Family Week on Shadow Mountain

Summer and the Recovery Moon

It’s family week on Shadow Mountain. Mary is here, arriving Tuesday night from Minneapolis, heading out tomorrow for Minneapolis to see her friend Debbie in Eau Claire. After a brief stop in Indiana, she heads back to London, on to Cornwall, Devon, for a memorial service. Greece for a conference. Back to England, Cambridge, for a conference with Japanese colleagues from her time in Kobe last year.

Meanwhile Mark sends missives about Bangkok. He’s been in Chinatown, Yaowarat Road, the old main street of Bangkok. I stayed there when I was in Bangkok in 2004. A fascinating place with traditional Chinese apothecaries, lots of street food on weekend nights, small, crowded lanes packed with shops selling diverse wares.

Guru, Mary’s s.o., is back in K.L., Malaysia, defending a couple of drug traffickers facing the death penalty. They’re tough on drug dealers.

Kep

The Kep, shredder extraordinaire, goes into PetSmart today for furmination. If, that is, I can find his rabies certificate. No, I know where it is. He still doesn’t like to be left. He is joyous when we return. You remembered me!

Yesterday I listened to Creedence while the Cancer Predator bobbed and weaved around my body-as Mark observed. Keith, who’s taking the radiation cure for just diagnosed prostate cancer, said, Half done! I’ll get to half some day, but not soon. Another guy, older than me, gave me a bemused smile, all radiated! We’re all on death row, hoping to commute the sentence with clean living and radioactive photons.

2014

Kate saw Gupta. He’s going to see her again in a month. No diagnosis. She’s doing so well that getting a lung biopsy done, the only way to make a definitive diagnosis, might interfere with her recovery. It’s a surgical procedure, requiring anesthesia. If she continues to improve, and I think she will, then any lung disease is not bad enough to justify the trauma of the biopsy.

Wisest of Owls

Summer and the Recovery Moon

The weather here has veered back toward seasonal norms and will continue warm to hot. Hard to say when the next snowfall might be.

Gabe found the antler. A very excited 11 year old. He went for a walk with Ruth and found another bone. A knife blade, too. He’s a bone collector. Jon says he wants a metal detector. Oh, boy.

Ruth varnished the owl house. It will get up in a tree soon. It has book jackets on it. She made it in wood arts class and gave it to me for my birthday. I told her the book jackets would assure I’d get the wisest owls. “I didn’t think of that metaphor!”

Drove down the hill last night at 9 pm to the Federal Center RTD stop. Picked up Mary at 10. The lights of Denver twinkle coming down 285, the air was warm, the sky clear. Perfect summer night. Good for a drive.

She’s going from here to Wisconsin, thence to Indianapolis, and, after that, back to London. She came through London to Indy.

Kate had a not so good day yesterday. Some random not feel good stuff. Another grocery delivery. What a mind saver.

Pattie told me my bladder was perfect yesterday. So nice to hear. Took the last of my radiation to Riders in the Storm. I did ask Nicky what was the most popular musical choice. Hmm. Let me give you the top four: classic rock, blues (pretty appropriate), classical, and new country. Interesting.

Got to thinking about why classic rock. Listening to the Doors I replayed college. Hmmm. At 72 I choose to transport myself back to when I was young and foolish. Made me wonder what musical choices are made in hospices these days? Anybody leaving this world to “I’m So Glad” by the Cream?

At rest, waiting for me

Prostate cancer tends to produce patients of a certain age. Like me. When we pass each other, we smile. A bit grimly. Yeah. You, too? The guy with the Titelist ball cap on Monday looked serious today waiting his turn on the gurney.

I’ve wondered, once or twice, what the attitude is like in breast cancer treatment centers. I imagine it as a bit more warm and fuzzy.

The Mountains Are Calling

Summer and the Recovery Moon

Yamabushi monk

Not sure exactly what’s going on here. They mention Shugendo. It’s a fourteen hundred year old tradition that has esoteric Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto roots. They refer to themselves as Yamabushi, those who prostrate themselves on the mountain.

Master Hashino

It seems like they’re dedicated to reducing the distance between humans and mother earth. Or, perhaps better, creating awareness of that already existing intimacy, now obfuscated by so much.

Fellow travelers with me, I think.

An Important Couple of Weeks Here

Beltane                                                                   Cancer Moon

It’s another Colorado day. Blue sky, sun, a bit chilly. Mountains. Pines. Fresh air.

Mother Cabrini Shrine

Mother Cabrini Shrine

At 12:15 I head over to the Mother Cabrini Shrine where this Progoff workshop will take place. It’s about 40-50 minutes from here depending on the route. Close to Golden. Being a commuter will be a new experience for me.

Kate will be alone. My phone will be on vibrate and I enabled voice messaging. She asked me to. I actually prefer not to get voice messages. I like text or e-mail. Woke up this morning realizing I need to make a few things for her to have. Food.

Brother Mark has decided to head to Bangkok after his year in Arar, Saudi Arabia. Bangkok will be different. Humid. Also hot. But a society with a different past, a different religious inflection, Buddhist not Wahabi Muslim, a very different architectural heritage and cultural mores. I admire his having taught in Arar for the whole year. He’s going on vacation.

Mary and Mark, Andover

Mary and Mark, Andover

My sister Mary has become an international figure in her field, speaking and teaching in Finland, the Philipines, Indonesia, Greece, other places I’ve forgotten. They both traverse our planet often, going from place to place.

I’d like to write here about my boy but he’s asked me not to for opsec reasons. Operational security. Geez.

In part due to caregiving and in part due to my own spiritual journey the cancer has not dominated my life. At least not yet. The Progoff workshop will give me a chance to explore it from within and should help with residual anxiety.

The week after the workshop Kate has an appointment with her pulmonologist and later gets her actual crowns. Cue God Save the Queen. I have the axumin scan, a glaucoma check, swapping out the snow tires for all seasons, and a visit with the radiation oncologist Dr. Gilroy. By the end of that week many things will be clearer.

The air conditioner in our Rav4 will get a diagnostic shot of a gas that glows under a black light when they change the tires. After a few hundred miles I go back to see if they can find a small leak. If not, we may need to replace the air conditioning unit. Much cheaper than a new car.

 

Swimming in da Nile

Spring                                                                        Rushing Waters Moon

axiumSwimming in denial. That’s me. I sent an apology e-mail to Dr. Eigner saying I had misstated my PSA. I wrote it to him as 1.2, but it was really .12, I said. Just got a call from Anna Willis, his PA. Nope. I had it right. It was 1.2. Guess I wished it to be .12 so I decided it was. Nope. The second PSA I had was, in fact, 1.3. Well.

Numb. In shock. Doing what I do to sort things out, write.

I’ll be getting an axumin scan, a relatively new pet scan procedure that can identify active cancer cells and locate them. This not only helps target therapy, a very good thing, but can also say whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) or is confined to the prostate fossa, the area where my prostate used to be. After the scan, I’ll visit the cancer care folks at Anova. They’ll discuss what treatments, probably radiation, might work.

20181011_181109I have a sort of buzzing in my head, a feeling of my body as more of a barrier to the world, heavy. Staring, sort of off into the distance. As I’m writing, I stop. Then, realize I’m stopped. Go again.

Black Mountain is gone, disappeared in the fog, or the cloud surrounding us right now. Appropriate. What’s going on in my body right now is covered in the fog of unknowing. I’ll have to wait, as I  will for Black Mountain, to see what can be seen.

Sighing. Distracted. This will pass, this feeling. Then reality will settle in, take another bit of time to figure out, to feel into this changed circumstance.

And, of course, the continuing weirdness of having a terminal condition (if left untreated) with no symptoms. I feel fine. Good. Healthy. Except…

Good thing Kate got good news from the scale this morning. 94! Some of it no doubt due to the prednisone burst she’s on right now, water retention, but not four pounds. She’s gaining weight, feeling more optimistic. Thank god. She said, “After your radiation or whatever treatment, we’re going to board the dogs and go on a cruise.” An excellent idea.

The Ides of April

Spring                                                                           Rushing Waters Moon

Whoa. Tiger Woods won the Open. After 11 years of shame, rehab, shambling along. A victory for aging. For never letting go of the dream. For living into the present and the future, not being bridled by the past. I’m glad, for all of us.

tax_dayTax day. Still puzzled by the acrimony taxes create. Taxes express our solidarity as citizens of this nation. They do the work of road building, of feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, of war fighting, of space exploration, of consumer and environmental protection. Or, at least they do under reasonable, non-tyranny leaning Presidents. I’m happy to pay them, federal and state and property. Always have been.

Do I always agree with the use to which my tax dollars are put? Of course not. I understand the nature of politics. It’s about compromise, about negotiating the differences we have. Politics define how we live together as a people, at least in the public sphere.

No taxation without representation. That was the Boston Tea Party demand of King George. Its corollary is that when you have representation the taxes are legitimate, whether you agree with their aims or not. If not, change your representation.

There’s an article in this morning’s NYT titled, “Is America Becoming an Oligarchy?” I wrote a comment, “Whaddya mean, becoming?” That is, of course, the trouble with our government and with the notion of representation. I know that. It doesn’t make no taxation without representation inapplicable, rather it defines the struggle ahead.

Further down the page was an article titled “Want to Escape Global Warming?” It features Duluth as a climate-change proof city. Which, I imagine, makes Canada look pretty good, too. With decent forest management Conifer could be such a place, as well. Duluth’s a great town, situated between the Twin Cities and northern Minnesota, sitting on the largest body of fresh water in the world save Lake Baikal in Siberia. Kate and I considered moving there when she left Metro Peds.

A menu from a 1999 visit

Menu from a 1999 visit

60 today here in Conifer. Snow later in the week. Colorado.

And, my appointment with Anna Willis. I have some anxiety though my rational side says it’ll be fine. At least I’ll get a professional opinion about my rising PSA. What’s life in the third phase without a little medical frisson every once in a while?

Friend Tom Crane and Roxann have returned to Minnesota after several days on Maui. To snow and cold. Of course. They stayed at the condo near Duke’s restaurant on Kaanapli beach while the grandkids and their parents were with them and moved to Mama’s Fish House Inn after.

Mama’s has been a favorite spot of Kate and mine’s since our first trips to Hawai’i. Celebrated several birthdays there. Mine, since Kate’s CME’s often fell in February, a great time to be someplace else other than Minnesota.

 

 

Not all who wander are lost. Tolkien

Spring                                                                        Rushing Waters Moon

Mark in Saudi Arabia

Brother Mark in the sands of Araby

Brother Mark turned 60 yesterday. A landmark birthday. Sort of the transition from younger to older. The next decade is the 70’s while the previous one was the 50’s. He’s celebrated his birthday in many spots around the world, this time in Arar, Saudi Arabia. Mark’s finishing up the term at his school right now, then will head out for some travel. He’s a wanderer, a man addicted to movement. Mary and I are the same, with Mary’s level of addiction being greater than mine and Mark’s greater than Mary’s. Which we all inherited from our parents. Dad dreamed of travel. Mom did it. She made it to Algeria, Capri, and England during WW II. She was a WAC in the Signal Corps.

Today is Dad’s birthday. He would have been a hundred and six. In regard to yesterday’s post, he had prostate cancer at the same age I did, 69. He also had a prostatectomy, in a time when they were much more difficult to perform (too much blood obscured the surgeon’s view). He never had a recurrence.

Saw Alex, Dr. Gupta’s nurse practitioner yesterday. Kate does have some sort of interstitial lung disease, the kind to be determined by a lung biopsy. The current plan is to have the biopsy done at the same time as her j-tube placement. Alex is working on that right now. This is a big, a giant step forward. Where we’ve been trying to get since January. Alex said she thought Kate was fit for surgery.

Joe and SeoAhs apartment in Songtan, Korea

Joe and SeoAh’s apartment in Songtan, Korea

The wisdom of Ed Smith’s insistence on the tpn has become evident. Her weight is up and her consistent ot/pt has increased her muscle strength and her stamina. She’s in much better spirits, too. Happier. Laughing more. In certain instances now she sets aside the rollator and walks on her own. All of this means that her fitness for surgery has improved since the stent placement in January.

Still no appointment with Dr. Eigner, my urologist. But, soon.

My birthday present is attendance at another Ira Progoff Journal workshop. It’s this May, the 6th through the 10th. I’ve found these workshops, I’ve done three, most recently in 2014, useful. My first was in Wisconsin, in the early 1980’s. That’s when I developed my mantra: Spring rushing, white pine rooting. I’ve used it ever since. The second was in Georgia, outside Atlanta. Don’t recall the work I did there. The third was in Tucson. In that one I stirred things up, discovering a desire to move to Colorado, to be near the grandkids.

progoffThese workshops excel at locating yourself in your life at the moment. That is, what major factors are at play, which threads from your life will gain prominence, or might gain prominence. I want to look at our Colorado life, now three and a half years in, and in particular the knock on effects of our health issues, Congregation Beth Evergreen, living in the mountains, and our family.

 

 

A Beloved Community

Spring                                                                              Rushing Waters Moon

Maxwell Creek is full and running. Another bomb cyclone is on its way to the plains and the Front Range, blizzard warnings are up for lower elevations. We’re in a 6-10 inch forecast area. Right now the clouds are below 8,000 feet, meaning Black Mountain is behind a thick fog as I write this. Temperatures will drop fast. Yes, a mountain spring.

Buddy Tom Crane is on his way home to Minnesota after a week plus on Maui. The same storm will welcome him and Roxann with weather similar to what we’ve got coming. Uff dah.

Tara and Marilyn, CBE

Tara and Marilyn, CBE

An interesting evening at Beth Evergreen. Dan, next president of the board, invited Kate and me to come to a session with each of the two candidates for synagogue executive director. We couldn’t go last Thursday since that was Ruth’s 13th, but I made it for this one. Kate stayed home. She’s saving herself. For Friday night’s Grateful Dead sabbath that honors the outgoing exec, Leah, whom we both really liked.

There were about 20 of us. Some had been members since 1979 when CBE was just a twinkle in a havurah’s eyes. Havurah is Hebrew for fellowship and CBE started as a small group of Jews, mountain Jews living in and around Evergreen. Some of us were more recent members. Kate, myself, and Sheri joined in 2016 or so. The rest, including my buddy Alan, had been members for varying lengths of time, though most joined in the 1990’s.

The idea was for us to meet the candidate, this woman is from Bethesda, Maryland, hear her talk about herself a bit, then introduce ourselves and say what CBE means to us. Here’s what was interesting. With no irony or sarcasm at all folks around the table referred to CBE as family, as place where people felt comfortable, where we loved each other. All adults, all older with a couple of exceptions. It was a powerful evening for that reason. I’m not used to adults sitting around describing their love for folks that are not blood relatives, but that’s what happened.

Chicken Soup cookoff, my entry #7

Chicken Soup cookoff, my entry #7

When it came my turn, I referred to CBE as the beloved community that all Christian churches aspire to. A brief article on caregivers in the Denver Post had pointed to some of the problems they experience. I’ve not experienced any of them except stress. The reason, I said last night, is that we were called and offered help constantly. Kate and I have backup and we know it. We’re relatively new members, yet we’re treated like we’ve been around a long time. That’s a characteristic, a cultural norm, of CBE, and it’s rare.

All this is an important reason for us to stay where we are in spite of oxygen related issues. We can get more oxygen up here, but finding another beloved community elsewhere? Unlikely. Today, for example, I have lunch with Alan. Easy from here.

Kate and Seoahs mother, April 10, 2016

Kate and Seoah’s mother, April 10, 2016

Tomorrow Kate has a pulmonology appointment. Unless they close again for the snow. This appointment is with a nurse practitioner since Dr. Gupta is away. Probably on Maui eating next to Tom and Roxann at Mama’s Fish House. Kate wants to get the radiologists reading of the high resolution c.t. she had last week. We’re also looking for an assessment of her fitness for surgery. The J-tube. Don’t know whether a nurse practitioner can give one or not.

Today is Joe and SeoAh’s 3rd anniversary. This picture is one of my favorites of the wedding. A Norwegian in Korea.

Their marriage has been a blessing for Kate and me. SeoAh has helped out in the last 6 months, coming twice, once for a bit more than month in December/January. As a dad, I’m glad Joe has a partner. As a father-in-law, I’m glad he chose SeoAh. She’s a sweetheart.

 

Long Gone

Spring                                                                              Rushing Waters Moon

Mary, Mark, Diane, me, Joe

Mary, Mark, Diane, me, Joe  Andover, Mn.

My cousin, Diane, lives in San Francisco. Born near and raised in Morristown, Indiana, my mother’s hometown, she’s returning to the heartland for a visit. For a month. I told her a month would be long time in Indiana for me. She’s going several different places in the Midwest to see family, friends. Her recent retirement makes this possible. She’ll probably organize a small reunion of the first cousins, a tribe of which there are still many in the Hoosier State.

My siblings and I have been gone from there a long, long time. Most of our adult lives. I left first in 1969, moving to Appleton, Wisconsin. Mary after taking a job on a campus of I.U. in Kuala Lumpur. Mark later to Bangkok. Not sure when Diane left for San Francisco. Our cousin Leisa moved to the Detroit area when she married Bob. The rest remain.

Though I was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, we left there when I was under 2 years old, so Indiana was the first home I really knew and I stayed in state through college, leaving shortly after I finished my senior year. A short sojourn in another small Indiana town, Connersville, then gone.

By Garaoihana - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By Garaoihana – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.  the Klan in Muncie, 1922

If you grow into radical politics, Indiana is a tough place. It has a strong and unfortunate Klan history, with an openly Klan U.S. Senator and Governor being elected there in the early part of the 20th century. It remains unfriendly to those with differences, especially at the political level. Mike Pence, for example, is the former governor of Indiana.

It’s mostly farms and factories, though manufacturing, much of it supply chain work for the old Detroit, has declined a lot since my youth there. The factories have a complicated legacy. They attracted many from Dixie, white and black, folks from Appalachia, too. Though many of them voted for George Wallace during his abortive run for President, they also joined unions. In particular, the United Auto Workers. As long as the factories were strong and the UAW powerful, Indiana often turned out liberal Democrats for Congress.

Copper Kettle

Copper Kettle, Morristown

As Detroit lost its grip on auto sales, the factories went dark, putting the children of that Southern and Appalachian diaspora out of work and back into desperate times. Poverty is the enemy of social progress in so many ways, not the least of it being the competition for work among folks of different backgrounds. Race being the most volatile difference of all. Indiana is now Trump country. He got 60% of the vote in 2016. Hillary only 37.

Warm memories. Family reunions in James Whitcomb Riley park in Greenfield. Visiting the farm in Morristown. Eating at the Copper Kettle and the Bluebird Cafe there. That sugar cream pie and Aunt Mary’s fried chicken. Basketball games in high school. That one time we won the sectional, beating much larger Anderson. Decoration Day parades with tanks and bands and baton twirlers. The 500 mile race. The preparation month. The time trials. Race day. Visiting New Harmony as an adult.

20150911_113337Mostly conflicted memories. Mom’s early death. Estrangement from Dad. An outsiders life in high school even if I was popular. Awkward times with girls and later women. The knuckle dragging politics, racial and gender attitudes. Early stages of alcoholism. It was not clear to me until I moved to Minneapolis how much I had missed by living in a culture poor section of the country.

I love my cousins and the times we’ve had together, as I did my aunts and uncles, all now dead. But the conflict between progressive politics, an educated appreciation of the arts and the reality of Hoosier culture was too much for me. Still is.

Anyhow, have a good trip, Diane.

 

 

Travel by Television

Spring                                                                        Recovery Moon

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

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

Glad BJ’s a true New Yorker. She saw the train as a good way to return to the airport. Saved me a couple of hours in transit. It was a good visit and I have the spritz cookies to prove it. I’ll be sending a box full of yarn to Idaho. No room in the Beacon Hotel for it, I guess.

Kate got her teeth cleaned yesterday. In addition to all her other miseries Sjogren’s, which makes her mouth very dry, does so by diminishing the natural defense against cavities, saliva. That means good news for the dentist’s income, bad news for her. As I might have said long ago, if it’s not one damned, it’s another.

Had my make sure I’ve got the technique down session at On the Move Fitness. The deadlift move was hard for my body to figure out. I had a tendency to slump my shoulders. Drive your glutes back, chest up, Dave said. Oh, I see. That advanced quadraped had me going, too. Had my hand sweeping forward when my leg came up rather than when it went back. Fixed that. Now I’m good to go for another 6-8 weeks.

fitnessCardio wise I’m way behind my usual fitness level. Totally detrained. It will take a while to get that back, probably longer than getting my muscles into shape. No other way than through it. This paleolithic body wants to be hunting and gathering, but I’m sitting and coughing. Sigh.

Netflix provides me with some of my travel needs. How, you might ask? By funding shows that not only take place in foreign climes, but ones created and acted by folks from those same climes. (what is a clime, anyhow? ah. “a region considered with reference to its climate.” There you go.) They’re not all great, most aren’t, but they show a particular culture in situ and from within its cultural norms. Sure, they use some cliches from American and British TV, imperialism is not just about gun boats and occupying armies, but the cultural mores seep through anyhow.

televisionExample. The Protector. This story is set in Istanbul. Its origin is a fantasy novel by Turkish author, N. Ipek Gokdel, The Strange Story of Charcoal and a Young Man. The novel itself has not been translated into English and the language of the series is Turkish, but, you know, subtitles. The settings include the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and many parts of Istanbul with which I’m not familiar like Prince’s Island and residential neighborhoods.

The Protector is a figure from Istanbul’s Ottoman past, a magical figure who gains the power to stop the seven Immortals who threaten Istanbul and, by implication, the whole world. The plot draws from the era of Mehmed the Conqueror. At 21 he defeated the Byzantine’s and began the Sunni Muslim era of Turkey. A key figure in a few episodes is the architect of Suleiman the Magnificent, Mimar Sinan. The show visits mosques he designed and his tomb.

Kingdom

Kingdom

Various Turkish foods, table customs, history, family traditions, as well as story telling tropes are in every scene. It’s not a bad story line and the actors are good, not great, but good. Plus I get to see Istanbul and learn about Turkey. In this period of my life I’m more stay-at-home, so I appreciate these opportunities. Roma was another example. Genghis Khan, which I’ve not watched yet, is another. Kingdom, set in Korea, too. The long series on foods of Southern China. None of the other streaming services have this variety.