We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Let It Be

Written By: Charles - Mar• 29•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Sunday gratefuls: Technology, not our savior, but a friend. Brenton and his 3,500 steps. Bob Dylan and his new song, Murder Most Foul. The Weight, by the Band. Pictures of Murdoch coming from Loveland. Zoom. Over the wires, over the air, over the ocean and across the desert. Wow. Each one of you, readers. Whoever you are. I love you.

Zoomed. Again. The new hang out, like the ol’ Kid Canteen on Harrison Street. Mark in Riyadh. Mary in Singapore. Diane in San Francisco. Kate. Me. On Shadow Mountain. Bombs over Riyadh, Mark said. Have you heard? Singapore’s like normal, almost, Mary said.

Diane was cold, doing a Mark Twain version of the coldest night he ever spent. We talked, decades of back story, going back even into the 19th century. All of us linked by genetics, by fate, by Indiana. Kate looked good.

Paul in Maine. Tom, Bill, Mark in the cold place. On Shadow Mountain. Cranes flying up, up, weighted and buoyed. The mystery of flight. Caretaking, its weight. Wondering how we can survive. Can we keep it up?

All of us gone viral. Lives infected. The future uncertain. How can we survive?

We’re all monastics, huddled in our apartments, our camps, our homes. Rattlin round in them like ol dry bones. Is it life without others? I would say yes. I would say no. I would say, well, I just don’t know.

Fear the moronic plague the most. He and his will kill us all if it might lift the Dow. Plenty of money for some, for most, none at all.

Hear, oh, world. The one is the lord god, the lord. Can you follow an ancientrail created by slaves, crossing seas, and wandering? I thought so for a moment last week. Put Kate in a prayer, held her there. Tears came to my eyes, I wanted it.

But, no. No longer me. No way back into Easter, either. Following the bird, the rock, the sky, the lake, the trout, the love of one for another, all the spirit in all the things all the one. Must be enough.

Breathe in, Breathe out

Written By: Charles - Mar• 28•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Saturday gratefuls: Murdoch jail break. Seoah’s spring rolls. Kate’s good day. Her referral to an ostomy nurse (for her feeding tube). The white, confectioner’s sugar look on Black Mountain, our lodgepoles, the solar panels. Rabbi Jamie’s Maladies and Melodies zoom session yesterday. These days of our lives. Learning new things about society, about ourselves, about our globalist reality.

Some miscellaneous things.

Cousin Diane sent out this message about how to care for groceries. Then I read that those of us over 60 should not be going to the grocery store at all. Will keep on using pickup when I can (not delivery), but Seoah may end doing up most of our in-store shopping. Anyhow, here’s the video. I found it helpful.

On the subject of resilience here’s a link to a Harvard Business Review article, “That discomfort you’re feeling is grief .” It helped me name a complex of feelings that come and go, stimulated by the virus, yes, but not exclusively about it. The more we can grasp the emotional, the psychological impacts of the pandemic, the less they will cause us unwanted and unexpected trouble.

In a soothing and, at the same time, provocative hour on Zoom Rabbi Jamie took us through a modification of Jewish morning prayers. Maladies and Melodies. Songs he’d written, psalms he’d translated. His thoughts along the way.

Two things stood out for me. He began with the idea of moving from a narrow mind, like the narrow, confined space of Egypt for the Hebrew slaves, (Passover is two weeks away.), to a broad, expansive space. From a narrow, pharaoh mind to wide vistas and open hearts. How do we move, I wondered, and I imagine he intended this, from a lock down state of mind to a broad mind even though fear and actual confinement are the norm for people around the world?

In a meditation (He’s a Buddhist, too, and spent time in Nepal on pilgrimage.) he had us focus on our breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t force it. Follow it. He mentioned breath as neshama, that part of our soul most directly connected to the one. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. It’s a respiratory virus. It affects the lungs, our ability to breath. Breathe in, breath out. I thought this. I imagine others did, too.

Can anything separate us from the one? No. Not even something that blocks our breath, because our neshama remains linked to the one even if our breathing ceases. So what is there to fear? A death? Still one with the one. Breathe in, breathe out.

Locked In Syndrome

Written By: Charles - Mar• 27•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Friday gratefuls: That I started this section before C.V. Grocery stores and their employees. Pharmacies. Gas stations. Most of all, still, nurses, docs. Hospital and E.R. employees. Lab workers. Garbage collectors. Brenton White. Murdoch, who will be sprung from doggie juvie tomorrow. Seoah’s northern South Korea soup. Tasty. Kate’s victory against United Airlines. Most of all from yesterday, a talk with Kate. Yeah, talking. Still good.

Ordered groceries online yesterday. Due to a quirk at Safeway’s site I had to choose delivery over pickup. That meant another interaction with Instacart. I stopped ordering deliveries here last year because Instacart’s service model made it erratic at best. Orders would come late. Ice cream melted. That sort of thing. The virus has not made them better.

I ordered around 4 pm, was told to expect delivery in two hours. After 6 text messages announcing delays I was asked to reschedule. This was at 9:15. I canceled because when I clicked on reschedule there were no slots available over the next 3 days. That osmotic pressure, the virus and its sequalae, added to mountain logistics. Will try again later. Not sure when.

King Sooper, whom I tried first, had only half the items I wanted on my order. Grocery shopping has become like shooting ducks. You have to lead the items you want, hope you hit the store when they have them in stock. The grocery stores and their employees are, like nurses and doctors, real heroes. They’re working on, supporting us all, in spite of the danger to themselves and their families.

Seoah, Kate, and I are a team. Yesterday Seoah made a potato dumpling soup with thinly sliced vegetables. They make this in the north, she said, where the Olympics were. It’s not ever made in the south, down around Gwangju and Busan where she grew up. Regional cuisines.

Kate called United Airlines and got them to back off on a $500 increase in the ticket price for Seoah’s return trip in May. Singapore closed their airport March 25th. United closed their flights to Singapore. Her flight was on March 29th. When Joseph went online to change it, the comparable ticket was $500 higher. The military has also issued an order banning military family members from travel for two months. Kate explained this in her I am being reasonable manner. Just this one time, said the supervisor. Sure, o.k.

My contribution yesterday was trying to buy groceries and communicating with Brenton in Loveland about Murdoch. We go on Saturday. Jeffco issued a stay at home order effective March 26th, but there is an exception for health related trips, including pets.

Murdoch needs to get out of Bergen Bark Inn. They’ve been very kind, both with him and with us, but being in a kennel for 12 hours at night has begun to wear on him. He’s still happy, but thinner. Staff there told us dogs didn’t do well past six weeks to two months. They were right. Not to mention the bill will be in the thousands of dollars now.

Insert rant about Trump and our oligarchs choosing money over people.

Resilience Strategies

Written By: Charles - Mar• 26•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Thursday gratefuls: Kate’s fingers healing, slowly. (due to her Reynaud’s disease) Zoom. The wire that brings in the internet. The internet, making this whole situation more bearable. Books. Authors like Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, Isaac Asimov, Neal Stephens, William Gibson. Emotions like sadness, grief. The notion and practice of resilience.

Here’s an excellent written out Tedtalk on resilience by Lucy Hone*. Three strategies are the focus of the piece: 1. Know that suffering is part of life. 2. Carefully choose where you’re directing your attention. 3. Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?”

1. Know that suffering is part of life. At seventy plus number one is a lesson most of us have learned. Parental deaths. Serious illness. Depression. Failure. Divorce. Life has difficult, damned difficult moments. The book of Job is an object lesson in recognizing suffering as part of life, not as something happening only to you. That’s the main point here: you’re not being picked on, Covid19 is not the first, nor will it be the last instance of suffering.

2. Carefully choose where you’re directing your attention. Number two may not be so obvious. I’m going to quote the first paragraph from Ms. Hone’s talk:

“I’ve found that resilient people have a habit of realistically appraising situations, and typically they manage to focus on the things they can change and learn to accept the things they can’t. This is a vital and learnable skill.

And, she says further on: “Whatever you do, make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.” If your media choices right now focus on the next coronavirus news, you might want to consider a diet. Say, reading the newspaper or watching the news or listening to the podcast at a certain time, for a particular length of time.

I have, for years, kept a good news file. I toss in there certain birthday cards, notes from friends, anniversary cards and notes. Notices from things I’ve helped make happen. Pictures of kids and grandkids, dogs. Anything that’s personal and positive. If I start to turn down the blues trail, I take it out. This could be done on a computer, too. Just open a file, cut and paste into it.

3. Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?” I read this article several months ago, then slipped it into my resilience notebook on Evernote. I’d forgotten the first two strategies, but this one stayed with me.

It’s so easy to slip into patterns, habits, routines that are unproductive or down right harmful. With this question though you can challenge yourself, ask yourself, is this worth it?

I know, for example, that if the melancholy I felt yesterday were to continue, it would be harming me. It’s very instructive to have this question to pose. If it’s not helping me, what can I do to alter it? How can I choose to focus myself differently?

Once in a while I get stuck in an anger loop with Kate. A perceived slight, an argument, just the frustrations of being together most of the time. I’m imagining this is an issue right across the country now. This doesn’t help resolve whatever is bothering me, or help her. It hinders me, hinders us.

This question helps me remember that I can choose a different path. We can talk it out, decide to handle things in a different manner. We’re not destined to stay in a negative place.

Resilience is a key to staying afloat at any time. In this, the time of the virus, it is a necessary skill, one which, if you don’t have it now, it behooves you to learn. More on this later.

*Lucy Hone is a codirector at the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience and a research associate at AUT University in Auckland. She is also the author of the book Resilient Grieving.

Sad. Glad.

Written By: Charles - Mar• 25•20

Spring and the Luna Corona

Rushed this morning. Wanted to add a couple of things this afternoon.

First, feelings of sadness, grief have washed over me this afternoon. Close to tears. Not sure why though confinement, continuing difficulties for Kate, she’s down to 93 pounds, and blood pressure that won’t stay stable don’t give me joy. The virus itself, too.

Second, I finally caught up on my Talmud reading. Finished Shabbat 19, today’s daf. Feels good, opens up time for other things now. We’ll see.

Written By: Charles - Mar• 25•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Wednesday gratefuls: The chicken. Carrots. Onion. Celery. Peas. Corn. Water. Gas, piped up the side of Shadow Mountain by Colorado Natural Gas. The stove. Makers of pots and pans, wooden spoons, ladles. That old recipe off the Golden Plump chickens. The frozen egg noodles.

Kate’s got a fingers appointment this morning. The rule is: she can go into the main entrance of the hospital. I can’t go in at all. They check her for symptoms, then escort her quite a distance to the doctor. She’ll call me when she’s done. Soothed that they’re so careful, sad that they need to be.

We’re getting ready for Murdoch’s transfer to Loveland. Hopefully that happens on Saturday. Seoah bought food for him, and treats. Seoah wrote up some “rules” for Brenton White, the foster parent from dogsondeployment. I typed them up and printed them. She’s collected his toys, his bowl, his e-collar, his medicine. No food on Saturday morning for Murdoch. He throws up in the car.

Speaking of the evil bastard, if you weren’t already. Babies and their grandparents (us) into the maw of the American economy. And on Easter. Geez, doesn’t he understand blasphemy and apostasy? Let me say that again, evil bastard.

Resilience: starting a conversation

Written By: Charles - Mar• 24•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Tuesday gratefuls: Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn above the ridge of Conifer Mountain this morning. Brenton, who will probably take Murdoch this Saturday. The Talmud, weird and wonderful. Dante’s Divine Comedy, which I plan to re-read soon. Yes, I read the whole thing. Mark Odegard, who said, “On many levels I like to be in mystery, there is much I will never understand, and that feels right.” Kate’s wonderful resilience.

When Kate’s health took a turn for the deep south, I went into plunge ahead, head down mode. I drove to the hospital almost every day, came home to take care of the dogs, got the Rav4’s oil changed, bought take-out. Hospital. Talk to doctors. Talk to Kate if she was conscious. Drive home. Feed the dogs. Eat a hamburger. Sleep. Again. Again. Again.

At one point Kate had to have an emergency operation to stop the bleeding that had caused her to receive ten units of blood through transfusion. This was late at night, the nuclear scan had failed to pinpoint the source of the bleed, so the surgeon was going in blind. Exhausted and wrung out, you might imagine I would decompensate. It was clear she could die during the procedure, but would die certainly without it.

Not sure exactly when it occurred to me, but I realized that I’d faced this situation before, in 1964, October. Mom had had her stroke seven days before and was now in the ICU at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. It was 3 am. Dad and I were exhausted. The doctor’s told us they had no more things to try. She was in vegetative state. What did we want to do? Yes, I had faced this crisis before and experienced the worst possible outcome. Mom died after we told the doctors to take her off the ventilator and the feeding tube.

I was not resilient. Her death crushed me, sent me into a black hole that I would try to fill with alcohol and academics. Our little family went into survival mode with Dad going back to work, Mary, Mark, and me back to school. Heads down, plunging ahead, not counting the cost.

Dad and I became estranged. Mary and Mark lived with him until they finished high school and went off to college. I moved to Wisconsin after college and rarely contacted anybody in the family.

It took years for me to rebalance my psyche, shake alcohol and cigarettes. Those cigarettes, I smoked for several years, often at 3 packs a day, revisited me last fall when my doctor diagnosed me with COPD. Mild, yes, but still a lung impairment. You know what that means right now.

In October of 2018, 54 years to the month after mom died, my wife, my love, my best friend, my partner, was also in peril. This time though I knew life was possible on the other side of tragedy. I knew the sun rises, spring comes, even in the worst circumstance.

That was when my own resilience began to kick in. I could make decisions, take care of myself, our dogs, our life while Kate faced a struggle to survive. She made it; so did I.

Only, of course, to come to this. A pandemic of a respiratory illness. Nice, universe. Real nice. More thoughts about resilience will come. I’d like to know what helps you in tough times. What helps you rebalance?

Evil Bastard

Written By: Charles - Mar• 24•20

Mammon’s dumbest disciple wants to become Moloch’s agent, too. Today’s Washington Post: “Trump says he may soon push businesses to reopen, defying the advice of coronavirus experts” Since infants and the elderly die most, he’s trying to feed infants to the Dow Jones average. I don’t know any gods that wanted elderly sacrifices, though there must have been one.

Thanks for coming to work

Written By: Charles - Mar• 23•20

Spring and the 1% sliver of the Leap Year Moon

Monday gratefuls: A chicken! King Sooper had a chicken! I got the second to last one. Drug makers. Pharmacists. Nurses, especially nurses. All health care workers, all around the world. Politicians, in particular U.S. governors and mayors, actually confronting the crisis. Democrat senators holding the line for working people. Fear. Keeps people inside.

Grateful for Brother Mark, confronting a difficult time in Saudi Arabia, doing well. Staying in touch with his colleagues, learning new tech. So many of us have to make dramatic changes in our working lives. Those who can. Hurray!

I think about all those folks like waiters and chefs and busboys and retail store workers whose jobs have disappeared. A good time to be retired. A good time to have sold your company. Though there is that falling market thing.

I’m on daf 8b, the second side of page 8, of Shabbat, the second tractate of the Talmud, a collection of commentary on the mishnah, written legal theory from the older oral tradition. I just got daf 17 of Shabbat today, so I’m closing in on being current. I’ll get back to one a day this week for sure.

Went to the grocery store, King Sooper, yesterday. Found, 9 days after I started looking, a whole chicken. That means I can make the chicken noodle soup that Kate likes so well. After my workout this morning. No more than 3 chicken products, no more than 3 ground beef. Signs. King Sooper looked somewhat less devastated than Safeway did last week. Perhaps the panicked ones have begun to calm down, realizing this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Pharmaceuticals. I went to King Sooper because I needed to pick up an albuterol inhaler that I use for exercise. Oh, the clerk said, I have two for you. Of the same thing? Yes, I’ll take the $10 one. She laughed. The other, brand name inhaler, was $94. Same drug, same amount, same delivery method. Which one would you choose? Everybody got a good laugh.

I tell each clerk thank you for coming to work. We need you and you’re here. At the liquor store I asked the guy how business was. Slow today, but really busy last week. Well. You might have to help out the other small businesses. You’re right, he said. I might.

King Sooper was not crowded unlike my Safeway trip. In Safeway the aisles were full, people looked dazed. At King Sooper yesterday folks looked like purposeful shoppers, finding what they needed, not in OMG I gotta get to the toilet paper aisle mode. The tables were gone, but the in-story Starbucks was open.

Tried to get some takeout from Rocky Mountain Wraps, but they had closed. Sunday hours. We’re encouraged here to get takeout from restaurants and tip well, try to help the small business folks. I plan to over the next weeks. It’s nice to have some variety. Seoah made a shrimp and pasta meal last night that was very good.

Saw today that restrictions need to get tighter if we’re to control the viruses spread. OK with us.

Cut Precious Stones

Written By: Charles - Mar• 22•20

Spring and the Leap Year Moon

Sunday gratefuls: the long shabbat. the damage being done to Trump’s presidency. By himself. The solar snow shovel. Scott Simpson’s note about his journey back from Colorado. Ode’s crane stories. Crane. Again, still, the truckers, shelvers, nurses, clerks, doctors, cleaners, gas station attendants. Hope we remember their service afterward. The loft.

Shelter in place. Not yet an order here in Colorado. But. I looked at its parameters in California. Only essential visits: medical facilities, groceries, outdoor activities with others 6 feet away, caring for others who need in home assistance. Then I thought. Huh. Kate and I have been doing shelter in place for more than a year and a half. CBE events being the only major deviation. Odd, but the case.

Reading the news is like watching a slow motion car wreck. Can’t watch. Can’t look away. A mathematics professor from the U.ofCo.’s Biofrontiers Institute compared our current situation to those in Florida awaiting a predicted hurricane. Everything looks normal, feels the same. But 8 days away is a powerful disrupter. It’s not a question of whether, but when.

Got way behind on reading the Talmud, but the stay-at-home mode has allowed me to begin catching up. Maybe today. Wondered the other day about why I was doing this. It’s a huge commitment and it isn’t my tradition. If I found it uninteresting, I would quit. And, some of it is pretty boring. Berkahot, the first tractate which I finished yesterday, had many entries about the times for prayer, about where to pray, how many folks it took to pray. It ended strong though with many entries on modesty and where to defecate. Yes, really. The Talmud finds all of life worthy of commentary.

It’s like travel for me. Immersing myself in a strange world, one complete unto itself. Not mine, but human. Therefore interesting. There’s another aspect of it that’s like travel. I can say I’ve been there. Outside the world of Judaism nobody would care, but within Beth Evergreen, in other Jewish places, having done the Daf Yomi is like having gone on the Haj. It’s a mark of honor.

Perhaps the most salient reason is that the Talmud provides context for my life on the ancientrail of former slaves from Egypt, a people whose wandering is not over.

Here’s an example from near the end of Tractate Berkahot: “Bar Kappara taught: A person should always teach his child a clean and simple craft. The Gemara asks: What craft is considered clean and simple? Rav Ḥisda said: Cutting precious stones.”