shhh

Winter                                                                   Waxing Moon

20190120_104200Shhh. Don’t tell anybody or you might jinx it, but I think Kate’s starting to gain weight. She’s at 84, past the 82 pound barrier that seemed so intractable. yay. shhh.

SeoAh and Murdoch are on their way today. Back to the warmer climes of Peach and Pecan country. Gonna miss her though she needs to get back and we need to settle in again to our own rhythms. SeoAh loves pho so I took her to the pho place near Evergreen’s King Sooper yesterday. A going away present. We had a long talk about her life in Seoul. She sold clothing and cosmetics door-to-door for a good while. What a tough way to make a living.

In that conversation she made an interesting point about American culture, one that wouldn’t have occurred to me. In Korea women expect each other to dress well, to the point of putting on make-up even when going to the store for groceries. And, they’re unforgiving of those who don’t. “Most Asian women are like this,” she said. “But, I love American culture.” We don’t have the same blanket expectation for women. (not saying it doesn’t exist here, but it’s not everywhere.) That makes a big difference to SeoAh.

20190101_103345Went out to DIA late last night and picked up SeoAh’s husband. Got back here about 11:00 pm, well past my sell by date in terms of sleep. The dogs didn’t get fed until 7:30 am. Gabe’s here, too. Jon brought him up last night. Jon and Ruth will go skiing today at A-Basin, then pick Gabe up on their way home. It’s been a very family oriented Christmas and New Years and January. Friends, too.

We’re expecting snow again tomorrow evening. Hopefully the pace will pick up.

Got some gold leaf yesterday for a painting I’m working on portraying the ohr penetrating the ein sof. Considering a series on Genesis with this being the first of them.

 

 

 

Stocking Stuffers

Winter                                                                         Waxing Moon

Arrowhead Manor

Arrowhead Manor

Today and tomorrow. Friendship in the Rockies. Tom and Mark flew in yesterday, spent the night at Arrowhead Manor, a B&B off 285 near Meyer’s Ranch. Between 8:30 and 9:00 they’ll be here. I need this time with them. I’ve had my head down, pushing, pushing, pushing for quite a while now. SeoAh’s been so helpful, CBE folks, too, and Kate. Well, Kate’s had the hard time. Is having the hard time. Yes. All that. Even so, there’s been my side of it, too. Uncertainty. Stress. Caregiving. All ok, but a break from them for a couple of days? Needed, too.

The Happy Camper, our dispensary in Bailey, will be among our first stops. When I went in there a couple of weeks ago to pick up our monthly supply of THC, I asked for my usual edibles from Love’s Oven. “Don’t have any,” the budtender replied. “Oh?” “Yeah, some guy came in just before Christmas and bought all of them for stocking stuffers.” Oh. The times are not changing. They’ve changed.

20180615_101624

The Rustic’s Door

After that we’ll visit the Rustic Bar a couple of miles from the Happy Camper, down a 7% grade called Crow Hill. This is where Paul, Mark, Tom, and I had our first breakfast on our Durango trip last year. Beyond the Rustic? TBD.

The Rav4 has new oil. It continues to function well. I sorta wish it didn’t because I don’t like it much, even though I picked it out in 2011 when our Tundra had STDS, sudden truck death syndrome. It has two main virtues. It’s paid for. And it’s sturdy. Will probably drive it another 125,000 miles.

Class on yirah for religious school. Note to self. Always have a craft-like activity in addition to talk. I’ve figured out a way to get the kids quiet. They’re attentive and responsive. But, I aimed the class a mile or so over their heads. They’re concrete thinkers, as Alan reminds me, and I went into full adult, let us reason together mode. Not a flop, but not a success either. Teaching is hard to do well. Not hard to do poorly. I was in the middle yesterday.

20180828_185716Kate came to our MVP group after the religious school class. Marilyn Saltzman picked her up. She lasted a bit over an hour before she began to fade. She’s decided to challenge herself, get out more, see people, build her stamina. I’m so proud of her. It’s tough and in these early days it’s impossible to calibrate well, so she shows up and stays as long as she’s able. When people see her, they smile, come over, give her hugs. Important for healing. Slowly.

SeoAh will leave on Monday, taking her smile, her upbeat presence, and Murdoch back to Georgia. She’s been here since Christmas Eve, teaching us about family and about Korean cooking. Sorry to see her go, but she needs to get back to her Warner Robbins life.

 

 

 

Akeda

Winter                                                                    Waxing Moon

Big excitement this morning. Into Stevinson Toyota for a Rav4 oil change. Last oil change came on the Monday of Kate’s no good, very bad, horrible weekend at the end of September. That oil has degraded over the whole twilight circus of events since then. This fresh oil comes as the news begins to look better. It will degrade as the Waxing Moon works and puts the unhappy last quarter of 2018 to rest. Looking for a better story in the first quarter of 2019.

Painted some yesterday. Both sumi-e and oil painting have put me back in a tactile world gardening occupied in Minnesota.

Here’s my latest, akeda. Akeda means binding in Hebrew and in Jewish tradition evokes the binding of Isaac by Abraham.

Akeda

                                                        Akeda

Yesterday morning I created a lesson plan for the religious school. Yirah. The akeda could be used as an example of yirah. How terrible, how frightening. Sacrifice the son whom Sarah bore in her 90’s. Isaac means, he laughed, to remember Abraham and Sarah’s response to the news that she would bear a child. Not only was Isaac the improbable son of Sarah’s old age, he was also the son who would fulfill the covenant God made with Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the “stars in the sky.” Killing him as a sacrifice would mean the end of Sarah’s miracle and the promise of God. Yet, he went ahead with the akeda.

A friend of mine in Minnesota, a Sierra club activist, was in an accident on January 14th. Her 18 year old son, Henry, a freshman at Bowdoin college, drove. She was in the passenger seat. A pickup truck drifted into their lane. The wreck killed Henry. Sarah survived with non-life threatening injuries. Since her brief announcement on facebook, “Devastating news. We lost Henry in a car accident. Only 18. So much potential,” I’ve been cycling through imagining the awful pain of losing a child.

 

 

The Holy

Winter                                                                     Waxing Moon

Going for calories

Going for calories

Took Kate to Bailey yesterday, the social hall of St. Mary’s of the Rockies. She stayed several hours for a meeting of the Bailey Patchworkers. It was the first time she’d been back since August, a session when she piled up the good eats for a quilt documentation day. That was also the day I backed into her friend’s car. With said friend in it. Sigh. Kate’s stamina has improved markedly. So good to see.

After Bailey, I drove not home, but to Evergreen where I had lunch with Tara and Alan. Murphy’s sits right on Bear Creek, a lovely place in the spring, summer, and fall for an outside lunch. Tara and Alan and I talked CBE religious school. Alan returned Saturday from a couple of weeks in Argentina. In Patagonia, at a national park, he was told, no, you can’t walk on the glacier. You’re over 65. Didn’t know glaciers took notice of such brief lifespans; but, it was Argentina.

gods celtic twilight yeatsI’m responsible for the next lesson, tomorrow, as I was last week, but with Alan as back up this time. Last week we worked with the middah, character trait in the Jewish ethical discipline of mussar, chesed, or loving-kindness. This week we stay in mussar, but focus on yirah. Yirah often translates as fear in the Torah, as in “the fear of the Lord.” I prefer awe as a translation, but it does mean both and we’ll use that in the class.

Rudolf Otto, a famous theologian of the early 20th century, wrote a book called, The Idea of the Holy. I mentioned his thinking from this work in a post a couple of days ago. It’s one of a handful of theological texts that have had a radical effect on my thinking. Another is Moses and Monotheism by H. Richard Niebuhr. In both cases the authors try to dig behind religious concepts often simply accepted to find their phenomenal roots. Otto wants to understand the strange nature of the sacred. Niebuhr was after the psychic meaning of monotheism.

Otto’s work has a lot to do with yirah. His idea of the numinous, a distinctive feeling we often equate with the holy or the sacred, has two components: mysterium tremendum et fascinans. When we encounter the numinous, we encounter mystery, a mystery that both attracts us, we want to move toward the experience (awe, yirah, fascinans), and repels us, (fear, yirah, tremendum).

alvarez-adventure-caving-spelunking-1I have had many encounters of this kind and they vary in which characteristic of the Holy they emphasize. I’ve written before about my mystical experience on the quad at Ball State. Fascinans dominated. I wanted to be there, in a state of total linkage with all. I wanted to stay. In high school I attended a summer church camp at Epworth Forest in Indiana. We learned a lot about communion and in particular I took to the heart the idea that if we didn’t reconcile with others, we might “eat and drink our own damnation.” OK. I was an impressionable guy in that moment. But the fear occasioned by that idea made me find a young woman whom I’d teased and ask for her forgiveness. Stepping into the Sistine Chapel. Awe. Driving to Bailey and seeing the Continental Divide capped with snow. Awe. Contemplating my own death. Fear moving toward awe.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Another. In Ely, Minnesota at the International Wolf Center, during a week long wolf studies immersion, we did a necroposy on a collared wolf that had been hit by a car. When we opened his rib cage, a space opened up in front of me where the mystery of life and death vibrated, took me in, absorbed me. This was both fascinans and tremendum. I wanted to look away, to be elsewhere. Right now. I wanted to dive in, swim in the galaxy revealed by this too intimate experience.

How about you? Got any experiences of the holy or the sacred? I especially encourage considering Otto’s point that an experience of the Holy is without moral freight. It simply is. We apply the morality later, much later.

 

iottoru001p1

iottoru001p1

*”In his most famous book, Das Heilige, Otto turned from a critical philosophical account of the possibility of religious experience to a descriptive psychology of the content of that experience and its relationship to the “rational,” symbolic dimension of religion. To designate religious feelings at their most distinctive he coined the word numinous, which referred, he said, to the Holy or Sacred minus the moral dimension. But he soon encountered a methodological limitation. Conscious experience is only available to the person who has it; therefore, it is possible to formulate a descriptive account of religious feelings only on the basis of introspection, informed by apparent similarities in what others have said. In other words, in order to study the experience that is the ultimate source of religion, a scholar must have a sensus numinis, an ability to experience numinous feelings—just as the description of color in painting or pitch in music requires certain kinds of perceptual abilities. Those who have such abilities, Otto suggested, experience the numinous as a mysterium tremendum et fascinans. As a mysterium, it is completely other, beyond the realm of ordinary existence, apprehensible but not comprehensible, evoking in human beings the feeling of stupor and stunned silence. People find this mysterium both attractive (fascinans ) and repulsive (tremendum ). On the one hand, it arouses the sense of grace, love, and mercy. On the other, it arouses feelings of terror and awe and the conviction that human beings are in reality nothing—feelings to which Otto, countering tendencies to equate genuine religion with love, gave a great deal of attention.” encyclopedia.com

 

 

 

Winter Has Come

Winter                                                                                Waxing Moon

Dominant white. Black Mountain is white. The lodgepoles have white flocking. The solar panels have disappeared under individual mounds of snow. The sky is a whitish blue. The steps up here are still snow covered. No new snow though since yesterday. Huge piles of snow from Ted’s plowing twice. 14 degrees. Winter on the mountain. This is, however, Colorado and the next few days have sunshine. The roads are clear.

This morning

                                         This morning

These last three days I’ve had no obligations. Love that. SeoAh and I went to Walmart yesterday in Evergreen. She has glaucoma and needs eyedrops, like I do, but had run out. Thanks to modern tech the Evergreen pharmacy could contact Georgia, Georgia could, as the pharmacy clerk said, “Push a button.” Then, a text would go to SeoAh’s phone as we shopped. Not a fan of Walmart due to its low wages and small town downtown busting habits, but in this instance a good deal for SeoAh. It happened that way. While she shopped for bleach to give her hair highlights, a text came in.

Ran into a mussar friend at Walmart. Her husband has prostate cancer that has spread to his spine and, perhaps, his lungs. MRI tomorrow. He’s starting radiation and is already getting hormone treatment. Doesn’t sound good. I do like running into folks I know at the store. Small town living.

Apparently Saturdays are for new recipes. SeoAh made a sweet tofu wrapped rice confection, Japanese. Wonderful. Also, an egg drop soup with dumplings and rice cakes.

Jon’s got a new printing technique, one he used yesterday to “print” a paper bag. It’s amazing. He’s using found objects, mostly metal, to create colorful prints of shapes that look vaguely familiar, yet also abstract. He said in a later text that he’s glad Ruthie and I are exploring oils together. Me, too.

Latest

                          Latest

Awesome, Dude

Winter                                                                              Waxing Moon

Yesterday

Yesterday

I’m gonna say between 12 and 15 inches over the last 36 hours. We’ve been plowed twice and our contract specifies 6 inches as the minimum for a push. I’ve cleared the back decks 4 times, or 5, and this morning it was as much as it was yesterday morning, maybe more. I’m pretty weary from it. With the new palette/deck it increases the amount of snow I have to move and reduces the places I can put it. Creates a tough situation.

All of us up here love the snow, in part for the beauty and in part for the practical reasons I mentioned yesterday. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to remove or a joy to drive in. Right now, I could wait a bit for our next big storm. Nothing on the horizon right now.

Considering some snow shoeing. I’ve not done that much here. Great cardio and beautiful, quiet here in the mountains.

Yrah tornadoGonna look at material for the religious school class on the 16th. Alan will be back from Argentina. Our lesson theme is yirah, awe. Getting fifteen inches of snow over 36 hours creates yirah. We do not impact the weather, at least not directly. Yes, climate change is effecting the sorts of weather we get, but we don’t get to choose the diverse effects of our self-genocide. Fifteen inches of snow is like a volcanic eruption or a tsunami or a tornado, sudden, unpredictable except just before the fact, a natural act that changes the immediate environment dramatically. Though not as devastating as those violent manifestations, a great snow storm does show the power of the natural world, something to which we have to adapt rather than something we can manage.

Those of us inside homes with heat, water, plumbing, a full refrigerator, a kitchen can, and often do, ignore the rain, the snow, the high winds, perhaps only remarking casually, “Listen to the rain.” “The snow’s so beautiful.” “Those winds are really howling.” In doing so we shield ourselves from yirah. Yirah is the Hebrew word often translated as fear in the Torah, as in fear of the Lord. Remember Moses and the burning bush? Yirah.

yirah volcanoYirah and kadosh, holy or sacred, go together. Rudolf Otto defines sacred as an experience of awe, yirah, and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans: mysterious, awesome, urgent, attractive in spite of our fear. “As mysterium, the numinous is “wholly other”– entirely different from anything we experience in ordinary life.” Kenyon College. I disagree here. We experience natural acts, acts that have a cause in the world we know, that are so far beyond our control that though we do find them in ordinary life, they are also, at the same time, wholly other. Ask anyone who’s seen the ocean recede, then come blasting in as a tsunami hits. Ask anyone who’s felt the earth, the solid stable never-changing earth, shake beneath their feet. Anyone who’s been been faced with pyrocastic flow.

When I was 10, back in 1957, I visited my aunt and uncle in Mustang, Oklahoma. About 3 am one morning, my uncle Rheford came in and shook me awake. “We have to go.” I followed him out the backdoor of the house and into the ground. Wind and rain battered us as we went down the steps into the storm shelter. The wooden doors closed behind us and a thick chain was passed through inside door handles then linked to a hook set in the concrete floor. When the tornado crossed over us, the oxygen got swept up and out of the shelter, the doors banged and clanged like living things. Afterward, we went back up the stairs, fearing what we might see. The post office, attached to the front of Uncle Rheford and Aunt Ruth’s house, was gone. Just. No. Longer. There.

Yirah Roaring_Forties_300Something experienced in ordinary life but also wholly other. I’ve been following a sailing race, the Golden Globe, in which several skippers competed against each other in solo jaunts around the world. Ask any sailor, solo or not, who’s navigated the roaring forties about yirah and mysterium. They’re manifesting every day, every hour in places most of us will never go; but, a few do. Wholly other, but also part of the same puzzling universe which coughed us up into life.

A long road to an old observation, the sacred in the ordinary. Religion has too long tried to cordon off the domains of holiness, of the sacred, of the divine. And not only cordon them off, but claim control over the experience of them. This is human, yes, to identify our own experience as unique, as special to us and ours. But it is not true that either awe or mysterium tremendum et fascinans, is only wholly other, and it is especially not true that Christianity or Hinduism or Tibetan Buddhism or Islam or Mormonism has the only safe way to encounter them.

In just a moment I’m going to go back downstairs in a world transformed by snow. It’s awesome and mysterious. And right here, right now.

 

 

Simcah

Winter                                                                              Waxing Moon

kate 1200Kate’s wanting to get out and not just visits to medical facilities. Her stamina has improved some, she’s eating more. She’s still in the 80-82 zone, but I’m looking forward to her cracking 83. Then up from there. She’s laughing and smiling, things I didn’t see often over the last three months. Enjoying these moments. Both of us.

My Jewish Studies January event is past. My solo act as teacher of the 6th and 7th graders was yesterday. Both of these, the Jewish Studies and the religious school class weighed on me. In both cases I had the full responsibility for them and that old bugger, what if things don’t go well and what can I do to take make sure that they do syndrome. Not a bad thing under normal circumstances, even ordinary, but in these two instances I felt exposed, reluctant. I suppose it was garden variety anxiety, but it clouded my days for a week plus.

Tara teaching Hebrew with my class

Tara teaching Hebrew with my class

When I went to H-Mart with SeoAh, I picked up ingredients for an Israeli salad. I had collected stories of loving-kindness, made a plan for using them. When I got to CBE, the vegetable dicer came out, a knife from the drawer and I got to slicing and dicing. Red pepper. Crunch. Whack. Roma tomatoes. Deseed, cut. Whack. Crunch. Persian cucumbers. Garlic. Parsley. Whack. Whack. Whack. A little olive oil, some lemon juice, a bit of mint. Toss. All the time I was talking to Leslie, a retired architect and city planner. She wanted to know how Kate was doing. The conversation veered to art. Leslie’s a docent at D.A.M., the Denver Art Museum. She offered to sponsor me when the next docent class comes up.

The kids began to come in. Isaac and his brother from the charter school up the hill. Sam from gymnastics. They trickled in, signing their names in Hebrew as an attendance check. Ryan, always on Ryan, came in with his mischievous smile. Robbie, tall Robbie. Charlie Mulvihill, whose bar mitzvah is on the 16th of February. Gwen. Liya. Jordan and Adam. Aaron. Gabe, who keeps bees with his dad, Dan.

Ryan, Tara, Liya

Ryan, Tara, Liya

The class went well. The kids were attentive during a discussion of loving-kindness. I read stories of kindness from within the Jewish tradition and asked them to match me story for story. Soon they were pulling out stories from movies, books, their personal lives. Several mentioned Hunger Games. Witness. Wonder. One girl bought her sister a toy her sister couldn’t afford. Another gave $20 he’d received for toys to a homeless man. Tara, the director of religious education, then came in and did a Hebrew class on chesed, loving-kindness, reinforcing what we’d experienced from stories.

At 5:30, we start at 4 and finish at 6, they’d been so responsive, I suggested we play games. These are 6th and 7th graders and they have a lot of energy. They come to religious school directly from school so they’ve also been behaving all day. Fortunately we have the whole carpeted social hall for our class. We played (yes, I got down on the floor, thank you work outs) duck, duck, goose. Statue. And zap, the rules of which I never understood. At 6 they weren’t ready to leave.

My point in recounting this is to say why I continue to do these things. They bring such joy, if I can manage my anxiety. Which I usually can. With a little help from Zoloft, years of analysis, and a generally positive disposition. It’s a balance, taking responsibility and living a retired life. It can, and does, get out of whack like it has for me recently. When other matters keep up a drumbeat of stress and vigilance, the teeter totter can suddenly take a dive.

A good class, for example, reminds me why I put myself out there. Sheer joy.

 

The Four Elements

Winter                                                                                        Waxing Moon

jan-van-kessel-the-elder-allegory-of-air

jan-van-kessel-the-elder-allegory-of-air

Every once in a while up here on Shadow Mountain, winds. Today, and they haven’t gotten fully underway yet, I’ve already heard gusts that my anemometer clocks at 40 mph. I imagine we’ll see 60 later. Glad it’s not Wednesday, trash day, when we have to put our trash and recycling containers out near the road. I chased a run away trash container last year. It got past the neighbors before I caught up with it.

Reminds me of the meditation Deborah did. She focused on this coming week’s parsha, but she utilized breathing techniques learned from her studies in Sufism. There are four breaths. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through nose. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the mouth. Each breath corresponds to one of the four ancient elements: earth, water, fire, and air.

(This is Maxwell Falls, about a mile and a half from our house)

Up here in the Rockies the four elements are ever present. The mountain itself. The mountain streams. The ever present threat of wildfire. The wind. In the mountains it’s not difficult to follow the logic that these elements were responsible for everything we see.

Fire mitigation, first tree cut

Fire mitigation, first tree cut

Did the third Jewish Studies Sampler Sundays yesterday. Minor technical difficulties, but a great discussion focused on the Coursera offering, Israel State and Society. I felt reluctant to go in. Sparse attendance. Technical problems. Not sure the model worked. Coming home though I felt again the warmth of CBE, felt good to be supporting the synagogue. It was the folks who showed up: Marilyn, Irv, Stan, Deborah. Engaged, bright, quick.

Zoom yesterday with Tom, Bill, Mark, Paul. It’s good to be able to talk back and forth, to see each other. The miles become irrelevant. So much of interest going on, very nourishing to follow how friends confront challenges, respond to opportunities.

I’ve allowed myself to focus on Kate, on our domestic matters since September 28th, date of her bleed. That has, at times moved me away from writing and exercise, two core activities for me. Back to the exercising, going to push it a bit by adding back in cardio on the non-resistance days. Want to get to writing the new novel, but it’s still gestating. I don’t have a foothold yet on where to begin. That will emerge. Painting and astrology, still pretty new in my world, have allowed me to have time off, to wander down new ancientrails, see the sites.

 

 

Seeking the myth beyond reason

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

ta phrom

ta phrom

A year theme. I mentioned buddy Paul Strickland’s choice: Bumping into Wonder. A few resolute type sentences* laid out some trails I want to follow in the new year, trails I’m already on, none of them new.

If there’s a thread underlying them, I don’t see it. There is, however, a potential theme occasioned by my reading of Cosmos and Psyche. In it Richard Tarnas taught me that skepticism is a tool, not a lifestyle. He chooses to deploy this insight as he begins an apology for astrology. I’ve followed him down that rabbit hole, ending up in a Wonderland that has Chesire cats, Tweedledees and Tweedeldums, Red Queens, and a few rascally rabbits.

enchanted aliceWhat I’m seeking in Wonderland is a synthesis Tarnas contends is necessary for us now, a different sort of Great Work than Thomas Berry’s, yet related to it, I think. Berry, if you recall, said that the Great Work of our time is the creation of a sustainable human presence on earth. Not goin’ so well. Tarnas wants to take the ancient, ensouled universe that prevailed until the Enlightenment, mash it into the disenchanted universe occasioned by rationalism and the hegemony of science, and come up with a Hegelian synthesis that can move us out of the stuck place created by their tension.

Ensouled and disenchanted, the sequel. Living into the next. Curing metaphysical skepticism. Myth and reason, together at last. Seeking a new enchantment. (note: not a re-enchantment since that implies a return to the old ensouled universe.) This is hard. These two worldviews are so far apart it’s difficult to see the path forward, past them.

Not there. Hmm. Mining for ohr. That’s not bad. Ohr = the primordial light of creation now inhabiting every thing in the universe, fractionated, but wanting to be whole. Dreaming a new world. Also not bad. Seeking a new ancientrail. Well, these are a start.

Unergründlich (The Unfathomable), 1874.

Unergründlich (The Unfathomable), 1874.

Seeking a myth beyond reason. I like that. Might be it.

*Eat no processed meats. Write new novel. (primal ensouled universe/enlightenment disenchanted universe. Next?) Keep painting, learning more techniques. Back to 3 days resistance, 3 days cardio. Learn how to read birth charts. Become a better teacher. Cook Korean and salt/fat/heat/acid. Continue kabbalah and mussar. Hike.

Crullers, Empanadas, Goddesses, and Mussar

Winter                                                                                Waxing Moon

20190104_104318_001Made a big circle yesterday. Drove into Denver on 6, a six lane version of 6th Street between hwy 470 and Santa Fe. Wanted to try LeMar’s Donuts since Kate needs weight and likes donuts. It’s right at the intersection 6th and Santa Fe. I like Bismarck’s and crullers, Kate prefers original glazed. The Bismarck at LaMars was about twice the size of the usual. It was quiet there, mid-morning, after the before work rush. This picture is the counter.

Maybe 6-8 blocks further on 6th is Broadway. Turned right and headed south toward Louisiana Street. Broadway is fascinating. After it passes under I-25, just north of Mississippi, you could call it the Green Mile thanks to the number of dispensaries between there and Englewood. There are also funky bars, used bookstores, antique shops, design studios. Meiningers, the art supply store I mentioned earlier and the Wizard’s Chest, a magic and costume shop fit right in. At Louisiana sits Maria’s Empanadas.

cookingKate wanted more mushroom empanadas, corn, and spinach. Lisa Gidday, our internist, had recommended the spinach. “Your new favorite food.” I got an Argentina which has steak, onions, and red peppers.

The woman behind the counter had a very thick accent, Argentinian, I assume. Even with hearing aids accents often defeat me and with the ambient noise, we had difficulty communicating. I hope, in these situations, that I don’t come off as insensitive because I keep asking, “What?” The bill was more than I expected, but after my discomfort with our interaction, I just paid.

I have the same frustration with Vanessa. She’s a member of our mussar group at CBE who has MAS, a neurological disease that makes it very difficult for her to speak or swallow. It is, for her and me, a perfect storm. She can’t speak very well and I can’t hear very well. Third phase life.

20190104_112922As I drove further on the Green Mile, I came across Goddess Isis books. I thought it was on Colorado. I’d always wanted to stop and this was my chance. I’d accomplished my errands and had some free time.

Goddess Isis books used to be Isis books, but the turmoil with Daesh, or Isis in Iraq and Syria, occasioned the name change. Isis has books on astrology, Celtic magic, love magic, shamanism, Hinduism, chakras, a wall full of different Tarot decks, multiple statues and figures ranging from dragons to Kali to cutesy fairies. There’s also a magical apothecary with jars not of herbs or granola, but ingredients for spells.

I picked up Indian Temple Incense, a coloring book of the Tarot deck (to implant those images in my mind), and a magazine called Witches and Pagans. Wanted to see what the broader community was thinking. When asked how I was doing  by the owner, an older woman in a flower print dress with a flowing outer cover, I replied, as I often do, “I think I’ll make it.” She laughed and said, “I know I will.”

Our mussar groups sponsored a potluck last night. First time I’d been to CBE in a while since religious school shut down for the holidays. Lot of questions about Kate. “She’s improving, but had a setback the last couple of days.”

Still strange to me to be picked out as one of the mussar leaders, but I was, working with a small group to talk about the middot of responsibility. A quick example of how mussar works. When it came my turn to read, I had a long paragraph with a lot of Hebrew. I felt shy since the others all did much better than me at pronouncing it. And, I was leading.

Had a cruller after I came home. Unusual, but hey, it had been a long day.