We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

In A Techno-Desert, Thirsty for Human Interaction

Fall                                                                             Harvest Moon

5:20 am on Shadow Mountain. 43 degrees. 12% humidity. Pressure 22.60. No wind. Crescent moon. All the same without knowing these data points, I know. Still. I like to know them anyhow.

naisbittThis week Thursday I get to see Joe and SeoAh. I’m excited just to see them, to have some high touch in this high tech age. Remember Alvin Toffler? A futurist, he posited that the more complex and sophisticated our technology becomes, the more necessary direct human interaction. (Toffler preceded Naisbitt by at least two years with this idea, but Naisbitt made it a corporate buzz phrase. I find his notion of balance between our physical and spiritual reality an interesting idea.)

True. We exist, at least many of us, especially those younger than a certain age, in a cloud (pun intended) of virtual data. This blog, for example. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Email. Text messages. Twitter. I see, regularly, information and pictures about high school friends, old college friends, friends in Minnesota, family. I don’t use Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, not enough time in a day, but I’m on Facebook at least daily. I send and receive many e-mails, text messages. All this keeps me up to date, to some extent, on people I care about, a gratifying level of connection available, in yesteryear, only to voluminous letter writers.

1954-09 Galaxy Magazine by Ed EmshwillerBut the connection is, of course, partly, maybe mostly, illusory. We get only snippets, usually disconnected snippets. No hugs. No careful listening. No smiles. No touch on the hand during a conversation. No walks. No meals. The further out from our fleshly world, the less real information about another we receive because the context for what we know is very limited.

I don’t happen to see this as bad. I’m grateful for the chance to learn about even parts of the lives of people who once belonged to my fleshly world. But it does create a longing for in person moments, to embrace Joseph and SeoAh, for example. Or, to attend a 55th high school reunion, or show up at a Woolly Retreat in November,which I will not be able to do this year.

High Tech High TouchAs we age and travel becomes more difficult, I imagine this will become an even more poignant issue, extending even into our fleshly world. There’s promise, yes, in telemedicine, for example. We already meet with our financial planner over Skype. How many of our now daily or weekly interactions will become virtual? The key issue here, the one I think Toffler alluded to, though he may not have named it outright, is isolation.

We are on the map of the future where a cartographer might write in florid typescript, “Here there be dragons.” We just don’t know what the combination of high tech and increasingly low touch world might mean. Isolation is deadly, killing the spirit and ravaging the soul. Will we end up in a technological desert, thirsty for real human interaction, seeing it in the shimmering illusions of social media, but not being able to reach it? If so, what can we do about it?


Painted Ladies on Shadow Mountain

Lughnasa                                                                     Harvest (new) Moon

Belle-dame_(Vanessa_cardui)_-_Echinacea_purpurea_-_Havré_(3)Under the category of awe. In passing I noted a reference to butterflies being around in some numbers. One commenter on pinecam.com referred to them as painted ladies migrating.

This might have passed in and out of my attention, but I noticed a butterfly on Black Mountain Drive. Curious, I walked up the driveway to the road.

Sure enough, spread out sort of like the cross country runners in Ruth’s meet last night, there were butterflies going toward Evergreen, all of the ones I saw using the open space created by the road as a flight corridor.

I watched for a bit and they kept coming, isolated individuals, groups of two or three, sometimes more, flapping their apparently fragile wings, moving, just in my observation, great distances for their body size.

In Europe they migrate from Africa to Britain, as far as 9,000 miles. In our case they’re headed for New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico, just like the snowbirds who leave temperate climes for those warmer stretches of mother earth during the winter.

That such tiny creatures can travel so far, flying the whole way, then turn around and do it again, made me pause for a moment of awe. In retrospect it would have been appropriate to have crowds along Black Mountain Drive, cheering, applauding, “you can do it!”, “all the way to Mexico.”, maybe little sugar stands set out.

Those were the painted ladies on Shadow Mountain.

The Black Sun

Lughnasa                                                                               Kate’s Moon

PutrefactioA week from today we’ll be on the road in a rented R.V., Ruth and Gabe on board, headed to Driggs, Idaho. It will be Kate’s 73rd birthday.  I wrote a post on Ancientrailsgreatwheel.com about dark ecology and the ecocide. It occurred to me just now that the total eclipse might be the perfect metaphor for it.

As the extinction event occasioned by our rapidly changing climate, both already well underway, slides over the face of our inner sun and blots it out, we will not enter total darkness, but the corona of that black sun will flare in our consciousness, the heavens filled with the stars and galaxies of our inner universe will pop into view. We will have a chance then to consider the majesty of all of which we are a part, often hidden. We will see the world without us and know that it can and will be beautiful, more than we can imagine.

alchemyPerhaps this eclipse on August 21st is an opportunity for us all to merge the outer with the inner, to experience the same fear our long ago ancestors did when they imagined the world might die, the sun might never reappear. It may be a chance to integrate this slow motion catastrophe through which we are living, in which we are implicated, and consider it in a new way.

I’m going to try for that experience. Maybe you will, too.




Turtles All the Way Down

Midsommar                                                                   Most Heat Moon


It’s a wonderful morning. Blue sky with high wispy clouds over Black Mountain, lots of sunshine. Solar panels soaking up energy direct from the source. Temperatures have cooled a bit.

The sun, risen again after our mountains spun away from it last evening, shines. But, upon what does it shine? Read this surprising conclusion:

“Many (flat earthers) subscribe to the “ice wall theory,” or the belief that the world is circumscribed by giant ice barriers, like the walls of a bowl, that then extend infinitely along a flat plane. Sargent envisions Earth as “a giant circular disc covered by a dome.” He likens the planet to a snow globe, similar to the one depicted in “The Truman Show,” a fictitious 1998 existential drama about an insurance salesman unknowingly living in an artificially constructed dome.”

flat earthTurns out that among other distinctions Colorado has a central spot in the Flat Earth movement:

“The Centennial State has been the cradle of the American flat earth renaissance since birth. The first Flat Earth International Conference, which will be in Raleigh, N.C., in November, features a number of Colorado-based Flat Earthers, including Sargent, Knodel and Matthew Procella, or ODD Reality, a Denver-based rapper and YouTuber with 75,000 subscribers and nearly 7 million video views.”  These Coloradans Say The Earth Is Flat.

Now if you’re under the continuing delusion that the earth is a globe, here are Youtube channels that will correct your misguided perspective, Jeranism and Globebusters. (Get it?)



Baphomet Among the Hay Rides of Belle Plaine

Beltane                                                                      Rushing Waters Moon

On occasion I would drive on Mn. Hwy. 169, not often, but once in awhile. What I remember most about this exurban community to the south of the Twin Cities is Emma Krumbee’s Restaurant. It’s a country style dining experience cohabiting with an apple orchard, hayrides and lots of cute candles, apple related gifts and smiling waitresses. It always reminded me of Morristown, Indiana where my mother was raised. Downhome, rural comfort food.

Emma Krumbee’s is in Belle Plaine, not a place I expected to see in the New York Times and, in particular, not a place I expected to okay a Satanic Temple Veteran’s Memorial. Read some material* about if from the Satanic Temple’s website.

This is a photograph of the proposed memorial from the same website.


I like it. It’s spare, a bit ominous, but so is war.

I’m not sure what to make of the Satanic Temple itself. It looks a bit tongue in cheek with its Shop Satan webstore. Here are a couple of items from their webpage.





*”The path was paved for this historic event when Belle Plaine displayed a distinctly Christian veterans’ memorial in their ‘remembrance park.’ In response to claims that Belle Plaine was preferencing one religion over others, the 2-foot steel cross was removed. Some residents protested the removal and urged the City to find a legal means to bring back the statue. The City responded by opening the park as a “limited public forum” where anyone, including Satanists, are welcome to donate monuments of their own.”


“The Belle Plaine city council was professional at all times. They adopted a clear set of guidelines which they adhered to. There was no push-back,” Greaves explained, “unlike some other localities where public office holders have wasted public funds in losing lawsuits, trying to gain unconstitutional exclusive privilege for their own prefered religious viewpoint. Belle Plaine recognized the legitimacy of our request and followed the law as it applies to public forums.”


“The Satanic veterans’ monument, a black steel cube adorned on each side with a golden inverted pentagram and adorned at the top with an empty soldier’s helmet, is expected to be installed on park grounds within the next couple of months.”

Semiotics. Up Close and Personal.

Spring                                                                              Passover Moon

Female Golden Stag Beetle

Female Golden Stag Beetle

In a long ago TV program, the name of which I can’t remember, a character said of his Porsche, “It’s my carapace.”  Yes. The vehicle we choose is a statement about us, carmakers learned this from the carriage makers. Kate and I drive a Rav4. It’s functional, unexciting, and a mostly serviceable way of moving from point A to point B. We bought it in a hurry when our Tundra had a fatal seizure not long after I’d given the Celica to charity.

But we’ve added a bit to it. First, there’s that damage to the front end, unrepaired. Long unrepaired now, maybe 2 years. That’s a statement. We also have two stickers on the back: Our House Runs On Clean Energy and Fin Del Mundo: Ushuaia. During the presidential campaign, we also had a Bernie Sanders sign. There is a small sticker on the side window for the planetarium in Boulder. Gertie and Rigel ride with us from time to time. Another statement.

fishI mention the Rav4 and the Porsche first because these thoughts often occur to me while I’m driving. Vanity license plates. Fancy wheels. Political bumper stickers. Coexist. Rainbow pride. If you’re going to ride my ass, at least pull my hair. Keep honking I’m reloading. Flagpoles on the back of the pickup: the red white and blue on one side, the yellow, Live Free or Die flag on the other. Gun racks. Lowriders. Bentleys and Priuses. The occasional Maserati or Ferrari. Maybe you’re on a motorcycle wearing colors. Maybe you’re pulling a boat, or a camper, or a horse trailer.

As a culture we have chosen our vehicles as a prominent way to signal to others who we are, or who we would like to be.  I read an article that said the political leanings of a particular area could be sussed out by the number of pickup trucks on the road, the more pickups the redder the politics. I’m sure you could find a similar metric by counting Cadillacs or Hummers or expensive sports cars.

I used to have a ponytail and I’ve had a beard almost all of my adult life. Look at a woman’s nails, at earrings, necklaces, bracelets. All semiotics.

evolvedAt home. Even the dogs with whom we live. Semiotics. Furniture. Art. Books. Rugs and window treatments. Semiotics. Both to others, but also, and often more importantly, to ourselves. Reminders of who we are. Or aspirational signals about who we want to become. Or, false flags, representing how we wish others to see us. The solar panels on our roof. The well maintained exterior of our home. Even the stumps of the trees cut down for fire mitigation. All messages to the world.

We are opaque. Who we are, what we mean in the world, is not evident from our bodies. We want to know, need to know, what others are like, but we’re very poor judges. That’s why stereotyping exists. It attempts to add semiotics to skin color or body shape. Because we want some advance clue as to the nature of the other. Are they are a threat? Are they a potential mate? Might we agree with them on something important? Could they be trusted?

grateful deadWe all know this, at least at a subconscious level, so we offer clues. Those Grateful Dead Dancing Bears. The menorah lit in the window. The stylized fish. The stylized fish with legs and Darwin in the middle. A Bronco’s sticker. A Viking’s sticker. A lacrosse stick. Somehow we feel these things reveal a portion of who we are. Make us less opaque, perhaps a bit more transparent.

As a long ago student of anthropology, these kind of things fascinate me. I offer no conclusions, other than what they reveal about our essential opacity and our desire to be known in spite of it. The wide range of these semiotics are perhaps more necessary in a diverse nation with no tribal traditions, no single ethnic heritage, no long history as, say, Franks or Germans or Spaniards.


Now Entering Trumpland.

Winter                                                                             Cold Moon

chamber-of-horrorsWe have entered a long tunnel, dark at its core, though there may be a faint light faraway. This tunnel is the first two years of a Trumpist America. Perhaps it has a sign, somewhere near the entrance: Chamber of Horrors, Fun House, or Hall of Mirrors. It is a Disneyland populated not with Mickey Mouse or Goofy, but the spectre of starvation, a ghoul of no medical care, a banshee of Twitter posts. No one knows what to expect on this first ride through the politics with no name, the policies with no shame.

Each time I read the paper my breath catches, a silent groan followed by a not so silent oath. “God, can you believe this?” This is a theme park in which the theme is noblesse with no oblige. It is a neo-Gilded age fantasy realm in which bankers regulate bankers, climate change deniers run the EPA, a racist is Attorney General, an enemy of public schools runs the Department of Education and generals run the Department of Defense. Were this a parody, it could not have been limned with more precision.

One temptation for third phasers is to hunker down, watch our nest eggs. Keep out of the way. As energy, that most valuable of health resources, wanes, it would be easy to say I have no leverage here, no power in a Trump dominated political realm, so why bother?

Children of the Trump

Children of the Trump

That would be a mistake. We third phasers are the group with political experience, who know how to fight asymmetric battles with powerful establishments. It was our generation’s birthright to take up that fight in the 1960’s. We may not lead, but we must support. Why? Because if not us, who? An advantage, a strong advantage we have, is most of us no longer have careers to safeguard, families to raise. We can take risks, challenge politicians with less personally at stake. That’s a powerful tool in this fight.

Our ride through this Chamber of Horrors is no longer optional. That ended on November 8th. Our boats have docked and in just nine days we have to get in and brave the darkness. I hope the person next to you is someone you love.



Lughnasa                                                                     Elk Rut Moon

What you see

place of business

place of business

Reverend Susan GreerReverend Rita Holt

OMGThe Western

A Likely Story

Summer                                                                         Recovery Moon

During the swirl of visits to various doctor’s offices before surgery I was not at my sharpest or most attentive. I lost my ART hat, the blue hat with the red ART. It was from a contemporary exhibit at the MIA and one of my favorites. Tracked it down at Eigner’s Littleton office. I visited him in Lonetree, Littleton and Englewood, so it wasn’t a snap to figure it out. Today I retrieved it.

After that I visited the shiny blue box of IKEA in Centennial. This was for yet another BILLY bookshelf in the birch veneer. While there I needed help and got it from a 57 year old guy who had an incredible story. Just how incredible I’m not sure since I’ve not been able to confirm it, but this is what he told me.

“I was a CEO, got cancer and lost my job. Ended up $1.2 million dollars in debt. Lost my house and lived out of my car for a year.”

“What company?”

“Pittney-Bowes. I’ve tried to get other jobs but the CEO jobs I’ve applied for turned me down because of my illness history and the middle management job interviews end at over-qualified. So now I work 100 hours a week, 40 here at IKEA and 60 at Broadway Pizza which is owned by a friend of mine.”

This guy was completely believable to me with the exception of his lack of bitterness. I mentioned that and he said, “What are you gonna do? You have to take life as it comes.”

When I got home and told Kate about this encounter, she asked why the CEO didn’t have good health coverage. Good question. The more I think about it I imagine this guy was like a few of the psychopaths I’ve met, able to tell a lie so convincingly that you become part of it.

I liked him, felt sorry for him and admired him. Strange event.

No comment

Summer                                                                     Most Heat Moon

file under it must have seem liked a good idea at the time:

SEATTLE — A man who used a can of spray paint and a lighter as a makeshift blowtorch to kill a spider in his laundry room started a blaze that caused $60,000 worth of damage, Seattle fire officials said Wednesday.

November 2017
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