We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Losing Daylight

Summer                                                                Monsoon Moon

The big Dodge Ram sits in our garage, so it won’t get hit with hail in case we have a thunderstorm. Nothing says I don’t give a damn like returning a pock marked car to the rental folks. Supposed to go back today.

Kate had a couple of days clear of nausea, then got hit hard yesterday. It’s difficult to describe how debilitating it is to experience this inner discomfort regularly. I can see it. I can sort of imagine it, but she’s dealing with it. No. Fun. At. All. I feel bad for her, with her.

Here in Conifer we’ve already lost 20 minutes of daylight since the summer solstice, 14:59 on June 21, 14:39 today. I go to bed at 9 pm and I can already tell the difference. It’s beginning to get dark now at 9. The darker it gets the happier I am and, as an added bonus, the darker it gets the cooler and wetter it gets, helping sleep and mitigating wildfire probabilities.

Feeling a little sad this morning. Kate and I had an argument last night. It happens, but I never feel good when it does and the feeling lingers. Reminds me that our moods are fickle, sometimes referented, sometimes not, but always changing. Not becoming attached to one mood or another, up or down, being equanimous (yes, it’s really a word. either that or it was made up in our Mussar group) helps level out our moods. Although, I do appreciate both a good up and a good down. Vitality does not lie in sameness.

Looking forward to seeing Minneapolis and friends the first week of August. Groveland Unitarian-Universalist celebrates becoming a Covenanting Community in the UUA on August 4th. They wanted me to come and I’m pleased they do. Like the days in Durango I’ll get a chance to catch up with folks with whom I’ve had long term relationships, seeing Woollies and I hope docent friends as well as the Groveland folks.

Plus, I’m staying at the Millennium Hotel which is on the edge of Loring Park. I lived in Loring Park up on Oak Grove, a wonderful third floor apartment that, thanks to its location on the hill, had a beautiful view of downtown. That was back in 1975/1976. Which is, wait for it, 43 years ago or so. 28. Whoa.

I’ll get to see the statue of famed 19th century fiddler, Ole Bull. When I was chair of Citizens for a Loring Park Community,  we turned down the Daughters of the Sons of Norway who asked us to let them move it somewhere cleaner and safer. Than our neighborhood? Come on. I’ll also get to walk to the nearby Walker Art Museum and the somewhat further away Minneapolis Institute of Arts. When I head to the MIA, I’ll pass through Stevens Park, which was my first home in Minneapolis. I was a live-in weekend caretaker and janitor for Community Involvement Programs. The old Abbott Hospital was right across the street. Lots of Stevens Park stories.

Not to mention that wonderful road trip across the Nebraska plains. Which I actually enjoy when enough time lapses after I’ve done it.

 

A Lunar Month of Significance

Summer                                                                     Woolly Mammoth Moon

Rustic Ranch, Bailey, breakfast on the Durango Trip. Sweet cream pancakes.

Rustic Ranch, Bailey, breakfast on the Durango Trip. Sweet cream pancakes.

As the Woolly Mammoth Moon phases away toward a new moon, its month, the same lunar month we always have, yet also a different lunar month from any we’ve ever had, all spiraling through space as we follow the sun while orbiting it, I just wanna say thanks for what happened under its gentle influence.

It rose as a new moon, invisible but watching us, on June 13th, the day Mark, Paul, Tom and I headed out to Durango and the 416 fire. It was a trip both across southwestern Colorado and back into 30 years of friendship. Not to mention back to the days of the Pueblo dwellers of Mesa Verde. It was, in a sense, a way to say to each other that, yes, these friendships are for a lifetime. That this lifetime, whatever it may mean individually includes each other–and Bill. When you think about it, affirming the power of our past and honoring the reality of our future, is pretty damned cool.

Ode lays out the trip

Ode lays out the trip

It was also on this same trip that I read the essays about ground projects by Bernard Williams and about setting a rejection goal. The first one affirmed my existential sense that life gets meaning from our intentions and our labor to fulfill them; the second has transformed my writing life. A big, huge, amazing, wonderful thing.

Also under the Woolly Mammoth Moon, Alan Rubin and I began digging in to developing a curriculum for 6th and 7th graders in the Religious School at CBE. This work has affirmed the depth of my immersion into the Jewish world of CBE and reconstructionist thought. It also underscores my continuing fascination, see posts below, with the supernatural, or at least the fruits of humanity’s speculation about the supernatural.

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Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, ballet at CBE

Also under the WMM, I’ve been putting together the Jewish Studies Sunday Sampler series for the 2018/2019 adult education year. This will feature both courses from the Great Courses company and courses from the MOOC aggregator, Coursera plus the odd film or two.

I also met Harv Teitelbaum. He’s the Sierra Club’s lead for their anti-fracking initiative, a big deal here in Colorado. I believe he and I share a similar attitude toward our current political reality and a similar focus on local races while maintaining an emphasis on the Great Work.

My flaxen haired Nordic goddess

My flaxen haired Nordic goddess

It’s been a big, big month for me and I want to say out loud how grateful I am to all of you who’ve made it possible. Yes, Kate, especially you. It’s been a very difficult month for you nausea wise, I know, but you picked up a board membership at CBE and guided the food committee for the Patchworkers. All the time you’ve been supportive, though understandably surprised, at my new commitment to finally, finally, finally submitting my work. You’re the gyroscope in all this, keeping us stable and focused. Thanks, Kate.

We came; We zoomed; We parted.

Summer                                                                      Woolly Mammoth Moon

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Paul

Zoomed. We talked for over an hour, Mark, Paul, Bill and me. Each of us was in a different physical location, Paul in Maine, me in Colorado, Mark and Bill in the Twin Cities. This technology is a definite push beyond Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It is more like letter writing in its length of interaction and interpersonal depth. In that sense it works against the grain of 140 characters, photographs and short posts. It’s more like real life in its immediacy and interactions that includes body language.

Ode

Ode

Even its limits are closer to real life. No e-mail blasts. No dashing off a quick post, then moving on to something else. This is sitting across the room from someone, though in this case the rooms can be hundreds of miles apart. Some of the social niceties are impossible of course. No shared snacks. No hugs. Different weather. It was pouring rain in the Twin Cities, dry here in the Rockies. No offering hospitality of the physical kind. We couldn’t decide to get up and go somewhere else afterwards, or, for that matter, even during the hour. If we got up, it would be as if we left the room.

I liked it. In this mode we can nurture old friendships, share confidential news in private (at least I think it’s private, but who knows really), spark off each others sentences, laugh together. It may not be a trip to Durango or a hike at the

Bill

Bill

summit of Guanella Pass, but it’s not a short typed note either. Can this technology sustain us over time? Difficult to tell. We’re creatures, at least those of us on this Zoom session, of the old, pre-computer days when communication across distances was sporadic and limited to long distance phone calls and letters; for us this way of being with each other is novel to some extent and compares not so much, really, to social media, but to actual, in person meetings.

Me

Me

Whether the digital natives will see in it a form of being with each other that they want to pursue, I don’t know. One of the factors that held me in the Twin Cities so long was the physical presence of and frequent visits with Woolly friends. In the important sense of in depth conversation Zoom and its like provides a very close equivalent. Perhaps it will make distance matter less, allow us to rearrange ourselves physically with less loss. I hope so.

 

 

Zoom

Summer                                                                      Woolly Mammoth Moon

zoom20180228_062626Gonna work a new technology into old relationships this morning. At 9 am MDT, 10 am CDT and 11 am EDT, Mark, Paul, Bill and I will crank up Zoom. A virtual gathering of part of the Woolly Mammoth herd. On the shores of the St. Croix River in northern Maine, the top of Shadow Mountain, and in the Twin Cities of Minnesota we’ll gather around an early 21st century campfire and tell stories. It’s hard to say how this sort of meetup, a more sophisticated version of Skype, might transform relationships, but that it has begun already, is clear to me.

In fact, over the last week I used Zoom twice, having never used it at all before that. The first instance was a national gathering of Jewish educators piloting a new curriculum for pre Bar or Bat Mitzvah students. The second was a more local gathering with folks in the Denver metroplex talking about starting a speaker’s bureau for the state Sierra Club.

Mary in Singapore

Mary in Singapore

Years ago my brother Mark, my sister Mary, and I would use Skype to bridge even further distances, Singapore and Saudi Arabia to mid-continent North America. Neither Skype nor Zoom has the visual clarity and sense of presence of the video conferencing rooms used by large corporations, but they are a way to use the technology on the cheap. Skype is free and Zoom is inexpensive, free for all but the person who agrees to pay a modest monthly charge for an account.

Could relationships exist only fed by this technology? I doubt it. Alvin Toffler, writing in 1970, used the term high tech, high touch in his work Future Shock. He posited that the more we use advanced digital technology to communicate, to share information, the more we would desire being with each other in person, in IRL. Of course, this observation applies, too, to our use of the so-called smart phones (actually, hand held computing devices) and social media like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram.

50th High School Reunion, IRL

50th High School Reunion, IRL

In writing that I can recall that there is, in fact, a third category of relationship, one between IRL and virtual with folks from real life. I’m remembering Kathryn Donahue, for instance, a woman I met only on Facebook though she grew up in my hometown, younger than me. When she died a couple of years ago from lung cancer, I was shocked and sad. I never met her though I talked with her and saw her posts. The same may as well be true for many of of the college friends I see on Facebook and now on Instagram. I knew them once, long ago, but these folks, too, I never see in person. Even Anitha, Mary’s friend in Singapore, I’ve only met once, for lunch, when Kate and I visited Mary, yet I now follow her career and life with interest on Facebook. We exchange notes occasionally.

Those relationships are thinner than friendships, but more than casual acquaintances. Not sure what they are. I find them valuable, enriching, especially now that I’m over 900 miles from the physical locations of my youth and second phase life. Would this technology solve loneliness for a person confined to home or to a room? I don’t know, somehow I doubt it; but, perhaps we’re still in the very early stages of understanding how human relationships can be nurtured absent any physical contact. (forgot about letters, the old form of social media. letters are different than Zoom, of course, in some ways more personal, in some ways less. the obvious difference now is that contact is so much easier and much, much faster. and, with Zoom and Skype, we can add in body language.)

singularityI suppose this has implications as well for the old wheeze of uploading my consciousness, complete with memories, to the cloud. What would I, or you, be then? What would it be like to not be embodied? I suppose these virtual platforms give us a way to try out that transition without going all the way into an electronic reality. Perhaps they’re really a transition moment between this stage of human evolution and one we cannot imagine.

Could be, I suppose, that this will be the workaround for the singularity. Instead of becoming subordinate beings to vastly superior machine intelligence we can become machine-like intelligence ourselves, augmented in our virtual life by artificial intelligence.

Before that happens, though, I’ll chat with my buddies, folks I’ve known IRL for over thirty years. Looking forward to it.

 

 

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Summer                                                                   Woolly Mammoth Moon

Happy to report that the two friends with critical life moments had good news, one through medical surveillance and one through a lifetime of work brought into clear focus. May the congregation say, Amen. Or, blessed be.

Under the Woolly Mammoth Moon two natural wonders continue apace. The 416 fire, though now reporting 37% containment, has increased in size to 47,000 acres plus and further information on the inciweb site for it indicate weather conditions are favorable for the fire to continue to grow. In addition to its location only 13 miles north of Durango, where my buddies and I spent a weekend, it’s also very close to Mesa Verde and the Canyon of the Ancients. This fire began on June 1st and has lasted into the difficult fire conditions of midsummer.

Cliff Palace of Mesa Verde, Mark Odegard

Cliff Palace of Mesa Verde, Mark Odegard

Back on the Big Island, Kilauea continues to erupt.

June 27 fissure 8 cone supplies lava to the ocean overflows

June 27 fissure 8 cone supplies lava to the ocean overflows USGS. The cone is now nearly 180 feet high.

June 28 Night view of the lava channel toward fissure 8 under a nearly full moon.

June 28 Night view of the lava channel toward fissure 8 under a nearly full moon. USGS

At the Kilauea caldera, Halemaʻumaʻu crater, home of the goddess Pele, continues to deepen and subside, the floor now 1,300 feet below what used to be the overlook area. The USGS reports that the popular parking lot next to the crater is no more, having fallen into Halemaʻumaʻu.

 

Fire Weather

Summer                                                                            Woolly Mammoth Moon

preferred weather here, cool and rainy

preferred weather here, cool and rainy

It’s late June and we have a spate of hot, dry, sometimes windy weather ahead of us. In spite of the rains over the last week or so, the fire danger has remained high and this forecast has put us into a stage 2 fireban. The underlying rule in a stage 2 fireban is, if you have to put it out, it’s forbidden. If you can turn it off, it’s ok. Charcoal grill. No. Gas fired grill. O.K. Lot of grumbling yesterday on Nextdoor Shadow Mountain about this ban because it’s in place the week before the fourth.

Makes me remember the inevitable conflict with our otherwise well-liked neighbors, the Perlichs, who lived across the street from us Andover. They loved fireworks. The week of the fourth always got to our dogs. Dogs don’t like sudden, loud noises. Some, like our dear Tira of late memory and Rigel of current experience, really, really don’t like them. A stage two fireban for us is fine, thank you. (Though it does mean I have to carry a water bucket and a pointed shovel with me while I finish up the limbing and bucking.)

Rigel

Rigel

Two friends have significant events today and, though I can’t say what they are, I can say that it feels good to have had the time with them last week. It means I’m a little bit more there for them and I like that feeling. Here’s hoping for great results in both cases.

Heat makes me turgid, slows me down. Shortcuts the thinking process. By mid-afternoon the only comfortable place in our house is the downstairs. It does cool off quickly as evening approaches, but for a couple of hours both Kate and me experience debilitation. I know, a strong word, but accurate nonetheless. We’re cold weather creatures who suffer the horrors of sunny days in summer with some grumpiness. The elevation moderates summer heat, yes, but doesn’t eliminate it.

Mountain living

Mountain living

Read an article about folks who move to the mountains and those who move to beaches. Mountain folks tend more toward introversion, beach folk toward extroversion. (and, in the latter case, skin cancer) I suppose if the heat encouraged me to go and find other sun lovers and, if I liked that, then the beach would make sense. Doesn’t, though.

To some extent I feel as if life is on hold while heat dominates the day. See the earlier posts about why I celebrate the turn toward darkness at the summer solstice. It gives me hope.

 

Friends and Family Far Flung

Summer                                                                            Woolly Mammoth Moon

0

Woolly’s in Stillwater, Minnesota

Mark Odegard has worked his magic on the pages of notebooks again, his distinctive marks creating memories of our Durango, Mesa Verde trip. Paul’s been hanging in splendid isolation from the digital and media world at their family compound in Robbintson, Maine. As a result, he claims he can almost life at the comedy act we call government. Tom battled strep, had a house full of grandkids and their parents, and heads off to Atlanta on a business trip. He’s had a very busy three weeks or so, with little cessation.

Israeli Abroad, Saigon Bui Vien Street, a backpackers’ paradise

Israeli Abroad, Saigon Bui Vien Street, a backpackers’ paradise

Brother Mark reports still stark divisions in Vietnam between the north and the south. He’s spent a good bit of time recently in Ho Chi Min City, the former Saigon, and flew yesterday to Hanoi. He’d like to find a job somewhere in Vietnam. Mark is my literal foreign correspondent, reporting of late from various cities like Riyadh, Bangkok, Singapore, HCMC and now Hanoi. Sister Mary is on her way at some point to Kobe, Japan where she will teach for a month this summer. She’s been taking Japanese classes.

Joseph and SeoAh will head to the beach for her July 4th birthday. With Murdoch of course.

days of aweMeanwhile I’m hip deep in the mahzor, the prayer book for the days of awe. Attended a webinar yesterday, with Kate, on the new b’nai mitzvah curriculum Beth Evergreen has elected to use. Spending time considering the world of the tween, the things that matter to them and how we can travel with a few over the next year. Still getting a focus on lesson plans, reconstruction as the reconstructionists use the term, and the Jewish liturgical year. Making for an interesting summer.

Kate’s done so well with her recovery from shoulder surgery, with managing Sjogren’s Syndrome. Nausea, too frequent, makes taking a victory lap or two difficult. It’s the Chief Complaint now, CC. CT on Friday. She has some ideas about what might be causing it, good ones, I think. Like playing whack a mole with debilitating symptoms, but she’s a good mole whacker.

 

 

This and that

Beltane                                                                            Woolly Mammoth Moon

Ode, Tom, Paul overlooking the Animas River in Durango

Ode, Tom, Paul overlooking the Animas River in Durango

All the Woollies are back in their places with bright shiny faces. Mark and Tom in the Twin Cities, Paul in Robbintson, Maine.

Kate had her first board meeting last night. She dressed up in her serious adult clothes, put on a coat of many colors and went to Evergreen. I stayed home. Felt good after the long drive.

It’s 50 again this morning, cool, but clear. Yesterday the rain continued in the evening. A bit of nostalgia on the weather website, a tornado watch! Felt like the Midwest. Don’t recall having had one while we’ve lived here. Lots of red flag days, flash flood warnings, winter storm warnings, but no tornado watches. A few severe thunderstorm warnings, usually announcing the possibility of killer hail. Colorado has significant hail damage, among the highest in the nation. Climate in the montane region of the Rockies.

With the Durango trip over I’m finished with traveling until early August when I’ll head back to the Twin Cities for Groveland U.U.’s 25th anniversary celebration. Look forward to reconnecting with both Woolly friends and fellow docents from the MIA, seeing the MIA and the Walker, a jucy lucy at Matt’s.

Tan clumps are stump detritus

Tan clumps are stump detritus

We go into Denver less and less, our out of the house time spent either in the mountains themselves or in Evergreen, mostly at Beth Evergreen. Not an intentional thing, though the heat during the summers is a barrier for us, just that our life is now in the mountains and the city seems more and more foreign each time we go. Of course, we lived in Andover for twenty years, well outside Minneapolis, but we got into the Cities with greater frequency there. I had the MIA and the Sierra Club, the Woollies that drew me in; Kate had friends.

The stump grinder did a great job. Feels like we’re beginning to move in, a process attenuated by the medical and familial upsets that came bang, bang, bang after we moved. Jon’s bench is a good step in that direction, placing the fans, adding the light in the living room. Plenty more to do. We spent a lot of money early on installing the generator, a new boiler, solar panels, the new bathroom downstairs, sealing and staining the garage, new kitchen. Decor has waited. I’m close to having the garage organized again, may do some more work on that today.

 

Woolly’s In the Rockies

Beltane                                                                               Woolly Mammoth Moon

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Paul and Tom

Ode and All Hat and No Motel

Ode and All Hat and No Motel

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Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Spruce Tree House

Spruce Tree House

Pensive Tom

Pensive Tom

The Trailhead, Buena Vista

The Trailhead, Buena Vista

Home Again

Beltane                                                                               Woolly Mammoth Moon

HelmsmanBack from the lands of the ancients. Back from the still growing 416 fire, now 30% contained. Back from an immersion in my old life so complete that I would occasionally say here, referring to the Twin Cities or Minnesota. The web of context and thick memories with Tom, Mark and Paul is old and deep.

We ate breakfast (thanks, Mark) in Durango at the Doubletree where we stayed. Packed up and left in the rain. It rained or sprinkled the whole time we were in Durango and that same pattern continued all the way back to Conifer. This meant my three amigos got to see the mountains with clouds hanging over them, the forests with mists boiling up in and through them, the grasses green, and small, temporary creeks flowing as the rain sought lower ground through rocky elevated terrain. It was a picturesque drive made mythic.

Paul's t-shirtNew memories. Climbing the ladders out of Cliff Palace. Talking with Doug Crispin about Mesa Verde. Tom as the Great Helmsman. Mark with his notebook open, sketching as we drove. “Riding loosens me up, makes it better.” Paul’s Common Ground County Fair t-shirt. (see poster) Wandering through the Durango RR museum with its odd, large and varied collection: the blonde black bear, the bi-plane, the solar car, a private train car, memorabilia from the capture of Saddam Hussein and  a thousand miniature soldiers, among other things. Visiting the Telluride Bud Company with Mark, his first visit to a legal pot shop.

The rain, a constant for the last couple of days, has to have helped our fire situation, too. A good thing.

 

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