We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Wednesday

Spring                                                                             Mountain Moon

dishesYesterday was d-2 of the new dishwasher era. I have now seen the wonderful word, CLEAN, on its external panel twice. And, after checking, it’s true! I believe, barring trouble, that this brings the dishwasher saga to an end. Blessed be.

We’ve had maybe 8 inches of snow over the last week. All gone. As if it it never happened. 62 yesterday. Blue skies, small cotton balls of cumulus drifting over Black Mountain. Another day in the Rockies.

Kate sewed yesterday! This is a big deal and I’m happy for her. She can get her right arm up to 90 degrees though she still can’t use the shoulder for the most part. Coming along though. Her weight is up and so are her spirits. “I’m so happy I did the surgery.” Me, too.

whelmAfter the initial overwhelm (what’s a whelm*, I wonder?), I’ve been surprised by the good feelings that have come from my part in Kate’s recovery. Doing more, enjoying it more. Though. I will be happy when Kate’s back to full functioning.

Qabbalah last night. A lot of talk about sacred time, about creating sacred time, especially referenting Shabbat. What kind of practices move us toward eternal time? Observing Shabbat is one.

Allan talked about creating characters as an actor. He’s just been cast in two plays. The formation of a character and then the expression of the character on stage is a lot of work, a technical and often demanding process, but it’s ephemeral. After the rehearsals are done and the play has closed, the work disappears. I imagine each character leaves some residue, but I take his overall point that immersion in another identity allows for a glimpse of sacred time.

time, creation and expulsion

The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise   Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia) (Italian, Siena 1398–1482 Siena)  1445

*who knew?

verb

archaic literary
verb: whelm; 3rd person present: whelms; past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed; gerund or present participle: whelming
  1. 1.
    engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).
    “a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm”
    • flow or heap up abundantly.
      “the brook whelmed up from its source”

noun

archaic literary
noun: whelm; plural noun: whelms
  1. 1.
    an act or instance of flowing or heaping up abundantly; a surge.
    “the whelm of the tide”

D-Day

Spring                                                                    Mountain Moon

kitchen aidToday is D-Day on Shadow Mountain. Dishwasher Day, that is. Sometime between 8 and 12, the cliched “window”, Best Buy, yes, that old home town favorite, will deliver and install our new Kitchen Aid dishwasher. After five weeks plus of hand washing dishes (the horror!) we’ll go back to the way dishes were meant to be washed, with lots of chugging and rushing and whirring. This has been a sufficiently long and frustrating process that I’ll not believe it’s over until the new appliance is snug in its home and has run its first few cycles.

Rich Levine wrote yesterday to say that our bee equipment is out in the wild now, helping other, new beekeepers. Tara Saltzman, CBE’s director of religious education, felt more comfortable using our half body bee suit. A hive tool, twenty of our built out frames, two hive boxes, bee brush, smoker and pellets went to the bee project. It feels good that they’re in use rather than sitting in our garage and it particularly feels good that they’re encouraging others to learn about bees.

IMAG0784We have more hive boxes, more honey supers, plus all the equipment needed to harvest and bottle honey. We brought the bee stuff with us on the chance that we would want to pick up bee keeping here, but now it’s unlikely. With both gardening and beekeeping the challenges altitude presented might have been overcome, they can be, but that first year enthusiasm after the move, 2015, got absorbed by prostate cancer. In 2016 Jon told me he and Jen were getting divorced. That took our attention for a full year and a half to which I added knee replacement surgery and Kate added Sjogren’s. Unless we decide to purchase a greenhouse, our horticultural life will remain muted.

Kate had her third session of p.t. and I took the time to go to King Soopers and get some groceries. She’s a had a small set back with her appetite, but her progress has given her confidence. This will be only a to be expected dip. Nothing’s linear.

Today's work

Today’s work

Meanwhile I have decluttered the loft. As I work, I pile up books and paper, file folders and magazines, creating temporary archival mounds. When I get to a place where I can poke my head up over the transom and see some light, the mounds lose their archival charm and become just clutter. The act of reshelving books, creating file folders for loose papers, organizing magazines has an energizing effect, both in the satisfaction of a more organized space and in the psychic sense of a new time beginning.

Today is filing, organizing magazines and a task new to me, creating storage for my sumi-e work. Most of it is practice, but there are a few keepers. I don’t understand the value of practice work yet, so I’m going to keep almost all of it even though my instinct is to throw it away. This means finding a way to archive large flat pieces of paper in a way that doesn’t fold or mutilate them. I have some ideas, folded cardboard, removing a few maps from my flat file storage. When I get to working on it, I’ll invent something.

That, plus the dishwasher, is what Tuesday will be about.

 

Out and Back Again

Spring                                                                       Mountain Moon

20180422_182925Earth Day. Thanks, Gaylord Nelson. Gabe’s birthday, too. 10 this year. He got a fidget spinner, an infinity box and a red envelope with money, $10 for each year. This year Earth Day is also Kate’s one month mark after surgery. She’s on an upswing in many ways, weight, pain, nausea.20180422_173735

We were at Domo again, the rural Japanese restaurant that was one of Zagat’s five best Japanese restaurants in the U.S. in 2007.

Quite awhile ago I told Ruth that I liked restaurants that transported me to another culture or offered a very different experience than my day to day life. She remembered and asked me last night if Domo was one of those. “Yes. Definitely.”

20180422_174528In addition to having an Akido studio that is one of the oldest in the country, Domo has a museum of rural Japanese objects, many related to farming or carpentry. They also have art hung in many spots, but in an unobtrusive, organic way. It’s located in an older, warehouse looking building in what is now a rapidly growing part of Denver. A brand new apartment building is under construction right next to it.

It’s not surprising, then, that there is a disclaimer on the door that reads, “No. We are not closing. Domo has no intention or plans for closing. We look forward to serving you in the future.” Both Domo and the equally unique Buckhorn, which is about three blocks further south on the same street, have been enveloped by Denver’s hot housing market and its drive for non-vehicular transportation. The Buckhorn, liquor license #1 in the City of Denver, sits in the curve of a rapid transit station and shares with Domo new housing starts, mostly apartments, all around it. The old city, Buffalo Bill Cody ate at the Buckhorn, and the new smooshing together.

20180422_174540It’s been an unusual weekend visually with the suspended bee hives and the elk Saturday, the 4/20 celebration at Happy Camper on Friday and Domo yesterday. There is, too, of course, always the mountains. When we drive down the hill into Denver, we leave them behind for a bit, decanting ourselves onto the terminus of the great plains, still high at 5,280 feet, but flat all the same. Last night when we came home, a mountain in the distance toward Evergreen was a flat, pastel teal with pink ribbons of clouds behind it. Only Cezanne could have done it justice.

Black Mountain

Black Mountain

We go into Denver less and less, remaining in the mountains unless family or medical matters call us. On occasion we do visit jazz clubs, go to a movie, head into a museum, but not often. As a result, each time we drive into the city, I feel a little more strange, a little more estranged from the (relatively) crowded streets, the hurry, the built environment. When we turn west, which from Denver means headed toward the Front Range, I get the same feeling of peace now that I used to get when I turned north on a trip and headed back toward Minnesota.

We can return home three different ways, each offering a different sort of return to the mountains. The most dramatic is to take I-70 to Evergreen. After passing through the first foothills and getting up the rise, the snow-covered (now) continental divide appears in the distance, the sort of mountain scenery that is post-card worthy. We can also turn off 470 and head through the small touristy mountain town of Morrison, up past the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater and onto a windy road with rocky cliffs and Bear Creek tumbling alongside. The most common way home is up Hwy. 285 which enters the foothills through a dynamited opening in the hogback. 285 winds in largely gentle curves up to Conifer. All three take us home by gradually reintroducing us to elevation and the rocky, fir covered slopes where the great plains come to end.

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.

 

A Day in the Life

Spring                                                                         Mountain Moon

In hopeful news for us a big spring snowstorm is on the way, perhaps 16-24 inches over Friday and Saturday. I know, I know, those of you reading this closer to the Atlantic and sea level can only groan at the thought of yet more snow and cold, but we’ve had a very dry winter. Let it come.

Next Wednesday morning, April 25th, will be a red letter day here on Shadow Mountain. Not a red flag day, but a red letter day. That will be when Best Buy delivers and installs our new dishwasher and takes away forever the Samsung lemon. Like the upcoming winter storm it cannot happen soon enough.

Kate’s feeling much better. A combination of things. Some weight gain, the beginning of physical therapy, returning to her diclofenac for arthritis pain, better nausea management. I told her last night that it was as if she was poking her head above the clouds for the first time in well over a year. A long siege. May the healing continue.

A quiet day today, get some laundry done, some cooking, hair and beard trim by Jackie, get ready for Ted of All Trades second visit. Call an electrician to wire a fixture in the bedroom for a ceiling fan. Around the house stuff.

 

Mall, Art and one emoji balloon

Spring                                                                              Mountain (New) Moon

Went to the Aurora Town Center mall on Saturday to see son Jon’s student’s art. He teaches art at Montview Elementary in Aurora. Over 17 years now.

This first shot is Dillard’s. I realized malls and especially the anchor department stores had design features like old world palaces. It’s just us nobles shopping here, selecting luxury goods for our many roomed homes. Even so, the mall felt dead as an institution, a thing of the last century. Don’t know about you but I haven’t been in a mall in a years.

20180414_114019

This fish, by one of Jon’s fifth grade students, took first place out of all the Aurora elementary schools. I can see why. It’s original, muted colors, sharp definition, suggests dinosaurs and armored fish.

20180414_111529

However, I preferred this one, also from one of Jon’s students. I love the color field artists and this one moves pretty far in that direction. Not bad for an elementary kid. Jon wants his kid’s art to be expressive, not perfect. “I feel bad for those people who want to be artists, but can’t get the emotional expression they want in what they do,” he said. He’s actually teaching art making.

20180414_111618

Aurora has a large Latino population. This store sold kid’s clothes, cowboy boots, hats, leather vests and belts, but all in a Mexican idiom, rather than Western.

20180414_113005

Just loved these overdone baseball caps.

20180414_113144

Finally, this from Gabe’s room. A helium filled poop emoji. Gotta admit I don’t get this one.

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Gabe and Kate

Spring                                                                        Mountain (New) Moon

Nurse checking Gabe's blood pressure post-op

Nurse checking Gabe’s blood pressure post-op

Gabe is now portless. The port through which he received his infusions of clotting factor, essentially a plastic plug set into his upper left chest, is gone. He’s had one for eight years, 80% of his young life. I asked him if he missed it. “Sort of.” The port was the culprit in his septicemia returning last week, harboring a nidus of the bacteria, “a place in which something is formed or deposited.” Jon’s had to be there in his room for most of the time since Thursday night at 12:30 a.m. when the lab called with the blood test results. It’s a long stint. For both of them.

I went to the afternoon sessions of the Sjogren’s conference with Kate, listening to lectures on joint pain and Sjogren’s, dry mouth and its dental implications, and on dermatological issues. Sjogren’s, as a syndrome, is a collection of symptoms that may seem unrelated, but have an underlying cause, in this case a dysfunction in the autoimmune system. The number of symptoms are a problem for researchers, physicians, drug companies and, particularly, patients. Each symptom like dry mouth, dry eyes, dry skin, fatigue is a separate entity that must be dealt with in its own way. This means an often bewildering number of ointments, salves, mouth rinses, eye drops, as well as methods for managing both stress and fatigue. And the need for treatment is at least daily and in most cases a number of times per day. That’s exhausting in and of itself.

20180414_130149For example, we measure Kate’s energy in K.U.’s, Kate units. When she’s used up her K.U.’s for a day, she often goes to bed. No matter what time it is. One woman, Sjogren’s is overwhelmingly a woman’s disease, measures her energy in spoons. She sets out 6 spoons and as she does a task, she removes a spoon. When the spoons are all gone, so is her capacity to do things.

It is, in other words, hard.

Right now, as well, Kate’s doing all these with one hand literally tied up. Makes it good that we’re together.

tao2Even here the tao flows. Tapping into it means feeling the surges of healing, of exhaustion, of relationship weakening and strengthening, of giving and receiving. Accepting them as they come, not fighting them, not trying to be stronger than we are, yet finding the moments and the things we can do to make healing hasten. In this moment the tao reminds me of the power of love, the wisdom of the body, the necessity of rest. Going with it. Letting it come through me. Like water rushing down the mountain.

 

 

Deepening, Growing Richer

Spring                                                                    New Shoulder Moon

20180119_095931

Dogs, too

Thinking about the previous post I celebrated the move to Colorado. We’re here to support Gabe and Jon. Congregation Beth Evergreen is here to support us, SeoAh and Joe, too. In turn the Woollies are there to support Mark and I retain powerful ties to them, too, and him. It’s so gratifying, at age 71, to find ties of family and friendship and community deepening, growing richer.

The Great Wheel turns, the moon rises and sets, day and night follow each other. And we reach out to each other, fellow travelers through the seasons, months, and days.

Gabe, Kate, Mark

Spring                                                                         New Shoulder Moon

septicemiaBusy Friday the 13th. Jon took Gabe for a follow-up after his bout with septicemia on Thursday. At 12:30 am they called with the result. Infection still present. Immediate hospitalization. The culprit? His port through which he had been given his infusions of factor, a drug that supports his clotting cascade (Gabe’s a hemophiliac.). So. Surgery yesterday at 6 pm to remove the port. No new one will be placed. Instead he will become one of five people receiving subcutaneous injections of a new drug that maintains his clotting ability without the factor. This is his second hospitalization in the last three weeks.

April 4th

April 4th

The national Sjogren’s Foundation annual conference is, ironically, at a Hyatt-Regency in Aurora, directly across Colfax Avenue from Children’s Hospital. Gabe’s in room 716 at Children’s; Kate’s in room 828 at the Hyatt. I’m on Shadow Mountain taking care of the dogs. That means Kate spent yesterday afternoon and night one-handed on her own at the conference. Gives you an idea of how much this conference means to her.

Her spirits are good. She’s gained a bit of weight, following advice from the nutritionist consult. Make every bite count. She’s also managing Sjogren’s, hence the conference and starts physical therapy on Monday. That’s plenty.

I went to visit Gabe yesterday after dropping Kate off at the Hyatt. Easy drive. He was in good spirits, too, tethered to an IV pole pumping antibiotics in through his port, but otherwise engaged with magnets and youtube. Apparently he was watching videos of pic line insertions, a procedure similar to installing a port. Anything that penetrates the skin, especially something that remains in place over time like Gabe’s port, a feeding tube, long term IV compromises the body’s capacity to keep critters on the outside. In this case Gabe’s port has been infected with a bacteria that normal lives on corals. Yes, corals.

A whole team of yellow robed, mask wearing infectious disease docs came into his room while I was there. There are three other patients in the hospital right now with the same infection. They can’t find it at the hospital and can’t figure out any commonalities among the patients. It’s troubling because septicemia can be deadly.

Suicide_cases_from_16_American_states_(2008)As I left Children’s to go home and let the dogs out, I got an e-mail from Paul Strickland. At first I didn’t understand it because the sender was someone I know only very peripherally. About halfway through the lobby, yes impaired walking, I understood it. Mark Odegard’s step-son, Chris, from his marriage to Margaret, shot himself outside his mother’s home. The wound was “not survivable,” though last I heard his body was still alive.

Mark made time for Chris, not only during his marriage to Margaret, but after, too. He wrote yesterday that Chris had become despondent in recent months, hearing voices. I can find no words. Only, so sorry. What a sadness.

Family

Spring                                                                      New Shoulder Moon

20180412_091817

DIA

Put SeoAh on a jet plane. Well, got her through check-in and to the TSA line which is the post-9/11 equivalent.

Driving back I got to thinking about her quiet insistence, voiced, that we are her parents. “We are family.” Yes, SeoAh, we feel that way about you, too.

In Gwangju, at the train station headed back to Incheon, she said, “I’m yours, now.” Meant the same thing, but it sure sounded strange at the time. She meant it in a broader way, too. Kate had left a handwork project she had been working on for at 3 years back at the hotel. Seung Pil, SeoAh’s brother-in-law, went back for it. We wanted to get him a gift. SeoAh said, “No. No. Family.” We got him a gift anyhow, but I took her point.

Yesterday I thought about the American term daughter-in-law. I used to think of it as a term of inclusion, a way of identifying a new member of the family. Now I think of it as distancing, an abstract legalistic way of defining the relationship. What SeoAh seems to embody is not a role defined by law, but by something much richer and older, the creation of a genuinely new family constellation. We have not a daughter-in-law, but a new daughter. Our first. Still integrating this, but I feel it more than know it. A Korean/American family fusion.

SeoAh called from I-75, on the way home with Joe. We chatted for a minute or two, much harder over the phone than in person. Joe told me about his adventure into the world of baseball cards and comics. When he was here over Christmas, he took a trip back to his youth by going through the baseball cards we’ve been holding for him since he left home in 2000. It reignited his interest and he’s gone on, thanks to a box of comics which contained a few early Marvel editions (mine), to haunt baseball card and comic stores in Vegas when he’s at Nellis AFB for exercises and conferences.

He’s serious. In June he’s going to attend his first baseball card/comic show as a vendor. He’s renting a table from a baseball card guy in Atlanta. In his usual way Joseph’s made a friend, in this case a friend willing to rent him a table next to his at this show and let Joe sell his stuff. The friend will advertise for both of them.

“I’m getting a credit card reader for my phone.” A Square. He’s talking percentages and mark-ups. I’m glad to see him with a hobby, something to take him from the often grim work he does as a weapons officer. Always planning and gaming out through exercises violent assaults on the enemies of the U.S. has to take some kind of toll.

 

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