Samain and the Holiseason Moon

Friday gratefuls: Thanks giving. Kate. Who was always prepared. Ruth, who did not want to talk about Grandma. Then, did. Good stories, well told, bringing Grandma to Thanksgiving. The Ham. The Stuffing. The Pecan Pie and the Cranberry sauce, both made by Ruth. The Texas Toothpick Gabe got me served the ham. “It was the best present ever for you, Grandpop.”

Sparks of Joy and Awe:  The kitchen remodel

Tarot: doing a spread later


On the Pampas, 2011

It has come and gone. The first major holiday without my wife, without Grandma, without the oldest sister, without Kep and Rigel’s and Jon’s mom. These are holes in the fabric of our family, dug by Azrael. Left to be filled in as we knit together a new family, one without her physical presence.

Since I have long cooked the holiday meals and since Kate’s presence as an active participant in the holidays began to fade a couple of years ago, it was not as painful as it might have been for me. Ruth, less so. Jon, too. Gabe seems pretty level.

We spent time talking about Kate. Jon remembered when she brought the makings for pizza when he was in rehab. Ruth remembered Kate and her cooking. Gabe said he didn’t remember much. I told about the time in the Galliard Cut of the Panama Canal when a woman sitting with us pulled out wet wipes, just like Kate always did, and I gave in to her be prepared way. Then there was that time in Pizarro’s house (really) in Lima, Peru. She leaned her head on my shoulder. So much more.

Pizarro’s Place

On our honeymoon I got pneumonia and spent most of the time in Vienna recovering. Thanks to the antibiotics Kate had packed. Kate as the ninja weeder. Her name for her dogged attention to the plants out of place in our garden. A bandana around her forehead, a spading trowel in her hand. She gave so many things all she had. The ski bags she made for Jon. That dress she made from six-year old Ruth’s sketch. The shirts she made for me. Her medical practice. Her quilts. What a woman. So lucky I met her and got to love her. Be loved by her. May her journey be what it needs to be.

Slept in for an hour this morning. Cooking and cleaning up after a big meal. Whew. I find myself now able to do all that, not cringe. Just do it. What I’m not is a great host. Kate had that gene though neither of us enjoyed the role. Wonder if I could learn? Not sure. The introverted me finds shepherding an event and cooking/cleaning for same just too much. Not sure if I want to learn though it is an ancient and honored part of entertaining. Making folks feel welcome, seeding good conversations, maybe a game or two.

Kate with Jon at St. Josephs 2019

Whenever reading books about the Middle East, especially historical works, the rules of hospitality are so prominent. No matter who, even an enemy, deserved and received at least three days of food and shelter and freedom from attack. Don’t know whether that reflects actual practice, but they did lift hospitality to a prominent social norm, for sure.

Sunday night, the first night of Hanukkah, Jon and the kids return. I’m making brisket, traditional, and Jon has the making for latkes. We got a gift from Schecky and BJ, a box of lox (hah), latkes, apple sauce, sour cream, Hanukkah candles, and gelt. The presents from the sisters, the wrapped ones, are on the downstairs table. Not sure yet how we’ll handle the 8 days of present giving and candle lighting. We’ll decide on Sunday.

Another first without Kate.


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The Seven of Vessels comforts us with grief

Samain and the Holiseason Moon

Thanksgiving thanks: Safe trip up the mountain for Jon, Ruth, Gabe. Joe and Seoah. Mark in Minnesota. Snow. 17 degrees. Rigel whining at 5:30. Kep nudging me. The warm loft. Mini-split. The warmish living room. Mini-splits. The warm when I need it downstairs. Mini-splits. The ham. The Italian sausage. The sourdough bread. Cranberries. Dried and fresh. The Wild Rice. The Pecan pie. Kate, Thanksgiving and Hallelujah.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Gabe, the helper

Tarot: Our Thanksgiving Oracle – Seven of Vessels, Mourning*. wildwood tarot


I encourage you to read the words from Tarotx*. They feel true to me and to my recent experience. The spot on nature of this card, on my first Thanksgiving without Kate, would have amazed me a couple of months ago. Now, it’s just wonderful.

Thanksgiving. Everyday. This day, too.

We had snow yesterday. Made the trip up here a difficult one for Jon and the kids. 285 gets slippery and clogged with Colorado drivers during snow events. Nice to have white outside this morning though.

The solar panels have snow cover. This year I’m going to start raking the front of the bottom tier of panels, encouraging the snow above to slide off and onto the ground. The mini-splits are electric. Trying to find a less expensive way to heat this house. Not an easy task.

Taking care of Rigel and Kep (as they in turn take care of me) and taking care of the house. Things that keep me going. Burdens? In some moments, yes, but overall? Not at all. Privileges of skin color, money, survivorship, true, but mostly of a full heart.

Whoever you are. I’m thankful for you. Reader. This dialogue. You. Me. Together for this moment. Namaste.

Started reading A Master of the Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark. Trying to cut into my television habit. Which I enjoy. But. I also want to read more. This is alt-history with steam punk flourishes. Set in 1912 Cairo it features alchemy, magic, boilerplate eunuchs, dirigibles, and djinn. This one has me. A lot of my kinda stuff.

Also reading from the same stack: The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow. Kate Strickland and Michael Banker recommended Heller. He’s a Coloradan and a hell of a writer. The Dawn of Everything takes a new look at the pre-history and early history of humanity based on archaeological and anthropological work over the last several decades. This is an important book. It recasts everything from the nature of hunting and gathering to the Neolithic “revolution” and beyond. The two David’s especially rely on indigenous actors and thinkers.

Well, the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh over the white and drifted snow… Have a good time today!


Kate, on the Pampas, 6 days before Thanksgiving, 2011


*Mourning begins the process of recovery after failure or loss of a loved one. This process may even be unconscious, we often do not realize what is important to us until they disappear. Mourning gives us a way to live with loss and to honor the important and meaningful things we have experienced in a personal relationship. It allows the flow of emotions to go up and down naturally according to the mood and bring about a sense of ending, healing, or peace. That, of course, can take a long time and some of the losses become more profound than others because mourning is a very separate and private process, sometimes it takes many years to heal.

In Ireland, the custom of guarding the dead is an example of handling and healing the loss by transforming a ritual into a ceremony to honor the achievements and life. Celebrations of completing a journey and starting a new journey are part of the traumatic cycle of people. Regardless of the loss, regardless of the ritual guarding of the dead, let them go in love engraved with true memories. Save the wonderful and precious moments of life and do not let the memories go by when there is no respect for life…

The Seven of Vessels Wildwood comforts us with grief. The skulls and grave merchandise have been carefully laid down – and ritual – with love and respect. When we also set out our losses, with love and respect, we will find freedom and peace that eluded us. As The Wheel and The Mirror show us, if we can free up the past, we will start to heal and start a new cycle for ourselves. Today, the Seven of Vessels asks us: What are you mourning? Can you create a ritual that will help you honor what has been lost?    tarotx

Posted in Cooking, Dogs, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Kabbalah, Memories, Shadow Mountain, Tarot, Travel, Weather +Climate | Leave a comment

Samain and the Holiseason Moon


Wednesday gratefuls: The Turkey Liberation Front. Stuffing. Family and friends. Clouds. Drought. Woolly Mammoth tusk found ten miles off Monterey Coast. 200,000 years old. That’s older than even Frank. Mark in Minnesota. Honey Baked Ham. In the frig. Ready. Safeway pickup after I talk with Diane. Jon, Ruth, Gabe. Coming tonight.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rigel shook off her hang dog look. (I think she had indigestion. From that glove of mine she ate.)

Tarot: Message of the three card spread from yesterday. We will have a joyful Thanksgiving. If we remember Kate (we will), and rejoice in our time together. (and I intend to)


Bit the quartzite bullet. Ouch. $$$. Not gonna settle. I want a beautiful kitchen. Jodi and Bowe came by. Brian, the Fairplay cabinetmaker whom we chose because my cabinets would be handmade and available in time to get the work done before Christmas, told Jodi he needs more time. Ah, the joys of remodeling.

I liked Bowe. He seems competent and confident. A good combination. The sticking point is this: Bowe can do demo and install the new cabinets in two days. Give or take. But he has to wait to finish the backsplash and the plumbing until the quartzite fabricators measure, cut, polish, deliver, and install the counter top. So, if he has to wait a week on Brian, that means a tight, tight schedule with the waiting time on the countertop.

All in all, not a big deal. With one exception. I have to empty all of my cabinets. I don’t feel comfortable putting things away in the new kitchen until it’s done. A long time to have everything in boxes. I can still cook, use the refrigerator, and the microwave though I don’t know about the sink.

As most of you already know, remodeling means people a large sum of money to inconvenience you in your own home. I don’t have the wherewithal, nor the desire, to move out during the work.

The end result though. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Decided I’m going to find a personal trainer who will come to the house. I don’t need a lot. A new workout every 6-8 weeks. Attention to form so I do the exercises correctly. I like Deb Brown and On the Move Fitness but I don’t feel comfortable going in with Covid surging. Especially, I’m sure, after Thanksgiving.

I do have questions about physical fitness and the aging body. What is my goal? I understand the cardio goal, I think. Work the heart hard, often. At faster and slower intervals. But in the resistance work I’m not trying to bulk up. Never was, certainly not now. How do I know when I’m doing enough resistance work? Do I really need to do three sets? Those sort of questions. Even the cardio. I’ve read too much and absorbed too little.

Trying to bring Kate in closer. Has resulted in more tears. But I expected that. Kate and I are still together, always will be. Unlike, for example, Raeone and me, Judy and me. Kate and I shaped each other. Not so much with Judy and Raeone. A bit, of course, but nothing at the soul level.

Had an insight about mussar. Jewish ethics it’s called, but it’s actually about practical ways to improve character. We learn about midot, character traits. Examples: joy, patience, judging another favorably (and, ourselves), loving-kindness, curiosity, courage of the heart. Each session we come up with a practice to help us “get” the character trait.

Here’s the insight. It’s not so much learning about the character traits that’s important. It’s the constant willingness to examine ourselves and pay attention to the ethical choices we make that creates a heightened awareness of how we are in the world. That awareness is the gift of studying mussar. One I imagine you could gain by studying Buddhism or Taoism with a similar intensity and regularity.

It is not, let me emphasize, a guilt trip. You could take it there, but that’s sorta silly. The core of mussar teaching recognizes our humanness, our flaws and our strengths. Work on one, build on the other. Life-long journey.

When you add tarot into the mix, another route into the development of character opens up. Archetypal work. Venturing into the collective unconscious. Like mussar tarot guides us into looking at parts of ourselves we might otherwise gloss over or outright ignore. Both tarot and mussar require unflinching honesty. That’s another psychic muscle that gets bulked up in both. Without honesty we fall prey to our prejudices, our assumptions, our too quick takes on the world.

Let me give you two examples. The first, about judging the whole of a person favorably. When I encountered this idea in mussar a month and a half ago, I realized in my thinking about Jon I had allowed myself to focus on what I found lacking in him. (note: by my standards, probably not his) When I balanced those things with the good parenting, no, excellent parenting, the long arc of his art teaching career, his own art making, his tender heart, I realized I had an unbalanced approach to him.

Since then, I’ve changed my interactions with him, trying to respond to those positive characteristics and reinforce them. To give him support in critical life areas that can reduce his anxiety. Result? I feel better about my interactions with him and he seems to be eager to interact. A positive change.

Tarot: Each card I draw for a daily oracle or the cards dealt for me during my Tree of Life spread reading with Mark Horn invite me to investigate areas of my life I might miss, or deny.

rider-waite deck

In the Tree of Life spread I had the Emperor in the Keter position and the 9 of Swords in Malkut. The Emperor suggested I look at how my organizational skills might help some as yet unidentified cause. I’m moving in the hermit direction but the Emperor suggests I should not foreclose any particular style of living. I’m currently resisting the idea of becoming engaged with or creating a new organization and might continue to. But even the resistance is a creative tension. Making me consider facets of my new life I might have pushed away.


The nine of Swords in Malkut, the opposite position on the Tree of Life from Keter, this world as opposed to the whole universe, suggested I had grief work to do before I could move on to the next phase of my life. Specifically, I have to bring Kate in closer as a blessed memory, as a daily helper, as a net positive in my psyche. This is to counter my remorse over feeling good when I wonder if I should still be feeling bad.

Continued feeling grief stricken will cripple me. Block me for a new vision. I sense my movement is in the direction of bringing her in closer. But, I’m not there yet.

Time. As Kate would say, the tincture of time.




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Dogs. House.

Samain and the Holiseason Moon


Tuesday gratefuls: The waning Holiseason Moon, high in the Western Sky. Thanksgiving. Family. Joe. Seoah. Ruth. Gabe. Jon. The Johnson sisters: Annie, Sarah, BJ. Their gifts for Hanukkah. Kep and Rigel. Kate, her memory, alive and loving. Wildfire. No snow. Drought.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Irish Wolfhounds. (almost bought a puppy)

Tarot: The Green Woman, #3 of the Major Arcana, Queen of Vessels: the Salmon, Three of Vessels: Joy


Good workout yesterday. Made myself a homemade version of cacio e pepe. Had it at Gaetano’s while waiting to see if they could find Roger. Really liked it. There’s had two eggs over easy on it and so did mine. Tasty and filling.

Brian came by to do some final measurements. He’s building my cabinets. Jodi and Bowe, the installer, come this afternoon for measurements, too. I’m leaning toward the Taj Mahal quartzite in spite of its price. The aesthetic of this kitchen is a major reason I’m doing this remodel. The quartzite would be the signature element that brings it all together.

My vision for the house is even clearer now. Leather chair upstairs. Buy a rocking chair, a distinctive low table, an Arts and Crafts chandelier, and an Arts and Crafts floor lamp. The turning book table upstairs. Downstairs. Kate’s leather chair. A small table next to it. The rolling computer table nearby. The coffee table stays.


The Stickley table goes up to the Sewing Room (aka, our dining room). The leather hassock goes upstairs to the loft. How to decorate the Sewing Room as a dining room is still a work in progress, but I’ll get there.

I know this all probably seems weird, but it’s my way of honoring Kate’s presence here while making the house more mine.  Next year will be the outside, front and back. Retop the driveway. Make a gas firepit and lounge. Perhaps some more plantings. An ignition free zone around the house for 5 feet. And the garage clean out, redo the floor.

OK. Maybe Hermitage is a bit far out on the continuum. This will be home. Yet it will have both recharge, refresh and work place, as well as be both family home and my home alone (with dogs).

Rigel, 2011

BTW: My cousin Kathy sent me a link from an Indiana breeder of Irish Wolfhounds. They have female puppies. I could get one. Not cheap. $2500. $500 to hold. Boy, I want to. I even messaged them, asked them about payment. But, as with the Akita puppy, I’m going to pass. A main reason in the case of the IW is size. I long ago lost the ability to move a 150+ pound dog into the back of a car. I can do 100 pounds. In the case of the Akita puppy, it could outlive me. And what would happen to it? Murdoch is not other dog friendly.





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Some days…

Samain and the Holiseason Moon

Monday gratefuls: Mark Horn. Tree of Life spread reading. Ancient Brothers. Siblings. TJ Henry. All-Clad 12″ skillet. Induction cooking. The Ham. Ruth, Jon, Gabe coming up Wednesday night for Thanksgiving. Mark going to Minnesota. The beautiful Holiseason moon. A splendid morning. Life with Kate. Now. A corner I need to turn.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Tree of Life tarot spread

Tarot: Eight of Stones, skill. wildwood tarot.


What a day. Ancientrails. Journeymen. (Ancient Brothers?). TJ Henry. Derek and the air conditioner. Late nap. Tarot reading by Mark Horn, Gates of Light Tarot. Lots of love on this day.

The Journeymen. Or, the Ancient Brothers. Yesterday morning Paul, Bill, Mark, and I. We spoke of siblings, how we felt about them, how they were in our lives now. A heartfelt hour plus. In the end we recognized the truth. That we are, and have been for many years, true brothers to each other. Including Tom, absent with Roxann for her mother’s funeral on Saturday. Siblings are not solely about blood.

Afterward over to Evergreen Comfort Inn Suites. A woman had posted on Nextdoor about being forced out of her house with her two dogs. The guy she lived with shut off the electricity to her area, cut her wifi, and did other things she chose not to mention. Some thought it was a scam, but it felt genuine to me. And, besides, I’d rather take a chance and be scammed rather than not take a chance and leave somebody in need without help.

Even after I met TJ and her two fluffy snack-sized dogs, I couldn’t tell for sure. Came home wondering.

Then, I found this posted on Nextdoor this morning.

TJ Henry and me
Strong and Powerful Evergreen Community.

Thank you all so much for your help and support in my blight of late. I cannot thank you all enough. I am putting together a list of all the resources sent to me for someone else who may need them in the future. I will distribute.

Charles Buckman-Ellis, who recently lost his wife, left me with these kind words today. “Thank you for allowing me to help you today!” A beautiful man with a amazing soul. Rich Wyatt. Thank you for the ride to Walmart. Greatly appreciated. 🦋

Not a scam. My heart. Went full.

Later in the day Derek, a true neighbor, came over and helped me remove the single room air conditioner from my front window. It had cooled Kate while she sat in her place working crosswords and playing solitaire. With the mini-splits in place it had become a source of cold air leaking in from the outside and unnecessary. Into the garage.

Also Derek.

Couple of trees, one dead, too close to the house. He also took down dead trees further back on our lot. A decent symbiosis. He heats with wood. I’ve lost the strength necessary to do my own logging. (which, btw, I don’t like) Even when I was able to do it these particular trees seemed beyond my amateur arborist skills. Didn’t want to drop  them on my roof. Derek tied ropes to them and felled them away from the house.

He also offered to build a bench using one of the logs and the two stumps. I said, sure. That’d be great. Think he’s doing it right now.

Kate, about a month before her death

Then, in the evening I had my first ever tarot reading. Mark Horn, of Gates of Light tarot. Gonna go more in depth on this later. Tarot works. How? Not a clue. Well, some clue, but not much.

Here’s the big takeaway. In order to move into my next life, next phase, I need to embrace Kate as a presence in my life, a positive, support presence. I need to end the paradox of feeling remorse for feeling good. When I can pull this off, my next life will emerge on its own.



Posted in Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Health, Kabbalah, Mussar, Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment


Samain and  the Holiseason Moon

Ruth arranging Hanukkah presents

Sunday gratefuls: Ruth and her sadness. Gabe and his joy. Jon and his struggles. A family meal. Chocolate chip cookies and chex mix. Holidays. Holiseason. Cold weather. Drought. Wildfire. Kate and Mike. Max. Paul and Sarah. Tom and Roxann. Death. Life. Friendship and family. Politics. And its heart knives. Weariness. The race has been long.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Hanukkah gifts from the Aunts

Tarot: The knight of stones, wildwood tarot


The Aurora Olsons

When I woke up from my nap, Jon, Ruth, and Gabe were already here. They came in quietly knowing my napping habit, bless their little hearts. Around 3 pm. Long nap.

Gabe, who is blossoming, took a box I had set aside, one of many for the kitchen remodel emptying of cabinets, and cut arm holes and eye holes in it, wearing it over his head and upper body. I’m a box troll. Good energy for the day. For the Hermitage.

Jon got tired out by the end of the week, but felt good about it. Next week he’s off for a week, then starts up for two weeks, then Christmas two weeks off. A gentle return. I take him on December 7th for a colonoscopy/endoscopy. He’s never had a solid answer as to why his heath declined so fast. I went from a strong middle aged man to an old man over the course of a year.

He limps from some muscle weakness in his left leg, unexplained. His hip feels out of joint. But. He seems to have the Addison’s (adrenal insufficiency), thyroid insufficiency, and his type 1 diabetes under much better control. In particular he admits he’d let his blood sugar run high since the divorce. Five years ago. Now he’s trying to go back to his usual running lean.

Like many others during Covid Jon got off his exercise routines, too. Pretty important for maintaining muscle strength, cardio fitness. He feels in a bad enough place physically that he’s not planning on skiing this year.

Ruth made biscuits and chocolate chip cookies while I made chili. Discovered a flaw in the induction ready pots and pans I purchased as a set. The skillet is too small and so is the dutch oven, at least for the kind of cooking I do when I’m making a larger meal. Back to Williams-Sonoma this morning.

The Paula Deen chili recipe I chose filled the whole skillet and I initially had to leave out a can of black beans. Overflow. Felt like I was cooking in a very cramped space. Good part? Induction stove tops are easy to clean. Still learning, but getting there.

We ate late. For me. Early by the Aurora Olson’s standard which it seems is a more Latin American 9 pm.

Far from gone

Still suffering news aversion. On NPR I heard the Rittenhouse verdict. Pounded my steering wheel. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Then I turned off the radio. Feels like the world may be slipping out from beneath me. If it does, where will I be?

On the other hand that new life, the one I’ve written about, wondered about. Seems it will have cooking, family, friends in a central spot. One ring in a three ring circus. A second ring. Work, my life alone.  Third. Something more communal, perhaps political, perhaps religious, perhaps occult. Maybe all three?

The fourth phase. Spirituality. Relationships. Action. Creativity.

Tired. Lost sleep last night. First time in years I had a small stitch in my colon, a sure sign of anxiety for me. I’ve remained calm, mostly, even through the strains of the last year. Oddly, I think it may be getting back to a more normal day-to-day that has caused my anxiety. I’m not fending off or encountering huge stressors. I have time to think about my relationships with Jon, Ruth, Gabe. With Mary and Mark. With the Journeymen (aka Ancientones). CBE. I may slip out of the moment and into tomorrow, or the next day. Result? A frisson of tension. A soupcon of angst. Working on it.






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Intense, Dude

Samain and the Holiseason Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Cincinnati Chili. Cooking. Learning how to again, on induction. Mini-splits at work. Experimental month with the hot water heat all off. Kate. Missing her sweetness. Holiseason well underway. Exercise finally back all the way. Core exercises. Diaphragmatic breathing. Kabbalah. Tarot. The Eel. Alan.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Seeing Jon, Ruth, Gabe today

Tarot: The Knight of Vessels, the Eel.  Wildwood Tarot


Parkside in Evergreen for breakfast with Alan yesterday. Took my new Roger with me. Had Alan clip it to his clothing. At least if I forgot Roger he would go home with somebody I know. Alan’s having cataract surgery in December. He drove me to mine last October. Seeing a friend in person, two actually, since Rebecca Martin was there, too, is so important.

I told Alan about my Hermit neon sign that is underway. We got a good laugh out of the Master Benders. He wanted to know why. Because I see myself a hermit now, I said. We can fix that, he said. No, thanks, but I appreciate the thought. Maybe I should have gone with the Fool. The beginner’s mind. Setting off on the journeymen’s pilgrimage. Each morning. Maybe that will be one for the loft next year.

Honey baked ham. Drove over to their shop in Littleton, near Tony’s. Lots of hams in the coolers. Just one of hundreds of these shops. Had an instant vision of all the Pigs. A moment of sadness. Bought half-a-ham. Sealed in gold foil. Sitting in the frig.

Put in a pick-up order with Safeway. All the ingredients for chili. Now including chili powder for the first time in three years. I love Cincinnati chili. Chili on spaghetti with sour cream, shredded cheddar, and sliced green onions. And, of course, oyster crackers.

Bought some fancy spaghetti at Tony’s for the chili. Also some salted caramel tiny beignets for dessert.

Back home for a nap. Then, workout. I have, at last, gotten back to my old intensity. Been going at reduced speed and intensity since late June when I pounded my IT band into high tension on the sidewalks of Hickam Air Force Base.

Probably a bit more than the old intensity. Two HIIT sessions with lower body resistance and core. Two cardio sessions with upper body and core. Over 5 hours a week now and I can tell the difference. My stamina’s better as is my breathing.

Here’s the conundrum though. I know I need this level of exercise to keep myself healthy, or as healthy as I can be. But that means it has to be routine.

I plan to reduce my week total to four days since I can get all the exercise I need in that time. I’ve had trouble when going for five days a week since I’ve kept the weekends exercise free. With exercise five days a week and writing Ancientrails I use up my mornings.

After I workout, I go downstairs, eat lunch, have a nap. Often I don’t feel like doing anything after the nap. Easy, you might say, stop napping. Yeah. Except. Started napping in 1989. Continuous then to now. That’s what, 32 years? Pretty much a habit.

That’s why four days. The HIIT makes getting my exercise quotient in quick. Wednesdays I plan as my off days. Then, I’ll be able to get phone calls, errands run on Wednesday, necessary work for the admin side of life. When I use up my mornings, and feel done in the afternoons it is not so easy to handle that stuff.

Brother Mark asked in an e-mail this morning if I’d gotten back to my Latin. No. I haven’t. But I appreciated the nudge. I want to get back to Ovid, to Latin, to the writing that flows from it. Painting, too. Slowly, slowly. Taking life at a pace that works. Wu wei.

Well. Just drove over to Evergreen, to CBE. Was going to attend a Torah study session with Rabbi Jamie. I love studying scripture. It’s fun. And, sometimes insightful. However. I need to learn close reading. Of the invitation to the Word and Deed time. Which clearly said, when I brought it up on my phone in the empty CBE parking lot: Zoom only. Sigh.

Back in the car. Over to Safeway to get chili makings. Pickup. Back home now. A day of work inside the house. Moving this and that. Starting to clear out the kitchen for the remodel. Making chex mix, chili.


The Knight of Vessels: The Eel


Promoting harmony. Welcoming. Coming Together.

Perhaps a key part of the Hermitage will be welcoming, coming together, even hosting. My idea of cooking family dinners at 5 pm every Saturday, y’all come, feels good. Today will be the first and already Ruth wants to come early to make cookies. Yes!

The eel, according to Caitlin Matthews, see below* for more information, is a protector. One who could, in Celtic myth, be transformed into a sword.

As a protective animal in the suit of the emotions, vessels, and living in the water way, the knight of vessels is welcome in my home as family comes. Help us realize love and unity as we gather, eat.




*Eels have the most mysterious life cycle and make the longest journey of any of the court card beasts. Spawned in the Sargasso Sea near the Bahamas, the young, transparent elvers make their way across the North Atlantic to European river-mouths. Making their way between water-courses, they often wriggle overland to find another waterway. When they are mature as silver eels, they return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.  The birch tree was one of the first native British trees to emerge from the ice after glaciation.

Caitlin Matthews, Wildwood Blog





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Samain and the Holiseason Moon

from Mary. Eau Claire, Wi

Friday gratefuls: Alan. My phone. Derek. Laurie Knox. The Bailey Patchworkers. Holly Bailey. Kate’s gifts, still coming in. Hanukkah presents from the Aunt’s. Jon, Ruth, Gabe. Coming up here tomorrow and Thanksgiving. Cincinnati Chili tomorrow. Honey Baked Ham on Thanksgiving. Kep and Rigel. Indulgent. Another later morning for me. By 30 minutes.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mary in the Midwest

Tarot: Thanksgiving Spread. What can I do to make this Thanksgiving joyous?  Eight of Stones, skill. Ten of Vessels, happiness. Page of Stones, Lynx.



The first card I turned over, the issue card, was the Ten of Vessels, happiness. This is a card about family, coming from the watery, emotional realm of vessels and cups. It celebrates completion, realization, harvest. Exactly the issue. Yes, Kate will not be with us for the first time on Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s sad. I feel it already.

Yet. We live now. Not then. Thanksgiving is a harvest itself. Those around the table are folks brought in from the various corners of your life. In my case Jon, Ruth, Gabe. Each thanksgiving is a harvest of the moments big and small in the past year. In our case. Whadda year. Lot of my friends, too. Seeking joy in times made cold by Covid, by death, by other losses. This is when joy is most important, if it’s authentic.


The second card. The eight of stones, skill. This one took me aback at first. Then, I realized. Oh. Yeah. This is what to avoid. This meal is not about skill in the kitchen or being on our best behavior. A focus on those things will kill the joy. This is a time to say yes. To be with each other as family, not as chefs or party planners.




The third card. Action to take. The page of stones. The earth focus. Malkut. Here and now. Learning how to live in this place, with others. We’re learning how to be here for each other. We have learned how to be here for each other. Thanksgiving will be joyful if we (especially me) remember we’re all just students, figuring out how to be human. How to be family.

Having two stones in this spread reminds me that this Thanksgiving the focus is on us, here, in this place. Right now. In the physical realm. Together. Food. Hugs. Dogs. Life as family, family as legacy, family as home.



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Kate, Always Kate

Samain and the Holiseason Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Laurie Knox. Kate’s piecing. Joan Marshall. Others who quilted Kate’s tops into quilts. I now have four new, whole quilts pieced by Kate and quilted by her friends in the Baily Patchworkers. Two I will keep, a lovely batik quilt in purples and greens and a friendship quilt block one with squares from Kate and others in the Patchworkers. Women. Cold weather. Sleeping in. Snug as a bug in a rug.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Gospel music at CBE

Tarot: I’ll cover this spread in its own post


Those folks at Phonak. New hearing aid a cut well above the last one I had. And, they let me buy a new Roger for only $200. Picked it up yesterday. Will use it today at mussar. And, working on a memory technique for not leaving it behind. Ever again.

Talked with Cousin Diane yesterday morning. She’s out there in the Bay area where the temps are usually in the 50-60 degree range. Ideal. She had her book group coming, which meant furniture rearrangement and cooking a whole meal. Hope it went ok. I’ll find out next Wednesday.

Mark is in the house. The house being his home country, the good ole U.S. of A. He’s currently living in Fairfax, Virginia and touring D.C. At some point he heads out to Minnesota to connect with a new driver’s license. After that he may come up here. First time he’s been in the U.S. since Covid began. Three years in Saudi.

Sleeping                                        Beauty                                          Henry Meynell Rheam

Slept in this morning. Felt so good to have a cold bedroom and my electric blanket turned up high. The dogs didn’t object.

While talking to Diane I had a modest epiphany. Part of my aversion to headlines and news stories these days, maybe a most of it, stems from being triggered. The Trump years come up. Biden’s poll numbers, the fractious nature of the Democrats in Congress. The Rittenhouse trial. The trials of the insurrectionists. An Atlantic article about the rise of autocracy titled, “The Bad Guys Are Winning.”

History happens. And some of us have to be alive during the bad bits. Interesting times continue for Baby Boomers.

Elk dad on father’s day, 2015

It all seems so far away from Shadow Mountain. Solid, steady, dependable. Mountains. The one I’m on and Black Mountain that I see out my window. Just two of hundreds, thousands of peaks in the Rockies. The Elk, I saw a harem of over thirty Cows and one Bull the other day when I went into Evergreen. The Mule Deer. A few miles further I saw two Mule Deer Bucks locked in horny battle. All along Bear Creek.

That beautiful black Fox photographed by a neighbor. Holly Bailey and her husband telling of a four hundred pound Black Bear on their deck yesterday. Their last dog died in September and now the Wildlife has begun to return to their home.

What of this cares about Mar a Lago? What of this cares about Manchin? What of this finds the dismal state of politics in our country worth mentioning?

A large part of me sides with Rocks, Creeks, Elk, Fox, Mule Deer. Snow, Clouds. The Sky. The Sun. That part of me wants only to sleep, eat, watch the Lodgepoles sway and Maxwell Creek tumble down Shadow Mountain. That part of me lives on no matter the craziness, the injustice, the climate degradation. And is happy.

The other part, smaller these days, knows about interdependence. Acid Rain. Drought. Wildfire. Human encroachment on the wild. (yes, guilty) Toxins and pollutants in our air. That brown scuzz filtering the sunrise over Denver. The draining of Aquifers. The dwindling snow packs. That part knows there is no corner of the earth unaffected. It also knows the silly politics of humans matter, matter in a life or death way to our species and thousands of others.

But here’s the truth. They don’t own me. I’m not just one of their silly toys. They can’t make me go out with them, can’t put me on display. (on their side). Which also means I still have that responsibility to act. To stake my claim in this world while I’m here. In spite of how interesting it may be.





Posted in Art and Culture, Dogs, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Mountains, Politics, Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment

Honoring Ancestors

Samain and the Holiseason Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: Bi-weekly trash and recycling. Holly Bailey. Lauri Knox. Quilts. Kate’s many gifts. Her long arm quilter. Her stash. Now helping others. A slight veil of Snow on the solar panels. 18 degrees this morning. Blue Sky. Red flag day yesterday. So dry. Derek. Neighborly. Journeymen. The Guild.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ruth’s Yay! when she saw the quilt Holly brought over

Tarot:  The Ancestor, #5 of the Major Arcana, Wildwood

A wonderful Tarot card from the Wildwood Deck. Which I’m coming to like a lot. Reminded me that Kate is now with the Ancestors, is an Ancestor.


Holly and the quilt

We’ll get back to the card, but I wanted to comment on how Kate continues to weave the tapestry of our lives. Holly Bailey and her husband came over last night. Holly got Kate’s long arm quilter. She finished the quilt that was on it.

When I texted Ruth a picture of it, she said, “oh yay!! that one’s mine. I helped grandma pick the fabrics and the pattern and I think I sewed parts of it.”

This morning Laurie Knox, yet another engineer, will bring three quilts that she’s been working on, also Kate’s piecing. Holly has two more to finish. I will, over time, offer these quilts as gifts, especially to folk who knew and loved Kate. I’m not in a hurry.

I sleep on a library, a pillowcase fabric Kate found and turned into a pillowcase for me. Her work hangs in our living room and in her sewing room, too. In my loft I have two quilted small pieces, one with squares of moose, my totem animal, and one with old post card images of Rocky Mountain National Park. There are, too, rug mugs that she got into for a while. Curtains. A brick doorstop up here has a crocheted cover.

Shirts she made for me hang in my closet. Joseph’s robe of many colors is up here in the loft now. I also have two stoles that she made for me to wear over my monk’s robe. Her memory. My blessing.

The Ancestor  #5 in the Wildwood Major Arcana. (Replacing the traditional #5, The High Priest)

Here’s some material from Wildwood’s book on the Ancestor.


“The Ancestor is linked to the part of our soul that is most ancient and most closely related to the archetypes that represent nature. She is a guardian of the sacred heart of the land and summons you by beating the drum to the heartbeat of the Earth.  It is the part of you that unconsciously heard the drum and stirred the first desire to walk the path that is at work here. It is the overpowering strength and patience of nature, it is the awesome and relentless turning of the cycle that brings spring and warmth, an end to hibernation and the reawakening of abundant life.

The Ancestor stands before the gateway of nature that leads into the far forest. This is another beginning. Once you pass through the gateway you must strive to stay on the path and see the journey through to the end.”

Later on: “You have made the leap and started a new cycle. Your instinctive spirit has felt it necessary to lead you to the gateway and a new path…Your inner Ancestor is strong, patient and wise. Let them lead you into the forest with new eyes and a joyful spirit.”

This image, a female deity with a deer’s head, with antlers, is Elen of the Ways in a probably pre-Celtic faith. The Ways referenced in her name are the wild paths created by Deer and Reindeer. The hypothesis is that early hunter gathers used the Deer ways, too. Hunting the Deer, yes, but also following their seasonal migrations and gathering food where Deer browsed.

Elen honored this travel, honored the Deer who made it possible. She could be the goddess of paths and journeys, the hunt, fertility. The goddess of nature’s abundance and hence nature itself.

Black Mountain, two days ago

As the Ancestor in the Wildwood Tarot, she precedes in time and worship the more well know gods and goddesses of the Celtic pantheon like Bridgit, Lugh, Arawyn.

A new cycle is underway here on Shadow Mountain. The Hermit cycle. I will see it through to the end. Whatever, whenever, and however that may come.






Posted in Anoka County, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Great Wheel, Our Land and Home, Shadow Mountain, Tarot | Leave a comment