Safety and Maintenance

Samain and the Fallow Moon


Blizzaks on Ruby yesterday. And, an oil change. Synthetic, first time for me. They recommend changes every 10,000 miles or once a year. It so happens that the last time the oil got changed in Ruby was last December. She was sold back to the dealership not long after and had 4,000 miles on her at the time of our purchase. There’s only 11,800 now, but I got the last free oil change on the Toyota Care service plan. And, it’s been almost a year so it was time anyhow.

Lot of driving. Into Stevinson’s Toyota in Lakewood. Home. Back to Stevinson’s. Back to Stevinson’s. Home. Rental car.

These tires are not cheap, but I decided the year we moved here that for us old folks driving on curving mountain roads and on mountain highways, they’re a necessity. I want to give us all the safety options we can muster. Ruby’s all wheel drive is a revelation to me. Wish Ivory had it, too. (I know, Ruby and Ivory, but I’ve fallen under Kate’s spell.)



Turn Starwheel Turn

Samain and a full Fallow Moon

Orion was there, but dim. 4:30 am. Full Fallow Moon above Black Mountain outshone his distant stars. Going outside in the early morning, seeing Orion rise, his big dog, too, has somewhat rekindled my interest in astronomy. Enough that I repurchased something I gave away when we moved, a starwheel. Wonderful name. Relearning parts of the night sky.

The big dipper, easy to locate in Andover, often hides behind the lodgepoles to the northeast, but is now rising early enough that I can see it. With that friend I can find Polaris and Arcturus. Follow the arc to Arcturus. Follow the pointer stars to Polaris.

Coming out at 4:30 or so on a daily basis makes me understand how the heavens could have been used not only as a calendar, but also as a clock. Orion ticks over further and further to the west. Others come to his former spot. A person who focused on the stars at night could tell time with this movement.

Living in the mountains surrounded by the Arapaho National Forest gives each day and night a close connection with the changing natural world. On the ground. In the sky.

One outcome of Kate’s good news and my ok news about our lung diseases (geez) is that we’re here to stay. Yes, we’re challenged by the thin air, but we can cope. Better up here for both of us than down in the polluted air of the Denver metro.

Ruby’s Home

Fall and a thin crescent moon

Ruby, the cherry red 2018 Rav4, has come home. She’s sitting below me as I write this, in her stall for the first time in over two weeks. Her lift gate sparkles, the crumpled back bumper is smooth. She’s whole again.

Much as I appreciate having her back to normal it’s frustrating to have to go through all this stuff and the payoff is the vehicle we purchased. Not Kate’s fault. Yet we had to do the usual dance routine with insurance adjusters, rental car companies, and the collision repair folks. A lot of sturm and drang to arrive back where we started. Hope those folks are having a good time in Denmark.

Before I went in to pick up Ruby and bring her back to her forever home, Kate and I went into Swedish. She had a second PFT, pulmonary function test. Very tiring. Literally, a lot of huffing and puffing, some of it in an air tight clear plastic chamber. She came out looking exhausted.

A second CT scan on November 4th will produce another data set for Dr. Taryle, pulmonologist, and Dr. Gruber, cardio-thoracic surgeon. They’ll be looking for any change in the bleb found a month ago, plus any changes to her interstitial lung disease. Closing in on a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Aiming toward the lung biopsy on the 18th of November. That should resolve this now over a year long search for the reason behind her breathing problems.

And, just to show this is not an all Kate, all the time medical show, I go in on Monday for a stress test. Looking at my heart. This stems from my COPD diagnosis a few weeks ago. Shortness of breath is a medical red flag, not only indicating possible pulmonary problems, but cardiac problems, too. Possibly, congestive heart failure.

Since the spirometer showed breathing impairment, and, since Lisa diagnosed me with COPD, this is probably unnecessary, but you never know. Should tell me some interesting things anyhow.

Warm day today. Cold tomorrow and next week. More snow, too. The transitional time. Ivory gets her snowshoes on Friday. Not sure when Ruby will get hers. Not feeling so urgent about them for her right now.

Winter. Pause. Winter.

Fall and the Crescent Moon

10-12 inches yesterday. When it snows here, it can get serious, fast. This was overnight with the snow tapering off on Thursday morning. I don’t have snow tires on Ivory, our 2011 Rav4 (Kate’s name), or on Ruby, the 2018. Gonna get them on between now and next weekend. Over the last four years I haven’t put the snow tires on till well into November, but this year is pushing out snow early.

All slash and fire mitigation work is now covered under snow. It should melt away today and tomorrow. If I can get the chainsaw fixed soon, like today, I can get back out there Saturday. The seasons keep us alert.

Oh, and in Colorado that means more snow starting Sunday. Snow and cold. So, there’s a short pause in the winter where I might get some work done.

Kate has a pulmonary function test today at 10:45. Into Swedish again. Also, Caliber called. Ruby might be done today. That would be great since her traction with AWD and new all-season tires makes her safer. Still gonna put the snowshoes on her asap.

Lot of moving parts to our lives these days. I thought work was busy. Geez, try retirement.

Weather related.

Fall and the crescent moon

At least 8 inches of snow last night. Still snowing. Most often when it snows here the snow comes straight down like rain. Very different from most of the snow falls I saw in Minnesota where driving winds sent the white stuff angling toward the ground. We’ve been plowed already once, before 4 am.

Between eight and twelve inches predicted. We were in the sweet spot of the forecast and it seems to be coming true. Pushing the snow off the back deck was difficult. Wet, heavy.

Told Kate yesterday I now think of winter as the time of bad delivery. No paper this morning, for example. Mail and newspaper become episodic, rather than sort of regular. We’re rural delivery plus mountain roads plus an area that gets more than its share of snow. Combination makes things hard.

The 2018 Rav4, Ruby as Kate calls her, is still in the shop, waiting on a new gate. Gate is the collision repair world term for the hydraulic lift door in the back. That means I have the behemoth still, the Infinity SUV that drives like an RV. And, of course, our 2011 Rav4, Ivory.

Neither have snow tires and I’ve got a couple of meetings in Evergreen this morning. Not gonna take the behemoth. Another insurance claim is not needed.

Something knocked out the DSL connection, so I’m writing this in Word. I’ll paste it into Ancientrails when the (just checked and it’s back already) OK, then.

Tried to get some more mitigation work in with the chainsaw, but no joy there. The chain is stuck and I don’t know why. It will have to go to Chainsaw Bob if I can stand being there again. Toxic masculinity with no irony, no equivocation. But, a great knowledge of chainsaws, especially Jonsereds. Not going in today at any rate. Trees covered in snow.

My limbing ax and I did some work, but not a lot. This lupron makes me tire easily. Annoying, but when working with equipment that can maim or even kill you, it’s best to be cautious.

Today is Joe’s 38th birthday. Wow. He’s five years older than I was when I met his plane in December of 1981. As children get older, the relationship with them changes. They change, grow, work, have lives. As do you. But, when you see them, you remember that day when they went out trick or treating in the Halloween blizzard of 1991. Or, see them poised at the t-ball stand ready to kickoff a stampede for the ball. Flying down the hill in ski race. Watching their bride come down the aisle. Still my boy. Also a man. Also a husband. Also a dog friend. Also a warrior.

Still the best thing I did in my life. Go, Joe. (Kate’s right there, too.)

This time the lights went out. Snow’s hard on the IREA lines that run up and down mountains. The internet’s down again, too. I’ll post this when it comes back up.

And, here we go. About an hour later.

Wandering. Bored. That’s me.

Fall and the Full Sukkot Moon

Made shawarma yesterday. Not bad. Used both my cast iron skillet and the instapot. Seared the chuck roast in the pan, deglazed and put it all in the instapot. An hour or so later, done. This is a favorite food for me, so I’ll work to perfect this. Also made tabbouleh and bought some hummus. A real Middle Eastern meal. Put some of the leftover meat in the borscht I made for Kate a week or so ago.

Kate, a much better cook than I am, backs me up, gives me the benefit of her knowledge. On Friday, for example, I wanted to make french toast from a baguette that had dried up. It had to be easy, I imagined, but I still didn’t know how. Instead of using a cook book I asked Kate. Vanilla in a beaten egg, coat the bread, fry them. Cinnamon and sugar on them while they’re cooking. And it was so.

Both of us have less of an appetite in the evenings so I made this meal for late lunch, Sunday dinner.

Still bored. I guess that’s the feeling. Don’t wanna do this. Don’t wanna do that. Wandering around. Tried the chain saw, get started on fire mitigation, Round II. Starter rope won’t pull. Guess I really fixed it when I took it apart and put it back together. Going to the chain saw e.r. today.

Had some success yesterday with wu wei. When I cooked, I cooked. When I ate, I ate. When I painted, I painted. But I got back to wandering around. Felt like I was waiting for Godot.

In that mood I decided to mess around with my webhost. They’re the folks that provide a server and security for Ancientrails. Got right in there and changed my PHP settings, then added SSL. Closed out AncientrailsGreatWheel and CharlesBuckmanEllis. Don’t use them, no need to pay for them.

Felt good about all that. Clicked on Ancientrails to see if things had changed. Ah, they’d changed. Ancientrails had disappeared! OMG. So I messed around a bit more. No joy.

Knew that this was not a matter to settle while I was tired, so I waited until this morning. It was baaaaccckk. Why? I don’t know. But, I’m glad.

Still not able to load images. Gotta get on that in a more disciplined way.

This whole year plus, since last September 28th, has been a transitional time for both of us. At first the transition focused on Kate’s health, especially her malnutrition and her bleed. Then, while in for her pneumothorax in April, a pulmonologist thought he saw lung disease. That got added to the cart.

In February, I had the flu and my annual physical. PSA 1.0. Too sick to recognize it for what it was. But you know what happened when I tumbled to it. Radiation, lupron. Ongoing. Last month I went in to see Lisa about some tightness in my lungs. COPD. Oh, damn.

The transition has forced us both to acknowledge that our lifespans are probably not as long as we imagined. Sobering. But, o.k. They were limited to begin with. Death is not an optional experience. Or, as an Arab saying goes, Life is an inn with two doors.

The wandering and the boredom, I think, comes in here. A month ago I was imagining beating prostate cancer and living into my 90’s. Now? Not so sure. What does that mean? A foreshortened life span? Maybe. And what would that mean? That’s where my ikigai got lost, I think. Unclear how to live into this reality.

So, wandering and bored it is. Except when I engage. You know cooking, shopping, doctor appointments, fire mitigation. Getting the new Rav4 repaired. At some point a new direction will emerge. Perhaps it will simply be what I’m currently doing, but I don’t think so. Just don’t know.

Guy Thing I Did

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

Better rested yesterday. Less fatigue.

Though. Workout a.m. New one. First part is cardio, twenty minutes. Treadmill. I’ve been doing this for years, 25 at least, and yesterday I struggled with breathing as I went up on speed and elevation. I made it through the twenty minutes, pushing myself further than I have in a while, but it was tough.

Gonna see Lisa about respiratory issues. Don’t really want to go down another medical trail right now, but it’s time to get some clarity.

Did, for me, a serious guy thing. I took apart my chain saw, cleaned it, and, ta da! Put it back together. I know this is minor league for most of you, but for me it’s a big deal. Last time I used the chain saw I tried to cut the stall mats with it to make Kate’s walkway to the garage. Did. Not. Work. It did however coat the saw with rubber particles.

Getting ready to make use of fall weather for fire mitigation work. Going to start at the thirty foot ignition zone by taking down trees, limbing them, bucking them. Gonna hire a teenager or two to help move slash, clean up the back. We’ll see about my stamina. If necessary, I’ll take frequent breaks.

Below freezing last night with a spitting rain or meager snow. 34 when I got up. With Mabon behind us and the autumnal equinox tomorrow we’re moving toward fall and already in it. Great sleeping.

Made pork tenderloin last night. Used a Joy of Cooking recipe. Cut the tenderloin into 3/4″ chunks, doused them in beaten egg and covered them with bread crumbs. Plopped them in my new Lodge cast iron skillet. Tasty.

Simcha

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

Hmmm. A bit over eager again. For all my equanimity about cancer I’ve made some moves that reveal a reservoir of anxiety. When I wrote my urologist initially about my PSA rise, I convinced myself that I’d overstated it, moved the decimal point in error. I said this out loud to Dr. Eigner and his PA, Anna Willis. They had to call me a couple of weeks later and say, nope. It’s ten feet high and risin’. Oh.

Apparently I bounced out of the blocks ahead of the gun in the PSA I mentioned below. Supposed to be at three months. I imagine they told me that but when I got the lab order in the mail I went in to do it now overdrive. So I got’er done. It is three months, almost, from the start of the Lupron, but it’s only a month and a half from the end of the radiation. Not sure if it I’ll need another one later. Maybe.

Got reassurance yesterday from Carmela. She said, “Those are great numbers!” Feeling a little sheepish here, but it does speak to my eagerness to have information about the state of my cancer. Forgivable, I think.

Kate and I are on the lookout for joy. Simcha. Been in short supply here for a while and we’re both missing that middah. This PSA result brings me joy. Kate’s going off to the CBE board meeting last night, on her own, brought me joy. Rigel’s nose this morning as she pushed against my hand. The softness of Kep’s coat. Gertie’s wiggly desire to get outside. The waning gibbous Harvest moon this morning has shining Aldebaran beneath it. Orion is there, too. The night sky with Black Mountain below lifts me into the broader universe. Joyful.

Drove down to Caliber Collision. Got there at 7:30 am. The guys were still in a conference so I had to wait a bit. Ryan came out, beefy guy with a thick beard. Hmmm. We’ll have to replace those three panels. And, good news, it looks like the dent in the door hasn’t impacted the rest of the door. Back in five minutes.

Coulda been worse

Ryan returned bearing several pages stapled together. It looked like a hospital bill. Now this number is before we’ve looked inside. If there’s any damage to the robotics, for example, there will be supplemental work. Traveler’s requires review of all supplementals.

How long once we’ve got approval? 7 days, I’d say. That’s without supplementals. If we have to do more? Ryan shrugged. The work and the bureaucracy. Yeah. I get it.

Back up to Evergreen where I had breakfast at the Dandelion. Home. New workout in the home space. Oh, those one legged squats. My quads burned. And, those bicep curls into a shoulder press? Shoulders feeling it.

Dr. Gidday said the other day, “You have to retire to have enough time for all the doctor appointments.” All this other stuff takes time too and my stamina is not what it once was. I’m feeling crowded in my schedule with fewer things to do.

Old Guy. New Tricks.

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

Old guy. New tricks. Took our 2018 Rav4 into the shop yesterday for an oil change. Waited in the Toyota temple as I always do, this time reading Neal Stephenson’s newest: Fall, or Dodge in Hell. These waiting areas are third spaces in architectural parlance, places where strangers gather and potentially meet. Not much meeting going on here as folks tap on tablets, punch the keyboards on laptops or look at their phones. The ubiquitous TV has lost much its allure to the handheld screens.

Alex, my Express Service guy, came in, found me, gave me my keys, a printout of what they’d done. All free because we’re still in the two year Toyota Care period. Back in the Rav4 I looked at the printout, double checking as is my habit. Huh? No oil change.

Walked back to see Alex. Nope, no oil change, just a tire rotation. Uh? Your car had an oil change at 4,750 miles. Oh? Yes. And that means the next oil change isn’t until 14,750 miles. Synthetics go ten thousand miles between changes. I was at 10,100, so I just thought…

The sticker, that little reminder beloved of car service centers everywhere, now lists mileage between tire rotations, not oil changes. What?

After 50 plus years of oil changes and service visits based on 5,000 mile intervals, this old dog was left shaking his head. Not to mention all the strange and wonderful features on this internal combustion engine powered computer. The only constant.

Driving back home through Evergreen, I saw a small herd of elk strung out along Maxwell Creek just after the turn from 73 onto Brook Forest Drive. Some were lounging, others drinking. We’re in the rut now and we’ll see more and more elk as it progresses. No bugling yet.

Back home Kate had managed the installation of our new dryer. Don’t think I mentioned that our old one died last week. The motor. $500 and a one year warranty. Nope. This white Speedqueen with a ten year warranty, a promotion, looks retro. It’s white enamel, sitting low to the floor, with an opaque door. No peeking at the socks as they tumble. Did two loads yesterday. Works fine.

A nap. Then off to On the Move for the second round with my new workout. I needed the second run through. Several of the exercises required me to do things my body found awkward. One of them, a lunge with a set of bands, Dave changed so I wouldn’t get off balance every time.

Over to King Sooper, not far from On the Move, to pick up my online order. In this case King Sooper employers pick your groceries, then bring them out to you on a small wagon filled with plastic totes. I pull into a slot marked Pick Up, call the phone number on the sign, tell them which slot I’m in, “#1.” and a worker brings out the groceries, loads them into the back. Slick.

Back home I cut up the watermelon I’d just bought, put it in a plastic container for Mussar Vaad Practice Group. Kate and I have gotten back, at least semi-back, to the rhythm of Beth Evergreen. I like that because we see friends, talk about ideas.

Sci Fi

Summer and the Radiation Moon

Asimov’s Foundation series is being made into a television series by Apple. Hari Seldon on the little screen. Since I won’t be subscribing to Apple TV, I don’t know when I’ll see it. But. I hope sooner than later. Psychohistory is the key idea. No. Not another satire on 45’s clash with reality. Psychohistory is a way of predicting the probability of future events. Worth re-reading.

Another sci-fi classic has gotten a new movie treatment. Dune. The 1984 vehicle by David Lynch missed the mark, hamartia. The new one comes out in 2020. Will go for sure. Probably worth a re-read, too.

Science fiction was a staple in my reading until a decade ago. Now it’s only the occasional Kim Robinson, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, or some other one I happen onto. The Broken Earth triology by N.K. Jemisin is very good, for example. Fantasy, science fiction, religion–all utilize similar mental muscles. Poetry, myth and legend and fairytales, too. This is not at all a denigration of religion, btw. I’m placing it where it belongs in my spiritual life which depends on observation, imagination, cogitation.

I’m reading a Neal Stephenson work right now, Fall, or Dodge in Hell. Also, a couple more werewolf novels. Saw a blurb by Neil Gaiman yesterday: The second draft is about making it look like you knew what you were doing all along. Like that one. Gonna pull out Superior Wolf soon and get to work on the second draft.

Buddy Tom Crane sent me a small essay, On Bullshit, which I’m reading today. Sounds germane for the Boris and Donald show.

A lot of my reading is online, sometimes more than I want. Not often, but I can get trapped in reading interesting article after interesting article. e.g. An essay on the introduction of a new apple variety. 25 works that define contemporary art. Everday carry. Life may have evolved before earth finished forming. So much bait for a curious guy.