Downsize?

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Ruth and Jon skiing. Gabe peeling potatoes. Kate getting Murdoch upstairs. The picker at King Sooper. Having Sunday free of workout. Cleaning off my table. Organizing and preserving my paintings. Kate paying the bills. Ruth. Murdoch.

My paintings. Whoa. Like my novels and my blog. I’ve done, I don’t know, twenty/thirty paintings since I began. A few end up in the trash because I can’t bear to look at them. A few are standing out so I can look at them, review what I like about them, don’t like. The rest I put between buffered paper and/or cardboard sheets yesterday. Not sure what I’ll do with them. My novels exist in printed form in file boxes and in their revisions on my computer.

Two million words of Ancientrails rest on Kate’s old medical school desk, two thousand plus pages printed out with the wrong margins for binding. Sigh. Going to a bookbinder for an estimate and to be told how or if, if I decide to, I should layout the page for printing myself. Might give them a memory stick with all on it. Or, that might be too expensive. We’ll see.

Gabe stayed here yesterday while Ruth and Jon went to A-basin. I asked Gabe to tell me one interesting thing he’d done last week. I haven’t done much. I did see movies. Oh? Which ones? Lots of them on the Disney Channel.

Clever folks, Disney. They priced their channel, at $6.99 a month, so a kid with an allowance might choose to purchase their own subscription. Both Ruth and Gabe have a subscription.

Stirring inside. Declutter, simplify. Downsize. Example. When we moved, I kept every file I made for my docent work at the MIA. Why? Wanted to keep art as central to my life as it was when I was there. Tried several different things, none worked. And, having the files hasn’t helped either. Out they go. I also want to clean up the filing system (?) in the horizontal file which will mean throwing out yet more files.

The bigger, harder question? What about the books? Is it time to downsize my library? I’m considering it.

Doubt it will stop my book buying. That’s a lifelong habit started, I think, with those book lists from the Scholastic Reader (something like that). Sheets with books, descriptions, and modest prices. We could pay for them at school, then they would come at some other point. Sorta like e-commerce. Oh, how I looked forward to the arrival of those books. I read them quickly, too. I graduated to buying comics and paperbacks at the Newsstand downtown.

My first serious kick was all the James Bond books. I bought them one or two at a time with my paper route money. Lots of others, too. I was also reading books from the Carnegie library, too.

Got into the habit of buying books that interested me, books that followed other books I’d read. Buying books. College was hard in that I passed by the bookstore every day in the Student Union. If I went in, I’d always come out with a book or two.

Later, bookstores. Joseph had been in most of the good book stores in the Twin Cities before he hit first grade. And, finally, Amazon. Oh, right here in my own loft. On my computer. What a great deal.

Over 60+ years I’ve bought a lot of books. My interests have waxed and waned, but the books purchased during my enthusiasms remain. A few: Celtic mythology, fairy tales, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, magic, Jungian thought. An ur religion focused on the natural world, not scripture. Literature of all sorts. Plays. Theology. Poetry. U.S. history. the Civil War. Art. Lake Superior. Latin and the classics. Religion.

Getting rid of them feels like betraying my curiosity. I might finish that book on the Tarot. That commentary on the Inferno? Maybe next year? What about that ecological history of Lake Superior? The work on reconstructing, reimagining faith?

Still, it feels like time to begin paring down. Will take a while. And be hard.

For each of the tags listed here, I have a small or large collection of books.

Stick to it

Winter and the Full Future Moon shining through the lodgepole pines in the west

Friday gratefuls: for the Mussar group. for the Daf Yomi, now day seven. for the chance to do the Murdoch mitzvah. for the fresh new snow. for the 12 degree weather, what they call here, Stock Show weather. for Black Mountain who watches over me from above. for Shadow Mountain who supports me from below. for the crazy people who go out on Evergreen Lake for ice-fishing. May there always be crazy people.

Kepler to the vet yesterday. No, not bites and rips from Murdoch’s teeth. Rashes and hot spots. Antibiotics and an increased prednisone load for a week or so. Dr. Palmini has lost weight and buffed up. When I asked him if he would go to the Iditarod this year. The jury’s still out, he said. It’s a long time to be gone. But, it’s fun, isn’t it? Well, some of it, but when you get up at 3 am…? He goes as a volunteer vet for the sled dogs in the race. Lots of Iditarod memorabilia on the walls of his practice.

Back to HIIT workouts for cardio. Hi intensity interval training. A new one. Slow, 90 seconds. Fast as possible, 6mph for me, 30 seconds. Repeat four times then 3 minute cool down. I increased the number of intervals and the incline, from 1% to 2%, this week. Intervals are the best workout for cardio and they take a shorter time period that most cardio workouts.

Mussar. Got caught out nodding like I understood something that was said. Had to admit it, because the conversation expected me to say something about I’d already said. Everybody laughed when I told them. First time I can recall being caught in this oh, so usual gambit of not only me, but all folks hard of hearing. Gotta work on the ear wax thing. Seems to bother my hearing aid a lot.

The quality of the day, see Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities, was perseverance. A lot of discussion, an amusing number of examples about math, not unusual in a group with literary inclinations. Perseverance is in my toolkit.

Mostly. I can write novels. Start and finish them. Not easy, often taking over a year. I did not persevere so well with marketing them, though. I enjoy, as I said a few posts back, long books, long movies, long tv series. I can start all of these and finish them. Think War and Peace, Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Fairie Queen, Faust, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 10 Commandments, the Irishman, Gone with the Wind. And, Resurrection: Ertugrul. I’m finally in the fifth and last season. It only has 88 episodes.

I can make a commitment and stick to it for years, a lifetime. One of my youthful commitments was to keep reading difficult material. Stay political. College. Keep asking the fundamental questions and don’t shy away from difficult answers. Never work in a setting that compromises your values. Kate, now for over 30 years. The Woollies, about the same. Joseph, now going 39 years. Exercise, since my forties.

When I didn’t persevere, marketing and college German being the ones that come to mind, it was out of fear, I think. Fear is not a guide, it’s a caution, but I let myself get stuck in its glue at least those two times and I regret it. Anxiety grows along with fear and fear increases the anxiety. As I’m learning to be easier with myself, I’ll give myself an “I’m sorry to hear that, but you’re ok now.” bit of self-talk.

Artistes

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: (I like this practice, so I’m going to continue it for awhile. Maybe keep it here.) Being with Ruth yesterday. Going to Meininger’s Art Supply with her. The stuff in Meininger’s. Stanley Market Place. Maria’s Empanadas. Coming home to the mountains after driving in the city. The bare rock on Berrian Mountain. The flocked trees.

Took Ruth to Red Herring Art Supply. Again. Seoah was with us the last time. Like last time, it was closed. The holidays. We drove along Colfax, “the longest street in the U.S. that doesn’t turn into a highway,” she said. Makes me think of Lake Street. Colfax runs through several ethnically diverse neighborhoods and changes its character as it does. Near its ends, west and east, are old tourist motels now the cheaper equivalent of SRO’s.

We took it into downtown Denver, turned right at the State Capitol Building, and followed Broadway to Meininger’s, Colorado’s primary art supply store. Ruth educated me again. Explaining the use of mediums for oil paints, why she likes synthetic brushes, and a type of paper on which you can do oil painting.

We bought some of that paper, a small bottle of medium, and some brushes. The next time she comes we’ll cut up some of the paper into sizes she would like to use.

The ancientrail of art is not only for the gifted. Making things with our hands is a primary human act, from houses to Space Shuttles, quilts to sculptures. When creating objects that reflect our inner life, make the world beautiful, show and enhance our ability to see, we expand our own life.

We got Gabe a Chromebook for Hanukah, a very low end, yet still useful laptop. Jon predicted he would be, “very happy.” After he opened it up, Gabe said, “I’m so happy.” Sometimes grandparents are the wish genie.

We both have concerns about Jon. Still. He inherited depressive genes from the Johnson line, maybe the Olsons, too. Very bright, creatively gifted, incredibly self sabotaging. And, 51. I hope in this next decade he can find the traction he needs.

His art is wonderful, colorful and conceptual, using old smashed metal pieces he finds along the road as objects to print. His grasp of politics, of the workings of his school, of home renovation is keen. When he’s not down, he’s a lot of fun. He skis and makes his own skis.

Tough, very tough, situation.

Merry, Merry Meet

Winter and the Gratitude Moon, waning sliver

Christmas gratefuls: the silence on Black Mountain Drive. Black Mountain itself. The stars above Black Mountain. Shadow Mountain. Our home. This loft, a gift from my Kate, now five years ago, and still wonderful. Kate and her increased health. The sacred side of Christmas. The pagan (also sacred) side of Christmas.

When I went out for the paper this morning, it was dead quiet. No dogs barking. No cars or trucks on the road. No mechanical noises. The sky was the deep black of the cosmic wilderness, lit only by bright lights: planets, stars, galaxies. Silent night, holy night.

Those shepherds out there tending their flock, sheep shuffling around. A baa and a bleat here and there. Visitors on camel back. All that singing. As imagined, probably not a quiet night.

Here though, this dark Christmas morn. The deer are asleep. The elk, too. Pine martens, fishers, foxes, mountain lions might be prowling, but part of their inheritance is silence. Black bears went to sleep long ago. Millions of insects are quiet, too. The microbes in the soil, the growing lodgepole pines, the aspen organisms, their clonal neighborhoods, bulbs, corms, rhizomes all alive, all quiet.

Silent night, holy night. Yes. Sacred night, holyday night. Yes.

I read this long essay on consciousness by the president and chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. In it he says this:

” Yes, there’s this ancient belief in panpsychism: “Pan” meaning “every,” “psyche” meaning “soul.”…basically it meant that everything is ensouled…if you take a more conceptual approach to consciousness, the evidence suggests there are many more systems that have consciousness—possibly all animals, all unicellular bacteria, and at some level maybe even individual cells that have an autonomous existence. We might be surrounded by consciousness everywhere and find it in places where we don’t expect it because our intuition says we’ll only see it in people and maybe monkeys and also dogs and cats. But we know our intuition is fallible…”

Even silence, since it presumes an awareness of noise, is a proof of consciousness. All that consciousness around us here on Shadow Mountain. The trees and wild animals, grasses and microbes, dogs and humans, all here, all experiencing a self.

I take panpsychism a bit further than Koch with the kabbalistic idea of ohr, the divine spark, resident in every piece of the universe and the process metaphysical view of a vitalist universe creatively moving toward greater complexity.

This waking up mornin’ we can see the baby Jesus as an in your face message that, yes, of course we are holy. Yes, of course the universe sings to us from the depths of the sea, the top of the redwoods, and the person or animal across from us this morning. And, to get downright personal, from within the deep of our own soul.

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Friday gratefuls. Deb and Dave at On the Move Fitness. Seoah’s life joy. The inventor of kettlebells. Treadmills. dumbbells. Television. The transformer. The circuit board. The CPU. Software. Sputnik. Laika. Koko. Any random elephant, giraffe, lion, hyena, rhino, cheetah, zebra, hippo. All of them.

Back to the future. New workout from On the Move. Stepup. TRX pushup. TRX row. Kettlebell one arm shoulder press. Quadraped with a three second hold. Reverse crunch circles. Bridge hold. Step and hold, balance. Deb recommended high intensity cardio for the COPD. Did them up until the radiation started in June. I’ll get back to them, slowly.

She pointed out that the COPD will make me feel fatigued. Oh, yeah. Sarcopenia from aging and sarcopenia from lupron, too. No wonder I’m feeling like that guy on the back of the comic book. You know, the one getting sand kicked in his face? Not much to do but keep exercising, wait for the lupron to drop away. Maybe June of next year.

The Mayans considered the last 5 days of the year as useless days. I used to take that week and do a research project on something of interest to me. Now I’m going to expand that time to December and this year I choose painting. I will poke around in color theory, mixing paints, continuing to paint using shades of intense blue as background. Composition, too. I’ll take Ruth to Meiningers art supply store. Might pick up some new Princeton brushes, some new Williamsburg paints.

Then, there’s the issue of the next decade. The 20’s. Whoa. I’ve lived well into the future. But. Where’s my time traveling Delorian? My transport portal? My brain implants? Why haven’t I met a cyborg yet? You know, like from this year’s Blade Runner.

For the first time I’ve considered whether I’ll live out the decade. Hardly impossible. I’d just have to reach 83 and I know two guys that have already made that or very close to it. Frank’s already there. Bill will be on April 8th. But, who knows? Of course, dying is always possible, but with cancer and copd, my clock may have sped up.

If I knew I would die in the next decade, what would I do differently? Anything? Not sure. I’d like to travel more. See more of Colorado. Make it to Taipei and see the National Museum. Paint more. Write more books. But I already do those things. Love more. Laugh more. Again, not new. Maybe it will be the proportion of those things. Or, maybe something new will appear. Whatever happens, it will be the 2020’s! Buck Rogers time.

Might Be

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: the dog, a tail wagging, face licking bundle of love. the grocery store, especially Tony’s Market. Kate’s successful cataract surgery. Williamsburg oil paints. Princeton brushes. Flovent for the COPD. Landice treadmills. Colorado Natural Gas for bringing natural gas to Shadow Mountain.

Might be the lupron, but when Joseph left yesterday a deep wave of sadness swept over me. Seoah came in and my head was down a bit. Are you o.k.? Just sad that Joseph left. She looked at me. I know how you feel.

Might be the lupron. Might not.

The lupron and the holidays. Might be why I feel so disoriented, so low energy. Trying to read, but find it hard to focus. Trying to paint, but ideas seem stuck somewhere, gluon neuron?

Glad Thanksgiving is over. It was good, but it knocked us out. Could be the lupron. Might not. Hard to know.

The metaphysical or the psychological effects of chemotherapy are tough to define, hard to limn. At least for me. Is the fatigue from preparing and managing a big meal? Staying up with the guests? Am I seeing the world right now as others see it? Not asking the perspectival question, obvious no, but the social consensus question. Is this world the one you know, too?

These are often subtle cracks in my perceptual world, making me question my own assessment of so many things. Can’t say I like this much.

Mark O. and Paul S. both have set learning guitar as a winter activity. Just after Thanksgiving I had decided I would concentrate on painting and justice, justice in this case as a mussar, or character, trait. For a month or more on the painting. Until December 17th when I present my thinking on justice to the mussar vaad practice group.

And, I need to add, reading. I want to up my reading schedule, read more. But I have this strange physical reaction to sitting still, focusing on a book. I want to get up, move around, do something with my hands. Shut off my brain. Sometimes I find a text that wrestles that reaction into submission, sometimes not.

Could be stress from the year plus storm of medical matters. Could be. Could be the lupron. Could be the holiday blues. Could be all of these, probably is, some dark mixture swirling around my consciousness.

Gonna let it be. Be whatever it is. Meanwhile I’ll read as much, paint as much, learn as much as I can.

Monet

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Kate and I went to see the Monet exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art. First outing for Kate in quite a while. Lesley, a fellow mussarite, architect and art historian, led the tour as a DMA docent.

Christoph Heinrich, director of the DMA, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Monet and used his scholarly contacts as well as his museum world contacts to organize this show with a fellow Monet scholar from Potsdam, Germany. It has 120 paintings by Monet that show the development of his unique, impressionist style over a period of years.

Leslie had a knowledgeable presentation, for which she had many notecards. The exhibit draws big crowds and the museum supplied ear pieces and a receiver. Leslie stood back and spoke to us through her headset while we looked at the paintings. Could have used this technology in several exhibits at the MIA.

The DMA has a different docent style than the MIA. The docent explains, gives facts and interpretations. The way it used to be everywhere, I believe. The MIA requires the docent to engage tour participants with questions about each work, questions that help them draw their own conclusions, that force them to look and learn for themselves. There’s a place for both styles, imo.

There were some beautiful pieces, some ordinary works that showed Monet working out what he wanted to paint, many showing early experimentation with putting colors next to each other and letting the eye merge them into the color Monet saw as he painted. There were no real show stoppers in the exhibit however. I imagine the cost of getting several haystacks, several Rouen cathedrals (there were none), and the large water-lilly works like hang at the Chicago Art Institute was too much.

While a docent at the MIA, I became friends with the registrar, a position little know outside the museum world. The registrar crew handles the art works, moving them, hanging them, indexing them with the museums cataloging protocols. From him I learned about the intricacies of putting an exhibit together.

Most museums require that works over a certain value, I believe it was two-hundred and fifty thousand at the MIA, are never out of sight of one of their employees. An employee travels on the plane with them, observing them be loaded and removed.

I remember he told me (can’t recall his name) a story about a painting being flown to Australia for an exhibition there. He agreed to go with the painting, but due to his workload, he flew there with it, watched it get unloaded and shipped to the museum, then turned around and got back on a plane to Minneapolis. A long, long time in the air.

Given Monet’s prices at auction I would guess most, if not all, of his many paintings exceed the value limit of the MIA. That would be a lot of insurance, shipping, and travel costs.

Found myself fascinated with his brushwork, color choices. I’ve not spent much in museums or galleries since I started painting. Made me want to start going again to inform my own work.

There she goes. On her own.

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Been having a tough time keeping up with my workouts due to morning meetings, doctor’s appointments. If I don’t workout in the morning, our afternoon nap finishes off the rest of the day for exercise. Why? Not sure. But, I’m lethargic when I get up. A non-workout feeling. Why nap if I get up lethargic? It doesn’t last, but it lasts long enough to throw off my wanna exercise motivation. Something I could work on.

Working out makes me feel better in the moment while the net effects of cardio and resistance work to keep my healthspan longer. There are other daily benefits: getting up out of a chair unassisted, able to hold a chainsaw, get outside work done, enough muscle to handle daily domestic chores, stamina, stair climbing. In spite of my two issues: copd and prostate cancer, my sense of good health, even excellent health remains. But, not if I don’t get in my workouts. Gotta get more careful about scheduling mornings.

Used the instapot last night to make round steak. It came out tough and chewy. Hmm. Not the idea. Gotta figure out what the problem is.

Making progress on my painting, IMO. When I do Rothko-like paintings, I’m finding myself closer to the moodiness his produced. Once that comes more easily, I’m going to start playing around with it. Put photographs or drawings or a flower or something metal in them, IDK. Make them mine. I’m imitating a man I consider a master artist, one of the best of the last century, American or otherwise, trying to learn from recreating his work techniques, color combinations, composition, brush work. A long, long way to go, but I’m having a helluva good time.

Gonna finish my bagel table work today and tomorrow.

Starting to feel the beginnings of a new phase here on Shadow Mountain. Not sure what it is, but it feels pretty good.

Example: Kate drove herself to needleworkers yesterday. She stayed till mid-afternoon. When I saw her drive away, I had a feeling similar to taking Joseph to his freshman year of college. There she goes, on her own. Glad, a bit concerned, happy for her.

What To Do?

Imbolc                                                                                             Valentine Moon

relaxMy birthday month passed in a blur of illness and caregiving. February, my seventy-scond February, got underway two days after a difficult day, a full day. I felt exhausted around noon and had several more places to go. Like moving through jello, thick jello on the way home.

The next two weeks was a symptom buffet. Somebody was spinning a large wheel and where it stopped? That was the new insult. Hit me like a freight train. My memory of those days is absent, therapeutically so, I think. Pneumonia came after that. And after pneumonia, recovery from three weeks of misery. Mostly back to normal now, just a bit of stamina to regain.

However. A month, a whole month, even if it’s a short one, mostly erased. No painting. No writing. No visits to CBE. No exercise. Having to rethink life. Again. Home now, no more regular CBE obligations. Being available for Kate’s needs is top of my list. Doesn’t consume all of my time, not even close, so I’m beginning to itch, to want some fruitful self-directed activity.

A new novel? That one I’ve been mentioning? More painting? Reading about art, astrology. Judaism. I need a focus, an outlet for my own work. Nothing sticks right now. Guess I’ll just mosey along like I have been, see what comes. Maybe I’ll try some free writing a la Natalie Goldberg. Painting equivalent.

No big deal here, trying to get myself reoriented, start the engine. Sputtering. Too much choke.

So Beautiful

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

Our snowpack. Needed for the trees and our well

Our snowpack beside the front door. Needed for the trees and our well

Another 6 or 8 inches of snow yesterday. Snowiest January since 1993. The northern half and eastern quadrant of Colorado watersheds have above average snowpack. Critically, the Colorado Headwaters area is at 116%. The south western quadrant of the state though is below average in two spots, including the Durango area where the big fires burned last summer.

So beautiful. The lodgepoles carry snowy covers on their branches. The deer, rabbits, fox that come through our yard leave their tracks.The rising sun colors the snow on Black Mountain, right now a light flush pink. Bright blue sky behind the mountain.

Not so good for those of us animals who need carapaces and wheels. This is the google traffic map from yesterday. Rush hour. Add in altitude and you get a real mess. This is when commuting to Denver from Conifer separates the brave from the foolish.

 

metro roads 1 28

Kate’s initiated a get-out of the house plan. She said last week that she felt isolated and alone, so we’re going to go somewhere each day. Yesterday we went to the post office. Today, the King Sooper Starbucks for Kate while I pick up some groceries. Tomorrow? Who knows?

creation of the waters

creation of the waters

Last week I painted the creation of the universe, the shattering of the ohr. Followed it with the creation of the waters. Next up: land. I tried to show an island in my first attempt. Not so good. I like the first two, I’m starting over today on land. I’m going to get somehow to Eden and humans and that tree. Will take awhile. Hard to say in the abstract paint language I’m using. But, that’s part of the fun.

Astrological learning has been on hold. Painting, exercise, and Kate have gotten my focus along with CBE. Gonna get back to it, though. Probably a reading with Elisa’s astrologer, John, to kick off the next phase of my learning.

Just entered the Chicken soup cookoff at CBE. Gonna get some practice today, picking up soup supplies during the grocery shopping at King Sooper. Taking some to a friend, leaving some behind for Kate and me. Kate loves my chicken soup. My heirloom recipe came off the Golden Plump packages when I bought chickens in Minnesota. Here, I do it from memory.