Tears

Samain and the Full Gratitude Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: The Geminid Meteor Showers, peaking on Dec. 13th. Kate. Always Kate. The cooling as we move deeper into December. Chickens and their eggs. Seeing, really seeing. Colors. Especially dark blues. Princeton paint brushes. Glass. A wonder on its own. [after finishing this. Lupron.]

As I wrote before, lupron clouds the source of my feelings. Here are three things this week that have moved me to tears.

  1. Most recent. Reading about the North Dakota capital’s county commission voting to continue admitting immigrants. Compassion trumps Trump.
  2. The videos of women singing the rapist is you (see video below) in protests across the world. Claiming your own power makes you powerful.
  3. A dream I had the other night in which my mother hugged me.

People coming down on the side of compassion instead of cruelty. My heart stands with them, wherever and for whatever reason. Right now the North Dakota vote says no to humans in cages, to separated families, to the cold hearts and small minds resident in the White House. When humans act like humans, I’m shaken in a good way.

Empowerment, especially taking back power stolen by the patriarchy or whiteness or greed, reaches deep into me, makes me feel glad. Over againstness in the name of women, of people of color, of the poor is a sacred duty, a holy duty. When an oppressed group faces off against their oppressor, my heart sings, overwhelms me. Bless them all.

My mother died 45 years ago, her yahrzeit is in October. Since then, I can recall no dreams of her. I must have had some, but they disappear on waking. For the first time I remember in those 45 years, I dreamed of her. She was mute, curled in an almost fetal position, but awake and aware. She hugged me, smiled. I felt her warmth and her love. Her physicality.

She lay in a position very like the one in which I last saw her. We rode up together in an elevator for a surgery that failed to save her life. She was on a gurney. Her eyes looked away from me, but I could tell the stroke had made that the way she could see me best. Her lips moved and she said, “Son.” The last word I ever heard from her.

Tears come as I write this. The power of feeling her close to me, of her hug, so long gone. A dream long suppressed or repressed.

It felt to me as if the grief of her death had finally come to resolution, as if she were forgiving me and blessing me. Forgiving me for living on. Blessing me for living on. Breathtaking.

Maybe the lupron does not cloud the source of my feelings. Maybe it opens me, flushes out excuses I give myself for not being moved.

A confusing time for me. But. Not without its merits.

Impeach

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Monday gratefuls: Facebook. Yes, I know how evil it is, but I love it anyhow. Keeps me up with friends from faraway-in distance and time. Internet. Wow. Keeps on enthralling me (literally [sigh] and figuratively). This desktop computer that works. Always. My handheld computer which I rarely use as a phone. Electricity, whether from IREA, our solar panels, or our generator. And, by free association, Nicholas Tesla.

I’d like to apologize to all of you who read this about my near constant airing of my existential crisis. Must get old, but it’s on my mind. This is an online journal, meant to be an airing of what’s up, what’s current in my life and thinking. Not trying to be commercially friendly. Still, I like readers, so I hope I don’t lose you to the scattered thoughts about this guy’s attempt to grab hold of life. Again. And, again.

So. Whaddya think of this impeachment thing? I don’t know how to read it. Impeachment will happen, I’m sure. Removal from office will not. I’m pretty sure. In that case will we have accomplished anything as a body politic or will we have (or, have we already) baked the Trump bloc into our lives?

The separation of powers is, to me at least, sufficient reason to have proceeded. Congress needs to reassert its fiscal, policy, and military roles against an increasingly imperial presidency. Which, if we’re to be honest, Obama did a lot to nurture, too.

The shifting stances of the propagandists who want to keep Trump in office are not as friendly to democracy as we need them to be. The Trump faithful, an unreasoned but strong cult, is strengthened, not weakened by impeachment; they are driven more into each others arms. DJT right or wrong. Political differences, yes. Political battles, yes. But a devotional attitude toward this guy, no.

Where does all this lead us? I come from the rust belt. I know its politics, its people. I’m one of them. Those of my hometown who follow the Trump are many, but not varied. They have lost well-paying factory jobs, now in the long ago 1970’s, and nothing comparable has replaced them. Their community, Alexandria, which thrived while General Motors had Delco Remy and Guide Lamp in Anderson (25,000 jobs), has become a wasteland of dollar stores, boarded up businesses, and many homes with deferred maintenance. Where do they find hope?

The children of my classmates, who’ve known only this depressed economy, have a right to their disenchantment. We’ve earned it as a country by ignoring their needs. Their parents voted Democrat, understood strong unions, but the day the factories died, so did their political will. Trump has stepped into their hearts and into their children’s hearts. He and his kind will not be easily dislodged from them.

Not hopeful about this at the moment.

Learning and Doing

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Friday gratefuls: The grandmother tree at Congregation Beth Evergreen which just lost a large limb. It’s a large Ponderosa. Looks like it will be fine. The mind of Rabbi Jamie. Filled with knowledge and caring. SeoAh’s energy. She cleaned our whole house yesterday afternoon.

Learned something again. That I seem to have learned again and again only to forget. Hot dogs give me gas. I’ve stopped eating bacon and hot dogs except when I’m out. Bought two CJ’s classics. Vienna all beef wienies with mustard and relish. Oh, my. Desire is often not a good match with need.

A strange and unsettling moment on Wednesday. No, not buying the hot dogs. SeoAh and I went to the post office to mail Annie’s phone back to her. The priority mail box that I chose came flat and needed to be folded. As Kate will tell you, spatial reasoning is not my long suit, not by far.

Anyhow I began to fuss with it. SeoAh’s right beside me. When I couldn’t get it, at first I laughed. Then, I began to become self-conscious. What if she thinks I’m getting senile? Made it harder. Which made me more self-conscious. Finally got it, but the momentary damage had already been done. By me to me.

We went from there to King Sooper. Got out of the car in the parking lot and went to lock it. Nope, keys not in that pocket. Or, that one. Surely… Nope, not that one either. Or, that one. In the jeans? Right side, no. Left side. No. OK. Car started when I got in it at the post office so my keys are here. Somewhere. Check all the pockets again. Nope. Nada.

These two incidents left me a bit shaken. Not because I considered them signs of anything other than my usual self. (the keys had slipped between the seat and the center console. I’ve done it before with glasses and phones.) But because they could have made me look feeble in SeoAh’s eyes. A realization for me about aging. Oh, so this happens to me, too.

Little things. Hard, though. We laughed about it.

Might Be

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: the dog, a tail wagging, face licking bundle of love. the grocery store, especially Tony’s Market. Kate’s successful cataract surgery. Williamsburg oil paints. Princeton brushes. Flovent for the COPD. Landice treadmills. Colorado Natural Gas for bringing natural gas to Shadow Mountain.

Might be the lupron, but when Joseph left yesterday a deep wave of sadness swept over me. Seoah came in and my head was down a bit. Are you o.k.? Just sad that Joseph left. She looked at me. I know how you feel.

Might be the lupron. Might not.

The lupron and the holidays. Might be why I feel so disoriented, so low energy. Trying to read, but find it hard to focus. Trying to paint, but ideas seem stuck somewhere, gluon neuron?

Glad Thanksgiving is over. It was good, but it knocked us out. Could be the lupron. Might not. Hard to know.

The metaphysical or the psychological effects of chemotherapy are tough to define, hard to limn. At least for me. Is the fatigue from preparing and managing a big meal? Staying up with the guests? Am I seeing the world right now as others see it? Not asking the perspectival question, obvious no, but the social consensus question. Is this world the one you know, too?

These are often subtle cracks in my perceptual world, making me question my own assessment of so many things. Can’t say I like this much.

Mark O. and Paul S. both have set learning guitar as a winter activity. Just after Thanksgiving I had decided I would concentrate on painting and justice, justice in this case as a mussar, or character, trait. For a month or more on the painting. Until December 17th when I present my thinking on justice to the mussar vaad practice group.

And, I need to add, reading. I want to up my reading schedule, read more. But I have this strange physical reaction to sitting still, focusing on a book. I want to get up, move around, do something with my hands. Shut off my brain. Sometimes I find a text that wrestles that reaction into submission, sometimes not.

Could be stress from the year plus storm of medical matters. Could be. Could be the lupron. Could be the holiday blues. Could be all of these, probably is, some dark mixture swirling around my consciousness.

Gonna let it be. Be whatever it is. Meanwhile I’ll read as much, paint as much, learn as much as I can.

1′

Samain and the Gratitude (new) Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Friends. All the Woollies with a special inflection for the Zoom guys: Mark, Bill, Tom, Paul. My zoompals. At CBE: mussar folk, Alan, Jamie, Rich, Marilyn, Fran in particular. Neighbors: Jude, Holly, Eduardo, Derrek. All the Facebook friends from long ago in Alexandria, Ball State.

Put the yardstick down on the deck this morning at 6 am. 1′ of snow. So far. Overnight. More still coming. The biggest snow event here since a blizzard last March. Ending today, probably AM. Roads will be clear for Thanksgiving travelers on Wednesday. Thankful for that. Seoah, Murdoch, Joe on the road from Warner-Robbins, Georgia.

Put on my Sorel’s, my down vest, my watchcap, my alpaca coat. Warm enough. Shoveled the deck and the small, pallet covered with rubber stall mats deck extension. The plastic push shovel that works so well on the composition decking and the stall mats is not good for throwing or lifting snow. Just bought a poly shovel. These heavy snows are easier to push if I can clear a few inches off the top first. The curved plastic of the push shovel dribbles the snow off as soon as I lift it.

Beautiful outside. The sun is up but Black Mountain is gone behind a pale bluegray curtain. The solar panels look like Korean tombs resting on our roof. The lodgepoles look like flocked Christmas trees.

Kate went to the grocery store to pick up an order and go to the bank which is in the King Sooper. When she got back, her lips were white and her face ashen. Walking to the bank and to the pharmacy (both inside the store) was too much. She’s having a Sjogren’s flare which may account for some of it. Her appearance shocked me, and I feel bad for not having done the trip. She thought she could do it. So did I.

Mundane

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Stayed out late Tuesday, for us past 8 pm. Makes the next day slow. Tried to get into the resistance work, couldn’t. Muscles complained. Did thirty minutes on the treadmill.

In to see my ophthalmologist. (spelling gets me every time) Glaucoma check. Every six months for over 20 years. Now every 4 months. The usual. Eye charts. A small glass instrument pressed against the pupil to check pressures, 16 and 14. Scan of the retinal nerve. Mine’s still abnormal. Has been for as long as they’ve been following me.

Stopped by Tony’s market. Picked up a few things. Cooked supper. The end of the day.

Big day. I’m meeting Alan to go over our bagel table plan for Saturday morning. The Dandelion again in Evergreen. Slippery roads this am, freezing drizzle. Driving freezing drizzle down the mountains can be challenging. The Blizzaks went on Ruby last Friday and she has all wheel drive.

At 12:45 we’re meeting Steve and Jamie at the Staples parking lot. We’re going to a CBE tour of the Monet show at the Denver Art Museum, a four hundred object exhibit arranged by a curator at the Denver Art Museum. This is its only stop. Looking forward to it.

This evening we have MVP, the mussar vaad practice group. Had to be moved from Tuesday due to the shiva at Steve and Jamie’s.

That’s a lot of moving parts for us in one day. Good ones, yes, but still a lot.

OK, Boomer

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Sprinkling of snow here this morning. 24.

Yesterday did additional cardio on my non-resistance day. Got in 4 days of exercise this week in spite of missing Monday and Tuesday. Feel good about that.

Helped Kate more with her sewing room. Moving this and that. Carrying stuff to the trash, to storage in the garage. Decluttering. She’s working her back. She went to Needleworkers last Wednesday. Gradually.

Grocery store. Contrary to my usual practice I went in and shopped, put my own stuff in my own cart. Went through the checkout line myself. Whew. Took me ten minutes to the find the Chinese five-spice powder. Out of practice.

It was a busy day at King Sooper. A young boy, maybe 4 or 5, sat in the children’s seat of a cart. “Hi,” he said to me. “Hi,” he said to the woman buying tomatoes. “Hi,” he said to the other guy walking by.

Worth it though. Made a Vietnamese beef stew and it was wonderful. Everybody thought so. Ruth helped me. I worked with the chuck roast, cutting it into one inch cubes, browning the cubes after the marinade. Ruth made the marinade, then got to cutting up tomato, lemon grass, scallions, cilantro. She was, literally, my sous chef, doing prep work.

“OK, Boomer,” she said. I laughed. “You’re the only good boomer, I know.” Oh? “Well, you’re the only boomer I know.” Just like you’re my favorite granddaughter? And my only granddaughter. “Yes, just like that.”

Cooking together bonds us. She asks to help and she knows what she’s doing. Wonderful. And, special.

There she goes. On her own.

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Been having a tough time keeping up with my workouts due to morning meetings, doctor’s appointments. If I don’t workout in the morning, our afternoon nap finishes off the rest of the day for exercise. Why? Not sure. But, I’m lethargic when I get up. A non-workout feeling. Why nap if I get up lethargic? It doesn’t last, but it lasts long enough to throw off my wanna exercise motivation. Something I could work on.

Working out makes me feel better in the moment while the net effects of cardio and resistance work to keep my healthspan longer. There are other daily benefits: getting up out of a chair unassisted, able to hold a chainsaw, get outside work done, enough muscle to handle daily domestic chores, stamina, stair climbing. In spite of my two issues: copd and prostate cancer, my sense of good health, even excellent health remains. But, not if I don’t get in my workouts. Gotta get more careful about scheduling mornings.

Used the instapot last night to make round steak. It came out tough and chewy. Hmm. Not the idea. Gotta figure out what the problem is.

Making progress on my painting, IMO. When I do Rothko-like paintings, I’m finding myself closer to the moodiness his produced. Once that comes more easily, I’m going to start playing around with it. Put photographs or drawings or a flower or something metal in them, IDK. Make them mine. I’m imitating a man I consider a master artist, one of the best of the last century, American or otherwise, trying to learn from recreating his work techniques, color combinations, composition, brush work. A long, long way to go, but I’m having a helluva good time.

Gonna finish my bagel table work today and tomorrow.

Starting to feel the beginnings of a new phase here on Shadow Mountain. Not sure what it is, but it feels pretty good.

Example: Kate drove herself to needleworkers yesterday. She stayed till mid-afternoon. When I saw her drive away, I had a feeling similar to taking Joseph to his freshman year of college. There she goes, on her own. Glad, a bit concerned, happy for her.

Saw Lisa

Samain and the Fallow Moon

COPD. Mild. Shouldn’t progress unless I do something to aggravate it. Like start smoking again. Nope. Good news. Does mean I’m stuck with some shortness of breath, some vulnerability to lung disease. Well within livable parameters.

Mild!

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Not sure what to do here on Shadow Mountain. Kate got good news at the docs yesterday. Dr. Taryle, the National Jewish pulmonologist, started out by saying, “I’m confused.”

What confused him was the appointment with Dr. Gruber, the cardio-thoracic surgeon. The pulmonary function test Taryle had ordered came back with only mild impairment. Mild! That was a week ago. And, he said, the c.t. scan you had two weeks ago, looks the same as the one in May. The same! Lung disease not progressing.

Why do something as risky as a lung biopsy if your disease is mild and not progressing? Why, indeed. We canceled it.

The mood here has swung. Fist bumps. Peace signs. Arms in the air.

She does have some kind of lung disease and she needs oxygen still but the drumbeats of the fourth horsemen have receded into the distance. With her weight stabilized above 100 pounds, her stent, and her feeding tube the malnutrition horsemen has ridden off, hopefully to never return. Sjogren’s still plagues her, but we’ve discovered that having a healthy diet ameliorates a lot of the worst symptoms.

Oh, and she had cataract surgery in both eyes over the last couple of weeks. More colors. The newspaper has started printing the type more clearly, much easier to see for that crossword. We’re counting this as three victories in a short period of time.

Here on Shadow Mountain with the atmosphere shifting.