Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Thursday gratefuls: Mike Rogers. Bear Creek. Rigel, a warning bark at 4:45. Then, continued warning for a good bit. Noisy girl. Kep slept. Blue Mountain Kitchens. Going with their proposal. Cool nights. The new fitted sheet. Dan Herman and his gifts. A full workout. HIIT. Starting today. CBE. A community of friends, a tribe. My tribe.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Golden coins scattered across the driveway

Tarot: The Moon, #18 of the Major Arcana


I’ve fallen in love. No. Not that kind. Never say never but I’m not seeking a new relationship. At all. No, this love is with the Rocky Mountain Fall. The Elk rut. The shofar of the Mountains, the bugling Bull Elks. Hyperphagia rampant within the Bear Tribe. The gradual change of the Aspens from their quaking green Leaves to small dabs of gold as each Tree transforms, heavy with gold coin.

Each morning I get up, come upstairs and the driveway has a scattering of those coins against its black surface, illuminated by the rising Sun. My heart beats a little faster.

Not just the Rocky Mountain Fall. The Spring, too. Even the too dry Summers. The mad dash of the melting Snow throwing itself down the many Creeks, headed toward the World Ocean, oh so far away. Winter. Ah, the darkness. The Sky at night. Orion returned. Clear Sky.

Kate said she felt like she was on vacation every day. I feel at home. And we both stayed in spite of or rather because of the Altitude. 8,800 feet. High and lifted up.

Speaking of high. Only in Colorado. The past president of CBE, Dan Herman, brings me Vegetables from his Garden. Yesterday bright orange Carrots, sweet red Tomatoes, and a miniature Cantaloupe. Plus. A small plastic baggie of Marijuana buds, still curing. I burnt the resin off the scissors and was high for 4 hours! he said. Smiling.

Breakfast with Marilyn and Irv on Monday. Alan and I will have breakfast on Monday here in Aspen Park. Rabbi Jamie on Tuesday afternoon. Luke and Elisa teaching the Torah and the Stars class on Tuesday morning. The MVP meeting last week with Rich and Ron, Tara and Marilyn, Susan.

Simchat Torah

Got lucky when I married Kate. In so many ways. Who knew her conversion to Judaism, long before I met her, would have such a wonderful impact on me after her death? This small tribe gives me the human element, along with Jon, Ruth, and Gabe for my Rocky Mountain home. Like an Aspen Grove, connected beneath the soil. Not clones, hardly, but the same symbiosis. Nurturing each other. Making life possible and worthwhile.

Rigel sent up an alarm bark at 4:45 am this morning. She has a big chest. Loud. And she continued for a while. Not sure what it was. Could have been a Bear or a Mountain Lion. But. When I went in the kitchen, I noticed that one of Dan’s gift Tomatoes was half gone. Rodent sized teeth marks on it. Maybe Rigel got it, or them? Probably not, but I can hope.

More money stuff today. Refi work. Bills to pay.

Returning to HIIT. High intensity interval training. Gotta get my cardio back up in the sweat zone. HIIT is more time efficient, yes, but it also impacts whole body health. Left it behind a few months ago. Picking it up again.

Coyote HVAC is on hold. David is still sick. Going to next Monday. These guys are kind, understanding, and stand up honest. Pretty damned refreshing.

Tomorrow AM Judi from Blue Mountain Kitchens comes by with the new cabinet guy. Measuring. Checking. I’m going with them. The Bear Creek proposal was about twice what I had to spend. Got a sweet message back though from Mike Rogers offering to check Blue Mountain’s proposal. You can lean on us as friends, too, he wrote.

Think I could get a little sappy about the kindness of strangers. And, familiars.





Posted in Astrology, Dogs, Family, Fourth Phase, Friends, Health, Holidays, Judaism, Kabbalah, Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment

Busy. Busyness?

Fall and the (full) Moon of the Thinned Veil

Beth Alpha Synagogue, Greco-Roman period, Jerusalem. Zodiac

Wednesday gratefuls: Lisa, the respiratory therapist. Dr. Emrie, pulmonologist. Ruby, my hot ride. Elisa and Luke, teaching Torah and the Stars. Rabbi Jamie and his wisdom. Midnight Mass. Very, very dark. Blue Mountain Kitchens. Rigel, the night barker and early riser. Kep, with me.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Grief’s work within me

Tarot: Queen of Pentacles, Druid


I’m retired. Right? Yeah. Then why do my days seem so full of late? Take Monday. And, yesterday.

Get up. Feed dogs. Write ancientrails. Eat breakfast. Some (too brief) cardio. Tarot and the Stars. Finish that. Take a shower. Wait for electrician. Light lunch. Into Lakewood for an appointment with Dr. Emrie, pulmonologist. Back up the hill to the post office. Finally mail that package to Max. Over to Aspen Park Dental for Dental release for an osteopenia drug. Home for 20 minutes. Off to CBE for a time with Rabbi Jamie. Come home. Feed dogs. Heat up a Marie Callendar meal. Eat. Watch TV. Go to bed.

Rigel. Barking, barking in the middle of the night. Insistent. I ignored her and went back to sleep. A while later. Again. Insistent. Got up. 5:30 am. Gonna be 4:30 very soon. OK. OK. I’m getting up. Geez. Just wait. She and Kep went outside. Morning meds. Make coffee. Let Kep and Rigel in. Give Rigel carprofen. Food for them.

Now I’m in the Loft, writing ancientrails. So far like yesterday just pushed ahead an hour by Rigel the wonder dog. I wonder what she was up to?

Checked Wells-Fargo. Ode to Joy! A ten-thousand dollar injection from Uncle Sam. Social Security back dated to April. And, updated to spousal benefits. Thank you, Kate. Feel like I just crossed the final line in a slow motion run that’s now 7 months long.

Let’s go backwards yesterday. Rabbi Jamie at CBE. I had three things to talk about with him. First, I told him he was the best teacher I’ve ever had. Why? I got trained in academics as a blood sport, disputative, competitive, no holds barred. You have taught me appreciative inquiry. I can learn from books and articles, people and ideas that I might have dismissed as wrong headed, illogical, or just plain wrong. I did not add, but will soon, that he’s truly learner centered, vastly knowledgeable, and Socratic.

Then I asked him about grief. I told him I felt good. And, wondered if that was ok, was I honoring Kate? He confirmed what I thought. I grieved with her over her long illness. I took care of her and have no regrets in that, or any other regard, related to her death. Also, she chose to die. Neither my burden, nor guilt. Her family and I were together and supportive of each other in her final days.

Hendrick Andriessen (1607–1655)

I didn’t add but will now. Sitting shiva was healing, as was the service. Also, I’ve had the comfort of friends near and far. Family, too. Edging my way into that new life, Kate present in blessed memory.

Finally, I asked him about how to support Jon. He agreed that the bounded financial help I’ve given has clear limits and that my approach makes sense. He did suggest occasional conversations with Ruth and Gabe to see how they’re holding up. I have those, but not often, since Jon’s usually here when they are. I’ll make more of a conscious effort.

Walked out of the synagogue into a golden Leaf splattered late afternoon, a chill Wind coming off the Mountains to the West, and light Rain falling.

Before that I’d seen Dr. Emrie. A good report, this is a good report, he said. Referring to the spirometer test Lisa took last Thursday. You’re fine for now and there things we can do if you begin to get short of breath or these numbers go down. Left that appointment feeling good about my lungs. Not gonna spend much time on them in my head, though I do have a more vigorous core workout segment in my new program.

The electrician that contracts with Coyote HVAC came to take pictures of the areas where he had to work. David’s been sick the last two days, so they’re a day or so behind. No big deal. I imagine they’ll finish this week.

While waiting on him I got good news from Blue Mountain Kitchens. The new cabinet maker whose website I posted last Thursday. He will match the cabinet estimates in Blue Mountain’s bid. Means I’ll get much more sophisticated cabinetry at a price I already know I can afford. Unless Bear Creek really wows me, I’m going with Blue Mountain.

Torah and the Stars began to get into the deep end. The Sefer Yetzirah is the first book in the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition.

“He bound twenty-two letters on his tongue, and the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed the secret him. He drew them with water. He burnt them with fire. He agitated them with breath. He burned them with seven stars. He directed them with twelve constellations.” SY, long version, (6:6)

We looked at zodiac signs according to the Jewish calendar. My birthday is in the month of Shevat. We discussed our birthday parsha, mine is Mishpatim, Exodus 21-24. We also looked at an early Jewish take on what the day of the week means and what it means to be born on a particular day. Friday in my case.

This course has a lot of content, just like the Tarot class, and most of it new to me. What I like. I can swim in this ocean.

Before that was the usual day with ten minutes of cardio.

All those anima related major arcana cards, the Rebirth card, the Queen of Pentacles I drew this morning have been signalling a new way, a new life. I’m living into it. Right now.

Posted in Astrology, Dogs, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Health, Kabbalah, Mountains, Our Land and Home, Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment

Good for Her Age

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

With Rigel, Andover

Tuesday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Julie Freshman. Alan. Dr. Palmini on Rigel, “She looks so good for her age.” 13 December 1st. Mark and Mary. Diane. Tom and Roxann. Suffering. Jon, too. Ruth and Gabe. Social Security. Finally responsive. A neon Hermit sign.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: A neon Hermit sign

Tarot: Two of Wands, Druid. second day in a row…


Ta dah. First. Got through the Lakewood Social Security office phone maze. Tends to drop you out with no warning. Live human! Who empathized and contacted the guy who had my application for spousal benefits. Who in turn said he had adjudicated it that very day and it was “out for payment.” 3-5 business days. We’ll see about that. I started the process in April. April. That’s the last major item of the administrative matters necessitated by Kate’s death. I think.

Had lunch with Marilyn and Irv Saltzman. Aspen Perks. Their food is better than in the past. We talked philosophy, science, grandkids, mountain living. Good friends. I appreciate the chance to see them regularly.

Tara and Marilyn, CBE

Marilyn is the chairperson of the Mountain Resource Center board. A multi-service organization. Lot of poor folks in the mountains. Food bank. Resale store where a lot of Kate’s clothing went. Employment assistance. Counseling. Folks up here who give a damn. Mitzvah. Tikkun Olam.

Alan chaired the Ovation West board for two years. Rabbi Jamie organized the Interfaith Alliance for Colorado and the Evergreen Homeless shelter. Rich has served on the Special Olympics Colorado board for six years and volunteered for years before that.

Don’t know about other Beth Evergreeners but I’m sure there are many other examples. I know Nancy Friedman puts out a weekly e-mail of political action opportunities for the liberal to radical crowd. Activist Annie is, well, as she names herself. Luke actively advocates for LGBT issues.

Engaged. Caring. Jewish. At least at Beth Evergreen those words all mean the same thing.

Admitted to Marilyn and Irv I’m fed up with having to think about the corona virus. And, feel like I’m too cautious about it. Canceling my trip to Minnesota, for example. Yet. This lung stuff with the paralyzed diaphragm. Not sure how to weigh benefits and risks. Caution trumps it all. I’m no adrenaline junkie, but neither do I consider myself risk averse. I wanna get out and do stuff. But. I don’t wanna die yet. Damn it.

Zoom appointment yesterday with Julie Freshman, an insurance broker who handles medicare advantage plans. Believe she’s found a different version of the plan I currently have, AARP Secure Advantage, that will work better for me. She’s also found a newly opening medical practice in Evergreen that will be taking new patients and will take my insurance. No more drives into the deep south of the Denver burbs for primary care. Will start in January. Julie is a sweetheart and smart. I liked her a lot.

Young Rigel and Vega, Andover

Finished that call. Loaded Rigel in Ruby and drove to Sano. She has bumps and lumps on her back, sebaceous cysts. A skin condition, seborrhea, too. Antibiotics. Expensive blood panel to check on infection, other possible triggers for the seborrhea as well as her liver function. She takes twice a day carprofen (doggy tylenol) for the severe arthritis in her right rear leg. Palmini thinks she may have a slipped disc as well.

Each time he’s seen her over the last year plus Palmini’s remarked on how good she looks for such an old dog. I can still see the puppy in her sometimes. She’s got a will to thrive, loves chasing things still, eats well, and keeps me warm. Last night she was on one side of me and Kep on the other. A three mammal night.

That was the day. A lot in it for this guy.

Deb and Dave, owners of On the Move Fitness

Frustrated with myself though. Not leaving time for exercise. Missed last Friday and now Monday. I don’t exercise on the weekend. Important to both my physical and mental health. Sorta decided I would take responsibility now for my own workouts. Planning them, learning them, changing them when necessary. Used to do this, but got in the personal trainer habit after my knee surgery in 2016.

I liked Dave and Deb, appreciated their encouragement and their friendship. Dave died last June of glioblastoma. Covid put some distance between Deb and me. Reminded me that I could do this for myself, too. Kate and I had personal trainers off and on, but I followed my own path the years just prior to our move to Colorado. Back to that now.

Torah and the Stars at 10 am. Focusing on the Kabbalistic side of astrology. A brave old world. New to me, this tarot/astrology domain. Opening slowly. Learning.






Posted in Astrology, Dogs, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Health, Judaism, Kabbalah, Mountains, Our Land and Home, Shadow Mountain, Tarot, Travel | Leave a comment


Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Monday gratefuls: Kep and Rigel, my companion dogs. Mark and Mary. Diane. The folks at Groveland. The Ancient ones who attended. White privilege. Allies. Justice. Paul and Christmas. Holiseason not far off. Darkness.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Check Your Privilege

Tarot: Two of Wands, Druid

Got my presentation, Check Your Privilege, before Groveland UU yesterday. It went well. The discussion afterward was on point about racism and what a group of privileged white folks might do. It felt like mild redemption to me since the last presentation I gave on Zoom for them got scrambled and hashed. I’ll post Check Your Privilege someday this week.

The pandemic and zoom have changed so much. It’s now conceivable to a congregation in Minnesota to ask a former member to present on a Sunday morning. And, just as conceivable for them to say yes. Plus, my friends, including one in Maine, could attend if they so chose. And, they did.

Office work. As I noted here after talking to Mike and Kate, virtual first or remote only organizations have already begun to take shape. Her organization no longer has a headquarters.

Connecting with friends and family. I communicate with a cousin in San Francisco face to face each week. Four old friends from Minnesota every Sunday. I can and have had sessions with my brother in Saudi Arabia, my cousin in San Francisco, and my sister in Singapore.

Huh. Just thought about a Keaton Zoom reunion. Mary? Diane? Mark? What do you think?

Education. I’ve taken several classes, live, through the Kabbalah Experience and now one with the teacher in NY and the students as far away as Australia. There are many more such classes.

Zoom provides the medium and Covid the rationale.

Many articles agree that the office/workspace will never be the same. That will impact many central cities which rely on downtown office workers as during the week, daytime customers. What will happen to all the unused offices? To all the small businesses? Will rush hours become less crowded? What will happen to the tax revenues from office towers?

We’re moving into a future never anticipated, with tools still a bit raw. And learning happening on the fly.

Still no joy with my friends at Social Security. Had I fewer resources I would not be feeling socially secure right now.

Tomorrow and Wednesday will see a wrap to the mini-split installation. Only the kitchen to go after that. Once that’s settled I’m going to take another break. Of some kind.

I’d like to travel a bit in Colorado, but I’m feeling anxious about hotel/motel rooms. Not clear to me whether that’s safe or not. I’m really tired of this whole viral dome over my life. And, I imagine you’re tired of it over yours. Not to mention it’s flu season.

Lunch with Marilyn and Irv at Aspen Perks. Then, a zoom (see!) consult with Julie Freshman about getting a new insurance plan and a new medical practice for an internist. Tired of New West and AARP Secure Advantage.




Posted in Dogs, Family, Fourth Phase, Friends, Kabbalah, Minnesota, Politics, Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant., Shadow Mountain, Tarot | 1 Comment

The Deep End

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Sunday gratefuls: Mark Horn and the Tree of Life Tarot spread class. The Tarot. An avenue to the Soul and its contexts. The collective unconscious. John Desteian. 100 prayers of blessings. A day. Joe and the Philippines. Murdoch. Kepler. Little Bear Akitas.  Cerulean sky. White led lights. Red sweater. Yellow shirt. Writing. Check Your Privilege.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Allies

Tarot:  Four of Cups


The year Kate retired we decided to take a class together. Northern Clay Center. A week long class. We signed up, drove down to Franklin Avenue near the Northstar Sierra Club offices. We were the only novices. Not well described in the brochure, it was a master class taught by a well-known Minnesota potter. Classic into the deep end stuff. Kate did ok, but even she felt overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. We kept at it, but crossed ceramics off our list of retirement activities afterward.

Tarot and the Gates of Light. The Tree of Life spread. Third week yesterday. Of four. Oh, boy. I’m out of my depth here, too. Many have read Tarot since their twenties, even since childhood in a couple of cases. Not so many have studied Kabbalah, but some have advanced knowledge.

This course puts together the Kabbalistic understanding of the Tree of the Life with a Tarot card spread laid out as the ten sephirot (emanations) on the Tree. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life got sucked into the Western Hermetic tradition, an occult “wisdom” tradition. There are, as a result, two different streams of practice combining the Tree of Life and Tarot.

This course sits in the Jewish mystical tradition, not the path of the Order of the Golden Dawn, for example. Think Aleister Crowley. A card placed on a particular sephira during the reading resonates with the emanation.

Chesed, the emanation of loving kindness, is the fourth sephira counting from the crown, or Keiter. The sephirot present god to the world, are god in the world. I use lower case here to suggest the many contents that might fill up those three letters. Including, absence or non-existence. As Chesed is fourth in the Tree, the tarot folks relate the fours in any suit as Chesed cards.

Let’s say I drew the four of cups, as I did today, and that it fell on Chesed in a Tree of Life spread. That would mean it’s power, it’s meaning would be both influenced and reinforced by Chesed.

“Key words for the four of cups: Fallow. Stagnation. Limitation. Meaning: time to lie fallow, allow your creative spirit to replenish. Developing a structure out of a world born of feelings and imagination.” Druid Craft Book

One way to interpret this card on Chesed, the position of Chesed in the Tree of Life. Charlie, you need to slow down, kick back, take a rest. You’ve been charging hard for over three years. Part of that time was caregiving and part of it grief. You’ve taken agency about your house, taken classes Tarot and Kabbalah, gotten back into life at CBE. Loving kindness suggests you slip into a period of relaxation after the kitchen wraps up. Out of this may come more painting, writing. Or, a new ancientrail. Although, not potting.

The deep end for me though is this. Ten sephirot. 78 cards in a Tarot deck. Each sephirot can have one of 78 cards placed on it during the creation of a spread. 780 different combinations on the tree itself. But wait! That’s not all!

A spread reads cards in the context of each other. If I understand this right, that would be 780 times 780 combinations. Over 600,000! And I barely know the sephirot. Let along the significance, or potential significance, of each card in a tarot deck. That’s the in the deep end part of my participation.

Unlike the pottery class, however, I’m making progress, getting there. Having to paddle hard to catch up increases learning. Or, can. And, is. For me.

Coming back to this post after presenting on white privilege over zoom for Groveland U.U. This one felt good. Last year I did a presentation that left me feeling bad. Glad this one was different. The Ancientones gave up their meeting this morning to attend. Good to see them there: Paul, Tom, Bill. Ode is at a birthday breakfast.

I like writing and presenting the occasional presentation. Stretches me. Emphasis on occasional. I’ve done the occasional adult ed at CBE, too. And would like to again. Occasionally. My days of rigorous attention to a schedule, of leadership for a group are over. I’m leaning now into fourth phase work, soul work, the hermit’s journey.

Pondering the four of cups a bit more, thinking about it as we wander down the ancientrail of the year toward Samain. Samain marks the end of summer, the end of harvest, and the beginning of a Celtic new year. That new year starts, then, in the fallow time. In many parts of the world, Asia and the Middle East for example, the new year starts in Spring. Seems to make more sense. The vivification, the renewal, the rebirth. Flowers. Baby animals. Planting gardens.

Not for the Celts. And, not for me. The fallow time is the period that prepares Mother Earth and ourselves for Spring. It is, too, the time for inner work, for the things of the world to decrease in importance. That’s the Springtime of the Soul that began on Michaelmas.

The four of cups then reminds me of the work that is ahead. It’s not the outer work of HVAC and kitchen remodeling, although those are both important. No, it’s the inner work, meditation, reading, creativity. That’s the work of the next whole season, from Samain through Imbolc. Work I need to do after the paint up, fix up stuff.






Posted in Commentary on Religion, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Great Wheel, Kabbalah, Myth and Story, Plants, Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment

More about Jon

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Saturday gratefuls: Kep and Rigel. Kep’s cytopoint shot. Mark in Saudi Arabia. Mary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Diane still in San Francisco. The Ancient Ones: Maine, Minnesota, Colorado. Jon. His suffering. Ruth, her depression. Coyote HVAC. Possible fancy cabinet maker for the kitchen. At a reasonable? price. The new hearing aid and the Roger.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Corned Beef and Eggs at New York Deli

Tarot: Eight of Cups


Mini-split installation proceeds. David and his helper were here until 3 yesterday. Heat pump installed next to the chimney on the outside wall for the main splits. Heat pump installed on the east (or so) facing side of the garage for the loft unit.

Excited for them to go operational next week. Though. I won’t use their heating function much. At least I don’t think I will.

It may be that they’re cheaper to use than my boiler. Wouldn’t be difficult. Gas up here is so expensive. I’m considering getting an induction stove to cut down on the escaping gas, a contributor to climate change. Doing the kitchen, so, hey!

Had lunch with Jon yesterday at the New York Deli. He’s in rough shape. As he walked toward me, he limped a bit, looked like an old man. He has cellulitis on his skin and goes in and out of low blood pressure as his cortisol replacement wanes. I’m worried about him.

Not a lot I can do given the distance, but I’m ensuring that he will not lose his house in the short term and hiring an electrician to fix a problem that causes certain appliances to go off if another one turns on.

When asked how his emotions fared, he replied, I’m doing ok. And, I believe him. He has a new possibility, being on permanent disability, and will probably get approved at least for medical leave through January.

He’s making prints, developing children’s books. Being creative is a happy place for him and I believe that’s keeping him sane right now. That and the kids. Ruth and Gabe are supportive when they’re with him.

Jon would really like to talk to Kate, get her advice. She was so smart, caring, and objective. A tough combination to find. Plus she knew his medical history. She worried, from the time I met her, that she would outlive him. She knew the ravages diabetes alone can wreak. Now he has the Addison’s which complicates his situation.

Seeing him made me sad, took me down a bit. I’ll cop to  compassion fatigue from caregiving and grief. However. I’ve gained back a lot of strength, gotten good rest in the 7 months since Kate died. 7 months!

Put in a request to look at new Medicare advantage plans. New West has screwed up one too many times for me. United Health, too. I need a new internist at least. In an organized practice that’s not bleeding providers. Found a great insurance broker who will help me look.


Eight of Cups:

Cups are the suit of the emotions, symbolized not only by the cups but the water swirling around them in this card.

I relate this to the Watercourse Way of Alan Watt’s, an explanation of Taoism and wu wei. Soft wins over hard. The water has cut a path down the mountainside and around the shelf of rock on which the cups, empty cups, sit.

The moon is in eclipse as the hooded figure, a druid?, a hermit?, climbs a steep trail up into the mountains.

The eights represent harvest, abundance, manifestation. The eight of cups suggests emotional closure, wrapping up an ongoing project, a phase of life that has come to an end. It suggests moving on, taking a new direction, leaving the old life behind.

Yesterday’s Moon, the 18th major arcana, told me I would have to go deep with Jon. Get into the parts of myself that have blocked me from him. I did that, saw him as he is right now. In part I’m leaving behind my old understanding of him.

Also, I’m leaving behind the most difficult parts of grieving for a new life. At least I feel that I am  Symbolized by the Hermitage. Contacted a neon sign company for a bid on the neon hermit. They will get back to me soon.

Still flailing a bit, tough finding a regular schedule, one that will allow consistency in my workouts. Ragged, not fully there yet. Partly due to taking two classes at once. I privilege time for class work. As I always have. And, there’s that damned Ikea bed which keeps losing its slats when Rigel climbs up on the bed. Gonna get some plywood to put under there. Should solve it.

Posted in Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Health, Kabbalah, Mountains, Tarot | Leave a comment

Breathing Easier

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

mini-split upstairs

Friday gratefuls: Jon, meeting him for lunch at the New York Deli. David, with Coyote HVAC. And, his helper. Marilyn, Ron, Rich, Tara, and Susan at MVP. Hitlamdut, or the middot of curiosity. Lisa, the respiratory therapist. My values on the spirometer test. Snow yesterday.

Sparks of joy and awe: OK to live here on Shadow Mountain

Tarot: The Moon, #18 of the major arcana


Not to bury the lede. Lisa, my pulmonologist’s p.a. equivalent, ran a spirometry test on me yesterday. If you haven’t had one, they’re simple. After clipping my nostrils shut, she gave me a device, see above, into which I inhaled a deep breath and then blew out for six seconds. Harder than it sounds.

We knew I had a breathing problem caused by my paralyzed left diaphragm; this measured its affect. And any other breathing issues as well. Not sure exactly what the numbers mean yet, but here’s what I do know: post-polio syndrome is not progressive and I can live up here as long as I feel able.

Admit I had some worry that the test would reveal a progressive issue that could force me to move to lower ground. Could have made all this work I’m having done seem foolish. Ready, fire, aim. That’s me. Not sorry. I mean, I did it anyway didn’t I?

There is some additional restriction, possibly from smoking, but it’s reversible using alubetrol, a bronchodilator. That means I’m good to remain in the Hermitage as long as I want. I felt lighter after this visit. Some good news at last.

Two more pieces of good news. I hadn’t considered that left-sided paraylisis of my diaphragm was a good thing. That’s because the right lung has two lobes and the left only one, to make space for the heart. Also, and this is a big duh, but, hey! Exercise that works my core strengthens the muscles that help me breathe, including my right diaphragm. Guess who’s gonna get religious about core work? Moi.




After playing who’s responsible for that axumin scan bill, I’m going to pay it. $1,100. And, a test I’ll have at least each year. Not happy. Means I’ll use this enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans to hunt for a new plan.

I need to do that anyhow-though I can tell you that I want to do it as bad I want to walk across broken glass-because I learned in the calls about the scan that my doctor, Leigh Thompson, left the practice. And, no one has told me! This after my long time physician retired in January. New West Physicians has a bunch of problems. This one is the last bit of evidence I need.

Another piece of good news. At least potential good news. A Fairplay cabinet maker is looking to break into the Front Range market and may be willing to do my cabinets both earlier than we’d planned and at the same cost as Blue Mountain’s bid. His work is superb.

Last night at MVP we discussed hitlamdut, the middot, or soul characteristic, of curiosity. Got to use my Roger, the little microphone I set on the table. It bluetooths cleaned up speech to my hearing aid. It’s a marvel.

CBE’s new amphitheater will have a soft open on November 5th. Not finished, but close.


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The Hermitage

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Thursday gratefuls: David and Anthony. Mini-splits. Life after Kate’s death. Kate, always Kate. Jon, who struggles still. MVP folks tonight. Rigel and Kep. Black Mountain. The fading of its gold. The Aspen torch out front of the house. 26 degrees. Snow, more Snow coming. The Seasons. The Change. Jacob wrestling the Angel at the Jabbok Ford. Rilke.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Agency

Tarot: The Hermit, #9 of the Druid Craft major arcana


Kate’s 2011 retirement art work.

An interesting feeling. When I saw the first mini-splits in place, I said, Ah. It felt good to have decided, to have the first two in place. I felt a tug of disloyalty. Two fold. Why didn’t we do this while Kate was alive? I was going to do it this year for her. Second. I’m changing the house, making it mine. Does that mean no longer hers? No. Not at all.

Having the house stained, installing the mini-splits, and a kitchen remodel that I can afford. Me. Making the house mine, yes. That’s ok. I have to live in it. This stuff needed doing, or, if not needed, certainly cried out. And, I was in a listening mood.

That ah reinforced my kitchen redesign plans. I don’t like the current kitchen and I want to like, no, love the kitchen. Cooking became even more important while married to Kate. We shared cooking over our time together, but while she worked and after she got sick, I did most of it. It’s fun. Creative. And, soothing.

Right now I’m eating mostly frozen dinners. They’re quick, easy, and non-nutritious. Not terrible, just. Not good. I want to jump start the hermitage as a place for home cooked meals, grandchildren. Dogs.

At the request of my neighbors, not really to me, but in the interest of dark skies, I’m going to leave the blue lights down. However. I’m going to replace them with a neon sign. I’ve been pondering. In Andover a guy had a crescent neon Moon over his garage. Always loved that.

What would be appropriate? A Moon? A Star? Mountains? An Elk? A Bear? Well, it hit me when I turned over my tarot card this morning, The Hermit. Not the whole scene, just the robed figure, his staff and the lantern. Maybe with The Hermitage beneath. Not sure about that.

The Hermitage has settled in my mind as a name for this house as the Loft did for this space above the garage where I spend the day.

As I’ve said before here, I have a lot of monk in me. A monk without the religious overlay. A hermit. Not a misanthrope. Simply a person who likes to live alone. Perhaps mix with others less than most. And, one who has things to do that are best done alone. Study. Write. Paint.

At least for now this is my fourth phase identity. Hermit.

From the Druid Craft Book: “Turn away from the distractions of the outer World. Seek guidance. In silence and solitude seek new depths and refresh your soul at the source of all life. Key words: Guidance. Retreat. Withdrawal. Meditation.” Like my spirit animal, the moose, who wanders the deep woods alone.

The Musician and the Hermit – Moritz von Schwind

This house and its land is not mine alone. It belongs in equal shares to Jon and Joe after my death. I take that into consideration when I decide what to do.

When David came this morning, the Coyote HVAC guy, he had a helper. Rigel slipped past me, went outside, greeted the helper, then bounded back inside, having done her duty. Kep was beside me.

They are putting up the inside units and running the conduit like material outside that will connect the inside units to the main heat pump. It will go on the outside wall next to my chimney. Today or tomorrow they will do the same here in the loft, which will have its own heat pump.

Not sure when the heat pumps get installed, but the electrician couldn’t come until Tuesday next, so nothing will start working until sparky is done.

Cooking this June in Hawaii. Seoah’s apron.

I have one bid in on the kitchen. I like it and I can afford it. Bear Creek Design has not come out with theirs yet. But, it will almost certainly be more than I want to pay. However. It may do some things I’d really like to have happen. I’ll wait to see it before I decide. I have a little wiggle room.

Not exactly a chop wood carry water sorta hermitage. Not everybody’s a starets or a Buddhist monk.

Hermitage as I define and want it. A place to live out the fourth phase.


Posted in Aging, Art and Culture, Astrology, Cooking, Dogs, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Hawai'i, Health, Judaism, Kabbalah, Memories, Mountains, Our Land and Home, Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant., Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment

Good Stars

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Wednesday gratefuls: Susan, who would have watched Rigel and Kep. The Woolly’s and their retreat. Road Trip. Still not comfortable enough. Snow. Coming down hard. Rigel and Kep, my angels, my therapy dogs. Astrology and Kabbalah. Moving things for the mini-split installation. Organizing (somewhat) Ruth’s stuff from the sewing room.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Snow.

Tarot: The Lord, #4 of the major arcanaMazel tov! If you’ve never said it, you’ve heard it. For a new baby. A new job. A wedding to come. A trip. Almost any new, good thing. Elisa, my astrologist, and my teacher along with Luke Colaicello, both CBE’rs, in the Astrology and Kabbalah class, asked the students, mostly Jewish, if they knew what it meant?

General confusion. The answer’s obvious. Congratulations! Good news! Happy for you! No, Elisa asked, what does mazel mean? Blank looks. Stars, she said. Its original meaning is stars.

This began an interesting conversation on the stance of Judaism on astrology. Don’t talk to the dead. Don’t do augury, or soothsaying, or witchcraft. Don’t do what the other nations do. The early Jews believed they had The God, not just any god. And their purpose was, as the early sixties song said, “(We) will follow him, wherever he may go.”

Two things to note here. One. You don’t make prohibitions unless whatever your prohibiting is already going on. Otherwise, why prohibit it? So there were Jewish witches, soothsayers, necromancers, fortune tellers. And, definitely astrologers.

In fact the Sefer Yetzirah, the ur book of Kabbalah, explicitly suggests correlations with astrology and kabbalah. As do several passages in the Talmud, the great arguments of Rabbi’s over time, first published around 500 a.d. Prior to that the Talmud was oral.

So. It’s not really a surprise when Jews say to each other: You must have good stars! Or, The stars are good for you!

I’ve gone far down the Tarot ancientrail since the summer’s Tarot and Kabbalah class, far enough that I know it’s an ancientrail I’m going to travel for a while. What that means is not clear though it will entail learning more about the cards, the decks, the particulars of giving a reading.

In 2019 when Elisa gave me my first chart reading I dived into astrology. Got some information in, began to learn, but then Kate’s reality got more challenging. Didn’t come back to it until Tom suggested a chart reading as long as I was doing tarot.

When the class showed up, I decided to take it since I learn well in a classroom environment. This way I’ll be able to pursue Elisa’s recommendation: The best way to learn astrology is to learn your natal chart. That will be my focus throughout the class.

David from Coyote HVAC and a helper are here, placing equipment and materials for the actual installation. I took down our travel paintings, photographs, prints. Joe took down the Jeremiah Miller painting in the bedroom. I moved the menorahs, David called them candle holders. The map of the Big Island, a huge antique one, I can’t get down. Too cumbersome for sarcopeniaed me. David will help.

I’m thinking about a Hawaii theme for the bedroom, using that map, which Kate got me as a guilt offering when she went to one CME on Maui without me, as a major piece. We have other prints and paintings, some Hawaiiana. Maybe get both rooms painted after the HVAC installation.

Or. Some William Morris wallpaper. Unsure.

Yesterday I took my class, then napped for an extraordinary 2 and a half hours. Guess I needed it. Must be the Orgovyx.

Today is class work day. I skipped out on the Tree of Life Tarot spread last week to take Jon and the kids to Fiddler. Mark Horn records the classes, so I’m going back right now to finish it, see what the homework is. I also plan to work on the Astrology class. Checking my natal chart against the first week’s information.

I like having this kind of work ahead of me. Expanding my world, my inner and outer world.

Full workout at 3.

Tomorrow I see my pulmonologist’s respiratory therapist, Lisa. She’ll put me through some tests, then I’ll see Dr. Emrie next Thursday. I need to get a better handle on the prognosis, what can I expect as I get older? I do have shortness of breath after exertion up here, but my O2 sats remain well into the ok range all day. In the evening they sometimes slip down before bed. When they do, I use the oxygen concentrator as I do all night and during my naps.

My impression, from one of Kate’s pulmonologists, is that altitude doesn’t matter as long you have and are willing to use oxygen concentrators. If that’s so, I’m good. If not… Well, that gets into that prognosis question.

I drew the Lord today, extending my unusual run of major arcana and/or court cards. I believe it’s a fairly straight line message: “Offer clear and firm boundaries to those who depend on you. The Lord’s strong will, rational thinking, and adherence to principles must be tempered by the Lady’s passion and feeling.” Keywords: Masculine power. Fatherhood. Protection. Boundaries. Order.

Reminding me that my animus and my anima must work together when I look at situations like Jon’s. Ruth’s. Gabe’s. Joseph and Seoah.



Posted in Astrology, Dogs, Fourth Phase, Health, Judaism, Kabbalah, Mountains, Shadow Mountain, Tarot, Woolly Mammoths | Leave a comment

Friends and Family

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Tuesday gratefuls: Diane back from her Hoosier immersion. David from Coyote HVAC here yesterday. Starting. Joe in the Philippines. Snow in the forecast. Maybe. Definitely cooler weather. The Fourth Phase. The stained house, beautiful. Sadness about missing the Woolly Retreat. Covid. Post-polio syndrome. Prostate cancer.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: A quieter week

Tarot: Queen of Swords


Sunday. Going back to Sunday because I only posted the video yesterday.

Sunday was all Stricklands all the time. At 9 am I zoomed with pere Strickland, then at 12:30 had lunch with Kate, his oldest daughter, here in Conifer. In between I zoomed with the Johnsons.

The Ancient Woolly’s zoom focused on the occult, that is, what lies behind or beneath or above the reality we concoct with our sensorium. We agreed, I think, that mystery is mystery, not inaccessible, but difficult to fathom, to grasp. We had different ways of getting to it: nature, boating. I Ching, Tarot, Runes, meditation. Art. Making art. Writing.

What the mystery is like? Quantum? Multi-verse? the Otherworld? Consciousness and soul merged. No consensus.

After mystery, I went to the Johnson clan. Sarah and Annie in North Carolina. BJ in New York. We talked family stuff. How to support Jon. BJ’s second concert with the New Jersey Symphony. She’s the concert master, a violinist. Sarah’s making a cookbook. Annie’s settling into her new home in assisted living near Sarah and Jerry’s house in Belews Creek.

Johnson zoom over I changed clothes and drove over to Ebony and Vine, about 10 minutes from here. Kate Strickland and Michael Banker were there. They had finished hiking at 3 Sisters Park in Evergreen with friends and were close. We decided on Ebony and Vine after I misguessed Scooter’s hours again. They’re not intuitive.

Two bright young adults, both working on saving the human race. Literally. Climate change work. Done, and this is so NOW, from their Boulder apartment. They work for different entities, but work together in their second bedroom. Definitely requires a good marriage.

Kate said her company is now virtual first or remote only. On-boarding new hires is a major question since they now have no physical offices. Ironically, Kate had to beg two years ago when she wanted to work remotely. Both she and Michael had D.C. as their base before deciding to move, “while our knees still worked,” to Colorado.

It was fun exchanging ideas for books to read, tv shows to watch. Michael and I were into the Squid Game. Kate told me about Peter Heller, a Colorado author whose books I ordered after I got back.

Also nice to see some fellow Minnesotans in this Rocky Mountain land. We kvetched about Colorado drivers. They are awful. Don’t know how to drive in the snow, for instance. Remarked as well on the wonder of snow that comes and then goes. So different from Minnesota.

We plan to try again on Scooters.

Napped after that.

David came on Monday. He gets the work ready, makes sure the estimate’s ideas will actually work. Mostly, they will. I liked him. A millennial who self identified as an outlier because he has a regular job. He comes back tomorrow. The installation itself will take about a week. Finishing next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Still waiting on estimates from Bear Creek Design and an installation estimate from Blue Mountain Kitchens.

Took the time to get a refi going with Rocket Mortgage. May just get it done today or tomorrow. Geez. Pretty quick.

Lots of stuff happening. A good thing. Life forward.

Oh. And, I decided not to go to the Woolly Retreat. Too much Covid exposure in places where I couldn’t mitigate it. Especially since Minnesota’s Covid rates are high, as are Colorado’s. Will miss the chance to see the other Woolly’s.


Posted in Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Jefferson County, Mountains, Our Land and Home, Shadow Mountain, Tarot, Travel, Woolly Mammoths | Leave a comment