We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.


Written By: Charles - Jun• 04•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Thursday gratefuls: Dave. His death. Deb. The On the Move Fitness community. Kate, who held me yesterday. Kabbalah. Zoom. Art Green. Reimagining faith. The Holy Land. Ceiling fans. Red Lobster cheddar biscuits. Jambalaya. Filtered water. Coffee. Dark and bitter. The Sun, dependable. The Moon, lambent.

This is day 156 of 2020. We won’t be half through until July 1, day 183. Passover went virtual due to a plague. Kate, Seoah, and I got bit. Gertie died. Dave died. George Floyd died. There have been riots and economic disaster. Millions of people have filed unemployment claims. We’ve been at home for weeks and will likely be at home for weeks longer, if not months. Dystopia has come to call.

Our President finds his role models in old style strong men like Mussolini, Hitler. He posed with a Bible, closed and raised like a scepter. While he stood by a church sign. Yesterday he visited a Catholic Shrine to JPII. He and his A.G., Barr, want to bring the military to your town. And, not for a show parade.

We Baby Boomers have seen some things. A moon landing, the first human to touch a surface other than Earth’s. Martin. Dead. Bobby. Dead. Malcolm. Dead. JFK. Dead. Riots in the 1960’s over civil rights. The Vietnam war and its opposition. A thousand people in the streets. Flowers in our hair. Back to the land.

Two Presidential impeachments. One Presidential resignation. The rise of conservative America. 9/11. The war on terror. On drugs. On cancer. On ourselves. The first black President. An authoritarian populist President.

Now. 2020.

I have no idea how history will judge us, but I know that many of us have seen the world as it is and worked to make it better. Many of us also got caught up in the old gods of money and war. Yes, that’s true, too. Still, here we are, in the third phase of our lives, made longer by better medical care, and living through a year unlike anything else in our time.

Wish there was something trenchant to say, some wise observation to make, but I’m dry. I want to get the snow tires off of Ruby and get her summer shoes back on. I want Seoah to get back to Joe. I want to stay here on Shadow Mountain while the world swirls and thunder crashes down the hill. Hiding out is not usual for me, but these times. They have me flummoxed.

The Windows Were Wide Open

Written By: Charles - Jun• 03•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

My friend Dave beat cancer. But, it killed him yesterday. As I mentioned a while back, Dave had glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He went years past the average lifespan after diagnosis, sixteen to eighteen months, living into the sixth year.

And he lived until he died. He ran a fifteen mile race at altitude in the mountains of British Columbia last year. He continued to work with his wife Deb at their boutique fitness center, On the Move Fitness. My last training session with him was December 12th. Then, the coronavirus hit, shutting them down.

My first time working out at On the Move was in early 2017 after my knee replacement surgery. I needed a personal trainer to help me get back in shape. Deb and Dave worked as a team and sometimes I’d have Deb, sometimes Dave. They gave me a new workout every 6-8 weeks, walking me through it, then two days later, checking my form. Afterward I’d go home and use it until it came time for a new one.

At some point Dave and I discovered we were cancer survivors. My PSA’s were good. His scans had gone from once a month to every three months. We both felt good, talking about dodging the bullet. Then in March of last year my PSA went up. I told Dave during one of my visits to On the Move.

He commiserated. Then, the next time I saw him he said a routine scan had found something. Our recurrences happened at about the same time. We discussed how a recurrence was scarier than the diagnosis. It means the cancer’s not giving up.

Well. Neither were we. Radiation was the treatment of choice for both of us and we shared radiation stories. I just want to live, so I’ll keep it treating it as long as I can, he said. Me, too.

For Dave, though, there came a time when more treatment would have forced a choice between cognitive function and healing. He and Deb chose to forgo treatment at that point.

This morning I received a message that included this from Deb: “Dave passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon, here at home. The windows were wide open, the aspen leaves were dancing in the breeze and a big gust of wind came along. I believe he chose that moment to leave, since he always loved the wind and it made him feel alive.”

The Moon of Sorrow.

Lift the knee

Written By: Charles - Jun• 03•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Wednesday gratefuls: Trash pickup. Silicone. Glass. Rubber. Books. Red books. Green books. Yellow books. Big books. Small books. Heavy books. Light books. Children’s books. Authors. Writers. Keyboards. Fingers on keyboards. Sounds. The wind in the trees. Neil Diamond radio on Pandora. The cello. Motorcycles. The hiss of tires on Black Mountain Drive. Rigel’s insistent voice. Kep’s warning bark. Kate’s voice in the night.

Social convulsions. Seizures in our cities, on our streets. This dystopian nation with all its flaws exposed. Exposed is a key word. The dystopian face of this nation has always been turned towards African-Americans and Latinos and Native people. They’ve seen it, slept with it, worried about their children being seen by it.

Some of us, sometime allies, have seen it, too. It has a scowl of disapproval, that face. The occasional smirk. A condescending laugh. That white face. Oh, didn’t I say? It’s your face. My face. Our face. Teresa of Avila said:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

I say, replace Christ with the Devil. Replace compassion with scorn. Replace good with evil. Replace blesses with curses. Then you’ll have the body that carries that face. Our original sin. Not original to us, of course. Racism crackles in all shades of melanin, but only through the conduit of power. No power. No racism.

It is, now, a time of sorrow. We may not emerge, may not find joy for some time. The disease will let up. The economy will recover. Yes. But racism? Without root and branch work, it will stay. It kills more people than Covid 19. It forces more people to dream about a stable life than any recession ever did.

When will we get our knee off the neck of fellow human beings?

They’ll Bite

Written By: Charles - Jun• 02•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Tuesday gratefuls: Green. Light. Dark. Muted. Flagrant. Grass up the mountainsides. The Creeks running full with Snow melt. Mule Deer young ones enjoying the fresh, soft food. The view from the mountaintop. The riots. The economic crisis. Covid 19. America, our failed state. Our home. Us. In pain and tears and sick, but still our home, still Us.

For months, over a year plus, I’ve slept well, little disturbs me. Last night though. I woke up and that image, the one of Trump holding up the Bible near the sign of St. John’s Episcopal, that one. It wouldn’t move away from my inner eye. And it disturbed my equanimity. Roiled me. Made me mad, anxious.

I did something similar twenty years or so ago. When I felt powerless. Kate developed a systemic herpes infection and lost her voice. The practice where she worked wouldn’t let her back to work. Kate and I had lunch with Tom Staley, the lead doc for the group, Metropolitan Pediatrics.

When we went to the lunch, I took a Bible with me and placed it on the table. Tom’s a cradle Catholic and I thought it might work on his conscience. I’m embarrassed by that now. I took the Bible with me to enhance our power, instead I revealed how vulnerable we felt.

He is a weak man. Fearful. Bunkerman. Hiding from the protesting outside the Whitehouse. He’s a stupid man, wanting to use the military to push down an already pushed down people.

Never force an insecure dog into a corner. They’ll bite.

Songs to the heart of it

Written By: Charles - Jun• 01•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Monday gratefuls: George Floyd. The riots. Pain filling the air. The ICU’s. Trump in the deep shelter. Our original sin. This nation, my home. My love. Its troubles. Music from the sixties. Diane. The Keatons. This life. Seen so, so much. Ancient friends. War. Peace. Love. Anger. Fighting the power. Even when it’s us.

Diane responded to my post about tears and said she heard “Ripple” on Playing for Change. Her online choir is learning it. Tears for her, too. Even before George Floyd. Gimme Shelter came up next. Wow. These two songs. These times. Enough for this morning.

“Gimme Shelter” The Rolling Stones.

Ooh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Ooh yeah I’m gonna fade away

War, children
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
our streets today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

War, children
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Rape, murder, yeah, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Mmm, a flood is threatening
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away

War, children
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

I tell you love, sister
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away

“Ripple” The Grateful Dead

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who’s to guide you
If I knew the way I would take you home

Oh. My.

Written By: Charles - May• 31•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Sunday gratefuls: Jon. Ruth. Gabe. Levi, Gabe’s friend. Ruth and the boys hiking the Maxwell Falls trail from top to bottom. Li’l Sicily pizza from Beau Jo’s. The ancient friends gathering today. Alan’s birthday. Sally’s birthday. The Sunday paper. Rain over the last few days. Aspen leaves at work. Lodgepole pine needles, same. Dandelions, no longer a weed in our yard. Kate’s voracious reading. Westworld.

A couple of days ago I stood up here in the loft sobbing. The Band sang The Weight in the background. Something about it, and Sugaree before it, wrenched tears out of my eyes. Minneapolis. St. Paul. Beloved cities filled with friends. The reckoning of too white Minnesota with its reality. The pandemic with its overlay of stress. Our last couple of years. All of it. Cleansed. Crying is good.

The troubles. I’m too gobsmacked right now. Even though tears.

There is no peace without justice. If you want peace, work for justice.

I Can’t Breathe

Written By: Charles - May• 30•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Saturday gratefuls: The sun. The protests. The peaceful protesters and the others. Consciousness rising. Again. Still. All my Minnesota friends. Especially Joanne Platte who worked at the Town Talk Diner. Another three set day in my resistance workout. The pain in my shoulder. The pain in my heart. Seoah, who has bought special treats for Kep.

A voice from our past:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated” Thomas Paine, The Crisis

These are the days of our lives. Hard to believe that, in the middle of a pandemic, civil rights emerge, still repressed, suppressed, volatile. No, violence and looting. Yes, violence and looting. Put yourself in the heart of people who cannot run in Atlanta without getting shot. Who can’t put on masks for fear they’ll be considered criminals. Who have to teach their children what to do when the police stop them so as not to provoke a George Floyd response. Or, an Eric Garner. Not if, but when.

Imagine you’ve been in stay at home for weeks. Imagine that your community has been harder hit than the privileged whites who live next door or a few blocks away. Imagine that someone you know has had a bad experience with the police for driving while brown. Imagine that your son or daughter is brown. Now, see that video of the flagrant murder, the callous murder of George Floyd. Is your first thought charitable? Even your second one?

The Moon of Sorrow acquired another meaning. As if it needed one. Racism so permeates our culture that it is not visible to those who benefit from it. That’s us, at least those of you whom I know read this.

Plague. Racism. Climate change. Our work is not done, the race not complete.

900 lbs .10 oz

Written By: Charles - May• 29•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Friday gratefuls: Shavuot. Rabbi Jamie. Tara. Marilyn. Alan. Ron. Rich. Judy. Susan. Sleeping well, always good. Oxygen concentrators. The engineers who designed them. As Mark said yesterday in an e-mail, remember your well pump. Wildfire. Soap. Lysol. Used in the right places, of course. Bleach. Shampoo. Laundry detergent. The world beyond our driveway. The moose and the hummingbird.

I saw a moose! About a half mile from home. A mature, and very big, female. She was in a neighbor’s yard, heading toward the back. I could see her against the house so scale was pretty obvious. Moose cows can be be up to 1,100 pounds though I doubt she was that big. Maybe 900? And tall. Around six feet at the shoulder.

Moose do wander around our area, though they’re not common. Folks have seen them at Flying J Ranch, in the meadow at the bottom of Shadow Mountain Drive, Kate and Gabe saw a female at the pond in the little meadow about a mile down the hill from us. This one was in the opposite direction, on Black Mountain Drive headed toward Evergreen.

She looked back over her shoulder at me as I drove by, then sauntered off toward the forested incline that began behind the house. If you go up and over Black Mountain or Conifer Mountain near our house, you find yourself in Staunton State Park, a large and beautiful place. No roads that way though. To reach it by car you have to get on Hwy 285 and drive a few miles. I imagine that’s where they come from.

But, wait. That’s not all. Both Kate and I rescued hummingbirds yesterday. One was in the loft and the other in her sewing room. My little guy wanted to get out the window facing Black Mountain Drive. After opening the window and trying to let him out on his own, I picked him up in a kleenex and let him fly away. Kate used cloth.

The moose was fun. But, the hummingbirds seem meaningful since both Kate and I did the same thing, maybe to the same bird, on the same day. Gonna have to think about it. Let it sink in.

Hummingbirds are sort of the local bird. Many people put out hummingbird feeders. They come here in large numbers. We have a feeder, still hanging in the same place it was when we moved in. I don’t fill it because feeding wildlife of any kind leads to habituation. And, habituation is not good for wild animals.

Based on some quick googling, I’d say mine was a broad-tailed male. Our eyes met when I opened the window and his small body moved slightly toward me. I could feel his intelligence and his calm. He was not anxious, just wanted back outside. When I picked him up, he did not struggle. I used the Kleenex to keep my scent off of him. It fell to the driveway as he flew quickly away.

The female moose, maybe 900 pounds. The hummingbird, .10 ounces or 3.16 grams. Life in its extremes. Both living in these mountains. Both with intention and mobility. Our neighbors. Our wild neighbors.

Lucky we live in the Rockies.

I witness. I wait.

Written By: Charles - May• 28•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Thursday gratefuls: MVP last night on calmness of soul. Calmness of soul. Kate’s many improvements, her seder practice. Seoah’s frittata. Rain. Thunder. Another cool morning. Pictures of nearby bears on Nextdoor Shadow Mountain. One really big guy. Cataracts maturing. The morning sun, rising bright.

I have no clue how others see me. For some reason. Weird to discover this at 73, but there you are. The person my ancient friends described a couple of weeks ago? Huh? I mentioned this to Kate and she said, well, you’ve never cared how others see you. True. And, not true. I mean, I want to be seen favorably; but, I’m not willing to pay for it with my integrity. No one wants to be reviled. At least I don’t think so. Not sure what this means, but it feels strange to realize.

Got pretty far behind on the Talmud. Questioning my commitment. Is it worth the amount of time required? Maybe not for me. I can’t tell if this question has arisen because I’ve let it slip, 7 days now, or because I find it interesting, but only sometimes. Maybe not enough to keep at it for seven and a half years? Yes, I like long projects. But. I also have to like the long project itself. Leaning toward bagging it.

Loft reorganization report. Yes, you might be surprised to know that this is still underway. Getting much closer, but the fiddly stuff toward the end always takes a while. Filing. Redoing some decisions. Maybe this week? Really looking forward to a finished job.

Why so slow? A major job. Paying attention to other things led to me piling books and papers here and there. Not exactly new, but I let it go on for a while. Then. OK. This is too much. Things have to change. Passed that point well over a month ago. I’m moving furniture, books, files, painting and sumi-e brushes, inks, paints. Had to clear off the tops of the book shelves to accommodate new additions to my library.

Also, I can only work on it for a limited period of time until I get weary. This is a psychic thing I don’t fully understand. Yes, there’s a lot of mental energy in deciding what to do with this and that, where that file or set of files needs to be, which books go together, how I can set up my painting and sumi-e to best support my work. OK. Maybe that explains it actually. Well, that plus Lupron.

Oh. Final introspection. My practice for calmness of soul is, whenever I see my image-mirror, zoom, elsewhere-I will recall this phrase from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself: I witness and I wait. See below.

From Song of Myself, Walt Whitman

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait


Written By: Charles - May• 27•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Wednesday gratefuls: Clean sheets and pillow cases. Socks and underwear. T-shirts and shirts. Washing machines and dryers. (remembering the agitator Mom had with the aggressive rubber rollers for wringing out wet wash) Gas stove. (though. climate change) Plumbing. Toilets and sinks and showers and baths. The boiler. Solar panels and IREA. Wiring. Outlets. Our well. Our aquifer. The septic tank and its leach field. The driveway. The garage. The house itself.

In a concrete mode this morning. Took out the trash, might be it. Seeing edges, corners. Feeling the cool morning air. Hearing the faint whine of the oxygen concentrators downstairs and the silence up here in the loft. Tasting the bitter coffee from my Conifer Physical Therapy cup. Nose twitching as allergens come on the air to greet me.

Clan gathered yesterday. Mary got up early, had to miss the call to sleep. Mark’s in a four-day, 24 hour lockdown for Eid. Eiding out, I guess. Diane says there’s a haze of marijuana smoke from the alley when the youngsters get together in her San Francisco neighborhood. We’re still staying home. Another day, another week, another month of this unusual, suddenly dystopian time.

After the call, I retrieved the pouch in which Kate deposits our monthly dope money, blue and red quilting with a zippered top. Went upstairs and ordered 8 packages of Wanna indica edibles from the Happy Camper. We no longer have to order online only, but it’s simpler.

Backed our apple red Rav4 out of the garage and headed down Shadow Mountain to Hwy 285. An l.e.d. sign courtesy of the class of 2016 announced Conifer High School’s 98% graduation rate. If we ever have to sell, good schools are important to our home’s value. The Stinker’s Sinclair station has gas at $1.99. Across from the station, two log cabins slump though they’re still intact. One has an added garage. It doesn’t match the cabin. Right angles. Dimension lumber against round logs, chinked with gray.

On 285 I’m headed south accorded to the highway, but west according to my compass. 285 does run south, all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but the stretch from here to Baily is more like southwest. As I near King Valley, the intersection that has claimed many lives, especially motorcyclists, the continental divide floats on the far away horizon, snow covered. This is a declining grade with a 45 mph speed limit, often ignored.

The Rav4’s console beeps with an incoming text message. Ah. Happy Camper. My order is ready. It’s about a 20 minute drive and I was counting on them getting it ready before I got there.

On Mt. Rosalie road, a left turn, then a quick right up the hill. The Missouri Synod Lutheran Church whose property adjoins the Happy Camper’s gives a website for its services. Jesus on the left and marijuana up ahead. One toke over the line, sweet Jesus. One toke over the line.

A masked security guard checks my idea and asks me to pull down my mask. Feels risky. A paper bag with Charles B. written on it is by the cash register. The clerk, whose name I have again forgotten, hands me change and enters my phone number. Yes, even marijuana dispensaries have loyalty programs. I’m the only customer in the store at the time.

A short nap. Kate and I head off to Aspen Roots. Jackie, our hair stylist, has begun working again. Kate’s roots had begun to shed their color, leaving maybe five inches of gray exposed. She was eager to get her hair cut, a Michele Williams do, and return to her ash blond norm.

Jackie has customers come in with no masks. Is that ok, they ask? No, she says. She can’t social distance. Jackie’s not happy to be working, exposed and having to enforce sensible precautions on her customers. It’s not right to put the enforcement burden on small business owners. But there you are. It’s Colorado and my right to make you sick trumps your expectation of a healthy workplace.

Short. Beard and hair. Short. Jackie’s a sweet lady and I hate to see her put in this situation. I hope things get better, but logic suggests they’ll get worse first.

Back home around 2 pm. Exhausted. Wanted to work on the loft reorganization, getting close. Too tired. The lupron effects do get worse as time on the drug increases. However, I only to have think of Dave and Judy, two cancer patients, friends, one dying and the other back on chemo. I’ll take the hot flashes and fatigue.