The Big City

Imbolc and the Leap Year Moon (ok. just noticed this moon doesn’t encompass February 29th. So, I’m gonna change it.) from now until Feb. 22nd-the Shadow Mountain Moon.

Saturday gratefuls: Jon, who seems to be righting his inner ship. Rigel, who gave me a black eye. Geez, gal. The U.S. Senate. Yes, I mean it. At least their horror show is public. The House of Representatives and Nancy. Stood on their hind legs. Two legs good. The moon and its apparent journeys across our sky. The stuff of romance. SeoAh, who comes tomorrow.

The wounds from my second bite have finally begun to heal up. Still a good ways to go, but less tender. Kate took my stitches out at the kitchen table yesterday. Nice to have an urgent care clinic just behind our stove. The second bite was a week ago yesterday. Antonio was Monday.

Into Denver to GOZO, a restaurant on my favorite Denver street, Broadway. Jon and I talked. A bit hard because the room was very live and my hearing aid seemed waxy. Those of you with hearing aids will understand.

Jon’s wrestling with his life, as he has as long as I’ve known him, but this time I think he’s learned a new move. His self awareness has grown markedly over the last year. He knows what he needs to do. He’s clear about it. Now if the depression will stay at bay. We’re meeting every couple of weeks for dinner.

Got a table right next to the multi-paned garage door. Outside Denver city life walked by. That woman with the calf high leather boots, big heels. The woman on her phone, her baby scanning the sidewalk. A man and a woman kissing while the man walked backwards and the woman held his head close. The homeless guy I greeted on the way in, later wrapped in what appeared to be a homemade quilt.

Picked up Kate’s new iPad at the Apple Repair place. Nice folks. Willing to help. Not pricey at all.

Often when I go into Denver I find the drive stressful. Too many cars, streets too tight, lots of lights. Lots. Last night I drove down Broadway after leaving Jon and found it soothing. I know this street now. Where certain landmarks are. I like it’s funky, changeable nature. At one point it could called the Green Mile due to the number of dispensaries. Art galleries, interior design studios. Boarded up storefronts. Used car lots.

It was still good to leave the city behind and drive through the hogback at Co. 470 and 285, climbing again. Cars thin out, the lights dim, and the clear sky begins to show more stars. Five years plus now. Five years.

That Great Wakin’ Up Mornin’

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Monday gratefuls: All my wounds have closed up except for one. Antonio the dog trainer comes today. Great pictures from Joe and SeoAh. They look very happy. Kate’s new feeding tube. The dawn. The mountain spirits. Shinto. Kami. Miyazaki. Spirited Away.

TGIM. Thank god it’s Monday. All those worker bees heading into Denver and points down the hill. Less traffic up here for us old folks. Even after all these years out of the work force, Mondays find me with a bit more energy, ready to go. The weekends, especially Sunday, feel slower, like time to get domestic chores done. Old patterns.

Kobe Bryant. Dead in the fog. And his daughter, Gigi. Shocking. 41.

But, not as shocking as the orange tumor on our democracy. The kewpie doll of political malfeasance. Hit him with a soft ball. Bounces back up. Hit him with a hardball. Bounces back up. Hit him with so many balls thrown by himself. Bounces back up. Gotta admit I don’t get it. His bad judgment, his callous disregard for people, facts, history aren’t enough. His not disguised meanness of spirit, his habit of berating those with whom he disagrees, firing those closest to him. A mess of a man. And, our President.

In Resurrection: Ertugrul they are fond of day follows night as a metaphor. Ertugrul fights, as the translators have it, the cruel. Just, the cruel. The oppressors. Our state, as did the Seljuk state of Ertugrul’s time, needs a resurrection moment.

States do rise and fall, often from the corruption and incompetence of their leaders and not from foreign invasion. A haunted country. The ghosts of Nathan Bedford Forrest, of Father Coughlin, of Benedict Arnold flit around our body politic, pouring their darkness into so many hearts. While we allow these once dead ideas life, the better angels weep.

Haven’t thought about it, but Trump has presided over the years of our discontent here on Shadow Mountain. His soul sickness infecting life everywhere. No, he’s not responsible for our challenges, our troubles, but having him in office hasn’t lifted us up either.

Yet. I can feel it, the new day for our country. It’s trying to rise, vault over the Front Range, light up the Continental Divide, break the grip of this dark night of our collective soul. It will not come from politics, though they will reflect it as the moon does the sun. It will come when those of us, no matter our liberal or conservative or radical inclinations, say this is not the way forward. We can no longer see ourselves represented as the cruel.

I have, like so many, a fondness for our great ideals. For the notion, however shaky, that we are all equal before the law. For the U.S. as a beacon of freedom, a place for the teeming masses yearning to be free. For a country where the voiceless can be heard. A nation dedicated to these truths life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is these ideals, the ohr of our collective and individual souls, that I can feel stirring. We cannot let this St. John of the Cross moment be without its redemptive turn. We will not. I feel sure.

Yo, U.S.A., You Late!

Winter and the Future Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Mountain View Waste. Kate’s good humor. Rigel following the treat to bed. Cool weather. The waning crescent moon. All the stars in the sky. All the water in the ocean. The water cycle. The lakes of Minnesota. The mountains of Colorado.

Didn’t write about MLK.

When Joseph got his bars as a second Lieutenant, I drove down to Maxwell AFB to be there. Maxwell is outside Montgomery, Alabama.

I made three pilgrimages on that trip. The first to Dexter Baptist Church, only steps away from the Alabama State Capitol. In his 1963 inaugural address in that Capitol then governor George Wallace said, “…segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

MLK was the pastor at the Dexter Baptist Church, 1954-1960, and organized the Mongtomery Bus Boycott in the basement. To have done that with the state government of Alabama literally looking over you must have been a courageous act for all who participated.

The second stop on my pilgrimage was the Southern Poverty Law Center which has a building just behind and uphill from Dexter Baptist Church. Outside of the modest modern headquarters is a Maya Lin designed Civil Rights Memorial. A large sheet of black marble, top of a sliced in half cone, has engraved on it names of martyrs for the civil rights movement and a chronology of the movement. A sheet of water flows across it all, coming from a fountain in the middle.

In her minimalist style, the other primary part of the sculpture is a black marble wall that has on it MLK’s paraphrase of Amos 5:24: (We will not be satisfied)…until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

These two American institutions, Dexter Baptist and the Southern Poverty Law Center, were and are pillars of fire illuminating racism and burning it out where they can. It surprised to me feel so close to American radical justice while able to see the bright white colonnade of the Alabama capitol.

The third stop on my pilgrimage came after I left Montgomery. I went to Selma. Crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On that bridge, on March 7, 1965, MLK and many, many others encountered state police and city police, hidden on the east by the upward curve of the bridge. Bloody Sunday showed up on television screens across America and helped cement support for the civil rights movement.

In research for a novel I’m currently writing I looked up Edmund Pettus. Not only was he a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army and a U.S. Senator, Pettus was also the Grand Dragon of the Alabama KKK.

When I parked in downtown Selma to walk around… Nah, here’s what I said on June 19th, 2008:

“Yo, Minnesota!  You late.”  Said, on the high sidewalk in Selma, an African man of indeterminate middle age, salt and pepper beard, hair frizzed out, wearing a red shirt.  “”bout time you got down South, North.”

“Yeah, about 30 years too late,” I said, revealing my inner hope that I’m about 15 younger than I really am.

He was cheerful and continued his discussion with a smile and allusions to the Mennonites and some biblical tribes, but I didn’t get it all.  He was what in former times would have been called a character.

When you consider Charlottesburg, when you consider Monday in Richmond, when you consider the anti-immgration policies, when David Duke says, “He’s implementing our policies.”, when a close Presidential advisor admits to his white supremacy convictions, then, why then, we might say to the whole country, “Yo, U.S.A., you late.”


Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Kate’s feeling better. Stefan and Lonnie on zoom. Tom’s gift of cartoons by Sack. Beau Jo’s pizza, novel and tasty. Driving in the mountains. The three deer I saw on the way to Evergreen, especially the tiny one. The bare rock, the cold streams, the lodgepole and aspen. Steep slopes. Florence and its art.

After a somewhat comical series of no-goes, I gave up on going to Vail to see Lonnie and Stefan. Stefan had a new hip done at the Steadman Clinic. Snow came to Vail on the first two days I offered. Not unusual, but enough to not make me want to do a two hour drive in it. Yesterday, my third choice, was MLK weekend. The second busiest of the entire year for ski traffic. And, Sunday, the Denver Post said, would be the busiest of the four day holiday. So, zoom.

Good to talk to them. Four years ago they decided to learn painting in an atelier in Florence. They’ve become patrons of the school as well as students, spending much of each year in Italy. Now they face an existential choice between remaining most of the year in Florence, where they’ve become part of an international crowd of artists and art students, or returning to the Twin Cities where their family lives. Would be a tough call for me.

The mood here is lighter. After a tough period of dog bites and exhaustion, I’m rested again. Kate’s had some issues, but eliminating tramadol from her daily meds has given her easier breathing. It’s nice to have a respite from angst.

Today’s MLK. I wonder what he’d do right now? Would he organize mass marches in the face of the rising right wing threat? Would he stay away from such events as the pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia today?

Will the MLK holiday become a neo-nazi, white supremacist rally day? A day to show “racial solidarity” and protest for the right to gun ownership. IDNK.

His dream, MLK’s, is mine and probably yours. I’ve always been soothed by his quote from Theodore Parker, Unitarian clergy and anti-slavery activist, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Still am though this seems to be a time when it’s not bending very much in the direction of justice.

Push the Clowns Out of the Car

Winter and the Future Moon

Friday gratefuls: the new dogfood bins. CBE board. Vietnamese food. Kate’s doggedness. Sleep. Wakefulness. Dreams. The Denver Post and its employees. Mountain Waste. Golden Solar. Kohler generators. Those who make the wires through which electricity and data flow. Cell towers. Tom, Bill, and Mark having lunch today.

Haven’t said much about Election 2020. My own policy views line up best with Warren and Sanders. No big surprise there. I prefer Warren over Sanders. Not by much, but I like her thoughtful approach. I like Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar for their moderate stances, if that’s what we need to beat Trump.

My political radar, honed over elections since Stevenson vs. Eisenhower, sees nothing but flak. Is Trump beatable? Can a true progressive win? And, if they win, can they govern? Is the economy the Trump card? Will young people vote? Who will African-Americans and Latinos choose? What about women? The bloc of voters in classes offended by Trump is huge, but will they go to the polls, stay home, or vote for him while holding their nose? All this clouds the screen, points of interference.

We suffer from outrage fatigue. Pussy grabbing and mocking the disabled reporter is so three years ago. Drone assassinations. Mocked at the G8. His steady drip of regulatory release. The Clean Water Act. Clean Air. Gas mileage targets. Intransigence, no, suicidal stupidity about climate change. Those too long red ties. His golfing holidays. Trying to get the next G8 at one of his properties. Tacky. Infuriating. Unseemly.

Vote, vote in this election. Help. Help get out the vote. Vote against Trump, against the Republicans. Please. If only to restore some sanity and balance. This isn’t about draining the swamp. This is about pushing all the clowns out of the car. All of them and getting back to governing the most powerful nation on earth.


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.

Cook, Do Laundry, Shop

Winter and the Future Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Kate’s better breathing last night. Our money. That stuffed green pepper recipe. Being able to communicate with Joe, Mary, and Mark so easily in spite of the thousands of miles. The guy who brought out my King Sooper Order. The dark of night. The light of day.

Having Murdoch here. Has made things more complex. Kep and Murdoch cannot be in the same space. Kep and Gertie can’t be together outdoors. Rigel and Murdoch sleep together now in the dog room, aka the guest room. I believe it’s better for Murdoch to have a warm body near him since he slept with Joe and Seoah. Can’t prove it, but it seems to help.

Means I have to have dog management on my mind all day. Like having toddlers. And, like having toddlers, it’s both fun and exhausting.

Speaking of sexism. Oh, I wasn’t? Well, let’s start right now. Realized that my tension between the domestic work I’m doing and the work that expresses me was due to unexamined sexism. Domestic work is work done by women. Perhaps not quite as much any more, but studies show women still do the bulk of home related work.

The man came home from the office, tired from a day at real work. He expected a meal on the table, a clean house, well disciplined kids, a full pantry, clean laundry. He expected it. That it involved real labor, of the back straining, calf tightening sort either didn’t occur to him or he didn’t care. After all…

I transported that same attitude to my own home work. It was something to get done with so I could back to the real work. No.

Chop wood. Carry water. The sacred is found in ordinary things, ordinary activities. Especially those done out of love. When we look at home work this way, it might be that the valences reverse themselves. Home work, done from love, is the real work and the work done for money, or for ambition, or for self-expression is a lesser work.

Yes, some men work out of their love for their family, true especially in blue collar homes where the work itself is often onerous, repetitive, and unrewarding. But white collar men often work more for their own ambition, for the money, for the status as they do for love.

Meanwhile the work of cleaning dirty clothes, shopping for groceries, paying attention to meals for all the residents of the home, cleaning the house itself, raising children, staying up to date on what needs doing in the home was seen as routine. Necessary, yes, but ordinary, not noteworthy.

I harbored these attitudes. After all these years. And turned them on myself when I got into the position of home worker. Shame on me.

It’s still difficult to settle into cooking, to doing the laundry, shopping, straightening things up, taking care of the dogs as more than chores. To learn, in the Zen way, how to chop wood and carry water. I’m grateful to have this chance to learn in a whole body sense what my mind concluded years ago, but didn’t communicate all the way down to my preset assumptions.

Liberal and Conservative Together

Winter and the Future Moon (it will take us into 2020. expect a flying car on your roof.)

Boxing Day gratefuls: for liberals and conservatives. for the divine ohr within you. for all those who, with Ram Dass, got walked home in 2019. for this still great nation and its painful troubles. for the decade now ending. for pick-up service at King Sooper. for The Happy Camper and Colorado’s marijuana laws.

Columnist Max Boot of the Washington Post wrote, in a column extolling the mores of Downtown Abbey, that it shows:

…a humane, instinctual conservatism that embodies the wisdom of philosopher Michael Oakeshott: “To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to Utopian bliss.” Present-day “conservatives” must rediscover this sensibility if they are to rescue their movement from its populist-nationalist abyss.washington post

This is a crie de couer and I hear it. If we reverse the dialectics, to be liberal, then, is to prefer the unknown to the known, the untried to the tried, mystery to fact, the possible to actual, the distant to the near, the superabundant to the sufficient, Utopian bliss to present laughter.

Not quite. I do not prefer the unknown, the untried, mystery over fact, the possible, the distant, the superabundant, or Utopian bliss. No. I, too, live mostly with the familiar, the tried, fact, the actual, the near, the sufficient. In fact, I live mostly within these “conservative” parameters. It would be difficult not to.

Trump, whom Boot was decrying rather than liberals, is neither liberal nor conservative. He is a reactionary. It’s right there in his motto: Make America Great Again. Unpack Great. He meant then and means now, an America untroubled by women, by visible minorities, by unions, by environmentalists and their regulations, by governmental niceties like taxes and legislation and democracy and, especially, by the rule of law. He meant an America who is a friend to the authoritarian and in struggle with its allies.

The reactionary is a foe of the liberal and the conservative alike. We can join arms because in the end we both want a civil society. Yes, I may want, too, a more just civil society than even Obama’s America. I may be more comfortable with the mysteries of the universe, with the unknown, with the untried, but that is because I know we can be better than we are. That does not mean I prefer them. It means they are tools, time telescopes to see a better future.

Certainly, a future without Trumpian disdain for decency and justice, yes, at least that. But also a future without an upstairs/downstairs division. A future where the old can age with dignity and without fear. A future where the world marks collaboration and opportunity as ascendant values over political competition. Most of all, right now, an anti-dystopian future where the capitalist class is not allowed to rend and tear our planet without regard to human prospects.

I’m with Boot though. First our nation must be delivered from the “populist-nationalist abyss” into which it has sunk. This may not be the Mariana’s Trench of our history, but it’s as far beneath the surface as we’ve been in my lifetime. This maelstrom of greed and envy and unchecked desire is anathema to both those who prefer the familiar and those who yearn for an unfamiliar, but just society. Let’s rise up from this pit together. Then we can argue again, check each other’s baser impulses, and get back a world that has a future.