We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Clean Teeth and Snow

Written By: Charles - Nov• 24•20



Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Tuesday gratefuls: Appointment with Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology. Snow, maybe 5 inches. More Thanksgiving like at last. Carnitas. The Texmex influence on Colorado food. Bill’s wonderful negativity. Tom and his gut. Ode back home. Paul and his Texas food pyramid. Not far from mine. Rigel, next to me, then up, then upstairs. Kep curled up in his spot. Murdoch’s special adventure. Coming. Joe and Seoah. Movers on Thanksgiving. Sleeping better, remembering more dreams. Thanks, mirabegron.


Nice of him. Allowing Biden to access the transition process. His version of a concession speech, I imagine. Read he focuses on Trump, 2024 now. Yiiiiikkkkeeeesssss! Also read that he got more votes than any presidential candidate in history except for Joe Biden. Well. Damn. Still. Biden beat him by about 6 million votes. That’s a big number. Not yet into keyhole analysis of the election and its implications. Soon.

Mounds of fluffy white snow shaped like solar panels on our roof. Snow falling, as it often does here, straight down like rain. Not too cold, not too warm. Just right. 5 inches of snow means something different in the mountains than it does down the hill or in the flatness of the plains. The roads become treacherous. Emergency vehicles are slower. Black Mountain disappears from view. Like Covid, snow isolates us. For a bit. Its beauty and its seasonal appropriateness though. And, its fire suppression. Bring on more snow. I feel good enough to shovel. Did shovel the deck this morning.

Sorry about the downer post from yesterday. If you read it that way. I meant it to be upbeat, an endorsement of life, but it may have come across otherwise. Death and life. Neither meaningful without the other. Neither bad nor good. The experience we have. And, I am glad for both.

Teeth cleaned yesterday. Hygienist talked. A lot. Funny. Bright. Her husband makes her watch Full Metal Jacket once a year. Why? Oh, he always has movies on of people killing on each other. I don’t know. Her son has the Air Force on his career list. Gave her Joe’s number in case he could help. Not a thing wrong with my teeth. Yeah. Kate, on the other hand. Sjogren’s does a number on teeth. Since it dries up saliva, it decreases the natural chemical bath that helps fight cavities. Two more crowns.

I feel so much better with the snow coming down, the sky overcast. Weird? Maybe. So much of my life in the Midwest. Rain, thunder. Snow. Lots of humidity made for overcast days. Here drought and general aridity give us blue skies and sunshine. Hard for me to focus sometimes.

Hope you and yours have a good and safe Thanksgiving. Life is good here and we have much to be thankful for.

Oh, Death

Written By: Charles - Nov• 23•20


Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Monday gratefuls: The Ancient Ones riff on Thanksgiving and thanksgiving. The animal that gave its life for our carne asada. The potatoes and the carrots. Root vegetables. Garlic, too. Walt Whitman. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed. Aaron Copeland. Charles Ives. Samuel Barber. Bob Dylan. Folk music. Oh, Death. The Wayfaring Stranger. When I Go Down to The River to Pray. Amazing Grace. This ancientrail we all walk. Its only destination. Life. A mystery. A wonder. A miracle. Here. Right here on the peak of Shadow Mountain. Our home.


Not trivial, that incident I mentioned. For me. I do not triangulate often, but when I do, I do it to myself. Wore me out. Adulting, Kate and I call it. We’ve had to do a lot. Took yesterday off. Listened to music on the interweb. Lots of old timey songs like ones mentioned in the gratefuls. Even found a few by my old teachers, Bill and Gloria Gaither. Took me into a death space, considering mortality, the evanescence of even 73 years.

Buddy Mark Odegard said how healthy he feels, his tests come back normal. Nothing on the horizon. And, he is older than me by three years. Kate’s age. I said to him my people are not as healthy as that. Genetics plays its role whether we like it or not. My statement made me reflect on my relative health with my buddies, all roughly my age except for Bill, who’s 9 years older.

Well. Bill’s chief complaint right now is flat feet (and now he knows that he’s negative for Covid. He’s positive). His parents lived well into their 90’s. Tom has an issue or two, but his mom is still living at 102. Paul’s had a hip replaced recently, but otherwise seems healthy.

Then there is me. Prostate cancer. COPD. Kidney disease. And, as I mentioned yesterday morning, now sequelae from my radiation: incontinence and blood in my poop. Sorry for the unpleasant nature of those last two. But. If we have these conditions and do not talk about them, then those who have them feel alone. I got meds for the incontinence, which annoys me. A lot. They’re helping. I have a sigmoidoscopy to schedule today. That will make sure that this bleeding is either internal hemorroids or the result of radiation making my colon wall friable.

When Anova Cancer Care radiated my cancer recurrence, Dr. Gilroy told me they try to kiss the bladder and the colon. Right now it feels like they might have puckered up and given me a smackeroo. Cancer or incontinence? Cancer or blood in the poop? Seems like a clear choice to me.

However. All this means that I consider on occasion what this means for my total lifespan. Is it shortened? Oddly, it does not feel like it to me. I have medicine, treatments that have helped. My workout regime keeps sarcopenia at bay, somewhat. It also helps my heart and my cardiovascular system.

On the usual day I feel healthy and whole. I am not. Prostate gone. Cancer returned. Breathing somewhat impaired though much improved with prednisone inhaler. My feelings of good health are not denial, not Pollyanna. They reflect a willingness to know what ails me, and to do something.

Could be though that my lifespan has become shorter. But how would we know anyhow at our age? So I consider what it would be like if I died tomorrow. First thing. Nothing. For me it would mean nothing. Oh, Death. This vale of tears would cease to be my concern. A certain relief in that. Yes, reincarnation. Heaven. The spirit realm. Maybe. I would find out. Or, not. Second. Would my life have been worth living if I died tomorrow? Oh, yes.

Why? I have no major regrets. No big I wish I had done that differently things hanging on. Have I done things I am not proud of? Yes. Of course. Who has not. But. That is exactly the point. Who has not. None of them seem like what my old Catholic friends would call a mortal sin. Odd phrase. Kills you in the afterlife, I guess?

I have done my part to advance a just and equitable society. I have done my part to halt climate change. My work life has been in service of the other. Just like Kate’s. I have even written many novels and millions of words on this blog. I’ve had fun, I’ve had fun, I’ve had my seasons in the sun. Love has been and is a significant part of my life.

With other’s help I have raised a child and helped raise another. Joe is happy, married, useful. Jon is kind, honest, creative, a teacher of small children. Two grandkids. Many dogs. Many memories with them all. Bees and gardens. Mountains and the Midwest. Travel. Music and art. Poetry.

Weird, I guess, but I can say I am ready to die. Or, maybe, it would be ok if I died now. Though. I am not ready. I have more books to write. More grandkids to love, more dogs to love, more time with my true love, Kate, and our sons. Seoah, too. Mark and Mary. Diane. It is, I think, an important exercise, as Yamantaka suggests, to meditate on our death. It prepares us for living. Which I intend to as long and as happily as I can.

I wish the same for you.

Happy and Pleased

Written By: Charles - Nov• 22•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Sunday gratefuls: Alan. Tom. The Ancient Ones. Honesty. Clarity. Friendship. Kep and Rigel keeping us warm over a cold night. When I woke up this morning, Kep’s head was next to mine. Orion and his great dog headed over Black Mountain to hunt. The great bear pointing to Polaris. The North. The West. Two directions I know personally, deeply. Adulting. The isolated Covid life. Buh bye orange one. Old friends, docent friends. Art. All of it. Ode’s. Jimmie’s. Rembrandt’s. Noguchi’s. (first thing that has impressed me about Melania.) Coltrane’s. Mozart’s. Nabokov’s. Tolstoy’s.

Resolved. Happily. Detriangulated. Whew. Being an adult can be so damned hard. Even at 73. Key? Trust. And, a helpful Kate.

I’m getting there. Trying to understand why 70,000,000 plus of my fellow citizens voted for he who shall not be named except in an indictment. Trying to understand what that means for the future of our nation. This week I’m going to start sorting through the tea leaves. 538. Politico. NYT. WP. Even Newsmax, the new go to conservative (wacko conservative) news site. Books like Upswing by Robert Putnam. Seeing what my conservative friends post on Facebook. Listening to the wind. Where will it go? This may be he who will not be named except in an indictment’s true wall. A wall dividing the American people rather than that other one stiff arming the poor and the suffering.

Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”:

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’”

A quick reference to this poem pointed out that what doesn’t like a wall is frost. Or, Frost. Or, me. Or, maybe, you.

It will be decades before these wounds can be mended. Like Frost’s neighbor there are so many of us who believe “Good fences make good neighbors.” So many who insist each time a fence or wall gets breached, we have to run, repair it, make it tight. Perhaps if we weren’t so quick to defend our field. Maybe this field we could let lay fallow for a few years. Let the wall stay down for awhile. Maybe it would stay down. We could walk back and forth, visit each other’s farms. Yards. Political parties. Find a way that supports the nation rather than our faction.

I say that, yes, and mean it. But, I also say, burn their house’s down, salt their fields, and deport all of them. We are none of us one thing.

Let’s tear that Blue wall down. Replace it with a renewed culture of protect and serve. Yes, really. That slogan’s good enough already. Let’s figure out how to implement it for real in our cities.

Raise the minimum raise. Put a wall between our fellow citizens and poverty. Yes, wall it right out of our country. We can use the stones from taking down these other walls. This will require rethinking capitalism. I’m a fan, as I’ve said before, of a mixed economy*. Read Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life. The question is the mix. We’ve not got it right here. And, we need to.

We’ll build solar farms, windmills, geothermal sites. We’ll switch off the internal combustion engines and leave the oil in the ground. Change the offshore drilling platforms to research laboratories, small countries, hell, even hotels. We’ll use carbon capture technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere. We’ll stop putting up a carbon wall between ourselves and space. Cool ourselves down.

That South Dakota nurse. Did you read her story about dying patients who still don’t believe in Covid? Well, here’s the wall we need right now. A wall around each home until at least January 2nd. Get the holidays behind us before we get over our self-imposed or state-imposed lockdowns. Or, maybe a wall until the vaccines have been given at least to us old folks and medical personnel. Or, maybe until, this is the one that makes the most sense to me, we flatten the curve. We’ve never done it. We can do it. We need to do it.

So. Let’s build a few walls, tear down others. Get to the point where we don’t need them. Soonest. But, hard.

*A mixed economy is variously defined as an economic system blending elements of a market economy with elements of a planned economy, free markets with state interventionism, or private enterprise with public enterprise.[1][2][3][4] While there is no single definition of a mixed economy, one definition is about a mixture of markets with state interventionism, referring specifically to a capitalist market economy with strong regulatory oversight and extensive interventions into markets. Another is that of an active collaboration of capitalist and socialist visions.[5] Yet another definition is apolitical in nature, strictly referring to an economy containing a mixture of private enterprise with public enterprise.[6] Alternatively, a mixed economy can refer to a socialist economy that allows a substantial role for private enterprise and contracting within a dominant economic framework of public ownership. This can extend to a Soviet-type planned economy that has been reformed to incorporate a greater role for markets in the allocation of factors of production.[7] Wiki

Sad and Ashamed

Written By: Charles - Nov• 21•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Saturday gratefuls: Alan. The Ancient ones. Venus in the sky with diamonds. Thanksgiving. Smaller, this year. Trump. Revealing how precious and how fragile our democracy is. Kate. Good days. All those who read Ancientrails. Thank you. The gas heater in the loft. La Nina. Keeping us dry. And, aware. Holiseason. Lighting up lives across the globe. Next up, an American Thanksgiving.

Friendship. So important. At times so difficult. I made a mistake with a group of friends, introduced a close friend from another part of my life, and it didn’t go well. I misread the signals, assumed too much. Now my close friend and I will have to be embarrassed together. I feel ashamed and sad. Today I talk with the friend, a Colorado friend, and tell him that he’s no longer welcome, except as a possible guest. Tough duty. Lost some sleep last night.

Friendship bonds. In this case the old and deep bonds between my group of friends are so significant that having another present changes the dynamics. In an unhelpful way. I missed this because I’m friends with all of them. I assumed and it did in fact make an ass out of me. 73 and still adulting. Gosh. I want to remain friends with everyone. We’ll see if that’s possible.

The orange bother. Wonder if he uses a (very large) tanning bed or tan in a bottle. He’s trying to remove the loss lines from this bummer of an election for him. Don’t imagine the tanning salon will help. No amount of cosmetology, even if the stylist is the inimitable Rudy Giuliani, will make them disappear. Trump looks as foolish as tan lines in November.

Thought I might be ready to analyze this mess of an election, but I’m not. Reading the commentary makes cringe. So far. That will pass. I want to consider what Trump’s depredations mean for our future as a nation. Not yet.

Covid. Feels like the nation is Evel Kneivel. All we have to do is jump the time between today and next spring when the vaccine roll out will jumpstart the end to this episode of “Do You Feel Sick!” That’s a long time and there are many holidays ahead. Many college kids coming home. Many kids wanting Grandma and Grandpa. Many older folks who’ve been good about staying inside since March now look at holidays with no kids, no grandkids, no friends. This is hard.

Winter squash. Wild caught salmon, Cook Inlet. Orange, tomato, onion, olive, and caper salad. A nice, healthy supper.

Had a bit of weirdness yesterday. Got up from doing planks and pelvic raises on the ball. My heart rate jumped up and didn’t fall when I sat down. Called my medical expert on the intercom. Probably orthostatic hypotension. A blood pressure drop when suddenly going from sitting on lying down to standing. I’ve been exercising regularly since my early 40’s. Used pulse rate monitoring most of that time. Pretty familiar with how my body responds to exercise. This was different. Unless it persists I would write NBD in my chart. No Big Deal.

Tinpot Dictator

Written By: Charles - Nov• 20•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Friday gratefuls: Ruby with snowshoes, rear hatch all better now, a new drink of synthetic oil. Figuring out meals through Sunday. Rudy and Don. Showing us the darkside of political greed. Venus below the clouds this morning. This day. The only day we have. Ever. Stable mind. Stable heart. Mule deer. The buck and the doe in our front yesterday. Very high fire risk. Drought. Covid. All part of our world, the one we’re fortunate to know.

Got the snow tires, Blizzaks, down from their shelf, tossed them in Ruby, (well, maybe I worked a little harder than that), and drove to Lakewood and Stevinson Toyota. Over to Enterprise for a rental car and back home. They finished up and I drove back in around 2:30. The rear hatch had been misaligned by the folks at Kaliber. Should have been on their dime, but it was too complicated. Logistics of a one driver family.

The many lives of Thanksgiving. Remember Squanto? Don’t hear much about him anymore. Getting ready for a post about Thanksgiving. A lot of what I discovered surprised me. It might surprise you, too.

On Tuesday I’ll drive down the hill to Easy Entrees, about 3 miles, and pick up Thanksgiving dinner for Kate and me. Turkey this year. I’m not a fan of turkey, but Kate is. This year is a turkey year. Sage dressing. Gravy. My mashed potatoes. A big salad. Zooming with relatives. The clan in the early a.m. here. Kate’s sises and Jon and the kids later in the day. Maybe Joe and Seoah too.

Speaking of Joe and Seoah. They’re moving again, this time to Oahu. Only the military travel folks could do these flight arrangements though: Singapore to Incheon to San Francisco to Honolulu. Geez. Joe notes that this is all technically completed on the same day thanks to the International Date Line. It won’t feel like that to them. Once there, fourteen days of quarantine. Murdoch’s arrival will take longer, possibly until late January. Though. They do end up in Hawai’i. A nice reward for such an exhausting itinerary.

One thing to note right now about Thanksgiving. Sorta obvious, but it never occurred to me. It’s a harvest holiday. One other thing. No, it did not start with the Pilgrims. More later.

Ever seen a tinpot dictator trying to grab power anyway he can? Just read the papers this morning. This should (but, probably won’t) cause Republicans to break ranks. This is no longer about election fraud. It’s a naked grab for another term, one already denied. A sad day for America, but maybe the final straw for at least some of this man’s tentative supporters. I hope so.

Makes me sad more than angry. Thrashing and kicking, his diapers gonna come off. The adults need to step up, put this man-baby back in his crib. Hopefully a crib with bars.

It’s a weird time in the U.S. Très weird. Thanksgiving coming. The no longer invited guest refusing to leave. It may take years to recover from this insult to our way of life. The upside? We have a chance to rethink and re-solve some fundamental problems of long standing: white racism, how we police, climate change, classism. Covid? Well. We have a chance to use science. Yes. Real science to combat it. Has the well been too poisoned for that? We’ll find out.

Double/Triple Irony

Written By: Charles - Nov• 19•20

Samain and the Thanksgiving Moon

Thursday gratefuls: A good visit with a potential new doc. Our since we moved here doc, Lisa Gidday, retires January 1. 2020 was too much for her. Also a good visit for Kep with his dermatologist/allergist. Yes, even dogs. He has hot spots (allergies, I think) in addition to the infection he got from grooming. Orion headed for the evening sky, in the early morning now partly behind Black Mountain. Ruby. Snowshoes today. Oil change. Rear door diagnosis.

Happy to report that Kate’s had several good days in a row now. A crummy two day stretch, a Sjogren flare?, or it would be two weeks plus. When mama’s happy, everybody’s happy. Makes me smile.

Found this wonderful tribute to a brave dog and his friend on Next Door Shadow Mountain. A local story and a beautiful one. Hope you have a friend like Winston.

He’s flopping like a fish pulled untimely from his Whitehouse pond. Throwin’ shade. Dissing the election process which his own head of cybersecurity said was as good as it’s ever been. Which every election official in every state has certified as sound. The votes of which elected more Republicans than anticipated yet somehow screwed up the Presidential vote. On the same damn ballot? Call Rudy!

So. Tired. Of. His. Bullshit. Go away, bad President. Go away.

Rigel slept last night with her head on my pillow, her back snugged up against Kate. Believe she’s beaten the endocarditis. Worth it.

When I took Kep in for his vet appointment yesterday, it was 75 in Englewood. 75! November 18th. Thanksgiving next week. And, 75. The world feels off kilter for us old folks who really do remember snowy Thanksgivings, white Christmases. I did see in the Washington Post this morning that our carbon emissions will be at their lowest for three decades. Covid dropped them, of course. And, the orange excrescence. If people weren’t dying, I’d say it’s worth it. Over a quarter of a million now. That’s Winston-Salem or Norfolk disappeared from the map.

Lock yourself down.  This Atlantic article tells the truth about what we should be doing right now. But, we won’t. I get it, too. The Christmas retail season for a consumer based economy. Gonna trash that and still survive politically? I wouldn’t wanna be a governor right now. But. The other shoe will drop when kids come home from college for Thanksgiving and/or the Christmas holiday period. And. Of course. Families will still put aside common sense to embrace relatives, loved ones. I read the other day that this surge, 170,000 new cases a day, has been driven by small gatherings in homes and bars. We’re ramping up the number of infected just in time for the most volatile and problematic time in the whole year so far. Think about that. In all of 2020 we’ve got the worst time ahead of us.

Here’s the double/triple irony. The vaccines look good. Doctors are much better at treating Covid. But, so many will die and get sick simply because Trump will still be in office over this time of increasing vulnerability for so, so many. Cursed year. Cursed year.

Ta for now. Gotta get the snowshoes in Ruby so Stevinson can mount them.

The New West

Written By: Charles - Nov• 18•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Wednesday gratefuls: Mountain Waste. Doctors. The one here and the ones out there. Roads. The builders of Colorado Mountain roads. His Dark Materials. Phillip Pullman. Friends. Caregiving. Tsundoku. Collecting books you have not read. William Schmidt. Bill. As he goes through the next 14 days. Tom on December 1st. Carne asada unthawing. Carnitas and beans for supper.

Red Sky in the morning through the Lodgepoles. A western greeting. When it’s red like this, I always think of Louis L’Amour. I’ve only read one of his. It surprised me. The prose was more like Dashiel Hammet. I think it was Riders of the Purple Sage.

When we moved out here, I expected cowboy hats, western shirts, cowboy boots, maybe guns on the hip. Bars with half-doors on spring pivots. Lotta chaw. I have been disappointed. There is the occasional Stetson. Cowboy boots are the most common of the things I mentioned. Very few western shirts, though attending the Great Western National Stockshow saw many of them. It’s the rodeo guys, the paid cowboy entertainers, who dress western.

Although. Yesterday when we got our hair done, Jackie showed me pictures of her son’s wedding. The minister, her son and his bride stood on a large boulder. Her proud father, all dressed in black with a black Stetson and belt with silver stood off to the side below as did the small number of wedding guests. The chairs were hay bales with Diné blankets. This western culture lives on among ranchers. It’s more of a rural thing.

Denver and its metro area, including the Front Range where Kate and I live, is the New West. Skiers, hikers, back country campers, and many millennials have added themselves to the state. In spite of the many bumper stickers like Native, Colorado: We’re full. This change irritates the hell out of “native” Coloradans. Who are, in my opinion, feeling a slight taste of the angst their ancestors gave the Utes, the Apaches, and the Comanches who lived here first. They’re not native here. No one is, in the longview. It took those wandering tribes from Asia a while to populate North America, but even the earliest of them weren’t here 50,000 years ago. But, as we used to say in the first grade, those early nations did have dibs on the land.

This change in the human population has changed both the physical and political landscapes. The number of hard rock mines here, hard rock mines with toxic runoff and piles of toxic tailings literally dot the mountainous part of the state. After the Indian wars, the settlement of Colorado got a big push from Eastern mining and railroad interests, plus one pulse of gold diggers. Pikes Peak or bust. Most, almost all, busted. There was gold here. And silver. And magnesium. So many minerals that a college, The Colorado School of Mines, has taken a storied place in both the states recent past and mining around the world. The mines, the railroads, even the stockyards that grew up around the ranches and the confluence of north/south rail lines, were not locally owned, nor locally controlled. Colorado was, back then, a vassal state of financiers, industrialists, and railroad owners like James J. Hill.

That’s the second big lie behind the nativist bumper stickers. These faux natives of Colorado did not “own” it. Those who saw the West, the Rockies in particular, as a source of resources for their own plans, did. They controlled the politics and the wealth. Those so-called natives descended from peasants who worked the land and mountains for Wall Street feudal lords. The New West, the new Colorado, has its own Fortune 500 companies. The space, technology and military presence here makes Colorado a unique blend of highly educated workers and outdoors enthusiasts. It also means that the state has gone from red to purple to blue over the last few decades. Again, a process highly irritating to those who want to close our borders to new residents.

Kate and I are part of the New West, the new Colorado. So are many of our neighbors. We have moved West as Horace Greeley once urged young men to do. Sort of. Many of us came from the humid east, but many come from Texas and California. Colorado, by a slim majority, became the first state to mandate by popular vote, the reintroduction of wolves. The natives were the chief opposition. The rancher crowd and the hunting oriented outdoors folks. This will not be their first defeat along environmental lines. We also elected a gay Governor, Jared Polis, two years ago, after having been called the Hate State not twenty years ago.

When I consider all this, I’m not surprised any more at the low relevance of old west motifs. My fleece and plaid shirt, denim and hiking shoes, are the dress of the New West. At least for me.











Thanks for the Body Contact

Written By: Charles - Nov• 17•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Tuesday gratefuls: Kate’s good days. Cottage pie. Rigel in the bed. Her licking my hand this morning. Kep peeking over the edge of the bed, “Get up, Get up!” Charlie Haislet, may his treatments succeed. CBE. The blues shabbat this Friday. Chess. Stefan Zweig. His Dark Materials. Phillip Pullman. Vaccines. Covid. Sleep. Electric blanket. Cool nights.


The other night Kep got up, turned around three times, and laid down with his back snug up against mine. I know this is probably weird to non-dog people and that some dog people say my dog will never be in my bed. Fair enough. For me, however, it was an affirmation of the hug. Of love between species. And, it got me thinking. About hugs and sex and general body contact.

When I was in Seminary in the early 1970’s, all of us had to go through the University of Minnesota’s sex education seminar. No, it was not pictures of penises and vaginas with pointers and the guy who couldn’t teach anything else in charge. No, this was a week long event, the chairs were bean bags, and there was the “desensitization” morning where they showed multiple pornographic films at the same time. The idea was to produce clergy who were not afraid of either their sexuality or the sexuality of their parishioners. Not sure whether it achieved that lofty goal, but it did make conversations about sex and sexuality easier.

“Thank you for the body contact.” We learned to say this whenever we bumped into someone or accidentally brushed up against another person. I know. But, it was the 1970’s. The purpose of this phrase was laudable, imo. Normalize body contact, don’t fear the touch of another. Of course, boundaries. Of course. But don’t treat contact with another as if it meant they had cooties. Or, Covid. Yes, in today’s Covid infected world this advice would be anathema, but Covid won’t last. Hugs and touching will.

Anyhow, I went immediately, as you might imagine, to the concept of dasein. Heidegger’s idea of being there, of being in the world, reminds us that our place in this world extends beyond the limits of our body, beyond our skin, into the worlds of the other. In some ways this is obvious since our sensorium collects information from all around us, even from very far away. In a variation on this idea I’ve seen recent articles suggest mind is not limited to our body either, and for some of the same reasons.

Existence before essence*. Wherever you may stand on this philosophical chestnut, hugs and sex and hand shaking and accidental bumps into another affirm the existence of an-other. If you think hard about being in your own body, you can come to the conclusion, as the Sophists did, that you and your body is the only thing that matters. In fact, you can stretch it to include the idea that you might be the only thing in existence. That’s solipsism. You’ll just have to trust me that you can get there logically, unless you already knew that. I reject it, as I imagine you might, too.

Though we might not go that far, it is easy, especially now during the wear a mask, don’t touch, wash your hands moment we’re all having, to not contact another warm body. Spouses and dogs, children being the important exceptions. Feeling Kep’s 102 degree body heat radiating from his body to mine made his presence very real. As did the weight of him. More than that. It was love that prompted him to lie down next to me, close enough that we touched. Kep’s dasein and mine became entangled for that time.

In my world existence does precede essence. Your presence and how you show up is much more important to me than your “human nature.” As my presence and how I show up is more important to myself than whatever human nature I might be said to have. We need reminding though of the flesh and blood reality of the other. That they are like us in some fundamental manner even if it’s not something we can understand or access. Hugs. Sex. Handshakes. Crowded rooms. Or, the simple act of a dog, a friend, a life partner.

Thanks, Kep, for the body contact.



*The proposition that existence precedes essence is a central claim of existentialism, which reverses the traditional philosophical view that the essence of a thing is more fundamental and immutable than its existence.Wikipedia






Covid Noise

Written By: Charles - Nov• 16•20


Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Monday gratefuls: Sushi Win. Spring rolls. Sushi Win special roll. Wonton soup. Dumplings. Night off from cooking. Tonight: Easy Entrees Cottage Pie. A new Moon. The power of democratic traditions and norms. Evident now, at least to me. The Stars in the Heavens. The Mountains and Oceans on Earth. The fruited plains. The dark soils of the Midwest. The Colorado River. The Central Valley of California. The Yangtze. The Danube. The Mississippi. The Missouri.

Soon there will be turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie.

But. We’ll need to imagine going over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house because gram and gramps are at high risk for two deadly diseases: the flu and Covid 19. It’s gonna be a long distance holiday, as I imagine Christmas will be, too. This holiseason will be memorable for what we don’t do more than what we do. Talked with Joe the other day and we’re thinking July, around Seoah’s July 4 birthday. Maybe in their new home on Oahu. Virtual dessert with Kate’s sisters, maybe the same with Jon and the kids. Christmas and Hanukah. To be decided.

Good news about the vaccines. Two different companies reporting 90% and 95% effectiveness. Yes. Maybe we’ll be able to see this whole thing in the rear view by next summer or fall. God, I hope so. Right now I’m satisfied with the disappearance of Trump from my list of things to consider when I wake up. I mean really satisfied. So much so that Covid seems distant, static being played on the planet’s radio. The noise doesn’t get here.

Not true though. Jackie, our hair stylist, got it. She’s a friend. The closest in to our circle that I know who’s had it. We see her tomorrow. No, we’re not gonna join in the great American Covid experiment if we can help it.  Too old, too much risk. When I drove over to Sushi Win yesterday to get some take out, a small restaurant had a banner sign that said, “Come on, Evergreen. Let’s get busy living.” On their patio, in 45 degree weather, several sat maskless eating. It’s that attitude and that sort of carelessness that is driving our current surge. And, note, this is a surge in the first wave. We never flattened the curve. We sorta smushed it toward down a couple of times, but we never behaved well enough to gain control. If we had…

The era of corporate logos on astronauts and space mining took a blazing step forward with the SpaceX launch of crew headed to the space station. Up, up, and away!


Written By: Charles - Nov• 15•20


Samain and the moon of Thanksgiving

Sunday gratefuls: The Wind. Snow. The Stars at Night through the bedroom window, between the Lodgepoles and the Aspen. Kate’s good day yesterday. Conversation with Marilyn and Irv on Zoom. Seeing their two Puppies. Biden wins Arizona and Georgia. Living in the Rocky Mountains. The Snow fall yesterday. Beautiful. Holiday feeling. Talking to Joe yesterday. Murdoch and his eventual trip to Hawaii. Brenton. A very good guy.

Before falling asleep last night the zeitgeist kept coming up. Yeah, I know. But, what are you gonna do? The mind goes where it wants sometimes. I leaned into it. Tried to see the world from 90,000 feet. What’s really going on right now that’s unique to our time, transformational? I came up with four core things: late stage capitalism, climate change, identity politics, and covid. These four drive, I believe, the forces that make our time so chaotic. This is not the first chaotic time in world history, nor will it be the last, but it is ours.

Late stage capitalism. I’m no Marxist. I don’t know enough about Marxist economics. But this idea, at least as I understand, seems true. In the latter stages of a capitalist economy a funny thing happens on the way to store. You get a consumer driven economy. That’s the end result hoped for and now realized in the U.S., getting there in China, Europe’s there, so is Singapore.

Here’s the problem. It’s the Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good.” dilemma. Sure, greed drives a lot of imaginative innovation. Sure, a capitalist economy delivers a lot of stuff to a lot of people. And, yes, greed has lifted a lot of people out of poverty. Greed is the dirty intimate secret of the last 75 years, not often discussed in polite conversation, but felt in by so many of us. The problem with capitalism is that it doesn’t understand the concept of enough.

No, this is not a screed against profits. Profits are necessary for businesses to, well, stay in business. I get that. The problem lies in the so called mandate to always deliver the most value to the share holders. Or, the mandate to collect as much as you can in cash and other assets from whatever business you choose. That means you gotta drive wages as low as you can. That’s a major cost factor. But. The lower wages go, the less an individual can consume. It’s the classic ouroborous moment where the snake begins to eat itself. But, the mandate is to collect as many profits as possible. Greed, shareholder value, whatever floats your boat, The Good Old Rationalization. It’s a yacht, no doubt.

The endpoint of this process is our current Gilded Age where money and assets get driven up the class structure until we have the patently absurd situation where the top 10 percent own 70 percent of U.S. wealth and since 1989 the top 1 percent expanded their wealth share from 24 percent to 32 percent. Statista. Then comes a recession. Or, a covid based contraction of the economy. Suddenly the consuming classes no longer have jobs and begin bleeding out any assets they may have accumulated. The economy tilts badly. The more wealth at the top, the less there is for consumers to use to drive the economy. And, this is driven directly by the logic of capitalism. Greed, Gecko type greed. That is late stage capitalism working its way toward a time when the 70 percent have so little share in the economy that they can no longer participate or their participation level becomes insufficient to support a consumer based economy.

Running right alongside late stage capitalism is climate change. Late stage capitalism is, I believe, the primary driver in the authoritarian political renaissance. Workers and families whose share of the pie decreases are ripe for exploitation by demagogues. Make America Great Again. Economic tension also raises the stakes for racists who see the other as taking away what that small piece they have. And, in their minds, are entitled to. Well, it is also drive climate change. The mad dash for profits funneling wealth up to the top 10%, the top 1%, is literally fueled by fossil fuels. Any major transition away from fossil fuels eats into profits. This makes even those who understand the science behind climate change hesitant to incur the costs associated with renewable energy. It means the existing energy system, which has concentrated a lot of the wealth, has a political stake in the status quo.

Intersectional identity politics, that is, getting and retaining justice for persons marginalized by the broom sweeping money upward, and/or marginalized for some other reason, has taken hold. A core demand of the new era will be an economy and a social structure that includes the other: the person of a different color, a different gender, a different belief, a different nationality, a different economic status.

And, finally, covid. Of the four it is the least important over the long term and by far the most significant over the short term. It makes thinking about how to move forward so difficult. It kicks so many out of work. It kills so many and disables so many others. And, for each of those killed or disabled, there are families harmed. It will not be easy to dig out from under the after effects of covid. Though I do believe it helped push the Donald back where he belongs, out of the presidency and hopefully into prison. It also ups the ante for late stage capitalism. In many ways.

Anyhow, that’s my spirit of the age thoughts from last night before I went to sleep.