Saturday

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Saturday. Worked out. Getting back to six days a week. Three cardio. Three cardio plus resistance. Tough to pull off with the scattering of doctor appointments on our calendar, but I’m getting there.

Weakness is still an issue. Is it the lupron? The COPD? Stress? I’m not moving up on my weights, but I’m accepting that. It will come back.

Realized had I not had my Achilles tendon rupture repaired and my arthritic knee replaced, it would not be possible to exercise now. At least not at the level I’m used to. Made me think about the downstream consequences of decisions made long ago. Smoking was another one. Drinking, too. Two marriages, then, at last, Kate. Seminary.

Made garlic and herb pork tenderloin last night. Oven fried potatoes and lemon/garlic green beans. My cooking skills are improving. Having Kate as a consultant gives me backup.

Oh. yeah. DST. Gone. Thank god. Except. We have dogs. I get up at 4:30 am to feed them. 4:30 is now 3:30 to them. Need to wait, gradually introduce them to the new time. Grrr.

Snow still on the ground. I imagine there will be more mitigation opportunities before winter fully sets in. The white Rav4, Ivory, has snow tires on now. Will put snowshoes on Ruby, maybe after Thanksgiving. She has good tread on her all-seasons and AWD. Works well.

Zornberg and Denes

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Brother Mark made a good observation. When remembering “my dead” yesterday, I did not include any dogs. He recalls, for example, “Vega’s woof.” I wrote him back and said, yes: Celt, Sorsha, Scott, Morgana, Tully, Tira, Orion, Tor. The Wolfhounds. Buck, Iris, Emma, Bridgit, Kona, Hilo. The Whippets. Vega. The coyote hound/IW mix.

My favorite version of the afterlife is that moment when all the dogs you’ve ever loved come up to greet you. If that could be so, I’d find eternity bearable.

Continuing to meditate, up to eleven minutes now toward a goal of twenty. And, read. First things.

This morning I read from The Human Argument, a collection of the writings of Agnes Denes. If you say, who? I understand. I’d never heard of her either until an article about her art in the Washington Post this week. This woman’s work is a stunner, combining science, mathematics, ecology, and art. I’m still not able to post pictures here (working on it), but you can see some of her work at the two links here. An important artist, IMO, but one I’d missed completely. Even the Walker has only one work by her and it’s a book. The MIA? Nothing.

Followed that with some more reading from Zornberg. Damn, this woman is so smart. And clever. The Beginning of Desire is a commentary on Genesis and its organized by parsha, the long readings required each week to get through the whole Torah in a year. The first parsha is named Bereshit since parshas take their name from the first word or phrase in the text. Bereshit is also the Hebrew name for the first book of the Bible, what I have known up till now as Genesis. Easily the best commentary I’ve ever read.

Here’s a quote from the introduction in which she talks about her method: “The aim of interpretation is, I suggest, not merely to domesticate, to familiarize an ancient book: it is also, and perhaps more importantly, to “make strangeness in certain respects stranger.”” She allows no definitive interpretation, rather she seeks a polyvalent conversation between reader and text, a dynamic reading that learns from the text and the life of the reader in dialectical tension.

Wondering now if staying immersed in Zornberg, in the world of ancient literature, the Greeks and Romans, too, might be the way forward for me. I certainly love it. Get excited.

Change it up, dude

Fall (last day of) and the Fallow Season Moon

-8. That’s right. -8 degrees here on Shadow Mountain, the day before Halloween. In October. We’ve had a taste of Minnesota winter the week before Halloween.

Been changing my morning routine a bit. Read an article that said the first three hours of your day are the most important. Mine starts between 4 am and 4:30 am. I wake up, the dogs get restless, Kep rolls over for a tug and tussle. Gertie comes up to check that I’M REALLY GETTING UP. Gives me a quick kiss to be sure. Rigel raises her head, looks at me. She requires a personal request to get out of bed.

That first half hour is dog feeding, getting the newspaper, and, on Wednesdays, today, taking out the trash. The trash has to be wheeled out through whatever has fallen on the driveway. Some snow today, not too bad.

One of the containers, the green one for recycling, testifies to America’s changed economy. It’s filled with cardboard from Amazon orders, Chewy dogfood boxes, boxes from Kate’s tube feeding supplies. Each home is now a shipping and receiving depot with the resulting obligation to handle no longer needed shipping materials.

After this work finishes, I go upstairs in our garage, to my loft, a 900 square foot space filled with books, art making supplies, exercise equipment and my computer desk. Over the last 14 years the first thing I’ve done in the morning is read e-mails, then write Ancientrails. That’s what I’d call a habit.

But, when learning is needed, the teacher appears. A writer whose blog I sometimes read suggested the first three hours make your day notion. He was making the common millennial complaint about spending too much on social media: facebook, instagram, snapchat, tiktok, whatever the latest is. That’s not me, but I took his point.

Ready for a change I switched up. First, back to meditating. Having done that on a regular basis in a long while. Goal is for 20 minutes. Up to 10 this morning. Then, I read. I’ve been wondering about why I’m not reading more. Oh, I read science fiction, the occasional novel, Tears of the Truffle Pig right now, but serious reading has become a difficult task. Fitting it in. Being able to sustain attention. Turns out the early am is wonderful for that kind of attention.

Reading this morning in the Beginning of Desire, by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Subtitle: reflections on Genesis. She’s amazing. A new thing under the sun of biblical commentary. Her method, which I’ll write about here at some point, is so subtle, so profound, so intimate, and very learned. I got hooked on her by plucking a book of hers somewhat by random off the library shelf at CBE. I opened, read a couple of sentences, and knew this was genius. Not a term I use lightly.

That was a year ago during the High Holidays, Yom Kippur, and Rabbi Jamie had just finished the whole High Holidays. A lot of work. He sank into the chair next to me. Nobody else there. All had left.

I enthused about Zornberg. He brightened. Yes, he’d met here. Yes, she was the best Torah commentator, maybe ever. He and his brother Russ, a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, and professor at Regis University in Denver, who lives in Evergreen, had talked about a joint class using one of her works, a series of essays on biblical interpretation. Hasn’t happened yet, but when things normalize here, I’m going to see if I could give the idea a boost.

Anyhow, I got into her this morning and combined with some other thinking I’ve been doing, got into a revery about myth, fairy tales, long books, the true anchors of my inner life. This is my work, my lifelong work and fascination, the attempts we humans make to discern the occult, the hidden, the other world, the that beyond the this. This is my heart’s labor. Politics was reasons labor, fueled by the heart, too, of course, the misery of oppression, but calculating, power oriented, perhaps a diversion?

I’m writing this now, an hour and a half later than I would have in the past 14 years. So, changes. More to come.

The Wild World

Fall and the Sukkot Moon

A scrim of clouds played with Orion and the Sukkot Moon, revealing and then hiding, hiding and then revealing. The walk to the mailbox is short, but as I take it my mind whirls up to the distant stars, to Greek myths, to the peak of Black Mountain faintly illuminated by the moon. It is a delightful way to start the day, quiet, usually no cars, still a bit early for commuters.

Scattered clouds change the night sky, creating mystery. A lesson in the occult. If you’re an early bird and can see the sky, I recommend this consciousness expanding morning ritual. It places the day in context. The universe observing itself through my eyes. A quiet joy.

We drove down the hill yesterday in the early morning, out of the house at 6 am headed for Corneal Consultants. Kate’s first cataract surgery. On the way she asked me, Do you know why Kirby Puckett was such a good hitter? No. He batted right, but had a dominate left eye. Oh. I see. I was a good hitter. I have left eye dominate and bat right handed. The stuff you learn about someone.

In case you got to wondering, as I just did, about the relationship between eyeball and river uses of the word. Latin cataracta waterfall, portcullis, from Greek katarakt─ôs, from katarassein to dash down, from kata- + arassein to strike, dash Merriam-Webster. I’ll have to check the OED later.

It went well. She’s wearing a clear plastic eye-shield and the dark pupil of her dominate eye gives little space for the beautiful blue green of her iris. Drops every two hours. A visit to the doctor today.

On the way into Evergreen last night to pick up pizza at Beaujo’s an emergency vehicle came out of the fire house, cutting through the rush hour traffic which lined both lanes of 73. While I drove as close to the slight drop off as I could, an Elk cow looked in at me. Neither Gertie nor Rigel went nuts. Thankful for that.

In a front yard on the other side of Cub Creek nine or ten of her sister cows laid on the grass, eating their cud, looking very relaxed and at home. During the rut and into the winter the elk are more present in Evergreen. Not like Estes Park where they wander into businesses, but still visible.

Today Alan and I have brunch at 11:00. The first time I’ve seen him since my bagel table in late September. Kate had a bad couple of weeks and he had acting in Cabaret, singing at the High Holidays, and the Rotary Club’s recycling day. Looking forward to catching up with him.

Kate’s friend from both Bailey Patchworkers and CBE, Jamie Bernstein, has agreed to take her to her follow-up appointment so I can see Alan. Thanks, Jamie and Kate for setting it up.

Fall and the Rosh Hashanah Moon

Kep in the loft
Gertie

Worked out yesterday. Was sleeping really well, really well. Until. Cold noses in my face. Yes, Kep. Yes, Gertie. A yip from Gertie. Kep jumps up on my legs. OK, OK, give me a minute. Forces head back onto pillow, hopes the dogs will disappear for about fifteen minutes. Nope. All right, all right, I’m getting up. Geez. 4:30. Right on time, but no slack for a tired dad.

Rigel, “Who, me?”

Kate had a dentist appointment in the morning. We took Gertie and Rigel with us since it’s cooling down up here. I drive because her ability to walk very far has diminished. I can put the car as close as possible to the entrance. She came out with brighty whities.

requires moving 5 tons of river rock. 10,000 pounds.

We’re scheduled for an absurd temperature drop on Thursday along with some snow. Hope the cold and snow calm down the extreme fire conditions we’ve had for the last month or so.

The CBE Mitzvah committee may help with my fire mitigation. My energy level for doing it is low. My desire to get it done is high. Susan convinced me that she might find some folks willing to help in some way. Here’s my e-mail to her after we talked:

Susan,

How I feel most days.

I needed your directness. It’s tough for me to ask for any help, ever. I know, I know, I’m a guy. Partly that. Partly, too, I want to do as much as I can as long as I can. It’s about love.

I promise when I wear out, before I wear out, I’ll give you a call. Right now I’m really fine. Except for that fire mitigation stuff.

It has surprised me how much having people out there that care matters. As you say, just knowing that is so much.

I’m pretty self-reliant, one of those blessing and curse sorta things, but I’ve always needed friends and community. Beth Evergreen is both. And, more.

So, gratitude to you, to your committee, to the ancient path that breeds such caring folks. We’re in this together and that makes all the difference. Really, not rhetoric.

So Good

Lughnasa and the crescent Moon of the First Harvest

Our beautiful Rigel. Nine and a half.

Cool again this morning. Great sleeping. So much so that Rigel couldn’t be bothered to get up and go outside before breakfast. I had to go down and roust her. All that barking at the bunnies under the shed tired her out, I guess. Thankfully she seems to be calming down about them.

Brother Mark is back in Saudi Arabia. His employment there has taken some odd turns. He’s headed to Riyadh instead of either Arar or Qassim. As he says, Saudi can be a challenging place to work.

Uncle Mark in the Saudi desert

Today is sister Mary’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mary! She’s starting another year as a professor at the teacher’s university of Singapore.

In other family news Kate and I went on an errand run yesterday. We were out so long that the battery on her O2 concentrator died. Happened on the way home. Even with that she was not exhausted. Still upbeat. Her stamina has improved remarkably with regular, balanced nutrition. It was so good to have her with me, doing things. Today is eleven months since her bleed. September 28th, 2018.

A 75th birthday present

We stopped at Babcock Gardens and Feed in Kittredge. Investigating river rock to cover the landscape cloth I’m going to put all around our house. That’s the 5 foot ignition zone. The one and a half inch river rock covers 80 square feet per ton. We’ve got about 500 square feet, maybe a bit more. 5 tons* of rock to move. And, the woman at Babcock’s said river rock is hard to shovel. Hmm. Time for teenagers. Or, it just occurred to me, a bobcat. Course it would have to fit through our gate. Hmm, maybe not.

One odd element of wildfire mitigation is that, if you’ve done it, the firefighters are much more likely to protect your home in case of a fire. If we try, they’ll try.

*All you math folks can tell that’s only 400 square feet worth, right? Well, they only deliver 5 tons at a time. Gonna try to make that much work.

Sunny Saturday Morning

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

Kate’s second birthday. Yesterday Jon, Ruth, and Gabe came up after school. Ruth brought a special piece of lemon cake for Kate. Ruth made a birthday card at school with 75 in raised numbers and a sweet note on the back. Gabe sent photographs of minions wishing Grandma a happy birthday. Jon made her a card, too.

I drove over to Golden, to Ali Babba’s, and picked up a gyros meal for 5. We dined like sheiks in a tent.

Earlier in the day I worked out. Something odd in the workouts. I’ve been able to advance weight on most of the exercises: inclined bench press, lawnmowers, triceps. I’m holding my plank a bit longer, doing more crunches, increased my goblin squat. But bicep curls. I’m still at 12 pounds and can’t seem to get past it. Unusual. My cardio is harder right now, too. Might be the Lupron.

Rigel has developed a rabbit habit. She goes out, goes straight to the shed and starts digging under it. And barking under it, too. Come on out, rabbits! Come on out. I’m hungry.

I’ve never believed in this tactic, but she’s used it for years. She’s also chewed up boards on our back deck, dug under it, plucked a board off one of the pallets. A board nailed to the pallet’s supports. The definition of dogged.

All this began again after she dug up a vole a couple of years ago. It reignited her inner predator and she’s been trying for critters ever since. She’d calmed down about this stuff after our move. At nine and a half years she’s older, but still very strong, graceful, powerful.

Summer and the Radiation Moon

Yesterday. Sleepy, stomach upset, et alia. Stayed in bed, got up, had some cereal while Kate and Ruth were at the grocery store. Back to bed.

At the Rockies

Afternoon. Ruth and I spent a good time in the loft talking about haiku, wondering when we’d each get back to oil painting, her upcoming trip to NY with Jon and Gabe. Week After next.

She and Gabe are at Hemophilia family camp this week. Something they’ve done together for several years. Then, on August 8th, back to school. Ruth is an 8th grader. She volunteered to help with orientation for entering 6th graders like Gabe. So, soon.

Ruth mowed the fuel yesterday; Gabe reorganized Rigel’s destruction of my improvised guard wall. Brick pavers in 5 gallon Home Depot buckets placed where she likes to burrow under our back deck.

Ruth and Kate, then Gabe and Kate, made trips to the grocery store. That Kate. She’s going. When she asked me later if I could cook. I said, no. Just too weary. Was hard to say to her. Ruth helped. Cedar Plank salmon, buttered egg noodles, and peas. Most excellent.

Well, hungry and tired. Not late, though. Or, Angry. Gonna go take care of both of those.

Fireworks

Summer and the Radiation Moon

The Radiation Moon will take me all the way to August 1st, within 5 days of the finish. The Algonquin’s called it the Thunder Moon. In the traditional Chinese calendar the July moon is the Ghost Moon. The Hungry Ghost festival follows in August, now the month of the Ghost Moon. Thundering ghosts radiating from the heavens. Or, hells.

Last radiation day this week. July 4th long weekend ahead. Breakfast with Alan at Dandelion.

Not sure what we’re going to do for the 4th although we have never gone to fireworks. Crowds and up too late. In Andover we could see the fireworks the city put on from our house. Later, we could hear the fireworks loving neighbors displaying what they’d found. Meanwhile the dogs would cower in their crates or up against our legs.

Monsoon rains

In the fire prone foothills fireworks displays are often called off. This would be the year for them, since the fire danger is much less than usual. The monsoon season is here already with afternoon storms. You’d think the added water would get the fire danger back down to low, but it’s been stuck at moderate for the last week.

Trump’s very big, biggest ever, best ever fourth of July celebration. With tanks! You can see his mind turning over television news clips of military parades in Hitler’s Germany, North Korea, Russia, even some European countries. Oh, boy. Look at us. Big missiles! Big tanks! Lots of soldiers! Flags. We’re patriotic. We love America. Enough to put on a big fancy beautiful wonderful moment. When will it ever end?

Family Week on Shadow Mountain

Summer and the Recovery Moon

It’s family week on Shadow Mountain. Mary is here, arriving Tuesday night from Minneapolis, heading out tomorrow for Minneapolis to see her friend Debbie in Eau Claire. After a brief stop in Indiana, she heads back to London, on to Cornwall, Devon, for a memorial service. Greece for a conference. Back to England, Cambridge, for a conference with Japanese colleagues from her time in Kobe last year.

Meanwhile Mark sends missives about Bangkok. He’s been in Chinatown, Yaowarat Road, the old main street of Bangkok. I stayed there when I was in Bangkok in 2004. A fascinating place with traditional Chinese apothecaries, lots of street food on weekend nights, small, crowded lanes packed with shops selling diverse wares.

Guru, Mary’s s.o., is back in K.L., Malaysia, defending a couple of drug traffickers facing the death penalty. They’re tough on drug dealers.

Kep

The Kep, shredder extraordinaire, goes into PetSmart today for furmination. If, that is, I can find his rabies certificate. No, I know where it is. He still doesn’t like to be left. He is joyous when we return. You remembered me!

Yesterday I listened to Creedence while the Cancer Predator bobbed and weaved around my body-as Mark observed. Keith, who’s taking the radiation cure for just diagnosed prostate cancer, said, Half done! I’ll get to half some day, but not soon. Another guy, older than me, gave me a bemused smile, all radiated! We’re all on death row, hoping to commute the sentence with clean living and radioactive photons.

2014

Kate saw Gupta. He’s going to see her again in a month. No diagnosis. She’s doing so well that getting a lung biopsy done, the only way to make a definitive diagnosis, might interfere with her recovery. It’s a surgical procedure, requiring anesthesia. If she continues to improve, and I think she will, then any lung disease is not bad enough to justify the trauma of the biopsy.