We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Hunger

Spring                                                                       Passover Moon

artistsYesterday in mussar Jamie gave us a writing prompt: write about a want that occupies a lot of inner time and attention, then to try to find the root of that want. This was a lead in to talking about avarice.

I wrote about wanting to finish Superior Wolf, about getting back to translating Latin and wonder why, at 70, I still wanted to do these things. It’s not as if we need the money or I need the recognition.

This desire, this want, is about a desire to remain an agent in the world, puissant, to not disappear. So, in a sense, it’s about death, about not dying early, I think.

Later in the discussion a woman who travels to India once a year to stay in a Buddhist nunnery said that an early Buddhist teacher of hers had talked with her about the hungry ghost within each of us. The example he gave her was about a person who walks into a bookstore to buy one book and then walks out with five. Hmmm. I recognize that person, c’est moi.

EliotI’ve looked up the idea of the hungry ghost and I don’t think it really applies to me, but the caution evident in the bookstore example certainly does. Buying books represents a deep seated want, too. But what is it?

Knowledge can also be a hedge against death. If I only understand, then I can prevent, stave off, head off, my canoe’s eventual transition into the Gulf of All Souls. Which of course, I can’t do. As I wrote in the exercise above, nothing counters death, not puissance, not agency, not even, ironically, health. Nor, knowledge.

HesseSo, the books represent my own struggle with the nature of mortality, my way of structuring my inner world. And, yes, it can be a problem if I refuse to recognize it for what it is. But, and here’s the liberating possibility for me in both books and writing, if I acknowledge what they are for me, if I embrace the underlying motivation, yet not its anticipated result, then I can continue writing and reading, using them not as shields against disappearing, but as ways of being in the world, not as ways of protecting myself.

Let me try to say this a bit more clearly. Wanting to be an agent in the world is, in itself, a good thing, so long as the reason for doing it is a desire to be of service, to offer something from my uniqueness. If that desire becomes corrupted, becomes a way to hide, then no matter the books on the shelves, no matter the understanding that comes from reading, no matter the stories and books in manuscript form, it is all for nothing. In fact, it’s worse than being for nothing, for hiding from our known fate leaves us in a constant state of hunger for that which we will never reach and, even worse, for that which will not secure its goal even if I sold all all my books and stories and learned all the information my books I have to offer.

Conclusion. I will continue to read and write because it is what I do, because it is an important part of what makes my presence in the world unique and valuable for others. But neither writing nor reading will save me. Only acceptance will do that.

 

Snow, And Lots of It

Spring                                                                      Passover Moon

20170405_144607Switched my work routine around, now writing on Superior Wolf in the early morning, breakfast, Latin, workout, lunch, nap. So Ancientrails comes later in the day. Like now, at 3 pm.

We got somewhere between 12 and 20 inches of snow last night. Our house looks like an old cabin in Switzerland after a heavy snow. When I cleared the deck early this morning, it was challenging. Kep stood at the door when I opened it, looked outside, looked at me, then delicately put a foot outside. A few seconds later he was bounding through the white, a black and white blur.

In the way of mountain weather, our driveway, plowed at 4:30 am by Ted, is now clear. The sun, beating down on it at altitude, transfers heat quickly to the asphalt. This aspect of weather here is a real joy. You can have snow, lots of it, and still find mobility pretty easy not long afterward.

Kate had her first infusion of Remicade, an anti-rheumatoid arthritis biologic, on Monday. We hope it will reduce the pain in her hands, shoulder and back while also reducing the fatigue that RA also creates. The infusion takes two hours, sitting quietly in a chair with up to 8 other people in the room, undergoing the same sort of procedure. It’s hard to know in advance whether these things will work, but we expect good results.

Over at Beth Evergreen tonight Kate’s going for her last or next to last Hebrew class, then to a cooking class for a new approach to the passover meal. At 5 pm, Rabbi Jamie will teach a class, Exodus From Boring Seders. We’re attending a community seder next week on April 12 at Mt. Vernon Country Club. Maybe it won’t be boring.

Jon plans to look at mortgages this month, houses in May. We both hope it goes smoothly for him.

 

 

 

Life on Shadow Mountain Yesterday

Spring                                                                       Passover Moon

The big storm comin’. 8-16″ of snow. Ended up around 2. Of course, all moisture is good moisture, so we’re happy we got that, but we’d hoped for more. More storms are on the way though. Maybe one of them will hit the sweet spot that carries water up from the south.

It was housecleaning day yesterday. Sandy drives up from Littleton every two weeks. She even does windows.

20170326_103558The loft is near it’s final configuration, at least for now. I do get the urge to move things every once in awhile, but I’m liking this setup. Just some art hanging and rearranging, pull-up bar installation, book reordering, a bit of moving boxes down to the garage below and it will be complete. Two and a half years later it feels wonderful.

This is the best space I’ve ever had all to myself and I love it. Thanks again, Kate, for finding this. This last push, refiling and rearranging, getting the shelving up (thanks, Jon) has me given me a place that inspires me, pulls out of me my best scholar/writer self. That’s the mask I don when I walk in here.

 

Stuff Going On Here

Imbolc                                                                          Anniversary Moon

Gertie helps me work out

Gertie helps me work out

It was 68 here yesterday. And dry. So little snow left, just in the northern shadow of our home, here and there in shaded parts of the forest. This is a typical La Nina year, according to weathergeek, our pinecam.com meteorologist. The result? A long, potentially too hot, summer and fall.

Working on the last of the cardboard to plastic transfer process. Yesterday I found complete drafts of Phantom Queen, The Sacrifice, The Wild Pair, Missing, Hunting Gods, Only To Be Born and the Last Druid. They’re now resting in file folders in one box. Even the God’s Must Die will go in there today. I don’t have a printed out copy of Superior Wolf yet, not done, but close. Jennie’s Dead, a partially finished novel, and work on Loki’s Children, the second in the Tailte trilogy, will have files here, too, because they are ones I will finish eventually. Feels good to see these drafts all in one place, in the physical world of paper, not just bytes. I have another file box full of short story drafts, some edited.

The research and writing group/beta reader comments for each novel and story will go into the banker’s boxes and get moved downstairs to the shelving in the garage.

The dogs are all healthy right now. I’ve stopped letting them out after breakfast in the morning (at 4:45/5:00 am) due to the mountain lion problem. They’ll go out after the sun comes up. It’s strange, but part of mountain life, to have to consider predators killing them. When I was a kid in Indiana, the worry was your dog getting run over by a car.

 

 

 

Why Write

Imbolc                                                           Anniversary Moon

037-Writing-my-masters-words-scholar-q75-378x500

Still a little taken aback by my loss of readership, I can’t deny it. It’s only habit though. I got used to seeing numbers in the thousands, now I see them in the hundreds for a month, maybe ten a day. At some level I kick myself for watching the numbers at all. Sort of like the polls for the presidential race. While they were democrat leaning, I liked them. When they turned negative and when the Donald (sort 0f ) won, I felt bad, like I’d been betrayed somehow. I guess it shows I care whether anybody pays attention to what I write.

On the other hand it confirms why I write, oddly. I write to express myself, to give voice to my inner world, because it’s what I do. Even though I care about readers I don’t require them to write. Witness my now 8 novels which grace banker’s boxes or live in bytes on this computer and in the cloud. I still love to write, find it important for my own journey.

 

 

Still Important. To me.

Imbolc                                                                      Anniversary Moon

Another red flag warning today from noon to six p.m. The smokey the bear fire danger signs have his gloved finger pointing to high. This is March, our snowiest month. Not good. Might have to do some more tree surgery today.

The writing of this blog has been my longest writing project. Ancientrails has dropped in terms of readership as the numbers, which I check only very occasionally, show fewer and fewer readers. A part of me wants a larger reader base, though I’m not sure why. Mostly, though, I’m doing this online journal as an extension of a journaling habit I developed years and years ago. It’s my way of staying in touch with my own life, of putting down bread crumbs for review of certain periods, of considering options.

It does, on occasion, surprise me as the posts about the nature of the inner life show. So, though I’m a little dejected about readers no longer wanting to follow this blog, its purpose remains unchanged and that purpose remains important to me, so I’ll continue writing.

 

Dry

Imbolc                                                                            Valentine Moon

I’m finding myself dry today. Starting and restarting topics, not settling into flow. Yesterday was busy and I missed my post. I also didn’t get my 750 words in on Superior Wolf though I did get my workout in at 6 am. Missed my newly started Latin work, too. Rhythm, for me, is critical to long term projects and rhythm needs consistency, even missing a day can disrupt a hitherto productive schedule.

Ruth in   a

Ruth in the hat

There are matters more important than productivity. Quite a few of them. Two of them showed up here on Friday night: Ruth and Gabe. Yesterday morning saw me at Beth Evergreen twice, once earlier and once for a wonderful seder for Tu B’shevat. After that, it was nap time.

Gabe at his concert

Gabe at his concert

Following the nap Kate and I took Ruth into Denver for a birthday party for her buddy, Augie. They did parkour. Before taking her to the party, however, she and Ruth went shopping at Joann Fabrics. They found material to complete her costume for her Destination Imagination play. She’s the main character, a dragon. They also found cloth for Renaissance Festival costumes. Kate, Ruth, Gabe and I are going to dress up and go. Ruth wants to be a wealthy medieval woman. Gabe will be a version of Robin Hood. I’m leveraging my sparse white hair and white beard for the role of a wizard. Kate, I’m not sure what she’s going to do.

After dropping Ruth off at Augie’s home in the new urbanism shaped grounds of the former Stapleton Airport, Kate and I went to the New York Deli for supper. Kate had her favorite, chicken noodle soup with a matzo ball and I had the featured dinner, corned beef and cabbage with new potatoes. This place is an authentic Jewish deli and is a mile-high city branch of a deli of the same name in New York. In fact, their baked goods are still made in New York and flown frozen to the Denver location. They believe New York City tap water is the key to good flavor in their bagels and bread.

It was raining in Denver and in the 60’s. By the time we reached Shadow Mountain it was 32 degrees and snowing. It was good to be home.

 

At An Undisclosed Location

Winter                                                                          Cold Moon

There’s a bright golden haze on Black Mountain. The clouds presaging the storm pile up over the continental divide to the west, then begin to slip over to our side. The sun’s rising and it has painted those clouds with a brush from Raphael’s palate. Over the course of the day they will slump this way, graying the sky and carrying the moisture necessary for what Weather5280 now estimates as 10-20 inches of new snow. And so we rest in those delicious moments before the heavy snow arrives, estimated to be around 9:30 a.m.

New information in divorce matters. Jen has moved out of the house on Pontiac Street to an “undisclosed location.” Ruth apparently knows where it is, but didn’t offer to tell Jon and he won’t ask. That’s part of the restraining order which is still in place, no using the kids as communication conduits. This is a positive moment for Jon though because it means he can get in the house and get the remainder of his stuff.

Kepler has astounded Kate and me. He tore off the outside nail on his left front paw, leaving the quick exposed. Pretty painful. We took him to the vet on Monday. They sedated him, cleaned up the nail, put a bandage on it, then wrapped the whole foot in a bandage and some leopard spotted coban. He has not touched the foot bandage. Not at all. Every other dog we’ve had would have had that damn thing off the same night without an e-collar.

I’ve rethought turning my life over again. The threads I’ve got established are substantial and nourishing: novels, working out, Latin, this blog, mountain living, friendships, Beth Evergreen. I want to sustain the momentum I have in all these areas, so my life will remain much the same. Two changes I do want to make. I want to include more reading time, reading non-fiction on such topics as: the West, American political life, magic, science. Also, I need to find, sometime in the next month or so, a platform for the anti-Trump work.

It will be awhile before the rhythms reestablish and the new changes take hold. Though the knee is no longer painful, there’s still a long way to go before it’s rehabbed. That means distractions related to the knee will continue. Also, I have to wrestle this sleep demon to the ground and exorcise it. These things will happen.

 

The Year of the Absent December

Winter                                                         Cold Moon

lionTwo good friends, Allison and Tom, have recommended I see Lion, on my list for this week, especially now that I’m mobile, both on foot and behind the wheel. Yes, the knee is becoming much less painful though strength and stamina will take a while to regain. Not sure whether it’s the drug cocktails I’ve been taking or what, but sleep has become a precious commodity again, not easily found in batches long enough to feel rested. Ick.

2016 will be year of the absent December for me. My 20161203_083526surgery was December 1st and much of the first two weeks + I spent in a narcotic haze. Or so Kate tells me. The remainder of the month has been physical therapy and figuring out how to manipulate the meds so they help me rather than hurt me. Not an easy task.

The good part was having the grandkids here for most of Hanukkah. When Kate and I returned them to Jen yesterday, Ruth came back to the car to say goodbye to me. We touched hands and she smiled, a furtive lightning of her face. I said, “Remember what I told you about your audition.” (that I have faith in you) She said she remembered. This is her audition for the Denver School of the Arts. She presents her portfolio and sits for an interview.

Kate after election day

Kate after election day

Next big medical event is Kate’s endoscopy tomorrow. This is a follow-up on an occult blood finding, so it could have serious implications, though I’m not expecting them. I have physical therapy at 7:15 a.m., then we head down the hill on 285 to Swedish Hospital for a 9 a.m. procedure.

A sequelae of the absent December is waking up from it to a New Year. What will I do in 2017? Will it be continuous with the first two years here? Or, will I rethink it all, maybe reshuffle the deck one more time? I’m leaning toward the latter. There will be Superior Wolf, yes. There will be workouts, yes. There will Beth Evergreen. There will, I decided yesterday, be Latin. I’m picking that project up again beginning this week. But, beyond those and how those fit with other potentials? I don’t know. I do know that taking a big insult to my physicality, even for a good cause, has got me in a contemplative mood, wondering, once again, about how life fits together.

It’s Alive!

Samain                                                                   Moon of the Winter Solstice

karloff-history-science-and-frankensteinSo. The old computer, dead to me when I went in for surgery, has shown signs of life. I’m very glad because there are many things on here I want, need to keep. It’s six years old though, past its sell-by date, and I no longer trust it, so I’m going to buy a new one after the holidays. I’m glad to have it available now, however, because it means I can visit the loft again in the early morning, expand my daily circuit, get me out of the house for a while.

Had a very sweet moment yesterday. I took a nap, slept peacefully for an hour, and woke up with no pain. It was as if, for a moment, that the surgery was long past or never happened at all. Then I got up. Oh, well.

tibial-keel-punch

tibial-keel-punch

Progress is good, not swift, but good. My second out patient p.t. today takes care of my workout for the day. No more three a days as I was doing up until now. Though. The new exercises are harder and I have to do more sets. I’m a fan of p.t. It’s cheap. It’s non-invasive and it puts me in charge of my recovery.

(just one of the tools used in my surgery. this one drills the hole in the tibia. Inserted in the hole is a titanium rod. Hello, TSA.)

The grandkids are here for the holidays. Hanukkah begins tomorrow. Lots of energy buzzing and blooming throughout the house. Jon and Ruth have been printing a lot using Jon’s found metal method. In case you don’t remember he finds crushed metal on the road side, retrieves it, takes it home, cleans it up, inks it up and prints it using a rotary printing press. (like the one we used at the Highpoint Cooperative for docents and Woolly readers.)

I’m so happy to greet you all from my loft here on Shadow Mountain. Have a wonderful holiday season.

April 2017
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