Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Oh, man. Antonio the dog trainer came. Murdoch bit him. Shit.

Antonio is a young man, maybe 30. A lumberjack or hipster beard, hiking boots, jeans, a blue wool jacket. He has an easy smile and wore what I recognized as a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hat. My kinda guy.

He met all of our dogs though Gertie held back because her left rear leg has given her trouble the last couple of days. Rigel went up to him as he came in the door. Snuggled up to her new bff. Kep came over and sniffed him after vigorously announcing his arrival.

Time to meet Murdoch, who was outside. I let him in the sewing room, the door closed to the rest of the house. Antonio put Murdoch through sit, heel, then down. Murdoch didn’t move. Antonio said most dogs don’t like down because it’s submissive. He hit the e-collar once on a very low setting and Murdoch immediately went down.

We talked about the situations that had prompted a fight. Murdoch seemed to be the aggressor, I said, and wouldn’t stop when Kep rolled over. The second fight they came in Kep in the lead and Murdoch behind growling. Antonio said that sounded like Kep was the aggressor.

We agreed to try Kep and Murdoch outside. I got Antonio a leash for Murdoch, but couldn’t find one for Kep. Antonio said that was ok, so I came out with Kep by my side. Kep turned away from Murdoch, not approaching. Murdoch growled.

We moved around the yard, keeping a distance. Murdoch gradually calmed down. It was this kind of desensitization that Antonio thought could work. Feed them each on one side of a glass door. Walks in the back. Hopefully calm them down enough so they could be inside together.

Antonio thought they could come closer, so I approached with Kep. Murdoch dove for Kep. Antonio fell on Murdoch, but Kep had come up to defend himself and in the struggle one of them bit Antonio. Through his jacket. Just like mine. A big gash, maybe 3 inches by 3/4’s.

Inside. My wife’s a doctor. Blood dripping on the deck, the tile. His arm over the same sink where mine was on Thursday. Kate took care of him, bandaged him, ironically, with some of the supplies given to us at the Swedish E.R.

He’s in tears, agonized, shaking. What to do? Called his wife. Got a time to go to the Conifer Medical Center. He’s gone. Don’t know anymore.

Jesus Christ.

So, that happened.

Winter and the Future Moon

Thursday gratefuls: No infection in the bite so far. My elbow joint moves smoothly and all my fingers wiggle. Gertie and Kep snuggled in with me with this morning, didn’t insist on getting up. Rigel was quiet in the room with Murdoch. The fat waxing crescent of the future moon looked like an illustration painted on a new year night sky. Antibiotics and acetaminophen. The steer and the lobster who gave their lives for our New Year’s meal.

Monday’s Gillette* fight night is well over. Kate’s changed my bandages twice. So nice to have a pro at the breakfast table. I have some muscle aches, nothing bad. Abated with acetaminophen.

Taking augmentin for possible infection, but I realized yesterday that infection is unlikely. Why? Well, I put on my Ecuador coat and realized I’d had it on during the struggle. No puncture in its left sleeve. Then I took off the lined fleece flannel shirt I’d also had on. It was bloody and stiff, but likewise no puncture. Protected by Minnesota layering wisdom.

My chief learning. Or, reinforcement of previous chief learnings. No event is unipolar in its valence. The adrenaline, the bite into the muscle of my elbow joint, the wounds to Kep and Murdoch evidenced a grim time, no doubt. Prefer not to repeat.

However. I was able to wrestle with the dogs and help them separate. My physical fitness is good. My blood pressure was 175/90 at the Urgent Care. No telling what it was during the fight. Higher, I’m sure. My heart stood the strain like a champ.

Kepler has a closer bond with me. I noticed this before when I retrieved Gertie from one of her Kep attacks. I take it as gratitude and it feels good. Murdoch, too, though he’s in puppy follow me around mode pretty much all the time.

More. A strange one. I understood the warrior mentality of Joseph and his colleagues. Willing to put their body between harm and their loved ones. So I got bit. Yes. But. Kep and Murdoch are both alive with no serious injuries. Worth it.

Leah, the P.A. who sewed me up, said of my intervening, “Maybe you won’t do it again.” My immediate response, “Probably will.” Safety and security are secondary to protection of those we love. Dogs included.

A good story, too. Here’s one odd symmetry. The Walgreen’s pharmacy where I picked up the augmentin was the same one I found open on Christmas Day, 2015, to get the antibiotics for Kate’s bite from Gertie on Christmas Eve.

Here’s a quote from back then: “Gertie, who bit Kate and got bit in turn by Kepler, has not come of the garage all day. She’s traumatized, slinking off to a far corner near the freezer rather than her own crate. Kate blames neither her nor Kepler, dogs doing what comes naturally is not blameworthy even if the results are dramatic.”

Last learning. It’s important to be in life rather than just passing through. Both of these situations made me feel more engaged, more in my life. Not a spectator, but a participant.

*Only those old enough to remember the Friday Night Fights will get this right away.

The Abyss Stares Back

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Got a workout in. Some more work on the bagel table. Here’s a couple of quotes I’m using as resource material:

“Paul Ricoeur speaks of the vertigo of “being already born that reveals to me the non-necessity of being here.”” Zornberg, p. 127

“The problem of Sarah’s death is, profoundly, the problem of her life, of chayei Sarah-of the contingency of the already born, the all but dead. Her perception of moral vertigo is displaced onto Isaac’s kime’at shelo nisbhat* experience. In a real sense, as the Sages put it, “His ashes remain piled on the altar.” Zornberg, p.128 *“a little thing decided his fate”

I’m going for the big fish in this bagel table plan. Our own vertigo about our own non-necessity of being here. The abyss into which we all stare. And the reasons to live on in spite of the vertigo.

“And Isaac brought her (Rebecca) to the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for the loss of his mother.” Gen. 24:67

Isaac has his own vertigo as Sarah’s only child, the child of her 99th year. He was also the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to make his descendants like the stars in the sky, the sand on a beach. In spite of both of these his own father, Abraham, agreed to and would have carried out his sacrifice. Could he trust any love from his father?

When Sarah dies, Isaac must have been devastated. She dies before he returns from the Akedah, so he has no chance to talk with her, get her healing. I imagine the abyss was staring back at him. When he finds sexual satisfaction and love with Rebecca though, he is comforted. Perhaps that’s where we all find the courage to stare into the abyss of our own horrors, the non-necessity of our being here: intimacy and commitment.

The Heart. Until It Stills.

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Discovering that my journey has always been more about the heart than the head. 72 seems like soon enough to know that. Not too soon though. Grateful.

I’ve seen myself as an activist intellectual, a thinker and a doer, since around junior high. Those were outer manifestations of an inner passion, not not me, but not all of me either.

Why act? Why learn? Why write? Because something about my soul is drawn toward the souls inhabiting this miracle, this wonder, this earth, this universe. Because Mom taught me and I learned.

Here’s a moment. When I was eight or nine, our kitchen table sat next to a window overlooking the backyard. That spring, late, towards summer when the air was heating up, a spider began to weave a web over the lower part of the window. Out there was our backyard, not too big, but green with grass as the growing season took hold, and our garage.

Mom always gathered up insects in a tissue and released them outside rather than kill them. So it was not unusual that she wanted to leave the web. This was a garden spider, a beautiful member of that family. Mom and I watched her weave her web, an architectural marvel. We watched her catch insects, spin a web around them, eat them.

I don’t recall how long the spiderweb and its maker lasted. I do know that watching her and her reality with Mom was a pivotal moment for my soul. We watched and loved that spider. While we did, I became, for life, a friend of the other world, the one that is not human, the one that cares nothing at all for ideas and elections. A dog world. A tree world. A tomato world. A bee world. A spider world.

More. I became part of that world in some forever way, not different from it because I am animal, breather of oxygen, eater of meat and plants. Mortal. Joseph used to call me nature boy. If only I’d heard that in its fullness, then.

During spiritual direction, the Reverend John Ackerman listened to me over a period of years. Near the end of our sessions together he said, “Charlie, you’re a Druid.” This was while I was still enmeshed in the ministry. Oh.

There was, too, that time on the quad at Ball State when I walked outside the Humanities building and found myself in golden connection with all, with everything. Strings of brilliant light streaming into me, going back out, I was a caught insect in the web of the universe.

Now I see it was the flowers, the vegetables, the fruit trees, the bees that were my real work. The dogs. All those dogs. And my lover, my wife, whose heart shares this journey. Why we are in fact soulmates.

The writing of the novels. No. The political activism. No. The ministry. Certainly not. Maybe the docent years since art lives in our inner world. Maybe ancientrails. (thanks again, Bill.) Raising Joseph and Jon. Yes. CBE. Yes. The Woollies. Yes. Living on Shadow Mountain. Yes. Congregation Beth Evergreen. Yes. Those three spirit animals, mule deer bucks, who greeted me on Samain, 2014. Welcoming me home.

The heart. Until it stills. Maybe after that, too.


Fall and the Sukkot Moon

With Kate’s 8:30 appointment in Denver yesterday we got to drive in rush hour during the season’s first snow. In our Minnesota tuned experience Colorado drivers, natives and sunbelt immigrants alike, have never learned the art of driving on snowy roads. We crawled down 285 with folks clearly frightened by the white stuff.

Had a near ditch drop myself going down Shadow Mountain. At the very bottom, on almost level ground, going about 30, I skidded toward Shadow Brook. Corrected just a bit, teased it back toward the other lane, slid across the road almost, then got it straightened out. Lucky no one else was coming. Heart pounded a bit.

As I drove some more, I began to really like this all-wheel drive. It’s more sure around corners and helped me pull out of the skid.

Made it to the appointment on time. Barely. An hour and fifteen minute drive. Normally forty-five.

Guber had some encouraging things to say. At last! First, the bleb on the c.t., the new one, which he showed us while trying to toggle images between two competing programs, he thinks is part of her scarring process on the left lung. May it be so. A new c.t. in early November will provide more guidance. As physicians say, it will declare itself. “If it stays the same, it’s scarring. If it gets bigger, it’s not,” he said, “But I think it’s scarring.” To his eye it was the same in two images 5 months apart.

Also, he felt confident Kate could handle the lung biopsy. When asked if she might need a ventilator, he said, “It’s possible. Not likely, but possible.” Kate. “Would I come off of it?” “Oh, yes.” He was sure. That’s the biggest concern we both had.

Though there will be another c.t. scan and a visit to the pulmonologist, Taryle, we went ahead and scheduled the lung biopsy for November 18. Finally. After it’s done, a definitive diagnosis will spell out which drugs may help her. Get her some life back. A long, slow process. Too long, too slow.

We got about 4 inches of snow. I’m gonna wait on the solar snow shovel. 50 later today, 14 right now.

When I went out for the paper about 5:20, Orion was higher to the right, moving toward Black Mountain. The air was cold, crisp. Reminded me of Minnesota, as did some of the driving yesterday. This storm has moved on to the Plains and the Midwest. Enjoy, you guys.

Lupron II

Fall and the Rosh Hashanah Moon

And, yet more medical news. Went in for my second Lupron shot in the morning, at Swedish. Then, drove back in later in the day with Kate to the E.R. (see below)

Talked to Sherry, the nurse practitioner for prostate cancer at Urology Associates. Turns out the protocol for the Lupron works like this. Get two undetectable PSA’s in a row, that is, 0.01, and they stop the Lupron. Mine was 0.03. Low, but not low enough to give me one undetectable. That means I’ll get at least a third Lupron shot in January, January 6th.

New PSA the week before each Lupron shot. This means the earliest I’ll know about the efficacy of the radiation is June, 2020. Possibly not till August or September.

the prostate specific antigen

Sherry did say that the hot flashes do tend to tail off. Hope she’s right about that.

A bit disheartened. With some detectable psa, even though low, does it mean the radiation didn’t work? Seems like it to me since the idea was to cure me. If the radiation is over, and successful, shouldn’t there be no detectable psa? Guess I’ll get clarity on this in early November when I visit Anna Willis, Dr. Eigner’s P.A.

Heavy Breathing

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

Below the license plate and just above the black band. Not bad, but not desirable either

Yesterday morning I filed accident reports with Colorado State Patrol and Traveler’s. Their forms don’t anticipate a foreign national driving a rented RV. Made for an interesting session. Opened the Rav4’s back door. Works fine. The damage is superficial, but probably enough to make them replace the whole door and bumper.

Since we missed seeing Debra on Saturday due to the accident, we took her out for lunch. Ohanagrill. A Hawai’ian eatery on the shore of Sloan Lake. It was hot, a bit muggy. Felt like Maui just a little bit. I had kalua pork and cabbage. We shared four Portuguese donuts.

Debra’s headed to Uganda for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps. She’s sixty and wants an adventure. Sure she’ll get one there. Business development. Unless. She also picked up her ESL credentials and might try to get work in that way.

Coming back from Lakewood where Debra lives the battery on Kate’s portable O2 concentrator died. She was not worried as long as we were at the relatively low Denver altitude (still a mile high, though), but when we began to climb the mountains toward home her chest felt heavy and she started to get a headache.

I drove faster than the speed limit, which I rarely do, getting her back to our home concentrators. I ran in, turned one on, and got her the tubing as she came in the door. Much better. Not gonna let that happen again.

Pretty tired today. It was a busy, overly busy, week. Lots of driving here and there with Gabe’s glove crisis and Kate’s pulmonology appointment plus Tom’s visit. Good tired, though. Friends and family.