Broken. Replaced.

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Hot water in San Francisco! Diane’s recommendation of “Getting Open.” Sleep. Rest. Feeling rejuvenated. The U.S. grocery store. The NYT for endorsing Amy and Elizabeth. Blizzaks. AWD on Ruby. Healing from the dog bite. Almost done.

Cooked last night. Deep fried chicken chunks from a deli chicken. Coated with bread crumbs. Surprisingly good. Broke our vegetable chopper, too. A second time. I prefer hand tools in the kitchen for food prep. Knives, choppers, dicers, zesters. We have a mandolin somewhere and I want to find it. Just ordered a Swedish chopper, made of metal. More durable.

Broke the chopper making a version of Israeli salad. It was the onions that did it in. Well, not the onion, but me, pressing down quick and hard on the onion. Little blades popped off the cutting grid. Not supposed to happen. Got the salad, diced onions (by knife), tomatoes, cucumber, and a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Some lime juice. Some Italian seasoning.

But. I was also gonna warm up the cabbage and potatoes in the microwave. Put them in the microwave at the start. Kate’s taught me to get all the ingredients out before I begin. Forgot about the potatoes and the cabbage. Still in the microwave this morning.

Oh, yeah. Finally got the microwave installed. After the first appointment, I had to have an electrician come out to create a wall socket for it, then reschedule the installation. Happened Saturday. Kate is very happy. She can reheat her coffee. Hot coffee and the crossword in the morning make Kate a happy gal. I’m indifferent to coffee temperature. Cold. Hot. Meh. Not a gourmet.

Spent time yesterday on another modern chore. Cutting up boxes. We get our dogfood through chewy.com. Great service. Reasonable prices. Free shipping. And large cardboard boxes. Bought some airtight dogfood containers, too, through Amazon. Really big boxes. As I’ve noted before, the home has become a shipping and receiving department. All those cardboard boxes that used to get cut up at the warehouse or in the back of the store are now in living rooms across America. Or, garages.

Anyone rural appreciates the chance to look things up online and order them for delivery. Beats going on a Saturday morning quest for the right pan or sheets or, say, a vegetable chopper. Especially if the stores are miles and miles away. Makes a huge difference to caregivers like me, too. It’s why Sears and Roebuck did so well with their catalog. A shame they couldn’t make the transition to an economy much like the one they introduced back in the late 19th century.

Got doggy things to do now. Tomorrow.

WWMD?

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.

Early to bed…

Winter and the Future Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Marilyn Saltzman, who works so hard. Rabbi Jamie’s The Human Narrative class. Truly radical religion. Extra sleep this am. (writing this at 9 am. way late for me) Heirloom tomatoes. Honeycrisp apples. Metamucil. The old garden in Andover where I learned so much. The beautiful light illuminating Black Mountain.

Still tired today, but less so. Got back to the house about 9pm last night after a focus group at Beth Evergreen. The first one of several. Part of a five year strategic planning process. They put me in this group with mostly founding members and other long termers. I was the only Gentile in the room. The focus group started at 7 pm, a time when I’m in my jammies and within an hour of going to bed. Not my time for peak performance.

Felt dull on the way home. Don’t like evening meetings anymore. Used to be my bread and butter. Now I fade after 6, 6:30 pm. The pattern we’ve gotten into. Since I get up between 4:30 and 5:00, it makes sense. But it makes evening sessions requiring, as Hercules Poirot says, “…the little gray cells,” hard.

More sleep still needed, but much better.

Fumes

Winter and the Future Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Debra Cope, who came by for dinner. Safeway for deli salad and the baguette. The E-collar that solved the Murdoch no come in problem. Kate’s advice in that matter, and in so many others. Gertie, who will not let up on being a rascal. Mike who put in a wall socket for our new microwave.

Exhaustion. Creeps up, miss a nap here. Have Gertie chewing on a box in the sewing room after leaping out of the bedroom window there. Murdoch not wanting to come inside. The constant Game of Rooms necessary to keep Kep and Murdoch apart. Also, of course, the long term stress of first Kate’s Sjogren’s and loss of weight, then her bleed, then all that came after. Toss in a dash of cancer recurrence and a soupcon of COPD.

Plain weary. Short tempered. Thoughts not as crisp. Ashamed of myself for not being able to reign in my anger. Not new. Anger is hard for me. It comes, rising red and proud, sudden. Pushing. Demanding release. I do not have the mussar attitude here, lengthening the pause between striking the match and lighting the candle.

Right now. Up. Tired.

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.

Cancer on my mind

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Those who discovered and manufacture lupron. The makers of the Cyberknife and those involved in radiation therapy. Dr. Gilroy, Pattie, Camela, Nicky, all those who took care of me then. Dr. Eigner. Anna Willis. Shelley, the lupron lady from Georgia. And a second time on the clear PSA.

Yes, cancer is on my mind this morning. At eleven I have my third lupron injection. Not sure about half-lives, but this will kick me back up into therapeutic range. Which means, a chance of mood swings and scattered hot flashes followed by continuing sarcopenia. Inner weather influenced by true chemtrails.

With the recent PSA I’m more sanguine, that much more willing to put up with the side effects. If I have another clear one in March, that will be my last lupron injection, setting me up for the critical PSA in June. It should tell the tale of the radiation. Did it burn out the fire that had kindled?

No, cancer is not all consuming. Most of the time I don’t think about it though it’s always lurking in the background, skulking like a thug in a dark alley.

In other medical news my bandages are off and Kate takes out my stitches today. A week ago this evening. We have become that much more vigilant. Doors closed, intercom calls to check on Kep’s location before moving Murdoch.

Kate felt good enough last night that she wanted to go out to eat. She felt cooped up in the house. A good sign. She has the psychic reserve to realize a need to get out. We went to Brook’s Tavern. Sort of tired of it, but it’s close.

There was some poignancy, realizing how little we get out together now. Also a realization that eating out has lost a lot of its luster. Too much of a production and the food’s not as good as I can make at home. IMHO. At least at Brook’s.

Resurrection: Ertugrul. Wow. This is a really long commitment. I’m on episode 84 of season 4. There is a season 5, too. Which I’ll watch. I’m a completist here. Why would I do this?

Fascination. Religion is so much at the core of this show: Islam, the good religion of the Turks. Christianity, a bad religion when it consists of Crusaders and Knights Templar, tolerable when its villagers, merchants, craftspeople. Paganism for the Mongols, portrayed as crude, barbaric, bloody, mystical. Definitely bad. Representing the polytheists who assaulted Mohamed in Mecca, I think.

I find it very interesting to watch the writer’s portrayal of Islam, how it effects daily life, political life, inner life. I don’t have much experience of Muslims living their lives. A bit, but nothing like the insight available in these shows. The history may be somewhat fanciful, the characters sometimes stereotypical (though there’s a lesson in stereotypes, too), but Islam is treated respectfully and fully.

More on all this when I read Season 5, the end. Sometime in the not too distant future. In shallah.

Radical Religiosity

Winter and the Future Moon

Sunday after zoom gratefuls: Mark, Tom, Bill, Paul. The technology. The years. The ease of understanding, of knowing. The always new: books, movies, personal learnings. Staying connected. All good, all special.

Thought as a way of preparing for my first class at the Kabbalah Experience, I’d summarize my reaction to starting Art Green’s book, Radical Judaism through to the Torah chapter. I’ve read the introduction, YHWH: God and Being, and the History of God. 78 pages out of 166. Almost half.

A slim, blue book, Radical Judaism contains a new (or, better, a newer) way of thinking about religion. Since I’ve had as a background project for many years now reimagining faith, then reconstructing and reenchanting faith, Green’s work spoke to me in a special, dialogical way.

Here’s an example. In the introduction he explains that theodicy, how can there be evil in the world if god is good? and critical history, the academic study of the Torah, the Hebrew scriptures, and, I would add, the New Testament, pushed him out of a faith he’d readopted in childhood. His parents were atheists.

In the 1980’s it occurred to me that Joseph would have been beyond the pale of salvation if he had been raised in Bengal by his parents, a Hindu. In this case theodicy relates to a god not big enough all of earth’s children. Not a true god, then.

In seminary I’d become fascinated by biblical study. I loved the stories. I loved the application of analytical thinking to sacred text. I saw the bare ground on which the claim of total inspiration rested. When I entered seminary, I was not a believer, and these courses pushed me further away from any normal faith.

I took my faith from the words of Jesus and the prophets about justice. This was the worldview that mattered to me. There was a lot of prayer, contemplative and petitionary. There were many meditative moments, visions, but even with lectio divina, a form of sacred reading of scripture, I never found my way to God, the father, or to God the general. I did have hints of God as immanent, but I found transcendence a bridge too far, taking me out of this world into one I suspected was really fantasy.

The realization about God and Joseph broke the slim rope connecting me to the Christian tradition, making ministry impossible. Christianity is not big enough, though Judaism is, to hold doubts about the central tenets of faith. Neither is Islam for that matter. Judaism is unusual in this regard.

Green made a comment in the introduction that taught me a valuable lesson: “I was no longer a believer, in the usual sense of that term, but I learned rather quickly that I was still a religious person…” p. 3, Radical Judaism. What was the lesson? Obvious to others, I imagine, but not to me. I am a religious person.

What does that mean? It involves a questing spirit, a questioning spirit, seeking through philosophy, poetry, religious texts, for answers to the big questions about life, death, our purpose. It also involves, I’m learning again, some sort of community.

So the first connection with Art Green was a remarkable similarity in our journeys. More on this later.

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.