The Right Thing for Us

Beltane Cancer Moon

Things I think about while falling asleep. Life. A stream rushing down the mountain of time, a branch into a tributary, tributary to river, river to the gulf of eternity, a small part of the sea of infinity.

Project print ancientrails update. Got into May of 2015. Then, printer spooling error. Spent an hour on it yesterday, got tired. Learned long ago to quit at a point when I’m doing the same thing over and over. Come back the next day with fresh eyes. Later this morning I’ll be back at it.

Looked out the bedroom window this morning. Frost. Rained over night and the temperature is just below freezing. A nubbly ice covered the deck and the stall mats, but the driveway was only wet. Saw a mule deer crossing Eduardo and Holly’s yard.

The sun is now well up at 5:30. The victory of the light will peak in three weeks. I look forward to the Summer Solstice as the moment when night begins to claw its way back into prominence.

Jon and Ruth left Gabe here yesterday while they went skiing. A-Basin. It still has peak snow cover, may be open until July 4th. Unusual. When they got back, Ruth and I made spaghetti and meatballs. She’s turning into a sweet, loving person. A real pleasure to see.

While walking back to the house after getting the paper this morning, I thought about her and Gabe. We moved here to have these kind of interactions with them, casual and frequent. It was the right thing for us to do.

50th High School Reunion, Alexandria, Indiana

When I was in school in Alexandria, Memorial Day marked the end of the school year. Summer begins! Days of freedom wandering alleys collecting pop bottles for small change. Going to the field with Rick Meyers and the Kildow boys to play army. Playing blackjack every weekday afternoon in the paper boys shack of the Times-Tribune. The occasional pickup softball game. Riding bikes around town. Outside until well after dark. No thoughts of pedophiles, school shooters, terrorists. No climate change worries. No computers. No cell phones.

Here in Colorado school typically ends in June though Ruth, because of McCauliffe’s schedule, got out a couple of weeks ago. This is Gabe’s last week. They will both start school again in the second week of August, both at McCauliffe for this one year, Ruth in the 8th grade and Gabe in the 6th.

Ruth, as do most of her friends, has a season pass to Elitch Gardens, an amusement park that serves as summer day care for many Denver teens. They have rides named Brain Drain, Mind Erase. You can see the attraction after school’s over.

33 foot Jesus

Beltane                                                                            Cancer Moon

progoffMeet up in cyberspace. My old friends Paul, Mark, Tom, and Bill zoomed into the bits and bytes yesterday from the land of first light to my spot among the purple mountain majesties. We spoke of those things that matter now. Mark is done with his second book. Bill’s going to Tanzania next year as his long term project, U-Face Me, takes off. Paul’s about to join the joint replacement club with a new hip. Tom’s adjusting to life as an eminence grisé.

Woke up yesterday realizing I’d not prepared any food for Kate. After breakfast I made her a pound of sloppy joed hamburger and a couple of quarts of vermicelli soup, a favorite of hers from our Monastery Soups cookbook. Got ready to go to Progoff.

At noon I headed down the hill toward Evergreen, hopped on I-70 for a short run to the Genesee Exit. U.S. 40, the old cross country national highway which I-70 more or less parallels has a short run between that exit and Golden. Gonna stop this afternoon at the buffalo overlook, just off that same exit. An article in the Denver Post says there are buffalo calves. Makes sense. It’s spring/summer.

Progoff cabrini

Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at the Shrine

Down old 40 toward Denver you can access Lookout Mountain, Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave, museum plus giftshop, and the world famous, to Catholics, shrine of Mother Cabrini. The most prominent feature at the shrine is a 33 foot high statue of Jesus, set at the shrine’s highest point. When I left last night at 9, Denver’s lights twinkled below me and Cabrini Jesus stood lit up and proud above.

If you’ve ever been on a retreat at a Catholic retreat center, you’ve been to the Cabrini set up. Hallways with one bedroom rooms on either side, large kitchens, kitschy paintings, and furniture bought with comfort not fashion in mind. A chapel. And, since this is the Rocky Mountains, vacationland U.S.A., a big gift shop.

When I arrived yesterday, the large parking lot was about three quarters full and most of the visitors I saw were Latino. The retreat center cum chapel cum giftshop is at the end of a switchback road that climbs several hundred feet up a rounded peak, one of the first of the foothills. It overlooks Golden, then Denver, to the east and the continental divide to the west.

Joann Hackett, the workshop leader, flew in Saturday from Hawai’i. Quite a shift from humid, warm Hawai’i to the dry, 60 degrees Rocky Mountain foothills. She was the workshop leader in Tucson, my last Progoff workshop. She began this work when she went to a Journal workshop lead by Ira Progoff. She got to know him very well, found his intensive journal idea compelling.

progoff2There are seven of us, a small group by workshop standards. Two folks from Denver, one from Berthoud, another from Boulder, one from Ft. Collins, and one man from Santa Fe. One other commuter. This first segment, all the segments are two days in length, begins with identifying the current period of your life. Mine had an obvious starting point, the move to Colorado. You spend time fleshing out what makes this the current period of your life, then move on to an exercise called steppingstones. Steppingstones, in the Progoff work you get 12, are key moments in your life that led you to this period of your life.

As I wrote them this time, mine were roughly, polio, mom’s death, participating in the 60’s, adopting Joseph, marrying Kate and leaving the ministry to write, becoming a docent at the MIA, working on the Great Work, the move to Colorado, cancer, Jon’s divorce and Kate’s illnesses, cancer’s reemergence. The steppingstones, I’ve discovered, change according to the perspective you bring to the exercise, a perspective shaped by what you’ve defined as the current period. Over the course of the workshop you expand on each of these, writing about them, following the memories and the feelings they evoke.

Gotta get ready for today’s session. Talk to you later.

 

 

 

Illness and Legacy

Beltane                                                                           Cancer Moon

Saguaro National Park, edited

Saguaro National Park, 2014

Struggled a bit with naming the moon for this new month. Didn’t want to put up my first idea. It seemed, dark. Yet when I went to other ideas, nothing came. Usually the new moon’s name comes easily. It’s a fun way to emphasize an important aspect of the upcoming lunar month. This time though. Not fun. I try to think of something that might dominate the next 30 days or an important (to us or the mountains) event. Recovery Moon. Rushing Waters. Valentine. So. Cancer.

But. Ewww. Debbie Downer. Even so. Axumin scan. Meeting with Dr. Gilroy, a radiation oncologist. Most probably treatment. In my world cancer will dominate. So. Cancer.

Jon, Ruth, and Gabe came up last night. Ruth brought a wonderful loaf of challah she’d made. Tasted like Irish soda bread. The braids were clear. I brought up the silver platter I bought for Kate a long time ago. A set, with a serrated knife. For the sabbath meal. I had my pastrami on chunks of challah. They’d stopped at the New York Deli on their way up, buying matzo ball soup as well as stuff for supper and eating it on the way.

Ruth and Gabe laugh easily now, tease each other. As happy now as they were angry and sullen a couple of years ago. Jon’s doing something right as a parent and it’s a pleasure to see. He’s been out of school for a week or so now. The Aurora school district chose Montview to renovate this year. His art room will have a patio and windows. His old room had no windows. Hard to imagine for an art classroom, eh?

The Great Kiva, Chaco Canyon

The Great Kiva, Chaco Canyon

The move. In 2014 my last Progoff workshop stirred something in me, made me realize if Kate and I were going to make a change in our lives right then was the time to do it. We were both still in good health. We had enough money. Kate had retired.

On the way up here from Tucson I saw the Mogollon Rim, Ship Rock, and stopped at Chaco Canyon. The Mogollon Rim is the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, the massive geological feature that underlies parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado west of the Rockies with its center roughly at the Four Corners. Ship Rock, if you’ve read any Tony Hillerman mysteries already familiar to you, has a sacred role in Diné culture. Chaco Canyon was the Vatican of the Anasazi, direct ancestors of the Pueblo people. As I drove the Mogollon Rim in the early hours of March 28th, 2014, the full moon rose.

Ruth, March 29, 2014

Ruth, March 29, 2014

Ruth, April 5, 2019

Ruth, April 5, 2019

I could feel, and wrote it about even then, a Colorado self forming. That same Colorado self that I chose to dress last summer. The one with the plaid flannel shirts and jeans. Unexpectedly a lot like my Minnesota self. Yet not. This is a self not with its roots in Lake Superior, North Woods country, but in the Colorado Plateau, in the Rocky Mountains, in the ancient history of human settlement here. And that Colorado self, forming as I drove, wanted that. More than I knew at the time.

I left the Colorado Plateau and drove north to Denver.

Jen wanted to surprise Ruth. Her 8th birthday was only days away when I got to Denver. This from a post on March 29th, “When I knocked on the door, Ruth, the birthday girl who did not know I was coming, fluttered her hands and got a shy look.  Taken aback and surprised.  Then, glad to see me.” In retrospect I think it was in that moment I took an internal turn away from my home of 40 years and turned to face the Rockies.

 

Spinning out

Beltane                                                                     Rushing Waters Moon

High Holidays at CBE, before the bleed

High Holidays at CBE, before the bleed

22 degrees. A thin layer of snow on the solar panels, Black Mountain’s lodgepoles topped in a floury white and the sky that Colorado western blue. Bright sun. Why we love the mountains.

Still spinning out, not working much, floating in caregiver world, distracted. It’s ok. I’m waiting intentionally now, Progoff workshop starts Sunday and I’ll go deep into this current version of me, self-guided, self-analysis, Jungian style. The week after it finishes I have my pet scan, then the meeting with the oncologist. Into the unknown, first my psyche, then my body. All in two weeks.

The Progoff method is a pet scan for the psyche, letting me see the things within that have been hidden by busyness, anxiety, stress, competing demands, looking away. Once I’ve seen them, like the pet scan’s images of my cancer, I can diagnose my situation and make a plan. That’s diagnose in its etymological sense: from Greek diagnōsis, from diagignōskein to distinguish, from dia- + gignōskein to know. Merriam-Webster

My suspicion is that I’ve entered a different moment in my life, one that began with two dramatic changes, the first being the move to Colorado. It took about a year to process. All the financial squirming of two houses, moving and pitching stuff, lots of stuff, removing ourselves from Minnesota and moving onto Shadow Mountain. The second change. Prostate cancer. In which I went from a normally healthy aging man to a cancer patient. The sudden push back into the space of a cancer patient, after thinking I’d put it in the past, been cured, has jarred me in ways I’ve barely begun to realize.

20180909_183444

September 9th, easing the SMA induced nausea and cramping

Kate’s slowly, but now surely, rebounding from her long ordeal. She’s able to take on the dog’s second feeding, a modest, but real return to pre-bleed life. Our visit to Dr. Gidday, a post the most recent hospitalization appointment, gave her situation much more clarity. Dr. Gidday agreed that if her hemoglobin numbers don’t stay up, she has labs drawn weekly for the tpn feedings, then she’ll go to iron infusions. That will resolve, or at least attenuate, her anemia. Continued weight gain will happen through the j-tube placement. (remember the j-tube?).

The final piece of the puzzle, her lung disease, awaits either a lung biopsy, which she does not want, or a close reading of the high-resolution CT scan she had on April 2nd. With a diagnosis and the resulting treatment for the interstitial lung disease all the presenting problems of the past year plus should be addressed. A long, long time coming. Just how far back toward her old life she can expect to come is unknown, but if she can get back to sewing, driving, going to CBE and to Bailey Patchworkers and the Needleworkers group I’ll count her better.

Then, maybe I can get back to more abstruse obfuscations here rather than this medico-journalese I’ve had to adopt over the past several months. The tincture of time, as Kate would say.

At a Journal Workshop

Beltane                                                                      Rushing Waters Moon

My Intensive Journal from 2014

My Intensive Journal from 2014

This Sunday I start my fourth Intensive Journal Workshop. It runs each day through Friday, the 10th. The whole rising psa, get in the oncological spirit matter has come up since I decided to attend. Makes the whole process even more important. What’s life like for me post the move to Colorado? What’s the next few years’ focus?

No question that health matters have had pride of place almost from the time we got here. My prostate cancer diagnosis came in April and May of 2015, only months after we moved into our house. Kate’s multiple issues, Sjogren’s, the bleed, food aversion and weight loss, anemia, and lung disease have dominated for almost 18 months. We both had joint replacements, my knee, her shoulder.

20190501_090802Having said that, they don’t compare to the importance of having been here for Jon and the kids during that messy divorce and its aftermath. Which continues. Nor do they compare in importance to finding Congregation Beth Evergreen. Or, the constant wonder and awe of living in the Rocky Mountains. Or, the creation of a new family with Joe and SeoAh’s marriage.

How have all these things changed me? What do they suggest for things that need emphasis, and things that need to go in the compost heap of my life? An introvert’s delight, the journal workshop. It’s my birthday present, maybe the best one ever. Thanks, Kate.

No Cheffing Required

Spring                                                                         Rushing Waters Moon

Two favorite tools

Two favorite tools

Kate and I discussed ways to relieve my stress. One source of stress for me was the evening meal. Part of me, a very strong part, wants to be a chef every night. Something new, something remarkable. Understand the ingredients, bring out their best, try new techniques. Problem. That requires a lot of forethought. Buy the right ingredients. Have them to hand. Try to replicate things I barely understand. And, it results in duds. Failures. Sometimes. Unnecessary stress.

Kate’s solution? She’ll make a menu plan for a week and I’ll cook it. Oh. I can do that. That relieves me of the need to create and in this instance I’m happy to let it go. Last night I followed her suggestion: spaghetti and sauce, spinach. Straightforward. Tasty. And, no cheffing required. Doesn’t seem like it would be much, but I felt so much better when I saw that menu plan.

No word yet on the Progoff workshop. When I registered, there were only 4 of us and they require 7. Hope it happens. I need the clarity about this time that these workshops always give me. The Colorado years have been wonderful, filled with family as we wanted, saturated with mountains and wild life and blue sky, anchored by new friends and community at CBE. The Colorado years have been awful. Cancer. Sjogren’s. Knee and shoulder replacements. (which have helped us both) Kate’s bleed and the sequelae. Interstitial lung disease. Trips to the E.R. Hospital stays. Vega’s death.

alvarez-adventure-caving-spelunking-1So much here. The grit of my life over the past three and a half years. How has all this changed me? What direction does it suggest? How might I live into it with greater joy, greater passion, greater serenity? I also need a break from the every day. Not just because it’s been stressful as I said below, but because it’s been a long time between breaks. Tom and Mark’s visit was a nice respite, but too short.

The Progoff workshop is five days, morning and afternoon in a retreat center. I’ll be a commuter because of the dogs and Kate’s tpn, plus it’s cheaper. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll have to figure out some other way to get perspective and get a break.

Rushing Waters Moon

Spring                                                                                   Rushing Waters Moon

Ruth, Domos door

Ruth, Domo’s door

Went to Domo last night. Ruth’s favorite spot and her choice for birthday number 13. In fact I think we’ll probably be at Domo for her birthday until Ruth leaves for college. Kate went along. It wore her out, but it was worth it. She took a box of several rings and gave them to Ruth. This was in addition to our $10 for each year present we give in the Korean red gift envelopes.

Ruth, Jon, and I had wank0sushi. This is sushi prepared with different sauces, toppings. No soy sauce. It’s a lot of food and I ran out of room, so the birthday girl happily finished mine. Gabe’s using chopsticks, sort of, and had a big bowl of ramen. Kate chose appetizers, bland appetizers since she’s had more than her usual issues with dry mouth this week.

When we decided to move to Colorado, now five plus years ago, the primary reason was to be part of Ruth and Gabe’s life as they grew up. Ruth was 8 and Gabe 6 at the time. Their lives as children had begun to whizz by. Occasional visits weren’t enough.

Last night when we left the restaurant for Shadow Mountain I turned to Kate and said, “The move was worth it.” She smiled, “Yes. It was.” Birthday dinners and a big smile like that one. Way worth it.

Gabe is also an April baby, born on Earth Day, April 22nd. I’ll take the three of them to a Rockies’ game for his 20160623_171246birthday. He’s pretty excited about that.

One baseball game a year. That’s me. I like the whole take me out to the ballgame thing. Once. Then I remember that I never developed the chops to enjoy the game itself. But the hot dogs and the brick and the seats and the national anthem. I even like the groundsmen doing their job. The first three innings or so, I’m interested, watching the pitchers, the hitters, infielders and outfielders. However, this repeats and repeats and repeats. I’m not much of a sports fan.

 

The move also had the unintended consequence of allowing us to support Jon during his divorce. Ruth and Gabe, too. Again, worth it. Glad we’re here.

Alan in the Evergreen Chorales Holiday Concert

Alan in the Evergreen Chorales Holiday Concert

Had lunch with Alan Rubin yesterday at the Wildflower Cafe in downtown Evergreen. Kate and I used to go to the Wildflower and do our money meetings a couple of years ago. Alan’s taking over as President of the Ovation West board in July. He performs in their musicals, too. And, sings in the Evergreen Chorale. With the Rotary and Beth Evergreen he’s got an active third phase underway and having a great time with it. It’s healing to get out of the house, to talk with another adult. Good to have a friend like Alan.

While parked, I also saw Dan Herman, who will be president of the CBE board after Hal Stein’s term is up. He had coffee with our nearby neighbor, Sheri Pissoneault. She’s the chair of the education committee for the synagogue. I liked seeing them in Evergreen, helps with that this is our home feeling. Small town.

Back to regular workouts, still very far from back in shape, but getting there the only way you can, by repetition. I haven’t gotten back to the off resistance days cardio, but I will. A few aches and pains go along with working out at 72. Part of it. Interestingly, my o2 sats have already improved with the limited work I’m doing right now. 95 in Denver last night. 93 here this morning. (that’s % of 100, or full saturation of the blood with oxygen)

groceriesWhen we got into Domo, Denver was 70 degrees. We were, as often happens at this time of year, over dressed. When we got back home around 7 pm, it was 48 up here, headed down to 30. Vivé la differencé!

Grocery delivery today. Having a delivery service for groceries is a wonderful thing right now. Sometimes the week’s activities wear us both out. Like this week. Kate and I ate three meals in restaurants: No No’s, Aspen Perks, and Domo. The first three we’ve eaten out since her bleed last September. While it was wonderful to be out with her, it tired her out a lot. Me, too, though not as much. Not having to spend the time and the energy shopping in person is a real gift.

 

I miss them still

Spring                                                                          Recovery Moon

Doryphoros, MIA

Doryphoros, MIA

Today is Kate’s pulmonology appointment. Another key moment on this journey. Is she fit enough for surgery to place the j-tube? Does she have some lung disease? And, a week delayed.

The cold. My cold, that is, and it’s follow on sinus infection has begun to lose its grip. Glimpses of normalcy, breathing freely. Is this it? The end to this seven weeks of this and that rattling around in my blood stream, squeezing my lungs, filling my head? I sure hope so. May do a little dance.

Ironies. Judge Gorsuch, a Colorado deep conservative appointed to the court by he who shall not be named, has sided with the liberal judges on a Yakima Indian treaty dispute. Being a Westerner, he’s been exposed to much more Indian law than any other member of the court. Not sure where he stands on public lands. Guess we take what we can get in this moment of conservative judges dominant in our judiciary.

Weather here unremarkable. Warmer, blue skies, great clouds.

Lucretia, Rembrandt, MIA

Lucretia, Rembrandt, MIA

On art. 12 years at the MIA opened my heart, my mind to the strange world of art. Not that I hadn’t visited before. Ever since I spent time in the small museum on the campus of Ball State I’ve haunted museums, art fairs, galleries. But then I was an art appreciator in a very random way. I had little context, little history of the art I saw. After my two year class on art history in preparation for being a docent, I had at least a modest grasp of the history of world art. As I prepared for tours, went to continuing education, that knowledge grew.

I’ve been frustrated since leaving the MIA with my inability to interact with art on a regular basis. That’s one reason I started painting. I wanted that intimacy I had while at the MIA. For a few years after my docent training, the museum, closed on Mondays, allowed docents to be in the museum that day. That meant a chance to experience the art with no crowds, almost no other people.

Bonnard, MIA

Bonnard, MIA

I loved those Mondays and would wander happily through the Chinese paintings, the Japanese teaware, the 19th century galleries filled with Delacroix, Goya, Courbet, Gerome, Cole, Church, Bierstadt. I could spend time with Rembrandt’s Lucretia, Dorphyoros, Goya’s Dr. Arrieta, as much time as I wanted.

To know a work of art well you need to see it in person, spend time with it over weeks and years. Let it speak to you as the artist hoped it would with color, with shape, with composition, with subject matter, with brush strokes and chiaroscuro, with its own, often centuries long story. The works become your friends, acquaintances who teach you, let you be your self, but also be affected at a soul level. I miss that still though my friends from the MIA live on in my memory, with me here on Shadow Mountain.

29 years ago

Imbolc                                                                         Recovery Moon

kate and me in time29 years ago tomorrow Kate and I stepped on a glass* in Federal Court Chambers, the Landmark Building, Rice Park, St. Paul. The next day, just to show how long ago 29 years is, we flew Pan Am to Rome. We wrote thank you notes on the plane and mailed them from the Vatican Post Office. Probably wouldn’t make that decision today, but then it seemed sorta cool. Cousin Diane Keaton was my best person.

The honeymoon followed spring north in Europe proceeding from Rome to Venice, Vienna, Paris, London, Inverness, Edinburgh, and London again. We also made it to Florence, Salzburg, and Bath. Along the way we discovered what it meant to be together.

Pompeii was a revelation about humanity in the face of catastrophe. The Uffizi a revelation about the human creative spirit. Venice showed the adaptive capacity of our species. Vienna. We arrived at 10 pm, hungry after a foodless train ride that passed through the Dolomites from Venice. Wiener schnitzel in a small restaurant with red table cloths. Paulaner non-alcoholic beer. Later Andean musicians played the pan pipes under our balcony at the Hotel Astoria on the ringstrasse. Paris. Of course the Louvre. The Rodin museum. Life as a graceful and elegant soiree. Crossing the English Channel by ferry. Before the Chunnel. London. The Basil Street Hotel had a women’s club like the better known men’s clubs for which England is famous. From there to Inverness where we walked hand in hand along the Ness river at night, fog rolling off it, spilling over the sidewalk. We ate breakfast at the Station Hotel in a large ballroom with a carpeted corner they used for dining. Then, Edinburgh where we ordered room service and stayed in bed watching movies on tv. Back to London. At the Reject China shop where we bought our Portemerion dinner ware the clerk suggested I might like to go to a pub while Kate shopped. I visited antique stores instead. Then, home.

Astoria SignThe last 29 years have seen other adventures. Cruising the Mediterranean. Twice the Panama Canal. Once almost all the way around Latin America. Hawai’i several times. Korea for the wedding. Singapore. New York, of course. New Orleans. Chicago. Other places, too.

Those are frosting on the life we created 29 years ago. The life itself, that’s the cake. We’ve moved three times. Once into the house on Edgcumbe Boulevard in St. Paul. The one with the pool. Where we lived with our first Irish Wolfhounds, Celt and Sorsha. Where Joseph played baseball with the Hasidic kids next door. After that, Andover. 20 years of exurban life. Flower gardens. Vegetable gardens. Bees. An orchard. A firepit. The lives and deaths of many dogs. Joe finishing high school. Jon off to Colorado to teach. Then Joe off to Breckenridge to work and ski for three years before he joined the Air Force. And now, Shadow Mountain. Seeing the grandkids often, the many insults life has thrown us, even so, just life. Joe married. SeoAh in our lives. Congregation Beth Evergreen. A Colorado finish to a life begun at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, an easy stroll to the Landmark Center. Will we stay here on Shadow Mountain? Don’t know. TBD.

20190127_163835I love the arc of our life together, the suffering and the joy. No life has only one or the other. The key factor of our love has been this: support each other in living our best life. We’ve mostly succeeded. Kids, grandkids, dogs, gardening together, harvesting honey together, traveling together. Kate sewing, me writing. The MIA. Music, jazz and classical. Seeing the world. Living in the mountains. Life now in its third phase.

I love her still, always. I know her better, she knows me better, and yet we’re together. That’s proof of the broken glass moment. Till death do us part. And beyond even that.

 

 

*”The fragility of glass suggests the frailty of human relationships. Since even the strongest love is subject to disintegration, the glass is broken as a kind of incantation: “As this glass shatters, so may our marriage never break.” For more interpretations: myjewishlearning.

Became Native to This Place

Imbolc                                                                Valentine Moon

we're waiting to transition to a feeding tube placed in the jejunum

we’re waiting to transition to a feeding tube placed in the jejunum

UPS delivers vitamins and bags of nutrients for Kate. On Tuesday we got a box with a styrofoam container, two gel packs to keep things cool, bubble wrap filling the container, about 12x12x12. Two vials of vitamins. Next day, two more boxes, same size, syringes, nutrient bags, batteries (a fresh 9 volt goes into the pump every day), saline flushes, heparin locks, tubing for the pump that connects to Kate’s picc line.

The logistics of this tpn feeding are remarkable. Not only do they have to ship us the right amount of stuff, it has to get here on a timely basis. And, the nutrient bags have a mixture that is tuned according to Kate’s labs, which can change on a weekly basis. Somebody has to coordinate all that and make sure the counts are right, the nutrient’s up to date, and that it gets here so we can use it. But, you can’t send too much at once because the tpn might be stopped, or certain things, like the vitamins and nutrients might spoil.

tpn4It’s no wonder medical costs are high. All of these things are one use only: syringes, nutrients, saline flushes and heparin flushes (each in their own individual packing), batteries, tubing, alcohol wipes, even the packaging for the deliveries. The need for sterility drives most of this. Kate’s picc line ends near her heart in the superior venous cava, which means there is a direct link between the outside, non-sterile world and that vip organ. Even the tiniest mistake in sterile procedure could have disastrous, catastrophic results. No pressure, eh?

I’ve gotten more facile with the various steps required to change out Kate’s nutrient bags. She draws the vitamins out of their vials using syringes. She and Julie, the home health nurse, make that look easy, but my fingers don’t find it so. As Kate said, my dexterity is in my brain, not my fingers. The rest of it, I can do. I could figure that one out, too, but with Kate’s expertise, why?

20181230_064700Grieving now. Looking at things around the house with that critical, ok what do we need to do with this in order to sell the house eye. Driving up the mountain considering how many more times I’ll be able to see Black Mountain on my left as I climb Shadow Mountain to our home near its peak. Not anxious about it, just sad.

Place is very important to me. Andover taught me that. Even though we lived there twenty years I never made my peace with the suburban blandness. No there there, was the way I put it. Oh, yes, our property had a definite sense of place, but it was set in a context that numbed the mind. At least my mind. Here, the opposite is true. I love the mountains, the vistas, the curves in the road. The weather. The ever changing face of Black Mountain.

As the John Muir quote on my e-mails says, “You are not in the mountains, the mountains are in you.” It’s an aesthetic sensibility. Over my years at the MIA I learned how important aesthetics were to me. Always have been. Deep in my soul. Perhaps it’s even the root of my pagan leanings, the aesthetic link I feel between myself and the natural world.