Spring                                                                              Recovery Moon

Rebekah_Johnson_-_fullPicked up sister-in-law BJ at DIA yesterday. She’s an experienced traveler with a single roll-on bag and bright blue, hard-shelled case which carries her violin. It goes everywhere with her, including in to Sushi Win for lunch. “Cold is not good for it. Changes in humidity.” She’s the concert master for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, so the blue, hard-shelled case carries her means of earning a living.

We talked about the arts over lunch. Interestingly, her s.o. Schecky Ballentyne, a student of the cello great, Leonard Rose, and a teacher of the cello as well as an international soloist, thinks a renaissance of the arts gestates among millennials. A while back when he taught his students could count on getting jobs as professional musicians. More recently his students have gone on other careers instead. Medicine. Scholarship. Computer programming. But. They keep up the instrument, have chamber music evenings with other part time players, and keep their art alive. Schecky believes these folks will create an artistic renewal when they become more settled in their lives. May it be so.

music sasaki and ballentyneShecky and a pianist with whom he often works, Hiroko Sasaki, have a performance scheduled at the Merkin Hall in NYC. May 24. Here’s the info in case you’re in the Big Apple over that time:

In the 20 years spanned by the music in this evening’s performance, Beethoven revolutionized music and single-handedly created the modern cello sonata.  By juxtaposing works from each major period of his life, Ballantyne and Sasaki highlight this composer’s unique musical and spiritual development.  For an even more immersive experience, please join Emmy nominee George Marriner Maull, well-known for his PBS and radio specials about music, for a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 in the balcony lobby.


Scott Ballentyne, cello

Hiroko Sasaki, piano


Pre-concert Lecture: The Music of Beethoven by George Maull at 6:30

BEETHOVEN  –  Sonata Op. 5 #2 in G minor (1796)
BEETHOVEN  –  Sonata Op. 69 in A Major (1807/1808)
BEETHOVEN  –  Sonata Op. 102  #2 in D Major (1815)

Another 5 inches plus of snow here over night. Temperatures cooled down after the overheated week we had. This is powder though so it was easy to shovel the deck. Still snowing and in the teens.

Sandy, our house cleaner, came yesterday. She cleaned the loft, especially the bathroom after the unseating and resealing of the toilet. Always nice to get this space cleaned, about every other time she comes.

Kate continues to gain weight, do her ot/pt which gives her more strength and stamina. The hi-resolution CT next Tuesday should complete the diagnostic work of this whole ordeal. It will identify or rule out any lung disease. Then we’ll know whether she can go ahead with the j-tube placement. If Gupta, the pulmonologist, gives her the ok, that could happen fairly quickly.

20190126_103753All three dogs love the snow. Rigel and Gertie both go into the drifts nose first, come up shaking their heads, then do it again. Rigel hunts the rabbits that live under the deck and the shed, but she’s never caught one here, as far as I know. Back in Andover, every once in a while. Kep likes to wander in the snow, his black and white body moving in and out of the drifts as he investigates. He’s usually the last one back inside. His genes, after all, hail from the Akita prefecture in Japan, famous for its mountains and snow.

First workout today here in my loft gym for almost two months. If it’s anything like Thursday, I’m gonna need some help to get back downstairs. My quads are still complaining from that session.

In the way of Colorado this snow will be gone by Monday. 44 that day. Right now though it’s beautiful, falling gently on the lodgepoles, the naked aspen, our solar panels. Traction law is in effect. If you have bad tires and cause an accident or obstruct traffic, a big fine. Spring and winter will alternate with each other, probably all through April, perhaps even into May. Heavy snows, then 50 degree + days. Normal for us.


Spring                                                                         Recovery Moon

Home gym

Home gym

Ooff. Beware what you wish for. Got back to working out yesterday. Huffing and puffing. Resting between sets. My legs were rubbery when I left the gym and this morning when I got out of bed. Detrained. Starting back, even slow, was difficult. No other way to get there though. And, just two sets plus cardio. A ways to go. Glad to have begun, however.

This is an ancientrail that didn’t use to exist. Back when we were mostly farmers or laborers, back when we were still in the veldt hunting and gathering, exercise wasn’t necessary. It came with the day. Run down some game. Climb a tree for fruit. Hoe the field. Gather in the grain. Hitch up the oxen. It’s only since farming and manual labor diminished that we’ve been getting the modern, sitting disease. Now we live in cities, drive or otherwise ride to work, and find desks a more common habitat than the field. We are victims of our more brain less strain lifestyle.

This means we have to find time in a life occupied by other things, gathering money rather than tubers, for example, to move our bodies and stress our muscles. It seems unnatural, the treadmill or the bike, the weights, the bands, the various exercises, yet in fact it is exercising the body that is natural and our modern daily routine that is not.

Here in Colorado getting outside hiking, climbing, biking, camping, hunting, fishing are popular. Our spectacular natural amenities the mountains, the snow, fast flowing rivers and streams beckon, are visible even from downtown Denver. Yet 5280, a glossy magazine covering the Denver metro scene, had a recent issue devoted to work/life balance. Seems metro folk work more hours per week than most other cities in the U.S.

finishWhen you read the literature, it’s clear that exercise is not only beneficial, but necessary for good health, especially as we age. I didn’t start until my late 30’s and it took me a while to get regular at it. Now it feels weird to me if I don’t get in my workouts on a regular basis. The last two months were an anomaly and one I didn’t like.

Exercise not only benefits the body, but the mind as well. Yes, endorphins release if you go hard and that’s reinforcing, but for me, the real advantage is the knowledge that I’m caring for myself. If you do what you can, diet and exercise (and my diet is ok, barely), then what comes is part of the aging process.

The trick, at least for me, was staying with it long enough for exercise to become a habit, one that felt more normal than ignoring it. It wasn’t easy and I had long stretches where I could have quit. Glad I didn’t. Not sure what kept me at it. I’m a believer at age 72. When my personal trainer said I moved better than a lot of the 30 and 40 year olds she saw in the gym, I was surprised, but pleased. Worth it.


The Mountain Way

Spring                                                                                 Recovery Moon

Kate, BJ, Ruth, solar eclipse 2017 at BJs Idaho house

Kate, BJ, Ruth, solar eclipse 2017 at BJs Idaho house

Kate’s sister BJ comes tomorrow for the weekend. She and her s.o. Schecky were out here in September, a planned visit to see our house, but they came the day Kate went into the hospital. They took me to a Japanese restaurant for sushi the night Kate had her hemicolectomy. It was a kind thing to do. I needed the break. Look forward to seeing her.

Had lunch with Alan Rubin yesterday. He’s auditioning for a part in Cabaret, another Ovation West production. You might recall he was in “Funny Girl” which Kate and I saw last fall. He’s taken to retirement by becoming a performer. Taking voice lessons, learning music theory, and this year becoming President of the Ovation West board. He and I were teaching the religious school class until I had to quit due to too much stuff going on at home. A good friend.

John came by and fixed my john. Apparently I blew the seal plunging out a clog. Geez. Water under pressure is powerful. Just ask all those folks in Nebraska. Interesting article about the one guy who manages all the Army Corps of Engineers dams on the Missouri River. He chooses whether to let dams fail or send more water downstream to already flooded farms and towns. Another one the next day wrote about the 25 states under risk for extreme flooding as this winter’s cold begins to loosen, melt snow and ice. When a severe winter like this last one thaws, if it comes too soon, the water hits frozen land. No buffer in the land, just like flooding a parking lot.

Walking and Hiking in Bear Country   Your neighborhood is bear country, too!

Walking and Hiking in Bear Country Your neighborhood is bear country, too!

Up here getting a tradesperson out to the house, really tradesmen since I’ve not yet encountered a female plumber, electrician, handyman (though I’m sure they exist somewhere), often depends on a personal relationship. Herb, of H2O plumbing, ignored my phone message. He didn’t remember that I was the guy who lived in Andover when he lived in Nowthen. When I got him on the phone, he remembered and got a guy over here in two hours. Like living in a small town.

The mountain way. Had to take the garbage and recycling bins back inside the garage. The bears are awake. Bears can smell food, the Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources says, from five miles away. I still don’t let the dogs out at dawn or dusk because of mountain lion predation. All the critters are hungry as the snow melts, food’s been a scarce resource for a while now, just like every winter.

Toward Evergreen

Toward Evergreen

Another interesting part of the mountain way, driving up here. Roads in the mountains, except for I-70 are neither straight nor multiple lanes. Hwy 285, a divided four lane now past Conifer, devolves into a curvy up and down two lane (with the occasional passing lane) as it heads toward Bailey and Park County. The rest are two lane, no passing, winding. No sight lines beyond the next curve up and down.

It took a while to learn, but there is a code. Leave the person in front of you a healthy distance since deer or elk might be standing in the road around the next bend. Don’t go too fast or too slow. Stay alert. If somethings ahead, either wildlife or Jeffco sheriff’s deputies, blink your lights at oncoming traffic. This confused me at first since it was the signal you had left your lights on back in the old days before car lights turned off by themselves.

Two sorts of drivers violate this unspoken code. The first, most of us grant license, are tourists. We have two spots on Black Mountain Drive/Brook Forest Drive (same road), Upper and Lower Maxwell Creek, that draw crowds from the Denver area each nice day. There are also folks staying in Evergreen in one of the many cabins or motels who wander out of town for a drive in the mountains. Many of these drivers brake at every curve, even going uphill, which is silly since the mountain will brake for you if you let up on the gas.

Guanella Pass, 2015

Guanella Pass, 2015

The second type are residents who have to get down the mountain thirty seconds faster than you do. They’re the ones who’ll put you in danger. I haven’t seen it, but others write of people who pass them. Passing on these roads is like spinning a roulette wheel with your life and somebody else’s. Others will crowd up on your bumper. As if that changes the physical reality we both face. Flick their lights in your mirror. You know.

Mostly driving here is sedate since the roads don’t really offer a safe alternative. I like that since it gives me a chance to savor the rocks, the trees, the peaks and valleys while moving at a speed safe enough even if I encounter a bouncy young fawn or calf or a whole herd of elk.





What Will I Do?

Spring                                                                              Recovery Moon

dreamsGo now, the illness has ended. Feeling 95%. Still something in my lungs, not much. So seven weeks after the molasses filled drive back from Denver, I feel able. Still got workouts and stamina to increase, but I enjoy that. Imagine me doing a little dance on the balcony of the loft, a dance of thanksgiving for a strong constitution and a return to the unremarkable state of health.

What’s next? Call a plumber to fix the toilet leaking from its seal to the floor. Get our hair done. An appointment for teeth cleaning. Mail the taxes. Send Mary the letter confirming her part ownership of that oil well in Canadian County, Oklahoma. Finally get to my trainer for a new workout. Follow up on that PSA increase. Kate’s hi-res ct and visit to the pulmonologist. Get back to regular cooking. You know, stuff. Stuff that we do when we’re not occluded by an internal war between our immune system and some inner space invader.

I also have a lunch with Alan Rubin on Wednesday. Slowly getting back to some contact with CBE. It’s been a long while, but I miss those folks. I was still besnotted during the chicken cook soup cook off and not fully there.

If you want, you can insert a youtube video of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” here.

satireRemember the Producers? Zero Mostel? In it was the classic hit, “It’s Springtime for Hitler”. Well, it’s springtime in the Rockies and all of Colorado. Here’s another pirouette for great comedies and a plié with arm extended for the beauty of Black Mountain.

Not to go too far with this but there is a certain element of resurrection here. I used the word occluded, another word could have been buried. During a long and severe illness we turn in on our selves, our world becomes a primal struggle over which we have little if any external control. By primal I mean just that, a fight waged between cellular creatures so small we cannot see them, entities that have more in common with that first molecule that wiggled in the primordial soup than they do with us. During this conflict the body focuses on the struggle, not on errands, to do lists, future dreams, present possibilities. We become buried by the constant back and forth of immune system versus virus, immune system versus bacteria.

Now, sometimes, but only once, our body doesn’t win. That’s true burial or cremation, or going green into the ground, whatever carcass disposal mode suits you or your survivors. However, most of the time we emerge, as if in a Hammer film, from our undead state to once again walk among the tribe of the still living.

abyssAnd, yes, in that state now, I feel resurrected, reborn, renewed. A little shaky perhaps but that fits such a state doesn’t it? What’s next? Not in the quotidian sense I mentioned above, but what’s next in the sense of  “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver was the poet of our intimate relationship with mother earth. She listened, saw, felt what it meant to be embodied, to be embodied in this amazing natural state, this gift, this once in a lifetime reality that we are.

This one, my wild and precious life, my one wild and precious life, has been returned to me, or at least that’s how it feels. What, as the city planners say, is its highest and best use? I’ve had ideas before, but this is a chance to consider what that means now: 72, mortality signals falling like rain, yet invigorated and experienced, befriended and befriending, not alone, well read, ready. What will I do?

Ruach. Breath. Wind. Spirit.

Spring                                                                  Recovery Moon

breath ruachHead. Mostly clear. Lungs. Mostly clear. I’m beginning to feel the illness bidding me goodbye. So long, it was good to know ya. Nah, it wasn’t. And don’t come back, please.

Kate continues to show steady, if incremental, gains. She smiles more, laughs more. Until, that is, she opened the letter from Swedish Hospital advising us that our balance with them was $25,000. Oooff. Our insurance provider has not, for some reason, paid them. I get to chase that down today. Being sick in America. If the illness doesn’t get you, the debt collector will.

If we didn’t have resources, didn’t have enough education and chutzpah to front the insurance company about this, we might end up stuck with the bill. Kate’s experience since September has been long, invasive, and expensive. Without insurance we’d be eating away at our IRA. I don’t think this should be too hard to clear up; but the ominous nature of a letter like that creates an unpleasant frisson. To say the least.

I’m debating going to see my doc about o2 sats. They’re below normal, though not in a dangerous range. The high 80’s a good deal of the time. Normal is above 95, though above 90 nobody worries. Since we’ve gotten here, my sats have been around 90 most of the time. As Tom pointed out, we’ve lost 75% of our available oxygen just by being at 8,800 feet. That would make a normal reading 93 if I’m doing my math and physiology right.

breath in outI really don’t want to confuse Kate’s journey right now, especially since we see the same doc, so I may wait a bit, be sure the flight of respiratory illness I sampled over the last two months has actually ended. In time I would like to know if anything in my lungs compromises my breathing. It’s certainly possible. I smoked for 13 years. Not proud of it, but I did. I also worked in a couple of high particulate matter jobs in my younger days, cutting rags at a paper mill and moving completed asbestos ceiling tiles to pallets. And, Dad had severe asthma, using an inhaler virtually his whole life.

Ruach. The Hebrew word for breath, wind, and for spirit. The Greek word is pneuma. God breathed ruach into the lungs of Adam and he lived. Since the traditional test for death was holding a mirror or a hand up to the nostrils, no moisture on the mirror, no felt breath, it’s not a stretch to equate breath and breathing with life. No breath, no life. Many traditions, especially Hindu and Buddhist, have breathing related practices. So do the Sufi as my friend Debra Cope has taught me.

breath dive reflexWhat impedes breathing, impedes life itself. Impedes the spirit of all life that dwells within us. Like health breathing is unremarkable to most of us until its ease experiences an interruption. Water boarding, or extreme interrogation (not torture as our CIA likes to say), is horrific because it emulates drowning. Our body has reflexes built in, the diving reflex, for example, that protect us in the case of sudden immersion in water. This means that our DNA carries a history of dangers to our breathing.

The pulmonologist treats matters related to breathing. But the pulmonologist, no matter how skilled and learned, deals with the physical challenges to breathing, not the spiritual implications. No, that is up to us and our own way of understanding the body/mind/spirit links.

Breath jacob-wrestling-with-the-angelA breathing issue is not, then, solely the province of pulmonology. It is also the province of theology broadly understood. Theology, for me, is the way you identify, organize, and deal with matters of ultimate importance. Life itself is, of course, a matter of ultimate importance to an individual; therefore, life and how it is for us at any particular point is a directly theological matter. Breath, the spirit of life that fills our lungs, provides our cells with oxygen so that they can carry out the physiological functions that are life in the body, is also of ultimate importance.

Here’s a website devoted to breath meditation.* Note in the second sentence that prana, a Sanskrit word, means both breath and life. No breath. No life.

My journey right now forces me to investigate my breathing at both a physiological and a theological level. It’s all o.k., too. None of us get leave this ancientrail alive. Something takes our breath away. That something shows the fragile nature of even the most master of the universe sort of person. Right now I’m going to attend to my breathing, my o2 sats, the spirit and life they make possible within me. An ancientrail of the third phase, no doubt.


*Breath is the universal factor of life. We are born the first time we inspire, and we die the last time we expire. Breath is life itself. In Sanskrit the same word–prana–means both breath and life.

All that lives, breathes–even plants and the bacteria that make bread rise. The process of breath is identical in all, consisting of inhalation and exhalation. It is the most immaterial factor of our existence, being a link-manifestation of the mind/spirit that dwells in all. For this reason, the breath is the natural and logical basis for meditation, the attempt to “enter into life.” The breath is the key to the cultivation of pure consciousness.

The Velveteen Rabbit aspect of human identity

Spring                                                                            Recovery Moon

Bat and Moon, 1930s Takahashi Bihō. MIA

Bat and Moon, 1930s
Takahashi Bihō. MIA

The Recovery moon illuminates Black Mountain this morning. The ski runs carved out on the mountain are white strips reflecting back moon shine. A light breeze moves the lodgepoles and a thin dusting of snow covers the solar panels. Early spring in the Rockies.

Kate made a salad last night. We bumped into each other in our galley kitchen for the first time in months. She also tossed her friendship quilt from the Bailey Patchworkers into the washing machine. She’s beginning to emerge from a long time in the chrysalis of illness. Wow.

Since the recovery moon seems to find us both on the uptick, my doctor’s nurse called with lab results, actually a second call due to confusion there occasioned by a weeks long problem with their computer systems. The first call came when I was still pretty sick and I didn’t pay close attention. This time I did. My PSA has moved up from .o1 to .012. Doesn’t seem like much, but when your prostate’s gone, it’s supposed to stay at .1, which is effectively .0. A recurrence is defined, for those of us who had our prostate’s removed, when the PSA hits .2. Concerning, but not yet a problem. Further testing required.

Rabbi Jamie called last night, wondering how we were. We were both steady and frequent attenders of things at CBE up until Kate’s bleed on September 28th. I continued until my own illness which began in early February. Since then, I’ve only been back for the chicken soup cook-off. Our sudden disappearance from the synagogue’s life caused him to say last time he talked with Kate that the schul isn’t the same without us. Kate was on the board and I was teaching religious school. We both attended mussar on Thursdays. We went to services less frequently, but showed up at education and special events, too. We’ve woven ourselves into the fabric that is CBE.

Chapter House from Notre-Dame-de-Pontaut,12th century French MMA

Chapter House from Notre-Dame-de-Pontaut,12th century French MMA

Community, like friendships, is reciprocal. You put your left foot in, then your right foot, then you shake it all about. With others doing the same thing. Over time we get to know each other, see each other, acknowledge each other. The line between thee and me is both more and less than we usually think. It’s more in that we don’t know our own selves well, our own depths eluding even the most introspective and life examining of us. How could others see into that, then? It’s less in that our perception of ourselves is constantly poked and prodded by interactions with others. In fact, much of our personhood gains definition as we sit down to coffee with someone, engage in critical thought, listen to music, sing with them. In community, in friendships, in family we become who we are.

At CBE, as with the Woolly’s, the docents, the political folks I’ve worked with, and our family, who I am has been in dialectical tension with both individuals and the collective. I’ve had to consider how Frank Broderick’s anti-Catholicism fits into my mostly positive assessment of religious life. I’ve offered ideas at CBE and had them put into action, changing myself and others in the process. As I got to know my fellow docents, I observed how they related to the art, to the art history we learned, to the museum visitors we guided on tours. And, how I was as a docent shaped itself in response.

Woolly Mammoths instructed in glass blowing

Woolly Mammoths instructed in glass blowing

In the instance of the Presbyterian ministry the two millennia plus history of Christianity was a body of thought and actions within which I had to find my particular place just like the thousands of year old history of art demanded I find a personal patch of ground on which to stand in relation to it. Both interactions shaped me and I, in turn, in small, individual ways reshaped both Christianity and the history of art. Not making a big, hubristic claim here, just observing that the dialectical tension affects both parties though not in equal ways.

This is, I suppose, the Velveteen Rabbit part of human identity formation. We rub ourselves up against people, animals, things and in the process we become real. And, we serve that same role for others. It’s an awesome responsibility. How do I, in my interactions, encourage the best in others? Or, do I? But that’s a question for another day.

Spring, 2019

Spring!                                                                       Recovery Moon

ostaraA full recovery moon on the spring equinox. Lot of powerful juju in the air. The season that announces the return of life (except in Nebraska) begins as the moon swells into its most potent form. Of course, this is only meteorological spring, the date we agree on to name the season’s start, so you have to check local listings for time and channel. Here in the mountains spring’s another month away at least. Probably more like six weeks.

Minnesotans are both happy and wary about the coming of spring. It’s been a long, hard winter and to see it in the past will be welcome. As will be the warmth and color. But. There’s a lot of pent up water there, too, just like in Nebraska, water that will get released as the air grows warmer. Could be a major flooding year. The rivers in Nebraska have exceeded historic high water levels by feet. This is the new normal. Extremes.

We’ve got a string of 40+ degree days ahead, including a couple in the 50’s. Then, more snow. Colorado mountain living. As the melting begins here in earnest, Cub Creek, Blue Creek, Bear Creek, Maxwell Creek will all show their might, taking down the mountains from which they run, taking their stony surfaces and moving them toward the plains. It will take a while, but the creeks are patient and wait each year for the spring winds to melt the snow that has fallen and to melt the ice. They’re a wonder in the spring.

Tao4Alan Watts has a book I like a lot called The Water Course Way. It describes the tao as like water, going around obstacles, over obstacles, not stopping, going on its way regardless of what’s in its path, not troubling itself over temporary stoppages, boulders, canyons, even lakes. Soft wins over hard. The soft water slowly picks away at mountains of granite, basalt, gneiss and takes them a grain at a time, over centuries, millennia, eons back to the oceans.

I struggle with this. I’m more, as I think I said here recently, more of a take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them sorta guy. An unreconstructed activist still clinging to the fever dreams of the 1960’s. Yet there is truth in the tao. Is it the only truth? Don’t think so. But in regard to Kate’s circumstances over the last year or so, it has taken a certain let the process work its way out attitude to survive it with our mental health intact. Had we been pushing, pushing all the time (which I am wont to do) then we would have harmed ourselves in the process of making her well. Not only not necessary, but harmful.


April 5, 2018. Near CBE in Evergreen

Spring will come. The flowers and the grasses of the montane ecosystem will burst forth, bring us their ephemeral beauty. The creeks will run full down Shadow Mountain, down Conifer Mountain, down Black Mountain always gouging, prying at the very thing that created them. The lodgepole pines will green up, the aspens and willows along the creeks will leaf out. There will be mule deer fawns, elk calves, fox kits, bear cubs, mountain lion cubs. Skis and poles and boots will go in storage and rock climbing gear, bicycles, hiking boots come out.

This is our home now. And we don’t want to leave it. Still uncertain. Waiting for the tao to show us the right path.


Pi Day!

Imbolc                                                                           Recovery Moon

piHappy Pi day! I know it’s irrational, but pi’s got that kind of attitude. Will you be going to a recitation of pi? Some people will. Yes, that’s a thing. I like this day devoted to a mathematical phenom. I mean, who hasn’t heard of pi? And, it’s another holiday.

Our roof has curves. It looks like a sculpted chalet with deep sine waves marking the edges along the gutters and bulging hat shapes at the top. The road grader’s been by, guess the sagging power lines have returned to normal. This was a big one, stopping traffic in the mountains for a day.

Kate got her new delivery from Option Care yesterday rather than Wednesday. With the new pump we’ve got her on a 16 hours on, 8 hours off schedule now. Much better for living a life. She’ll be off pump from 10 am to 6 pm. She got some tasks done paid the bills, got started on the taxes. Her mood improved dramatically. As she gains weight and returns from malnourishment to normal, her energy level has increased and her spirits have improved. As she’s able to do more, she’ll feel even better.

Frustrating that we couldn’t see Gupta yesterday since the results of both the pulmonary function test and the CT scan have direct bearing on where we go next. Next week, I imagine.


Gertie, ready to leap in the snow

My cold continues. Sneezing, coughing, generally feeling crummy. Hard to take since I had just begun to feel normal when it arrived. Still, as Kate said, it won’t last forever. Glad.

The dogs have found the snow a joy and a burden. It comes up to their chests, even Rigel’s, and they walk through it deliberately. Kep loves the snow and stays out much longer than Rigel and Gertie. He wanders all over the yard, poking his nose here, then there. Gertie goes outside and immediately plunges her head into a snowbank. She comes inside snow sticking all over her face. Even so there were times yesterday when Rigel didn’t want to go outside. Too much work, I imagine. Gertie, too. Kep? Nope. He goes outside eagerly.

When spring comes close, that’s how we roll up here on Shadow Mountain.

When Will It Ever End?

Imbolc                                                                            Recovery Moon

Going to On the Move Fitness to pick up a new workout on Tuesday. Then, back on Thursday to make sure I have the exercises down. This will be a gradual ramp up back to where I was before the month that shall not be named. Buddy Tom Crane, in a surprising show of solidarity, chose to have pneumonia over his birthday, too. Which is today. Not necessary, Tom.

instant potI’ve been using the Instant Pot. Made a wonderful chuck roast, shredded easily, tasted great. On Saturday I made rice. Turns out three cups of dry rice makes a lot of cooked rice. It cooked for 1 minute. Sort of. There’s a learning curve for guys like me. First, the instant pot, a pressure cooker with bells and a literal whistle, has to heat up to the temperature required to produce the right pressure. That can take a while, maybe 5-10 minutes. Then, it cooks for 1 minute in the instance of rice. Fast, right? Well, yes. But, with foods like rice that have liquid and plump up after cooking, you do what the instant pot cook books call natural release. In essence that means you wait until the pressure cooker depressurizes on its own. 10 minutes. So, to cook 1 minute takes around 20 minutes in real time. Has some resonance with DST.

Before I start posting here I look at my favorite comic, Questionable Content. You have to go back several months to get the drift. Then, I often move on to Ancientrails and begin to write. But, just as often, I think, “I wonder what the idiot did now?” That means turning to the NYT. He almost never disappoints. Like cutting social programs, plumping up the military, and cutting 8.6 billion dollars out of the total budget to build this shibboleth. Team Trump is one heroic gutted, long red tied, obsessive ideologue trying to do something he doesn’t understand, using tools he doesn’t understand. When will it ever end, as the 1972 song by the Awakening asked.


And Big Foot’s gone even further into the mountains.

There was a time, not that long ago in historical terms, when being in the Rockies, living on a mountain peak as Kate and I do, would have been an effective shield against the current chaos and cruelty that passes for the U.S. Executive Branch. Not today. The elk, the mule deer, the bears, the mountain lions, moose, bobcats, fox, fishers, and martins still live here, but even these wild inhabitants cower before the Trump. He appoints people like Ray Zinke to watch over the great public lands of the West. He dismantles clean air regulations. He loosens the rules governing hard rock mining. He opens those same public lands to oil drilling, uranium mining, and industrial forestry. When. Will. It. Ever. End.

Even the mythical, or semi-mythical creatures of the Rockies are under siege, too.



Imbolc                                                                          Recovery Moon

daylight saving timeYou may not feel like I do. That’s ok. But, I hate daylight saving time. To have the clocks change on our 29th anniversary is a cruel poke in the eye. Well, that may be extreme, but it certainly irritates me. So it’s 7:30 am when it used to be 6:30 am. I’m sensing from different articles I’ve read that I’m not alone. Maybe, just maybe, somebody will have pity on us dstphobes and allow one time to rule us all. Please.

The sun is up, no grass has riz. I know where the flowers is. Comfortably beneath the snow. We’re 10 days away from the vernal equinox and there are patches of bare ground in the back, which faces north and tends to remain snow covered. However. We got back to (Minnesota, oops. No) Colorado in mid-April 2016 after Joe and SeoAh’s wedding. The day before we plucked the Rav4 out of long term parking Conifer received 4 feet, that’s right, 48 inches, of snow. This is the time of heavy wet snowstorms. They can take out power lines, precipitate heart attacks, and give us the moisture our aquifers and forests and rivers need. Go, snow.

eatingKate’s now on a 20 hour feeding cycle with her tpn. That means 4 hours free of carrying around the satchel that contains the pump and the now much heavier nutrition bag. With oxygen tubing a constant the addition of the tpn has made moving around a balletic exercise. And, it gets old. Both do things she needs and needs badly, even so. So the 4 hours are wonderful. If we go into the next phase of the tpn, not assured because of medicare, she’ll shift to a 12 hour on, 12 hour off cycle. This rhythm, first 24 hours, then 20, then 12 is to prevent refeeding syndrome.*

Talking with Kate yesterday about demotivation. The stress of her illnesses, hospitalizations, and very slow recovery, coupled with the domestic chores like dog care, cooking, picking up, laundry takes up most of my juice. Though I’m back from pneumonia I’m still fatigued by the afternoon. Don’t feel like doing anything creative. Not yet anyhow.

camelsBrother Mark reports on his walks around Arar in northern Saudia Arabia. He’s been living there since last September, teaching English as a second language. He observed this: “I took a walk, behind the bus station, past the police station, and up into a desert area next to a development. I met a camel herd. One young male camel was going in circles, foaming at the mouth. This means he is in a period of sexual excitement. He was literally going around in circles, freaking out, poor lad. He may have been tethered to a post.” Wrote him back and said this comment reminded me of high school.

More later. Like always.



“Refeeding syndrome is a syndrome consisting of metabolic disturbances that occur as a result of reinstitution of nutrition to patients who are starved, severely malnourished or metabolically stressed due to severe illness. When too much food and/or liquid nutrition supplement is consumed during the initial four to seven days of refeeding, this triggers synthesis of glycogen, fat and protein in cells, to the detriment of serum (blood) concentrations of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.[1][2] Cardiac, pulmonary and neurological symptoms can be signs of refeeding syndrome. The low serum minerals, if severe enough, can be fatal. wiki, op cit