We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

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.

 

See

Spring                                                                            Mountain Moon

Slate sky behind snow loaded lodgepole pines,

Scraping blades scritch, push, push, push

While more white falls, softening the edges.

Our house has a white roof, like me.

20180327_094904Find myself leaning into a favorite phrase of Bill Schmidt’s, “See what you’re looking at.” It’s a mantra now as I drive in the mountains, trying to see their essence. What about their shape, their altitude, their rock, their trees tell me, this is a mountain? Close looking is a skill, a hard to develop one since distractions of all kinds, a key this-moment-in-time issue, lead us away from direct experience to mediated experience. Close looking, like the close reading of poetry, opens up the unseen, the unexpected.

As I continue to develop my sumi-e skills, I’ve decided I want to focus on only a few things: mountains, Hebrew letters, Tarot major arcana, and objects I’ve used and love like chain-saws and axes, garden tools, bee equipment, maybe dogs, too. I plan to seek what I understand is the central objective of sumi-e painting, expressing the essence, the soul of an object rather than aiming for a Western representational rendering. Good thing, since I don’t have the patience to attend an atelier like my friends Lonnie and Stefan Helgeson.

 

 

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.

Attenshun!

Spring                                                            New Shoulder Moon

uface me

Good conversation yesterday with friend Bill Schmidt. He turned 81 on Friday, a birthday call. He’s deeply involved in a business, UFaceme, (picture above), writing code, doing statistical analysis, using pitch decks to secure investors. May we all be as vital at his age.

My phone call with him took place at the Final Approach, the food court at the cell phone lot for Denver International Airport, while I waited for SeoAh’s text. She flew in from Atlanta yesterday to stay with us until Thursday. Her English has improved significantly and we chatted easily on the way back from the airport.

Been wondering for a while why I’m so damned exhausted. Caretaking seems to demand far more of my psyche than my body. The various chores I do, by themselves, are not physically onerous. Washing dishes. Not hard. Doing the laundry. Not hard. Running the vacuum, picking up. Not hard. Grocery shopping. Not hard. Taking Kate to medical appointments, handling the tasks with her that being one-handed makes difficult. Not hard. Feeding and managing the dogs. Not hard. The sum of them all? Makes me, as evening approaches, short of emotional reserve and wanting to flop in a chair. Why?

decision makingWell, a reason occurred to me. Decision fatigue.* This involves the affective cost of constantly making decisions. The theory suggests that we have a limited amount of attention and choice-making each day. Sleep restores it, but as we make decisions our decision making ability depletes, often quite rapidly, leaving us emotionally drained and less than crisp in whatever we’re doing.

How does this apply to caretaking? All those not hard things each require a certain level of attention and decision making. Do I wash the dishes now or do I wait until after supper? How much laundry soap do I use? Which setting on the machine? Is it time to vacuum again? Does this stuff need to get put away? Where does it go? Why isn’t Rigel eating? What can I do to help her? What’s on the grocery list? Do I need to get gas? You get the idea.

Though none of these things individually are hard, many of them are ones that Kate takes care of in the normal division of labor in our relationship. That means I don’t have settled, habitual ways of handling them that bypass decision making. Over time I would gain those, figure out a way to include all of them in my day without having to find the detergent, measure it, wonder how long the cycle takes. But for now each of them requires a flood of mini-decisions, each of which drains energy.

Just writing about this makes me want to find a chair, flip on the TV and zone out for a while.

*decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.[1][2] It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.[2] For instance, judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day.  wikipedia

 

You’re Fired

Spring                                                                    New Shoulder Moon

firedSamsung won’t condemn our dishwasher. But I will. It’s a very rotten appliance, not good at its job. It’s FIRED! Which means we have to buy a new one. Oh, well. At least it’s a resolution. So, sometime soon a new dishwasher will appear. We will all (Kate and me) be happy. This one never worked quite right, requiring lots of jiggering and poking.

Kate’s been doing a lot of gettin’ around. She’s out to the mailbox for the paper. More about the paper in a paragraph. She saw Lisa on Wednesday then we drove into Denver to see Ruth. Yesterday we went to Mussar for the first time since the ides of March. It was wonderful to see and be seen. Warm. Uplifting.

We’re both tired today. I wanted to get out there and buy a new dishwasher today, get this saga done; but, we’re both too weary. Tomorrow, maybe. SeoAh comes tomorrow, arriving around five at DIA. It will be great to have her here for a few days.

rocky mountain newsThe Denver Post. Not one of the nation’s great newspapers. Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountain News, which was a really good, if not great, paper succumbed in 2009. We’re left with the Post which is a rather staid, uninteresting example of the journalistic art.

Printer’s ink runs in my veins, having grown up to the rattling, clanking sound of an old Heidelberg letter press churning out copies of the the Times-Tribune in Alexandria, Indiana. I love newspapers and believe in reading local newspapers. It was natural for us to get a subscription. Kate does one or two crosswords every day and we both appreciate the local news.

denver postYet. We got a notice of a change in subscription price. The Post has gone from $30 a month to $59 a month. Nearly $700 a year for a second-rate newspaper. And, to add to that, mountain delivery is like all other services up here, sporadic and unpredictable. My instinct is to chuck it. Too expensive and poorly delivered. Even so, there’s still the local news we’d miss and Kate would definitely miss her crosswords. Not sure what to do.

And. How ’bout those Timberwolves? Led their division almost the entire season only to drop to 4th place as the playoff’s come near. Ah. Minnesota teams. Finding new ways to disappoint. Except for the 1987 and 1991 Twins. Joseph’s growing up years. Made him a baseball fan for life.

An Amazing Gift

Spring                                                                      New Shoulder Moon

1514204356436Family. Often, our main contribution to the world and its future is simply doing our job as mammals and raising our children, staying in touch with our kin groups. That families can get out of whack, become dysfunctional was almost a mantra of my generation as we baby boomers pushed back against establishment values, upended gender roles and experienced backlash from the so-called greatest generation. (which I think is an unfortunate use of a superlative) So for many of us boomers now careening into old age, trying to slide home before the devil knows we’re dead, family can be problematic. Those of you who understand this know who you are.

It’s this context that makes what might be ordinary in many, maybe most families, so wonderful. SeoAh comes on Saturday to spend a few days with us, help lighten the load. Joseph, too, offered to come. His work schedule makes dropping everything hard, so we agreed that he would stay behind. He has an exercise he’s in charge of this next week.

1514558225692I’ve been proud of my boy for a long, long time, but I was never prouder than when he offered to ask SeoAh if she would come up. “And I can come, too.” She told Joe, he said, that, “She wants to come. She needs to come.” This is family at its best.

At this age there are unknowns lurking. Yes, there always are, throughout life, but in the third phase the probability of something showing up gets higher with each passing year. That means there is an undercurrent of uncertainty; sudden disastrous events can happen in a minute. Literally. No matter how self-sufficient we are a stroke, a heart attack, a fall, a difficult disease diagnosis can push us out of our normal life into one where we need not just some help, but a lot.

Camus one-cannot-be-happy-in-exile-or-in-oblivion-one-cannot-always-be-a-stranger-i-want-to-albert-camus-123-46-22Kate’s shoulder replacement surgery has shown us that we have two immediate resources to soften such a blow. SeoAh and Joseph’s response means we have family we can count on. And, Congregation Beth Evergreen has offered, through several different people, help. The surgery has been a good, non-disastrous moment in that regard. The tao of the time has been deepening relationships, between Kate and me, between us and family, between us and Congregation Beth Evergreen.(I say immediate resources because I know there are still Minnesota friends who would aid us as well if things got dire.)

What the affirmation of these ties means is that the uncertainty of the third phase can be quieted. We don’t have to worry about being alone. This is a peace I didn’t know I needed until this moment. That uncertainty isn’t a top-level anxiety; but, it exists, fuzzed in the background and brought into the present during Kate’s recovery.

The tao flows through this moment in unexpected, powerful ways, allowing us to lean into the future rather than shrink away from it. An amazing gift.

 

 

Not At My Best

Spring                                                                   New Shoulder Moon

caregiverCare giving is tough. In just a week I’ve become a bit fragile emotionally. It’s a combination of Kate’s recovery, which focuses her, naturally, on herself, and the amount of physical labor (astonishing) and the amount of emotional labor on my part. None of this is a surprise. By that I mean things aren’t worse than I imagined, nor are they terrible.

But. I got to feeling underappreciated. And said so. I needed to say that for my own sanity, so that I wouldn’t let resentment build, but when I did say it I felt guilty immediately. How could I feel underappreciated when Kate had this recovery to deal with? Didn’t matter. It was how I felt and after I let it out, in a not very helpful way, I might add, things softened up. I was no longer carrying it and Kate had a chance to deal with what I was dealing with.

More intimacy as a result. Clumsy, yes. Poorly managed, yes. Important, yes.

I’m writing this because care giving is something we all do from time to time, and face more of in the third phase. It’s not a straight shot of empathy and compassion. It’s a muddled mess of self-congratulation, compassion, distraction, love, and sorrow.

SEP020660

I said, and meant, that I don’t mind the extra work. In fact, as I wrote earlier, it is exhilarating. Still is. I’m learning new skills, reinforcing old ones, and caring for Kate. Thing is, it’s a new, difficult role and requires learning, shuffling old priorities, picking up new ones. That kind of learning is fraught under the best circumstances, new job, new marriage, even vacation; but, well worth it.

Finding the tao of healing and caregiving is not impossible, but there are many ways it can go sideways. Trying to tap into that now.

09 11 10_Joseph_0264 (2)A very sweet part of it all. Joseph just called, wanted to know how bad it was, whether he and SeoAh should come up right now. No, it’s not that bad. Could SeoAh come up for a week? I’d come, he said, but I’m running an exercise right now. If it’s real bad, I’ll be there, help out with the daily ins and outs. Cue tears. I’d love for her to come, I said. It would be a real help.

Family. As it’s supposed to work. So the web of caring maybe is another curvature, like the one I talked about below.

Kate Still At Ortho Colorado

Spring                                                                            New Shoulder Moon

Kate, costumed for Purim

Kate, costumed for Purim

Kate had break through pain yesterday and nausea that they couldn’t control well. So, she’s still at Ortho Colorado. Plenty uncomfortable, but problems that seem, at least to me, manageable. Unpleasant sequelae from the meds and the cutting. I imagine she’ll come home today. Still convinced this was the right thing and that her care has been very good.

A strange sense of exhilaration with all the changes occasioned by Kate’s surgery. I find myself whistling on the way into the hospital, generally feeling good. It’s as if the additional load is something I needed. Weird, eh?

As also happens in these situations, often enough to be predictable, a lapse in the daily routine led to Gertie consuming a substantial number of Kate’s thc edibles. My fault. Gertie is, right now, pretty stoned. We had a similar incident with Kepler a couple of months ago and he slid down the stairs, looking confused. Apparently all mammals have a cannabinoid system and cannibis receptors. Gertie seems very unhappy, I imagine because her left leg makes her unsteady to begin with and the mary jane? Adds to it.

Beloved community dr-martin-luther-king-jr-quote-beloved-community-09.16.15-v2-1800Beth Evergreen has reached out to us in several ways. Individual members have offered to bring food or otherwise help. Leah, the executive director, called, wanting to know if we needed anything. Several folks from our mussar group responded to my e-mail on Thursday with love and concern. For both of us. A thought that keeps going through my mind: beloved community. Christian churches aspire to this, Beth Evergreen achieves it. I’m proud to be a member of the congregation.

One other thing I noticed. Both Kate and I were worried about her dying during surgery. Why? Well, it happens. Rarely, but it happens. Jeff Glantz, a member of Beth Evergreen, had a successful operation to remove a malignant brain tumor, then four days after surgery, he died. This was a couple of weeks ago. Jeff’s situation was on our minds, too.

I mention this because neither of us owned up to this concern until the surgery was over. By not talking about it before, by letting the death taboo keep it hidden, we lost a chance to console each other, to go a little deeper into our relationship.

 

 

Friend and Family

Imbolc                                                                New Life Moon

20180121_172506

Remember that deep muscle ache I got during my session for a new workout? Well, it’s not gone. If I didn’t have a collection of good pain meds, it would be interfering with my sleep. On my second visit to On the Move Fitness, their usual pattern to ensure I have the new exercises down, Debbie told me to go easier on my leg work for a couple of weeks. I have, and it’s getting better. But slowly.

Nothing like the pain Kate has in her right shoulder. We’re coming up on her shoulder replacement surgery on the 22nd. What I’ve learned, relearned really, from my leg pain is that pain doesn’t have to be searing, 8 or 9 pain, to screw up sleep. And that lost sleep can exacerbate both physical and psychic pain. Kate’s dealt with this for months, years in the case of her bursa. Yet she persists. I admire that in her. Tough lady.

joy friends (2)

Saw Scott Simpson yesterday at Brook’s Tavern. He spent a week in Carbondale visiting Corey and Todd and was on his way to Pagosa Springs in the southern part of the state to see Heather. Hwy 285 goes almost the whole way, so his route took him through Conifer.

Scott’s a Woolly and a friend of many years. He’s also recently retired, a year in May. We got caught up on family, discussed the unbelievable DJT. Scott’s tinkering with songs, creating them. He’s a first class drummer, but wants to add writing music. He’s in that retirement stage called figuring out what the hell I’m gonna do now. A long process and often with changing results. Fun, though. At least for the most part.

 

 

 

April 2018
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Breadcrumbs

Trails