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.


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.


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.


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.

You Old Dog

Spring                                                                               Rushing Waters Moon

from friend Tom Crane:

ancient scottish dog

fetch my stone axe, boy

“CIVILIZATIONS MAY COME AND GO, but good dogs are forever. In a first for canine forensics, researchers have reconstructed the head of a domesticated dog that lived in Scotland’s Orkney Islands some 4,500 years ago. Based on the size of its skull, the scientists believe the dog must have been roughly the size of a large collie and had features similar to a European grey wolf. Based on the loving gleam in its forensically reconstructed eyes, we believe the pup must have been a very good dog.”

Caregiver Man

Spring                                                                                Rushing Waters Moon

Kate’s in Swedish yet again. On O2 up here her oxygen saturation went down to 87. Runs about 98% on O2 on Shadow Mountain. She was also short of breath. That continued down the hill, but her O2 saturation rebounded. She had a chest x-ray, a c.t., and received some prednisone and a bronchodilator. Did not fix the shortness of breath. Meanwhile, Alex from Colorado Pulmonary Intensivists called with the results of her attempt to hook up Edwin Smith and the cardio-thoracic surgeon for the j-tube, lung biopsy. But we weren’t home.

Kate said she’s tired of this, the visits to the E.R. Said I must be, too. No, I told her. You remember, I reminded her, how I developed my commuterman persona to cope with all the trips in to St. Paul with Joseph? Yes. Well, now I’m caregiver man. I do what’s needed. Getting mad in rush hour traffic accomplished nothing but upsetting me, as fussing over this or that as a caregiver doesn’t change our reality, what needs to get done.

That’s not to say I’m immune to the stress. It comes. May have knocked my immune system back enough to make me vulnerable to the flu, pneumonia, that bad cold. Hard to tell. I don’t, however, project into the future. Caregiver man works in the present, stays there as best he can. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

dogs ribsOn a lighter note. When I got my second PSA done, the phlebotomist had pictures of her dogs on the wall. I commented. We got to talking about dogs. She had one, a smallish German shepherd like bitch. She loves to hunt, often comes in with a tail and two hind legs sticking out of her mouth. I mentioned Rigel and the time she upchucked a clear eyed rabbits head on the carpet. Well, she said, I have another one. This same girl once brought me back a full rack of ribs. Dressed. I laughed. So did she. Dogs.

There’s not a car wash in Conifer. Too much water use for our arid, rocky land. We don’t go down the hill much so our Rav4 is often dirty. Got gas down the hill yesterday. They had a car wash. Ah ha. I took advantage. First time in a couple, three months. I’m sitting there as the car wash machine starts spurting water and soap from its car sized mechanical arms. Reading. A whooosh of water and I feel it. Just a little. So I make sure all the windows are up. They are. Whooosh. Some water leaks onto my head, then more. Damn. The moon roof. It was open! Next pass even more water as I fumbled with the controls. They work differently than the one I used all the time in the Celica. I got it closed, but not before I had water streaming down my face. Even I could see the humor. After I got the moon roof closed.

On the way home I got off 73 and headed up Shadow Mountain Drive to find, a traffic jam. ? Cars snaked far around the curves out of sight. What? Luckily this is the information age. I opened my phone. After stopping and putting the now clean Rav4 in park. Went to google, typed in Nextdoor Shadow Mountain. Sure enough. A guy had rolled a gray pickup further up the road. He was in handcuffs. That explained the traffic jam.

Many cars turned around, got out of line. Many of us didn’t. The reason? Mountain roads. In order to get to our house, less than 3 miles up Shadow Mountain Drive, I would have to get back on 73, drive a good distance toward Evergreen, find Blue Creek Road, drive across it to Brook River Drive, turn left and drive miles to get home. Much easier to wait. The jam cleared. I got home.





Spring                                                                              Recovery Moon

Rebekah_Johnson_-_fullPicked up sister-in-law BJ at DIA yesterday. She’s an experienced traveler with a single roll-on bag and bright blue, hard-shelled case which carries her violin. It goes everywhere with her, including in to Sushi Win for lunch. “Cold is not good for it. Changes in humidity.” She’s the concert master for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, so the blue, hard-shelled case carries her means of earning a living.

We talked about the arts over lunch. Interestingly, her s.o. Schecky Ballentyne, a student of the cello great, Leonard Rose, and a teacher of the cello as well as an international soloist, thinks a renaissance of the arts gestates among millennials. A while back when he taught his students could count on getting jobs as professional musicians. More recently his students have gone on other careers instead. Medicine. Scholarship. Computer programming. But. They keep up the instrument, have chamber music evenings with other part time players, and keep their art alive. Schecky believes these folks will create an artistic renewal when they become more settled in their lives. May it be so.

music sasaki and ballentyneShecky and a pianist with whom he often works, Hiroko Sasaki, have a performance scheduled at the Merkin Hall in NYC. May 24. Here’s the info in case you’re in the Big Apple over that time:

In the 20 years spanned by the music in this evening’s performance, Beethoven revolutionized music and single-handedly created the modern cello sonata.  By juxtaposing works from each major period of his life, Ballantyne and Sasaki highlight this composer’s unique musical and spiritual development.  For an even more immersive experience, please join Emmy nominee George Marriner Maull, well-known for his PBS and radio specials about music, for a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 in the balcony lobby.


Scott Ballentyne, cello

Hiroko Sasaki, piano


Pre-concert Lecture: The Music of Beethoven by George Maull at 6:30

BEETHOVEN  –  Sonata Op. 5 #2 in G minor (1796)
BEETHOVEN  –  Sonata Op. 69 in A Major (1807/1808)
BEETHOVEN  –  Sonata Op. 102  #2 in D Major (1815)

Another 5 inches plus of snow here over night. Temperatures cooled down after the overheated week we had. This is powder though so it was easy to shovel the deck. Still snowing and in the teens.

Sandy, our house cleaner, came yesterday. She cleaned the loft, especially the bathroom after the unseating and resealing of the toilet. Always nice to get this space cleaned, about every other time she comes.

Kate continues to gain weight, do her ot/pt which gives her more strength and stamina. The hi-resolution CT next Tuesday should complete the diagnostic work of this whole ordeal. It will identify or rule out any lung disease. Then we’ll know whether she can go ahead with the j-tube placement. If Gupta, the pulmonologist, gives her the ok, that could happen fairly quickly.

20190126_103753All three dogs love the snow. Rigel and Gertie both go into the drifts nose first, come up shaking their heads, then do it again. Rigel hunts the rabbits that live under the deck and the shed, but she’s never caught one here, as far as I know. Back in Andover, every once in a while. Kep likes to wander in the snow, his black and white body moving in and out of the drifts as he investigates. He’s usually the last one back inside. His genes, after all, hail from the Akita prefecture in Japan, famous for its mountains and snow.

First workout today here in my loft gym for almost two months. If it’s anything like Thursday, I’m gonna need some help to get back downstairs. My quads are still complaining from that session.

In the way of Colorado this snow will be gone by Monday. 44 that day. Right now though it’s beautiful, falling gently on the lodgepoles, the naked aspen, our solar panels. Traction law is in effect. If you have bad tires and cause an accident or obstruct traffic, a big fine. Spring and winter will alternate with each other, probably all through April, perhaps even into May. Heavy snows, then 50 degree + days. Normal for us.

She Does a Slow Reveal

Spring                                                             Recovery Moon

Back Yard

Back Yard

Each night Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, and other stars of the northern sky orbit around Sirius, the pole star, doing their dance through and just above the lodgepole pines visible outside our bedroom window. Cassiopeia, like a shy maiden, appears right now behind a clump of lodgepoles early in the night, but slowly reveals herself, her trademark distorted W shape gradually appearing in full.

This morning the waning Recovery Moon and Jupiter sat next to each other, the moon with a pale wet halo, both over Black Mountain. This is wild country here. We saw a fox two mornings ago, a healthy red fox with a bushy tail held erect, running down Black Mountain Drive with either a critter or a kit in its mouth.

We’ll be in the 60’s this week, then more rain or snow over the weekend. When I picked up a prescription at King Sooper’s the other day, the pharmacy tech looked out the window and said, “Oh, god. It’s snowing, isn’t it?” It was. A bright blue sky and round shots of graupel struck the grocery store parking lot behind me. “I love snow, but I’m so tired of it.” “Oh, it’ll quit snowing eventually.” “Yeah,” she laughed, “in August.”

When sick, getting healthy is the most important thing on the docket. When well, all those pesky things you ignored take the top spot. Like that damned dead bolt. It sticks. And by stick I mean won’t move when we try to release it. This has taken a while to get bad. I could use a small pliers and a rubber piece (for traction) to open it for a while. Now that doesn’t work. Arthritic fingers and thumbs make these simple tasks go from difficult to impossible. Then, the toilet in the loft has developed an unpleasant habit of leaking from its seal to the floor or one of the bolts holding it down. Unusable in that state. Minor things, yes, but beyond the reach of an illness focused, snot for brains me. On them today.

Kate and Jackie

Kate and Jackie

Don’t remember whether I said it here or not, but Kate’s up to 85 pounds! Wow. I made an arbitrary number, 90 pounds, as the signal that the mess from Kate’s bleed would be officially over. She’s getting there. Almost exactly six months later. What an ordeal for her.

Rigel has developed a habit that will force a change in my behavior. We’ve taken to leaving certain items on the counter like bread, chips, apples and to using a small wire container in the sink as an alternative to a wastebasket. We put a plastic grocery bag over it, throw trash in it, then tie it up and throw it in the trash compactor. SeoAh’s idea and a handy one. Except. Rigel. She smells stuff she wants and uses her size to reach up and get it. Result. Mess. In three rooms yesterday. Gotta get a bread box and clear out space for the other items in the cupboard above the counter. A rejiggering of storage is necessary. Dogs.

Kate and I missed our hair cuts last month due to pneumonia. We’re both a bit shaggy and look forward to seeing Jackie today.

Ta for now.




Pi Day!

Imbolc                                                                           Recovery Moon

piHappy Pi day! I know it’s irrational, but pi’s got that kind of attitude. Will you be going to a recitation of pi? Some people will. Yes, that’s a thing. I like this day devoted to a mathematical phenom. I mean, who hasn’t heard of pi? And, it’s another holiday.

Our roof has curves. It looks like a sculpted chalet with deep sine waves marking the edges along the gutters and bulging hat shapes at the top. The road grader’s been by, guess the sagging power lines have returned to normal. This was a big one, stopping traffic in the mountains for a day.

Kate got her new delivery from Option Care yesterday rather than Wednesday. With the new pump we’ve got her on a 16 hours on, 8 hours off schedule now. Much better for living a life. She’ll be off pump from 10 am to 6 pm. She got some tasks done paid the bills, got started on the taxes. Her mood improved dramatically. As she gains weight and returns from malnourishment to normal, her energy level has increased and her spirits have improved. As she’s able to do more, she’ll feel even better.

Frustrating that we couldn’t see Gupta yesterday since the results of both the pulmonary function test and the CT scan have direct bearing on where we go next. Next week, I imagine.


Gertie, ready to leap in the snow

My cold continues. Sneezing, coughing, generally feeling crummy. Hard to take since I had just begun to feel normal when it arrived. Still, as Kate said, it won’t last forever. Glad.

The dogs have found the snow a joy and a burden. It comes up to their chests, even Rigel’s, and they walk through it deliberately. Kep loves the snow and stays out much longer than Rigel and Gertie. He wanders all over the yard, poking his nose here, then there. Gertie goes outside and immediately plunges her head into a snowbank. She comes inside snow sticking all over her face. Even so there were times yesterday when Rigel didn’t want to go outside. Too much work, I imagine. Gertie, too. Kep? Nope. He goes outside eagerly.

When spring comes close, that’s how we roll up here on Shadow Mountain.