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.

A Holiday Week

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Monday gratefuls: the folks at Weather5280, Ted the snowplower, our mail guy, Greg, our Denver Post most of the time delivery person, the UPS and Fedex drivers who deliver our packages. A small web of people who help us in this isolated, yet hyper connected age.

Yesterday I got up around 6 am, late for me, and Orion already had his boots behind Black Mountain. This morning he stood fully above it, the soles of his boots resting on the peak. He’s hunting Lepus the rabbit who always scoots away, just out of reach. Lucky Lepus.

Saturday included picking up a grocery order and a trip to the Happy Camper in Bailey after the bagel table. Tired.

On Sunday we began a ritual going on in many households around the whole nation. Decluttering. Not a lot to do, but still some. Books piled up on the downstairs table where we’ll eat the meal. Papers of various sorts stacked by my place at the table. There are photographs in boxes in the room Kate’s using for exercise. Some jigsaw puzzles going up to the guest room.

Sandy, our housecleaner, will come on Wednesday. Her usual day was last Friday, but we had a snowstorm that prevented her California raised self from coming up the hill.

The capon and the side dishes I’ll pick up Wednesday morning at Tony’s. I’ll also get pizzas for supper Wednesday night when Joe, Seoah, Murdoch, and Annie will be here.

Last year Kate was recently home from Brookdale Green Mountain rehab. Cooking was not part of the plan. “At 2 pm I drive over to Littleton to Tony’s Market to pick up our Thanksgiving meal, a turkey breast and several sides. We decided putting out a big meal this year was beyond us.” Nov. 21, 2018

Inching our way back to a full meal. I love capon and wanted to cook one, but didn’t want responsibility for the whole meal. Kate suggested we go with the side dish bundle from Tony’s again. No pushback from me. Maybe next year we’ll get back to the full meal. Ruth’s agreed to make the pumpkin pie. She’s a good cook and loves to make pies.

The big storm, thankfully, gratefully, comes tonight and tomorrow, leaving Wednesday and Thursday clear. Joe and Seoah should have clear roads.

The End of History

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Orion’s dog is chasing him toward the west. His bow points to the northwest. He stands suspended above the western peak of Black Mountain with Canis Major following him as he has done for millions, even billions of years. Castor and Pollux are there, too, anchoring Gemini.

In spite of all the exoplanets discovered we’re still alone. No one has contacted us and we’ve only sent golden records into the far space. Far space, indeed. Both Voyager 1 & 2 have reached interstellar space, beyond the heliopause, the end of Sol’s puissance. I have to reach back to my 9 year old heart to imagine how far away that is, but I can do that. Far, far away.

Strange to consider 10 billion souls alone together, but it’s the truth as we know it. We’re on this planet, of this planet, and we’ll die with this planet unless we kill ourselves first. Which seems possible.

Nietzsche’s abyss has its power through our isolation. I can swear there ain’t no heaven and I pray there ain’t no hell. At some point there’ll be no one left to carry on. (Blood Sweat and Tears, “And When I Die”)

Turn Starwheel Turn

Samain and a full Fallow Moon

Orion was there, but dim. 4:30 am. Full Fallow Moon above Black Mountain outshone his distant stars. Going outside in the early morning, seeing Orion rise, his big dog, too, has somewhat rekindled my interest in astronomy. Enough that I repurchased something I gave away when we moved, a starwheel. Wonderful name. Relearning parts of the night sky.

The big dipper, easy to locate in Andover, often hides behind the lodgepoles to the northeast, but is now rising early enough that I can see it. With that friend I can find Polaris and Arcturus. Follow the arc to Arcturus. Follow the pointer stars to Polaris.

Coming out at 4:30 or so on a daily basis makes me understand how the heavens could have been used not only as a calendar, but also as a clock. Orion ticks over further and further to the west. Others come to his former spot. A person who focused on the stars at night could tell time with this movement.

Living in the mountains surrounded by the Arapaho National Forest gives each day and night a close connection with the changing natural world. On the ground. In the sky.

One outcome of Kate’s good news and my ok news about our lung diseases (geez) is that we’re here to stay. Yes, we’re challenged by the thin air, but we can cope. Better up here for both of us than down in the polluted air of the Denver metro.

Ruby’s Home

Fall and a thin crescent moon

Ruby, the cherry red 2018 Rav4, has come home. She’s sitting below me as I write this, in her stall for the first time in over two weeks. Her lift gate sparkles, the crumpled back bumper is smooth. She’s whole again.

Much as I appreciate having her back to normal it’s frustrating to have to go through all this stuff and the payoff is the vehicle we purchased. Not Kate’s fault. Yet we had to do the usual dance routine with insurance adjusters, rental car companies, and the collision repair folks. A lot of sturm and drang to arrive back where we started. Hope those folks are having a good time in Denmark.

Before I went in to pick up Ruby and bring her back to her forever home, Kate and I went into Swedish. She had a second PFT, pulmonary function test. Very tiring. Literally, a lot of huffing and puffing, some of it in an air tight clear plastic chamber. She came out looking exhausted.

A second CT scan on November 4th will produce another data set for Dr. Taryle, pulmonologist, and Dr. Gruber, cardio-thoracic surgeon. They’ll be looking for any change in the bleb found a month ago, plus any changes to her interstitial lung disease. Closing in on a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Aiming toward the lung biopsy on the 18th of November. That should resolve this now over a year long search for the reason behind her breathing problems.

And, just to show this is not an all Kate, all the time medical show, I go in on Monday for a stress test. Looking at my heart. This stems from my COPD diagnosis a few weeks ago. Shortness of breath is a medical red flag, not only indicating possible pulmonary problems, but cardiac problems, too. Possibly, congestive heart failure.

Since the spirometer showed breathing impairment, and, since Lisa diagnosed me with COPD, this is probably unnecessary, but you never know. Should tell me some interesting things anyhow.

Warm day today. Cold tomorrow and next week. More snow, too. The transitional time. Ivory gets her snowshoes on Friday. Not sure when Ruby will get hers. Not feeling so urgent about them for her right now.

Resurrection

Fall and the Sukkot Moon

Went out for the paper with some anticipation. The Orionid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours. So I stood looking, gazing above Orion’s shoulder. Getting cold. It’s 21 degrees. And looking. Still looking. Nope.

Oh, well. Got a good view of Orion and the waning Sukkot moon. A few clouds diffused the moon light to the east, otherwise the sky was clear.

I know, Minnesotans. Getting cold at twenty one degrees? Remember I’ve lived here almost 5 years. I came out for the closing on Samain of 2014 and we moved in on the Winter Solstice of that year. Gonna have to invalidate my winter passport for no longer meeting Gopher State citizenship requirements.

Yesterday, when I planned to continue mitigation, there were wind gusts of sixty mph, sustained winds of twenty-five to thirty. Lends too much uncertainty to felling for this amateur, plus it was only 30 yesterday so the wind chill was nippy. Instead I cut up cardboard, read the parsha for November 23rd, talked to Kate.

In the evening I continued watching my forever series, Resurrection. It’s in season 5 this year. I’m on episode 27 of the first year. There 66 more episodes in year 1. How they count episodes is a bit confusing, but there seem to be around 400 or so through year 5. This is the story of Ertugrul, the father of Usman who founded the Ottoman empire.

It has rough spots. Like early scenes where horses descend a hill in what are obviously tire tracks. A spy is caught peering around a tree with limbs cut off with a chain saw. It took a while for the actors to get into their roles and some of the early dialogue was wooden. But if you allow for that and enjoy historical drama this Netflix series will grab your attention.

All of the heroes are Muslim and the arch villains are Knights Templar, Roman Catholic priests and cardinals, and Christian rulers. If you watch any of the terrorist inspired TV shows on now, the villains are Muslim and the heroes Western police or military. It’s worthwhile to see our own history through the eyes of others who saw it differently.

Yesterday was quieter. The winds howled, upping the fire danger, clouds kept the sky a gray-white. Both Kate and I were tired from yesterday so a slow day was just fine.

You know your body

Fall and the beautiful crescent of the Harvest Moon

And another diagnosis. Geez. I have what can be called either COPD or asthma. I prefer asthma but if it hacks like COPD and interferes with breathing like COPD, then it’s also that. Short story: smoking related. Errors of my youth coming back to grab me by the lobe.

You might be surprised to learn that this diagnosis gave me joy. Yes, it did. Several factors. 1st. Caught early and treated it’s not likely to progress, so permanent but manageable. 2nd. A low level concern about my breathing that I’ve had for several months has a name and a treatment. 3rd. Told Dr. Gidday that I’d felt a constriction in my lungs. That I knew my body and something was off. After the pulmonary function test, she said, “You do know your body.” I liked that. So, yippee, I’ve got COPD. No, to me asthma. But you get the drift.

The treatment is a prednisone inhaler, two puffs at night before bed. Also, for a while, I’ll use the albuterol inhaler before exercise. Lisa says I probably won’t need it after a while. “You’ll find exercising and breathing a lot easier. You’ll feel better.” Gotta like that.

Kate and I left Lisa’s office and went to NoNo’s for dinner. A New Orleans place. Great po-boys and wonderful beignets. I felt light, like a burden had gone. And, indeed it had. Strange, I know.

November, 2015

Should help with the fire mitigation work once I get my chain saw fixed. Yeah, about that. I did do the guy thing. I took it apart. I put it back together. But. In the process I jiggled some little hose thingy loose and couldn’t get it to return to its former location. Sorta deflated the guy thing. Guess it got Luproned.

Talked to Derrick yesterday and he’s ready to help and accept logs. I plan to put a sign up if he doesn’t take them all and offer the rest to folks who heat with wood. There are several up here. Cheaper than having them chipped. By a lot. I’ll keep one or two sawed up and split for our fireplace.

An Old Friend

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

Orion has returned. He’s visible just above the south-eastern horizon around 5 am. A friend since my time as a security guard for a cookware factory. On the midnight shift I worked alone and during the fall and winter months we became acquainted. He signals the season of inner work.

As the growing season yields its bounty, the plant world gets ready for the fallow season that will start on October 31st, Samain. The nights grow longer and cooler. On September 29th Michaelmas, the springtime of the soul. Perennials send food down to their corms, tubers, bulbs. Their leaves turn brown and die back to the ground. Annual flowers finish their summer long journey by spreading seed for the next year.

This is the Great Wheel and it repeats each year, spiraling out along earth’s orbit. Lived too, in lifetimes of birth, youth, maturity, and senescence. It is the way of the earth. For living things, the most ancientrail of all.

This is the lens through which I see my life, the one I use for comfort in difficult times, celebration, understanding.

Saw a movie yesterday, Midsommar. Its opening scene shows winter, spring, summer, and fall in a tableau. You may be aware of the naked dancing the Swedes (and others, too) enjoy at their midsommar bonfires. Well, this isn’t about that. It shows the dark side of a pagan worldview, how it can devolve into traditions every bit as dogmatic and frightening as any inquisitor. I loved this movie. Kate hated it.

Fans of Wicker Man will see Midsommar as an instant classic in the same vein. Kate said, “It made me glad I’m not Swedish.” Spoiler alert: the character named Christian does not fare well.

First Week No Glow

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

Nuclear blast shadow, Hiroshima

First week with no radiation treatments since June 17th. Still seems odd to me that I started radiation for this most male of diseases the day after Father’s Day. And, even odder, that I ended in the week of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s anniversaries. Peaceful or deadly, the use of technology and science matters. A lot.

goal: bell pepper all the time. reality: poblano, jalapeno at times

And in other cancer treatment news. Why did the room get so hot last night? More than once? Not exactly hot flashes, more like hot surges. Still so new to me that I don’t tumble to them immediately. I just wonder why someone turned the heat up in the room. So far they’re in the evening for the most part. None at night and only a couple during the day. I’m taking Black Cohosh and if they get bad I’ll find an acupuncturist.

Yesterday we got a great beef stew, peach and strawberry cobbler, smoothies for breakfast, and salad from Judy Sherman. This is the last week of meals from CBE. Counting on Gilroy’s one week and you’re beginning to feel a lot better.

And, four to go

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

The Concert, Gerard van Honthorst

Finishing the fractions to renaissance music. It conjures up visions of castles, balls, courtly life. A world far removed from photons and linear accelerators. No CyberKnifes in the late middle ages. Just a lot of great art, city states. Kim, therapist Kim, says it reminds her she wants to go to the Renaissance Festival. That, too.

Thirty-first fraction yesterday, 4 to go. Gut problems reduced. Much less gas. Nicky measured my bladder. Each day I get a small amount of gel rubbed on my tummy, an ultrasound probe goes on the gel. Yesterday. “100.” Nicky said. That’s ml of urine, btw. 100 is the magic number. Anything above it and the treatment can go ahead. Unless gas. The things we do for a cure.

Michelle and David brought fish, salad, rice, vegetables, and lemon cake on Sunday. CBE folks. When SeoAh was here, we ran into Michelle at Walmart. This was January. Her husband, David, had a month old diagnosis of prostate cancer, with metastases. I told her about my experience in 2015.

Later, when my new diagnosis came, I talked to her at mussar. David and I got together for coffee at the Muddy Buck in Evergreen. As it happened, that was the Friday I saw Dr. Gilroy to discuss treatments. David mentioned Lupron to me in the morning; I had it prescribed for me in the afternoon. David, too, had radiation, though 20 sessions rather than 35.

The Muddy Buck, Evergreen

He’s had side effects from the Lupron. Memory loss, hot flashes at night. Since he had mets, they couldn’t do a radical prostatectomy. Too much chance that would spread the cancer rather than eliminate it. In his case they’re trying to suppress all the testosterone, so he’s getting a second medication that takes care of testosterone produced in places you don’t suspect, like the adrenal gland.

It was good to talk with him again. A mini support group. I’ve got lots of support, but David is the only one who also has prostate cancer.

The last week of treatment, one drive down, four to go.