We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Rivers and Mountains, Bees and Kate

Spring                                                            Mountain Moon

fan kuan, travelers among mountains and streams

Fan Kuan (960-1030, a.c.e.), travelers among mountains and streams, Song Dynasty

So my mind is filling with rocks, pines, mountain streams, magpies and mountain lions; a sign that the mountain theme has begun to take hold. I plan to spend this spring and summer sketching and photographing rock formations, mountains, summits, animals, water, trees and other plants, then interpreting them with sumi-e. I’m continuing to read the shan-shui (mountains and rivers) poets, moving back into the world of Chinese classical painting.

Qabbalah study continues. We’re investigating time and the qabbalists have their own unique approach to it. Here’s an example. To experience what I would call sacred time-they use the phrase eternal time-qabbalists want us to pay closer attention to what I would call ordinary time. This is far different from trying to collapse the hold of ordinary time through meditation or koans or mystical experience. The easiest example is the week. In the qabbalist’s world we count six ordinary days, then we experience shabbat. Shabbat is a time out of time, a moment in the week when the observer exits the world as usually experienced and enters sacred time. But. It’s observable as sacred time because of its contrast to the six days that precede it and the six that follow it. Thus we can find sacred time through attention to measured/ordinary time.

honey supers after the harvest, 2013

honey supers after the harvest, 2013

Getting ready to hive bees for Beth Evergreen on Saturday morning. Had to dig around in all the bee stuff we brought from Andover since Rich Levine, local bee enthusiast, needed a hive box and twenty frames plus accessories. I had enough. Getting out the hive tool, scraping propolis off the frames, moving supers put me right back into beekeeper mode. Still don’t think I’m willing to do it here, too much hassle with the need for a bear proof enclosure which means strong electric fencing. I will enjoy helping others, though.

Singapore, 2016

Singapore, 2016

Kate’s gained almost five pounds! This after a long period of weight loss. I called her my incredible shrinking wife. Our consult with Betsy, the nutritionist for New West Physicians, was a turning point.

Kate’s building momentum. The Sjogren’s conference left her feeling less alone with this nasty disease since there were hundreds in attendance from all across the U.S. who not only have it, but have similar experiences to hers. She also had her second session of physical therapy this morning and continues to be excited and enthusiastic about it.

Makes me smile.

 

 

Homey

Spring                                                                        Mountain Moon

the political side

the political side

Played domestic goddess yesterday. Wash dishes. Make taco meat. Three loads of laundry. Feed dogs twice. Make supper. Pick up. Take out the trash this morning. The duties of an ordinary housewife of the 1950’s, coupled with raising the kids, would have been physically and mentally exhausting. No wonder they wanted to go to work. It’s easier.

Whole process getting simpler, better understood, flowing with the tao of the moment which is nurture and be nurtured.

We went to see Jackie yesterday at Aspen Roots. Better coiffed now. I’m enjoying the well groomed look. It’s all persona. Cut the hair. Let it grow. Trim the beard. Let it flow. Just different. Since this look is less counter cultural, I feel it less. It’s a way of hiding in plain sight.

Cleaned up

Cleaned up

Decided a few days ago that I’d stick, for now, to my resistance workouts and some modest cardio before and after them. That’s three days a week, leaving me four days to do house work or take care of other matters. It’s better because I’m not feeling short changed on those days I usually do my longer and high intensity cardio. I’m good at getting back to the routine after I’ve changed it, so it’s only a matter of time.

Today is a workout day but before that I’m going to fold laundry and wash my bee suit. Hiving some bees on Saturday morning for Beth Evergreen and I want to look spiffy. Part of the well-coiffed thing, I guess. Can’t find my hive tool or my full body bee suit. Gotta be here somewhere, but I can’t find them.

Kabbalah tonight. More on time.

housework_thumbWhich brings me back to housework. Housework, in its earthy, basic realm, is a microcosm of the Great Wheel. It’s a cycle that never finishes, food must be bought and cooked, trash discarded, dishes cleaned. Then again and again and again. Likewise clothing gets soiled and must be washed, folded, put away. Toilets and counters and floors and windows get dirty, then cleaned, then dirty, then cleaned. It’s a great wheel because it relates to the true life needs of us all and is, as a result, repetitive, but powerful.

 

A Day in the Life

Spring                                                                         Mountain Moon

In hopeful news for us a big spring snowstorm is on the way, perhaps 16-24 inches over Friday and Saturday. I know, I know, those of you reading this closer to the Atlantic and sea level can only groan at the thought of yet more snow and cold, but we’ve had a very dry winter. Let it come.

Next Wednesday morning, April 25th, will be a red letter day here on Shadow Mountain. Not a red flag day, but a red letter day. That will be when Best Buy delivers and installs our new dishwasher and takes away forever the Samsung lemon. Like the upcoming winter storm it cannot happen soon enough.

Kate’s feeling much better. A combination of things. Some weight gain, the beginning of physical therapy, returning to her diclofenac for arthritis pain, better nausea management. I told her last night that it was as if she was poking her head above the clouds for the first time in well over a year. A long siege. May the healing continue.

A quiet day today, get some laundry done, some cooking, hair and beard trim by Jackie, get ready for Ted of All Trades second visit. Call an electrician to wire a fixture in the bedroom for a ceiling fan. Around the house stuff.

 

Memories

Spring                                                                     New Shoulder Moon

The new shoulder continues its impact on our lives.

20160410_122224SeoAh’s here and cooking suppers, cleaning, chatting. We had a long conversation about dogs yesterday while watching a youtube video in Korean. It’s one of a series made by a Korean man whose father owned a dog food factory. That is, a factory in which dogs were turned into food for humans. This made him angry and he decided to start a one man crusade to change the way Koreans treat and think about dogs. SeoAh says he’s having a large impact. He’s sort of Caesar Milan and the Animal Defense League.

Yesterday was Joe and SeoAh’s second anniversary and she spent it helping us. And says, in her heavily accented English, “It is my pleasure.” Makes this 71 year old’s heart feel full.

weightKate and I went to a nutritionist yesterday for a consultation on how to help Kate gain weight. The most salient point Betsy made was this, “Make every bite count.” Every food needs to be considered for not only nutritional value but for its caloric value, ideally, and ironically, high. Add oils to salads, to pasta. Use peanut butter powder as an additive in shakes. Eat cheese. Given Kate’s past struggles with her weight, a lifelong problem until her bariatric surgery, being encouraged to eat foods high in calories is mental whiplash which makes the whole weight gain and weight maintenance goal difficult emotionally.

Betsy also suggested, after asking if she could raise a personal question (geez, what kind of personal question does a nutritionist ask?), medical marijuana. It’s truly a new day in the neighborhood. In this case of course she was suggesting using some marijuana to enhance appetite. A good use for the munchies.

marijuanaAfter the nutrition consult, which was in Golden, I drove Kate to Bailey for the monthly meeting of the Bailey Patchworkers. Bailey is also the home of the Happy Camper so I stopped and stocked up on indica edibles, our homemade sleep enhancement. We may branch out into sativa, which brings on more of the munchies. Sativa and indica are strains of marijuana with very different characteristics. Indica makes you sleepy while sativa is a classic stoner strain, often smoked.

In the evening Jon, Ruth, and Gabe came up. SeoAh made rice cake soup, the soup I’ve mentioned that’s served at the spring festival, Korean New Year’s. She also made a sweet potato noodle dish with peppers that she says is typical when family’s gather for something important. Both were delicious. She uses her mother’s recipes.

Tteokguk.jpg2Gabe’s in much better shape physically than he was a couple of weeks ago. His earth day birthday is coming up and he wants a pocket knife. I reached in my pocket and took out a small pocket knife I’d purchased a while back. “Here you go. But. Don’t stab yourself in the leg, or the arm or the head or the ear.” Gabe laughed and said, “Or in the butt.”

Ruth’s doing well. She seems mostly level emotionally. A recent shift from Risperidone, an adult anti-psychotic, to Lexipro, an anti-anxiety medication, is underway right now. I forgot to ask her about it last night.

Memories build and sustain families. Friendships, too, of course. Last evening was one of those memories for the Olson/Buckman-Ellis family. And a sweet one.

 

You’re Fired

Spring                                                                    New Shoulder Moon

firedSamsung won’t condemn our dishwasher. But I will. It’s a very rotten appliance, not good at its job. It’s FIRED! Which means we have to buy a new one. Oh, well. At least it’s a resolution. So, sometime soon a new dishwasher will appear. We will all (Kate and me) be happy. This one never worked quite right, requiring lots of jiggering and poking.

Kate’s been doing a lot of gettin’ around. She’s out to the mailbox for the paper. More about the paper in a paragraph. She saw Lisa on Wednesday then we drove into Denver to see Ruth. Yesterday we went to Mussar for the first time since the ides of March. It was wonderful to see and be seen. Warm. Uplifting.

We’re both tired today. I wanted to get out there and buy a new dishwasher today, get this saga done; but, we’re both too weary. Tomorrow, maybe. SeoAh comes tomorrow, arriving around five at DIA. It will be great to have her here for a few days.

rocky mountain newsThe Denver Post. Not one of the nation’s great newspapers. Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountain News, which was a really good, if not great, paper succumbed in 2009. We’re left with the Post which is a rather staid, uninteresting example of the journalistic art.

Printer’s ink runs in my veins, having grown up to the rattling, clanking sound of an old Heidelberg letter press churning out copies of the the Times-Tribune in Alexandria, Indiana. I love newspapers and believe in reading local newspapers. It was natural for us to get a subscription. Kate does one or two crosswords every day and we both appreciate the local news.

denver postYet. We got a notice of a change in subscription price. The Post has gone from $30 a month to $59 a month. Nearly $700 a year for a second-rate newspaper. And, to add to that, mountain delivery is like all other services up here, sporadic and unpredictable. My instinct is to chuck it. Too expensive and poorly delivered. Even so, there’s still the local news we’d miss and Kate would definitely miss her crosswords. Not sure what to do.

And. How ’bout those Timberwolves? Led their division almost the entire season only to drop to 4th place as the playoff’s come near. Ah. Minnesota teams. Finding new ways to disappoint. Except for the 1987 and 1991 Twins. Joseph’s growing up years. Made him a baseball fan for life.

We’re Living in a Post-Dishwasher World

Spring                                                                  New Shoulder Moon

Visit to Lisa, our primary care doc. Kate’s post-op. Biggest issue is weight loss. Contributing factors: nausea, lack of exercise, Sjogren’s, especially a sore mouth sensitive to sharp food and spicy food. Good news, shoulder pain seems gone. Which was a big reason for the surgery in the first place. Lisa showed us pictures of her Izzy, a labradoodle puppy. Very cute.

After that we went to Plato’s Closet, a second hand clothing store. I’m still dressing my Colorado persona. Bought several flannel plaids, ten, I think, for less than the price of one new one. Good brands, too. I was gonna ask the help if Plato’s Closet was a play on Plato’s Cave, but decided against it since it seemed unlikely any I encountered had ever heard of Plato.

20180404_17503020180404_174842We drove on into Denver, Colfax Avenue (sort of like Lake Street in the Twin Cities). To GB Fish and Chips. Their motto is “In Cod We Trust.” This is one of Ruth’s favorite spots and yesterday was her 12th birthday. We had a nice visit with her and her phone. Gabe was there, too, out of the hospital after septicemia, but still on IV antibiotics. He looked a bit exhausted.

Earlier in the day Rick came out from 1 Stop Appliance. The A team at last. He figured out what’s wrong with it. The main computer board and a computer board for the inverter were both shorted out. Significant since they were just installed Wednesday of last week and Monday of this week.

samsung-built-in-dishwashers-dw80j7550us-64_1000

looks like an alien

Rick noticed water splashes along piping near them, then showed me corrosion both on our old main board, which he had brought, and the new ones. Problem. Since to look at a dishwasher it must be pulled out, that means it’s disconnected from the water and electricity. You can’t run it and look for leaks so it’s necessary to use secondary data.

He took pictures, muttered. Then he told me Samsung might condemn it. Sad. Now we’re condemning dishwashers. What’s next? Sofas? Toasters? Shoes? I hope they do condemn it. It’s nothing more than an expensive drying rack right now. If they do, they either buy it back from us or give us a new one. Either one is ok at this point.

Ironically, I found this article just now from the Atlantic on April 3rd:

Doing Dishes Is the Worst  This is now an empirically proven fact. Dishwashing causes more relationship distress than any other household task.

 

AAACCKKKK

Spring                                                                   New Shoulder Moon

Aaacckkkk! Dishwasher. Bad dishwasher. Bad, bad, bad dishwasher. Four visits by technicians. Various ideas. None worked. Could be Samsung will buy it back or give us a new dishwasher. Which is ok. But. It will take time. And, the dishwasher died this time about a week before Kate’s surgery. As I said before, aaacckkk. And a couple of #$%!!&*!, too.

Not At My Best

Spring                                                                   New Shoulder Moon

caregiverCare giving is tough. In just a week I’ve become a bit fragile emotionally. It’s a combination of Kate’s recovery, which focuses her, naturally, on herself, and the amount of physical labor (astonishing) and the amount of emotional labor on my part. None of this is a surprise. By that I mean things aren’t worse than I imagined, nor are they terrible.

But. I got to feeling underappreciated. And said so. I needed to say that for my own sanity, so that I wouldn’t let resentment build, but when I did say it I felt guilty immediately. How could I feel underappreciated when Kate had this recovery to deal with? Didn’t matter. It was how I felt and after I let it out, in a not very helpful way, I might add, things softened up. I was no longer carrying it and Kate had a chance to deal with what I was dealing with.

More intimacy as a result. Clumsy, yes. Poorly managed, yes. Important, yes.

I’m writing this because care giving is something we all do from time to time, and face more of in the third phase. It’s not a straight shot of empathy and compassion. It’s a muddled mess of self-congratulation, compassion, distraction, love, and sorrow.

SEP020660

I said, and meant, that I don’t mind the extra work. In fact, as I wrote earlier, it is exhilarating. Still is. I’m learning new skills, reinforcing old ones, and caring for Kate. Thing is, it’s a new, difficult role and requires learning, shuffling old priorities, picking up new ones. That kind of learning is fraught under the best circumstances, new job, new marriage, even vacation; but, well worth it.

Finding the tao of healing and caregiving is not impossible, but there are many ways it can go sideways. Trying to tap into that now.

09 11 10_Joseph_0264 (2)A very sweet part of it all. Joseph just called, wanted to know how bad it was, whether he and SeoAh should come up right now. No, it’s not that bad. Could SeoAh come up for a week? I’d come, he said, but I’m running an exercise right now. If it’s real bad, I’ll be there, help out with the daily ins and outs. Cue tears. I’d love for her to come, I said. It would be a real help.

Family. As it’s supposed to work. So the web of caring maybe is another curvature, like the one I talked about below.

Yesterday in Pictures

Spring                                                               New Shoulder Moon

20180327_145202

Looking north from Happy Camper, Mt. Evans

20180327_144601 (2)

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

apres snow, Monday

apres snow, Monday

view from loft balcony

view from loft balcony

Recovery under the New Shoulder Moon

Spring                                                                           New Shoulder Moon

recovering-please-waitKate has slept well, mostly, her first two nights home. She’s controlling her pain with tylenol and the occasional tramadol or vicodin. She had a bout of nausea yesterday; but, unfortunately, that’s not really unusual. Her weight is up, thanks, she thinks, to good intravenous hydration in the hospital. Prior to surgery she’d had trouble keeping water down. She’s on the mend.

Can’t say the same for our *%$!!** dishwasher. Not the drain pump. Maybe the sump pump? Nope. So. Computer boards. 1 of 2. We have to order them, can’t get them by Wednesday. Oh. That means, due to 1 Stop (ha) Appliances mountain schedule, Mondays and Wednesdays only, that we’ll not see a working dishwasher until April 2nd which is the date of Kate’s post-op appointment with her surgeon. Grrrr.

10002012 05 01_4261Snow. While the rest of the nation east of the Rockies has been pounded with storm after storm this land of ski resorts and mountain passes has been dry, one of the 14 driest winters in the state’s meteorological history. Last night though, maybe 9 inches of heavy, wet fire dampening snow! Welcome.

Our little hippie dog Gertie has recovered from her long, strange trip over Sunday with her usual resilience. Tail wagging and happy. Gertie is a good role model for how to handle adversity.

The view out the window here in the loft shows snow covered solar panels, flocked lodgepole pines, a white Black Mountain, and a pastel blue/white sky. Peaceful.

 

 

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