As I began to leave the dream and wake up, I was frustrated, disappointed. Then I thought. Ah, I see the mistake. We let the meeting happen at the factory. The next one will be in the union hall.

20180408_121101SeoAh made a Korean chicken soup. Her mother’s recipe. It was wonderful. She used the leek, some mushrooms, spring onions, and rice noodles. SeoAh used silver ware and I used chopsticks.

She came at just the right time. Kate’s recovery has begun to accelerate. She’s sleeping better, doing her exercises, getting outside and walking. SeoAh has relieved the pressure on me by cooking, cleaning. Next week Kate starts physical therapy. I can see the arc of this moving up now. Makes a big difference.

But the best part is the deepening relationship with SeoAh herself. “You are my parents. Do you understand?” Yes, we do. And, we feel the same way.

 

SeoAh Day

Spring                                                                   New Shoulder Moon

20180408_123029Yesterday was a SeoAh day. After breakfast we went to the King Sooper and picked up food for Thai/Korean Chicken Soup and a shrimp/rice noodles dish. SeoAh knows exactly what she wants, picking among the produce items carefully, smelling the spring onions and the leek. On the leek, “I can use this.” So into the cart it went.

She bought me a cafe latte at the instore Starbucks, but while we were drinking our coffee she admitted, a bit sheepishly, that she actually prefers instant coffee. When we went past the InterMountain Rescue Shelter, “Rescue the Rescuers” booth on the way out of the store, she wanted to know how she could help them.  She’s missing Murdoch.

Back home she made me an instant version of rice cake soup that was surprisingly good. Gonna take a picture of it and pick up some more at H Mart next time we go to Jon’s.

20180408_182234After Kate’s shower, SeoAh helped her with her hair, combing it out. Kate’s improving, gradually. She starts P.T. this week or the first of next. Tomorrow morning we have a nutritionist consult to discuss a weight gaining diet for her. She was already petite, but post surgery she’s become even petiter. Charming, but she’d feel better with a few more pounds for stamina.

In the evening we took SeoAh over to Sushi Win in Evergreen. She loved it on previous visits as a sushi connoisseur. Seafood is her favorite protein, having grown up close to the Korea Strait which joins the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. Xi, a Chinese waiter, took this picture of us there.

The Future of Food

Imbolc                                                                           New Shoulder Moon

third plate Mentioned The Third Plate a few posts ago. A book by chef Dan Barber, owner of the Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan and a principle in the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County.

SELECT TASTING OR DAILY MENU
Rotation Grains
smoked farmer’s cheese and broccoli pistou
~
Maine Diver Scallop
bacon, winter squash and kohlrabi
~
Stone Barns Pig
tsai tsai, horseradish and pickled grapes
~
11 day dry-aged bolero carrot steak
mushroom, kale and onion rings
~
blue hill farm milk
yogurt, turmeric and ginger
~
Malted Triticale porridge
White Chocolate, quince and Beer Ice Cream
Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

He uses four big concept areas, pictured at the top: Soil, Land, Sea, Seed to tell a story about what he sees as the future of food. He’s trying to take the conversation about food beyond the now well known critiques of books like Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Aldo Leopold’s The Sand County Almanac, and any number of books published in the late sixties like Eull Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher. Throw in Wes Jackson’s Becoming Native to This Place, almost anything by Wendell Berry and the thought world championed by John Muir and Edward Abbey and you can see the big conceptual field Barber has tried to plow.

He seems on to something. Using examples like the dehesa in Spain that produces jambon iberico, The Bread Lab run by Washington State plant geneticist Stephen Jones, the farm of Klaas Martens who teaches him about reading the language of the soil, Veta La Palma, a Spanish aquaculture corporation set up in an estuary of the Gulf of Cadiz, and Anson Mills, a fascinating concept by Glenn Roberts who uses landrace farming to resurrect old grain crops and nurture new ones, he seems to propose a recursion to localized crops, that is, wheat, for example, that grows best in upstate New York.  This recursion includes animals, too, where their rearing takes on the characteristics that oenologists call terroir in wines.

nutrition

This recursion would have chefs take their cues, their menus, from what farmers can grow in their immediate area and from those sites with a focus on sustainability and ecosystem regeneration. The fascinating aquaculture experiment that is Veta La Palma  uses the Guadalquivir River and the salt water of the Gulf of Cadiz to farm high quality sea bass. The focus does not have to be only local or regional but can include instances of food production with ecosystem supportive techniques.

This seems similar to the disaggregation idea in power production, local solar and wind and geothermal and hydro.  Anything that deemphasizes the industrial and the corporate in favor of the local and ecological.

EatLocal

He talks about his idea in agriculture as middle agriculture, that is agriculture smaller than corporate, but larger than the small family farm or the boutique garden. He’s trying to get to scale sufficient that it could actually feed large numbers of people.

It makes me want to cook in the way he suggests. That is, find food grown here in the Rockies, use it along with food sourced from the Veta La Palmas, the dehesas or the Bread Labs, and build our menus at home around it, changing with the seasons. Right now that would take a good bit of work, but it might be possible and it would certainly be worth it.

A continuing theme.

The Work of Sadness. Of Grief.

Imbolc                                                                        New Life Moon

Melancholy, Munch 1894

Melancholy, Munch 1894

The melancholy has done its work. Still listening, paying attention, but here’s what I’ve discovered this time. My life was out of balance. I needed more time working with my hands, using my body. Also, I had neglected reading of certain kinds, especially reading that advances my reconstruct, reimagine, reenchant project.

This latter work has gotten quite long in the tooth, has become more of a forever, at least until I die thing. And I don’t want that. I want to write at least some essays, preferably something book length.

20171217_175903It was also time to slough off some of the Minnesota based, second phase lingering work. Especially the political. I am going to the caucus this Tuesday; however, I no longer see myself as a dedicated activist. But, and I consider this great news, Ruth told me she was walking out on April 9th, standing outside Mcauliffe, her middle school, for seventeen minutes, one minute for each of the Parkland victims. She’s doing it in spite of the fact that adults tell her no one will listen. Go, Ruth!

And writing. Not giving that up, yet I feel the need now to shift at least some of that energy to the three R’s. I’ve felt this way before, yes, but something feels different now. Not sure what exactly.

20180303_171938The melancholy also uncovered a tension I’d been feeling between leaning in to the domestic, cooking, for example, and Kate and mine’s presence in the Beth Evergreen community, and what I consider my work. Recalibrating second phase expectations about work, which I have not yet fully done, feels like a task for this time. In fact, I enjoy the domestic part of our lives and it feels good to devote more energy to it.

Recalibrating. More on this as it continues.

 

 

Positive News

Imbolc                                                                   New Life Moon

Kate’s Sjogren’s flare has begun to subside. Her energy is better. She’s smiling more. I’m happy to see her improving. Now we get that shoulder replaced. March 22nd.

20180225_132158

In other positive medical news Dr. Bayliss called with Rigel’s blood work. Liver functions normal. It was the prednisone that knocked them out of whack. No prednisone, no abnormal liver values. So, we’re left with some G.I. tract problem, undefined. She stays on the rabbit food. Like Kate her energy is better and we have some chewed up deck boards to prove it. Something warm and tasty lives under there. And Rigel wants to eat it.

blade ladyWent to see the Blade Lady out in Centennial. It surprised me, when I saw the directions on Google, that it was 50 miles from home. I remember when 50 miles required a picnic basket and a living will. Jennifer was nice, picked up our knives and scissors personally. They finish fast. We gave them to her at 12:45 and we could have had them back at 1:30, but Rigel had to get to her 2pm vet appointment. She’s mailing them.

We have a set of Shun Japanese kitchen knives. I’ve sharpened them using a sharpener that came with the set, but I wanted a professional sharpening since I’m using the knives a lot more now. Cooking most nights of the week requires a lot of knife work. Which reminds me that the cooking is also physical, manual labor. And I’ve been enjoying it since I got back to it.

the santoku, a favorite

the santoku, a favorite

 

Happenings on Shadow Mountain

Imbolc                                                                         New Life Moon

Single digits. Passes for really, really cold here. Cold enough that I’d forgotten blue jeans are not comfortable at those temps. When I went to kabbalah on Tuesday night, the cold seeped through that cotton as if it wasn’t there. Oh. Yeah. I remember that.

Sjogrens-Syndrome1Kate’s having a Sjogren’s flare. That means symptoms intensify, particularly fatigue and a general feeling of dis-ease. She gets low grade fevers, an annoying sore throat. The good news here is this time we know what it is and she has strategies for coping. It’s not frightening in the way the first flare was back in March or April when she developed thrush and had an ENT guy look at her throat and say, “That looks a little funky.” Doctor speak for, OMG. Fortunately, the funky spot resolved itself. Not throat cancer after all.

Ted, of Ted of All Trades, came by yesterday. Ta dah! Jerry’s paintings, the two big ones you may recall if you ever visited us in Andover, are now hung. 3 years later. One on the wall perpendicular to the fire place and the other in our bedroom. Those damned cabinet hinges? Repaired. We tried to swap out a ceiling fan for a light fixture but when Ted opened the box it had a broken sconce. Grrr. Back to Home Depot.

full disclosure. this is not me.

full disclosure. this is not me.

In the loft Ted repaired my door, a missing bolt to hold one door firmly shut, hung the big map of Hawai’i, the island not the state. Kate got it for me as a consolation prize one year when she went to Maui for continuing medical education and I stayed home. An antique and beautiful. A mirror went up on the wall so I can investigate my form while I work out. Or, just admire my buff body. If it ever comes in the mail! And, a mount for the TRX, a weight suspension workout tool, is now affixed to the ceiling.

Feels good to have those projects finished. Even better to know that Ted is now part of our resource base. He will help us stay here as long as possible by getting small projects done that add up to big improvements in daily living.

abraham_012413_620pxKate and I decided to drop out of Hebrew for this year. We’d not been studying. Doesn’t really reflect lack of interest so much as an unwillingness to dedicate the necessary time we know learning a language needs. May pick it up again in September. My kabbalah class this session though is on the Hebrew letters, so I’m gaining familiarity if not facility.

Still no lifting of the melancholy though I’ve been busy and as I said below it tends to slip away as life pushes itself on me. Last night, for example, I made Grandma’s beef and noodles,  a recipe from the newspaper. Just what it sounds like. Got a 3 pound slab of chuck shoulder roast out of the freezer, unthawed it, cut out the fat and fascia (which took a while), discovered we have a pressure cooker, used it. My first time. Kept hoping it wouldn’t blow up. It didn’t. Whew. Cooking, mindful cooking as I’m trying to remember to do, requires close attention and close attention shuts off the spigot for negative emotions.

 

Sunday

Winter                                                                            Imbolc Moon

Kate and meKate sewed most of the day yesterday. May not seem like a big deal, but it is. Her energy and her energy management skills are both improving and she’s enjoying life more. I’m so glad to see it.

Rigel’s feeling better, too. Acts better. Less needy. Appetite more normal. The rabbit protein diet, which includes small chunks of frozen canned dog food as treats, seems to agree with her though I can’t tell whether she’s gained weight or not. Dr. Bayliss said Rigel will get a b-12 injection on her next visit to the VRCC. After that, not sure. I’m glad to see Rigel feeling better, too.

Today I’m going to spend some time on sumi-e, ink wash painting. Youtube videos. Preparing my new brushes. Learning to grind ink. Going to use some of my less expensive tea cups with it because they’re beautiful and fit the aesthetic. My goal right now is to learn the strokes, what the brushes can do. How to make ink. How to set up the area for a productive session. How the paper reacts to the brush. Beginner’s mind.

20180124_110641Work on online education for Beth Evergreen will continue today, too. Marilyn Saltzman found some mussar sites and I’m going to add Coursera and EDx courses. I also plan to look at other, more general online education sites. So far I’ve focused on online education focused on Jewish studies, but I imagine there are more courses. A fun project.

Might pop over to Tony’s Market. Not a place to do regular grocery shopping, but for special meals, white table cloth, jazz, and candle sticks meals, it’s the best I’ve discovered here so far. They have a wide selection of sea-food, meats and prepared side dishes.

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