Back Home Again in the Rockies

Summer and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Tara. United 1802. Baggage claim #14. Luggage. Kep and Rigel. This familiar house. Its coolness. Relative to Oahu. The Iris bed and the Lilac bed. The work of my heart ahead. Hawai’i. Joe and Seoah. Murdoch. Hickam AFB.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rigel crawling up in my lap when I got home. Kep’s careful assessment of me. Was I really back? Would I stay? The Mule Deer Doe in the front.

Lifeguard station Banzai Pipeline

When I boarded the United flight last night at 9:20 p.m Hawai’i time, I thought, “Why the hell did I book a red eye? And, “Why didn’t I change it over the last 39 days?” A bit late as you’ll notice. Jagged, a bit jumpy from halting, interrupted sleep and that bad sleep. Although the time passed reasonably well.

I paid a bit extra for an aisle seat. That meant trips to the bathroom didn’t annoy my seat mate. Also meant I couldn’t lean on the area between seat and the fuselage as she did.

Got a Reyn Spooner shirt for Father’s Day and it kept me warm enough over my Malibu Shirt’s t-shirt portraying the evolution of the Hawai’ian Surfboard. Transportation of all sorts get colder at night.

A strong tail wind got us into Denver about 40 minutes early. I’ve been home since 10:30 MST and it’s 2:30 now. A nap in there. Dryer and cooler here. Much dryer, 17% humidity against 70-80% on Oahu. And cooler. 80. Compared to 89-90 over the last couple of days. That combination made for a nice nap.

Sorted the mail. Lotsa bulk mail. Also, a lot of first class mail from various financial and medical organizations. Verizon. Radiation Imaging. Swedish Hospital. Associated Health Care Credit Union. And, more! A bit too jet lagged to tackle that stuff today. Plenty of time to sort it out as my body gradual rids itself of its chronological ghost. Oahu haunts me now.

Ruth’s text back when I wrote her I was home: “Woohoo!” Warmed my heart.

Grandma’s girl

Between now and August 18th I’m going to work hard to create financial and physical order here on Shadow Mountain. Including to my body. I did something to my right upper leg, muscles probably; but, it hurt like a son of a beach. As I toned down, then eliminated exercise, it came back into a friendly relationship with the rest of me. Gotta get fixed.

I’m a bit wobbly, balance not all it could be and I know it’s lack of muscle strength, fitness.

A long ways along on the financial stuff, too. I have a budget, a tracking system, even an annual cash needs by months spread sheet. This is rocket science stuff for me in case it seems elementary to you.

Haircut tomorrow with Jackie, a good friend to Kate and me over our time up here. Then on Thursday, teeth. Next Wednesday I see Leigh Thompson, my relatively new doc, about the upper right leg. In between restocking my larder, opening all those bills and financial reports, laundry, getting a summer maintenance plan in place. Going to mussar, maybe a service or two over at CBE.

It feels really good to be home. And, this is home. For now and the mid-term future for sure.

Before enlightenment pay bills, buy groceries, do laundry. After enlightenment pay bills, buy groceries, do laundry.

Know what I’m sayin’?



Posted in Family, Feelings, Friends, Hawai'i, Health, Judaism, Mountains, Our Land and Home, Plants, Shadow Mountain, Third Phase, Travel, Weather +Climate | Leave a comment

Up in the Air

Summer and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Monday gratefuls: The kindness and generosity of so many. Right now: Joe and Seoah. Mary. Tara. Emily. Murdoch. United Airlines. Jet engines. Engineers. Luggage makers. Backpack makers. Book publishers. Printing presses. Authors. Peak television. Downton Abbey. Loki. Leonard’s bakery and their Hawai’ian donuts. The Reyn Spooner shirt. A Father’s day gift from Joe, Seoah, Mary. Fatherhood.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Airfoils. Travel in the Sky. Oceans and Mountains. Pele.

The time has come round at last. Getting off the Island. 9:30 pm. No more futon nights and mornings on the patio with my laptop. 39 days as of today. By my Denver arrival I’ll have spent my own forty days and thirty-nine nights wandering the desert of loss. Oahu is an oasis, yes, but the desert came with me.

As I said yesterday, I’m leaving at peace. I’ll see what things are like after getting back home. Sure, Kate lives on there among the places and things of our life together. And, I’m glad. I don’t want to lose any of her. Any more of her. Yes to the spot where she sat working on the crossword. Yes to the sewing room where she spent her happiest hours. Yes to the bed we shared for over thirty years. Yes. Kate, always Kate. Yes.

Yes, too, to my life there. Kepler and Rigel. The loft and its computer, its books, its art and art making, its exercise setup. The kitchen and my pots and pans. My stove and refrigerator. Yes to my bed and my chair and my television. Yes to the hiking trails and the Lodgepole Pine and the Aspen. Yes to the Elk and the Mule Deer and the Fox and the Bear and the Mountain Lion. Yes.

Yes to Alan and Marilyn and Tara and Rich and Jamie and Susan and Judy and Ron. Yes to CBE. Yes to Jon and Ruth and Gabe.

Yes to the not yet known life. New friends. New places. New work. Yes.

Flying, in other words, to the present and future. Not the past.



Posted in Family, Feelings, Friends, Hawai'i, Judaism, Memories, Mountains, Our Land and Home, Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant., Shadow Mountain, Third Phase, Travel, Weather +Climate | Leave a comment

Big Island. Miracles.

Summer and the Shadow Mountain Moon

A year. Either I will make a yes or no decision about moving to Hawai’i at the end of it, or at some point during the year. That is, if I haven’t already.

When I went to the Ira Progoff workshop in Tucson, the inner work there made me see that being part of Ruth and Gabe’s lives would pass us by if we didn’t move. When I got home. Kate and I talked, agreed. Then we started working on the move. Took about a year, a little less.

I feel like I’m in the same spot about moving to the Big Island as I was when I left Tucson relative to Colorado. I want to do it. But, I need a conversation with Kate. Maybe I’ll write it out. Dialogical, as Progoff suggests. Put it in the workbook.

]In other words I feel confident. I want to go, though there are a lot of details to work out. Yet.  I need a talk with a confidant, a person who won’t let me blow smoke. Kate. The Ancient Ones. Maybe Jamie. Tara, Marilyn.

A year from now. Or, so. I may be writing Ancientrails from a spot near Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. Hope so.

Tom Crane alerted me to the Solstice. I had it in my head as the 22nd, so I wasn’t paying attention. It’s the triumph of Sol in the North. He stands above our lands longer than on any other day. The longest day. Spreads his power on the narrowest patch of Earth, too, so the energy concentrates, intensifies.

Me, though, I see it another way. Darkness moves in. The days begin to shorten. Can the Winter Solstice be far behind? Seasonal processions make me happy. Even here in Hawai’i Kau moves slowly toward Ho’oilo. Ho’oilo brings rain and somewhat cooler weather. Transitions.

The Great Wheel turns now toward Lughnasa, the festival of first fruits celebrated on August 1st. The growing season busily stores Solstice energy, converting nuclear fusion to stored carbohydrates. You want miracles? Try that one.

We only get so many seasons. Part of the deal. I’m celebrating this one. See you at the suntan lotion counter.


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Summer and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Washing machines. Clothes dryers. Seoah’s Korean dumplings. Joe’s crazy schedule. Mary scoring a sleeping berth on the Amtrak from Denver to Milwaukee. The blue plastic tub that will keep my Hawai’i stuff in Joe’s garage. Hawai’ian donuts. Today! Again. And, as Kate would say, the penultimate day in Paradise.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Seoah coming past while we were watching 1917: Woodrow Wilson, she said. She’s studying for her citizenship exam. Life. Definitely life.

a favorite image of Kate. Punta Arenas. 2011

Kate often spoke of the tincture of time. A healer when nothing else will do. And so it has been. Here with family who loves me. With an Island state that feels like home. With Murdoch, a dog Kate loved in spite of the loss of two finger tips. With books like Ishmael, The Starless Sea, Grief and Loss. With my computer and keyboard. With friends on Zoom, classmates, too. Rabbi Jamie. But most of all with time ticking by, allowing the pain and the tears to plow and water my soul.

On this morning the Birds sing. The Sun rises. I have Italian roast coffee in my cup. The Mourning Dove coos. And I am at peace. My stomach calm. My heart easy. Will it last? I imagine so. Oh, there will still be moments of shock. Kate’s death will come quick and hard. Yes, there will be those. Part of my life, not a shroud over my psyche.

As Seoah says, “It’s life.” Yes, it is. Even death is part of life. We need not die ourselves. That will be for another day, another hour. This one, this day, this hour has the Trade Winds, the scent of the Ocean. Life. Still.

I think now. That dream of Hawai’i. Living here. A way to get psychic space from Colorado, from the caregiving years, from death. Needed. A beautiful possibility, a way to go forward far from the pain. Might it still happen? Oh, yes. It might. It just might. But not for a good long while. A year at least. Maybe more. Maybe not at all.

Inner peace. The true and always Island of my yearning. Found again, still. On these real Islands, Pele’s children, born of fire and water under a light blue sky. Elemental, my dear Watson.

The power here. Raw and primal. Yet also gentle. No Mt. St. Helen’s. No Mt. Etna. No Stromboli. No Krakatoa. Lava flowing from new vents. Lava slowly claiming new territory, building new Island. Even under the water off the Big Island. The Sun’s heat, the merciless Sun (Lahina), moderated by the Trade Winds. The red Land, volcanic Soil, rich, fecund. Once also flowed from now extinct Volcanoes. Riding the Plate Tectonic. Surfing the Mantle of our beloved Planet. No wonder my heart has come to rest.

Of course, the Rockies, too, are primal. Yet in their own way, their orogeny, more violent. Inertial power. More Plates, crashing this time, not surfing. Rending each other, pushing skyward ancient Rock buried it thought forever. No. Ripped out of its resting place, crunched into peaks and valleys.

Minnesota, too. Glacier scoured, pitted Rock filled with Water. I guess Jack London, whose novels inspired my move first to Wisconsin, then Minnesota, must have unwrapped my need for these real places where Nature carves, shapes, sears. Not the more eroded spots like the Appalachians or the Plains or the Mississippi Delta.

My soul flourishes in these starker environments where nuance does not rule. It too has shifting plates, moving slowly yet inexorably. Fiery spots that create new land. Watery places that give me depth. Places of air and sky and space where I can breathe.

Well. Enough of this. I witnessed an amazing spectacle here this morning, a good portion of which I got on video. Four Mynah Birds fighting, rolling over each other, wings and feet inverted. Then a remarkable conference, one pair facing the other, heads bowing, apparent discussion, heads bowing. A long time, two or three minutes. Then, another rough and tumble. One pair flew up to the roof while the other two remained on the ground. After, one of those two also attacked a Cattle Egret straying into the wrong space.

The video file is to0 big to post, but of you see me and want to look at it, let me know. One of the more remarkable things I’ve ever seen.

Last. The Starless Sea. A novel. If you love stories and books and libraries and rainy days with cocoa and a new work by your favorite author, this book. Well… A favorite read this year. Reminds me of Borge, but less edgy.

Posted in Anoka County, Beyond the Boundaries, Family, Great Wheel, Hawai'i, Jefferson County, Memories, Minnesota, Mountains, Original Relation, Park County, Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant., Shadow Mountain, Weather +Climate | Leave a comment

Just a Poor, Wayfaring Stranger

Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Saturday gratefuls:  Heat. Plenty. Here, there, everywhere. Yet another North Shore. Hale’iwa. The Banzai Pipeline. Sweet talks with my boy. 1917. the movie. Seoah and corndogs. Ceviche and Jarritos. Murdoch sleeping with me last night. A photo of Kepler from Emily. Tincture of time.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: The wide Ocean. Sandy Beaches. Hot Sun.

Juneteenth. New to white folk. Coming to the American holiday calendar at the same moment it’s being written out of the text books in its state of origin, Texas. Whatever is irony enhanced by cupidity, white privilege, and outright racism, that’s this. The holiday and its point will, I think, outlast the stupidity of cupidity, the leverage of privilege, and the fascism of racism. Not without our help. But we’re gonna help, right?

Got Joe some extra time off from the exercise he’s participating in right now. We used it to head up to Oahu’s North Shore. This is the surfing big leagues, not in Kau, but later in the year in Ho’oilo. Winter storms in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska send big Waves pulsing down through the Pacific to crash onto Oahu’s Northern Shoreline.

This day. Calm. Hot. Overrun with self-worshipping suntanners. Cars parked on both sides of the two lane stretch of Kamehameha Highway. Hard bodies in bikinis and dude shorts, Dad bodies grasping the hands of young children, looking for a break in the traffic. Old folks like me dazed by the traffic, the parking congestion, the thought of lying in the sand to create later day pain.

Joe knew a spot where there’s no swimming. Just above the *Banzai Pipeline. We got out, crossed the highway with little trouble. A wide stretch of Beach with reefs reaching far out into the Ocean. An unimpeded stretch of the Pacific for outtakes from Alaska’s greatest storms. Add surf boards. And those who ride them.

No evidence of drama on a Kau day. Bright Sun, few Clouds, and calm Waters lapping at the detritus of ground up Shells, glass, and Volcanic Rock. This white bodied burn ready guy went after Joe and Mary as they walked out to the Water. The Rock and the reefs were among the reasons for the swimming prohibition. Banzai Pipeline beyond the Rock.

Upscale housing sits between the highway and the Ocean, often one house, then the Beach. Gates with bronze reef fish, Koi Wood leis, Ocean scenes done in tile. The square, modernist style often repeated. A few with Asian rooflines, wooden exteriors. In the millions. But. This day, a Friday, saw the highway behind their homes lined on both sides with parked cars. Folks of all ages and stages wandering through or past their properties to get to the water. Not my idea of a getaway. My idea of a place to getaway from.

Afterward we drove into Hale’iwa town, the Oahu North Shore’s Grand Marais. Looked a lot like Morrison, Colorado. Narrow roads, pedestrians wandering into the busy, but slow moving highway traffic. Shops and restaurants ready to trade memories or food for cash. Or, a Mountain town like Evergreen. Way too busy though.

Jorge’s gave us Fish tacos, ceviche, chips and salsa. Jarritos and Coke. Then back to Hickam and Ozinuka Village.

Later on Joe and I watched 1917. A movie by Sam Mendes about the Great War. I’d put this in the category of Bergman’s Seventh Seal. Stark, yet filmed in a smooth, seemingly continuous shot 1917 follows two British infantrymen. They have to deliver an order to delay an attack that would kill 1600 men of the 2nd Devonshire regiment.

The movie follows them through British trenches, a break in the barbed wire barrier, into a no man’s land of dead bodies, cavities created by heavy shelling, Mud and Water. Helping a downed German pilot one of pair two gets stabbed and dies, leaving his buddy, Schofield to make the remainder of his journey alone. Disgust, heroism, bravery, fear, tenderness (in a moment with a baby to whom Schofield sings they went to sea in a sieve.), and abject terror all seen through one man’s eyes, a young man.

It’s a chess game with death, Max Von Sydow’s knight replaced here by an innocent boy helping a friend and following an order to save lives. If you haven’t seen it, worth it.

Contacted Tara about my ride back from the airport on Tuesday am. She’s ready. Wonder if I am? No, not really. It’s time to go home, resume adult, non quasi-vacation life. Something lies beyond the Ocean’s horizon, a ship that will carry me somewhere. Just have to wait until it docks near my front door.

*The Banzai Pipeline, or simply Pipeline or Pipe, is a surf reef break located in Hawaii, off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea on O’ahu‘s North Shore. A reef break is an area in the ocean where waves start to break once they reach the shallows of a reef. Pipeline is known for huge waves that break in shallow water just above a sharp and cavernous reef, forming large, hollow, thick curls of water that surfers can tube ride

Posted in Cinema and Television, Family, Hawai'i, Politics, Shadow Mountain, Third Phase, Travel, US History | Leave a comment


Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Friday gratefuls: A boy and his dog, asleep together on the carpet. Cool morning Air off the Ocean. Korean burgers prepared as a joint Korean-American enterprise. Readiness to return home. Kep and Rigel. Kate, always Kate.

Sparks of joy and awe: Dawn. The North Shore of Oahu: surf’s up!

Closing days on this journey. Monday night, 9:30 pm. Colorado, 8:30 am Tuesday. Back up the Mountain. I’m a different man than the one who landed here on May 14th. Less jagged, less fraught. More peaceful. A time for which gratitude seems inadequate.

It’s the first time I’ve been to Hawai’i without Kate. During the first months I’m without Kate. Bittersweet? Yes, but good, too. On my own. As I’m learning how to be on my own. Again.

She would not have liked Oahu. Too urban, too distanced from the native Hawai’i. It’s still here, of course, its echoes in the Sunrise, the Palm Trees, the Trade Winds, the Outrigger Canoes, the native Hawai’ians. But it’s also noisy, paved, car-ridden, and cluttered with houses and shops and buildings. The built Oahu contradicts the Island itself. I can see why the Ohana folks want to kick the haoles off the Island.

Last Hebrew alphabet class today. Read the piece I wrote about language. Well received. Made me smile to see its effect. I’ve needed that affirmation, especially now. Part of the healing in this time here. An accident of timing, but a good one.

All during the class the Mourning Doves called. Mourning has its beauty, its capacity to call in the Dawn. Which rose as the class progressed and the Doves sang. Helping me call in the dawn of a new, changed life.

The need for agency is a powerful one, perhaps the defining characteristic of life itself. I’ve been very passive here. Sitting, watching TV. Some exercise but stopped now due to a painful something or other in my right upper leg or hip. Not able to leave the base until I got my pass, then feeling too settled in. This blog, a few meals, walks. That’s about it.

When we’ve done sight seeing, Joseph has driven. I chose the Nu’uanu Pali, the Bishop Museum, China Town and now Oahu’s North Shore but other than that we’ve gone where Joseph though would interest me. I’m proactive on a trip. Not this time. Not much.

Seems to fit with mourning and grieving. Letting the weight settle, feelings come back into balance. That’s not passive at all, my agency here internal. Tending to process, staying aware, listening to my heart.

As leaving approaches, my yearning for agency has risen. And there will be plenty of opportunity when I get back to Shadow Mountain. A few unfinished administrative pieces like updating the title of the car, settling with Social Security on survivor’s benefits, dealing with Evergreen Mortuary. Seeing friends, getting back to CBE. Shopping. Cooking. Writing. Dealing with my leg. Another PSA the second week of August.

Life as I will know it. Considering, gently, slowly, the future. Where to live. How to live. What to engage, what to prune. Feels exciting.

Visitor on my first day of radiation. 2019


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June 17 addenda

Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

The basilica, Minneapolis. From my hotel room.

The growing season turning red hot. Dry. Minnesota, that state of lakes and the Superior Lake, of -30 nights in January, of down coats and cabins, all red. And not a drop of rain to share. How can this be? It’s not Minnesota’s color. Brown is the color of the West, of the Mountains. Not 45 degrees latitude, half way to the Northpole.

We know these insults in the Rockies. Past that line where we all get less than 20 inches of Rain. For the whole  year. Yes, we know. We suffer it, fold up a few tents, turn off the lawn sprinklers, run the AC. Fight Wildfires, hope they don’t burn our home. But. Minnesota? The world is out of joint.

On Oahu where I sit writing this we’re in the warmish dryish season where the temps tend to be in the 80’s and Rain still falls. Twice in the last two days. Then, there’s all that Ocean. The Mountains squeeze out purified Ocean drops, fling them at the already green, always green slopes.

Here it’s pretty much as usual. Or, maybe I think that because I know this world much less well. I recall reading that the tropics will be affected least by global warming. Sea level rise though. Vanuatu has advertised its extinction. Do not want to go the way of Atlantis. I understand.

As the world literally burns, Republican and capitalist violinists play on, from the pent house to the mountain retreat to the air chilled vaults of Swiss banks.

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Past is Prologue

Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Thursday gratefuls: Dentists. Teeth. Grocery stores. Cattle Egrets and Mynah Birds and Brazilian Cardinals. Painful hips and muscles. Getting the snow tires off in July. Rain. Cloudy mornings. Bird song. Those marshmallow and macadamia nut chocolate things that Seoah bought me. Catching up with Mary. Breakfast with Alan next week.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: The wonder of the mundane. The joy of the quotidian.


Expecting Joe back from work any minute. He’s on 6 pm to 6 am during an exercise. Nights. Two weeks. He puts his head down, digs in, and does whatever comes next. I admire that. He’s developed a real taste for and expertise in geopolitics. His work is multicultural in a racially diverse setting. Sounds fun to me. Much of what he actually does is sorta geeky.

Arizona Memorial from the deck of the Big Mo

F-22’s roar and dip and bank over the houses of Ozinuka Village. Commercial jetliners rise off the runways of Inouye International. All visible from the concrete deck of Joe’s home. This is an aviation centric setting though few of the hangars built in the 30’s hold aircraft. Storage. Offices. Repurposed. Their art deco stucco facades though. The same.

Across the way, where the Pearl River breaks the shoreline of Oahu and penetrates far enough to become the protected harbor (Honolulu), Pearl Harbor, it’s ships. Gray ships with multiple decks, prickly with antenna and weapons and sharp edges. I’ve seen few sailors but they have to be here somewhere. Out there, too, are the tangible memories of December 7th. The Arizona. The Utah. The Big Mo with its Pacific war ending medallion on the surrender deck. Pearl Harbor itself.

On my walks I’ve gone past a small concrete building at the edge of the Pearl as it begins to widen into a harbor. It says, Magnetic Silencing. Huh? To Google. What did we do without google? Turns out submarines develop a specific, identifiable, and permanent magnetic signature. Makes them easier to detect. So. Degaussing. Yes, the same procedure used to wipe hard drives. Only for whole submarines. So, that’s what they do there. Huh.

The magnetic silencing facility is not far from the ruins of the giant coal loading area. Yes, remember? Before liquid fossil fuels, ships ran on boilers fueled with coal. Can you imagine getting coal to Hawai’i, offloading it, storing it, then moving it yet again into the holds of floating iron and steel ships? Geez. Nuclear reactors seem much more elegant, not to mention petite.

Early morning  here features many joggers, one actual runner. Often women, using the cover of darkness. Later uniforms open doors, get in cars and fancy pickups, go to work. After that the women with kids and dogs get out of the house for air. Trampolines and back yard swimming pools come into use. Rhythms. Like a Wandavision sit com with a military theme.

Watched Midway with Joe and Mary the other night. I know so little about the Pacific war. Time to remedy that, too. Vietnam. These are the immediate martial predecessors of the work Joe and his buddies do right now. The focus has changed from Japan and dominoes to a resurgent China. And, the world itself has made an Asian pivot, turning its face away from the Cold War countries to the Tiger economies and their new political clout.

We forget the anarchic world of geopolitics, a quilt of agreements and past grudges, future ambitions, but someone has to work it. The U.N. never lived up to its promise. Sadly.

Yes, there’s NATO and Putin but they seem so tired. So yesterday. Still important of course, but far away from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The Spratlys. Hong Kong. Taiwan. Hawai’i is closer, a U.S. entrepot between mainland America and the ports of the Far East.

My time here has begun to wind down. Back in Colorado on the 22nd. Getting back to life on Shadow Mountain.


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Language. Language about language. Language about languages. Language about the mind, created in the mind. The mind talking to itself, using symbols and signs. Which it has to interpret, even the ones it uses to talk to itself. A Mobius strip of neurons and synapses.

Data. Outside data. Collected. Fingers. Nose. Ears. Eyes. Tongue. Which the mind interprets. Builds. Say, a Tree. A lover. An Ocean. That pickup truck. A Dog. Stars.

Words not created in this mind. What are (a more loaded verb here than often understood) they? Where are they? In my mind where I’ve put the pieces together or out there, somewhere? What do they mean, those words? What did the one who wrote them mean them to mean? How can I know?

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. LW. Does this seal our lips forever?

Or, I think of David Hume, that Scottish curmudgeon, kicking a cabinet and saying, “I refute it thus.” Speaking of Lord Berkley. “To be is to be perceived.” The stubborn persistence of things. That stubborn consensus we seem to share. Yes, the tree is there. Where? Right over there.

I believe I prefer William James, “Consciousness is a blooming, buzzing confusion.” We put down this yod, that hey. A vav. One more hey. And we agree, sort of, about what they denote. Or, we don’t.

Look at the evidence. Fake news. It’s all in your mind.

No, no. It’s really there.

Oh, really? How do you know?

I see it. I can touch it. I can smell it.



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Sundown Towns

Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: That old hometown. Race. Colorism. War games. Working the night shift. Final week in paradise. Murdoch. The quiet, relaxed Murdoch. Joe. Mary’s knowledge of ESL. Bird songs. Grieving. Going home.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Language. Senses. Whatever is actually other there beyond their mediation.


Please read this first. At least as much as you can stomach. Yes, that’s my hometown mentioned often.

Elwood reputedly had a No Niggers In Town After Sundown addition to its signs at the city limits. I do not recall seeing them myself, but it was well known in Alexandria. Of course, Elwood was our to the death basketball nemesis. Could have affected our memories and what we took to be fact.

Although Madison Counties “third largest city” (hah. 5,800 folks. If we had all been a foot long, the whole town wouldn’t stretch much more than a mile.), may never have had such a sign; and, I’m pretty sure we didn’t, since I went in and out of town often in the 18 years I lived there, there was only one Black family with kids in our school system. Mike Taylor was in my class.

Sure, we were aware he was the only one, but we didn’t think much of it. It was our town, the only one we knew and that was the way it was. When put, however, in the context of many towns with the same reality, I wonder how we didn’t recognize it. White privilege, obviously.

My friend Clarence Davis, with whom I did organizational consulting for a while in the Twin Cities, had relatives lynched in an infamous incident in Marion, Indiana, less than a half an hour north of Alex. Strange Fruit.

I do remember the Klan recruiting in Alexandria, out by the Curve Restaurant. In regalia. OMG. We had other extremists, too. A local doctor was a member of the John Birch Society. Others belonged to the Minutemen, an early right wing militia.

Easy to see why a sign would not have been necessary. This defines white privilege. I could live in Alexandria, the liberal son of a liberal newspaper editor and a liberal substitute school teacher, and not tumble to the deeply racist reality which I supported simply by my continued presence there.

So much hate. So much casual cruelty. For so long. Embedded in our constitution, our laws, our economics, our religion, our education.

BTW: So called Critical Race Theory, a new whipping post for the right wing, got its voice early in a New Left analysis of the System though the New Left tended to focus more on economics than race. Back in the sixties we pointed out the way our corporate capitalist economy, allied with the military/industrial complex, created safe havens for whites, for the rich, and stark penalties for the poor, those of color, those with sexual identities other than cisgendered. Redlining. Housing costs. Food deserts. Housing discrimination. Discrimination in hiring and in education quality. The list is long and sad. And, still true.

An odd feature of the sundown towns, at least those in Madison County, is their voting record when I grew up. Distinctly Democratic and liberal in spite of racial animus and deep roots in the anti-Democratic south. Labor union. The UAW, the United Autoworkers Union, represented most of those employed in Madison County due to two huge General Motors factories: Delco Remy and Guide Lamp. 25,000 total employees at their peak, running three shifts, seven days a week.

The UAW knew they needed the support of the Democratic party to balance the corporate power of the Big Three automakers: GM, Ford, and Chrysler. As a result, they turned out straight ticket votes for a string of Democratic congressmen and Senators.

This all deteriorated following George Wallace’s run for the Presidency, the decline of the American automobile industry, and the rise of a conservatism that began with Barry Goldwater, created the Moral Majority, and reached an apotheosis in Ronald Reagan. This was not the conservatism of an Everett Dirksen or William Buckley, but a foretaste of the veering toward, then careening over into, extremism that we know now.

That liberal bandage over a gaping racist wound demonstrates the unholy wedding between white power wielded by either liberals or conservatives and the racist/classist superstructure of our post-WWII society.

Black Lives Matter, George Floyd’s death and the trial of Derek Chauvin, Joe Biden’s win over 45, give us a brief window for change. It will close quickly. probably in the election of 2022.

The sundown towns, while shameful, wrong, and too prevalent, point toward the broader systemic pattern of oppression. Can it be changed? Only with great difficulty. Never waste a crisis.


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