We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Sublimation, Primordia and other fundamentals

Lughnasa                                                           Waning Summer Moon

The arid West has many surprises for a flatlander from the humid East. Add in elevation and the surprises multiply. I’ve mentioned the maximum boiling temperature of water which effects tea making and pasta cooking (takes longer). There is, too, the solar snow shovel, the decreased O2.Wet things dry quickly. Water is a constant issue.

sublimateGot a new one. I have a small refrigerator in the loft. I keep water for my workouts in it, an ice wrap for post-workout knee relief, and a tray of Rigel’s canned kangaroo treats. Last week I noticed I’d begun to get some frost buildup in the small freezer. Been a long time, but I remembered defrosting refrigerators. I took everything out, putting the water filtration filter to the side, the carbonated water, the ice pack, and Rigel’s treats. I got a bucket and put it underneath the freezer. Finally, I pulled the cord and left the door open.

I glanced at the bucket later in the day. No water. Well, it was cool. Checked again an hour or so later. No water. Not that cool. So, I opened the freezer to check. The gathered frost was almost gone. Oh. I’d forgotten about sublimation, too, but I was pretty sure that was what I was seeing. Sure enough, there was never any water in the bucket, the frost was gone and I restocked the refrigerator. How ’bout that?

strong and confident after the quilt documentation day

strong and confident after the quilt documentation day

lion's maneFriday, Saturday, Sunday. Kate did well all these days. A little nausea on Sunday, but not the real knock her back sort. It was good to see her up and about. I made her a birthday dinner: ribeye, little potatoes, and Lion’s Mane mushroom. This latter came from a present Jon gave her, essentially a sack filled with sawdust and mushroom spores. She’s been diligently misting it. Sure enough, out popped a white spongy growth, the hippy guy in the fungi perfecti video called them, interestingly, I thought, primordia.

I reached behind the largest one and wrenched it free from the growth medium, took it upstairs and sliced it into steaks. Butter, salt, medium heat. A great complement to the ribeye. Supposed to taste like lobster (not chicken). Kate thought it did. Me, not so much. I liked it though. Kate’s always wanted to get into mushrooms, now we have, thanks to Jon.

Yesterday morning I read through the morning service in the Reconstructionist prayer book. Why? Because it’s the service that the b’nai mitzvah kids have to learn. It’s a powerful work of liturgy, much that is ancient, much that has been reconstructed. I’m going to be working with it a good deal over the next year, so becoming familiar with it seems like part of the job. I’ll write more about it when I get a better understanding, but suffice it to say right now that it sent me into a spiritual place I’ve not been in a while.

See what I did, dad!

See what I did, dad!

Rigel and the deck. Jon left five five-gallon orange plastic buckets, Home Depot with Do It written on the side. They have bricks in them, used bricks he picked up somewhere. I carried them to the deck and put them in front of the deepest tunnels our Rigel had dug in search of voles, or rabbits. Working so far. Not a pretty solution, but a good temporary fix.

Brother Mark is still in Amarillo. He says gringos and Latinos seem to get along well there. Mary has started her school year at the National University of Singapore. Joe and SeoAh are in Hawai’i. He’s working; she’s seeing Oahu for the first time.

Cool here this morning, 40 degrees.

Sorry, dude

Lughnasa                                                                                  Waning Summer Moon



Did the naikan exercise before going to sleep again last night. I like it. It’s a helpful way of summing up the day, gaining perspective. Included among the troubles I caused, driving hubris results in wreck.

Like most of us I consider myself a good driver. No serious accidents, ever. No accident while moving that was my fault, though I did get t-boned once near the University of Minnesota by some guy coming off I-35. He forgot to slow down.

But. Backing up. I hit things from time to time. I’m the poster boy for why a backup camera and screen is a good idea. Our 2011 Rav4, in car electronic years, may as well be back with the horse and buggy. Little computational power overall and no backup camera. It would be good for me to have because when I back up my confidence level increases. Bad thing.

Kate’s got this quilt documentation event today. I mentioned it a few posts down. She is the queen of food which includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, stuff to drink, table service, all that. Yesterday, a good day for her, she went to Costco with Nyla, a friend who lives in Bailey. They bought supplies that had to be taken to the Catholic church that hosts the Bailey Patchworkers. Refrigerated items.

I’m da muscle, yeah. And, I acted like it. All brawn. Kate’s friend, a wizened older woman, whip thin and a face that would put school children in their seat with nothing more than a glance, had driven over to open the church basement so we could store the goods. She parked near the door and sat in her car waiting on us. I decided to backup so we could unload easily.

OK. I hit her. She’s in the car. Talk about embarrassing. “I’m sorry.” I was sorry, but, just like when we tell a kid that saying sorry doesn’t fix what you did, it didn’t. Wouldn’t. Won’t. The damage is minor, perhaps not noticeable if you hadn’t been sitting in the car when the muscle drove into your car. But, it’s there.

Om. Om. Om. Om. The wreck on my car bows to wreck on your car. More om. It was not the first time. Not even the first time with Kate in the car. In fact, as we drove home, I asked Kate, “Will you marry me?” She said, “Huh? I thought we were already married.” “Remember I asked you to marry me the time I backed into that car near the Lagoon Theater?” She pointed out that she didn’t make the connection because I’d done it since the Lagoon, too. Oh, right.

The obvious implication of all this? New car?


in the gopher state

Lughnasa                                            Monsoon Moon

Computer keyboard problems this am in Chamberlain, South Dakota. No joy when I tried to write this morning. Now, I’m able at least to use the laptop keyboard. The ergonomic keyboard crashes all entry methods. Sigh.

Appropriately for Lughnasa I drove through country with corn, beans, and wheat. The contract combines are out scything their way through early Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota wheat. Outside Ainsworth, Nebraska I had a rural moment when I started onto Ne. Hwy 49 and it was filled, both lanes, with a combine.

Right now I’m in the very opposite environment, on the 12th floor of the Millennium Hotel on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. I’d have to encounter a big street sweeper or an escaped Zamboni to have a similar experience.

I’m tired. The drive was long. Though I’ve done it many times, my body doesn’t seem to put up with the effort as easily. That’s ok, though. I’m back in Scandinavian inflected country, a place where the plight of each of us counts for something. The architecture here is more familiar. But, I didn’t feel that frisson of oh, I’m back home this time. Instead, I drove into the Welcome Center on I-90 just past the state line and felt like a tourist.

Here there are memories, so many memories. They tumble over each other. The old Chestnut Tree restaurant a couple of blocks from here. The 25 year plan for the year 2000 that I helped guide into existence-in 1975. The IDS which I watched emerge from the ground when I lived in the Mauna Loa apartment buildings across from the old Northwestern Hospital, now gone. Westminster Church and its associations with my work for the Presbytery. Getting married there to Raeone to Handel’s Water Music. And that’s all just in a few blocks from where I sit now, high above my past.

I’ve decided on my brief speech for Groveland. I’ll write out here before I give it.

Gonna go to bed tonight, then get out and start roaming around tomorrow. Probably over to Loring Park, the Sculpture Garden, eat lunch at the Walker. Like old times.

No pics for right now. I forgot to bring the cord that connects my phone to the computer. When I get back.

Sigh. O.F. alert

Summer                                                                Monsoon Moon

feeling the years

feeling the years

OK. Old guy here. Kate was going in to pick up the grandkids this morning for a couple of days stay here. “Where are the car keys?” “Hmm. Don’t know. Let me find them.” Not where I thought. “Maybe I left them in the truck. I’ll go look.”

Turns out that was it. Not only did I leave them in the truck after I returned from the library yesterday, I had not turned the truck off. I just got out, went in the house. Sigh. As I said. Old guy here.

When I walked into the garage, it was hot. In spite of the temperature outside being around 44. Well insulated with a truck running in it from around 5pm until 1:35 am. I’m pretty sure that was the length of time because the battery ran out and the clock stopped. At that time.

20180420_104829I mean, geez. Geeze. Things were looking bleak. We live on the mountain; I was pretty sure the truck was outta gas. I mean it ran till 1:35 am. The battery was dead. Neighbor Jude leaves for work at 6:30 am and this was around 8 am. Neighbors Holly and Eduardo asked to watch their house while they were gone. They were still gone. OMG.

But, I put the battery charger on and waited while it got past the 3 minute time for a rapid charge, enough to restart the truck and check the gas. Surprise! There was about a quarter tank of gas. Driving to Aurora to pick up the grandkids should charge the battery, so off we went. Pretty much on time.

Got gas at a Sinclair station. The truck restarted. Charged. Filled with gas. Glad I bought that battery charger. And not for the first time.

Summer                                                                 Monsoon Moon

Alan, during the enso drawing presentation for kabbalah

Alan, during the enso drawing presentation for kabbalah

Riding in the future. Carpooled into Denver yesterday with Alan, in his Tesla Model S. It’s very wide display screen shows a map with your route laid out. It also shows buttons for radio, podcasts, particular stations. Alan asked me who my favorite musician was. John Coltrane. He spoke, “Play John Coltrane.” And 2 seconds later, John Coltrane filled the comfortable interior. It’s quiet and smooth, has a transparent, though tinted roof.

He demoed autopilot which kept a safe following distance between us and the car in front of us, slowing as they slowed, Alan’s feet comfortably away from the pedals. Going down the Front Range toward Denver the power consumption dial had a small green band that pulsed up and down. “Regenerative braking.” I asked Alan if the power he gained going downhill compensated for what he used going back up? No. The Tesla updates the range moment by moment. “I gain 5 miles of range going down, but lose 20 miles of range going up.”

We went into Congregation Rodef Shalom for a day of training in the B’nai Mitzvah curriculum. It focuses on the social and emotional development of students in the 11-13 year old age range, the range most common for bar and bat mitzvahs. As with all of the Jewish learning I’m doing these days, the curve is still very steep. This curriculum, for example, is apparently a radical break from the old style religious school model for b’nai mitzvah ages, but I have no idea what the old style looked like. This is 100% of my experience.

A print at Rodef Shalom

A print at Rodef Shalom

Rodef Shalom is a long, low building situated next to the Mizel Museum. It looks most like a fifty’s elementary school. Southeast Denver, Rodef’s location, is the heart of the Denver metro’s Jewish community, containing many synagogues, including several Orthodox synagogues where congregants have to live close to walk to the Temple on Shabbat. Alan grew up Orthodox in Southeast Denver.

There were 20 trainees including four of us from Beth Evergreen. Temple Sinai, Rodef Shalom, Judaism Our Way, and the Aspen Jewish congregation were also represented. We did example exercises from the curriculum. For example. A facilitator from Moving Traditions put up two large sheets of paper: Agree and Disagree on opposite ends of a wall. When answering questions like at age 12 0r 13 did you experience pressure to do well, we positioned ourselves either on one end or another, or in the middle according to our response.

This regular napper, around noon or 1 p.m. everyday, got seriously sleepy around 1, but struggled through it. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning more about Jewish culture. The religious school year starts on September 5th at Beth Evergreen.


Monarch of the Mountain Spirits

Summer                                                                            Monsoon Moon


at Running Aces

Kate’s getting hammered again by Sjogrens or illness or some very difficult to identify g.i. tract problem. She’s tough and resilient, my new favorite virtue, but, geez. She shouldn’t have to prove it so often.

Get to ride in a Tesla today, going into Denver with Alan for the Moving Traditions training. He bought his Tesla last year, sort of a I’m retired, this is a really good car thing. His dad did the same though he wanted a Cadillac and ended up buying an Oldsmobile. Alan bought the Cadillac.

No good deed goes unpunished. We’ve had significant rainfall the last couple of days. Yay. But. Hwy 285 in Bailey closed down yesterday due to a mudslide. Open now.

After a swim, from September, 2015

After a swim, from September, 2015

I waited on the hosta division for the monsoon rains to begin. Hot dry weather is very tough on transplants. The rains have kept the air cooler, the cuttings evaporate less so the leaves stay strong. The roots don’t dry out. Gives them a chance to get over the shock of a new spot, send out some rootlets. There’s also a concoction made by Miraclegro called Quickstart that I’ve used for years when dividing plants. It encourages root growth and gives the plants a burst of nutrients.

That buck yesterday was magnificent. He was the sort you see in bronze on the stony gate pillars guarding expensive homes. His bearing was regal. This is his kingdom. Unhurried, strolling the easement like it was a path in the gardens of Versailles. Perhaps the monarch of the mountain spirits who visit us.





Summer                                                                         Monsoon Moon

Have to say something about it, just don’t know what. Finished my first revision of Superior Wolf. 95,000 words. And, I think, easily the best thing I’ve written. Not comparing it to anybody else, just me. It gives me a little shiver to think I put those words on the page. I was going to submit it to publishers; but, instead, I’m going to shop it to agents. I feel like I might snag one with it. Just saying that out loud makes me feel good. If I hadn’t been facing my fears and, if I hadn’t set my rejection goals, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Cooler up here today. The big Dodge Ram sitting in our driveway, the only thing Enterprise had available yesterday, will stay with us until Tuesday. Had to have a bearing replaced in the right front wheel assembly on the Rav4, trés expensive. Toyota broke a brake sensor for the ABS system and they have to order the part. Thought about trust here. The Toyota way, a cultural thing for their company, long ago soothed my jangled cynicism about guys that run the service departments at car dealerships. I trust Toyota. They’re not trying to screw me. At least I don’t think so. That’s good enough.

The rest of today, tomorrow, Tuesday I’m devoting to lesson planning. I have to get six ready, well, five, since I’ve done one. I’ll probably have to redo them all, but at least I’ll be getting the process down.




We came; We zoomed; We parted.

Summer                                                                      Woolly Mammoth Moon



Zoomed. We talked for over an hour, Mark, Paul, Bill and me. Each of us was in a different physical location, Paul in Maine, me in Colorado, Mark and Bill in the Twin Cities. This technology is a definite push beyond Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It is more like letter writing in its length of interaction and interpersonal depth. In that sense it works against the grain of 140 characters, photographs and short posts. It’s more like real life in its immediacy and interactions that includes body language.



Even its limits are closer to real life. No e-mail blasts. No dashing off a quick post, then moving on to something else. This is sitting across the room from someone, though in this case the rooms can be hundreds of miles apart. Some of the social niceties are impossible of course. No shared snacks. No hugs. Different weather. It was pouring rain in the Twin Cities, dry here in the Rockies. No offering hospitality of the physical kind. We couldn’t decide to get up and go somewhere else afterwards, or, for that matter, even during the hour. If we got up, it would be as if we left the room.

I liked it. In this mode we can nurture old friendships, share confidential news in private (at least I think it’s private, but who knows really), spark off each others sentences, laugh together. It may not be a trip to Durango or a hike at the



summit of Guanella Pass, but it’s not a short typed note either. Can this technology sustain us over time? Difficult to tell. We’re creatures, at least those of us on this Zoom session, of the old, pre-computer days when communication across distances was sporadic and limited to long distance phone calls and letters; for us this way of being with each other is novel to some extent and compares not so much, really, to social media, but to actual, in person meetings.



Whether the digital natives will see in it a form of being with each other that they want to pursue, I don’t know. One of the factors that held me in the Twin Cities so long was the physical presence of and frequent visits with Woolly friends. In the important sense of in depth conversation Zoom and its like provides a very close equivalent. Perhaps it will make distance matter less, allow us to rearrange ourselves physically with less loss. I hope so.




Summer                                                                      Woolly Mammoth Moon

zoom20180228_062626Gonna work a new technology into old relationships this morning. At 9 am MDT, 10 am CDT and 11 am EDT, Mark, Paul, Bill and I will crank up Zoom. A virtual gathering of part of the Woolly Mammoth herd. On the shores of the St. Croix River in northern Maine, the top of Shadow Mountain, and in the Twin Cities of Minnesota we’ll gather around an early 21st century campfire and tell stories. It’s hard to say how this sort of meetup, a more sophisticated version of Skype, might transform relationships, but that it has begun already, is clear to me.

In fact, over the last week I used Zoom twice, having never used it at all before that. The first instance was a national gathering of Jewish educators piloting a new curriculum for pre Bar or Bat Mitzvah students. The second was a more local gathering with folks in the Denver metroplex talking about starting a speaker’s bureau for the state Sierra Club.

Mary in Singapore

Mary in Singapore

Years ago my brother Mark, my sister Mary, and I would use Skype to bridge even further distances, Singapore and Saudi Arabia to mid-continent North America. Neither Skype nor Zoom has the visual clarity and sense of presence of the video conferencing rooms used by large corporations, but they are a way to use the technology on the cheap. Skype is free and Zoom is inexpensive, free for all but the person who agrees to pay a modest monthly charge for an account.

Could relationships exist only fed by this technology? I doubt it. Alvin Toffler, writing in 1970, used the term high tech, high touch in his work Future Shock. He posited that the more we use advanced digital technology to communicate, to share information, the more we would desire being with each other in person, in IRL. Of course, this observation applies, too, to our use of the so-called smart phones (actually, hand held computing devices) and social media like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram.

50th High School Reunion, IRL

50th High School Reunion, IRL

In writing that I can recall that there is, in fact, a third category of relationship, one between IRL and virtual with folks from real life. I’m remembering Kathryn Donahue, for instance, a woman I met only on Facebook though she grew up in my hometown, younger than me. When she died a couple of years ago from lung cancer, I was shocked and sad. I never met her though I talked with her and saw her posts. The same may as well be true for many of of the college friends I see on Facebook and now on Instagram. I knew them once, long ago, but these folks, too, I never see in person. Even Anitha, Mary’s friend in Singapore, I’ve only met once, for lunch, when Kate and I visited Mary, yet I now follow her career and life with interest on Facebook. We exchange notes occasionally.

Those relationships are thinner than friendships, but more than casual acquaintances. Not sure what they are. I find them valuable, enriching, especially now that I’m over 900 miles from the physical locations of my youth and second phase life. Would this technology solve loneliness for a person confined to home or to a room? I don’t know, somehow I doubt it; but, perhaps we’re still in the very early stages of understanding how human relationships can be nurtured absent any physical contact. (forgot about letters, the old form of social media. letters are different than Zoom, of course, in some ways more personal, in some ways less. the obvious difference now is that contact is so much easier and much, much faster. and, with Zoom and Skype, we can add in body language.)

singularityI suppose this has implications as well for the old wheeze of uploading my consciousness, complete with memories, to the cloud. What would I, or you, be then? What would it be like to not be embodied? I suppose these virtual platforms give us a way to try out that transition without going all the way into an electronic reality. Perhaps they’re really a transition moment between this stage of human evolution and one we cannot imagine.

Could be, I suppose, that this will be the workaround for the singularity. Instead of becoming subordinate beings to vastly superior machine intelligence we can become machine-like intelligence ourselves, augmented in our virtual life by artificial intelligence.

Before that happens, though, I’ll chat with my buddies, folks I’ve known IRL for over thirty years. Looking forward to it.



Book of Life, Black Holes

Summer                                                                    Woolly Mammoth Moon

20180622_193239Yesterday was a big day. Up early to write, workout. Lunch with Alan Rubin to start planning for the 6th and 7th grade religious school at Beth Evergreen. Home for a fitful nap. Left at 5:30 pm with Ruth for Boulder. We had a reservation at Japango on the Pearl Street Mall before seeing the Fiske Planetarium show on black holes. Driving home under the waxing gibbous moon with Jupiter below it, Mercury and Venus visible, too, as well as Mars and Saturn. A planetary moment. No twinkling please.

A highlight from the Alan Rubin meeting was deepening my relationship with him, learning more of his history, sharing some of my own. I agreed to take on the task of researching Jewish Liturgical history.

Rosh-HashanahWe want to reframe the high holidays, Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, in a reconstructionist way, then help the kids come to their own way of reframing. In the traditional understanding, taken here from the Chabad website, each year on Rosh Hashanah “all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die … who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.” After ten days to seek repentance from those we have harmed in the previous year, God closes the Book of Life, sealing the fate of each worshiper.

book of lifeThe tradition implies a white bearded, Santa Claus like God who checks on the naughty and the nice. He takes out his celestial quill pen and starts scratching. He pauses, waiting to see what you have to say for yourself, then after a reasonable interval (the ten days), he writes fini.

How did these holidays come to be celebrated in the first place? Why? Who observed them and how? Have the observances and meanings of those observances changed over time? How? This is the exegetical move, gathering as much data as possible about the historical holidays. The hermeneutical move comes after it, asking what in our current circumstance, our present moment, if anything, corresponds to the original intentions. There is, too, a theological move here, asking if the metaphysics of the holiday can still be plausible. If not, that informs the reframing, too.

japangoIn my peculiar little world this is great fun. Looking forward to engaging similar research throughout the upcoming liturgical year.

Contrast this with my evening with Ruth. (Ironically, she is exactly the target audience for the above work, being a Jewish girl about to enter 7th grade.) We went to a sushi restaurant in Boulder where she had a sushi Tokyo plate. I had a sashimi plate, chef’s new choices. Green tea, too, for both of us. Ruth said, “You know me so well.”

black-holeAfter the dinner we drove back up Broadway to the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado, about 5 minutes. At the planetarium, where we’ve gone many times, we saw a presentation on black holes. It covered the usual topics of star death, neutron stars, supernovas and the formation of black holes with their extraordinarily deep gravity wells. It also covered recent observation of the long pursued gravity waves at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

From the book of life to the heat death of the universe in one Friday. Quite the journey.




August 2018
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