We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Spring                                                        New (Rushing Waters) Moon

Snow and more snow in the forecast. All moisture, good. Good sky, good sky.

The divorce, month 11. The public side of the Jon/Jen divorce started last May. Of course, they’d been getting there for some time before that. Jon is still living with us, still commuting from Shadow Mountain to Aurora, all the way across the Denver metro. The grandkids still come up three weekends a month. Jon and Jen are in the post-final orders time, a time when new norms have to be developed between them. I’d like to say it’s going well, but in fact it’s rocky. From both sides.

The whole matter will change significantly when Jon buys a new home. He’ll move out of here, his stuff will leave our garage. The custody arrangement will change to 50/50 so he will have more parental responsibilities, but also more parental influence on Ruth and Gabe.

Kate and I are ready for this new phase to begin.

 

 

The Mortal Yet

Spring                                                                Passover Moon

Ruth in the middle, red makeup

Ruth in the middle, red makeup

Snow yesterday and last night. Not a lot, maybe 2 inches. At most. But, all moisture is welcome. More rain and snow in the forecast for next week, too. Go, sky.

This week saw lab results and imaging results coming in over the threshold. Like getting final grades at the end of term though these matter, especially at this age, much more. All good for both of us, mostly. My kidney disease has actually improved some. No real trouble. Of course, there’s always the mortal yet that needs to be added here. But for now, still above ground and likely to stay that way for a while.

The weekend is grandkids. Ruth and her Destination Imagination team, the Jaw Dropping Crunchy Brains, compete in the statewide event tomorrow. We’ll be in attendance.

SamsMenuCOVER-621x1024Tomorrow, Earth Day, April 22nd, is Gabe’s 9th birthday. He wants to eat at Sam’s #3 and so we will. A good day to celebrate the grandkids.

Today I’m off to the Lego store to get a gift certificate for Gabe, then I’ll head all the way south on Hwy. 470 to Ikea. I’m picking up a chair frame and two stools. The chair frame is for a reading chair like mine. With it Ruth and I can read together in the loft.

Finally, I’ll swing by Dairy Queen for an ice cream cake for Gabe’s birthday celebration up here on Shadow Mountain. That should be enough for today.

Of course, all this driving will be in full view of the Front Range, making it seem like I’m really out here on vacation. Which is what it still feels like most of the time.

 

 

The Zen of Kate

Spring                                                                        Passover Moon

700 pixels- punta arenasMonday. Physicals back to back. We do things together, like our physicals and our dental cleanings. So sweet. Very romantic. And it is, in its way. Sort of like dates. We go out to lunch afterwards.

This week is the slow drip after as test results and imaging work reveal their information. So far, generally good news. The usual deterioration occasioned by 70 + years on the planet, not a surprise, but not yet deadly.

The zen of Kate. One of the imaging tests could have returned something bad, but even in the weeks after she learned a second test, a cat scan, would be necessary, Kate didn’t flinch. “Can worrying about it make it different?” she said. A wise woman, my Kate. Of course, that didn’t prevent me from worrying about it, but I’m trying to learn from her on this one.

She’s bouncing back from a three/four month bout of low energy and shortness of breath. Nighttime oxygen (we live at 8,800 feet) and more calories each day have given her more pizazz. She’s also just had her second infusion of Remicade, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis. RA can also produce fatigue so the Remicade may be helping her energy level increase, too.

2011 09 04_1258750The zen of dogs. Over the last few weeks I’ve paid special attention to how the dogs in my life live: Gertie, Rigel and Kepler. We share moments often during the day and at night. A dog is always in the now, ready to take a nap, run outside, eat, get a head or neck scratch, some petting. They remind me of the brevity of life and how precious each moment, each interaction is, not only with dogs of course, but with family and friends. With the mountains, too. The clouds and stars. The snow.

 

A Mighty Fortress is Our Family

Spring                                                                       Passover Moon

kogenateThis weekend focused in part on grandson Gabe though he was absent from it. Gabe has hemophilia.

Many diseases have their own subcultures. Think HIV/aids, Hepatitis B, breast cancer, MS, cystic fibrosis. Hemophilia has its own. On Friday and Saturday Kate and I attended a hemophilia education event in Lone Tree.

A notable defining characteristic of the bleeding disorder subculture is how misunderstood the disease itself is, and how much others don’t appreciate the demands on both those with the disease and their family. I imagine other disease focused groups share this general attitude. While it is certainly true that most folks have never heard of the clotting cascade or what can go wrong with it and we don’t live with the day-to-day strain of possible bleeds or other serious complications, these attitudes create an us against them mentality.

Physicians don’t understand. Friends don’t understand. Grandparents don’t understand. The only ones who get it are those of us directly affected.

FactorTrack3And, ironically, Big Pharma. One of the oddities of the bleeding disorder community is its relationship with big drug companies. In most, perhaps all, other instances, the choice of medication for a particular condition or illness is the physician’s responsibility, often in consultation with the patient, yes, but just as often not. The physician’s job is to understand the patient and, if needed, the application of a certain pharmaceutical to their situation.

Not so in bleeding disorders. Parents of afflicted children and adults with a bleeding disorder have a personal relationship with drug representatives from companies like Bayer or Shire or CHS Behring and Octapharma. They have to learn about how molecular structure impacts the efficacy of a factor product. Factor is short for clotting factors which are missing or weakened in bleeding disorders.  There’s also the issue of half-life. In recent time the choice about whether to use a product produced from human plasma or a synthetic product has tilted now toward the synthetic, recombinant, because human plasma derived products too often carried HIV-but they were all that was available. This necessity to choose among the various factors offered, taking on a role normally filled by a physician, no doubt empowers parents and afflicted adults, but it also makes the circle draw closer, tighter.

All of this reinforces a cult-like insularity. One couple spoke about their children’s grandparents as “clueless.” The laughter in the room indicated that most of those there shared that opinion. How could grandparents possibly understand? Now, you might imagine that didn’t sit well with me, Kate or Barb Bandel, Jen’s mother. There were other ageist moments when our commentary in group discussions were either ignored or diminished. We raised these very children who now see us as unable to understand issues that affect children. This is not only ironic, it’s damaging.

When the nuclear family becomes the stronghold against uninformed outsiders, a whole panoply of possible resources wither up. Parents don’t take time for themselves, at least at first, because who else could know what to do? Children don’t go away for the night, even to grandparents. The strength of the extended family is cut off to the detriment of all parties.

 

 

A Year and 7 Days

Spring                                                                          Passover Moon

Subway in Singapore

Subway in Singapore

It’s been a year and a week since Joseph and SeoAh were married in Gwangju, Korea. We were in Singapore on this day a year ago. We met Anitha, mentioned below, at Relish, a restaurant near Mary’s home and dined that evening at the Tanglin Club, a holdover of the British raj, a private club for owners of rubber plantations.

After coming home to a 46 inch snowfall, we picked up our dogs from the Bergen Bark Inn. Vega got bloat, was operated on the same day and died the next morning. A huge heartache, doubled by its surprise.

Passover 2016

Passover 2016

That May Jon and I dined at a Mexican restaurant in the heavily Latino portion of Aurora where his school is located. “Jen and I are getting divorced.” Oh. My. Still echoing today though the final orders for the divorce were read into the record in November of last year.

That same month I got a letter from a photographer accusing me of using one of his photos without a license. He had me. I was guilty, guilty, guilty. A negotiated settlement passed a thousand dollars to him and inspired a weeks long project of removing all photographs and suspect images from Ancientrails.

The Old Man of the Mountain

The Old Man of the Mountain

Last year was also the peak of fire mitigation work. The sound of the chainsaw was heard in the land for hours at a time. It was fun work and created a zone of safety around our house.  I’m especially grateful for that work this year since we’ve had very little snow and it looks to be a long and potentially hot summer.

In June Timberline Painting put stain on the garage, our two decks and the shed. It was in the same month that Kate and I began to attend the mussar sessions at Beth Evergreen. This was Kate taking up the law of return, re-embracing a decision she’d made 30 years ago to convert.

Too, the Presidential campaign was very much with us. Even though Trump made us shudder, his chance for victory, either for the Republican nomination, or God forbid, for the Presidency itself, seemed very, very unlikely.

20160925_133910That August buddy Mark Odegard, older than me, pushed himself to do prints of all the bridges crossing the Mississippi in Minneapolis and St. Paul. He finished and had a show of his work. That same month we contracted with Bear Creek Design to redo our downstairs bathroom into a zero entry shower.

In September I traveled by car to Minnesota, taking in a reception for Joseph and SeoAh at Raeone’s new home near Central High School in St. Paul. The Woolly’s were having a retreat day that same weekend, so I got to reconnect with my brothers in Stillwater, overlooking the St. Croix.

20161201_201051That driving trip convinced me that my left knee had to get better. Driving made it so painful that sleeping was tough and long stretches on the road difficult. After consulting with Lisa Gidday, my internist, I visited orthopedic surgeon William Peace. We scheduled the replacement for December 1st.

Kate and I observed our first Sukkot in a booth built on the grounds of Beth Evergreen. We continued to get more deeply involved there, attending High Holy Day services and some evening mussar events.

20161022_113629We voted by mail on October 19th. Didn’t help. Trump got elected. Joseph deployed to Qatar. Mark (brother Mark) continued to teach in Saudi Arabia. Final orders for the divorce were handed down and we celebrated Thanksgiving.

Then I had knee surgery. Ouch. I woke up about six weeks later. Only to discover that Donald Trump had, in fact, been elected and that, even worse yet, he would be inaugurated on the 20th of January. Not even the morphine, oxy and tramadol could repress the pain of that realization. And so it came to pass.

It was in the context of all this swirl and drung that I reached the biblical three score and ten. A new decade of life, a sense of completion and a feeling of a new beginning. Still seems odd, still living into that. Somewhere over the course of this time I joined Beth Evergreen, made friends there.

Ruth at Wild Game

Ruth at Wild Game

This month Ruth turned 11 and Gabe will turn 9. Jon’s begun to look for houses, to check out mortgages. Kate and I have our physicals tomorrow. She’s got some serious issues that will become clearer over the next week or so. I have some anxiety about them. My health seems pretty good, even though our time here in Colorado has seen me down a prostate and up a new prosthetic knee.

The year after Joseph and SeoAh’s wedding has been full. Maybe a quieter one coming up?

The Wanderer

Spring                                                                        Passover Moon

Mark on the sands of Araby

Mark on the sands of Araby

Brother Mark has been in town for the last couple of days. It was, in some ways, as if I saw him for the first time this visit. His lifestyle is unusual, truly counter cultural. He works at his long time occupation, teaching English as a second language, saves money, then heads off to travel for a few months. Over the last five years or so he’s worked in Saudi Arabia, teaching in Hail, Jubail, Jeddah and a couple of other places I don’t recall right now.

He’s seen every continent except Africa, crossed the old Soviet Union on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a trip he started in Beijing, and worked day labor type jobs when his funds from the teaching ran low. He also makes time to drop in on relatives and friends, staying a while, then moving on. I admire his willingness to live frugally and engage his passion, to see the world. So, a shoutout to Mark, the wanderer.

 

Wildgame

Spring                                                                          Passover Moon

20170408_142512The birthday girl is here. 11 years old now, officially (I learned yesterday.) a tween. She’s a reader, an artist who now works a lot with wire, a double black diamond level skier, a gifted student, a good friend, a thespian and our granddaughter. Ruth.

She’s now only 2 years away from her Bat Mitzvah. This is about the time for her to get her preparation underway. Lots of Hebrew to learn.

Divorce has been tough on the kids, Ruth and Gabe both. Things do seem to be settling down right now, so I hope the two of them can begin to get on with their elementary school lives. Gabe turns 9 on the 22nd of this month.

20170408_142335We took them both to Wildgame, a restaurant and entertainment place in Evergreen. They have an arcade (see picture), a bowling alley, a pool table, bocce ball court, ping pong tables and a stage for live music. The counter guy told Kate to come before 5 pm because, “It gets pretty crazy after that.”

Had we been prescient the divorce alone would have been enough reason for us to move out here. We weren’t, but we’re certainly glad we’ve been here for the whole family. Even Jen. Divorce with young kids, a reality both Kate and I have known, is just plain hard. I’m sad Ruth and Gabe have had to experience it.

Dogs and kids. I never want to have a life without either of them.

He’s My Lovely Husband

Spring                                                                       Passover Moon

And so, instead of Easter we look toward passover. It’s on two nights, this year April 10 and 11. On April 11th we will attend a community seder sponsored by Beth Evergreen at Mt. Vernon Country Club. The immersion continues and I’m learning a lot about this ancient faith and about myself. Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, believed that Jewish culture was a gift to the world that could be shared without necessarily demanding religious conversion. I’m glad. Beth Evergreen is easily the most interesting religious community of which I’ve been a part.

My workouts have gotten back to their former lengths, roughly an hour to an hour and a half depending on the day, but the intensity, especially in the cardio, still lags. Of course, I’m only four months out from my surgery, so I’m fine with where I am.

We haven’t seen the grandkids for two weeks due to their spring break, but they’re coming up here tonight. Will be good to see them.

20160406_134240Joseph and Seoah got married on April 10th, a year ago. With Joseph’s deployment to Qatar they’ve missed some of their first year together, about four months. He goes again in August and will be there until December. He says this may be the last one for a while. I hope so, but with Trump finding his gunslinger role, I wonder.

Here’s the capstone of the whole experience for me, a text exchange I had with SeoAh after I learned Joseph had been sick.

Me: Glad to hear that. (he was better.) I worry about him a bit.

Very glad he’s got you to care for him and that you have him.

SeoAh: He is my lovely husband. Don’t worry about him. I will care for him.

Me: Okay.

 

 

Snow, And Lots of It

Spring                                                                      Passover Moon

20170405_144607Switched my work routine around, now writing on Superior Wolf in the early morning, breakfast, Latin, workout, lunch, nap. So Ancientrails comes later in the day. Like now, at 3 pm.

We got somewhere between 12 and 20 inches of snow last night. Our house looks like an old cabin in Switzerland after a heavy snow. When I cleared the deck early this morning, it was challenging. Kep stood at the door when I opened it, looked outside, looked at me, then delicately put a foot outside. A few seconds later he was bounding through the white, a black and white blur.

In the way of mountain weather, our driveway, plowed at 4:30 am by Ted, is now clear. The sun, beating down on it at altitude, transfers heat quickly to the asphalt. This aspect of weather here is a real joy. You can have snow, lots of it, and still find mobility pretty easy not long afterward.

Kate had her first infusion of Remicade, an anti-rheumatoid arthritis biologic, on Monday. We hope it will reduce the pain in her hands, shoulder and back while also reducing the fatigue that RA also creates. The infusion takes two hours, sitting quietly in a chair with up to 8 other people in the room, undergoing the same sort of procedure. It’s hard to know in advance whether these things will work, but we expect good results.

Over at Beth Evergreen tonight Kate’s going for her last or next to last Hebrew class, then to a cooking class for a new approach to the passover meal. At 5 pm, Rabbi Jamie will teach a class, Exodus From Boring Seders. We’re attending a community seder next week on April 12 at Mt. Vernon Country Club. Maybe it won’t be boring.

Jon plans to look at mortgages this month, houses in May. We both hope it goes smoothly for him.

 

 

 

ELEVEN

Spring                                                                              Passover Moon

RUTH

Her shadow side

Her shadow side

Ruth, as the dragon, getting ready to go on

Ruth, as the dragon, getting ready to go on

10

10

20150614_111758

9

8

8, at Wings over the Rockies

1000IMAG0475

7, Running Aces

6, Georgetown Railroad

6, Georgetown Railroad

4-BE418CA1-1395223-800

5

4

4

3?

3?

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