We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Brain Tumors, Cute Baby Videos and Climate Change

Lughnasa                                                          Waning Summer Moon

Sandy came yesterday. She’s now four weeks or so out from the last of the radiation treatments for her brain tumor. A difficult medical story with an unsatisfying partial resolution. They couldn’t remove the tumor all at once, left much of it in place after the first surgery, then nerves grew into the tumor meaning it couldn’t be removed at all. Hence, radiation to shrink it. It’s benign, stretching the meaning of that word, but it has knocked out her hearing in one ear and seems to have left her in a permanent state of slight dizziness. She’s young, late forties I imagine, so a lot of her life is ahead.

Gabe

Gabe

Gabe’s been watching cute baby videos. His words. I asked him if he might want a baby of his own someday (he’s 10). He said, “I don’t know. Maybe.” We’re going to a movie today.We can do that because Kate wisely decided to skip needleworkers today.

This book is the culmination of more than 125 years of tradition and countless “Documentation Days,” during which quilting council members record the block technique, age, batting, backing, and color of each quilt their fellow quilters trust them to preserve.

This book is the culmination of more than 125 years of tradition and countless “Documentation Days,” during which quilting council members record the block technique, age, batting, backing, and color of each quilt their fellow quilters trust them to preserve.

On her 74th birthday, this Saturday, she’s organizing food for an interesting event. The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden offers a documentation service for quilts. They have teams that go to quilt clubs (and other venues, too, I suppose). The teams collect archival data like maker, history, description and photograph the quilts. Those records become part of the ongoing collection of the museum. The Quilt museum folks are coming to the Bailey Patchworkers meeting place, the Catholic church in Bailey. It’s before Crow Hill, the steep decline that goes into Bailey proper.

Her stamina seems to be decreasing, too. I really hope the ultrasound for her gall bladder and the new upper GI look find something. She needs to be able to gain weight. Soonest.

Thunderstorm yesterday. Nice rain. Lots of noise. Wildfire fears have eased for this year. This article in my favorite publication about the West, the High Country News, explores the angst that many of us who live out here feel. “One truism about the future is that climate change will spare no place. Still, I suspect the threat of warming feels more existential in New Mexico than it does in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. Drought has gripped the Southwest for 19 years, more than half my life.” In this rapaciously dry year, a quiet question grows louder: What are we doing here? HCN, Aug. 6, 2018

fire mitigationCalifornia fire seasons, which have grown longer and longer, producing worse fires, the Mendocino Complex Fire is now the largest ever in the state’s history, keep us always aware that what’s happening there can certainly happen here. Damocles. Closer to Shadow Mountain there are, too, the 416, the Spring Creek, the Buffalo Pass fires now out, but active this year in Colorado.

I agree with Cally Carswell, the author of the article, that our experience, our Western experience, is a foretaste of what is to come for most if not all of the planet. Her article says out loud what lurks just below the surface for Westerners. When might the fire or the water shortages be too much? When might the increasing heat dry us out or burn us down?

As the Donald might say, sad.

Becoming Emo

Lughnasa                                                            Waning Summer Moon

20171202_1925591514204365009Got up with Kate at 2:45 am, went upstairs in the dark (to preserve night vision) and out on the deck attached to the house. We watched the NNE sky for about a half an hour and on the peak night of this much ballyhooed annual running of the Perseids saw 3 meteors. 3. It was a clear, beautiful night and stars dotted the sky. The Milky Way swept across its dome carrying souls of many cultures to the world beyond this one. And we were out there together. Glad the Perseids got us up. Might try again tonight.

My shift to emo continues. Still strange, but becoming more, what, usual? Ruth, Jon, and Gabe came up around 8 pm last night to drop off Gabe for the week. The start of his school year is out of synch with Jen and Jon’s. They’re back at work, but he has another week to go before school starts. Ruth’s school, though in the same Denver school district as Gabe’s, started last week. McAuliffe middle school marches to its own drummer, just like Ruth.

20171217_171626Ruth had a lot to say about school. She’s excited, loves school. And I love her. Her presence warms up my day, makes me very happy to be a grandad, to have a role in her life. She’s in honors math, mindfulness and meditation, Chinese, art, life sciences and will run cross country this year. I couldn’t be more excited about her life if she was my own child.

20171224_091544Jon’s still working out the sequelae from the divorce. He spent, he said, the last couple of years trying to manage the stress. He’s gotten out of shape, hasn’t handled his diabetes as well as he normally does. His house is a work in process and will be, I suspect, for a couple of years, maybe more. Adapting to being a single parent, in a divorce situation where he can only communicate with Jen, his ex, by email is difficult, too. No wonder the U of happiness troughs out in the 40’s and 50’s. Better times ahead.

Gabe’s on a new drug for his hemophilia now. It only requires a weekly subcutaneous injection and keeps his factor level steady with no canyons and peaks. This is brand new medication. He’s only on it because he can no longer have a port. He’s working on a fifth grade project, at his initiation, on racism. Fifth grade culminates in a project and his has a focus on race from the perspective of African-Americans. I’m going to help him with some research.

20171228_190150

This is love. Family is an exercise in life cycles, with various family members beginning or ending cycles that others have been through. The interactions between and among the cycles makes family life dynamic and a reservoir of  wisdom and hope. Struggles and joys, achievements and failures, emerge and subside. During each one we are there for each other. As it has been across human culture for thousands of years.

 

 

 

 

The next few months

Lughnasa                                                                        Monsoon Moon

20180315_080213Now that I’m back from Minnesota and September 5th is less than a month away it’s time to focus on lesson plans. Again. Still. Alan Rubin sent me a template with examples of his lesson plans and I’ve finished three in an idiosyncratic format which I will, today, transfer to the CBE lesson plan model. Still several more to create and then weave together with the B’nai Mitzvah curriculum. 22 sessions altogether, though not all will require lesson plans. This work is a priority until Alan and I feel comfortable with what we have.

On October 7th I will start the first of 8 First Sunday Jewish Studies Samplers. On Wednesday night when we went in for the MVP group we saw the new that day bookshelves and fire place that will frame a large screen, internet connected TV. With chairs and couches arrayed around it, this will be a spot in the synagogue for group use of online courses, lectures from companies like the Teaching Company, webinars or films. I’ll get a chance to use this new space for the exact purpose for which it’s intended. Each Sunday I’ll have discussion questions ready so attendees can sample not only the lectures, but the group learning possible through their use.

2010 01 19_3454Meanwhile I’ll keep working on submissions, a hump I’ve gotten over, and writing itself. Jennie’s Dead still has a ways to go, maybe 30,000 words,  and other manuscripts, both novels and short stories that need further editing/revision.

The next project after Jennie’s Dead, a novel retelling the story of Medea, keeps pushing its way forward and I look forward to a chance to get to work on it. Maybe in 2019. Lot of reading to do before then. I want to read as many variations on her story as I can find. Part of the story is the search for the golden fleece, with Jason, her lover, and his Argonauts.

20180716_075524This constitutes the work portion of my schedule through May of 2019 and, with Medea, beyond.

Here at home I still have trees to buck, logs to split and stack, a few smaller trees to fell and another round of stump grinding to organize. There are inside projects of various sorts, too. Cooking and laundry as well. Workouts. Sumi-e. Probably a return to Latin translation, too, since I’ve not completed translating Medea’s story in Ovid.

 

 

 

 

40 years of residence, mostly Minnesota

Lughnasa                                                                                      Monsoon Moon

In between #3 and #5 there was the Peaceable Kingdom in Hubbard County, then the Mark Twain Hotel, now demolished. Following that, Lindstrom. Then back to Community Involvement Programs.

#1, housing at United Theological Seminary, New Brighton

#1, housing at United Theological Seminary, New Brighton

#2, Sims Ave. St. Paul

#2, Sims Ave. St. Paul

#3, Mauna Loa, Community Involvement Programs

#3, Mauna Loa, Community Involvement Programs

#4, Community Involvement Programs (second location)

#4, Community Involvement Programs (second location)

#5, Oak Grove Apartments (NB, #4 not pictured) top floor here

#6, Oak Grove Apartments (NB, #5 not pictured)
top floor here

#6, 41st Ave. Mpls.

#7, 41st Ave. Mpls., Joseph’s first house

#7, Sargent Ave. St. Paul, last house with Raeone

#8, Sargent Ave. St. Paul, last house with Raeone

#8, Irvine Park Condo, top floor

#9, Irvine Park Condo, top floor. St. Paul

#9, Edgcumbe Road, St. Paul. 1st house with Kate

#10, Edgcumbe Road, St. Paul. 1st house with Kate

#10, Andover. Last Minnesota house

#11, Andover. Last Minnesota house

#10, again 1994-2014

#11, again 1994-2014

#1 in Colorado, Black Mountain Drive

#1 in Colorado, Black Mountain Drive

Building a Self

Lughnasa                                                                           Monsoon Moon

The basilica, Minneapolis. From my hotel room.

The basilica, Minneapolis. From my hotel room.

Morning, Black Mountain out the loft window, cool air, dry. Home. Made supper last night. Pork cutlets, tomato, onion, cucumber salad, hash browns from left over tater tots. Put the dogs to bed. Fed and pilled the dogs a half hour ago. Took out the trash and retrieved the Denver Post from the newspaper tube. Sitting down at my desktop, ergonomic keyboard under my finger tips. Checked the calendar for the week and month ahead, plenty to do. Reinserted into mountain life. On the daily level it’s as if I never left. The stuff I do.

But. There’s now the 2018 trip to Minnesota. The one where I went to every place I ever lived in the Twin Cities metro. The one where I saw Tom, Mark, Bill. The one where Mark had his no good, terrible, very bad week. The one where I spoke at Groveland for their Covenanting Community celebration. The one where I discovered a profound grief about art, Asian art in particular. The one where I went into a funky basement room and listened to jazz. You remember. That one.

JazzCentral, Minneapolis

JazzCentral, Minneapolis

This slow accreting of memories is the essence of building a self. The same 4-year old boy who flinched when the dragon in the apartment building on Lincoln called for more coal has been collecting these moments for over 67 years. Throughout, of course, the strange fact of never leaving the present, never able to go back to any of those moments, yet holding them in reserve, as clues available right now about living.

Our Self is the internal agglomeration of that particular, that ultimately particular, set of memories, but not as static moments. No, they are the data we use to respond, to grow, to cry, to laugh, to plan, to hope, to learn what it means not only to be human, but to be the unique human that we are.

Have to go create a new breakfast memory. Gertie says so.

 

 

People, places, art

Lughnasa                                                  Monsoon Moon

Heading west, back home. In just a few minutes. Had my last breakfast in the club lounge overlooking downtown Minneapolis. Saved some real cash with the lounge breakfasts and appetizers in the evening. Food was good, but repetitive.

It’s been a trip big in matters of the heart: friends, good friends, lifelong friends. Woollies, docents, Groveland all. And I got to spend time with all of them.

The round the Cities venture to photograph all my former homes here was equally a matter of the heart, but this time in relation to place and the memories imbedded in specific locations. Playing catch with Joseph in Irvine Park. The brief and ugly time Raeone and I spent in the house on Sargent. The basement apartment where I got robbed in 1972. The statue of Ole Bull which marks a story about how to not get what you want. (story later)

Finally, my visit to the MIA, the Walker and Jazz Central woke up the aesthete. It’s easy for him to go to sleep if he’s not fed. The world is coarser and less meaningful without good and great art. My grief in the Asian collection at the MIA was the biggest surprise of the trip so far. It has something to do with the way Asian artists express their aesthetic visions.

Hoaxer, the jazz band from Friday night, reinforced my longing for more art in my life. Theater, jazz, chamber music, painting and sculpture, poetry, literature, all feed the soul in a way other things cannot. They are, I suppose, another part of a tactile spirituality, perhaps even as central a component of it as hands in the soil, as forest bathing, shinrin yoku.

People, places, art. Here, where I used to be. Substantial, nourishing. Worth the time and the money.

Home(s)

Summer                                                                      Monsoon Moon

monsoon clouds in Aurora

monsoon clouds in Aurora

The last day of summer. Lughnasa, which starts tomorrow on August 1st, marks the beginning of the harvest season. Though the growing season is not at all over, gathering in has begun and will only increase as we move through Mabon, the second harvest season and then end the harvest on Samain. Samain means end of summer and that name holds the history of the ancient Celtic calendar which had only two seasons, Beltane (the growing season) and Samain (the fallow season).

In the mountains we do not anticipate the beginning of the harvest season so much as we mark the beginning of the monsoon season. The monsoon pumps moisture from the Gulf of Baja and the Gulf of Mexico northwards until it cools and falls over the Rockies. This marks the end of the high fire season.

20180616_133209Taking off today with age nipping. The incident yesterday (see post below) means I have to pay attention to myself in new ways. A bit disconcerting. Not to mention that I occasionally leave the refrigerator door open. A common thread here, oddly, is hearing. The refrigerator has a come back and shut my door melody it plays when the door is left open. Trouble is, I can’t hear it unless I’m right by the door. The truck’s engine is obviously on when I step out with it running, but the call back that its noise would generate for others is only background for me. So a combination of distraction and hearing loss. Time to adapt. Again.

20150911_174834If I go to Indiana, I go home. Home in this case is the place of my childhood, a place, with Heidegger, into which I was thrown without choice by decisions my parents made. Indiana home, the banks of the Wabash, the sycamores, Harrison Street, mom and dad’s graves, the years of growing up, basketball, the Indianapolis 500 and lots of hate has a sort of giveness to it that makes it seem inevitable. Of course I grew up on Monroe Street, called down bats with stones thrown in the air, cheered for the Tigers, worked for the Alexandria Times-Tribune, P.N. Hirsch and Johns-Manville.

Gertie, Vega, Rigel in Andover

Gertie, Rigel, Kona in Andover

If I go to Minnesota, I go home. Home in this case is the place of my adulthood, the second phase of life focused on family and career. Minnesota was a choice and has none of the inevitability of my Hoosier life. I could have chosen differently. I tried New York City for example. I might have gone to graduate school at either Brandeis or Rice, both places where I got accepted in Anthropology graduate programs. I could have headed overseas as did Mary and Mark.

Instead, I chose seminary in New Brighton and continued to choose Minnesota in decision after decision. Now the land of sky blue waters, the western shores of Lake Superior, the northwoods and the timber wolf and the moose, the Twin Cities, two marriages, the adoption of Joseph, years of political work, immersion in its cultural life mean home.

When I stay for 5 nights at the Millennium Hotel on the edge of Loring Park, I’ll be in the midst of my own history, a neighborhood where I chose to live, where I participated in its politics. Within walking distance will be the Walker Museum of Modern Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts two institutions that shaped my aesthetic. Close by, too, is the Minnesota Church Center where I once had an office as an executive of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.

The Woolly Mammoths, the docent class of 2005 at the MIA, and various political cronies, mostly in the Sierra Club during my last years, the members of Groveland UU are the web of relations that make Minnesota home.

Mountain Home

Mountain Home

When I leave Minnesota, though, and head west again, it will be my used-to-be home once more. I’ll be heading home to the Rocky Mountains, to the land of mountain Jews, lodgepole pine and golden aspen, of black bears and mountain lions, mule deer and elk. Ruth, Gabe, Jon, Kate, the dogs. They’re all far away from Minnesota, in my third phase home.

This is another place of choice, a home determined by decisions that Kate and I made.  We will have been here four years on the Winter Solstice. We will have owned our home here for four years this Samain.

I have three homes: Indiana, Minnesota and Colorado. Each from a different era of my life, a different phase, each shaping me and, being shaped by me, in diverse ways.

Today I’m leaving for home and when I head out on the return trip I’ll be leaving for home.

 

 

Different sort of cougars up here from the ‘burbs

Summer                                                            New (Super) Moon

Guy near us posted this photo from last night. Reminder. Wild, wild life here.

mountain lion july 12 2018

Life is a cabaret, old friend

Summer                                                                     New (Super) Moon

supermoon = closest new moon to Earth. See the tides go up. Bay of Fundy, watch out.

20180608_181820Skype yesterday with RJ Devick of Bond and Devick, our financial planners. We meet with him once a year to go over our portfolio, look at upcoming needs, see if we need to make any adjustments to the draw from our IRA. This session in particular may have changed our lives a bit. We’ll see. Maybe some more money available for travel or work around the house. That would be nice, put a bit of a skip in both our steps yesterday.

Mussar was a profound conversation about the nature of equanimity, turning into a discussion of the nature of chaos and how we can keep ourselves calm in the face of disorder.

Last night I went to bed about a half an hour before my usual time and got up early, 5 am. Still a little asleep. It’s 49 up here on Shadow Mountain, delightful.

A Lunar Month of Significance

Summer                                                                     Woolly Mammoth Moon

Rustic Ranch, Bailey, breakfast on the Durango Trip. Sweet cream pancakes.

Rustic Ranch, Bailey, breakfast on the Durango Trip. Sweet cream pancakes.

As the Woolly Mammoth Moon phases away toward a new moon, its month, the same lunar month we always have, yet also a different lunar month from any we’ve ever had, all spiraling through space as we follow the sun while orbiting it, I just wanna say thanks for what happened under its gentle influence.

It rose as a new moon, invisible but watching us, on June 13th, the day Mark, Paul, Tom and I headed out to Durango and the 416 fire. It was a trip both across southwestern Colorado and back into 30 years of friendship. Not to mention back to the days of the Pueblo dwellers of Mesa Verde. It was, in a sense, a way to say to each other that, yes, these friendships are for a lifetime. That this lifetime, whatever it may mean individually includes each other–and Bill. When you think about it, affirming the power of our past and honoring the reality of our future, is pretty damned cool.

Ode lays out the trip

Ode lays out the trip

It was also on this same trip that I read the essays about ground projects by Bernard Williams and about setting a rejection goal. The first one affirmed my existential sense that life gets meaning from our intentions and our labor to fulfill them; the second has transformed my writing life. A big, huge, amazing, wonderful thing.

Also under the Woolly Mammoth Moon, Alan Rubin and I began digging in to developing a curriculum for 6th and 7th graders in the Religious School at CBE. This work has affirmed the depth of my immersion into the Jewish world of CBE and reconstructionist thought. It also underscores my continuing fascination, see posts below, with the supernatural, or at least the fruits of humanity’s speculation about the supernatural.

20180415_155755

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, ballet at CBE

Also under the WMM, I’ve been putting together the Jewish Studies Sunday Sampler series for the 2018/2019 adult education year. This will feature both courses from the Great Courses company and courses from the MOOC aggregator, Coursera plus the odd film or two.

I also met Harv Teitelbaum. He’s the Sierra Club’s lead for their anti-fracking initiative, a big deal here in Colorado. I believe he and I share a similar attitude toward our current political reality and a similar focus on local races while maintaining an emphasis on the Great Work.

My flaxen haired Nordic goddess

My flaxen haired Nordic goddess

It’s been a big, big month for me and I want to say out loud how grateful I am to all of you who’ve made it possible. Yes, Kate, especially you. It’s been a very difficult month for you nausea wise, I know, but you picked up a board membership at CBE and guided the food committee for the Patchworkers. All the time you’ve been supportive, though understandably surprised, at my new commitment to finally, finally, finally submitting my work. You’re the gyroscope in all this, keeping us stable and focused. Thanks, Kate.

August 2018
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