We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Sweat, Black Holes and Sushi

Summer                                                                       Woolly Mammoth Moon

49 this morning.

HIITEasing back (if that’s the right phrase) into high intensity interval training (HIIT), up to 9 minutes of 30 second, 20 second, 10 second intervals, moderate for 30, higher speed for 20, as fast as possible for 10. Once I get back to 10 minutes, two 5 minute sessions in a row with a two minute break, I’ll start increasing the incline on the treadmill. I’m only at 2% right now and I’d like to get to 4%.

I can already tell an improvement in my breathing. This is cardio at its quickest and best. The whole workout takes 20 minutes, though because of my knee I add 15 minutes of icing. I’m now back to the five day pattern I want to retain. I used to go 6 days, but decided I need the two days off for psychic reasons.

pearl-street-then-and-now Photo from Silvia Pettem's book Positively Pearl Street. Historic photo from the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History. Current day photo taken by Casey A. Cass.

pearl-street-then-and-now Photo from Silvia Pettem’s book Positively Pearl Street. Historic photo from the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History. Current day photo taken by Casey A. Cass.

Ruth and I go to Boulder tonight, leaving around 5:30 pm. We’ll hit the 8 pm show at Fiske Planetarium, Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity. Before that I’m taking her to a sushi restaurant, Japango, that Mark Odegard and I found last week. It’s on the Pearl Street Mall, an urban spot among the best I’ve found in Colorado.

When Mark was here, I found an article from 2008 in the NYT that referred to Boulder as 25 square miles surrounded by reality. Here it’s known as the Republic of Boulder. We would have chosen to live there, but housing is very, very expensive, in the near million dollar range for an average purchase price. Too rich for us.

Even though we had over an inch of rain last week the fire danger signs here seem stuck on high. Not sure how they determine the fire risk ratings. Not even sure who determines them though the fire danger signs themselves are National Forest Service issue. A piece of information that remains in memory because they’re located frequently enough that every trip takes us past at least one. The point I suppose.

eudaimonia and makarismosJon’s working on his house, creating maps of wiring he intends to install and getting ready to rewire much of it. He’s got so many skills and he’s very bright. He seems to be gradually getting his balance though it’s been a tough slog. Ruth and Gabe both have become much less reactive. Neither of them will ever be normal kids, just fine with that.

Like most parent/grandparents we want to them to choose for themselves, live a life that makes them productive and fulfilled. Personally I think happiness overrated, preferring for them eudaimonia, flourishing, and resilience. Those are my goals, too.

makarismos=blessed, from Homer

 

This and that

Beltane                                                                            Woolly Mammoth Moon

Ode, Tom, Paul overlooking the Animas River in Durango

Ode, Tom, Paul overlooking the Animas River in Durango

All the Woollies are back in their places with bright shiny faces. Mark and Tom in the Twin Cities, Paul in Robbintson, Maine.

Kate had her first board meeting last night. She dressed up in her serious adult clothes, put on a coat of many colors and went to Evergreen. I stayed home. Felt good after the long drive.

It’s 50 again this morning, cool, but clear. Yesterday the rain continued in the evening. A bit of nostalgia on the weather website, a tornado watch! Felt like the Midwest. Don’t recall having had one while we’ve lived here. Lots of red flag days, flash flood warnings, winter storm warnings, but no tornado watches. A few severe thunderstorm warnings, usually announcing the possibility of killer hail. Colorado has significant hail damage, among the highest in the nation. Climate in the montane region of the Rockies.

With the Durango trip over I’m finished with traveling until early August when I’ll head back to the Twin Cities for Groveland U.U.’s 25th anniversary celebration. Look forward to reconnecting with both Woolly friends and fellow docents from the MIA, seeing the MIA and the Walker, a jucy lucy at Matt’s.

Tan clumps are stump detritus

Tan clumps are stump detritus

We go into Denver less and less, our out of the house time spent either in the mountains themselves or in Evergreen, mostly at Beth Evergreen. Not an intentional thing, though the heat during the summers is a barrier for us, just that our life is now in the mountains and the city seems more and more foreign each time we go. Of course, we lived in Andover for twenty years, well outside Minneapolis, but we got into the Cities with greater frequency there. I had the MIA and the Sierra Club, the Woollies that drew me in; Kate had friends.

The stump grinder did a great job. Feels like we’re beginning to move in, a process attenuated by the medical and familial upsets that came bang, bang, bang after we moved. Jon’s bench is a good step in that direction, placing the fans, adding the light in the living room. Plenty more to do. We spent a lot of money early on installing the generator, a new boiler, solar panels, the new bathroom downstairs, sealing and staining the garage, new kitchen. Decor has waited. I’m close to having the garage organized again, may do some more work on that today.

 

Cleaning the Pine Pollen Off Our Solar Panels

Beltane                                                           Woolly Mammoth Moon

20180619_093741According to my weather system we’ve had 1.5 inches of rain this month. That’s 6.8% of  our annual precipitation total of 22 inches. (Conifer does better than the state, precip wise, 22 inches on average with 105 inches on average falling as snow.) And most of it came over the last three days. Pinecam.com is abuzz with hosannas. Things were not looking so good when the four of us left for Durango. Now? Much better.

This morning the dewpoint is 49 and the outside temp is 50. We’re in a cloud, rain falling, air cool. Wonderful for two days prior to the Summer Solstice.

Kate has her first meeting of the Beth Evergreen board tonight. She has management experience, great number sense, and a clear, unflinching view of reality. She will be an asset to both the board and through it, the synagogue. I’m happy she has this opportunity.

Got back into the exercise routine yesterday, planning to go back this week to 5 days with Tuesdays and Thursdays being high intensity interval training. I breath better when I do HIIT, got off it for a while during the intense period of Kate’s recovery.

‘Wild Rabbit in the Headlights 5#’, pencil & acrylic on rejection letter’, 21x29cm (2013) by Louise McNaught

‘Wild Rabbit in the Headlights 5#’, pencil & acrylic on rejection letter’, by Louise McNaught

Also made a commitment to myself, which I have written down on a yellow note stuck to my computer: NO 104 x’s  2018.  This means I want to receive 100 rejections this year from publishers. Sounds a little nuts, I know, but I’ve read the idea several places over the last year or so and I like it.

It recognizes that in any creative work: acting, writing, painting, music auditions you hear no more often than you do yes. And, this can be crippling. It has been for me. But, if you turn the idea around and acknowledge that reality, you can set a rejection goal. Why? Because the more times you’re rejected, the more opportunities you’ve given yourself to hear a yes. It can get somebody like me, who’s grown discouraged, a way of overcoming the negative. So, I have a goal of 2 rejections a week. Which means of course that I have to submit material to publishers. The point of it all.

forest and soulWriting, at least for me, is sufficiently compelling that I’ve continued to write over the years without success in publishing. That’s working without regard to the results. And, I found quite a while ago that that was enough for me. The writing is, itself, sufficient reward.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I wouldn’t like to sell some work, get some recognition. I would. But I’ve let the fear of rejection and the other negative emotions that come with it hamper me. A big psychic hurdle, one I stopped trying to overcome.

I now have enough work I can easily reach my goal of 104 rejections in 2018. Looking forward to the first two. Then two more. Then two more.

Writing has been my ground project since 1992. I’ll talk more about this idea in a later post.

 

 

Venn Merging

Beltane                                                                                  Woolly Mammoth Moon

Yesterday two worlds came into contact, even if only briefly. The first was Kate and mine’s current world, the world of the Rocky Mountains and Reconstructionist Judaism, Evergreen and Shadow Mountain. The other was our old world, the world of the Land of Lakes and the Woolly Mammoths, Andover and the Twin Cities.

First, Ode showed up at mussar. Then, Tom and Paul. The middot of the week is grace and reading Rami Shapiro’s book, The Art of Loving Kindness, carried us into a discussion about shabbat as a “counter-cultural rebellion” which encourages living one day a week as if work and worry are not the point of life. Has always made sense to me, BTW, long before Beth Evergreen, but I’ve never acted on it, never observed a sabbath day.

Anyhow the context of the conversation made me realize what a grace-full moment it was for me when Tom, Paul and Mark showed up here in Colorado. It was, in one sense, perhaps even the best sense, ordinary. I knew they would find the conversation fascinating, because it was a conversation we’d been having for over thirty years. How do you live? What about life is important? How can we move ourselves into a more meaningful, graceful, gratitude filled existence?

So that moment at the synagogue smooshed together two venn diagrams, Minnesota and Colorado. And it felt really good. They met Rabbi Jamie. Debra referred to the four of us as the quadruplets, older white haired white guys of similar size and habitus and life.

Then the party moved over to Shadow Mountain. My slow cooker Irish stew was, well, partly there. The lamb was tender, but the potatoes were not. Neither Kate nor I, though she is much more able at it than me, are big on hosting events at our house. Too busy at one point, now a bit less able. But these were friends who would forgive an underdone potato for the  conversation around the table. And the occasional poking of Rigel’s head under their arms.

Kate went to bed, then got up, came out and said, “You have the best friends.” Indeed, I do.

This morning at 8:30 we’ll take off in the giant SUV that Tom has rented. First stop, the Crow Hill Cafe, then The Happy Camper. Maybe the Sasquatch Outpost? Certainly Kenosha Pass, South Park, Fairplay. On down through South Park. Maybe we’ll look at the Rocky Mountain Land Library, maybe we’ll stop in Pagosa Springs for a soak in the hot springs. Not sure. Doesn’t matter.

We’re headed to Durango in the southwest corner of the state. The 416 fire, north of Durango, as of yesterday:

“While residents in two areas were allowed to return to their homes Thursday, the 416 Fire grew to 32,076 acres with no update on containment.

The fire, burning just 13 miles north of Durango, is still being worked by over 1,000 firefighters who are battling this thing from the air and the ground. Burn out efforts, that is, efforts to burn up the fire’s potential fuel, continued throughout the day.” 9News, Denver.

Here’s a link to a Durango Herald article on fire analysts, very interesting.

Traveling Mercies

Beltane                                                                                Woolly Mammoth Moon

about+friendship+best+fMario is already in town, taking wildfire pictures with his usual acumen, traveling over mountain passes. Tom and Paul fly in today and we’ll have a slow cooker Irish stew up here on Shadow Mountain, all of us. These are friends of well over thirty years, men with whom I shared twice monthly meetings over that time, plus annual retreats. That bond was the toughest thing to leave behind when Kate and I moved out here.

This was a men’s group in the old style, one supported by, though not directly part of, the Men’s Movement. Robert Bly, the well known poet who lives in Minneapolis, was a key figure in that movement and a friend of several Woollies. He and the early Men’s Movement folks rooted the movement in Jungian psychology, considering archetypes in particular. Our group, the Woolly Mammoths-“We’re not extinct yet.”-, went in that direction, too, discussing fathers and mothers, dreams, career, love, pilgrimage and many other topics with vulnerability prized rather than shamed.

left to right, back row first: Jim, Bill, Paul, Tom, Me, Mark, Warren

left to right, back row first: Jim, Bill, Paul, Tom, Me, Mark, Warren

I’ve been gone three years now and I felt the loss keenly in the first couple of years. These were my confidants, my friends, an external ballast that helped steady the little barque that is my life. Due to illness and divorce (Jon’s) our first years  here have focused on recovery and left little money or time or stamina for travel. There were visits here, which I appreciated very much.

Now Paul, Tom, and Mark will be here for a trip to Durango, current site of the 416 fire, and jumping off spot for seeing such sights as Mesa Verde and the Four Corners in addition to the Durango/Silverton RR, closed due to the fire.

I feel so happy that these guys are coming out here, that we’ll have time together, to talk, to go deeper in the way only long time friends can do. Seeing more of Colorado, all of which will be new to me after Fairplay or so, is also exciting. Looking forward to a memorable few days.

 

Mowing the Fuel

Beltane                                                                        Sumi-e Moon

WildfireOf course, one of the things I forgot to mention about my brief, successful excursion into small engine repair is this. Now I can mow the fuel. That clogged carburetor had given me a pass for a week or so until I decided to tackle it myself. Mowing the fuel is much different from mowing a yard. The purpose has little to do with aesthetics or neighbor pleasing. The fines, as the fire experts call them, are grasses and flowers that, when dry, serve as a fuse so that ground fires can travel from place to place.

That’s why the 10 foot rule on limbing trees. All limbs must be at least 10 feet off the ground when there are fines because flames can leap from ground to tree otherwise. There are also ladder fuels like shrubs and young trees which can ignite from the fines and carry the fire up, like a ladder, to the higher branches of the conifers. Reduce (mow) fines, cut down ladder fuel and limb trees. After creating spaces among and between trees, these are the usual annual chores to make a property as fire resistant as possible. They also include cleaning gutters. Fire mitigation in the WUI is never done. Until, that is, a big fire. Then you can wait a while to return to fire mitigation.

 

Beginner’s Mind

Beltane                                                                               Sumi-e Moon

20180315_080258Odd things. First, a small group of folks at Beth Evergreen, mostly qabbalah students like myself, report seeing me as an artist. A visual artist. This is based on my last two presentations, the first being Hebrew letters with quotes relating to their deeper meanings and the second, last Wednesday, that used the sumi-e zen practice of enso creation. Now I’m far from a visual artist, I have two very good ones in my immediate family, Jeremiah Miller and Jon Olson, but to be seen even modestly in their company is a real treat.

repair2Second. Damned mower wouldn’t start. As I said earlier. Put in fresh gas. No joy. Hmmm. You Tube. You Tube, that Chinese patron saint of the do it yourselfer. Looked up mower won’t start. Found a video of a guy. One with a small wrench who showed how to take apart the carburetor, poke wire into various holes and then, voila, vrrooom. Didn’t look too hard.

Took the mower out, put it on the deck so I could reach the carburetor easily, found a wrench, took off the cap, got out my wire, poked the holes in the thingy four or five times and put the cap back on. Oh, I forgot. I did the video one better. He said you had to drain the tank or gas would flow out. I’d just changed the gas and don’t like siphoning. Yuck. Gas not taste good. Thought of surgical clamps. Got a vise grip, tightened it down on the fuel line and Bob’s your uncle, no drip!

fix itBest of all, when I yanked the starter cord after closing the carburetor back up, the mower started. To those of you with a mechanical gene this no doubt sounds trivial, probably very trivial, but to me. Wow. I fixed it myself.

I mention both of these because they relate to each other. I like to challenge myself, see if I can do something I previously thought I couldn’t do. Exercise was one such challenge, now over 30 years ago. Still at it. So was Latin. No good at language. So? I’ll give it a try anyhow. Then in my recent melancholic phase I realized I needed more touch, more tactile experience in my day. That led to the sumi-e work and prompted me to see the non-starting lawn mower as an opportunity.

beginners mindI’m not an athlete, not a Latin scholar, not a very good visual artist and definitely not much of a mechanic, but I have an amateur’s capacity. Trying these things makes my heart sing, keeps life vital. I suppose, going back to yesterday’s post, you could say I have faith in myself. Not faith that I can do anything I try, that’s just silly, but faith that if I try I can learn something new, maybe introduce something important to my life.

Who knows, maybe someday I will be a visual artist. Nah. Probably not. But, you never know.

 

 

The True Yellow Peril

Beltane                                                                               Sumi-e Moon

20180610_061444

This morning

In January the solar panels often disappear under snow cover. In June they’re more likely to be covered in pine pollen. Both reduce their effectiveness. Snow, however, does not reduce my effectiveness while the true yellow peril does. Fuzzy, nose focused, weighed down not only by the pollen but by the helps (and thank god for them) for the symptoms. No good solutions here. Do what you can. Wait.

the orgy continues

the orgy continues

Two full days now, Friday and Saturday, given over to sneezing, lack of sleep (due to sneezing), consuming nasal steriods, second generation antihistamines (so called non-drowsy), and using saline sprays. Not to mention eliminating the current stash of kleenex we have. All this more for the record here than anything else.

Whinging stops.

 

 

Yellow Haze

Beltane                                                                     Sumi-e Moon

an offender

an offender

Winding down Brook Forest Drive toward Evergreen a yellow haze drifted over the road. My nose knows it. This is a two week + lodgepole pine orgy. My night stand had enough pollen on it to change the color of the wood top. We leave our windows open for the cool night air. As with many things unpleasant, this one requires riding out and I’d ride faster if I could. Somehow being in the present moment doesn’t sound quite as appealing right now. Wish I could make a short time jump over this oh so natural phenomenon.

Yesterday was a rest day, catching up on lost sleep, emptying kleenex boxes. At the cliched end of the day I felt better. Pollen counts lower by the end of the day.

Glacier alley, the Chilean fjords

Glacier alley, the Chilean fjords

Kate’s struggling again, still, with her weight. We had her on a positive up tick, but her dogged, and admired, following of the dietitian’s recommendations led back to nausea. Now it seems that each time she eats she becomes nauseated and/or has colon related discomfort. This is aversive conditioning around a basic human need: eating and is a problem we have to solve if she’s to have any quality of life.

Milieu therapy. Last night was a chair-ity event at Beth Evergreen. The old blue chairs, heavy and now showing their age, need replacing before the High Holidays in September. So it was a dunk the rabbi and the congregation president night. Hot dogs (Hebrew Nationals, of course), hamburgers, chicken breasts, potato salad, baked beans, chips. Beer, vodka, mineral water. Salad and condiments. All outside on the back patio.

20180608_181803Over the course of the evening I discussed quantum physics in relation to time, the placing of a second hive box at the Herman’s, travel to Peru, working as a marketing consultant, “In business, as a consultant, you’re always justifying your existence,” and watched Rabbi Jamie’s yarmulke float to the bottom of the dunk tank.

20180608_181810The weather was perfect. 75 degrees, dry and blue sky sunny. It was a good event for both of us. Folks came up to Kate and said they were glad she was going to be on the board. Two other recent shoulder surgery folks attended, their effected arms still attached to their body with slings. Kate has been consistent with her rehab. The pain relief alone has been enough to make it a successful procedure, but now she’s regaining range of motion, too.

The benefits of being seen, remembered, cared for. Huge. Necessary. Welcome.

Yellow Peril

Beltane                                                                                Sumi-e Moon

pollenOne thing it took moving to the mountains to learn: I’m allergic to lodgepole pine pollen. I could have done without revealing this part of myself. It’s a couple of weeks of fine yellow grime on table tops, windows, cars, window sills, all for sex and we’re forced to participate. Well, my body fights back. Ah, choo!

Went to the hardware store yesterday. Not a frequent trip for me. I eyeballed that new handle for my small sledge hammer. Not so well, as it turns out. Also, that beaded chain for a longer pull on the dining room fan? Gosh. There’s more than one size of beaded chain. Other than that the new vise will work well and those spikes (well, I thought they were spikes, but one of the employees said, nope, not spikes. So, just really big nails, I guess) will secure the cedar planks to the tree stumps and cut logs around the fire pit. Precision in the real world is not my thing.

Durango Silverton Narrow GaugeIn climate change news the 416 fire outside Durango has claimed part of the itinerary for the Tom, Mark, Paul and me trip. We were going to ride on the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad. Nope. Closed through the time we’ll be there due to fire risk. We may hit Four Corners and Mesa Verde and the hot springs instead. The area is full of interesting bits.

linguisticsWent to a talk at Beth Evergreen last night on linguistics. Elizabeth Moore, an administrative assistant on our staff, is a very smart woman. She majored in linguistics and offered a crash course. A lot I didn’t know. She gave a quick overview of a very complicated discipline, explaining its fundamental disciplines like phonology, pragmatics, syntactics, morphology and its more esoteric branches like neurolinguistics and cognitive linguistics, graphetics and philology.

Back home, sneezing all the way.

 

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