We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Let It Be

Written By: Charles - Jan• 09•19

Winter                                                                        Waxing Moon

h-mart sashimiOver to the second H-Mart with SeoAh yesterday. This one is smaller than the one in Aurora, but is much better organized. It’s more like a US supermarket though with very different stock. The Aurora H-Mart is more like an Asian market. I love the produce, the array of seafood, and whole cold storage displays filled with things I can’t identify. As you might expect, there is also an amazing range of sushi, sashimi, (left) noodles, soy sauces, frozen dumplings, other prepared foods like soups and sauces. The beef is all Kobe beef, wagyu, but raised in the U.S.

At the checkout I said to the cashier, “You have to be able to recognize a lot of different produce items. Do they train you?” “Yes, we have two weeks of training.” She smiled. They have parsley, garlic, onions, sure, but also rambutan, dragon fruit, jack fruit, many varieties of mushroom, persimmons, young coconut, bok choy. I’m going to get over there once a month since I’m beginning to understand how SeoAh cooks. It’s straightforward but requires ingredients you can’t find at King Sooper. (Krogers)

I enjoy the time with SeoAh. Her English has improved so much. We had Pho for lunch, one of her favorites.

relaxCousin Diane wrote a “why don’t you slow down some, just be for a while?” e-mail. Interesting. When I had no choice, during Kate’s first hospitalization, I did prune out many things, but that was necessity. Daily trips into Swedish or Brookdale, occasionally more than one, left me too exhausted to do much more. My friend Mark Odegard made a similar comment on Sunday during our Zoom session. “Your life is always complex, lots going on.” Also interesting because Mark’s got a lot going on, too, but he sees my life, perhaps as Diane did, as having more going on than is necessary.

Gonna chew on this one. No question that I keep many balls in the air: novels, painting, teaching, cooking, housework, grocery shopping, canine care, exercise, writing this blog. Why, you might ask? That’s the part I need to chew on. Partly it’s a sense of responsibility, not just to Kate and our marriage, our home, but also to that ground-in cultural norm of living up to your potential. Yes, even at 72. Still. Another part, and I picked this up from Elisa in our first session on my birth chart, may be numbing. One way to avoid the feelings involved in this crazy period, or, if not avoid, attenuate is to distract myself. Since I no longer drink, having a lot of things going on is, can be, a socially acceptable equivalent. I do have an addictive personality so numbing is native to my personality.

I would like a rest. Just not sure how to go about getting one. Maybe when Mark and Tom come out next week we can talk that through.

Tah for now. Gotta get back to work. Ha.

Dulled

Written By: Charles - Jan• 08•19

Winter                                                                          Waxing Moon

Dull Knife.Sharp Knife, William Wegman (American, born 1943), Gelatin

Dull Knife/Sharp Knife, William Wegman (American, born 1943), Gelatin

A dull glaze coats my mind. Not all the time, but some. Forgetting things. Urgency softened, what to do next unclear. Forgot Deborah was doing the meditation at Jewish Studies. Slower at prepping for my Wednesday class. No painting. No writing. Drifting. Even with SeoAh and Murdoch’s energy infusing the house. Don’t like it, but it goes with the steady beat down of uncertainty, of traumas large and small. Yesterday, for example, I sat down in my reading chair, closed my eyes for just a minute. Woke up an hour and a half later. I’m getting good sleep at night.

We need good news unalloyed with hesitation or new symptoms. Though I feel Kate’s beginning to recover, she’s not gained weight. She had three days with nausea unrelated to eating. She sleeps several hours at night and naps often. I suppose chronic illness puts this patina on any couple after an extended time.

A friend from mussar has a vicious, rare degenerative disease called multiple systems atrophy, MSA, in its end stage. Another CBE friend is in the middle of seventeen weeks of chemo for cancer. Yet another is still recovering from a fall that broke her femur. Another CBE friend cared for her husband for several months until he died. We’re not alone. This is the present.

advantage rope-wood-old-natureEven as I write this I can feel it lifting. Writing can be therapy, taking what’s inside, putting it outside where its outline clarifies, where it doesn’t rattle around contaminating the rest of the mind. There’s a stress element. There’s also an oh, I’ll just lean back and let things go past inertia. I can’t be on all the time. And, if I’m honest, I sometimes hit this slump without any outside influence.

Maybe it’s melancholy, a low grade version. Whatever it is, I’m tired of it. Exercise helps a lot and I’m back to that. Writing helps, but I’m stuck there right now. New novel trying to come to life; Jennie’s Dead still incomplete. Submissions stalled. Had the painting time with Ruth, then stopped. I feel guilty about this since SeoAh’s here taking off the cooking load.

Going to regain my verve. How’s not exactly clear, but I’m going to. Sorry for the Debbie downer tone here, but it’s where I am right now.

 

 

The Four Elements

Written By: Charles - Jan• 07•19

Winter                                                                                        Waxing Moon

jan-van-kessel-the-elder-allegory-of-air

jan-van-kessel-the-elder-allegory-of-air

Every once in a while up here on Shadow Mountain, winds. Today, and they haven’t gotten fully underway yet, I’ve already heard gusts that my anemometer clocks at 40 mph. I imagine we’ll see 60 later. Glad it’s not Wednesday, trash day, when we have to put our trash and recycling containers out near the road. I chased a run away trash container last year. It got past the neighbors before I caught up with it.

Reminds me of the meditation Deborah did. She focused on this coming week’s parsha, but she utilized breathing techniques learned from her studies in Sufism. There are four breaths. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through nose. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the mouth. Each breath corresponds to one of the four ancient elements: earth, water, fire, and air.

(This is Maxwell Falls, about a mile and a half from our house)

Up here in the Rockies the four elements are ever present. The mountain itself. The mountain streams. The ever present threat of wildfire. The wind. In the mountains it’s not difficult to follow the logic that these elements were responsible for everything we see.

Fire mitigation, first tree cut

Fire mitigation, first tree cut

Did the third Jewish Studies Sampler Sundays yesterday. Minor technical difficulties, but a great discussion focused on the Coursera offering, Israel State and Society. I felt reluctant to go in. Sparse attendance. Technical problems. Not sure the model worked. Coming home though I felt again the warmth of CBE, felt good to be supporting the synagogue. It was the folks who showed up: Marilyn, Irv, Stan, Deborah. Engaged, bright, quick.

Zoom yesterday with Tom, Bill, Mark, Paul. It’s good to be able to talk back and forth, to see each other. The miles become irrelevant. So much of interest going on, very nourishing to follow how friends confront challenges, respond to opportunities.

I’ve allowed myself to focus on Kate, on our domestic matters since September 28th, date of her bleed. That has, at times moved me away from writing and exercise, two core activities for me. Back to the exercising, going to push it a bit by adding back in cardio on the non-resistance days. Want to get to writing the new novel, but it’s still gestating. I don’t have a foothold yet on where to begin. That will emerge. Painting and astrology, still pretty new in my world, have allowed me to have time off, to wander down new ancientrails, see the sites.

 

 

A Feynman Method Explanation

Written By: Charles - Jan• 07•19

Winter                                                                            Waxing Moon

feynmanRichard Feynman, the physicist, had a technique for learning. It’s pretty straight forward in its explanation:

  1. Choose a Concept
  2. Teach it to a child
  3. Identify Gaps and Go Back to The Source Material
  4. Review and Simplify (optional)

I’ve not used it before, but I’m going to try now with reimagining/reconstructing faith. I hope that by clarifying it this way, I can further my year theme: Seeking the myth beyond reason.

To Gabe. What do you need to stay alive? Food, yes. Oxygen, yes. Anything else? A house or place to live, yes.

20190101_103345OK. Let’s start with food. Where does food come from? The grocery store. Well, that’s where we buy it. But where does the grocery store get the food? From trucks? OK. How about the trucks. Where do they get the food?

From farms? Right. And, gardens. And, orchards. And, the ocean. Can you guess my next question? Where do the farms and the gardens and the orchards and the ocean get the food? What’s that? Plants and animals? Right again. You’ve got this, Gabe.

Think about the animals for a minute, Gabe. What kind of animals do we eat? Pigs and chickens. Check. Cows. Check. Fish. Check. Shrimp and turkeys. Check. That’s enough for now. So. Where do the pigs, chickens, cows, fish, shrimp, and turkey get their food? You don’t know? What’s that? Grass. Yes, good. Cows eat grass don’t they? What about chickens? Insects? For sure. How about pigs? Well, some pigs eat acorns. Others eat roots, fruit, fish. Yes, fish. That seems strange doesn’t it? What about shrimp? What do they eat? They eat tiny, tiny plants that live and grow in the water. Fish? What do they eat? Some eat plants that grow in the water, some eat insects, some eat other fish and other ocean animals.

photosynthesisDid you notice that a lot of the food the animals eat comes from plants? Acorns, grass, roots, tiny plants that live in water? What about the rest? Insects, other fish? What do insects eat? Some do eat other insects, that’s right. Praying mantises, for example. But most insects eat plants. Grasshoppers do. Leafchewers. Some eat plant roots. Some eat the nectar, like bees.

Here’s the thing, Gabe. When you really, really look at what animals eat, even if they eat other animals, you’ll find that the animals they eat get their food from plants. That’s strange isn’t it? Does that mean we all get our food from plants? Well, yes, in a way. If the hamburger you like tastes good, it’s because the cows ate grass and corn and beans. Can you guess my next question?

Exactly. Where do the plants get their food? What an interesting question. Land based plants dig deep into the soil with their roots. Their roots take water from the soil and some other things the plant needs to live. Here’s what might seem like a weird question. What color are plants?

Green. That’s right, Gabe! What part of the plants are green? Their leaves. Right again. What? Oh, their stalks, too? Yes. On many plants that’s right. They’re green, too. Here’s the really, really weird part, Gabe. Those green leaves? They make food for the plant from sunlight and water and vitamins from the soil.

photoHow do they do it? Even scientists have a hard time explaining it, but somehow the leaves take sunlight, water, and other things from the soil and make what the plant needs to live. Amazing, right? Sunlight, water, and nourishment from the soil. Nourishment? What does it mean? It just means anything that helps you live, or helps plants live. And you know what’s also amazing? Guess what the plants send out into the air when they’re done making food? Oxygen! That’s right, plants feed animals and they give off the thing we need to breathe to stay alive. Wow. Go, plants!

Now let’s see. Where are we, Gabe? You told me you need food to stay alive. And, oxygen. What’s that? Water. Water, too. We tracked down where food comes from, didn’t we? It all starts with plants and the sun and the soil and water. Plants get what they need from the sun, from mother earth and from the water on mother earth.

Sun. Mother Earth. Oxygen. Water. Without any of them, Gabe, you and Ruth and your mom and dad couldn’t stay alive. You’d die without oxygen which plants put into the air. You’d die without food, which plants create from the sun and water and nourishment (remember what nourishment is?) from mother earth.

Sol Invictus by Jake Baddeley

Sol Invictus by Jake Baddeley

When it comes to what I’m thankful for Gabe, I’m grateful for you, of course, and your family, but I’m also grateful for the sun. The sun provides us with light, heat, and now we know it also plays a key role in providing us with food. Without sun the plants can’t make their own food. I’m grateful for mother earth. She provides nourishment for the plants and through them for us. I’m grateful for the water we have to drink. Did you know it gets made good to drink by going into clouds and coming back down as rain and snow? It’s true. I’m grateful for clouds and rain and snow, too. I like fresh water to drink.

Gabe, I know you’ve been raised Jewish. That’s the religion of your mom. I don’t know how important it is to you right now, but I remember it was important enough that you didn’t like Christmas when you were five. There are a lot of religions, aren’t there? Let’s see if we can name some. Christianity. Judaism. Islam. Hinduism. Do you know that one? It comes from India. Buddhism. Taoism. You may not know that one. It comes from China. Lots and lots more, too.

religionI used to be a Christian, a while back. But, not anymore. What is a religion, do you think? There’s so many different ones that it’s hard to say. To me religions are about what is most important to you. What matters. It might be your relationships with your mom and dad, or Ruth, or your friends. How are you supposed to treat those close to you? It might be about animals and how you’re supposed to treat them. Do you remember when Herschel died? Your great-grandma? Your great-grandpa? Did you ever wonder what happened to Herschel and your great-grandparents after they die? Me, too. I’m not sure, but it is a question most religions try to answer.

Do you suppose a religion could be about food and where it comes from? Oxygen and where it comes from? Staying alive is pretty important. We agreed on that earlier. Right now my religion, my thoughts on what are most important, is about food, oxygen, and the things that make them. The sun and mother earth are like a god and a goddess to me. Together they make it possible for you and me to be alive. Through their children, the plants and the animals, they make possible the whole wonderful world of zebras, dogs, Ruth, you Gabe, forests, seaweed, whales, tuna, peanuts, apples, and oranges. Pretty amazing.

great wheel2Think of it, Gabe. The sun, that distant star that gives us daytime, the one we see everyday, provides us with the heat and energy to live. Mother earth, the ground we walk on everyday, that holds us up, that we see in parks and farm fields and mountains, provides a home for us and nourishment for the plants. The plants provide food for animals. And animals and plants make food for us. They also make our oxygen. You just breathed some in right now.

That’s enough for me, Gabe. The sun, mother earth. Their children. Us. When I drive through the forest, I’m driving in my church, my synagogue. When the rain or the snow falls on my head, it’s a holy act made possible by mother earth through her clouds. What’s that? You don’t know the word holy?

shamanic-spiral-with-qouteI think of the holy as something both amazing and mysterious. Imagine all the time you spent inside your mom’s womb, growing from two cells into the boy you are now. Amazing and mysterious. Think about a plant’s leaf taking energy from sunlight, mixing it somehow with water and nourishment from the soil to create food, give off oxygen. Amazing and mysterious. Or, how about the change from winter to spring when the cold goes away. Flowers come up. Trees put out their leaves. Grass turns green. Up here in the mountains you see fawns and elk calves. Amazing and mysterious. All holy.

And here’s one more amazing and mysterious piece. You were born on April 22nd, Earth Day, a day dedicated to Mother Earth. And, guess what. April 22nd was a Sunday that year. So you were also born on the day of the week that honors the sun. The sun and mother earth. You share a special relationship with them, Gabe.

 

 

Seeking the myth beyond reason

Written By: Charles - Jan• 05•19

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

ta phrom

ta phrom

A year theme. I mentioned buddy Paul Strickland’s choice: Bumping into Wonder. A few resolute type sentences* laid out some trails I want to follow in the new year, trails I’m already on, none of them new.

If there’s a thread underlying them, I don’t see it. There is, however, a potential theme occasioned by my reading of Cosmos and Psyche. In it Richard Tarnas taught me that skepticism is a tool, not a lifestyle. He chooses to deploy this insight as he begins an apology for astrology. I’ve followed him down that rabbit hole, ending up in a Wonderland that has Chesire cats, Tweedledees and Tweedeldums, Red Queens, and a few rascally rabbits.

enchanted aliceWhat I’m seeking in Wonderland is a synthesis Tarnas contends is necessary for us now, a different sort of Great Work than Thomas Berry’s, yet related to it, I think. Berry, if you recall, said that the Great Work of our time is the creation of a sustainable human presence on earth. Not goin’ so well. Tarnas wants to take the ancient, ensouled universe that prevailed until the Enlightenment, mash it into the disenchanted universe occasioned by rationalism and the hegemony of science, and come up with a Hegelian synthesis that can move us out of the stuck place created by their tension.

Ensouled and disenchanted, the sequel. Living into the next. Curing metaphysical skepticism. Myth and reason, together at last. Seeking a new enchantment. (note: not a re-enchantment since that implies a return to the old ensouled universe.) This is hard. These two worldviews are so far apart it’s difficult to see the path forward, past them.

Not there. Hmm. Mining for ohr. That’s not bad. Ohr = the primordial light of creation now inhabiting every thing in the universe, fractionated, but wanting to be whole. Dreaming a new world. Also not bad. Seeking a new ancientrail. Well, these are a start.

Unergründlich (The Unfathomable), 1874.

Unergründlich (The Unfathomable), 1874.

Seeking a myth beyond reason. I like that. Might be it.

*Eat no processed meats. Write new novel. (primal ensouled universe/enlightenment disenchanted universe. Next?) Keep painting, learning more techniques. Back to 3 days resistance, 3 days cardio. Learn how to read birth charts. Become a better teacher. Cook Korean and salt/fat/heat/acid. Continue kabbalah and mussar. Hike.

Crullers, Empanadas, Goddesses, and Mussar

Written By: Charles - Jan• 05•19

Winter                                                                                Waxing Moon

20190104_104318_001Made a big circle yesterday. Drove into Denver on 6, a six lane version of 6th Street between hwy 470 and Santa Fe. Wanted to try LeMar’s Donuts since Kate needs weight and likes donuts. It’s right at the intersection 6th and Santa Fe. I like Bismarck’s and crullers, Kate prefers original glazed. The Bismarck at LaMars was about twice the size of the usual. It was quiet there, mid-morning, after the before work rush. This picture is the counter.

Maybe 6-8 blocks further on 6th is Broadway. Turned right and headed south toward Louisiana Street. Broadway is fascinating. After it passes under I-25, just north of Mississippi, you could call it the Green Mile thanks to the number of dispensaries between there and Englewood. There are also funky bars, used bookstores, antique shops, design studios. Meiningers, the art supply store I mentioned earlier and the Wizard’s Chest, a magic and costume shop fit right in. At Louisiana sits Maria’s Empanadas.

cookingKate wanted more mushroom empanadas, corn, and spinach. Lisa Gidday, our internist, had recommended the spinach. “Your new favorite food.” I got an Argentina which has steak, onions, and red peppers.

The woman behind the counter had a very thick accent, Argentinian, I assume. Even with hearing aids accents often defeat me and with the ambient noise, we had difficulty communicating. I hope, in these situations, that I don’t come off as insensitive because I keep asking, “What?” The bill was more than I expected, but after my discomfort with our interaction, I just paid.

I have the same frustration with Vanessa. She’s a member of our mussar group at CBE who has MAS, a neurological disease that makes it very difficult for her to speak or swallow. It is, for her and me, a perfect storm. She can’t speak very well and I can’t hear very well. Third phase life.

20190104_112922As I drove further on the Green Mile, I came across Goddess Isis books. I thought it was on Colorado. I’d always wanted to stop and this was my chance. I’d accomplished my errands and had some free time.

Goddess Isis books used to be Isis books, but the turmoil with Daesh, or Isis in Iraq and Syria, occasioned the name change. Isis has books on astrology, Celtic magic, love magic, shamanism, Hinduism, chakras, a wall full of different Tarot decks, multiple statues and figures ranging from dragons to Kali to cutesy fairies. There’s also a magical apothecary with jars not of herbs or granola, but ingredients for spells.

I picked up Indian Temple Incense, a coloring book of the Tarot deck (to implant those images in my mind), and a magazine called Witches and Pagans. Wanted to see what the broader community was thinking. When asked how I was doing  by the owner, an older woman in a flower print dress with a flowing outer cover, I replied, as I often do, “I think I’ll make it.” She laughed and said, “I know I will.”

Our mussar groups sponsored a potluck last night. First time I’d been to CBE in a while since religious school shut down for the holidays. Lot of questions about Kate. “She’s improving, but had a setback the last couple of days.”

Still strange to me to be picked out as one of the mussar leaders, but I was, working with a small group to talk about the middot of responsibility. A quick example of how mussar works. When it came my turn to read, I had a long paragraph with a lot of Hebrew. I felt shy since the others all did much better than me at pronouncing it. And, I was leading.

Had a cruller after I came home. Unusual, but hey, it had been a long day.

 

 

Waxing

Written By: Charles - Jan• 04•19

Winter                                                                      Waxing Moon

20181129_095226Thanks to all of you who participated in name that moon. All the ideas were good. I chose this one because it’s short and lunar and germane to Kate’s goals. Thanks, Scott.

Kate had a bad day yesterday. Nauseated when she got up and fatigued right away, unfortunately both continued throughout the day. It was not, however, eating related.Which was good news. She does feel better this morning.

She had an appointment with our internist, Lisa Gidday, at 9:15, so we drove once again to Littleton, probably our most frequent out of the house destination over the last three months barring Swedish Hospital. The progress with food-related nausea and cramping pleased Lisa, but the morning nausea concerned her. Surprisingly, given her reticence in the past, she suggested Kate try cannabis during the day for appetite nudging.

Marijuana dabbaThat meant that after the trip to Littleton we drove on past Conifer to Bailey, to the Happy Camper. I bought Kate two packs of Dabba chocolate mints. The strain this time is sativa, not indica. Indica produces a lassitude that is congenial with sleep; sativa has a more energetic profile. Better for parties and staying awake. We’ll see if that helps.

Cooking maria'sSeoAh cooks by feel, learned by watching her mother cook. I understand this method, mostly my own. I do occasionally follow recipes; so does she, but we both prefer tasting as we go. I’m trying to learn how she thinks about cooking by watching her. I’m beginning to get it. She has a lot in common with Italian cooking. Simple preparation. Fresh ingredients. A lot of pasta. And, of course, rice. I believe by the end of her stay I’ll be able to do a good novice’s job on some Korean dishes.

I drove a lot this week. And it’s worn me out. One more trip today, into Maria’s for empanadas. Also this Sunday is another Jewish Studies Sampler Sunday. My friend Deborah is going to do some breathing exercises during the session.

Gertie, Kepler, Rigel, and Murdoch all enjoy winter. Running through the snow, rolling in it. All in good health. Gertie spends most of her day with me in the loft. Rigel, who gets along well with Murdoch, spends most of her day on the couch. Kep, who attempted to chow down on Murdoch during his last trip here, is either in the sewing room or outside unless Murdoch is in his room. Complicated doggy logistics, but not at all unfamiliar to us.

 

Ultima Thule

Written By: Charles - Jan• 03•19

Winter                                                                         Stent Moon

oort cloud

oort cloud

Beyond the known world. Here there be Dragons.

I suppose, by definition, Ultima Thule, the more than ancient rock of the Kuiper Belt, lost its right to its name the second its photograph got taken. Way out there, man. I mean way out. The Kuiper Belt. Next stop, the Oort Cloud.

Oh, where is our warp drive? Where is the wormhole navigation beacon that could steer New Horizons to places beyond our galactic borders? Where is my flying car?

Like the Mars lander and China’s moon lander New Horizons keeps humans in space exploration, but only by distant extensions of our machine building prowess. Homo sapiens, the tool maker. New Horizons is a tool, one sent far away to work beyond the direct reach of its makers. Beyond the direct reach of its makers solar system. Pretty damned cool.

Go, New Horizons. Go.

Around Denver with Ruth and SeoAh

Written By: Charles - Jan• 03•19

Winter                                                                           Stent Moon

New Year's Day

New Year’s Day

The last sliver of the stent moon.

A day out yesterday. Took Ruth and SeoAh over to Red Herring Arts only to discover that, in spite of their web page, they opened at 1 pm. Since they’re only open on Wednesdays during the week, that meant we’d have to give it a pass. Red Herring is on Colfax, a really long street that reminds me of Lake Street/Marshall in the Twin Cities. The western part of it, where Red Herring is, was once the Orthodox Jewish center of Denver. My friend Alan Rubin grew up there.

Now it’s filled with cheap motels: The Bunny Rabbit, The Swan, The Western, The Rocky Mountains, marijuana dispensaries, tattoo parlors, many Mexican restaurants. Casa Bonita, a Denver landmark known for its bad food and cliff divers, shares a wall with Red Herring. Casa Bonita advertised this Sunday in the Denver Post for cliff divers. I’ve not been, but someday.

We drove all the way into downtown Denver on Colfax, some miles. I love the transitions of these long, older streets. At one point we passed a Russian/Turkish bathhouse. Next to it was the Pleasure Palace.

Misaki

Misaki

As we neared Broadway we passed Civic Center Park. In a colonnade there Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist, has a set of bronze heads mounted on poles. They represent the Chinese zodiac.

At Broadway we headed south to Meiningers, Denver’s largest art supply store. Ruth’s working on a portrait of SeoAh and Murdoch in black and white, so I bought her some oil paint. I picked up a few things, too. A palette I can clean, unlike the wooden one I’ve been using. A few brushes, some paint and a color mixing guide. “You have to have one,” Ruth said. An expensive visit.

20190102_12550920190102_125513Next stop Stanley Marketplace. It’s one of many repurposed aviation buildings in Stapleton, a new urban development project on the site of the old Denver Stapleton Airport. SeoAh, Ruth, and I all love sushi and the Stanley has Misaki. We got ourselves a table and ordered. Two wooden serving platters later we were all full. I went next door to Maria’s Empanada’s and bought Kate, as requested, two mushroom empanadas. I also picked up a couple of italian sausage and beef empanadas, too. Dinner.

While I sat in a large open air lounge, Ruth and SeoAh went shopping. Jon lives nearby so we returned Ruth to his house and came back home. I find these outings take a lot of energy these days. Specifically these days in a nearly 72 year old body.

A good day. SeoAh had fun, got out of the house. Ruth picked up some supplies, so did I. And, we all had sushi. Better. We had a few hours to talk, cement bonds, build for the future.

Fixed or Fluid

Written By: Charles - Jan• 02•19

Winter                                                                Stent Moon

joy friends (2)The stent moon is a crescent, 12% illumination, hanging over Eduardo and Holly’s. It’s been everything I hoped. Next, a month focused on getting Kate’s weight up. What would you name the moon for that month? I’ll take ideas until Friday.

At night, before going to sleep, I identify the gifts given to me during the day, the gifts I’ve given and any trouble I’ve caused. Then, on waking I identify things I’m grateful for and things that bring joy. These simple habits, developed in mussar work over the last year, keep me aware of the ongoing miracle of the ordinary.

20181230_064700I woke up. The air is cool. My body’s ok. Kate’s beside me with no nausea or cramping. Kepler’s wagging his tail, ready to go upstairs for breakfast. The power came back on yesterday after a long outage. The generator works. I didn’t even know it was on. The long road to DIA offered good conversation with our second son. He’s going back to Minnesota to spend time with a friend who’s depressed. That gives me joy. Ruth up here painting and giving me tips. Joy. Pure. Gertie’s kisses. Murdoch’s bouncy, smiley presence. Snow. Cold. The black clear night sky with stars and a crescent moon. A car that works. SeoAh’s cooking. Kate’s joy at her relief. Gifts, joys, and gratitude. Everywhere I look.

biopolitics2Are there challenges? Oh, yes. But our human tendency to scan the horizon for threats, be alert for danger often blinds us to everyday wonders. Life is not all about illness, or finances, or legal trouble, or separation from loved ones. Yes, these matters crop up in our lives just like the occasional predatory lion or tiger came upon our ancestors in the veldt or in the forests of India and, yes, we need to see them, understand them, respond. We do not, however, have to build our lives around them.

I’m reading an interesting book by two North Carolina political scientists, Prius or Pickup. It posits a continuum on these very matters with one ended anchored in a fixed worldview and the other in a fluid worldview. The fixed worldview folks see danger and threat wherever they look. Those with a fluid worldview have more confidence in the world, focus more on the richness of life. In between are various blends between the two that the authors call a mixed worldview.  They argue that over the last few decades our political life has gradually aggregated those with a more fixed worldview in the Republican Party and those with a more fluid worldview in the Democratic.

20180720_124756

Stay Calm and Keep on Fracking, Evergreen, 2018

A field I didn’t even know existed, biopolitics, ties these worldviews to neurological differences, our partisan political environment has an increasing gap of understanding. Since that gap has roots in our neurobiology, we find it increasingly difficult to understand, or perhaps more importantly, trust anyone in the other camp. I’ve not finished the book so I don’t know what they propose. Gifts, joy, and gratitude identifying habits might help.

2019 lies mostly ahead of us. Yes, it’s an artificial segmentation of our ongoing orbit around the sun, but it does  mark the end of one orbit and the beginning of another. (though any day of the year would serve just as well) So we might consider, as we set off on another journey of 584 million miles, what, over all that distance, over that pilgrimage on which all us earthlings travel, we’ll choose as our focus. The threats in our life? Or, the joys, the ordinary miracles? Where we put our attention is our choice.