We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The Weather on Shadow Mountain

Fall                                                                       Harvest Moon

20171015_071504Jon put brackets around the pole for the Vantage pro2 weather station. Secured to the deck now with the anemometer up maybe 20 feet off the ground, I’ll attach the weather station itself to the pole this morning. It’s out there right now though and functioning, sending information back to the console.

These are the conditions at 7:20 a.m. this morning, October 15th. Temp outside, 35. Humidity outside, 15%. Barometric pressure 22.60. No wind. No rain or snow.

Next step is to set up the console so I can toggle various data points such as wind chill and dew point. That requires digging back into the manual. After that comes linking the weather station to the internet so I can both share my data and collect it in files for future reference.

tornado-risk-mapThis system is not as important on Shadow Mountain as it was in Andover because we have no orchard or a garden, but it feeds a lifelong interest in the weather, a hobby of sorts. Alexandria, Indiana, where I was raised, is in tornado alley, as is my home state of Oklahoma. The weather could get you.

A group of Twin Cities’ residents shared weather data and commentary on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune website for a couple of years. I used my weather station for very localized weather reporting. That was fun, but it got onerous. It made me realize how much work it is to forecast or even comment on the weather each day, throughout the day.

Vantage pro

Vantage pro

Here in the Rockies our weather changes from valley to valley, from altitude to altitude, mountain to mountain. Many, many microclimates. That means weather reporting and forecasting is often too broad in its sweep to accurately predict what’s going to be happening on, say, Black Mountain Drive.

The weather itself here, unlike the tornadoes of Indiana or the deep, dangerous cold of Minnesota, is not so severe, but the local effects of the weather can be devastating. When the humidity is low, winds are high, and there’s been no moisture for a while, then we get red flag warnings. Wildfire danger goes up and down with these conditions. Since winter is our humid season, it’s usually less worrisome in that regard.

It’s fun to have the console up and the weather station functioning.

 

Falling

Lughnasa                                                                     Eclipse Moon

- Nancy Drew, “Morris Louis, 1959″, (96 x 92) acrylic, flock and glitter on canvas, 2002 (This piece was created as an homage to Morris Louis, influenced by his work from 1959) Dana McClure

– Nancy Drew, “Morris Louis, 1959″, (96 x 92) acrylic, flock and glitter on canvas, 2002 (This piece was created as an homage to Morris Louis, influenced by his work from 1959) Dana McClure

The eclipse moon, still in the sky, now three weeks after blotting out the sun at midday, has become a crescent. I just looked up the moon calendar and noticed that the new moon falls on the two days prior to the fall equinox. The beginning of fall on the Great Wheel comes, this year, with the new energy of a rising and waxing moon.

Golden spears have begun to show up among the lodgepole pines on Black Mountain. Fall here announces itself with a subtle show of a single color, gold amongst green. As fall progresses, the subtlety disappears in wide swaths of yellow gold splashed across the mountains as a colorfield artist (Morris Louis, for example) might. Mountains become three dimensional canvases, temporary installations, a visual treat announcing the coming of the white season.

The angle of the sun has changed, it’s lower in the sky now, spreading its considerable energy over wider and wider areas, lowering the amount of warmth we receive over the course of a day. The trees and the birds and the bears and the elk and the mountain lions know this. The elk rut has begun and there are reports of bugling elk with large harems of twenty five cows coming in from many locations. A photograph and video collection on a local facebook group showed two bull moose with their velvet recently scraped off, clacking their wide racks against each other in a marshy area about twenty miles from here.

The Mt. Evans’ road has been closed for two weeks now, not to open again until after Memorial Day, 2018. OpenSnow, a website for skiers, announced the first snow of the season in the Cascades, noting that it should help fight the wildfires burning now in the northwest.

This turning of the Great Wheel brings with it, at least for me, renewed energy, an eagerness to engage the world fully. Heat saps me, makes me want to put on one of those funny hats that has room for two beer cans fitted to plastic hoses for constant cooling sips, sit down, and wait until, well, now.

I’m grateful for this seasonal change, though the growing season has its definite charms, too. It’s just that the temperatures important for plant growth are not so pleasing to me. And, BTW, Kate has pulled off a mountain gardening trick. She has several tomatoes ripening in our single 5 gallon plastic bucket container garden. My Demeter.

Family Matters

Lughnasa                                                                   Eclipse Moon

GwangjuJoseph. He and SeoAh were in Gwangju for a week plus during which Kim Jong Un and his hermit kingdom exploded another powerful atomic weapon and were said to have prepared an IBM test. They returned home a couple of days ago to Macon. Which is now, according to the most recent projections, directly in the path of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane when it passed by Puerto Rico. Wind speeds of 185 with gusts up to 200 mph.

Irma sept. 7Mark. Is in Bangkok on his way to work in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He wrote me yesterday that he went to Chinatown, which is where I stayed in 2004 when I visited Southeast Asia and spent over a week in Bangkok. Mark lived longest in Bangkok of all the places his traveling life has taken him. So far.

Mary. Turned 65 a week ago, but is still going strong as a professor and researcher at the national teachers university in Singapore.

Jon. This is his first week in the new house on Florence in Aurora without the kids. They moved in together a week or so ago. On Monday they went back to Jen’s for 9 days. Ruth’s first cross country meet is this afternoon, a meet which includes, she thinks, all the middle school teams in DPS, Denver Public Schools. The course is 1.8 miles of hills. Gabe thought putting together the Millennium Falcon lego set might take him “a couple of days. Unless I don’t take a break, then it might take 30 minutes. Or, maybe an hour.” No report yet on the actual time.

303Kepler has finished up his meds for the kennel cough and the barking cough (ha,ha) has subsided. Rigel’s second round of youthful predatory behavior continues as she heads to the shed every time she leaves the house and when she returns she sniffs the deck very, very carefully. Something’s down there! Gertie continues to be a rascal. (note the demonic eye) Yesterday we caught her with her front paws up on the side of a chair, her nose against the shofar. Does she know it’s the high holidays? Or, was she just happy to see it?

The Rav4 blows cool air out of its a.c., having been down to 0.09 pounds of coolant when the specs require 1.9. The detailing also left it super clean on the inside. But, we can fix that. The Challenger has returned to its stall.

We got a snowplowing agreement yesterday from Ted of All Trades. A true harbinger of Game of Thrones favorite epithet. Fire danger remains low, as we like it, thanks to cooler, wetter weather over the last month. Consistent cool weather is still some time away, unfortunately.

Now we wait to see what Hurricane Irma will do to Joe and SeoAh.

Crossing

Lughnasa                                                                      Eclipse Moon

Labor day. The Rubicon of summer for Americans. Once in the past, much like August in Europe, the vacation month, the world turns serious. Schools begin. (though here in Colorado they’ve already begun. which still seems wrong to me.) The pace of the harvest picks up as wheat and corn and soybeans mature. The Federal budget year ends in September, so bluster and shimmying rocks out from D.C. across the land.

As I wrote earlier, I get a distinct boost as fall asserts itself. It’s 46 here this morning and the gas stove in the loft kicked on. My mind, like a trained puppy, sits up and begs to be fed, wants to do tricks like write, do Latin, read. I love this transition, partly because it means the heat of summer is fading, but mostly because parts of me that I cherish come fully alive.

Eduardo and Holly invited us and our immediate neighbors: Jude, Roberta and Jim, Alexis and Troy over yesterday for a Labor Day cookout. Eduardo is an excellent cook, offering black beans, seasoned rice and carne asada from his grill. We brought deviled eggs, Jim and Roberto a spicy shrimp salad, Alexis and Troy homemade hummus. Eduardo and Holly’s house has multiple levels in the back and we ate on the lowest level, a cool breeze gradually replacing the heat of the day.

While writing this, I got an intercom call from Kate. Power’s out, can you fix it? Well… I can go out to the main, check the circuit breakers. I did. There were several breakers thrown, maybe seven altogether. So, I returned them to their on positions and voila! Nothing changed. ? So went back out and did the same thing all over again, essentially rebooting. Hey, it works on computers and modems. Nope. Doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t like electrical things that don’t make sense.

Sigh. It means I have to start the difficult process of trying to get an electrician out here. I’ve contacted Altitude Electric, hoping that the modest relationship we built during the oh, so drawn out generator installation process will encourage them to come. The mountain way means certain trades are just not reliable up here.

In other news I go to the ophthalmologist today. Hoping, in the strange way of medical care in our time, that my cataracts have worsened to the point that Medicare will pay for their replacement. Improving my vision through cataract removal is, of course, desirable, but mostly I want to see if they can permanently improve my reading correction. I read a lot, in lots of different places and cheaters don’t work since I have an astigmatism. That means I often have to rely on arms out, head back mode.

Out for now, from Shadow Mountain.

Elemental

Lughnasa                                                          Eclipse Moon

Indian Paint Brush

Indian Paint Brush

That was the idea I was reaching for in the post below about the West. Wildfire. Precious Water. Mountains and high plains. Blue sky and fancy clouds. Of course versions of these are everywhere, yes, but here they’re in your face, unavoidable and unmissable companions of daily, even hourly life. Not the wildfire, you say? Live in tornado alley? On a hurricane prone coast? In an earthquake zone? You’re always aware.

Earth, air, fire and water. Not a 70s disco band, but the notes of a changing composition of seasonal change. Right now we’re in the transitional movement between the allegro of the growing season to the andante of harvest, the celebration of senescence. Human activity does become more frenetic during the harvest, a sort of false allegro, but only because the plant world knows winter is coming. You can hear those bass notes as seeds form and disperse, plant stalks brown and wither, green fields become tan or golden.

20170814_172230Up here in the mountains the occasional aspen has begun to turn. The grasses in the mountain meadows have lost their intense green. The angle of the sun has already lessened, casting deeper shadows. Orion is visible in the dark, clear night sky. Moose, elk and deer bucks have begun to drop the velvet on their antlers, preparing for the quickening of the rut. The bears become more brazen as their need for calories, more calories, before hibernation makes them feel an urgency.

Somewhere around us in the Arapaho National Forest, up in the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area, over in Staunton State Park, the fox and the marmot and the fisher and the pika, the Abert squirrel and the red squirrel can feel their coats beginning to thicken. The mountain lions know the seasonal changes in their prey and change their hunting patterns.

lughnasa1The orchestra of life plays this symphony all year as it responds to the conductors spring, summer, fall and winter, each with their own favorite tempo. The elemental nature of the West makes the composition here often raw, sometimes going as far as dissonance during the chinooks, or a dry summer month, during a blizzard, yet it is usually majestic with soaring blue notes and the babbling background music of mountain streams and bugling elk.

Just sit back and enjoy the show.

Fear and desperation

Lughnasa                                                                      Eclipse Moon

20170821_200301_001The new work schedule is good. It’s essentially writing and workout in the a.m., then reading and other study, including Latin in the afternoon. Plus lunch and a nap. Along with the better sleep I’ve been getting this year thanks to thc and tizanidine, I’m able to do the work that only I can do.

With Beth Evergreen as a place for communal life, Jon and the grandkids as immediate extended family, and our home here on Shadow Mountain, life has a rich texture, perhaps the most substantial I’ve ever felt. In the second phase of my life when I focused on work and raising Joseph, daily life had a fullness, but it also had an undertone of fear and desperation that I don’t feel now.

Fear and desperation can cloud the world of career and family building. These latter two are in conflict, for both resources and time. On the one hand we fear not having enough for our kids and spouse, either of time or money, on the other not spending enough of energy and intelligence on work so that we can earn money, be recognized, move forward in our chosen field. The struggle between these two leads to a sense of mild, or not so mild, desperation, the conflict unresolvable.

alchemyNote that this is not the often discussed work/life balance, there is no such no thing. There is only life, during which we work, love, pass our days.

The third phase, if it allows to us move past family building and career, can put us in a life where the conflict does resolve. In our case here on Shadow Mountain, and before this in Andover, Kate and I have been lucky. We got there. The kids moved out long before she retired. With her 401k, our mutual social security and my pension, earning money fell away as a need. Now life can be, as maybe it could be all along if we figured out how to structure things differently, all quilting, writing, reading, grandparenting and being with friends.

Of course, it does come with death no longer far away, but looming. Still, this is always so, though we push the reality away during the second phase. In fact, the known nearness of death gives life a piquancy I find precious, a sort of flavor to the broth that enhances the others.

 

 

Simcha

Lughnasa                                                                     Kate’s Moon

beautifulIt’s been a rainy, cold week here on Shadow Mountain. The dial on the various fire risk signs is either on low or moderate. Gotta love the monsoons. Yesterday we came home from Beth Evergreen and it was 71 in Evergreen, 60 at the house. Not very far mileage wise from Evergreen, but the altitude really makes a difference.

I’ve returned to a state of general well-being, forget why I veered off that course for a few weeks. Joy is around every corner these days from Kate’s progress in living with Sjogren’s Syndrome to Jon’s new house to our upcoming trip to Idaho for the eclipse. Rigel’s return to her young dog-on-the-hunt persona livens our day.

spiritual-enlightenment-spiritualityRuth and I are going to the Fiske Planetarium tomorrow for a show on the moon. Kate will go along, as will Gabe. That way Jon can have time to work on the bench in the dining room. I’ll have a chance to stop at the Growing Kitchen‘s outlet store while Kate takes the kids elsewhere. The Growing Kitchen is a company that makes its edibles from the bud of the marijuana plant rather than from trimming created when the bud is processed for joints. I want to see if there’s a quality difference. Seems like there would be.

We’re also attending shabbat services tonight. It’s a “mostly musical” shabbat with all original music written by Rabbi Jamie. The poster for it reads: Is your Rabbi a rock star? Ours is! He’s a very talented guy, both musically and intellectually. Beth Evergreen has become a solid part of our lives, a community that always seems to make me feel better for having shown up. It actually is what the Christian church talks about as a beloved community. Interesting I had to go Judaism to find one.

 

Benched

Lughnasa                                                                             Kate’s Moon

20170802_171522Carpenter’s malady. Jon drove to Lakewood for urgent care yesterday, an infected unremoved splinter. This is a midpoint picture of the work he’s doing. He has cabinet maker level skills. The panels on the facing of the benches are made from small pieces of cedar, the lip of the bench is wood from his old house on Pontiac. When finished, Kate will add cushions over the bench lids. One half of the seating around our beetle-kill pine dining table will now be cushioned benches.

Yesterday was quiet until the hail. Then, it was noisy. Enough to make much of the yard white. We’re in a cool, rainy period not typical of early August, but welcome.

End of Week

Midsommar                                                              Kate’s Moon

So the right-sized, but too big air conditioner has been rehome Depoted. Another life lesson, though a minor one. Not sure what’s next in cooling for the loft and bedroom. Also have begun looking at robotic vacuums. Might be good for us.

sundance-01After returning the air conditioner we went to Sundance Gardens to shop for lilac bushes and plants for our rock garden. Very helpful young woman, but no call back yet on the lilacs. The main folks were in Denver buying plants. All this in Evergreen.

Lunch at one of our favorite spots: Saigon Landing.

Nap. Late afternoon workout since the air conditioner/garden errands occupied the mornings. Then, grandkids. I made Maid-Right, loose-meat, Iowa type hamburger. We had curly fries, peas, and cut up fruit. Ruth loved her t-shirt: I read. That’s what I do. I know things.

labyrinthJon’s nearly finished with the benches. Kate will make cushions for them. These benches will increase our storage for pots and pans, infrequently used kitchen appliance as well as providing built in seating for the dining room table. The wood Jon used for the exterior faces is cedar and smells wonderful.

Kate and I head over to Beth Evergreen this morning for an embodied Shabbat service. Rabbi Jamie is on vacation.

 

Measure once. At least once.

Midsommar                                                                     Kate’s Moon

ted

So that happened. Ted of All Trades, a former Iowa handyman now living here, came over to install the 15,000 BTU air conditioner in the loft. The loft is 850 square feet so it has to be that big or it would run all the time. I researched this, found the right air conditioner, bought it and brought it home. Forgot one thing. “That’s a big box,” said Ted, a hyper masculine, shaved head, brawny guy. Oh. “You have 25″ of window and a 29 1/2″ air conditioner.” Oh. Right BTU, wrong size. 70 years old and I haven’t learned to measure things. So, back it goes. Not sure what I’m going to do to cool the loft now.

Ted does not impose a trip charge. “Nope, I don’t do that. I want to earn my money.” We then had a conversation about the mountain way when it came to trades. “I went to a customer’s house. Said I’d be there at 8 am, got there about 7:45. Knocked on the door.” He shook his head, “The guy came to the door and said, ‘Who are you?'” “Ted,” I said, “Ted of All Trades.” “Holy shit, I wasn’t expecting you until 9:30 or later.”

The Midwestern work ethic, especially one grounded in the agricultural ethos of Iowa, would chew up and spit out guys who don’t show up on time. Ted’s on time, start to finish attitude about his business has him booked until October in spite of having been in the mountains only a year.

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