We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Oh, No

Fall                                                                        Harvest Moon

Gabe yesterday hunting for bones on Black Mountain

Gabe yesterday hunting for bones on Black Mountain

Gabe came in yesterday afternoon (He’s with us due to no school on Friday.) and said, “Grandpop, there’s birds in the sewing room.” Huh? Kate’s sewing room, the old garage remodeled by the last owner, opens to the outside and due to the bug free environment here–at least relative to Minnesota–we often keep the door open so the dogs can go in and out. Easier on all of us.

Sure enough, there were two small sparrow sized birds in the sewing room, fluttering and searching for places where they could see light, unfortunately mostly through windows. I opened windows, left the door open and began to talk to them gently, encouraging them to find their way outside. Gabe, unbeknownst to me at the time, had named them Jerry and Billy.

Jerry and Billy somehow found the window above Kate’s sewing machine a possible escape portal. Nope. Closed. Billy fluttered up by the top of the moveable bottom half of the window; Jerry chose the window sill, trying to push through the unexpected and unseen barrier with no luck.

Then. Rigel, who had come in the open door, looked over, saw the poor fluttering bird, ran over there and grabbed Jerry in her mouth.

Gabe, “Oh, no.”

Jerry seemed lifeless after Rigel took him in her mouth, not gently at all, and bit down. She took Jerry outside, finished him, then ate him, most of him. Gabe later buried the one wing and mostly empty body cavity in the front yard. He said, “I had fun burying Jerry.”

Hobbes said, “Life is mean, nasty, brutish and short.” I’m sure Jerry would agree.


Gertie In Her Pink T-Shirt

Fall                                                                             Harvest Moon


Conifer Journal

Fall                                                                              Harvest Moon



scootersKate and I go to see Jackie at Aspen Roots. After growing my wizard beard and having it often end up it in my mouth after a night’s sleep, I decided to get it shaped. I like Jackie and the time out is another thing Kate and I can do together. I’m better groomed now than I’ve been in years. Change up. After my haircut and beard trim and Kate’s coloring and cut, we went over to Scooter’s, a relatively new restaurant here in Conifer. A down south style barbecue joint-they cook up the meat in a huge metal barbecue that sits outside-their food is good. St. Louis ribs, macaroni, onion and cucumber salad with cornbread and pinto beans and Texas Toast. Hmmm.

We stayed out so Sandy could get the downstairs done before we came back home. Nap time. After the nap Kate drove into Lakewood, about 30 minutes away, to Swedish Hospital for her regular Remicade infusion. Her right shoulder, which has been wonky for some time, osteoarthritis probably, has passed her-high-pain threshold and become a daily and more significantly a nightly nuisance. A new shoulder may be in her future. We do our part to support the medical-pharmaceutical complex.

20170902_163055Gertie has recovered well from the removal of her lesion last Friday. Instead of the cone of shame we now put t-shirts on our wounded dogs, so she’s been wandering around with Kate’s pink Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History. It gives Gertie, hardly a well-behaved female, a certain panache. Rigel continues her reignited predator ways, sniffing the deck and barking under the shed. Kep’s a sweet boy, eager and happy. With Vega dead he’s much less volatile in pack dynamics. No idea how that works.

I’m looking forward to talking with Joe and SeoAh about North Korea, get the perspective of a native South Korean and a USAF Weapon’s Officer. Germane points of view.



Family Matters

Lughnasa                                                                   Eclipse Moon

GwangjuJoseph. He and SeoAh were in Gwangju for a week plus during which Kim Jong Un and his hermit kingdom exploded another powerful atomic weapon and were said to have prepared an IBM test. They returned home a couple of days ago to Macon. Which is now, according to the most recent projections, directly in the path of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane when it passed by Puerto Rico. Wind speeds of 185 with gusts up to 200 mph.

Irma sept. 7Mark. Is in Bangkok on his way to work in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He wrote me yesterday that he went to Chinatown, which is where I stayed in 2004 when I visited Southeast Asia and spent over a week in Bangkok. Mark lived longest in Bangkok of all the places his traveling life has taken him. So far.

Mary. Turned 65 a week ago, but is still going strong as a professor and researcher at the national teachers university in Singapore.

Jon. This is his first week in the new house on Florence in Aurora without the kids. They moved in together a week or so ago. On Monday they went back to Jen’s for 9 days. Ruth’s first cross country meet is this afternoon, a meet which includes, she thinks, all the middle school teams in DPS, Denver Public Schools. The course is 1.8 miles of hills. Gabe thought putting together the Millennium Falcon lego set might take him “a couple of days. Unless I don’t take a break, then it might take 30 minutes. Or, maybe an hour.” No report yet on the actual time.

303Kepler has finished up his meds for the kennel cough and the barking cough (ha,ha) has subsided. Rigel’s second round of youthful predatory behavior continues as she heads to the shed every time she leaves the house and when she returns she sniffs the deck very, very carefully. Something’s down there! Gertie continues to be a rascal. (note the demonic eye) Yesterday we caught her with her front paws up on the side of a chair, her nose against the shofar. Does she know it’s the high holidays? Or, was she just happy to see it?

The Rav4 blows cool air out of its a.c., having been down to 0.09 pounds of coolant when the specs require 1.9. The detailing also left it super clean on the inside. But, we can fix that. The Challenger has returned to its stall.

We got a snowplowing agreement yesterday from Ted of All Trades. A true harbinger of Game of Thrones favorite epithet. Fire danger remains low, as we like it, thanks to cooler, wetter weather over the last month. Consistent cool weather is still some time away, unfortunately.

Now we wait to see what Hurricane Irma will do to Joe and SeoAh.

Change Happens

Lughnasa                                                                        Eclipse Moon

20170731_182340Kepler has kennel cough, caused by the same organism, a bordetella variety, that causes whooping cough in humans, especially children. He got the bordetella vaccination, as did Rigel and Gertie, but he either got less of a dose-he didn’t want it-or he contracted a strain resistant to the vaccine. His racking, barking cough produces tenacious. Kate says this is a medical term designating a stringy, hard to clean up secretion. Well, it’s accurate. A visit to the vet later he’s on the mend, but the symptoms may last a while, depending on whether the organism is a virus or a bacteria, longer with the virus, shorter with bacteria.

Gertie went to Aurora with Kate and me yesterday evening when we took in the sleeping mats that came here late in the afternoon. She enjoyed the ride, she likes to go, but the heat, 95 degrees when we reached the Denver heat island, had her tongue lolling out of her mouth. Ours, too.

We got to the new house a bit before the kids and Jon returned from an initial trip to Target for essentials like food and clothing for Gabe, who’d forgotten to pack any. I suggested he go naked to school and he said, “No.” Ruth came in with groceries and began putting them away in the refrigerator. Gabe, also with packages, followed her, shouting in his high-pitched voice, “Gertie! She’s going to stay all night with us, right, Grandma?” Uhh, “No.”

Gertie and Ruth

Gertie and Ruth

Jon looked frazzled, a full day of teaching behind him and an evening and morning of single parenting ahead of him. This will be his first week on his own with the kids, except for the June vacation, since the divorce process began a year ago May. Right now there’s excitement and promise, enough to carry them through the first week, but not enough to ensure against upset and confusion.

Single parenting, as any of you who’ve done it know, has distinct challenges occasioned by full-time work and the rest of the time responsibility for the kids. Joint custody relieves this challenge half of the time, but creates challenges of its own. Jon and Jen are in the first weeks of creating a rhythm that not only serves Ruth and Gabe, most important, but that also serves them. It will take weeks, maybe months. In the meantime there is the potential for disagreements over pick up and drop off times, medical issues, school matters and the other things, large and small, that go with being a family, but a family divided by divorce.

Brother and sister filling the fridge for the first time

Brother and sister filling the fridge for the first time

As we drove home, back to the 35 degree cooler Shadow Mountain, both of us were a bit sad, a year plus worth of Jon living with us and the grandkids visiting on weekends behind us, memories now. There is, too, though, an exhilaration at having our house back. We can finish moving in.



Midsommar                                                               Most Heat Moon

Kate hit the intercom yesterday. “Look outside.” I went to the deck on the loft, looked down and sure enough, there was Rigel, digging away in our rocky backyard. It may be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but the ones they learned while young and living on the Great Anoka Sand Plain? They’re in there.

At first she couldn’t locate her prey. Yet, she persisted. A real Elizabeth Warren, our Rigel. After digging a four foot long shallow trench, and after trying (unsuccessfully) to dislodge several tree roots, she found her critter. Kate thinks it was a vole. Whatever it was, it is no more, except as part of Rigel’s food supply yesterday.

Vega and Rigel used to dig deep holes in our Andover yard, deep, doggy height deep. They tag teamed, one digging, the other resting. Turns out this is pack behavior, not just sisterly. Yesterday, Rigel dug, then Kep dug. Kep gave up, but Rigel kept going and got the goody at the end of the trench.

Afterward, Rigel had this, “I still got it.” attitude. Head up, tail high, body tight. She has resumed her shed patrols, another trick she learned in Andover. In Minnesota rabbits bred under our honey house and on occasion she and Vega would catch one. There must be critters under the one here on Shadow Mountain, too, but I don’t know what they are.

Rise and Shine

Midsommar                                                                      Most Heat Moon

Kepler wanted to get up at 4:30 this morning. So we did. That meant it was still dark when I came up to the loft at a little before 5:00. A full Most Heat Moon hung over Black Mountain, a light in the sky, the lesser light. There were also security lights at several residences on Black Mountain, homes that cannot be seen during the day. The temperature was 66 degrees and a warm breeze blew through.

The Furminator

Midsommar                                                             Most Heat Moon

20170702_105545Over to a mostly closed PetSmart in Littleton at 8:30 a.m. yesterday after retrieving a Kepler rabies certificate from Sano Vet. Before it opens at 10 am PetSmart’s veterinary service, Banfields, and their groomers are working. That means walking through a dark store all the way to the back, workers stocking shelves, but no checkout. There Darla took over with Kep, who looked, as he always does, nervous, when we left him. He was there for furmination.

Since our housecleaner, Sandy, had surgery in early June for an acoustic neuroma, we’ve been without her services and Kep’s summer coat has blown all over our house and up in the loft, too. Had to go after this at the source.



While Kep wondered if we’d ever return to pick him up, Kate and I went to over to Lucile’s, a Creole cafe with a very New Orleanian feel. It has, for example, a bar in the waiting area where, even at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, you can pick up a mimosa or a bloody mary, getting that day started right. Or, wrong, depending on your perspective. I remember, back before I got sober, morning meals at Bennigan’s in the French Quarter complete with Planter’s Punch. Felt very, I don’t know, alcoholic?

Around 10 Darla called. Kep had been perfect so she finished about a half an hour early. When we picked him up, he was, as always, obviously relieved. He couldn’t wait to get in the truck. They tied an orange bandana around his neck which he wears jauntily.

Flight for Life

Midsommar                                                                  Most Heat Moon

What looked like a nasty fire season in March and early April has become moderate, even subdued. First we had heavy late season snow, then rains and now cool weather. None of this rules out fire, but the fuel is moist and the temperatures are not exacerbating the low humidity. There are still emergency preparedness items to check off, however. Need to get that safety deposit box and figure out how to handle the times when one of us is away from the house with the car. A bit less urgency than we’d anticipated.

crowhillcafe01The go-go girls, Rigel and Gertie, joined me on a breakfast outing to Crow Hill Cafe. Crow Hill is the steep, 7% grade, that takes Hwy 285 down into Bailey. On the way there, from the western edge of Conifer, the continental divide defines the horizon, peaks until recently covered with snow. They allow us, who live in the mountains, to see the mountains in the same way folks in Denver can see the Front Range, as distant and majestic.

We experience the mountains daily, going up and down them, around their curvy two-lane roads, beside their creeks, outlets for snow melt, modulating our speed for the wildlife that refuses (thankfully) to acknowledge our presence as a limitation. This in the mountains travel finds our views obscured by the peaks that are close by and the valleys that we use to navigate through them.

French toast and crisp bacon, black coffee and the Denver Post, a window seat overlooking the slight rise beyond which Crow Hill plummets toward Bailey. I love eating breakfast out, don’t know why. Something about starting the day that way once in awhile. Rigel and Gertie got a saved piece of french toast each, happy dogs.

20170625_180842Back to Conifer and the King Sooper. King Sooper is a Kroger chain upscale store, one listed as a potentially threatened species by newspaper articles about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. With the rapid concentration of certain retail activities we may need an endangered business protection act. King Sooper does deliver though we’ve not made use of that service. Those of us on Shadow Mountain don’t expect to see drones with celery and milk anytime soon.

Although. We did have confirmation yesterday of a premium asset related to our location on Black Mountain Drive. Two Jefferson County sheriff black and white S.U.V.s followed an Elk Creek Fire and Rescue ambulance past us in the late afternoon yesterday. About 30 minutes later Kep recruited Rigel and Gertie to defend the house. When I went to check, there was a line-up of stopped vehicles stretching from the curve where Shadow Mountain Drive turns into Black Mountain Drive.

20170625_180848Neighbors and their dogs were on the sides of the road. Cell phones (pocket digital cameras) were out and aimed at the curve. The chop chop chop of helicopter rotors was evident, but the helicopter itself was not in sight. Then it was, slowly rising from the road, Flight for Life spelled out along the yellow stripe leading back to its stabilizers.

It’s very reassuring to know if Kate and I ever end up in a medical emergency we won’t have to rely on a 45 minute ambulance ride to the nearest E.R. The E.M.T.s  could just pop us on a gurney, wheel us down the road a bit and into the ‘copter. Then up, up and away.

Today is back to working out, more reimagining prep, this time including reordering my reimagining bookshelf, checking the old computer for reimagining files. I’ll also be studying for kabbalah tomorrow night and possibly taking a trip over to Sundance nursery in Evergreen looking for lilac bushes.



The Beat Goes On

Midsommar                                                                    Most Heat Moon

20170426_163517The dogs keep the rhythm familiar here even with Kate gone. They get up at 4:45 to 5:00 a.m. and so do I. I feed them, leave them inside due to the possibility of mountain lion attack, then head up to the loft for work on ancientrails, reading the news, staying in touch with friends and family. Around 7 a.m. it’s breakfast time and I let them out. Around 10 a.m. the dogs get their second feeding, so that’s back downstairs for me. In the interval between breakfast and noon I work out, read, write.

The dogs get outside in this kind of weather and we leave a door open for them. They like that. This still seems weird to me, but there aren’t the bugs up here we had in the humid East.

We nap in the early afternoon, a longstanding habit picked up during my visit to Bogota in 1989.

The afternoon is more reading, catching up on chores, then supper. The dogs go to bed around 6:30, 7:00 p.m. with Gertie and Rigel in their crates in the garage. Kepler stays up until Kate and I go to bed around 8 p.m. A Benjamin Franklin day. And the dogs follow it, too.

October 2017
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