We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Rant.

Summer                                                               Monsoon Moon

In case you’ve been wondering I’m still outraged. On a daily basis, actually more frequently than that. Trump loves Putin and Kim Jong Un. Sees himself in their strongman politics, no doubt. Both of them are better at their style of governance than Trump is at his.

He puts tariffs on our allies, creates faultlines of tension on traditional friendly terrain like Europe, England, Canada and Mexico. He trusts a foreign power who’s been our long time enemy and calls the European Union our foe. And, yesterday, he sided with Russia against our own intelligence agencies. All of this is recent. Leaves out pussy grabbing, mimicking a disabled reporter, outright lies and the mockery he’s making of science. Not to mention morality and ethics. Done.

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.

In My Dreams

Summer                                                                   Monsoon Moon

AbrahamSacrificesIsaacIcon_smThe strange things that come to me before I drop off to sleep. Thinking about Lycaon, the anti-hero protagonist of Superior Wolf. He sacrifices his own son, Nyctimus, at a once every four year festival, the Lykaia, to Zeus Lycaeus (Wolf Zeus). Stray thought then. Sounds like Abraham and Isaac. Oh. Wait. Abraham was a polytheist before his covenant with G-d.

moloch william blake

Moloch william blake

What if? What if the Abraham and Isaac story recorded a very different intention than the one we Westerners, long infected by the idea of monotheism, have imputed to it? What if the context was one of child sacrifice? In other words, the religions around Abraham, perhaps even his own previous to the covenant, might have required child sacrifices. I know about Moloch who certainly did.

In the context of gods requiring child sacrifice, the story would read more like this. This new God requires sacrifice, his beloved son Isaac. Nothing new there. Many gods require the sacrifice of children. Yes, it’s always fraught with heartache and pain, but that’s just what Gods do. What’s new here is that this God relents, aborts the sacrifice and accepts an animal in place of a human child.

In this reading then Abraham’s new God evolves from a ruthless eater of human flesh to one who says, no, we no longer do that. The story becomes one of triumph and joy, this new god is better, much better.

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.

 

 

 

I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain

Summer                                                                  Monsoon Moon

ECFD LOGOForest service fire danger signs look like the tachometer on an engine revving too fast. And, they’re staying there. Just like the tach, the longer it redlines, the more possibility for something bad. The really big fires this season, the Spring Creek and 416 fires, are still burning though the Spring Creek Fire is at 91% containment after having burned 108,000 acres. The 416, now at 54,000 acres, is still only 50% contained, but the firefighters feel confident it’s under control*.

We have entered the monsoon season though it’s not reached us here on Shadow Mountain. Those late afternoon rain storms have hit some of the western and southern parts of the state, which is good. That’s where the extreme drought conditions have persisted all year.

*”If you see smoke on the 416 fire on a hot day, that’s perfectly normal! Its a big fire and it’ll take a lot of rain or snow to put it out completely. But for now, you have rain and by the end of the week, you will have a LOT of it. Please be careful if you live at the outflow of Dyke Creek, Tripp Creek or in the Falls Creek area. The severity of the burn means there could be severe flooding.inciweb

Meanwhile, on the Big Island yesterday:

July 14, fissure 8

July 14, fissure 8

July 14, Kapoho bay

July 14, Kapoho bay

July 14, New Hawai'ian island in kapoho bay

July 14, New Hawai’ian island in Kapoho Bay

July 14, island closeup

July 14, island closeup

 

Minnesota

Summer                                                                        Monsoon Moon

Got to thinking about my posts about stuff that’s different here in Colorado. Watch for falling rocks and wildlife highway signs, for example. Reminded me of my first years in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

© Superbass / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons

© Superbass / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons

I lived in Appleton, Wisconsin for a year before I moved to Minnesota and the first winter there was brutal. Lots of snow, really cold. Just what I had imagined and wanted. I had not anticipated that some folks would take their battery inside at night. Or, that others would have engine block heaters. I’d never experienced local option over bar licenses. Appleton was dry; the county wet. Deer hunting was a season when grudges could be settled. The Great Lakes were a nearby reality, not a distant notion from U.S. history books.

When I moved to New Brighton to go to seminary, it puzzled me, even after a year in Wisconsin that there were posts with electrical outlets at each parking space for the dorm. Oh, the block heater thing again. The epic cold. I still recall translating 20 below zero into centigrade for my Taiwanese roommate. His face? Priceless.

Minneapolis lakesInside the city limits of Minneapolis/St. Paul there are several lakes. Full sized lakes, not ponds or reservoirs, but lakes. This means getting to learn the streets takes a while since many have to curve at some point to go around a body of water. Not to mention, speaking of water, that the Mississippi is the river that runs through them.

Then, most puzzling of all for this Indiana boy used to Indiana and Illinois politics, Minnesotans seemed to actually care about politics. Corruption and cynicism were not the two C’s of government in Minnesota, more like caring and compassion.

Like Wisconsin, Minnesota was part of that strange U.S. creature, the Upper Midwest: Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. All three of these states shared lots of border area with the Great Lakes and the greatest lake, Superior, washes up against all three of them and only those three in the U.S. Also in all three, as you drive north, you enter the northwoods, the arboreal forest that begins in Canada at the edge of the tundra.

Burntside Lake, Ely

Burntside Lake, Ely

This is still wild country, not rich enough in resources, except for the Iron Range of Minnesota, and far enough from the usual transportation routes to be pretty hard scrabble for folks who choose to live there. The exception are those communities that have ports on Lake Superior or Lake Michigan. That’s right, ports. These are lakes with a thriving shipping industry, huge lakers carrying coal, wheat and other goods from state to state and to Canada.

 

Different sort of cougars up here from the ‘burbs

Summer                                                            New (Super) Moon

Guy near us posted this photo from last night. Reminder. Wild, wild life here.

mountain lion july 12 2018

Life is a cabaret, old friend

Summer                                                                     New (Super) Moon

supermoon = closest new moon to Earth. See the tides go up. Bay of Fundy, watch out.

20180608_181820Skype yesterday with RJ Devick of Bond and Devick, our financial planners. We meet with him once a year to go over our portfolio, look at upcoming needs, see if we need to make any adjustments to the draw from our IRA. This session in particular may have changed our lives a bit. We’ll see. Maybe some more money available for travel or work around the house. That would be nice, put a bit of a skip in both our steps yesterday.

Mussar was a profound conversation about the nature of equanimity, turning into a discussion of the nature of chaos and how we can keep ourselves calm in the face of disorder.

Last night I went to bed about a half an hour before my usual time and got up early, 5 am. Still a little asleep. It’s 49 up here on Shadow Mountain, delightful.

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.

Fangs and Claws

Summer                                                                     Woolly Mammoth Moon

twilightModern technology is so wonderful. Over the last few days I watched all five of the much maligned Twilight movies. You might ask why, at 71, I would subject myself to all those teen hormones, questionable dialogue, and odd acting. First answer, I’m easily entertained.  Second answer, I’m revising Superior Wolf right now. Werewolves from their source. Also, a project I work on from time to time is Rocky Mountain Vampire. So, the Twilight saga is in the same genre as my own work, though aimed more at a young adult, tween to teen audience. Which is, I might add, a very lucrative market. Maybe, it just occurred to me, some of them will be interested in my work as a result of their exposure to the Twilight books and movies.

20180711_065526The supernatural is a dominant theme in my life, from religion to magic to ancient myths and legends to fairy tales and folklore. My world has enchantment around every bend, every mountain stream, every cloud covered mountain peak. No, I don’t know if there are faeries and elves and Shivas and Lokis and witches who eat children. I don’t know if anyone ever set out on a quest for the golden fleece or angels got thrown out of heaven. Don’t need to. We wonder about what happens after death, a common horror experience often and always. If we’re thoughtful, we wonder about what happened before life. Where were we before?

670HandbookAfterlifeOur senses limit us to a particular spectrum of light, a particular range of sounds, a particular grouping of smells and tastes, yet we know about the infrared, low and high frequency sounds, the more nuanced world of smells available to dogs. We’re locked inside our bodies, yet we know that there are multiverses in every person we meet, just like in us. We know we were thrown into a particular moment, yet know very little of the moments the other billions of us got thrown into. My point is that our understanding of the natural is very, very limited, in spite of all the sophisticated scientific and humanistic and technological tools we can bring to bear. Most of what exists is outside our usual understanding of natural, certainly outside our sensory experience.

The expanse of the wonderful, the awesome, the amazing, so vast even in our small human experience, is cosmic outside of it. That’s where the supernatural realm lies. Not only Just So stories, then, but What If stories, too.

Sure, there are gothic stories, horror stories, fantasy that are poorly conceived, poorly written and poorly executed. I’ve contributed to that slush pile, but at the same time there are stories of the supernatural that allow us to get outside our human chauvinism, to imagine, to wonder. The part of me that loved the Ring cycle as a fourteen year old enjoyed Tolkien, King, Wickham, Kostova, and Clarke.

I have a sophisticated, adult aesthetic, too, and I enjoy it; but, I don’t see why I have to leave behind my more childlike appreciation of things like Marvel Comics, the Twilight Saga, Harry Potter, Hunger Games. So, I haven’t. My inner tween/teen needs screen time, as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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