We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.


Written By: Charles - Sep• 10•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Amber. Lisa. Wheatridge Pharmacy and its wheelchair rental. Freddy’s Steak Sandwiches. Fries. Chocolate shake. Kate’s Inogen. The X-ray tech. Madame Curie. Roentgen. The snow. The ice. The cold. Colorado and its weather. The Rocky Mountains. Shadow Mountain. Kate, her toughness.

Ooff. Yesterday. Kate, very short of breath. So much so that we had to rent a wheelchair so I could wheel her in to Amber’s Advanced Wound Care and Dr. Gidday’s. Got some new powder for Kate’s stoma site, includes a crushed up Tum’s to counter stomach acid.

Dilemma then. Home was 45 minutes away. It was 12:15. Dr. Gidday was 45 minutes in the opposite direction from Amber, also about 45 minutes from home. Did we go home, get there around 1, wait 45 minutes and head out again, or do we go to Dr. Gidday’s, stop for some food, nap in the car?

We chose the food and nap option. That meant Kate’s Inogen battery became a limiting option. A while back we miscalculated and Kate’s O2 ran out before we got home. Not a whole lot before, thankfully. Made me a bit anxious.

When we saw Dr. Gidday, who had failed to get us on at 2:30 as she said she would, it was 3 pm. The exam and consult took a half an hour, 45 minutes. You need a chest x-ray. Umm. Oxygen?

Kate thought we had enough, so we went to the Imaging place on Coal Mine Avenue in Littleton. By this time Kate had an exhausted look, slumping a bit in the wheelchair as I wheeled her. Twice on this trip I started to go into a building without a mask on, my brain back in the long lost pre-pandemic era. This was one of them.

Got her in, parked, got my mask on, and returned. About 4:00, a little after. At 5:15 we finally heard her name. The tech led us back, me pushing, Kate so tired. Me, too.

She stood, gripping the bars on the equipment like a sailor in heavy seas. Hold your breath. Hold. Breathe. Turn to the side. Hold your breath. Breathe.

At last, toward home. Into rush hour traffic. O2 at 8% battery life. Gotta remember that extra, smaller battery next time. Going up Shadow Mountain Drive the Inogen beeped. Plug battery in to charger.

Kate went straight to bed, connected at last to the O2 concentrator at the foot of the bed. Lying down, which is her preferred position these days. She breathes easier.

Nothing bad happened. The battery held out until we were near home. A hard day nonetheless. I need to do better at remembering the spare battery, timing these days. No more 11 am appointments followed by 2:30’s. Just not good.

She Can Handle Them

Written By: Charles - Sep• 09•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Six inches of snow, at least. Cold weather.Rigel’s most excellent visit to the doctors. The Rommertopf chicken as leftovers. Yum. Visit with the clan.

It got cold. Fast. Rained, drizzled ice. Dropped away from summer with the snap of an aspen twig. It Snowed starting around 3 p.m. yesterday and snowed into the night. About six inches, though it could be more since water since rain fell, too. The storm was a big one and its effect on our lives was immediate. Comforters came out, windows got closed, doors remained shut.

Rigel and I went into VRCC, the Veterinary Referral and Critical Care in Englewood, at 2:15 p.m. It had not started to snow much but the roads were wet from the Rain and the temperature was in the mid-20’s. I drove carefully down the mountain to Aspen Park, watching for those treacherous patches of ice that can come in shade.

I’d gotten up from a 2 hour nap and discovered I had just enough time to make it to the appointment on time. That meant I had to hurry cautiously, given the roads and Colorado drivers. We made it and the other drivers looked like Minnesota winter veterans. Unusual, but appreciated.

When I took Rigel into the VRCC three weeks ago, it was around the same time. And, 95 with a clear blue sky. I ran the air conditioning as I waited. Yesterday, down the hill, it was a steady, cold rain. A bald headed tech came out to get Rigel, put the blue and white leash over her neck and led her inside. This time I ran the heater. Colorado.

Rigel saw her internist and her cardiologist. Yes, she’s a dog, but, hey… She’s also Rigel.

About an hour later a gray headed, blue eyed, cheerful woman in a sturdy blue mask came out and talked to me through the car window. Like a car hop for those of you who remember. Pleased, her eyes wrinkled in a smile above the mask. Rigel has some insuffiencies in both the mitral and aortal valves, but it’s minimal. She’ll be able to handle it. The vegetative lesion is smaller today and as it organizes her chances of stroke shrink day by day. I’d like to see her again in six months.

Her internist wants us to continue her meds for 12 weeks. These are not cheap meds, but since the cardiologist thinks this was bacterial, it’s the smart choice.

On the way home Rigel stuck her head out the window and let her ears and facial hair stream backward. Happy to have the visits done? Don’t know. But, happy.

Nothing is over with. She’s still sick, though improving in a way that makes us all glad. The tech who brought her back out remembered her from her admission. She looks so much better now! And, she’s such a sweet girl. Yes, she is.

Our winter weather will continue only until Sunday when we’re at 69, then 71. Whiplash.

Sister Mary says Denver weather was on the English language Japan channel yesterday and today. Glad it’s for Snow and cold and not wildfire.

A New Chapter?

Written By: Charles - Sep• 08•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Rommertopf. The Chicken that gave its life for our meal. Potatoes. Carrots. Onions. Our quirky bottom oven. 25 degrees this morning. Snow. The Clan meeting this morning. Rigel’s two week follow-up appointment this afternoon. Memories. Photographs.

It was 101 in Denver yesterday., 36 now. 25 degrees here on Shadow Mountain this morning. A Rain Snow mix began to fall last night, some Snow cover, but not much yet. Supposed to Snow all day today and into Wednesday. We’re in an 8-16 inch forecast blue blob on a Weather5280 map. As Seoah says, wait and see.

We’re shopping for wheelchairs. Pushing the rollator has begun to be too much for Kate. Two appointments on Wednesday, so we may have to rent one until we figure out how to handle Medicare. Shortness of breath has become an extreme limiting factor for her.

She’s beginning to talk about her old life. She still folds our clothes and likes doing it because it’s something she could from her “old life.” What? When I did the laundry. No idea whether this is a permanent transition or not.

Whether it is or isn’t, her essence, her keen intellect, her experience as a cook, her knowledge of medicine, her skills as a seamstress, her empathy, her roles as wife, sister, mother, grandmother, remains.

Of course, part of her life has been as the energizer bunny. Doing this. Doing that. Finishing a quilt for a friend or family member. Sewing shirts for me. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Working as a doctor. Gardening, especially weeding, her special skill. Honey extractor. Right now, those are part of her old life.

This is a new chapter for her and for us. We’ll adapt, get the most from it. The third phase continues.

Labor Day

Written By: Charles - Sep• 07•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Monday gratefuls: For all those workers who have kept up their jobs, at risk to themselves, so that we might have necessities like food, gas, medical care. Talking with Kate, releasing my angst from below. Letting go of my desire to paint, to write. For now. Spaghetti alfredo last night. Chicken brine. Rommertopf.

Labor day. What a tough and ironic holiday for right now. Labor day. Millions who had jobs in March have none now. Labor day. Millions who kept their jobs fear for their lives and their family’s lives because of their exposure to Covid. Labor day. Unions representing only a small portion of the work force. Labor day, Certain jobs, like policing, have been exposed for their rotten cultures. Labor day when those who work with their hands have few chances.

Labor day. The government at the Federal level has abandoned laid off workers. Governments at the state and city levels, levels of government also hard hit by the pandemic and the economic crisis, do what they can. Too little.

Labor day. Going back to school day. Only for some and those who have gone back have had outbreaks. Back to school for many, most? Boot up the laptop, sign in to the school’s website, go to your class. Learn. Works fine if you have quiet, if you have a laptop, if you have an internet connection, if you’re a self-starter, an already good learner. For others? Not so sure.

Labor day. September 1 ends meteorological summer and starts meteorological fall. Also augurs the imminent Flu season. How will labor do if Covid and the Flu join hands, mutually infecting people?

Labor day. An ironic holiday for current times.

Open to Ideas

Written By: Charles - Sep• 06•20

Lughnasa, the Labor Day Moon and Mars

Afternoon note:

In a curious mental place. I’m calm, not spending time worrying about results or outcomes. I’m busy cooking, shopping, feeding, pilling, driving, listening, changing bandages. Organizing crafts people for work here. Dealing with my own health. Working out. Getting sleep. Zooming with friends, family, CBE.

I want to write and paint. I don’t seem able to. That’s not my way. I believe we choose our reality, live into the life we want. Ergo, if I’m not doing something I want to do, I’m not choosing it. An effective and self-motivating belief. Normally. I’m accountable for my life, no one else.

Right now though my mind seems full. That’s the way I experience it anyhow. I’m trying to work on my Groveland presentation for the 27th, It’s Beyond Me. That’s the title, not my problem, btw. I go along, get a little done, find a set of definitions or some great examples, like the Chukchee in 19th century Sibera who would bare their buttocks in the direction of the wind and ask for better weather, then I wander away, no longer interested.

Not procrastination. Sure, I indulge from time to time, but it’s never been a defining feature for me. Not lack of sleep. I’m rested and exercised.

A similar phenomenon when I want to write, paint. When I say write, I mean work on Jennie’s Dead, my current novel about half done. I can’t put myself in the writing mental space. Can’t pick up a brush. Not blocked, Not afraid. My energy seems all used by life.

The other things I’m doing take attention to detail, regular action, compassion, endurance, imagination, follow through. Yes, I know that. But I’ve not had this trouble before that I recall.

When I want to do something other than domestic things, my mind goes fuzzy, unwilling to open, to wonder, to create. No space for it. That’s how it feels.

Might just be the way things are. Or, there may be a solution? Not sure. Open to ideas.

School Days, School Days

Written By: Charles - Sep• 06•20

Lughnasa, the Labor Day Moon and Mars

Sunday gratefuls: Gary’s quick steaks. Peas. Rice. Bacon. The Moon and Mars, a target for three launches last month. The heat, followed by snow. The sturdiness of Shadow Mountain. The beauty of the lodgepoles on Black Mountain and the ponds of paler green Aspen groves. Zoombies. Solar panels delivering energy from the sun.

Labor Day tomorrow. School starts. Memorial day. School ends. That was the rule for all of my hometown school days. That Ruth and Gabe, Jon, start their school in August, mid-August at that, seems wrong to me. Like a violation of freedom. Silly, I know, but 12 years in the Alexandria school system rises up each Denver and Aurora school year.

I was glad when my time in that system was over.

The madras sport coat I had to have for college. I read Gentleman’s Quarterly that summer. A blue blazer, too, and charcoal wool slacks. Oxford cloth dress shirts. Outfitting myself for a new life, that of a young scholar.

A bitter-sweet time. Mom had died the previous October. Dad and I had been fighting off and on, something that would continue until the complete rupture three years later. College as a refuge from grief, from family struggles. Yes.

But also a dream, entering finally into the world of critical thinking, of a liberal arts education. What I wanted. Not sure when exactly, but early, maybe before high school, the liberal arts ideal became my own.

Study broadly. Choose a discipline. Study that in depth. Do original research, contribute to the deposit of human knowledge. Be part of gathering a better knowledge of our world.

Wabash had the liberal arts at its core, not like the big universities I chose not to attend. That first semester I took C.C.-contemporary civilizations-introduction to philosophy, English, German. The next semester, my last at Wabash, I added symbolic logic and dropped German.

In that year I became an existentialist, a committed philosophy student, and an even more committed advocate of the liberal arts education.

It pains me to see higher education in so much trouble here in the U.S. The waning of the liberal arts pains me even more. I get it. College is so expensive no one wants to waste their time on nonremunerative disciplines. Like philosophy. Or, anthropology, my two college majors. Or, astrophysics and physics, Joseph’s two college majors.

The deeply uncritical stance of our orange guy and his gang of some 40% of the U.S. population makes me feel even further committed to critical thinking, a broad education in addition to an in depth one, and to higher education as a whole.

Here’s the rub as I see it. Higher education is good for about 5% of the population. The rest deserve a quality education beyond high school, no doubt, but it should be in more directly vocational disciplines. Not less than, different. To each according to their ability.

See in you September should apply to all who want to have a decent life and the tools with which to build one.

You can check in

Written By: Charles - Sep• 05•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Saturday gratefuls: VRCC. Baskin-Robbins. The wonderful drive from Morrison to Kittredge. Expect a sheriff and a posse to come over the rise the whole way. Antibiotics. Those working on new antibiotics. Prednisone. Rigel, Kep, and I all take it. Tempura. Last night. Made by me. Dreams. The Labor Day traffic on 285. The origins of religion and God.

Recurring dreams. Last night I dreamed of being in a hotel room again. This one older, big, about the size of a studio apartment. A large, older rug covering the whole main room, a rectangle. A quality imitation of an oriental rug, mostly in browns. Three mattresses on the floor and a bed, utilitarian. A large table, seating for six, also old, wooden, scarred.

I was there, I think, to work on a book. This hotel housed students renting by the month, usually for one month. One time, when I came back to the room, a group of students were in it, sitting at the table chatting, eating takeout food. Surprise.

They welcomed me. We talked about the hotel. Apparently each room key opened all the rooms in the hotel. They liked this room because it had a big table.

As often happens in these dreams, I went out again and ended up not being able to find my way back up by elevator. At least not easily. I had to take an oddly shaped elevator in the lobby. It went sideways as well as up. I finally got there.

This dream had a different feeling, different elements from my other hotel dreams. Often, I go to the hotel rooms, fill them up with books, research, sometimes furniture and become exasperated with so much stuff. I often stay longer than I intended to and have left without paying the bill, ashamed of not being able to move out all the stuff I accumulated.

This dream is for the Ancient Ones zoom tomorrow morning. I finally had one this week that I remembered.

In other news. A full workout week. Getting a new workout from Deb over zoom. The 15th. My body feels good, exhaustion yesterday, slept late, but that’s fine. No lasting aches or pains. No lower back issues anymore. Maybe the testosterone has begun to rise and the Lupron recede.

Rigel sees her cardiologist on Tuesday. She’s eating well, her spirits are good. She’s on the antibiotics for six weeks. This is week two home, today. As I wrote this, she stood, ruff up, front feet and head pushed forward, on the deck giving her deep warning bark to some threat she saw off toward Jude’s property, to the east of us. I couldn’t see anything.

We’re also looking at a possible 5-10″ snowfall on Tuesday. Whoa. Open Snow thinks it’s gonna happen. Weather5280 is hedging, but they tend to be more Denver metrocentric and we’re on the far western edge of the metro and in the mountains. The cold, below 30 up here, is good news for my allergies. A hard freeze knocks down pollen for good. Till next blooming, buzzing spring of course.

Now where did I put that snow shovel?

Shadow Mountain Clinic notes

Written By: Charles - Sep• 04•20

Lughnasa and the Full Labor Day Moon over Black Mountain

Friday gratefuls: Rigel, who went with me to Evergreen and came back with a big smile. Kep, healing. Kate, enduring and endearing. Alan, who will take me to my cataract surgery both days. That snow coming. Fish fry tonight. Pizza from Beau Jeaus. The new mailbox, standing behind it to get the mail out of its second door. Safer.

Some mornings. Out of bed at 6:45. Geez. Still groggy. Slept fine last night, maybe a bit too fine.

Rigel needs her meds every 12 hours. She’s taking clavamox and eroflaxcin, antiobiotics, and prednisone to lower her fever. Recheck on Tuesday with the cardiologist and a neurologist?

She has some foot drop in her rear legs and some weakness. She can no longer climb the loft stairs, nor can she bring her leg back when it begins to slide out while eating. Slick tiles. I put a rug down by her bowl to solve that. Otherwise she gets around fine.

Her appetite has returned to normal and her mood is infectious. So far, so great. I feel so good. Take action without imagining the result.

Kate can manage her discomfort by staying in bed with the fan cooling her. Also, NCIS. The telemedicine visit with Dr. Gidday yesterday resulted in a physical appointment next week. We’re in serious pursuit now of the increased shortness of breath and the leakage at her stoma site. I feel confident with absolutely no data to back that up.

I know. This blog has turned into an organ recital. My life, our life, right now. And, that’s what this blog is, more than anything, my journal on the web, a weblog, a blog.

No Need to Push Into the Future

Written By: Charles - Sep• 03•20

Lughnasa and the Labor Day Moon

Thursday gratefuls: The lovely Labor Day Moon hanging over Black Mountain. Orion’s return. 44 degrees this morning. Snow in the forecast for Tuesday. Kate, dealing. Rigel, eating. Kep, smiling and jumping. Brother Mark at work in the Sands of Arabi. Retired Mary waiting out Malaysia’s quarantine policy. Murdoch and Brenton’s new chocolate puppy, a real cutie. Alan. My cataracts.

So. Tuesday. According to Open Snow, a website for ski enthusiasts and those who live in the Mountains, Snow. Could range from showers to 6 inches, depending on the forecast model. The full winter after our move, 2015-2016, Shadow Mountain got 220 inches of Snow. Surprised these Minnesotans used to deep cold, but nowhere near that much Snow. More like 45 inches on average.

Another tough day for Kate yesterday. She canceled her appointment with Amber, the wound care therapist. Nausea. General discomfort. Enough problems with breathing that she wants a wheelchair for her out of the house times. Shifting from the rollator, a sort of moving walker with four wheels and a seat. Whatever she needs.

The arc of her symptoms is not a good one, It bends not toward health, but toward increasing infirmity. A telehealth time with Dr. Gidday, our primary care doc, today. If we could get a good grip on the shortness of breath and on the leakage from her feeding tube site, she could improve quickly.

These days are just difficult, not knowing what to expect from her body. What can I get you? A new body. If not that, new lungs. We laugh. We’ve cried enough.

Rigel. On the mend. Eating more like her old self, now dry food as well as canned. Smiling more. Looking brighter. What a joy. I’m taking her illness in, yes, I know it’s there, but I rejoice with her improvements. A gamble, a good one as of this morning.

Kep has stopped nipping at his skin. The last two times we’ve had him furminated he’s developed itchy skin, which he nips, sometimes bites. Licks. He ends up looking like a dog with mange. He’s healing, but what we’ll do the next time his double coat starts releasing fur for his comfort, I don’t know.

We’re as much medical clinic as we are home. Nurse Charlie tends to his various charges. Changing bandages. Preparing and serving food. Giving medications. Paying attention to changes. Scheduling appointments.

An oddly fulfilling role. Satisfying, I think, because I can do something for each of them, help them. Not my role to cure them, fix them. Though stressed, I remain calm, unworried about tomorrow. Today has plenty, no need to push into the future.

Good Days and Bad

Written By: Charles - Sep• 02•20

Lughnasa and the (almost full) Labor Day Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Kate, last night: In this position I feel good. Orion rising! The Labor Day Moon. Asian Chop Salad from Easy Entrees. Dr. Gustave. Cataracts and their removal. Rigel eating well. Joe’s childhood kept alive by baseball cards. The clan. Family memories.

Kate’s had a rough week. Sunday she “just felt bad.” Monday was ok. Yesterday was miserable for her. Nausea, light headed, retching. Hard on her. I wish we could find a solution for something. Nothing right now.

Lots of medical appointments. Try this. Now this. In and out of parking lots, exam rooms. This grind exhausts her. Gotta be a better way. We’re doing two video appointments over the next few days. Not as satisfying as in person, but much less time and exhaustion.

Saw my ophthalmologist yesterday. (spelling that word. ugh.) I have surgery dates. September 24 and October 8, first one eye, then the other. Kate had this done last year and the results pleased her. I need it. My vision, mid-distance and far, has gotten worse, even the computer screen is hard to read.

Several upsides to this surgery for me. I have narrow angle glaucoma. Removing the old cataracts will reduce pressure in my eyes, always good for a glaucoma patient. Also, if insurance approves, I can have a small metal stent inserted that helps with draining aqueous fluid. That further aids my particular sort of glaucoma. Also, Kate saw colors anew after her procedure. Look forward to that.

Now I just have to figure out how to get there and back. Gonna ask Alan tomorrow.

Well, time to take out the recycling and the garbage, feed the dogs. See you tomorrow.