WWMD?

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Kate’s feeling better. Stefan and Lonnie on zoom. Tom’s gift of cartoons by Sack. Beau Jo’s pizza, novel and tasty. Driving in the mountains. The three deer I saw on the way to Evergreen, especially the tiny one. The bare rock, the cold streams, the lodgepole and aspen. Steep slopes. Florence and its art.

After a somewhat comical series of no-goes, I gave up on going to Vail to see Lonnie and Stefan. Stefan had a new hip done at the Steadman Clinic. Snow came to Vail on the first two days I offered. Not unusual, but enough to not make me want to do a two hour drive in it. Yesterday, my third choice, was MLK weekend. The second busiest of the entire year for ski traffic. And, Sunday, the Denver Post said, would be the busiest of the four day holiday. So, zoom.

Good to talk to them. Four years ago they decided to learn painting in an atelier in Florence. They’ve become patrons of the school as well as students, spending much of each year in Italy. Now they face an existential choice between remaining most of the year in Florence, where they’ve become part of an international crowd of artists and art students, or returning to the Twin Cities where their family lives. Would be a tough call for me.

The mood here is lighter. After a tough period of dog bites and exhaustion, I’m rested again. Kate’s had some issues, but eliminating tramadol from her daily meds has given her easier breathing. It’s nice to have a respite from angst.

Today’s MLK. I wonder what he’d do right now? Would he organize mass marches in the face of the rising right wing threat? Would he stay away from such events as the pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia today?

Will the MLK holiday become a neo-nazi, white supremacist rally day? A day to show “racial solidarity” and protest for the right to gun ownership. IDNK.

His dream, MLK’s, is mine and probably yours. I’ve always been soothed by his quote from Theodore Parker, Unitarian clergy and anti-slavery activist, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Still am though this seems to be a time when it’s not bending very much in the direction of justice.

Co-caregiving

Winter and the Future Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Sleep. Again. Still. Kate. Always. The sun. Also, always. A true divinity who gives life and warmth. God or goddess. My heart. Beating faithfully. My feet, meeting the ground, providing a stable base. My fingers, so familiar with this keyboard. My eyes. So much to see. My ears, even my left one who quit on me years ago. My tongue. My lungs. To whom I am sorry for having abused them in my youth. Even my now long gone prostate. You provided years of faithful service. All of it, working together, my body, my soul, my link to all.

Co-caregiving. Kate’s kind gesture on Friday night, taking me out for sushi, got the leetle gray matter going. Caregiving, as a word, has a one way dimension to it. I give Kate care. She receives it. And, that was the way I was looking at it up until Friday night. Of course, our love remains mutual and our partnership in our marriage, too. But the whole caregiving notion. Not so mutual. Not much of a partnership.

I buy, pick up and shelve the groceries. If there’s cooking, I do it. I fix breakfast often in the morning. I feed the dogs, take them to the groomers. I drive Kate to her doctor’s appointments. I call the insurance company, negotiate with the business office at Anova Cancer Care, see to the cars’ repair and maintenance. I do the laundry, pick up. Open boxes, move stuff from one place to another. And on and on.

And, I see none of it as a burden. None. Part of loving someone. Doing what’s needed. Always. That does not mean I don’t get taxed by it. I do, especially when I’m tired as I have been this week. I feel like I’m doing it alone.

I’m not. Kate is a co-caregiver. She supports me as I do these things with kind words, dinners out, understanding me when the stress boils over like it did last Tuesday. And, no, this is not a pretty papering over of a difficult situation. Her role is every bit as important. Mine has a large physical component to it which hers does not, but our mutual need for love and acceptance is key. Mutual.

This is, for me anyway, a paradigm shift. Caregiving is not one way; it’s mutual. If it’s not, the psychic load on both parties can get overwhelming. Being a passive recipient of care is difficult. Agency is one of the defining marks of our life. Until it isn’t. Not easy to bear its diminution, its outright loss. Shifting into new roles and maintaining them over a long period of time is also hard. There’s a learning curve. No bleach with the colored loads. Don’t forget toilet paper and napkins. About four minutes a side for thick ribeyes, but pay close attention.

Love picks up the burden and makes it a joy, a gift. We’re doing what we need to do for each other, just with a different mix of roles and responsibilities. The more physical caregiving cannot be shared, that’s the whole point; but the stress and the constancy of it can. A hug here. A kiss. A thank you. Helping the other to see when matters get too hard, when the stress nears its worst. How important? Critical. Necessary.

Co-caregiving. Of course there will be caregiving situations where this is not a realistic expectation: dementia, a chronic illness with constant pain, mental illness; but, in the majority of the ones I’ve known, co-caregiving is not only possible, it’s necessary.

Someone less thick than me might have come to this insight a year ago, two years ago even. There is, though, an element of shock, displacement, dislocation that goes with a partner’s sudden serious decline. That shock, if the illness or need continues, can turn to grief over what was, fear for what might be. I’ve experienced all of this over the last couple of years.

The shock and the grief have their own needs, often, at least in my case, obscuring insight. And, of course, the shock and grief applies to the ill partner, too. They’re having to adjust to a life much, much different than their normal one. The mutuality of the shock and grief, different, yes, but strong and demanding for both, can also obscure insight into what’s needed, what’s going on.

We’re two years plus into Kate’s Sjogren’s problems which saw her lose weight down to 77 pounds. She couldn’t eat enough to sustain herself. We’re sixteen months away from her bleed which saw a cascade of procedures, treatments, diagnoses, doctor’s visits. Lung disease and a blocked artery to her mesentery slowed her recovery. She’s better now, but far from well.

My radiation is long past. The Lupron continues. My COPD has proved manageable. I’m calm about my situation, believing I’m cured, but still uncertain. Summertime.

Things have quieted down enough, the shock and the grief mostly in the past, that we can see our situation more clearly. Co-caregiving is the result of that clarity.

400 episodes down, 50 or so to go

Winter and the Future Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Kate. Always Kate. The last quarter Future Moon with Mars. Mars. Kim Stanley Robinson and his excellent trilogy: Red, Green, Blue Mars. New hips. Old hips. Brother Mark and the others who teach ESL around the globe. Sushi Win. Evergreen. Shadow Mountain again.

Kate took me out last night to Sushi Win. A thank you dinner after a tough week. Appreciated. Better rested this am. Not fully back, but a long nap yesterday morning helped. By tomorrow or Monday.

The winds were howling, bending the lodgepoles, testing their carefully evolved capacity to withstand the winds without breaking. The aspen, with no leaves, just let the air move through their branches.

Big winds mean changing weather and it’s much cooler here today, 12 this morning. Though. Friend Tom Crane said it was -2 yesterday on the shores of The lake. Snow coming, enough to cover the gopher holes. Conifer doesn’t measure up to Minnesota winter standards except in snow totals. Much, much more snow here. But it goes away. Solar snow shovel.

What do the animals do during the big winds? Hunker down, I suppose. Wind chill affects them, too, though not as much as us hairless apes. Kep seemed unfazed by it, running around outside last night for some time after we got back from Sushi Win.

I’m on the 50th episode of the 5th season of Resurrection: Ertugrul. Yes, it has soapy operatic threads and I enjoy them, too. Will Ibilge ever find a place in Ertugrul’s heart? Etrugrul’s wiliness, Bamsi’s double swords, Turgut’s ax, the battles. I like those, too. The narrative speed varies between fast and slow. Fast when battles or chases or rug weaving or eleventh century medicine dominates, slow when Islamic scholars or imams explain, say, the various names of Allah.

A narrative from the perspective of Islam privileges how Islam works positively in the lives of Turks. I find this fascinating and it’s what’s really glued me to this series. Resurrection weaves Islam together with Turkic tribal traditions and creates a rule bound world where duty and tribal loyalty supersede all.

Some of it makes me squirm, but that’s good. The unquestioned greatness of Allah in matters of war, family, love, justice gives the characters strength and confidence. The main characters share this worldview. The plot gains tension from the firmness of their beliefs.

In an episode yesterday Ertugrul and his Kayi alps (Turkic tribal soldiers, fierce warriors) rode into Sogut, a town and bazaar that Ertugrul established. He and his alps had conquered Sogut and the land around it in battle after a proclamation of Sultan Aladdin identified it as their territory. The Kayi tribes blue and white flag had hung everywhere Sogut.

Another tribe, the Umuro─člu, get Sogut from an ally, Mongol field commander. They put up their yellow flags and take down all the Kayi flags. A Turkic tribal tradition, however, privileges lands taken by the sword over those gained through political means. This means Ertugrul and the Kayis own Sogut.

When Ertugrul takes all of the Umuro─člu flags down, a swords out, lots of glaring battle ensues. Ertugrul admits his actions may cause trouble for everybody, but he’s defending his honor, defined by tradition.

Not for everybody I know, but it has fascinated me since October. Getting close to the end. But. Showing on Turkish TV now is Resurrection: Osman. Fortunately for my time, this is its first year and it won’t be on Netflix until the full season is over. Only one season to watch instead of 5.

Push the Clowns Out of the Car

Winter and the Future Moon

Friday gratefuls: the new dogfood bins. CBE board. Vietnamese food. Kate’s doggedness. Sleep. Wakefulness. Dreams. The Denver Post and its employees. Mountain Waste. Golden Solar. Kohler generators. Those who make the wires through which electricity and data flow. Cell towers. Tom, Bill, and Mark having lunch today.

Haven’t said much about Election 2020. My own policy views line up best with Warren and Sanders. No big surprise there. I prefer Warren over Sanders. Not by much, but I like her thoughtful approach. I like Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar for their moderate stances, if that’s what we need to beat Trump.

My political radar, honed over elections since Stevenson vs. Eisenhower, sees nothing but flak. Is Trump beatable? Can a true progressive win? And, if they win, can they govern? Is the economy the Trump card? Will young people vote? Who will African-Americans and Latinos choose? What about women? The bloc of voters in classes offended by Trump is huge, but will they go to the polls, stay home, or vote for him while holding their nose? All this clouds the screen, points of interference.

We suffer from outrage fatigue. Pussy grabbing and mocking the disabled reporter is so three years ago. Drone assassinations. Mocked at the G8. His steady drip of regulatory release. The Clean Water Act. Clean Air. Gas mileage targets. Intransigence, no, suicidal stupidity about climate change. Those too long red ties. His golfing holidays. Trying to get the next G8 at one of his properties. Tacky. Infuriating. Unseemly.

Vote, vote in this election. Help. Help get out the vote. Vote against Trump, against the Republicans. Please. If only to restore some sanity and balance. This isn’t about draining the swamp. This is about pushing all the clowns out of the car. All of them and getting back to governing the most powerful nation on earth.

Early to bed…

Winter and the Future Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Marilyn Saltzman, who works so hard. Rabbi Jamie’s The Human Narrative class. Truly radical religion. Extra sleep this am. (writing this at 9 am. way late for me) Heirloom tomatoes. Honeycrisp apples. Metamucil. The old garden in Andover where I learned so much. The beautiful light illuminating Black Mountain.

Still tired today, but less so. Got back to the house about 9pm last night after a focus group at Beth Evergreen. The first one of several. Part of a five year strategic planning process. They put me in this group with mostly founding members and other long termers. I was the only Gentile in the room. The focus group started at 7 pm, a time when I’m in my jammies and within an hour of going to bed. Not my time for peak performance.

Felt dull on the way home. Don’t like evening meetings anymore. Used to be my bread and butter. Now I fade after 6, 6:30 pm. The pattern we’ve gotten into. Since I get up between 4:30 and 5:00, it makes sense. But it makes evening sessions requiring, as Hercules Poirot says, “…the little gray cells,” hard.

More sleep still needed, but much better.

Fumes

Winter and the Future Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Debra Cope, who came by for dinner. Safeway for deli salad and the baguette. The E-collar that solved the Murdoch no come in problem. Kate’s advice in that matter, and in so many others. Gertie, who will not let up on being a rascal. Mike who put in a wall socket for our new microwave.

Exhaustion. Creeps up, miss a nap here. Have Gertie chewing on a box in the sewing room after leaping out of the bedroom window there. Murdoch not wanting to come inside. The constant Game of Rooms necessary to keep Kep and Murdoch apart. Also, of course, the long term stress of first Kate’s Sjogren’s and loss of weight, then her bleed, then all that came after. Toss in a dash of cancer recurrence and a soupcon of COPD.

Plain weary. Short tempered. Thoughts not as crisp. Ashamed of myself for not being able to reign in my anger. Not new. Anger is hard for me. It comes, rising red and proud, sudden. Pushing. Demanding release. I do not have the mussar attitude here, lengthening the pause between striking the match and lighting the candle.

Right now. Up. Tired.

Supernova Era

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Kassi at Petsmart, who groomed Kepler so well. All the kids from Collegiate Academy who came into the Starbucks while I waited for Kep. Growers of coffee. Dairy farmers. Cappuccino. The checkout clerk at Petsmart so proud of her dog. Passing the emissions test. Emissions testing. Friend Debra who we’ll see for dinner tonight.

A confluence of literature and place yesterday. Started reading Supernova Era by the brilliant contemporary Chinese science fiction writer, Cixin Liu. A star goes supernova close to earth. His astronomical knowledge is profound, the explanation for this event detailed and lengthy.

The resulting energy burst damages the DNA of everyone on earth. Those above middle school age no longer have the capacity to recover from such an insult. Over the course of a year all the adults will die, leaving about one billion children under school age all across the globe.

While I waited for Kep at the Kipling Avenue Starbucks, I read chapters about the transition from an adult run world to a child run world. Parents taught their children the occupations they were in as the most efficient way to transfer knowledge quickly. Cixin focuses on the case of China.

As I read this, kids from the Collegiate Academy about two blocks away began to stream into the Starbucks. One tall senior high youth had a fade and a topknot grown from the crown of his head. A girl with whom he would later play fight had piercings, black lipstick and a friendly demeanor. She asked politely if she could have the chair at my table.

A younger, perhaps middle school girl, had on an orange athleisure top and carried, of course, her phone. She seemed serious until her friend came in, then they laughed and shared pictures off their phones.

The Starbucks lit up with the energy of young folks performing the person they thought they wanted to be or should be or could be.

At one point a college aged woman walked through them. Pant suit, blouse, briefcase. Not that far away in age, but so distant in sense of self and composure. At least outwardly. Her mask was adult.

My mask was that of the elder amused at the antics of the young, serious in his reading, but willing to laugh with the kids, too. Kabbalah teaches that we all wear masks, all the time. That everything is a mask for the ohr, the divine light of creation shattered after the tzimtzum, the sacred’s self contraction to allow space for other.

Saw all this through the lens of Cixin Liu’s middle schoolers taking over the adult world. Three children from the same middle school class in suburban Beijing were chosen to become the President, Prime Minister, and head of the military. No time for elections.

As I read, I looked up and saw the kids around me, released from the strict parameters of schooling, letting their still forming selves out to play. And tried to imagine this group here designated to run Colorado.

She’s the governor. He’s the head of the Highway Patrol. That one the Mayor of Littleton. Topknot guy following his mother as a bulldozer operator.

A fun collision of reading and immediate reality.

Downsize?

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Ruth and Jon skiing. Gabe peeling potatoes. Kate getting Murdoch upstairs. The picker at King Sooper. Having Sunday free of workout. Cleaning off my table. Organizing and preserving my paintings. Kate paying the bills. Ruth. Murdoch.

My paintings. Whoa. Like my novels and my blog. I’ve done, I don’t know, twenty/thirty paintings since I began. A few end up in the trash because I can’t bear to look at them. A few are standing out so I can look at them, review what I like about them, don’t like. The rest I put between buffered paper and/or cardboard sheets yesterday. Not sure what I’ll do with them. My novels exist in printed form in file boxes and in their revisions on my computer.

Two million words of Ancientrails rest on Kate’s old medical school desk, two thousand plus pages printed out with the wrong margins for binding. Sigh. Going to a bookbinder for an estimate and to be told how or if, if I decide to, I should layout the page for printing myself. Might give them a memory stick with all on it. Or, that might be too expensive. We’ll see.

Gabe stayed here yesterday while Ruth and Jon went to A-basin. I asked Gabe to tell me one interesting thing he’d done last week. I haven’t done much. I did see movies. Oh? Which ones? Lots of them on the Disney Channel.

Clever folks, Disney. They priced their channel, at $6.99 a month, so a kid with an allowance might choose to purchase their own subscription. Both Ruth and Gabe have a subscription.

Stirring inside. Declutter, simplify. Downsize. Example. When we moved, I kept every file I made for my docent work at the MIA. Why? Wanted to keep art as central to my life as it was when I was there. Tried several different things, none worked. And, having the files hasn’t helped either. Out they go. I also want to clean up the filing system (?) in the horizontal file which will mean throwing out yet more files.

The bigger, harder question? What about the books? Is it time to downsize my library? I’m considering it.

Doubt it will stop my book buying. That’s a lifelong habit started, I think, with those book lists from the Scholastic Reader (something like that). Sheets with books, descriptions, and modest prices. We could pay for them at school, then they would come at some other point. Sorta like e-commerce. Oh, how I looked forward to the arrival of those books. I read them quickly, too. I graduated to buying comics and paperbacks at the Newsstand downtown.

My first serious kick was all the James Bond books. I bought them one or two at a time with my paper route money. Lots of others, too. I was also reading books from the Carnegie library, too.

Got into the habit of buying books that interested me, books that followed other books I’d read. Buying books. College was hard in that I passed by the bookstore every day in the Student Union. If I went in, I’d always come out with a book or two.

Later, bookstores. Joseph had been in most of the good book stores in the Twin Cities before he hit first grade. And, finally, Amazon. Oh, right here in my own loft. On my computer. What a great deal.

Over 60+ years I’ve bought a lot of books. My interests have waxed and waned, but the books purchased during my enthusiasms remain. A few: Celtic mythology, fairy tales, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, magic, Jungian thought. An ur religion focused on the natural world, not scripture. Literature of all sorts. Plays. Theology. Poetry. U.S. history. the Civil War. Art. Lake Superior. Latin and the classics. Religion.

Getting rid of them feels like betraying my curiosity. I might finish that book on the Tarot. That commentary on the Inferno? Maybe next year? What about that ecological history of Lake Superior? The work on reconstructing, reimagining faith?

Still, it feels like time to begin paring down. Will take a while. And be hard.

For each of the tags listed here, I have a small or large collection of books.

A Certain Woolly Center of Gravity

Winter and the Future Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Snow, at night. Stefan and Lonnie in Colorado. Having plenty of leftovers. Hugs. Tears. This whole miracle the world. Life. Death. All of it. Again, still the mountains. This nation, tested as it is. This nation, for what it still is. This nation, for what it still can be. My heart which fills up, then flows over.

Three clean, sparkly, sweet smelling dogs: Gertie, Rigel, Murdoch. Gotta love it. Do this more often. Kep on Monday.

Kate went into her sewing room! Yeah! She fixed my gray, alpaca wool scarf. It got damaged in the Akita mixed-martial arts match two weeks ago. Lots of holes.

This scarf was born along the west coast of Latin America as Kate sat on our deck chair, viewing the wide Pacific. She made it for me because, as you go further south below the equator, it gets colder. I had it on when we sailed through the Chilean fjords, a remarkable one-hundred and twenty mile long stretch of mostly uninhabited islands, glacial bays. I had it on when we sailed into Ushuaia, the southern most town on the continent, and, in the world. Around Cape Horn. On the Falkland Islands. Now when I go get the newspaper. Or the groceries.

The dogs. With Murdoch added to the mix they require some Tetris like shuffling all day long. Where Kep is, Murdoch cannot be. And, vice versa. When Gertie is out, Kep cannot be. And, vice versa. Lots of intercom calls between upstairs and downstairs. What’s the disposition of the dogs? Where’s Kepler? I’d like to let Murdoch out. And so on until the moment when Murdoch and Rigel go up the stairs to the guest aka dog room for the night.

The payoff. A happy Joe and SeoAh, knowing Murdoch is safe and loved. Murdoch here with his puppy bounce and energy. Lots of kisses and wriggles and smiles. Life in the house with our life. Full. Good. Tiring.

Was gonna go see Stefan and Lonnie today in Avon, near Vail, but the weather out that way was nasty. No need to do that to myself. Gonna try again Friday. Stefan had a hip replacement at Steadman Orthopedics and is recovering at the Westin Spa and Resort. Why not?

There’s a certain Woolly center of gravity gathering energy here in Colorado. Paul’s daughter Kate and her husband, Michael, moved to Boulder. Scott’s son and daughter are both in Colorado: Pagosa Springs and Carbondale. Warren and Frank both have relatives out here. Tom’s visited several times. Mark and Bill and Paul have come out, too. Lonnie and Stefan come to Colorado regularly, this time for a new hip.

Finished my ninth page of Daf Yomi. As I read, I keep thinking of the 60’s, what a long, strange trip it’s been. Gonna keep at it. It’s alternately boring, fussy, and poignant. At some point I’ll do a post about what I’m learning.