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.

Mountain Strong

Winter and the Future Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: For Paul’s idea of the 60 second hug and zero negativity. For Bill’s call yesterday. For Rabbi Jamie and Art Green, the class at Kabbalah Experience by Zoom. For Sandy, who cleans with energy and whose tumor has begun to shrink. For all the good dogs everywhere. All dogs are good dogs. For Mountain Waste who takes away the stuff we can’t use, don’t need.

Mountain strong. See that a lot up here. Bailey’s town motto is Mountain Strong. Has a sort of defiant, libertarian meaning to most. Clues: lots of comments about guns as a primary home defense system. About citiots. (city idiots) Griping about service up here when we know the difficulties involved.

Also, though. We can handle it our own. We’re neighbors, let’s help each other. Respect the wildlife. Keep the night dark.

I like it. Mountain strong. That’s how Kate and I feel. We’re mountain strong. Can it be difficult up here? Oh, yes. The thin air has caused both of us problems most of the time we’ve been here. On certain days the snow is so good we can’t go anywhere. IREA, the local electrical company, has miles of lines in difficult to reach, yet sensitive to weather places. Like up and down whole mountains. Outages are not uncommon and Kate needs O2 24/7. Generator. Delivery is episodic rather than consistent though we have an exceptional (for the mountains) mail carrier. Not to mention that it’s far away to all the services we need.

All true. What I call the Mountain Way. Just more molasses to crawl through for certain aspects of daily life.

However. The bare rock, the lodgepole pines, the aspen groves, the cold rushing creeks, the deep valleys and tall mountain peaks, the moose, the elk, the muledeer, the fox, the lynx, the bobcat, the mountains lions, the bears, the magpies and the Canada Jays, the crows and the ravens, the curvy roads, the changing seasons. And the clear, dark nights with the Milky Way and Orion and Ursa Major, Gemini and the whole zodiac. The clouds, the lenticular clouds and the clouds with a long straight front coming over Mt. Evans. When they’re lit by the rising or setting sun.

And for me, the two visits from the mountain spirits. The three mule deer bucks who greeted me when I came to close on the house on Samain of 2014. The two Elk bucks who stayed in our yard for a day eating dandelions. The day before I started radiation treatment.

Mountain strong. They promised that, welcomed me on the close of the Celtic year. They promised that, assured me on the day before the Cyber Knife visits. We are neighbors, mountain spirits and humans. We need mutuality to survive. The mountains themselves have greeted me and come to me as companions. Our mountain journey is now five years old and only just begun.

Mountain strong.

Platte Canyon Drive

Samain and the Gratitude Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Seeing Kate cheered by her fellow Bailey Patchworkers at their holiday luncheon yesterday. A drive yesterday along the Platte River Canyon from Bailey to the Shaggy Sheep. The partly running, partly frozen North Fork of the South Platte River. The black squirrel that played along its banks. Finding my heart so exposed.

While Kate had lunch with the Bailey Patchworkers at the Riverbend Restaurant in Bailey, I drove out to the Shaggy Sheep, headed toward Kenosha Pass, Fairplay, and the Pacific Ocean. The Platte Canyon runs from Bailey to the Kenosha Pass which, at 10,000 feet marks the transition to the high plains of South Park, a broad expanse of relatively flat land all above 9,000 feet. The Platte Canyon is around 7,700 feet above sea level, carved out by the South Platte River’s north fork. That makes it a gorge, as well as a canyon, since Highway 285 follows the fairly straight run of the river. A gorge always has a river like most, but not all, canyons.

Sometimes the mountains on either side of the canyon floor come close to the road, gray and rocky, closing the canyon off from the sun. At other points the South Platte runs through long, but narrow fields and pastures. Glen Isle, a beloved and historic resort with a round main building, is on the canyons western side. North Fork Ranch, an Orvis approved dude ranch, features fly fishing, kicking back, horse rides. It’s just beyond the small National Historic site of Shawnee.

Not much further along 285 is the national YMCA camp, Santa Maria, with its not so obviously needed statue of Jesus on a cliff face high above the camp. I passed it looking up at the statue, wondering why it was there.

My destination was the Shaggy Sheep, a restaurant opened by New York City chef fleeing the city. It’s a quirky, but good menu. It has, however, also quirky hours since it sits 14 miles west of Bailey and nowhere near any other towns. Georgetown can be reached between, oh, say, May and November, by the Guanella Pass not far from the Shaggy Sheep, and Jefferson, a very small town in South Park, is a few miles on beyond the Kenosha Pass. Billing itself as a casual mountain cook house, the Shaggy Sheep depends on tourist traffic which slows down in the winter months. Closed Monday-Wednesday during the winter, I learned.

The drive out there was the point though so I wasn’t disappointed. I turned around, drove back to the Riverbend and had a hamburger with truffle fries followed by an excellent canoli. Since I was waiting on Kate and forgot to bring a book (a rare occurrence), I read the articles of impeachment plus commentary and other stories on the NYT.

The wonder of living here is the chance to take a trip through the Platte Canyon just because. Or, up the Guanella Pass to Georgetown. Or, over the Kenosha Pass into South Park and onto Fairplay. And still be home for supper.

See As Seen

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

42 degrees this morning on Shadow Mountain. Orion standing guard over the Southern gate, the sky black. Walked out to the white Denver Post tube nailed next to our mailbox, picked up the paper, took it back inside. Put it at Kate’s place so she’ll have it when she gets up around 7.

Spent most of yesterday with buddy Tom Crane in from the Twin Cities. We went to the Cutthroat Cafe in Bailey for breakfast. Have to remember that the room there is very live, lots of ambient noise.

front left, Mark, front right, Warren. Back left Jim, Bill, Paul, Tom, Me June, 2012

Catching up. The Woollies, our men’s group, the place we met as sort of initiates well over thirty years ago, continues to age, but with no deaths. Two Woollies turn 75 around now: Warren and Mark. Frank and Bill are 82. Or is Frank a bit older? Can’t recall. Haislet’s over 75 as is Jim Johnson. Paul and I are 72. Tom’s 71 and Scott must be about that. Stefan is the youngster, still in his mid-sixties.

Tom made an interesting comment about friendship, recalling something I’d said about foreign travel. I travel, I said, to see how other cultures eat, love, do the ordinary things of life, and to then, in turn, reflect on the options my own culture has chosen. Long term friendships are the same, he suggested. A way we can see how others live their lives.

Yes. We’re all anthropologists to one degree or another, trying to draw understanding from other cultures and from the lives of others we know well, about ourselves, the paths we’ve chosen.

It was a topic we discussed, our own paths now since we’ve laid aside some of the paths we loved. Tom the pilot is in the past. Tom the CEO, mostly in the past. Charlie the horticulturist, the beekeeper. The docent.

Bill (foreground), Tom. On his boat on Lake Minnetonka, August 2018

We drove up the Guanella Pass, repeating a journey Tom, Bill Schmidt and I took a few years ago. At 11,670 feet it’s almost exactly 3,000 feet higher than Shadow Mountain. And, chilly, with a stiff wind. While up there, I mentioned to Tom how much I love the mountains, their wildness. Later, over ice cream in Georgetown, he said much the same thing about the ocean. These are paths we’ve not given up.

Tom keeps a boat on Lake Minnetonka, a cabin cruiser, that continues his passion for the water. He built a boat, an eight-footer, when he was young. Went to sea as an officer in NOAA’s uniformed service. Spends downtime often in Mendocino, California and on Maui.

To see yourself as another sees you is to receive a gift, a gift of self-awareness stimulated by an honest, loving gaze from outside. A rare and precious thing.

Friendship, family, marriage. And unique communities like Congregation Beth Evergreen, the Woollies. That’s where we go to find out things about ourselves that we’ve overlooked, underestimated, suppressed. In a real sense the examined life is not possible without others, an irony of a sort.

Tom sent me this photograph, Guanella Pass Summit, with a caption, “You’ve found your path.” Not sure if he meant that literally, the path there beside me, or metaphorically, but it hit me in a profound way. Oh, yeah. The mountains. They’re my path. Altitude. Wildlife. Wild and stony places.

A quote often seen here on t-shirts, back windows of cars and suv’s, attached to the ubiquitous Thule cargo carriers on tops of Subarus: “The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir. Kate and I chose for Muir, for the mountains.

Gabe, ninth birthday, 2017

While Tom and I ended his visit with a meal at Sushi Win in Evergreen last night, Kate called. Gabe was in the hospital again. This time with a bowel obstruction. He had surgery at 1 am this morning. Seems he had swallowed a couple of magnets that screwed up his small intestine as they danced around each other. WTF.

We’ll see Gabe today after Kate’s pulmonology appointment. This one, we hope, will move us toward a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan for her lung disease. National Jewish docs this time, not Colorado Pulmonology Intensivists.

Other Nations

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

If you look at the post below, you’ll see a line about a minor fall and osteopenia. Fell this morning going downstairs. Landed, fortunately, on my right side, right hip hitting the ground. It was the left hip that had the softened femoral ball. Could have been, well…bad.

Lots of chatter on Pinecam.com and Next Door Shadow Mountain regarding the 8 year old attacked by a mountain lion Wednesday night. There’s a Greek chorus that sings every time a wildlife incident happens. Two different songs.

The first. We moved up here into their home. We need to respect them, expect things like this, don’t taunt them. Know their habits, live accordingly. The second. When (bears, mountain lions, wolves) harm people, put them down. Sad, yes, but human life is more important.

It’s government policy here to euthanize any animal that takes livestock or injures a human. It was a similar policy that eliminated wolves from most of the lower 48.

planning.org

We live in the wui (woo-ee), the wildland/urban interface. We have to accept and account for it in our daily lives. Wildfire mitigation. Care in driving mountain roads. Fox, deer, elk, bears, and, yes, mountain lions may cross in front of you. Rocks from mountain sides may tumble down. This is wild nature.

This Henry Beston quote is on our Vet’s lobby wall. And, I agree with it:

“…the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

Slow. But steady.

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

Early human radiation experiments

As my energy returns, I can feel how much the radiation and the trips to Lone Tree wore me down. A lot. Cancer treatment is often like that. It beats up on the cancer, yes, but it also beats up on the rest of you.

The hope is a u-turn. Goes like this. Diagnosis. The stroke down. Treatment, the curve at the bottom of the letter. Recovery and cure. The stroke up.

Got a call about my DEXA scan on Tuesday. No osteoporosis. Some osteopenia in my left femoral ball. Soft bone there. Good news. Taking calcium and vitamin D together in one pill large enough to choke a horse. Might need something to help. Danger is a fall, a minor fall, that results in a broken femoral ball. Ouch.

Making a visit to Bailey today, the Happy Camper. Last night an 8 year old boy in Bailey got attacked by a mountain lion. He’s in the hospital. Not common though a mountain lion attacked a hunter in northwest Colorado a couple of weeks ago and another attacked a runner earlier in the summer.

Got a passport photo taken yesterday. Sending mine in for renewal. Want to be ready once Joe and SeoAh move to Singapore. Gonna hit Taipei, too. The National Museum.

Starting to tick things off a list I made a few days ago. Two months worth of errands. Need to mow today. Landscaping fabric and stakes came yesterday. Five foot no ignition zone all around the house. River rock on top of it. When that’s done, clearing trees in the thirty foot fire drop down zone. Chainsaw work.

A few photos

Beltane                                                                        Rushing Waters Moon

Rustic Station, Bailey

Rustic Station, Bailey

20190427_093135

ATF, Bailey (see racist Native American statue between white pillar and main building)

Propane truck, log cabin, Bailey

Propane truck, log cabin, Bailey

Rocky Mountain Soda

Rocky Mountain Soda

This. That.

Spring                                                                         Recovery Moon

We hit 58 yesterday, predicted 60 today. Snow piles melting, but plenty of snow remains in our north facing backyard. I took a chance on the ice dams, hoping they’d disappear before any damage was done. Not my brightest move ever, but while I was sick  dealing with the company who would have had to clean them off  and while we were contemplating moving overwhelmed me, and I went into stasis on them. So far, it’s ok. Sometimes you get lucky.

Brief political note: we have a President who’s proud he wasn’t found smoking gun guilty of collusion with a foreign power. Any other president, ever, would have been sunk by the very implication of a treasonous act. How he can be so puffed up about this escapes me. Life in Trumpworld is life down the rabbit hole. The Red King says off with his head!

After my third cancellation due to illness I’m going in Thursday for my new workout. My o2 sats have been low, but not dangerous, then middling, but ok. I think working out over the last four years has kept them in safe territory and I’d like to put that concern to rest. I’ll check them over the next month or so as I return to a more active life. BTW: Kate says my reasoning about a 93% sat in a 75% reduced o2 environment is not sound. “It’s not a linear process,” she says. Makes sense. Still, life in thin air has an effect and not a positive one on 02 saturation.

Just back from my monthly THC run to Bailey’s Happy Camper. Great views of the continental divide, many peaks covered in snow. Their inventory is always in flux and though we prefer Love’s Oven, I had to settle for a couple of brands I don’t know, Green Hornet and Wanna. It still feels a little strange to get in the car to go buy marijuana. No baggies on street corners. No phone calls to your buddy’s dealer. Just walk in, say I’d like this and this and some of that. Pay. Walk out.

Lunch with Alan today at the Lakeshore Cafe in Evergreen. Looking forward to it.

 

 

Thursday

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

The Cutthroat

The Cutthroat

The support team arrived. We went to three Baily landmarks. The Rustic didn’t open until 11:00, so we wandered back across 285 to the Cutthroat Trout Cafe. Which Mark observed, “Doesn’t serve any fish.”

The food was good, straight breakfast, no fancy names or ingredients. Eggs, pancakes, hash browns, coffee, toast, jelly. Our waitress had been there since 5 am. “Yes, mostly coffee drinkers before six, but there are two gentlemen who come in and eat pretty regularly.” She had on an I love Goonies t-shirt.

Since the Sasquatch Outpost was right next door, we walked in there. I bought Kate a Sasquatch doesn’t believe in you either t-shirt from among the many, many Sasquatch themed items on offer: a bar of soap shaped like a Bigfoot foot, a Bigfoot riding a motorcycle, signs: Caution Big Foot Breeding Area, avoid eye contact, Warning Big Foot Area Stay on Marked Trails, hats, sweatshirts, books, scarves.

Shoppin' for weed

Shoppin’ for weed

Next stop. The Happy Camper. These old enough to remember dial phones and black and white tv guys stepped into the brave new world of cannabis with a cash register to take your money. Mark had a bit of culture shock. So many options, so little hassle. He chose some thc capsules. That night both he and Tom enjoyed a better sleep. A big deal for both of them.

After Bailey we came back to the loft and hung out. Talking. Then it was nap time so we rolled out our mats, oops, no, kindergarten. Tom and Mark went back to the unusually decorated B&B, Arrowhead Manor, and I went downstairs.

We reconvened at 5 pm for a trip to Sushi Win. Sushi Wins’ owner no longer accepts credit cards or checks, just cash. Mark had an unusual roll that came in a seaweed cone wrapped in black and white checkerboard paper and presented in an ice cream cone stand. Very mod. Tom and I had the sashimi bowl. As usual Sushi Win had few customers, quiet.