We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Posts tagged Joseph

Over There

Spring                                                            Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

Libya.  The Middle East in an arc of protest.  We have intervened on behalf of Libyan rebels and I’m pretty sure my boy is over there, directing bombardments.  I say pretty sure because he was secretive when he told me about this deployment.  Wherever he is, he’s flying 20 hour missions day after day, work that tires him out and energizes him at the same time.  Thanks to e-mail, though I don’t know where he is, I can communicate with him easily.  Strange.

In this instance and in the case of Afghanistan I view our military presence as justified, in the Libyan case because of opposition to genocide and in the Afghan case because the Taliban have provided and would provide again, safe haven for an implacable and dangerous enemy of our country.  Do I like it?  No.  Military force is terrible, only less terrible in fact, than not having it available when needed.

Just for completeness, I did not believe in the war in Iraq and found/find it a much closer analog to Vietnam.  We went in without being asked on a mission only we identified to save people who did not want to be saved.  All in all, a fiasco made much, much worse by civilian casualties.  Not our fight.

The nuclear crisis in Japan, still difficult to assess from afar, shows improvement in that some of the plants now have functioning electricity, yet signs of worsening as an admitted crack in a container vessel resists plugging.  My friend Bill Schmidt wants the media to turn its face more toward the tsunami/earthquake victims and there is clear sentiment in Japan that agrees with him.

I would say we need to look at both.  The human cost already incurred needs and will need attention for some time.  The nuclear crisis, which has the potential to spread out and affect more people over a longer period of time, has implications not only for the current disaster, but for other nuclear plants in other locations, whether they suffer from the same vulnerabilities as Fukushima or different ones.

And, in the weirder news of the day, two odd stories from the LA Times, rapidly becoming one of my favorite news sources.

Classify under not particularly surprising:

Classical music still effective at dispersing loitering teens:  LA Times

Critics’ review unexpectedly supports scientific consensus on global warming

A team of UC Berkeley physicists and statisticians that set out to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming is finding that its data-crunching effort is producing results nearly identical to those underlying the prevailing view.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was launched by physics professor Richard Muller, a longtime critic of government-led climate studies, to address what he called “the legitimate concerns” of skeptics who believe that global warming is exaggerated.

But Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is “excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.”

The Berkeley project’s biggest private backer, at $150,000, is the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch are the nation’s most prominent funders of efforts to prevent curbs on the burning of fossil fuels, the largest contributor to planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Family Time

Winter                                     Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Kate sees this trip as vacation; I don’t.  Family related travel, the bulk of what I do, has a different purpose and feel.  It’s about relationships and the hard work necessary to maintain them.  It has the flavor of duty, but duty in a positive, not an obligatory sense.   The hard work has its pleasures, yes, lifting Ruth up in the air as she giggles, helping Gabe push his toys around on the floor, but it also has its rough edges.  A relationship with a sister, troubled since birth, breaks bad in a new, more intense way after she becomes pregnant.

The parents of young children face a plethora of challenges, too, noise and activity levels after a hard day at work, insistent demands for attention, keeping the kids safe indoors and out, little time for themselves separately or together.   None of this is new, this is the ancientrail of child-rearing, but it is one meant to happen in an extended family.  In our case, as in so many, many others, children and grandchildren live in one state, grandparents, uncles and aunts live in another.



Lughnasa                                              Waxing Back to School Moon

Nap.  Off to Ace Hardware for chemically resistant gloves.  Really.  Why would I use anything that required them?  Normally, I wouldn’t.  But the varroa mites compromise the divide’s ability to survive the winter and the U says to do this until IPM begins to work.  If I didn’t have a strong recommendation to go ahead from people whom I know share my overall perspective on medication, I would just chance it.  Kate made shims for me to put on the hive boxes to give bees enough space to walk around and get in the Apiguard.  She made them in plenty of time.  I forgot to take them out with me.  Sigh.

I have to go out again tomorrow and put them in place.  Didn’t realize I’d forgotten them until I came inside and saw them still there on the dog crate.

The garlic is in the ground.  This is the first year I’m planting only garlic I have grown.  In previous years I’ve always bought a few bulbs of a variety I haven’t tried.  The planting of garlic grown here both naturalizes the plant to our locale and gives me a sense of a circle closed.  Satisfying.

Dug potatoes, too.  One row of three.  Not as productive as last year so far, but not bad.  I planted these at ground level in the oldest of the raised beds, one almost flush with the garden floor.  I will not do that again.  Way too much bending over.  Still, the thrill of digging a potato out of the loose soil constitutes a miracle as far I’m concerned.

The older I get the more I have the opposite problem from the early advocates of higher criticism of the Bible.  They thought miracles were problematic in the biblical narrative and went about finding natural explanations for them or chalking them up to mythologization.  Not me.

Miracles are everywhere in my world.  Those pale yellow roots against the darkness of the soil.  Edible!  Planting garlic in the fall so I can harvest it next June.  Cooperating with insects to produce a sweet, delicious liquid that I can share with friends.  How about that!  Being part of a young woman’s search for her vocational path.  A person mutating from young adult to a professional.  Getting up in the morning with energy and eagerness for the day.  Greetings from Vega and Rigel with tails thumping and bodies quivering.  Knowing that we get our food from the energy of a star 93 million miles away from us.  Having a modest grasp of quantum mechanics.  The absolute, dumbfounding miracle of love between Kate and me, our kids, our grandkids.  Friendships that have endured for years and years.  Life is so full of miracles I have to fight through them to get to breakfast.

Top of His Class

Summer                                      Waxing Grandchildren Moon

Joe graduated top of his class for the third time today:  top scope at Tyndall in basic Air Battle Management and Distinguished Graduate for his Robbin’s AFB (current assignment) JSTAR’s work as well as a program for new lts.  A colonel said, “We’ve never had anybody finish with 100% before.”  Another told him, “That’s a bullet (on the resume) that will help you make Lt Col.”  Joe’s not sure he wants to progress past Major, but he is glad to have these achievement because, “They’ll look good on my astronaut application to NASA.”  He’s in his second class for a masters degree in Space Studies; having a masters is a requirement for promotion to Major.  He reported with disappointment that his TDY, temporary duty deployment, originally slated for an AFB near Las Vegas, has been moved to Tucson, Arizona, “A place that’s hotter than Georgia.”  Oh, well.

Woke up today with Latin on my mind.  I got down to work on translating my Cicero and received an e-mail from Margaret Levin about that article I promised to write.  The deadline?  Today.  Oh, yeah.  Grandkids.  Spaced it.  So, I worked my way through Cicero’s rebuke to Catillin, “Why stay?  Take your conspirators and leave now or we will quickly throw you out.”  and other words to that effect.  I had an hour before my tutorial so I grabbed the file for the article about the Sierra Club’s 2010 legislative session for the Do It Green magazine.  Hammered out 500 + words, the rough number they wanted, sat out until after the nap, revised it and sent it off just barely ahead of the deadline.

My Cicero and my translation of the ancient sentences, that is, sentences actually written by Latin author went well.  My english to latin work not so much.  Greg says composing in Latin is the best way to learn the grammar and the most difficult task in Latin.  It is for me.  I gotta go slower and allow more time for it.  No Ovid this week.

After the nap, I went to Anoka Feed and Seed to order 5 cubic yards of shredded tree bark.  Big fun.  On Monday morning the high school kid, Ray, and I will mulch the orchard and the vegetable garden.  Monday looks like an ok day, forecast right now for 76.  Bees either tomorrow morning or Sunday, which looks cooler.

Now, I’m off to the treadmill and more episodes of True Blood.

Kate’s Doing Well

Imbolc                                                         Waxing Wild Moon

Joe called tonight.  Another 100 percent on a JSTAR exam.  He’s at 100% for the whole course right now with only  one exam left to go.  He was on  his way over to Jaimie’s place to watch the Olympics.  A member of the women’s luge team lived in Breckenridge and worked out from time to time at the Rec Center where he worked, so he hoped she might be on TV tonight.  Breck had several winter sports athletes as you might expect.

Kate came home tonight in good shape.  A little sore, but she has recovered from her painful Monday.  I’m beginning to think she may be getting more and more benefit from the back surgery.  The possibility of increased relief exists for up to two years post op, so she may be.  I  hope so.

Over the course of the last 8  or 9 years I have listened to Teaching Company classes as I drive back and forth to Minneapolis.  These are college level classes given by professors with excellent credentials and selected for teaching ability.  I’ve listened to a history of China, Rome, Egypt–each separate courses, 48 lectures each.  I’ve listened to courses on linguistics, literature, philosophy.  But, right now, I find myself rebelling at learning anything on the drive.  I want a story, some fiction.  These days I’m lucky enough to have the MIA, the Sierra Club, the novel and the Latin, each of which in its own way keeps the synapses firing, finding new pathways, generally exercising the brain matter.  Doing so on the drive in, right now, feels like too much.

Mary and Joseph (but, no Jesus)

Samhain                        Waxing Wolf Moon                 Thanksgiving

Joseph and Mary are here.  Mary came in to the train station in Anoka.  It was a very East Coast scene with folks waiting for others in the parking lot, a mist shrouding the street lights.  Joseph’s flight experienced a delay at Milwaukee and didn’t get in until 9:35 p.m.

Let the cooking begin.

Undercurrents and Subtext

74  bar steady 29.75 3mph W dew-point 49  Summer, sunny and pleasant

Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

A party.  Kate and I are not party people.  We both prefer a night at home or the theater or classical music, but we’re headed out tonight because of Paul Strickland’s kids.   Kate Strickland, oldest, heads out in two weeks for Japan.  She’s going to Kyoto prefecture to teach English as part of the JET program, a government sponsored ESL that places applicants in the Japanese school system.

The backyard party at their 4900 block Colfax Avenue home in Minneapolis had many people we did not know, but Stefan Helgeson and Lonnie were there.  Stefan, Paul and I represented the Woolly Mammoths.

Such parties have, like family reunions, undercurrents and subtext.  The lines of relationship, for example, the casual observer would assume ran strongest among Paul, Stefan, and me.  Only partly true.  Lonnie and Sarah (Strickland) were friends of mine for a couple of years before their husbands pulled me into the orbit of the Woolly Mammoths.

There was Kate Strickland’s closing of this chapter in her New York life.  Why?  Unsaid.  There was Lonnie’s recovery, less than a month along, from cancer surgery.  A rare great outcome.  No chemo or radiation needed because they caught the uterine cancer at its earliest stage.  Paul’s work, entangled with his across the alley neighbor, is in uncertain times.  Stefan has had a come to Jesus moment with Lonnie’s cancer surgery, “I find it difficult now to not do the things I want to do.”

Overhanging the whole is the generational tide sweeping those of us over 60 toward years of a new time while our kids go to Japan, have their own children, become 2d Lts in the Air Force, head off to college, or graduate from college.

This event was in no way unusual in these subtexts and undercurrents and I’m confident there were more, perhaps darker ones, about which I know nothing.   Any time we human beings gather we bring with us the scent of our current life and the trail on which we have walked to get there.  As social creatures our scents intermingle creating a perfumed community while our paths (ancientrails) intersect and deflect, generating paths of a slightly different direction than the one we were on before.  This is life as we live it, as we must live it.

Running through my mind today has been a bumper sticker I saw years ago during the controversy over the Boundary Waters.  I was in Ely and noticed a local pickup truck.   Plastered on the gate the bumper sticker read:  Sierra Club, kiss my axe.  That was redolent of a real debate, an actual conflict between parties with drastically different visions.  Politics and its cousin the law are the arenas in which, in a democracy, we slug out conflicts without, hopefully, violence.  I like conflict and the clash of ideas, the taking up of the sword in defense of an ideal, a vision.  Being back on the battlefield brings sparks to my eyes.  Fun.

USAF Officers Attacked!

81  bar falls 29.99 0mph S dew-point 59  Summer, sunny and hot

Waning Gibbous Flower Moon

Each year in late June a convergence of heat, humidity, sun intensity and the growth of weeds combine to make gardening an early morning task for me.  The toddler trees, planted last year, had a considerable collection of weeds around them.  They had to go.

The machete makes short work of the nettles, the most troublesome of the weeds.  They grow tall and block the sun.  They grow from rhizomatous roots, so they send up new plants when the old ones are cut down.  Their main defense, formic acid, makes humans want to stay away from them, hence, the nettlesome person.

Virginia creeper and grapevines also sap a lot of food from the growing area of these young trees and must be pulled up like a zipper, taking out the length of the vine as well as its immediate spot of rooting.  Then there are the other weeds, names unknown to me, that gather in numbers.  Up they come by the handfull.

Last and hardest to remove are the tall grasses, the exact thing desired in the large open area, a sort of meadow, but harmful to the new trees.  Once they’ve become establish the trees will outcompete everything in their area, but these guys haven’t reached that growth stage.

One anecdote I loved from the Maxwell AFB experience involves nature’s own air force.  A single person walking along the east side of the cafeteria building often receives pecks and a dive bomber approach from a towhee who lives on the roof.  The idea of a bird attacking USAF officers is ironic.

The Air Redolent With Lilac

61  bar steady 29.84  0mph N dew-point 52  Beltane, night

First Quarter of the Flower Moon

The first quarter moon has a mask quality, one side lit and the other dark, but showing just a bit.  It’s as if the moon wears a Venetian mardi gras mask, one side white, the other black.  Maybe if you look just to the side you’ll see a hand wrapped loosely around a wooden rod, holding the mask in place.

Joseph called again tonight.  He wanted me to wear a suit to this outdoor graduation in 100 degree weather.  His buddies in the background said, “Nobody wears a suit!”  I assured him I’d look fine in a Hawai’ian dress shirt and white slacks.


At Gabe’s bris in Denver

Like me he had no interest in his college graduation, but this one means a lot to him.

When I took the trash out tonight, the first quarter moon was due south of the house, the air redolent with lilac.  Lilacs recall the 1890’s, aunt’s in flower print dresses with large platters of fried chicken and the south, a lilac scented culture.  Each time I go to the south, and I know I’ve said it here before, it feels like I’m going to Gothic America, a dark simulacrum to the north.

Older now, I know we need both the dark and the light, the repressed and the open.  Jung suggests that the energy for a new America lies in the south and Barrack Obama’s presidential candidacy may just unlock it.  I saw a cartoon that especially touched me, a small African-American boy sits on his bed in his pajamas and his mother has her hand on his shoulder.  She says, “I never thought I could say this, but you could be President someday.”  There is more here than meets the eye, more juice.

Tonight I watched Mississippi Burning again.  Those are my times, the years in which I was young and in which I became a thinking, political person.  There is a wide gap between those years and today.  Have we come as far as we need to?  No.  But we have come so far.  It reminded me again that America is a young nation, not even 300 years old.  If we can move beyond slavery, beyond Jim Crow, beyond segregation and the KKK in a hundred and fifty years or even two hundred, then we will have a solid foundation upon which to build a nation of many cultures rather than of one only.

Watching that movie and contemplating the distance traversed in my lifetime, I have a sense of movement that gives me hope for the future.  What more can a granddad wish?

Barrack Obama has reportedly made disparaging remarks about the baby boomer’s psychodramas.  He would do well to remember that we were the footsoldiers in the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and that we embraced feminism.  We may have had our excesses, I know I did, but to deny the contribution and the real pain many of us suffered in pursuit of a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all (men) people are created equal is to have a historical myopia too often indulged by our right wing brothers and sisters.

The O Club

73  bar falls 29.59  0mph E  dew-point 63  Beltane, cloudy

Waxing Crescent of the Flower Moon

Finished putting down Preen in the flower beds.  The straw for mulch in the vegetable beds took a bit longer, but not much.  The beets have grown, as have their bedmates, the carrots.  The corn is ankle high by the 8th of June.

The garlic nears its time for harvest.  The water is shut off and I wait now for the stems to die back.  Don’t know why I’m so fascinated with growing garlic, but I am.   Looks like a good crop.

The onion bed, too, has made great strides.  Green hollow leaves spear through the hay, sending food down to the bulbs underneath the ground, energy Kate and I will harvest.  Two hills of gourds and one of squash have broken through and begun to leaf.  The beans Kate planted are on their fourth and sixth leaves.  Lettuce sown a while back has enjoyed the cool weather and begun to flourish.

The tomato plants outside have yet to go through a real growth spurt and I finally pruned back the one inside.  A different, more hydroponic friendly variety will produce better and now I have to find one.  We continue to harvest lettuce each day for salads, so lettuce works.

We have a few other stray plants in odd locations some watermelon, cucumber and peppers.  They’re all healthy.

The bearded iris have begun to bloom, while the smaller purple varities have begun to fade.  Not much else blooming right now, save for the lilacs, the bleeding hearts and the annuals Kate planted.  The garden is lush, green. Healthy.

The almost II lieutenant called.  It has hit him that he needs a bed.   All the officers have to live off base at Tyndall and he will be there for well over a year.  He’s going to have to fly to Denver, rent a U-Haul truck and drive back to base.  He does not, however, have a bed.  Don’t know what to say to him.  Suppose I could drive the truck and take the bed in his old room down to him.  I don’t know.

He’s cranked.  His class got initiated into the wonders of the O club, as he called it.  The Officer’s Club.  It has traditions, though what they are he didn’t say.  His skin color has worked to his advantage so far.  He’s been picked for some extra duties, to show Generals and other dignitaries around OTS.  Face time with the high command.  He says he knows who he is and if they want to work it that way it’s ok with him.

October 2018
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