We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Mabon, 2018

Mabon                                                                      Harvest Moon

Shadow Mtn. Drive, about a mile from home. Black Mtn ahead

Shadow Mtn. Drive, about a mile from home. Black Mtn ahead

As I type the heading here, I can look up and see the aspen groves near the peak of Black Mountain. Like golden islands in a dark green ocean. Part of the ever changing beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Mabon is the second harvest holiday and comes on the autumnal equinox. (The rising sun has just hit the aspen grove, now it looks like molten gold.) If you lived in a subsistence farming economy, as most humans did in Europe only a few centuries ago, then what happened on and around this holiday would have meant the difference between life and death in the fallow months ahead. No wonder the market days were so important, so filled with ritual and fun.

mabon-greeting-cardWhat did you plant in the first and second phases of your life that’s coming to fruition right now? Tom. Bill. Mark. Paul. Will you dance around a bonfire? Alan. What will sustain you in the fallow months when work in the fields is done? The loves and passions of your earlier life might do it. Might not. Is there a new field, one that can be worked with the experience and skills available to you? What will you harvest in the third phase of your life?

This harvest holiday I’ve been nostalgic about combines and corn pickers, hay balers and grain trucks, the tall elevators waiting for grain, the train cars waiting to move it. That was my flatlander past. What is the new harvest, the one lived among mountains, streams, mule deer and elk?

mabon8

“The Harvest Moon” by Samuel Palmer

Turns out it has some resonance with crops I’ve planted before. Kate. Family. Friends. Writing. Reading. Religion. Art. Music. Dogs. Closeness to the non-human natural world. But, there are also new crops, most new varieties of old ones, new strains. Judaism. The montane ecosystem. Beth Evergreen friends. Noticeable aging. Submitting work, a true harvest. Making art, sumi-e, playing with colors. This pack of dogs: Gertie, Rigel, Kepler. A married Joseph and SeoAh. A divorced Jon. The grandkids.

Someday, soon or late, the reaper will come for me, harvesting another of this strange fruit, humankind. Each day, think of it, that reaper gathers in a new harvest of souls. And how little we know of that harvest. Do our deaths nourish the universe as our harvests in life have nurtured others? Perhaps.

May you have a pleasant and bountiful Mabon season. Harvest home is near. Enjoy it.

 

 

97 to go. But, a bit of hope

Lughnasa                                                                        Waning Summer Moon

97 to go. Though. This rejection is, at least, personal. That represents an uptick on the scale of rejection etiquette. Even so, my gut response. Sinking, sadness, oh no not again. I gotta quit this. It hurts too much.

Though not a formulaic rejection, in some ways it makes the rejection hurt more. She gave Superior Wolf consideration, didn’t outright dismiss it, then rejected it because it didn’t draw her in. Ouch.

Still feeling it. Sunk inward, want to hide, hold my head in my hands. Maybe cry a little.

Sorry to include you all in this, but writing is my way of coping. Otherwise the feelings stay inside, clang around, make things worse. This helps.

 

Dear Charles,

Thank you for your query. Please know I carefully considered SUPERIOR WOLF, and although the concept intrigued me, the sample didn’t pull me in as I had hoped. I don’t feel I can offer representation at this time.

Keep going with it. Writersdigest.com, agentquery.com and querytracker.com are great resources for researching literary agents. I wish you the best of luck.

Sincerely,

Mary

Mary C. Moore
Kimberley Cameron & Associates, LLC
kimberleycameron.com
marycmoore.com
@Mary_C_Moore

The Sweet Life

Lughnasa                                                                      Monsoon Moon

CBE (1)Discovering an odd phenomenon. My feelings bubble up with less filtering. I don’t feel depressed, not labile. Not really sure how to explain this, though it may be a third phase change? Or, maybe just me, for some reason.

At the MIA last week, for example, there was the strong feeling of grief in the Asian collection. Warm feelings for my friends in Minnesota were also strong. On the way home I was happy on the road. Noticeably. Kate triggers a powerful, more powerful than ever feeling of love. When I watched a TV program in which the main character’s mother died suddenly of a stroke, I was right with him emotionally. Yesterday, at the Bat Mitzvah of Gwen Hirsch, I kept shoving back the occasional tear. Her initial struggle with being upfront, her beautiful voice and the clear joy with which she overcame her fright, so evident when she carried the torah scroll around the sanctuary, made it appear she was becoming a different person, right then. Her transition/transformation was breathtaking and so sweet.

Ruth at DomoIn fact, there’s another example. Over the last few months I’ve been using the word sweet a lot. Our dogs are sweet. Ruth. The folks at Beth Evergreen. Minnesota friends. The loft. My life. I seem to see sweetness more now. I haven’t lost my political edge, my anger at injustice or a willingness to act, but the world has much, much more nuance now at an emotional level.

This change in my inner life has made me more resilient, I think, more able to identify the emotions, accept them, learn from them, respond or not, and move on. Enriched. It’s as if there’s more color in my day to day. Who knows? It might be a phase or I might be melancholy, my feelings are usually closer to the surface then, but I don’t think so. This feels like a permanent change.

Seeing the holy soul, my mussar practice for this month, accentuates this. I saw Gwen’s holy soul yesterday and it was a thing of beauty. I see the hosta struggling with a dry spell, but I know their holy soul makes them strong even in this sort of adversity. Gertie’s blind eye and painful rear quarter, her missing teeth have not dimmed her holy soul, it moves her into a bouncing, happy girl in spite of them.

slash from beetle killed lodgepole pine

slash from beetle killed lodgepole pine

I can, too, see the holy souls with damaged personas. Occasionally, I’ll see an aggressive dog or one that cowers, yet beneath those defensive outer layers, the warm and kind dog soul is still visible although it might be hard to reach. People, too. The young boy with violent tendencies, with a stubbornness that might be on the spectrum, with the sweetness for those who are sick, his holy soul is, even at this young age, hidden, so hard to find. Or, another, her reason so tortured by ideology, her essential kindness most often blocked by bitterness. Or a lodgepole pine dying of pine beetle infestation. Even as its needles turn brown and it begins to dry out, its holy soul keeps it upright as long as it can. We can never err when we search for the holy soul in others.

Look insideI see my own holy soul, now claiming more space, taking back some of the aspects of my life I had given over to achievement, to striving. This is strange because it comes as I’ve begun to reach for achievements I’ve blocked for decades. The work of submitting my writing feels both unimportant and necessary. I’m immersed in a community, Beth Evergreen, which encourages the growth and expansion of my holy soul. This is true religion, with the small r, the connecting and reconnecting of our inner life with the great vastness, our part in it highlighted, made clear at the same time as our limitedness.

 

 

 

 

The next few months

Lughnasa                                                                        Monsoon Moon

20180315_080213Now that I’m back from Minnesota and September 5th is less than a month away it’s time to focus on lesson plans. Again. Still. Alan Rubin sent me a template with examples of his lesson plans and I’ve finished three in an idiosyncratic format which I will, today, transfer to the CBE lesson plan model. Still several more to create and then weave together with the B’nai Mitzvah curriculum. 22 sessions altogether, though not all will require lesson plans. This work is a priority until Alan and I feel comfortable with what we have.

On October 7th I will start the first of 8 First Sunday Jewish Studies Samplers. On Wednesday night when we went in for the MVP group we saw the new that day bookshelves and fire place that will frame a large screen, internet connected TV. With chairs and couches arrayed around it, this will be a spot in the synagogue for group use of online courses, lectures from companies like the Teaching Company, webinars or films. I’ll get a chance to use this new space for the exact purpose for which it’s intended. Each Sunday I’ll have discussion questions ready so attendees can sample not only the lectures, but the group learning possible through their use.

2010 01 19_3454Meanwhile I’ll keep working on submissions, a hump I’ve gotten over, and writing itself. Jennie’s Dead still has a ways to go, maybe 30,000 words,  and other manuscripts, both novels and short stories that need further editing/revision.

The next project after Jennie’s Dead, a novel retelling the story of Medea, keeps pushing its way forward and I look forward to a chance to get to work on it. Maybe in 2019. Lot of reading to do before then. I want to read as many variations on her story as I can find. Part of the story is the search for the golden fleece, with Jason, her lover, and his Argonauts.

20180716_075524This constitutes the work portion of my schedule through May of 2019 and, with Medea, beyond.

Here at home I still have trees to buck, logs to split and stack, a few smaller trees to fell and another round of stump grinding to organize. There are inside projects of various sorts, too. Cooking and laundry as well. Workouts. Sumi-e. Probably a return to Latin translation, too, since I’ve not completed translating Medea’s story in Ovid.

 

 

 

 

Fear and Honor

Lughnasa                                                                 Monsoon Moon

After a swim, from September, 2015

After a swim. September, 2015

Yesterday and today are about reentering mountain world. Tired yesterday, probably today, too, from the journey. The electric panel needed a gentle push to return power to the eastern wall of Kate’s sewing room. E-mails needed to be sent back to the auld home, thank yous and follow ups. Pushed Superior Wolf out the door to an agent, the biggest toe I put back in the world of daily life, save one.

The biggest. Mussar Vaad Practice (MVP) group last night. I have three clusters of commitments in Colorado: family/home, Beth Evergreen and the Sierra Club, my writing. The time last night with the MVP was a return to the world of Beth Evergreen. Both Kate and I had significant matters to share.

The practice this last month focused on bitachon, trust. We placed bitachon on a continuum with trust at one end and fear on the other. I chose to concentrate on fear, specifically the fear that has held me back for almost thirty years, fear of submitting my work for publication. While on the Durango trip, I read an essay about setting a rejection goal and, as I said before, I set 100 rejections as my goal for the year. Pushing that article together with my commitment to practice facing my fear resulted in my first organized and disciplined approach to submitting my work.

Aboard the lucky dragon

Aboard the lucky dragon

In group last night I admitted/confessed/shared the results. Each rejection I’ve received, two so far, hurt, made me ashamed of my Self in such a deep way that I can’t describe it. Like the grief I experienced at the MIA last week the shame in this instance came unexpected. Why shame?

At one point last night I buried my head in my hands to emphasize both that searing feeling from the rejections and the less searing, but still real, shame of not facing this fear before now. After I talked, I didn’t disappear, melt down like the Wicked Witch of the East. No one ran out of the room, too disgusted to still talk to me. In fact, the reception of my experience was careful and kind. As I like to think I would be to someone sharing something similar.

Now, in the way of these things, the angst drained out by exposure, I imagine submitting work will become a routine matter. These dates, this agent, that magazine, following up. Writing more work. Continuing the work of writing.

20180725_171404

At the ICE protest. July, 2018

Kate shared an even more profound realization. While it’s really hers to share more publicly, I can report that after she spoke, her confidence level rose and I could hear, see a lighter Kate. Both of us helped ourselves change our own lives. That’s a powerful result for an hour and a half.

Kate remarked that kavod*, honor, is not only person to person, but can be applied to a community. We both regard Beth Evergreen with great respect. That’s the character virtue, soul trait, for next month.

My practice is seeing the holy soul. At the meeting I said my practice would be seeing the holy soul in others, but on reflection, I want to see it also in myself and in animals and plants. This broadening of the practice came when I realized last night that I have a gift for seeing the holy soul of dogs. I relate to all dogs as if they were presenting their most sacred self. I see cows and horses, mule deer and elk the same way, though with much less experience. And, can I treat my own holy soul, my own most sacred self as respectfully as I treat that of others. This last may be the key challenge for the month. We’ll see.

Rigel, being beautiful, July, 2018

Rigel, being beautiful. July, 2018

The term meaning honor and respect is very important in any society, but even more so in Middle Eastern societies. The English word “respect” means “look back (again), regard”; honor means “regard with great respect, dignity.” The Hebrew kavod is related to kaved, meaning “heavy.”* Indeed, until not long ago, the heavier a person was, the more respectable he or she was, for rich people could afford to eat whatever they wished, whereas poor people were undernourished, eating very little and looking light, unimportant. A related word is kibbud, meaning “honoring (parents, teachers)”; as well as “(serving the guests) refreshment” (thus showing them respect).

*Also related to kaved “liver,” the bodily organ assumed to be the source of dignity, just as the heart is the source of emotions and intellect.Jewish Journal

Mary, Mark, Superior Wolf

Summer                                                                         Monsoon Moon

Mary, Diane and Mark. Andover, 2011

Brother Mark drove up yesterday. He’s back in the U.S.A., back in the U.S.A. He loves being in his home country, but he doesn’t love the price of life here. Definitely cheaper in Southeast Asia. He’s a wanderer of note, having traveled the world for most of his adult life, living in various spots for a while, then moving on. At 59 I’d have to say he’s a pro at living a cheap life that enables his traveling habit. He also has the mental stamina to take a life lived often alone, most often alone. Not something all of us have.

We talked about family. Both Mary and Mark, perhaps because they’re both expatriates, spend more time connecting to our extended family than I do. Mark knows about our new grand-nephew in the Three Rivers area of Washington state. Cousin Kathy was with him when he had a medical procedure in Indianapolis. Cousin Diane and he connected again when he was in the Bay area last week. Mark stays in touch and I admire that about him.

Mary, Singapore Cricket Club, 2016

Mary, Singapore Cricket Club, 2016

Mary is still in Kobe, Japan. She found, improbably, a Frisch’s Big Boy and had an Indiana nostalgia meal there. She says there are many large Japanese in the Kobe area, maybe the beef? Mary, like Mark, travels a lot, often in the past few years to conferences where she’s either presenting or headlining. Athens shows up on her itinerary often, Australia and Indonesia, too. She returns to Singapore after Kobe.

Up here in the Rocky Mountains we’re enjoying more rain and cooler temperatures. The too long at very high fire danger signs now point Smokey’s finger at moderate, a blue stripe, not the angry reds and oranges of high, very high and extreme. This is welcome news for us since the wildfire season has been compared to 2012 and 2002, both years in which thousands of acres burned.

Fishing advisories are in place for many mountain streams and rivers. The low snow pack and resultant desultory melt has streams often below 50% of normal flow. That means the water heats up and limits available oxygen for the trout fly fisherfolk go after.

August 2016

August 2016

The big fires, the 416 and the Spring Creek Fire, have both been contained and most of the smaller ones are under control, too. We’ll all be sending petitions, in whatever way, to the snow gods. Please cover us this year. We need it.

I leave for Minnesota on Tuesday morning in an Enterprise Rental Car. Since 2011 Kate and I have used rental cars when taking trips. Got to get over to the Evergreen Library today and load up on audiobooks. Need to pack tomorrow. Easier when going by car.

An agent I think might really like Superior Wolf opens again for submissions on August 1st. I’ll be in Minneapolis, but I’m preparing to be able to send her my query letter and the first fifty pages as the clock ticks over. I wrote my query letter yesterday. Here it is:

superior wolfSuperior Wolf

Dear Ms. Moore,

Superior Wolf needs representation and your client list suggested to me that you may find this 95K fantasy/horror novel compelling.

 

Christopher’s father dies in a whiteout, attacked on a frozen northern lake, his head wrenched off, leaving Christopher alone in the dogsled. Who or what killed his father?
His obsession with finding an answer, returning to northern Minnesota time after time even though only 10 years old, causes his godparents to send him away, separating him from their daughter, Diana, who loves him.

 

His determination to find and kill the man responsible for his father’s brutal death leads him back to Diana, now a MacArthur grant geneticist, back to northern Minnesota, and to the immortal Lycaon.

 

Did Lycaon, king of ancient Arcadia, kill his father? Does he hold the key to life extension that Diana seeks on behalf of a mysterious group of hedgefund CEO’s who want to live forever?

 

I wrote Superior Wolf because northern Minnesota had the only intact wolf population left after decades of their successful extermination in the rest of the lower 48. Given that, why hasn’t there been a werewolf novel set there? Superior Wolf remedies this curious lack.
Research for Superior Wolf included a week of intensive study at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota in January. We went out and howled with the wolves one bitter cold night. They howled back.

Thank you so much for your consideration.

The Week Ahead

Summer                                                                                Monsoon Moon

20180711_065526Finished entering the edits for Superior Wolf, 3.0. I have three plot points to resolve, none of them major. Next step is to craft a query letter, then submit it to an agent. I have a local, Denver-based agent that I think might be interested in my work, but she doesn’t open up for submissions again until July 28th. That’s why I pushed to get this revision done, so I’ll be ready.

Got out the garden tools yesterday and began splitting hosta. Kate wanted some in the front rock garden and she wanted the bed along the north facing side of the house filled in. Got about half way done, then the heat took over. Will finish this morning. If it dries out today (nice rain yesterday and last night), I’m going to mow the fines.

The recipe

The recipe

Back is slowly resolving. Not near as ouchy as it was two weeks ago, even a week ago. Keep moving. Get good sleep. The tramadol helps. One at night before bed.

We bought a quarter beef last year, still have a good deal of meat in the freezer.  Took a porterhouse out last night, pan seared, then broiled. Boiled potatoes. Watermelon gazpacho of my own design, including a whole pomegranate. I enjoy cooking except when the house is hot. Then, not so much.

Ruth is off on a 5 day back packing adventure at Camp Calwood this week. Both she and Jon head back to school in early August, Gabe not till later. Different schools and school districts.

Kate had a better week in regard to her nausea, but she still had a couple of bad days. Like yesterday. Tough to keep emotional equilibrium for her. She does an amazing job of it, difficult with regular insults.

A pondersoa pine at Beth Evergreen

A pondersoa pine at Beth Evergreen

Tomorrow I have a full day training on the B’nai Mitzvah program at a synagogue in Denver. It’s put on by Moving Traditions, a religious school support organization for Jewish education. Jews take their religious school seriously, so this is way beyond Bible School or Sunday School. It’s real school.

A week from tomorrow I leave for Minnesota. Groveland UU celebrates achieving Covenanting Community status with the UUA on Saturday. I’ve been asked to say something, along with three other speakings. Probably I’ll do something about covenant  from a reconstructionist perspective. Not sure yet.

 

 

Eudaimoniac

Summer                                                                   Monsoon Moon

20180526_143004A good soaking rain yesterday, extending into the night. And cool sleeping. Two huge benefits, mitigates fire danger and improves sleep. Go, rain.

Kate has had two days without nausea. Well, up till that late evening coffee cake. She seems to have found at least one palliative measure, stop eating before she gets too full. A major component of the nausea may be later life sequelae from the bariatric surgery. She sees a gastroenterologist for a consult in August. Slowly, gradually getting a handle, I think.

I’m flailing a bit on the lesson planning. Not sure I understand Rabbi Jamie’s grid, so that makes working with it difficult. Gonna push ahead, make some guesses, get done with what will amount to first drafts. Finishing the Superior Wolf revision and writing these lesson plans are my top priority right now. Superior Wolf work is mostly done, I need to enter the edits; so, the lesson plans are up. Due Friday before my breakfast meeting with Alan.

20180705_072608Tomorrow afternoon I get a new workout. Exercising has been more 20180704_111915sporadic of late, partly due to my aching back. The back stays ouchy because I’ve been doing the chainsaw work, cutting up (bucking) the downed trees. This involves bending over, holding a heavy saw well below waist level and controlling its movements, especially the gyroscopic force of the chain around the bar. Not a recipe for good lower back health. I’m getting there with the trees though. I have two fully cut and a third part way there. That leaves two plus the one Jon says he’s going to mill, create boards for a project of some kind.

 

I’m getting a lot of satisfaction right now, eudaimonia. I’m flourishing, using my gifts at their outer limits, getting feedback, moving purposefully through the day. Don’t care about happy, but I do care about eudaimonia. Seems to come when I flow with the work, with life as it comes, rather than trying to force results. A Taoist way to eudaimonia, then.

Hmmm

Summer                                                                         Monsoon Moon

Have to say something about it, just don’t know what. Finished my first revision of Superior Wolf. 95,000 words. And, I think, easily the best thing I’ve written. Not comparing it to anybody else, just me. It gives me a little shiver to think I put those words on the page. I was going to submit it to publishers; but, instead, I’m going to shop it to agents. I feel like I might snag one with it. Just saying that out loud makes me feel good. If I hadn’t been facing my fears and, if I hadn’t set my rejection goals, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Cooler up here today. The big Dodge Ram sitting in our driveway, the only thing Enterprise had available yesterday, will stay with us until Tuesday. Had to have a bearing replaced in the right front wheel assembly on the Rav4, trés expensive. Toyota broke a brake sensor for the ABS system and they have to order the part. Thought about trust here. The Toyota way, a cultural thing for their company, long ago soothed my jangled cynicism about guys that run the service departments at car dealerships. I trust Toyota. They’re not trying to screw me. At least I don’t think so. That’s good enough.

The rest of today, tomorrow, Tuesday I’m devoting to lesson planning. I have to get six ready, well, five, since I’ve done one. I’ll probably have to redo them all, but at least I’ll be getting the process down.

 

 

 

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.

20180415_155755

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.

September 2018
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Breadcrumbs

Trails