Over the curves and up the hill…

Samain and the Fallow Moon

The waning half Fallow Moon was beautiful this morning. It was the half closed pupil of an eye surrounded by a circle of silvered moonlight within a larger circle of blue moonlight. The eye followed Orion and his dog as they hunted, looking all round Black Mountain for prey.

While Minnesota and points east have been cold, we’ve had a milder, less snowy first half to November. That’s about to change. How much remains to be seen, but it looks like Thanksgiving week will be both colder and snowier.

Kate and I drove up the hill yesterday afternoon after yet another doctor’s appointment. I asked her if she felt different, more at ease with at least the immediate future. Yes, she said. Me too, I agreed. It’s an adjustment to see fewer appointments ahead, less likelihood of drastic news. A good adjustment, yet it also has a when will the other shoe drop tonality. I believe that feeling will pass as long as our mutual health conditions remember stable over a longer period of time.

I ordered a capon from Tony’s last week. Kate decided to get their side dish bundle: gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans. Ruth agreed to make a pumpkin pie. Joe, SeoAh, and Murdoch plan to get here on Wednesday. Annie, too. Jon, Ruth, and Gabe will join us on Thanksgiving. A full house plus.

As many of you will understand, we’re both looking forward to these visits, a lot, and dreading them, a little. Having three extra people and a now larger Murdoch in the house for five or six days presents psychological and logistical challenges. All worth it, but challenges none the less.

Not nearly as big though as the Keaton Thanksgivings. Mom’s family. Muncie, Indiana. Aunt Marjory’s. She was the acknowledged culinary guru and must have worked very hard to feed 18-20 people. There was a kid’s table, lots of comic books (often brought by me). Uncle Ike, Uncle Riley, Dad, Uncle Ray, if they were all there, would retire to Uncle Ike’s den to smoke cigars and watch football. Aunt Roberta, Aunt Virginia, and Mom must have helped Aunt Marjory in the kitchen, but I don’t remember it.

This was a key link in our extended family’s year, the other major one being a family reunion in James Whitcomb Riley park in Greenfield, Indiana. Jane Pauley would occasionally come. Her father Dick Pauley and Uncle Riley were close friends.

Thanksgiving memories. An American tradition. A strong one because it is non-sectarian, focuses on food and family. Probably my favorite holiday of the year after the Winter Solstice. One for the family, one for solitude.

Turn Starwheel Turn

Samain and a full Fallow Moon

Orion was there, but dim. 4:30 am. Full Fallow Moon above Black Mountain outshone his distant stars. Going outside in the early morning, seeing Orion rise, his big dog, too, has somewhat rekindled my interest in astronomy. Enough that I repurchased something I gave away when we moved, a starwheel. Wonderful name. Relearning parts of the night sky.

The big dipper, easy to locate in Andover, often hides behind the lodgepoles to the northeast, but is now rising early enough that I can see it. With that friend I can find Polaris and Arcturus. Follow the arc to Arcturus. Follow the pointer stars to Polaris.

Coming out at 4:30 or so on a daily basis makes me understand how the heavens could have been used not only as a calendar, but also as a clock. Orion ticks over further and further to the west. Others come to his former spot. A person who focused on the stars at night could tell time with this movement.

Living in the mountains surrounded by the Arapaho National Forest gives each day and night a close connection with the changing natural world. On the ground. In the sky.

One outcome of Kate’s good news and my ok news about our lung diseases (geez) is that we’re here to stay. Yes, we’re challenged by the thin air, but we can cope. Better up here for both of us than down in the polluted air of the Denver metro.


Samain and the Fallow Moon

Saturday. Worked out. Getting back to six days a week. Three cardio. Three cardio plus resistance. Tough to pull off with the scattering of doctor appointments on our calendar, but I’m getting there.

Weakness is still an issue. Is it the lupron? The COPD? Stress? I’m not moving up on my weights, but I’m accepting that. It will come back.

Realized had I not had my Achilles tendon rupture repaired and my arthritic knee replaced, it would not be possible to exercise now. At least not at the level I’m used to. Made me think about the downstream consequences of decisions made long ago. Smoking was another one. Drinking, too. Two marriages, then, at last, Kate. Seminary.

Made garlic and herb pork tenderloin last night. Oven fried potatoes and lemon/garlic green beans. My cooking skills are improving. Having Kate as a consultant gives me backup.

Oh. yeah. DST. Gone. Thank god. Except. We have dogs. I get up at 4:30 am to feed them. 4:30 is now 3:30 to them. Need to wait, gradually introduce them to the new time. Grrr.

Snow still on the ground. I imagine there will be more mitigation opportunities before winter fully sets in. The white Rav4, Ivory, has snow tires on now. Will put snowshoes on Ruby, maybe after Thanksgiving. She has good tread on her all-seasons and AWD. Works well.

Change it up, dude

Fall (last day of) and the Fallow Season Moon

-8. That’s right. -8 degrees here on Shadow Mountain, the day before Halloween. In October. We’ve had a taste of Minnesota winter the week before Halloween.

Been changing my morning routine a bit. Read an article that said the first three hours of your day are the most important. Mine starts between 4 am and 4:30 am. I wake up, the dogs get restless, Kep rolls over for a tug and tussle. Gertie comes up to check that I’M REALLY GETTING UP. Gives me a quick kiss to be sure. Rigel raises her head, looks at me. She requires a personal request to get out of bed.

That first half hour is dog feeding, getting the newspaper, and, on Wednesdays, today, taking out the trash. The trash has to be wheeled out through whatever has fallen on the driveway. Some snow today, not too bad.

One of the containers, the green one for recycling, testifies to America’s changed economy. It’s filled with cardboard from Amazon orders, Chewy dogfood boxes, boxes from Kate’s tube feeding supplies. Each home is now a shipping and receiving depot with the resulting obligation to handle no longer needed shipping materials.

After this work finishes, I go upstairs in our garage, to my loft, a 900 square foot space filled with books, art making supplies, exercise equipment and my computer desk. Over the last 14 years the first thing I’ve done in the morning is read e-mails, then write Ancientrails. That’s what I’d call a habit.

But, when learning is needed, the teacher appears. A writer whose blog I sometimes read suggested the first three hours make your day notion. He was making the common millennial complaint about spending too much on social media: facebook, instagram, snapchat, tiktok, whatever the latest is. That’s not me, but I took his point.

Ready for a change I switched up. First, back to meditating. Having done that on a regular basis in a long while. Goal is for 20 minutes. Up to 10 this morning. Then, I read. I’ve been wondering about why I’m not reading more. Oh, I read science fiction, the occasional novel, Tears of the Truffle Pig right now, but serious reading has become a difficult task. Fitting it in. Being able to sustain attention. Turns out the early am is wonderful for that kind of attention.

Reading this morning in the Beginning of Desire, by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Subtitle: reflections on Genesis. She’s amazing. A new thing under the sun of biblical commentary. Her method, which I’ll write about here at some point, is so subtle, so profound, so intimate, and very learned. I got hooked on her by plucking a book of hers somewhat by random off the library shelf at CBE. I opened, read a couple of sentences, and knew this was genius. Not a term I use lightly.

That was a year ago during the High Holidays, Yom Kippur, and Rabbi Jamie had just finished the whole High Holidays. A lot of work. He sank into the chair next to me. Nobody else there. All had left.

I enthused about Zornberg. He brightened. Yes, he’d met here. Yes, she was the best Torah commentator, maybe ever. He and his brother Russ, a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, and professor at Regis University in Denver, who lives in Evergreen, had talked about a joint class using one of her works, a series of essays on biblical interpretation. Hasn’t happened yet, but when things normalize here, I’m going to see if I could give the idea a boost.

Anyhow, I got into her this morning and combined with some other thinking I’ve been doing, got into a revery about myth, fairy tales, long books, the true anchors of my inner life. This is my work, my lifelong work and fascination, the attempts we humans make to discern the occult, the hidden, the other world, the that beyond the this. This is my heart’s labor. Politics was reasons labor, fueled by the heart, too, of course, the misery of oppression, but calculating, power oriented, perhaps a diversion?

I’m writing this now, an hour and a half later than I would have in the past 14 years. So, changes. More to come.

Real Winter

Fall and the new moon (Heshvan)

Stress test today. Oh, boy. Hope they don’t catch it all. Feeling a bit down.

The combination of the COPD diagnosis, my stress test at 11:30, the very nasty road conditions between here and South Denver Cardiology in Littleton. Found myself reluctant to shovel the back deck and the stall mats. Achy. You know. Stuff accumulates. (no pun intended.) Did shovel the deck and mats though. Felt better.

Walked out to the paper. Nope. Snow stops the Denver Post. Only rain, sleet, hail, snow, and gloom of night prevents that sturdy carrier from his rounds.

This is real winter, pre-Halloween. Temp of 5 right now, headed down below that tonight and tomorrow night. Maybe 4-5 inches of new snow, more on the way.

Don’t want to start slogging through the slough of despond. Only makes matters more difficult. Looking for simcha in the beauty of the snow, the bounce of the dogs out the door in the morning, the reading I’m doing for Chayei Sarah.

Feeling it for the folks in California. The pyrocene, indeed.


Fall and the 1% crescent moon

This coming storm and the last one have reduced our fire danger, leading us into the winter when the risk of wildfire lessens considerably. But, the risk will return, and get worse next year if the drought forecasts come true.

In an article in Wired, Kincade: The Age of Flames is Consuming California, the author has this disturbing passage, “Welcome to what fire historian Steve Pyne calls the Pyrocene, a unique time in history when human use of fire, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, and the attendant climate change combine to create hell on Earth. “We are creating a fire age that will be equivalent to the Ice Age,” he says.”

That’s an evocative name for the era of climate change driven warming. Ominous, too. Sounds like science fiction. Only, it’s not.

what was i thinking

Fall and the 1% crescent moon

Grocery stores got jammed up yesterday. A guy posted a photograph of twenty people in line for the self-checkout. The other checkout lanes were backed up, too. Storm coming. Another 8-12 inches for us and lots of what Coloradans (and, increasingly, me) call cold. We’ve even got a -1 in the forecast for a Wednesday low. Of course it is only October.

Thought I was gonna do some outside work. What was I thinking? Friday wore me out. Got my work out done. Had some lunch. Nap. Woke up around 3:30. Made a light supper after some time in the loft. That, plus three episodes of Resurrection, and my day was done. I’ve hit episode number 50, over half way through the first year’s 93.

Ruby’s Home

Fall and a thin crescent moon

Ruby, the cherry red 2018 Rav4, has come home. She’s sitting below me as I write this, in her stall for the first time in over two weeks. Her lift gate sparkles, the crumpled back bumper is smooth. She’s whole again.

Much as I appreciate having her back to normal it’s frustrating to have to go through all this stuff and the payoff is the vehicle we purchased. Not Kate’s fault. Yet we had to do the usual dance routine with insurance adjusters, rental car companies, and the collision repair folks. A lot of sturm and drang to arrive back where we started. Hope those folks are having a good time in Denmark.

Before I went in to pick up Ruby and bring her back to her forever home, Kate and I went into Swedish. She had a second PFT, pulmonary function test. Very tiring. Literally, a lot of huffing and puffing, some of it in an air tight clear plastic chamber. She came out looking exhausted.

A second CT scan on November 4th will produce another data set for Dr. Taryle, pulmonologist, and Dr. Gruber, cardio-thoracic surgeon. They’ll be looking for any change in the bleb found a month ago, plus any changes to her interstitial lung disease. Closing in on a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Aiming toward the lung biopsy on the 18th of November. That should resolve this now over a year long search for the reason behind her breathing problems.

And, just to show this is not an all Kate, all the time medical show, I go in on Monday for a stress test. Looking at my heart. This stems from my COPD diagnosis a few weeks ago. Shortness of breath is a medical red flag, not only indicating possible pulmonary problems, but cardiac problems, too. Possibly, congestive heart failure.

Since the spirometer showed breathing impairment, and, since Lisa diagnosed me with COPD, this is probably unnecessary, but you never know. Should tell me some interesting things anyhow.

Warm day today. Cold tomorrow and next week. More snow, too. The transitional time. Ivory gets her snowshoes on Friday. Not sure when Ruby will get hers. Not feeling so urgent about them for her right now.

Winter. Pause. Winter.

Fall and the Crescent Moon

10-12 inches yesterday. When it snows here, it can get serious, fast. This was overnight with the snow tapering off on Thursday morning. I don’t have snow tires on Ivory, our 2011 Rav4 (Kate’s name), or on Ruby, the 2018. Gonna get them on between now and next weekend. Over the last four years I haven’t put the snow tires on till well into November, but this year is pushing out snow early.

All slash and fire mitigation work is now covered under snow. It should melt away today and tomorrow. If I can get the chainsaw fixed soon, like today, I can get back out there Saturday. The seasons keep us alert.

Oh, and in Colorado that means more snow starting Sunday. Snow and cold. So, there’s a short pause in the winter where I might get some work done.

Kate has a pulmonary function test today at 10:45. Into Swedish again. Also, Caliber called. Ruby might be done today. That would be great since her traction with AWD and new all-season tires makes her safer. Still gonna put the snowshoes on her asap.

Lot of moving parts to our lives these days. I thought work was busy. Geez, try retirement.

Weather related.

Fall and the crescent moon

At least 8 inches of snow last night. Still snowing. Most often when it snows here the snow comes straight down like rain. Very different from most of the snow falls I saw in Minnesota where driving winds sent the white stuff angling toward the ground. We’ve been plowed already once, before 4 am.

Between eight and twelve inches predicted. We were in the sweet spot of the forecast and it seems to be coming true. Pushing the snow off the back deck was difficult. Wet, heavy.

Told Kate yesterday I now think of winter as the time of bad delivery. No paper this morning, for example. Mail and newspaper become episodic, rather than sort of regular. We’re rural delivery plus mountain roads plus an area that gets more than its share of snow. Combination makes things hard.

The 2018 Rav4, Ruby as Kate calls her, is still in the shop, waiting on a new gate. Gate is the collision repair world term for the hydraulic lift door in the back. That means I have the behemoth still, the Infinity SUV that drives like an RV. And, of course, our 2011 Rav4, Ivory.

Neither have snow tires and I’ve got a couple of meetings in Evergreen this morning. Not gonna take the behemoth. Another insurance claim is not needed.

Something knocked out the DSL connection, so I’m writing this in Word. I’ll paste it into Ancientrails when the (just checked and it’s back already) OK, then.

Tried to get some more mitigation work in with the chainsaw, but no joy there. The chain is stuck and I don’t know why. It will have to go to Chainsaw Bob if I can stand being there again. Toxic masculinity with no irony, no equivocation. But, a great knowledge of chainsaws, especially Jonsereds. Not going in today at any rate. Trees covered in snow.

My limbing ax and I did some work, but not a lot. This lupron makes me tire easily. Annoying, but when working with equipment that can maim or even kill you, it’s best to be cautious.

Today is Joe’s 38th birthday. Wow. He’s five years older than I was when I met his plane in December of 1981. As children get older, the relationship with them changes. They change, grow, work, have lives. As do you. But, when you see them, you remember that day when they went out trick or treating in the Halloween blizzard of 1991. Or, see them poised at the t-ball stand ready to kickoff a stampede for the ball. Flying down the hill in ski race. Watching their bride come down the aisle. Still my boy. Also a man. Also a husband. Also a dog friend. Also a warrior.

Still the best thing I did in my life. Go, Joe. (Kate’s right there, too.)

This time the lights went out. Snow’s hard on the IREA lines that run up and down mountains. The internet’s down again, too. I’ll post this when it comes back up.

And, here we go. About an hour later.