We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

A New Creation

Written By: Charles - May• 26•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Tuesday gratefuls: For the clan, gathering. Solar snow shovel. Kate’s good days. Seoah’s potential flight, June 7. The ancient friends. The mice and the voles and the rabbits and the squirrels. Rigel’s love of the hunt. Life. Death. Skin and bones. Feet, keeping you grounded since you learned to walk.

It’s a Happy Camper day. Another 8 packages of Indica edibles for these old folks. On the drive to get our dope we see the still snow covered mountains of the continental divide. We go west, toward Bailey, toward Kenosha Pass, and South Park. Deeper into the mountains. Lucky we live Colorado.

How can I keep from singing?

My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

author: Robert Lowry A hymn for our time, eh?


Written By: Charles - May• 25•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Memorial Day gratefuls: WWI. WWII. Those who fought. Those who died. Those killed in the death camps. Those affected still. Gertrude and Curtis, veterans of WWII. Joseph, a serving Major in the USAF. Warriors. Peaceniks. Peacemakers. Out terrible love of war. (James Hillman) The anti-war movement of the 60’s. Richard Nixon, who taught us about corruption and venality. His best, his very best, student, DJT.

War. Warriors. Old as the first dispute over a berry patch back on the veldt. Who’ll fight for us? “They don’t call it murder if you kill in the thousands, to the sounds of trumpets, and with banners flying.” That’s how I recall it. Here’s what Voltaire actually said, “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” A sign from the 60’s: Travel to foreign countries. Meet exotic people. And, kill them.

My thinking was simpler then. Bad war, good peace. Bad Westmoreland, good Vietcong. But even then I knew I was against this particular war, not all wars. This was an intervention in a civil war, a dispute stretching back in time beyond our creation as a country.

The domino theory was bad thinking, a cold war worldview that led to simplistic decisions much like the word terrorist does today. The invasion of Iraq was a bad war, for example. Prompted by warmongers, people willing to bend the truth to get reality to conform to their version of it. Weapons of mass destruction? Right.

However. Warriors, those who fight the wars dreamed up by old white men in oiled wood committee rooms, drinking ice water and hot coffee. They defend the tribe, the clan, the nation. Their profession is a noble one and can require the greatest sacrifice imaginable.

Here’s a prayer I wrote for Joseph’s commissioning service in June, 2008. Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama. He and his classmates had just finished OCT and were becoming Second Lieutenants: “Bring a blessing on these men and women who have not only found something worth living for, but something worth dying for.   Link them arm in arm as warriors with those  living and dead who cherish freedom, defend liberty and work for justice.  Stand with them wherever they go and whatever they do, for they are our children, our mothers and brothers and sisters, our wives and husbands and we love them.”

Afternoon Special Edition

Written By: Charles - May• 24•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

It’s Memorial Day tomorrow on Shadow Mountain. The beginning of Summer. As you might expect, our solar panels have a white covering and the Snow has begun to mount up, falling in great, fat flakes from a gray Mountain Sky.

Closed due to Coronavirus A-Basin plans to reopen on May 27th. This is Jon’s favorite ski hill. The vagaries of mountain weather.

Days of Yore

Written By: Charles - May• 24•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Sunday gratefuls: Wetness on the way. Hope it’s snow. The Pig who gave its life for our meal. Portuguese mint Rice. Tasty. Old friends. Kate’s wonderful mood. Changing her bandages. Mario’s struggle. The Indy 500. Decoration Day. Mom and Dad. Mary and Mark.

Memorial day weekend. School’s out, school’s out, monkeys let the teachers out! The Decoration Day parade. Baton twirlers. The Alexandria High School band. Tiny flags for the graves of veterans. Heat. Soft asphalt wrinkling under the heavy tread of tanks from the National Guard Armory. Speeches and prayers. Seeing friends and their families lined up along Harrison. All of us waving at various princesses and queens. A red letter day.

Memorial Day was (and still is for me) a demarcation between the rigors and discipline of tests, of class times, of paying attention and the joys of summer. Summer was freedom. Whole days of playing outside, baseball and going to the field.

We’d find a wagon and troll the alleyways of our small town hunting through trash for the prized Coke bottles, other pop bottles. Money! We’d pull our wagons down to Cox’s Super Market and exchange our finds for money. I don’t remember the amounts now, maybe a nickel a bottle?

Popsicles dripping onto our hands, we’d wander down main street looking in the windows at Danner’s and Murphy’s. We might go into Bailey’s drug store for liquid cinnamon to infuse toothpicks.

One of those summer days I bought a small bottle of sulfuric acid. After doing some experiment on a leaf or (hangs head here) an ant, the small bottle went back in my pant’s pocket. I still have a small scar on my left leg from not wiping off the bottle before pocketing it.

The best memories begin at the odd concrete decline that led the way into the Carnegie Library’s basement. Carved into the hillside on which the library itself sat, its sturdy walls and shade offered a cool way into the magic through the old wood and glass doors.

Each summer there was a reading contest. Each summer I read way more than the contest demanded. This was a solitary pleasure, one most of my friends avoided. Riding bikes and going to the swimming pool at Beulah Park were both far more attractive.

Visits to family cranked up in the summer months, too. The Keaton family reunion, a big one during the late fifties and early sixties, gathered in Greenfield at James Whitcomb Riley Park.

This might be the great America that trumpists yearn for. It was a world of black and white tv’s. Cars had fins and Dad always got pictures of the new models early at the Times-Tribune office. Oooh. That ’59 Chevy. Cool. Newspaper boys, myself included, fanning out each evening across the streets and sidewalks, delivering this small town’s daily newspaper.

Happy memories of Memorial Day to you, too.


Written By: Charles - May• 23•20

Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

Saturday gratefuls: Deep fried shrimp by Seoah. Wow. Delivery of six ten-year battery smoke detectors. Fire extinguishers on the way. Workout. 2 sets, but back. Teeth cleaning. My dental hygienist. Fear. Still. Protecting us. High threat of wildfire. Keeping us aware. Brenton White caring for Murdoch. The second coming. Of Covid.

Mood better today. Moods fascinate me since they seem so important for our daily life, yet they are not much discussed, and from what I can tell after a quick Google search, not much studied. One turgid page on Psychology Today referred to moods as dispositions toward positive or negative emotions. Sounds circular to me. If I’m in a good mood, I have good feelings. If I have good feelings, I’m in a good mood. Duh.

How does the weather shift in our inner life? What causes a sad front to move in, or an ebullient one? What creates an anxious mood and what dispels it? Is my melancholy a stalled mood? Curious me. Maybe sleep is a circuit breaker between moods.

POTUS the medical experimenter. May he bravely give his all so that the rest of us can know the dangers of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment. POTUS, his own Mengele.

Hot flashes have increased in frequency. Sneaky bastards. Why did this room suddenly become hot? Oh. Not the room. They wake me up. Make me take off layers. Go outside if it’s cool or cold. Luproned.

Dental hygienist told me what I thought was gingivitis was in fact a side effect of Lupron. Sensitive teeth, sore gums. It recedes, she says, after you come off the drug.

I’ve been on Lupron since September of last year. The side effects seem to be getting worse. On some days I’m too weak to workout. The resistance work doesn’t increase my muscles so much as prevent more loss from the sarcopenia.

It’s true that it’s better than dying. Certainly. But, like all of my cancer experience so far, I’ve experienced few symptoms from the disease, but many from the treatments. Not that I want symptoms from the cancer. The irony of it, that’s all.

Asked Kate the other day how she felt about all of her troubles. I’m tired of them, she said. I’m sure. Sjogren’s. Tube feeding. Reynaud’s. Two shortened fingers. Interstitial lung disease. Lugging the Inogen whenever we go out. Tethered by O2 tubing in the house. Small insults add up. Yet. She’s had improvements in stamina, weight, her ability to manage. Sore wrists, rheumatoid arthritis. She takes hydroxychloroquine for them. Bursitis. Neuropathy in her feet.

OK. Enough of the organ recital. Have a great memorial day weekend. One forecast puts nine inches of snow on us tomorrow or Monday. Rain. Cold. Helping us stay home.


Written By: Charles - May• 22•20

Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

Friday gratefuls: Kate and her magical power. A 30 minute walk on the treadmill. Still reorganizing. Getting there. Mussar yesterday. Confront with compassion. Oh, the magical power? She disrupts technology with a touch. Rain and snow in the forecast for Memorial Day. Bears. Foxes. Mountain Lions. Pine Martens. Mink. Humans.

Cool and gray yesterday. My mood sank with the cloudy skies. I’m just coasting, not engaged. Why haven’t I ordered groceries? Three days in a row with no exercise. Loft closer to order (seder), but a ways to go yet. Body achy. A Tree fell over in the wind. A healthy Lodgepole pine. Work to do in the yard, around the house. The pandemic. Things crowd in, get close, agitate each other like clothes in a washing machine. Ick.

That mood lingers this morning. Glad I have this outlet, this space to mirror my inner life. When I see it on the page, sometimes my mood changes. Not this one, not yet, but maybe later? The sun coming up helps, too. Colorado blue skies, bright sun. A positive.

The pandemic hangs like a pall, a meta-mood. It begins where our driveway ends, where the cars of others go by, others who may or may not be infected. Here in our safe space we three know each other, know our level of commitment to masks, hand sanitizer, to caring for our own and each others health. Out there, beyond the end of the driveway, there be dragons.

We’re among the lucky ones, privileged. It’s quiet here. Not crowded. We have plenty of space. No toddlers or teenagers. No need to get back to work. We have Seoah with us. I’m grateful.

A Red Flag

Written By: Charles - May• 21•20

Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

Thursday gratefuls: Kate, sewing. Seoah, laughing. Rigel, sleeping hard. Kep, eager to get up, get breakfast. 34 degrees this morning. High Winds, low humidity, lots of sunshine=red flag warning. Masks. The Lodgepole blown over yesterday. Equanimity. Mussar. Kabbalah class yesterday. Missed opportunities for exercise. Dave and Deb.

High Winds yesterday. Up to 40 mph, gusting lasted most of the day yesterday and Tuesday. Both were red flag days. Occurred to me that these are the original red flags. When they show up, those of us surrounded by the Arapaho National Forest pay attention. Not a metaphor.

A Lodgepole pine blew over in our backyard. Pines tend to have shallow roots. Fortunately it blew over away from our house. It could have hit the upstairs balcony had it gone south instead of north. An unintended consequence of fire mitigation, I think. Lodgepoles grow close together up here, an area clear cut for Denver early last century. I removed this Individual’s companions, left it to deal with the gusts of Wind all on its own.

Gotta get out the limbing ax. There’s other limbing work to be done on Trees felled last fall. And, there are still Trees to remove. Shallow roots are a good adaptation to thin Soil, rocky Soil, but they do have their risks. Wondering about other reasons for shallow roots.

In people shallow roots can lead to problems, too. The strong winds of the coronavirus can lead to a fall. The middah of equanimity, the topic for MVP mussar next week, is the psychic equivalent of deep roots. When life pushes us hard, say isolation or lockdown for an indeterminate number of weeks, equanimity can keep us upright. We will feel neither the need to run out and fill up the car with toilet paper, nor will we hunker down, go still, bury our fears.

Judaism has a clear view of the human experience: “Your spiritual experience will give you many gifts, but don’t expect it to relieve you of your human nature.” (Everyday Holiness, Alan Morinis, p. 99) Yes, practice equanimity, but don’t be surprised when life sends you a fire, or a virus, or a serious illness and you lose it. Notice that, congratulate yourself perhaps on a less severe reaction than you might have had in the past, and learn what you can from it. Mussar is an incremental practice that does not have an endpoint.


Written By: Charles - May• 20•20

Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

Wednesday gratefuls: The steer that gave his life for our ribeye. The potato, long underground, now eaten. Sweet corn. Mushrooms. Garlic. And, the helpers, butter, Tony’s prime rib rub. Seoah’s cleaning. Kate’s bowl hot pads. More sewing by her. A Red Flag Warning day. Second in a row. Heightened awareness. Taking out the trash.

The clan gathered. Mark says covid cases are down in Saudi Arabia. Might be the heat. Mary sent a drone video of a quieted Singapore. Diane reports no mask, no shopping in San Francisco. We have a VP sweepstakes going, final chips down on May 31. Prize will be one of Kate’s bowl hot pads and a Katydidit mask.

Apres zoom Seoah and I went to the grocery store. I went in, first time in quite awhile since I’ve been using pickup. Sorta wanted to. Bought only a few things: sandwich bags, pasta, snicker’s in the fun size for the freezer. Seoah did the vegetable shopping and bought more mineral water. She doesn’t like the taste of our well water. What taste?

A young couple came into the store as I entered. Oh, I see you’re not wearing masks. I’m 73. You’re putting me in danger. You’re turning away. You should feel ashamed. I’m finding my voice in this masked/unmasked world. Did the same thing at Beau Jo’s a week or so ago. An older woman tapped me on the shoulder. I agree with you. Ever since juniors weren’t allowed to go to the senior prom in Alexandria (1963) I’ve chosen to say out loud what some people keep to themselves. But, want to say.

I know at times I’m shrill. Or, a scold. I’m not willing to suffer fools silently since silence in the face of evil only encourages the bastards to believe there are no consequences. Yes, the three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Sometimes I’m not fully there on the last one. I want to be but my anger over, say, racism or flaunting disease protection protocols, often gets in the way. Working on it.

And, yes, self-righteous. Well, nobody’s perfect, eh?

In Korea the nation is open now, but everyone wears masks outside the home. If everybody wore masks, I’d feel safer and more comfortable out of the house. Though to be fair I did read an epidemiologist and m.d. authored article that said getting infected is unlikely in a shopping situation like a grocery store. They’re big, lots of air circulation, short period of exposure. That sort of thing. However. Choosing where to wear masks only makes overall compliance weaker. Let’s keep them on until we get those downward numbers consistently.

In the Mud

Written By: Charles - May• 19•20

Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

Tuesday gratefuls: Joe’s beard. Seoah’s surprising meal last night: turnip greens, spaghetti, and smoked sausage. Looked strange, tasted good. The heat. Loft reorganization, going well. Getting there. Ruth. A sweet girl. Gabe. Tricky Gabe. Jon and his house, his cat. Kate, her journey. Mine with her. Ruby’s air conditioning.

Rocky dreams last night. Woke up feeling bad. Only thing I can remember is a person of authority saying, “We have you on record as a teenager saying you would prefer to live in Canada.” This was part of an interrogation, accusation of unfaithfulness to I’m not sure what. I felt beleaguered and in danger.

I don’t like waking up with a bad mood clouding my psyche. It taints the beginning of the day. I sat here for a bit, trying to get started, but felt stuck. This fuzzy gray cloud obscured an easy entry into the day’s post.

I even checked on the idiot. Didn’t help. Well, that never helps.

The clan this morning. I hope it goes better than the ancient friends meeting on Sunday. Getting into it, I mean. We had a failure to launch. Discovered in the process that all five of us have zoom accounts. Bill stepped in and set up a meeting. We were on fire after that.

Still in the mud writing wise. Words coming hard. Perhaps this is the point to sign off for the morning.

Psychic Compost

Written By: Charles - May• 18•20

Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

Monday gratefuls: Ancient friends. Fire. Shiva. Mario and Elizabeth. Tom and Roxann. Bill and Regina. Paul and Sarah. Kate and I. The heat coming. Earlier and earlier. Trump, showing us what we need to be, who we were. The pandemic, flushing out the past, opening the gates for a new way of being together. Our life now.

A friend challenged my post of a couple of days ago. Especially this phrase: “I wasted time, obscured the ancientrail I needed to follow.” His point was that nothing the psyche encounters goes to waste. It all composts, makes soil for the future. True enough.

And yet. There was that offer of a Danforth Fellowship for graduate work, an application that never got completed. There was that incredible GRE score which did me little good. Yes, Brandeis took a look, said no, theoretical anthropology had no funds. Rice, too. Yes, might have beens. Could have beens. There was the six years I gave to seminary and fifteen I gave to the Presbyterian church. The time with Judy. With Raeone. Painful. Not wasted in the compost pile of my inner garden.

Economists though talk of opportunity costs. Doing this means not doing that. Taking this path means, in Frostian fashion, not taking that one, less traveled or no. And I wonder what my life as an anthropology professor would have been like. It was an achievable path, one I could have walked. Fruitless to speculate? At 73, sure. Does that stop the wondering? No.

It’s not a thought that occurs very often and I long ago leaned into the meandering nature of my life. As Kate used to say, the retrospectroscope. I take my buddy’s point, yes, not wasted. But the opportunity cost? Still real.

This ancientrail I have traveled has taken account of the pain, the institutional religious years, the failed, doomed to fail, relationships, the opportunity costs occasioned by all of them and by addiction. I’m not much for regret. Raeone and I adopted Joseph. More than enough benefit for the pain. Treatment taught me a lot about myself, about the abandoned boy who still wanted his mommy. The crack occasioned by grief, that deep fissure, did heal. I thank Jung and Kate for that.